Change is coming
Things are about to change for the Angels. For better or for worse, this team will not remain where it's currently at. There's depth, and then there's what the Angels have, which is a problem. They head into a potentially season determining series with the Texas Rangers, who are admittedly the best team in the American League right now and for the last two seasons. There's a good chance the Angels are going to lose this series. It doesn't mean the season is over, but it's just the way things have been going for Los Angeles early in the year. The change will mostly involve some outfielders, but some people are about to lose their jobs over this, that much is certain.
Peter Bourjos has been unfairly benched because he plays on a team that insists upon trying to salvage anything and everything they can from Vernon Wells. The fact is they've hitched their wagon to that 63 million dollar train and are going to let it take them wherever it may lead. The Angels seem to have reached the conclusion that Mark Trumbo cannot play third base on a regular basis. But he opened quite a few eyes with his play in RF the other night. He's got the strongest arm on the team and fits perfectly out there. But that's Torii Hunter's spot. Hunter is only a year away from free agency, but the Angels need him. He's a decent enough #5-6 hitter in an unproductive lineup but more importantly, he's the identity of this team. He's the clubhouse leader and means as much off the field as he does on the field. Then there's Kole Calhoun, the kid that wasn't supposed to factor into this conversation. Drafted in the eighth round out of powerhouse ASU in Tempe, Calhoun was simply supposed to be a fourth outfielder, minor league depth fodder, and organizational cog. Turns out Calhoun has a beautiful lefty swing with power, patience, discipline and no issue playing any three outfield positions. AAA isn't proving to be terribly challenging for Calhoun, though it wouldn't hurt if he finished the season there. Another name to factor into this conversation is Jeremy Moore who puts up respectable numbers across the board and once healthy, will be prepared to fill the role as an excellent 4th outfielder and pinch runner. And finally, there's Mike Trout, who is proving at age 20 that superstar status is already within his sights.
That's seven players for four available spots (three outfield positions as well as reserve outfielder role). Really, the only player with a guaranteed role is Mike Trout. He's going to be somewhere in the outfield. Bourjos is on the trade block according the Fox Sports. The Angels are again in talks with the Nationals over Peter Bourjos. Torii Hunter is more than likely on his way out after this year. Vernon Wells is proving that 2011 wasn't a fluke and there's only so much more time the Angels can ride that wave before it comes crashing down. Trumbo simply doesn't have a role, but they know he needs to play. Moore is on the DL and will rehab in AAA, so he won't be knocking on the door again until next season. Calhoun will be in the same boat. With holes in other spots that needs filling (third base and relief pitcher), it seems inevitable that a trade is coming.
The very fact that Jerry Dipoto is discussing Peter Bourjos in a trade just months after saying he won't be traded speaks volumes about the state of the team as it stands now. I think Peter will inevitably be dealt, probably by the trade deadline. I could see the Angels getting someone like Anthony Rendon (once he's healthy) in return. As for Wells, when the middle of June rolls around and he still hasn't caught fire, he's going to find himself in a bench role. Mark Trumbo will take over as the everyday LF or RF. The Angels will make a mistake and let Hunter walk after the season and will begin 2013 with Calhoun and Wells splitting time in a corner outfield spot. Wells will probably be cut in the same fashion as Abreu about a month after the start of next season and Jeremy Moore will fulfill the role of 4th outfielder.