It’s been a couple of months since we’ve last checked in on Los Angeles’ (Orange County, actually, which is 30 miles south of L.A.) American League entry.
But it looks like things will be a bit different in Anaheim this coming spring as two prominent Angels are gone via trade – Peter Bourjos to the St. Louis Cardinals and Mark Trumbo to Arizona Diamondbacks.
From a strictly business sense, these were trades that needed to happen as Arte Moreno’s franchise at long last acquired what they had desperately needed for so long in the Bourjos deal: a third baseman as 2011 World Series hero David Freese will be wearing Angel red instead of Cardinal red in 2014.
Freese hit .262 with nine home runs this past season in what many called an off-year for him, but I’m sure that manager Mike Scioscia is banking on a return to form.
Relief pitcher Fernando Salas joins Freese in coming to the Angels from St. Louis, as general manager Jerry DiPoto is spending this winter addressing the one issue that kept the Halos from being contenders in 2013:
Pitching depth, both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation.
Salas will help as a middle reliever, but the real help needed – among the starters – was addressed in sending the popular Trumbo, a local product as he went to nearby Villa Park High and grew up an Angels fan, to Arizona for pitchers Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs.
Skaggs, incidentally, is another local kid as he grew up in Santa Monica, CA and originally signed with the Angels before being traded to the Diamondbacks in 2010.
In a sense, the Angels traded one home-grown product for another.
Skaggs, a left-hander, and Santiago haven’t been world-beaters on the mound so far, Santiago going 4-9 with the White Sox last season while Skaggs sports an earned run average over 5.00 in his seven big league starts.
But they provide depth on that pitching rubber, which is what L.A. has sorely needed for a while.
As for Trumbo, although he hit 30 homers in each the past two years and drove in 100 runs for the first time in 2013, he was expendable as Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have expensive long term deals while any fleeting thought of dealing Mike Trout would be social suicide.
In fact, if I were an Angels fan and they don’t sign Trout to a long term deal when his free agency comes up, I would strongly consider getting rid of my Angel gear and not being a fan of the team anymore as not keeping the young center fielder in Anaheim for many years would be a crystal clear illustration of ineptitude.
To be honest, while Trumbo was – and is – a real stand-up guy and a great role model, I have always soured on his hitting because even though his power is not to be disputed, his averages – .234 last season and .250 for his career – were a disappointment to me as I’ve always preferred hitters who batted .300 with 20 to 25 homers over those who batted .250 or worse with 40 homers and a whole bunch of strikeouts.
Which defines Trumbo as he has gone down on strikes at least 120 times during his three full years as an Angel, including 187 Ks this past year, ranking 5th in the A.L.
What with the Seattle Mariners signing superstar and former New York Yankee Robinson Cano to a huge deal, the Angels are still not assured of being in contention in 2014 as a lot of things, including Pujols’ health, Hamilton’s consistency, and a marked improvement on the mound, have to go right.
One thing is for certain: I’ll be looking forward to spring training to see how things unfold for this team.