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Angels’ logjam means Mike Trout is likely bound for minors

Feb 29, 2012, 10:47 AM EDT

Mike Trout Getty Images

One way for the Angels to lessen their first base/corner outfield/designated hitter logjam would be to have stud prospect Mike Trout begin the season in the minors and it sure sounds like manager Mike Scioscia thinks that would be a smart idea.

Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, and Torii Hunter are cemented as the Angels’ starting outfield, Albert Pujols is obviously the starting first baseman, and Bobby Abreu and (if healthy) Kendrys Morales will have to fight over designated hitter playing time. And then there’s still Mark Trumbo, who’ll have to be included in that mix if his conversion to third base goes poorly.

That doesn’t leave much room for Trout–although obviously plenty of Angels fans would vote in favor of him replacing Wells–and Scioscia told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that “he’s not a finished product” and it might take an injury for the 20-year-old to get “an opportunity” coming out of spring training.

For his part Trout said all the right things when asked about potentially beginning the season in the minors:

If they put me in Salt Lake or wherever, I’m going to accept that. I wouldn’t be disappointed at all. I’m still young. It just makes you want to work harder.

Salt Lake is the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate and it’s worth noting that Trout skipped the level completely while jumping from Double-A to the majors. He’s also 20 years old and struggled somewhat in his 40-game debut, so sending him to Triple-A for a couple months wouldn’t be the worst thing for Trout’s long-term development even if a positional logjam determining his plans isn’t ideal.

  1. Ari Collins - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    They could also game his service time to get another year out of him. Though the main thing here is that they’re paying Wells and so they’re playing Wells.

    • jwbiii - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      Trout has 83 days of service time, so the Angels would have to keep him in Salt Lake City until about the Fourth of July to get that time back.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 29, 2012 at 5:47 PM

        I was wondering when they’d have to hold him back until. Thanks!

  2. drunkenhooliganism - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    I think Vernon Wells had a 660 OPS last year. Mike Trout will hit for a better average, have a better OBP, have a better slugging percentage, while being a far, far, far, far better baserunner and outfielder. It’s one thing to have to pay Wells’ ridiculous contract, it’s a second, far more insane thing, to let paying him too much money cost you the AL West by somehow requiring you to pay him.

    Adam Eaton was the highest paid pitcher on the 2008 Phillies. The Phillies won the NL East, and eventually the world series because they didn’t let him take the mound.

    • drunkenhooliganism - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      Edit function

      “requiring you to PLAY him”

    • foreverchipper10 - Feb 29, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      I was not aware Adam Eaton was their highest paid pitcher. I didn’t even realize he was on the team. Well done Phils by not playing him.

      • drunkenhooliganism - Feb 29, 2012 at 5:16 PM

        I doublechecked. He was the second highest paid pitcher. He made $8M while Brett Myers made $8.5M. My point still stands, even though my facts were a bit off.

        Hamels made $500k. Good thing they didn’t let salary decide their starting rotation.

  3. dodger88 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    If they really think Trout could have a future at 3B, better to give him some at the position in the minors and then call him up when of Wells, Abreu, Morales, etc. is either hurt or playing badly.

    • JBerardi - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      Trout has no future as a 3B; he’s one of the fastest players in organized baseball and belongs in the outfield. You’re thinking of Trumbo, who also has not future at 3B, but he’s at least an infielder.

      • seanthegreatest - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:31 PM

        Although I agree Trout belongs in the OF, let’s keep in mind he did play SS in high school. It is possible he could play 3B, just unlikely.

      • JBerardi - Feb 29, 2012 at 4:03 PM

        I mean, any player that’s drafted out of HS at all was probably their team’s best defensive shortstop… and their team’s best starting pitcher… and their team’s best hitter. I don’t know his history, but I’d bet anything that a mega-athlete like Trout was all of those things. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything in the pro ranks, though.

  4. JBerardi - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Vernon Wells: terribile enough to justify shit-caning the GM who traded for him, but still worth burying Mike Trout for. Does this not make sense to anyone else?

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      Methinks the Angels should just use some of the new TV revenue, eat Wells’ contract and decide never to have a 9-figure player whose best years are behind him on their roster again.

      Oh, wait…

      • JBerardi - Feb 29, 2012 at 4:06 PM

        The thing is, while Pujols may be overpaid, Vernon Wells is hurting your team even if he plays for the league minimum. There’s a big difference between a player who’s productive but overpaid, and a player who loses games for your team before you even consider the money question.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 29, 2012 at 5:26 PM

        Oh I agree, Berardi. I was just throwing a Great White Snark into the ring.

  5. Ben - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Did the Angels start Trout’s service clock last year with his call-up?
    The only advantage I see coming out of all of this is I can see Trout play in SLC this summer on my Great American Roadtrip.

  6. ezthinking - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    Good chance someone goes down in spring, then a spot opens. Bourjos is not the picture of health. He might wind up being odd-man out. If Trout spends 2 months in AAA and dominates, all the better.

    His .220/.281/.390 .672 ops line isn’t much more than Wells. So why rush? You want him to play every day, not platoon.

    If Morales is healthy Abreu is gone. He’s already crying around so good riddance. Maybe Trumbo heads to AAA to learn 3B or is traded for a real 3B.

    Pretty simple, let the game actually play out.

  7. shackdelrio - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Trade Trout to the Rays for one of their 8 starting pitchers.

    • pauleee - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      Yes, by all means, let’s do that. Cuz the biggest worry this team has is its starting rotation. O_o

      • mordecofe - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        And the Rays really need a CF, they don’t have two already.

  8. APBA Guy - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    This is the organization that played Mathis over Napoli, then ran Napoli out of town altogether. Why is anyone surprised that they are sending Trout to the minors?

    • maco88 - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      Ridiculous keeping Mathis over Napoli. And don’t forget the Angels hype-machine a few years ago that told everyone that Brandon Wood, Dallas McPherson, and Trevor Bell were going to be Angel stars for years to come.

      • seanthegreatest - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:13 PM

        Almost every scout in baseball picked these guys to be stars. It didn’t work out, but lets not start calling it a “hype-machine”. You act like the Angels PR department just started making $hit up.

      • JBerardi - Feb 29, 2012 at 4:12 PM

        The Angels do have a prospect hype-machine of sorts– a minor league affiliate in the hitter’s/meth addict’s paradise known as the Cal league.

  9. stex52 - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    It’s too early to tell what will happen after ST with all of the players in the mix. The only thing I would add is that if Trout can’t play every day at the MLB, then send him down until you open a slot. He is still developing.

    But if the only reason to send him down is Vernon Well’s contract, that is dumb. That is a sunk cost. If Wells plays poorly, cut the cord. The cost of a 20-year old under team control will disappear in the LAA budget. The only other relevant question for me is Ben’s about the arbitration clock. I don’t know how that works.

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