Bryce Harper wasn’t the only high-profile prospect to make his season debut yesterday. Angels outfielder Mike Trout led off and started in leftfield against the Clevelands in an afternoon tilt that was delayed for a few hours due to rain in Northern Ohio.
Trout, of course, made his Major League debut last year struggling in 135 plate appearances to a .220/.281/.390 slash line with five homeruns. Unlike Harper’s spectacular debut last night, Trout went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and made an ill-advised dive for a ball that probably cost his team a run. As I write this, he’s 0-for-3 in his second game.
Still, the talent is there and it’s only a matter of time before the 20-year-old starts to figure it out.
In order to call up Trout, the Angels had to let go of Bobby Abreu. The once outstanding Abreu has become difficult to watch as a 38-year-old, and I would hazard to guess that he’s going to find it trying to land with another team given his defensive limitations and complete lack of offensive upside.
Still, Paul Swydan of FanGraphs thinks that the Angels made the wrong move in getting rid of Abreu, suggesting that doing so has created even more roster-construction problems for the Halos.
Swydan says that the Angels should have instead cut their ties with Vernon Wells suggesting that “the Angels still owe Wells a lot of money, but that is a sunk cost.” He says that Abreu was the better hitter last season, is more suited to pinch hit because of his superior patience, and provides a left-handed counter to Trout’s right-handed ways.
It’s difficult to argue with him especially considering Wells was not GM Jerry DiPoto’s acquisition and therefore likely feels no attachment to the former Blue Jay.
The Angels seem to have a lot of two types of players on their roster. They have Wells, Torii Hunter, Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols who are all older (or in Trumbo’s case, he just plays like he’s older) corner players who don’t have much in the way of defensive flexibility. They also have players like Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo who all play the infield and have little power but are all decent slap-type hitters. There may not be a more oddly-constructed group in baseball.
The Angels are off to a terrible start, but with their pitching and a few solid offensive players they should quickly turn it around. Trout should help them because he’s better at this point than Abreu, but Wells is probably the one who should’ve met the chopping block.
And the rest:
Speaking of prospects, Marc Hulet of FanGraphs takes a look at two lesser knowns getting the call this weekend in Tyler Moore and Pat Corbin.
The Yankees have demoted veteran Freddy Garcia to the bullpen and it’s expected that bullpen world-beater David Phelps will pitch in the rotation until Andy Pettitte is ready to join the team [Andrew Marchand, ESPN New York].
Nick Cafardo casually mentions in his Sunday column for the Boston Globe that the Angels could be trying to trade for a closer. The A’s Grant Balfour, the Pirates Joel Hanrahan and Seattle’s Brandon League appear to be on their radar.
The Oakland A’s have reported signed recently-released former Tiger Brandon Inge to a deal where it’s expected he’ll see a decent amount of time at third base [Ken Rosenthal, Twitter].
Daisuke Matsuzaka faced 17 hitters over 4.2 innings in a rehab start at AA-Portland yesterday. He allowed one run on three hits surrendering two walks and striking out seven, all on whiffs [Dan Hickling, Boston Globe]. Matsuzaka is sort of the forgotten x-factor in Boston. Although he’s not an elite pitcher and certainly carries a lot of health risk, he can be a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm for the Red Sox which is something they drastically need at this point.
Ryan Howard has been cleared to start baseball-related activity and is eyeing a return in June [Jim Salisbury, CSN Philly].
Yankees rightfielder Nick Swisher has left this afternoon’s game with an apparent left hamstring injury [Mike Axisa, River Avenue Blues]. The extent of the injury is not yet known.
Jason Wojciechowski takes a look at how pitchers are attempting to attack Yoenis Cespedes.
And finally, Christina Kahrl talks about the Rays and their continually effective process that is still being overlooked.