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Inbox: Who will emerge at third for Angels?
Inbox: Who will emerge at third for Angels?
By Lyle Spencer
Now that the outfield and DH roles have taken shape with the Vernon Wells trade, what about third base for the Angels? Maicer Izturis? Alberto Callaspo? Brandon Wood? A trade? How about Mark Trumbo? Also, what do you see the lineup looking like?
-- Jeff G., Whittier, Calif.
Third base appears to be an open competition among those three players -- Izturis, Callaspo and Wood. A trade appears unlikely, given few quality third basemen are available now, but that could change nearing the July non-waiver Trade Deadline. That gives the Angels a half season to sort things out and then decide if they're all right with what they have or need to make a move on a player who is made available by a non-contender.
My best guess is that Izturis will nail down the starting job with a strong spring. If it happens, that will resolve the lineup issue. Wood is the sleeper. With a relaxed attitude, not feeling the pressure to produce that he experienced last year in Chone Figgins' absence, Wood could claim the job and live up to his own high expectations as a quality Major League player. He is too young and talented to dismiss outright after one frustrating season. Trumbo is a terrific athlete, but learning to play the outfield is enough of a challenge for the big first baseman right now.
Here is how I see it, assuming everyone is healthy at the starting gate in Kansas City on March 31: 1. Izturis, 3B; 2. Bobby Abreu, DH; 3. Torii Hunter, RF; 4. Vernon Wells, LF; 5. Kendry Morales, 1B; 6. Howard Kendrick, 2B; 7. Erick Aybar, SS; 8. Jeff Mathis, C; 9. Peter Bourjos, CF. Wells and Morales could be flipped, but I like Morales in the five-hole as a left-handed bat breaking up the right-handers. I think it's a potentially deep and productive lineup.
With Wells joining the team and the Mike Napoli trade to Texas, what would the odds be for getting Michael Young to be our third baseman or bringing Vladimir Guerrero back as DH? Vladdy would boost morale with fans and teammates. We need that. What's your view?
-- Tom O., Oklahoma City.
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The Rangers don't seem inclined to move Young, their clubhouse leader, and while Guerrero's return would be immensely popular, there just doesn't appear to be a place for him now. The club is committed to giving Bourjos a shot at center field, flanked by Wells and Hunter, with Abreu as the primary DH and backup outfielder.
Guerrero is a deeply prideful man, and he needs to feel he's in a place where he can play some outfield as well as DH. I'm not sure where he'll land -- the Orioles seem to be the best fit right now -- but he'll be productive in his new home. I've never been a fan of the DH concept, but it does have its merits in keeping some great hitters in the game.
Was Wells a desperation move after the Angels lost out on Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre, like almost every media person in the country except you seems to believe?
-- Joe S., San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Actually, you can make that two countries. Let's not forget Canada. Crawford and Beltre were clearly Angels targets, but they simply moved out of their range when Boston and Texas, respectively, upped the antes. Crawford and Beltre are wonderful talents, and they would have enriched the Angels measurably. But the deals they landed -- seven years, $142 million for Crawford; six years, $96 million for Beltre with options -- are astounding.
Crawford is three years younger than Wells but has played only one season in games fewer than Wells. Beltre is Wells' age but has played almost three more seasons in games. There could be what's known as dead money on the back end of their deals. Crawford's speed is essential to his game, and Beltre has to wear down sometime.
Wells' four years and $86 million looks enormous, but owner Arte Moreno calculates the actual tab at about $17 million a year with money kicked in from Toronto and the contracts of Napoli and Juan Rivera that were transferred. With millions coming off the books in the next few seasons, the club still will have the resources to retain Jered Weaver (after the 2012 season) and Morales (after 2013) if they want to remain in Southern California.
We've heard so much about Mike Trout, the top prospect in baseball. When do you think we'll see him in Angel Stadium?
-- Paul Y., West Los Angeles, Calif.
One of the benefits of having such a deep outfield is that there is no need to rush Trout. My sense is that he'll spend about half the 2011 season at Double-A Arkansas, then the second half at Triple-A Salt Lake and arrive in Anaheim with the September callups for a taste of the action.
I've seen Trout play and spoken with him, and I've never been more impressed with a 19-year-old ballplayer. That takes in a lot of territory; I've been doing this since 1971. The New Jersey sensation has a chance to be a great player for a long time. Angels fans don't know how lucky they are to have not only Trout on the way, but a number of other superlative talents drafted in the past few years. The pipeline is alive, and the future is exciting.
I grew up loving to watch Jim Edmonds play center field for the Halos. Any chance the Angels brass decides to pick him up as a left-handed power bat off the bench?
-- Randall A., Wichita Falls, Texas
As with Vlad, Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus, David Eckstein and Bengie Molina, among others, Edmonds holds a special place in fans' hearts. Unfortunately, there is simply not enough roster space to bring back the old favorites.
The Angels' blueprint is to create roster space for young talent to blend with seasoned veterans in a productive mix. It has kept the club competitive, one of the best in the game, for a full decade. As much as we'd love to see players we admired back in the uniform they distinguished, it's just not realistic.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.