Mailbag: Hot corner a hot topic

Mailbag: Hot corner a hot topic for Halos

The Halos Hopefuls say goodbye to one of their favorite players, while wondering what will happen to some veterans and also the chances of some of the Angels' prospects.

I have enjoyed watching the Angels prospects that come through Class A Cedar Rapids. Is there a chance that Brandon Wood will move to third base, given his ability to hit for power?
--Bryce R., Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The Angels have no current plans to move Wood. They value his skills at shortstop and believe he not only can play the position at the Major League level, but will excel there. Wood is still at least a year away and is likely headed to Triple-A. The Angels also have Orlando Cabrera signed through 2008, which blocks Wood for the next two years unless the club makes further adjustments.

One of those could involve moving Wood over to third, a position the Angels have struggled to fill since the departure of Troy Glaus. Chone Figgins and Maicer Izturis have been the predominant starters there in the last two seasons, but neither is an everyday third baseman, nor has the power the club would like at the position. But with the progress Wood has shown at shortstop, the Angels will leave him there and look elsewhere to solve their problems at third base.

So I hear the Angels and White Sox might do a swap with Joe Crede for Figgins. It would help to stabilize third, while adding some more power. I like Figgins, but he was down last year.
-- Phil G., Granada Hills, Calif.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is a big fan of Figgins, and his club could use a leadoff hitter with Chicago not likely to tender Scott Podsednik a new contract. Crede would provide an answer at third base for the Angels, while also adding a much-needed boost to the lineup, so the common ground is in place for a potential deal. Crede, who made $2.875 million in 2006, has two more arbitration years left, while Figgins is signed through 2008 for another $8.25 million.

That possible trade would not likely qualify as the major acquisition that owner Arte Moreno has promised this offseason, but could be a complementary piece to bigger moves. Moving Figgins could also open the door for Reggie Willits or possibly Tommy Murphy.

It was great that the Angels recognized Tim Salmon on Sunday, and even Adam Kennedy got some love, but why was Darin Erstad left out? He avoided surgery until the offseason so he could come back to do anything that would help the team. It was a meaningless game, Salmon and Kennedy got their starting positions, but Erstad just watched. The least he deserved was an inning at first base and an at-bat or two.
-- Sam P., Orange, Calif.

Salmon was given a farewell due to the fact he was retiring, while Kennedy received recognition from the fans, who hope the organization will re-sign the free agent second baseman. Erstad's situation, though, is a bit different.

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He was unavailable over the last handful of games because of his right ankle. He had surgery to shave bone spurs last week and will begin rehabilitation in a couple of weeks with the hope of being ready for Spring Training. What happens still remains to be seen, and it is unlikely that any team will offer him a Major League contract until it is certain he will be able to play next season.

The most probable course for Erstad is signing a Minor League deal with the Angels that will include an invitation to Spring Training with a Major League guarantee if he makes the Opening Day roster, similar to what the Angels offered Salmon last winter.

But there were no official sendoffs planned for Kennedy or Erstad, as those are generally reserved for long-term players that retire.

Willits has looked like a natural center fielder, and with his speed and the ability to get on base, he would be a great leadoff hitter. Any chance he will be given a shot to win the job next spring?
-- Gary H., Orange, Calif.

Willits will be part of the equation next spring, but the odds of him winning a starting job are considerably longer if the current roster holds. What would help Willits is the movement of some players, with Figgins being the primary obstacle to his advancement. Willits is considered the best center fielder in the organization, and he possesses the skills to be a solid leadoff hitter and would help fuel Mike Scioscia's style of baseball. But the organization currently views both Figgins and Izturis as better offensive players, which would require Willits to outplay both of them.

Mike Scarr is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.