It has only been two games for Los Angeles Angels third baseman Mark Trumbo, but his conversion to the hot corner has not been a smooth one. He’s been credited with three errors so far, two in the field and one because of a poor throw. And that doesn’t include all the balls he failed to convert into outs because he didn’t have the range to get a glove on it. Plays that an average third baseman would have made in their sleep. For a player with limited to no experience at third, this isn’t a positive sign for the Angels.
The signing of superstar Albert Pujols and the return of Kendrys Morales forced the Angels to find another spot for Trumbo. With a crowded outfield situation, and no spot available at first or DH, the only position left for Trumbo was third base. And while it’s only been two games, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Trumbo is not cut out for third base.
Trumbo isn’t a good enough hitter to play first on a regular basis. He strikes out far too much and doesn’t walk nearly enough to offset his poor batting average. Last season Trumbo hit 254/291/477 with 29 homers while earning 2.3 WAR. Trumbo hits for a ton of power, but given the calibre of first baseman in this league (let alone his own team), he simply isn’t good enough to play there on a regular basis. And if he can’t field his position at third, then he doesn’t have a spot on the Angels lineup.
Fortunately the Angels do have a real third baseman on their roster- Alberto Callaspo. While Callaspo is not a power hitter, he’s an above average defender, and thanks to his on base skills arguably a better hitter than Trumbo. As odd as it sounds, the Angels would be much better in the long run using Callaspo over Trumbo at third.
The question then becomes what do the Angels do with Trumbo? Do they leave him on the bench as a pinch hitter? Or do they trade him, because they don’t have a spot for him for the foreseeable future? Even when Torii Hunter leaves this year for free agency, Trumbo won’t be able to play in the outfield since it will allow the Angels to play super prospect Mike Trout. Given that Vernon Wells will be making $24 million the next 3 years, it’s unlikely that they’ll bench him to allow Trumbo to play. So unless the Angels can live with Trumbo in a bench role, their best option would be to trade him to a team in need of a power hitting first baseman.
The Angels are going to be locked in a battle with the Texas Rangers all season. Given that the wild card is no longer a sure thing, winning the division has to be a priority for the Angels. They simply can’t afford to lose even one more game because Mark Trumbo isn’t a Major League calibre third baseman. The sooner the Angels realize that Trumbo can’t be their third baseman, the better. Because if the Angels don’t make the switch soon, and miss out on the division, they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves for trying to put a poor defensive first baseman at third.