If any fans were still sweating the Los Angeles Angels‘ decision to trade Alberto Callaspo this past week, Chris Nelson‘s performance in Friday night’s 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays may have reassured them.
Nelson was 3-for-4 on the night with two RBIs, raising his average to .262 over 122 at-bats this season with three different teams. Callaspo, by comparison, hit .252 over 294 at-bats for the Halos before he was traded.
Nelson wasn’t the only young gun who came up big for the Angels against Toronto; outfielders J.B. Shuck (.296, 257 AB) and Kole Calhoun (.444, 18 AB) had three and four hits respectively. Calhoun also notched his first career home run on the night, a frozen rope to right field in the eighth inning that put Los Angeles ahead for good.
Though Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout went hitless on the night, it was good to see the Halos’ lesser-celebrated players take charge on offense for a change. Should Shuck, Calhoun and Nelson continue to produce at an adequate level, the Angels might face some tough roster decisions next season.
Once Peter Bourjos returns to the lineup, Los Angeles will have a glut of outfielders and only three everyday spots available for Trout, Hamilton, Bourjos, Shuck, Mark Trumbo, and Calhoun. Things will be a little easier if Albert Pujols is healthy enough to return to full-time duty at first base, as that would allow Trumbo to DH.
Even so, Calhoun and Shuck could make a strong case for more playing time if they continue their high levels of production. As for Nelson, it will be interesting to see if his emergence will hold back the likes of Andrew Romine and Brendan Harris, as they were previously thought to be Los Angeles’ top infield prospects.
Obviously, excessive depth is a good problem to have, and it means that the Angels will be either very well insured against injuries next year, or they will have additional trade pieces with which to land a quality pitcher this offseason. Either of those scenarios would be an improvement over this pitcher-less, injury-ridden season.
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.