The Los Angeles Angels (54-66) may have appeared to be nibbling around the edges when they traded their former third baseman Alberto Callaspo to the Oakland Athletics at the end of July. Since the trade, however, Chris Nelson has filled in admirably for Callaspo at the hot corner.
Nelson finally got his coming out party on Thursday against the New York Yankees, going 2-for-5 with two home runs, including one grand slam, and five RBIs. Nelson is both younger and cheaper than Callaspo, and appears to be less prone to the costly errors that made Callaspo so aggravating to watch.
If Nelson can provide even occasional pop with his bat, it would be a coup for the Angels’ offense that has struggled to find consistency amid injuries and underperformance throughout the order.
Nelson’s emergence isn’t the only positive to come out of the Callaspo trade thus far, either: Grant Green, dealt by Oakland for Callaspo, has performed admirably during his brief tenure as an Angel. Green’s 2-4 performance on Thursday boosted his average to .286 on the season and .444 since joining the Angels on Aug. 6.
If Green and Nelson continue to perform at an acceptable level, then GM Jerry Dipoto may have more flexibility in chasing a starting pitcher this offseason. For example, he may be more inclined to deal Howie Kendrick with an eye towards platooning Nelson and Green at second and third base. If the Angels could get a reliable arm out of such a deal, then it would be well worth it.
The next step is to see how consistent Nelson’s play is over the final 42 games of the regular season. If he continues to replace Callaspo’s numbers at a far cheaper price, then Los Angeles needs to move aggressively in the offseason. If he falls off, then they need to go another route.