Although the Los Angeles Angels know that injured second baseman Howie Kendrick is going to return to the lineup before the end of the season, they aren’t quite sure of exactly when:
Howie Kendrick is “improving,” Scioscia said, but he won’t play return for this three-game series. Maybe this weekend in Milwaukee. #Angels
— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) August 27, 2013
That’s not exactly what you’d call bad news as Kendrick was (and still is) the team’s second-most valuable position player with 2.5 fWAR, but that might be the exact reason why the team could actually be better off by shutting down the infielder for the rest of the 2013.
Asides from the standard “they can protect their investment and make sure he comes back 100 percent in 2014” deal, the fact is that the team is playing little other than for pride, with their only possible impact on the 2013 AL playoff race coming as the role of spoilers.
So naturally, all eyes will be on 2014, when the mostly-intact core will get back together in hopes that 2013 was just a bad dream for folks like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. And as far as that future goes, it’s hard to imagine the team will have much of a chance of competing even with an offensive resurgence unless they’re able to shore up the starting rotation.
This is where Kendrick would come in.
For one, a decent possibility still exists that the Angels could look to trade Kendrick either in the offseason or sometime next season for said pitching. They apparently almost did so with in-town rival Los Angeles Dodgers for a package involving top prospect Zach Lee, and it’s not as though the situation has changed so much for both L.A. teams that discussions couldn’t resume.
Shutting Kendrick down now through the rest of September will preserve his value for an offseason trade, sure; but more importantly, it’ll give the Halos an extended look at Grant Green, the former top-100 prospect who comes by way of the Oakland Athletics. Showing off his highly-touted hit tool, the second baseman has posted a .350/.435/400 triple-slash that has seen him overcome a 29 percent strikeout rate thus far.
Sure, his defensive shortcomings (4.1 fielding runs below average) doesn’t make him a suitable replacement for Kendrick right now, but at 25-years old, Green should be as ready as ever to improve at the next level.
For a team that should be looking to shed some salary going into the 2014 season, it would almost behoove the Angels to get as much time out of their new acquisition as possible to see if he can fit into the team’s future plans. In short, Green could be the impetus for Los Angeles to make a move.
And even if they don’t, as long as Green is hitting like gangbusters at the bigs through the rest of the season, the team could also potentially use him as a trade chip to acquire the rotation help that they yearn for, no?