Pitching, pitching, pitching.
That will be the Los Angeles Angels‘ focus going into the offseason, as it should be. As disappointing as Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have been this year, the Halos can’t lay the blame for this season’s underachievement at the feet of the offense — going into Monday’s games, Los Angeles was third in the American League in team batting average (.265) and fifth in runs scored (708), numbers that would normally put a team in playoff contention.
Yeah, they’d be in contention if hitting were the whole game, but it isn’t. Enter the Halo pitchers, whose 4.21 ERA is 11th in the AL. That’ll bring a good team crashing right back down to .500.
Ok, we know the pitching needs to be improved. The question, as always, is how? Several trade proposals were thrown around right before the July 31 trade deadline: some included Erick Aybar in exchange for a top-notch pitcher, a move that probably would have yielded the most in return for the Halos. Other rumored moves involved second baseman Howie Kendrick, whose .300+ average this season surely caught the eye of many a contender seeking to add an extra piece before the postseason.
As none of those big trades materialized and it became clear that the Angels would have to wait until the offseason to improve, Mark Trumbo‘s name started to appear in rumored trades, even as he’s become the only Angel since Vladimir Guerrero to post back-to-back 30 home run seasons.
Sure, his price tag will go up significantly from the mere $540,000 he is receiving from Los Angeles this year. But with a career average of .251, it’s not like the arbitrators will give him anything close to a Pujols or Hamilton-esque contract. Once both of those players returns fully healthy at the start of 2014, Trumbo will see better pitches and be even more dangerous at the plate.
It’s no secret that the Angels need to beef up their rotation if they hope to avoid a second straight embarrassing season in 2014. But they need to hang on to what young talent they have, and Trumbo represents exactly that sort of talent.