The Los Angeles Angels this past weekend cut ties with veteran slugger Raul Ibanez, and it was the right move to make by the organization.
The 42-year-old in his 19th season in the league has performed no where near what the Angels had expected from him coming off a productive 2013 with the Seattle Mariners that saw him hit 27 home runs and drive in 65 runs. This is a stark contrast to what he has done this year with Los Angeles as he batted just .157 with three home runs 21 RBIs, 43 strikeouts in 52 games played. This also included just three multi-hit games and failing to record a hit in 33 games. With Ibanez granted his unconditional release, his presence in the clubhouse will be missed as it leaves the Angels without a player who is regarded as a great teammate, leader, and a mentor to the younger players on the team.
On the other hand, there is one person who will benefit from the open spot at designated hitter and that is C.J. Cron. The 24-year-old is expected to slide right into full-time DH duties and since the move he has been productive with a home run in each of his last three games. Cron’s offensive output over the last few days is not a mere mirage as he has been a pleasant surprise for the Angels since being called up May 3. In the 37 games played, he is batting .286 with six home runs, 18 RBIs, and 13 runs scored. Cron has provided the Halos with a much-needed boost in the lineup with Ibanez’s offensive struggles continuing on and has even helped give Albert Pujols a day or two off from playing the field at first base.
The decision to give Cron everyday playing time moving forward will be beneficial to Angels’ offense and most importantly to the development of their young prospect. If he is given the chance to go through correctly the maturation process in the majors, Cron has the potential to be a very productive player that could belt out 30-plus home runs and drive in over 100 runs each season. His presence in the lineup would give the Halos another player to build around aside from Mike Trout, and help ease the pressure to produce off older players such as Pujols and Josh Hamilton as they get into the latter stages of their respective careers.
At the moment it may seem like this is putting the carriage before the horse, but that is the type of talent and potential Cron has that could make him a star of the future for Los Angeles. His future is bright and the Angels have taken the first steps into helping further the development of their top prospect.