The Angels are hurting themselves with Mark Trumbo at third base

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What’s getting lost in the mess that is Mark Trumbo at third base for the Angels is the fact that Trumbo just isn’t much of an offensive upgrade.

Trumbo, who committed his third error in two games in the Angels’ 7-3 loss to the Royals on Sunday, hit .254/.291/.477 as a rookie last season, giving him a .768 OPS. Nothing in his minor league track record suggests that he’s going to get a lot better at age 26. Maybe he will anyway — he was better than I thought he would be at age 25 — but the odds of him hitting enough to make up for what will be, at best, a well below average glove at third are long.

Alberto Callaspo, a perfectly average defensive third baseman, hit .288/.366/.375 in 475 at-bats for the Angels last season. No, he didn’t come close to matching Trumbo’s RBI total, but he was just about as valuable offensively thanks to the extra 75 points of OBP. And the Angels aren’t exactly starving for a .300 OBP-30 HR guy hitting seventh when they have Torii Hunter, Kendrys Morales and Vernon Wells following Albert Pujols in the order. A .280/.350/.370 line from Callaspo will do just fine.

The Angels also have super-sub Maicer Izturis available to play the position. He hit .276/.334/.388 in his 449 at-bats last year.

I don’t think the Angels should abandon the Trumbo experiment entirely, but he should be the team’s third option at third base, not the first. If that means he doesn’t start more than once or twice per week between there and DH, that’s fine. The Angels could always work him out in left field, too. Of course, Mike Trout is awaiting his chance in Triple-A, but Trumbo has a better chance of being an upgrade on Wells than he does on the current third basemen.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.