One way for the Angels to lessen their first base/corner outfield/designated hitter logjam would be to have stud prospect Mike Trout begin the season in the minors and it sure sounds like manager Mike Scioscia thinks that would be a smart idea.
Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, and Torii Hunter are cemented as the Angels’ starting outfield, Albert Pujols is obviously the starting first baseman, and Bobby Abreu and (if healthy) Kendrys Morales will have to fight over designated hitter playing time. And then there’s still Mark Trumbo, who’ll have to be included in that mix if his conversion to third base goes poorly.
That doesn’t leave much room for Trout–although obviously plenty of Angels fans would vote in favor of him replacing Wells–and Scioscia told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that “he’s not a finished product” and it might take an injury for the 20-year-old to get “an opportunity” coming out of spring training.
For his part Trout said all the right things when asked about potentially beginning the season in the minors:
If they put me in Salt Lake or wherever, I’m going to accept that. I wouldn’t be disappointed at all. I’m still young. It just makes you want to work harder.
Salt Lake is the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate and it’s worth noting that Trout skipped the level completely while jumping from Double-A to the majors. He’s also 20 years old and struggled somewhat in his 40-game debut, so sending him to Triple-A for a couple months wouldn’t be the worst thing for Trout’s long-term development even if a positional logjam determining his plans isn’t ideal.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?