Hello, Angels fans. Your favorite baseball team is off Monday. For a night, their record will rest at 36-37, which translates to an 80-win pace for a full season. If it seems like they have been hovering around .500 all year, it is because they have.
As always, there is a plenty to talk about concerning the team, so let’s get to the weekly mailbag questions and answers.
It does look a bit weird, I have to say, but it turns out it’s not nearly as weird as it appears. As of this morning, the Angels have played 73 games this season, six more than four major league teams and the most in the majors, one more than Colorado and Tampa Bay. The Rays are not off today, so they’ll be tied shortly.
It is always someone, though. On this day last year, Toronto had played five more games than the Rays and the Chicago Cubs. Of course, this means the Angels will have more days off from here forward than anyone else, so that’s a positive. The downside is the club would have preferred the off days earlier in the season, so as to not overwork its bullpen when so many more games remain.
The Angels are not going to play Eric Young Jr. at second base when Mike Trout returns. He has not played the position regularly in a half-decade. More likely, he’ll become the club’s fourth outfielder upon Trout’s activation, which would force Ben Revere off the roster. He is having another awful season.
If the Angels fall out of the wild-card race, Cameron Maybin will become a prime trade candidate, which would allow Young and Revere to retain their spots. If the club does not fall out of the wild-card race, then, well, we’ll see.
My guess is that it won’t take Trout much longer to return, something between two and three weeks. The Angels are going to play some good teams between now and then, though. With the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers, 10 straight games against likely playoff teams loom right now. If he’s out until the All-Star break, which begins three weeks from today, they’ll play nine more games against teams that are in similar standing: the Mariners, Twins and Rangers.
That written, I’d guess they’ll log eight or nine wins in that span, so two or three games below .500 when Trout gets back.
I think he is likely to be there. He could even play in the game.
This is a compelling question. There are a number of ways to examine it. Maybe most importantly: Trout is under guaranteed contract through 2020, one year beyond Calhoun, who has a team option for that season. It’s pretty likely that $14-million option is exercised, but obviously not a certainty.
Let’s assume that it is, and let’s assume also that neither player will be traded. Upon the expiration of both of those deals, Trout will be 29 and Calhoun will be 33. (Shortstop Andrelton Simmons will also be a free agent then, at age 31.) If the Angels cannot bring Trout back, it’s difficult to conceive of a reason why they would want to invest in an aging complementary outfielder. Without Trout, the club will not be in position to contend in 2021, barring some surprising, all-encompassing developments.
So, Calhoun will be easier to retain, but the Angels will want to retain Trout more. Altogether, I think their fates in Orange County are very closely connected. It’s not the answer I thought I’d produce when I saw this question, but I think I will go with Trout, barely.
The rotation looks uncertain. The Angels hope that Garrett Richards will be part of it, and Andrew Heaney, and Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs and Nick Tropeano. But all of those guys are hurt right now, some more seriously than others. JC Ramirez and Alex Meyer could also be part of it. If their pitchers are healthy, the Angels shouldn’t need to pay a premium free agent. If their pitchers are not healthy, one premium free agent probably won’t push the Angels into contention.
Jo Adell, the Angels’ first-round pick last week, is an 18-year-old outfielder known for his athletic ability and raw hitting approach. If he makes the major leagues in 2021, that would be a tremendous outcome. Neither of the next two seasons is even a remote possibility. I’ve never watched him play baseball, but those who have believe he has a lot of potential. They also see a lot of risk within him.
Both remain a possibility, but given that, again, the Angels don’t have much to spend as a buyer, selling is more likely.
Send questions to the below addresses to be considered for the mailbag every Monday, all season long.