Life is good for the Baltimore Orioles. They have the best record in the American League. No team has hit more home runs, or committed fewer errors. They have the best bullpen in the league. They might have the most valuable player in the league, now that Manny Machado is playing shortstop while leading the majors in slugging percentage.
Even the best of teams can never have too many runs. So the wheels of whimsy were turning within the head of Orioles Manager Buck Showalter the other day in Anaheim.
He was talking about his team’s most prodigious slugger this season. Not Machado, who is one shy of the AL lead in home runs. Not Chris Davis, who led the league with 47 home runs last year, and with 53 in 2013.
Showalter was talking about Mark Trumbo, who leads the AL in home runs with 13. The quantity was impressive, but Showalter was talking about the sound of them.
“He makes some loud noises,” Showalter said.
“There’s some home runs that he’s hit, you should get a run and a quarter for them,” Showalter said. “It shouldn’t just be one run.”
Don Mattingly, who manages Giancarlo Stanton with the Miami Marlins, ought to look into that.
The Angels can only look back and wonder. Trumbo was the kid born in Anaheim, the one who watched Tim Salmon and Troy Glaus play and grew up to be a slugger for the hometown team.
Trumbo hit 29 home runs as a rookie, 32 as a sophomore, 34 in his third year. But he was crowded out of the lineup by the two signings that have crippled the Angels’ financial flexibility ever since — first baseman Albert Pujols for $250 million and outfielder Josh Hamilton for $125 million.
Pujols signed with the Angels after the 2011 season. Since then, he has hit .263 with 123 home runs in 611 games, Trumbo .255 with 115 home runs in 573 games. Each player has made the All-Star team once.
The Angels had no money left for pitching, so they traded Trumbo to get Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs. Trumbo has bounced from Anaheim to Arizona to Seattle to Baltimore over the last four years. Perhaps he and the Angels would have been better off had they kept the hometown kid home.
“You don’t quite know what the future holds for you, but you hope you end up in a spot that is good for you, and where you can contribute.”
Trumbo is contributing as a right fielder and designated hitter. He ranks sixth in the league in OPS, just behind Trout. He is batting .306. He even stole his first base in three years.
Trumbo turned 30 in January. He might not be a steady hitter, or an accomplished defender, but his raw power is an increasingly rare tool.
“A lot of guys 28 to 32 start figuring out some things,” Showalter said. “You have to be careful about writing them off and saying, ‘This is who they are going to be.’ Guys like Mark, they keep learning, they keeping taking in new things.
“He’s very astute. He’s a student of hitting. He wants to be good at everything — running the bases, playing defense. He doesn’t take any part of it off. He’s been a real good teammate. Throw out statistics. He’s just been a good fit for us, since the first day of spring.
“Smart guy, but not a smart-aleck.”
We report, you decide
The eighth inning has befuddled the Dodgers yet again this season. They have cycled through Chris Hatcher, Yimi Garcia, Pedro Baez and J.P. Howell. The setup man of the moment is Joe Blanton, the guy they signed to be their long reliever.
O’Day signed a four-year, $31-million contract to stay with the Orioles. That kept his wife close to her job, and the couple’s young daughter close to her grandparents.
“As persuasive as Andrew Friedman is, and the Dodgers are a great franchise, it’s a long way from home,” O’Day said. “If I was a single guy, I’d probably be wearing white and blue.”
O’Day’s wife, Elizabeth Prann, is a reporter for Fox News, based in Washington, D.C. Has she interviewed Donald Trump?
“No,” O’Day said, “but he called her an idiot on Twitter.”
Nothing lasts in Los Angeles, or so the cliche goes. We’d rather tear down an old structure and build a grand one. To the extent that we preserve our architectural history, it’s a car wash, or a grotesquely large doughnut overlooking a freeway.
Turner Field opened in 1996; the Braves are closing it this year and moving to a new park next year. Chase Field opened in 1998; the Arizona Diamondbacks are threatening to leave.
We might knock down a home and build a McMansion, but we are distinguished for ballpark preservation. Angel Stadium turned 50 this year. Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. The only older major league stadiums: Boston’s Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago’s Wrigley Field (1914).
It’s difficult to draw conclusions when the season is at the quarter pole, but this could be an intriguing trend to watch, based on results through Friday’s games.
The record of the teams with the three highest payrolls: 59-66.
The record of the teams with the three lowest payrolls: 59-63.
That means the Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees are spending $656 million to win as many games as the Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays. Those teams are spending $202 million.
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin
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