Commentary: Angels decide there’s no time like the present to go for it

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C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk on rejoining the Angels

C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk talk about rejoining the Angels after being traded by the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

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It was not an insult. It was a scouting report, and a pretty fair one at that.

On Friday, after Shohei Ohtani hit a home run in his first at-bat in Toronto, Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman got in the face of his manager. “Why,” Chapman asked, his own face growing increasingly animated, “did we pitch to him? He’s the only f—ing guy on the team that can hit.”

The television cameras caught the exchange, and everyone said all the right things afterward, but actions speak louder than words. The Blue Jays intentionally walked Ohtani twice on Saturday, intentionally walked him twice more on Sunday.

The Angels acquire Randal Grichuk and C.J. Cron in a deal with the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Jake Madden and Mason Albright.

July 31, 2023

In a series in which the Blue Jays dared someone besides Ohtani to beat them, the Angels went 0 for 27 with runners in scoring position through nine innings Sunday. Hunter Renfroe hit a two-run home run in the 10th inning, and the Angels departed Canada knowing two things: They are alive in two races, not one, and they won’t stay alive in either one just by crossing their fingers and waiting for Mike Trout to get back.


The San Diego Padres swept the Texas Rangers over the weekend, so an Angels team focused on the wild-card race finds itself four games back in that race, with three teams ahead of them — and five games back in the American League West, with two teams ahead of them.

Up next: the Atlanta Braves, the best team in baseball. So, by the time the Angels settled into their hotel in Atlanta on Sunday night, they had two new teammates: first baseman C.J. Cron and outfielder Randal Grichuk, both of whom were in the starting lineup Monday.

In five weeks, Angels general manager Perry Minasian has collected reinforcements like trading cards: infielders Eduardo Escobar and Mike Moustakas a month ago, pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López last week, Cron and Grichuk from the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

Angels third baseman Mike Moustakas celebrates a home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 21, 2023,  in Anaheim.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas, rounding the bases after hitting a home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 21, was acquired by the Angels five weeks ago.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Cron (2011) and Grichuk (2009) were Angels first-round draft picks; Grichuk is best known around these parts as the guy they drafted immediately ahead of Trout.

When you trade from a thin minor league system, as Minasian has done, the bad news is that you lack the elite prospects to get the very best players available in trade. The good news is that you can trade in volume without too much anxiety, and worry about building next season’s major league roster and rebuilding minor league depth after this season ends.


This season, after all, is what the Angels are all about. There might not be a next season for Ohtani in Anaheim. To the extent that he might be interested in signing a new contract in Anaheim — and no one except Ohtani really knows — the Angels believe winning is their best sales pitch.

Of the nine players in the Angels’ opening day lineup, six are on the injured list, including Trout and — for the third time this season — Anthony Rendon. Outfielder Taylor Ward, hit in the face by a pitch Saturday, was put on the 60-day injured list Sunday and is expected to be out for the season.

Sunday’s lineup included veteran minor league first baseman/outfielder Trey Cabbage, who has struck out 17 times in his first 34 major league at-bats. On Monday, the Angels returned Cabbage to the minors.

Sunday’s lineup also included shortstop Andrew Velazquez, a career .193 hitter. It included catcher Matt Thaiss, batting .146 since the All-Star break, and Escobar, batting .211 since the break. Monday’s lineup did not include any of those three players.

In the Dodgers’ world, where a pool of wondrous prospects constantly refills itself, this is the time of year to dream of trades for the likes of Nolan Arenado and Justin Verlander. For the Dodgers, October is just another month on the schedule, and the World Series is the destination.

Nolan Arenado will not be traded to the Dodgers or anyone else ahead of Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline, a St. Louis Cardinals team executive says.

July 29, 2023

For the Angels, without that prospect flow, patch jobs are the best they can do at the moment. The destination: the postseason, please, just an appearance in the postseason. To their credit, they are trying.


Cron was the designated hitter in the Angels’ last postseason game: Oct. 5, 2014. He batted eighth, just behind Josh Hamilton.

The Angels eventually traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays for infielder Luis Rengifo, and the Rockies are his fifth major league team.

This year’s Rockies are dreadful. They are basically the Oakland Athletics of the National League, without the “we’re leaving town” part. The Angels now have fortified themselves with three Rockies players in five weeks.

Could it work? Who knows? What the Angels were doing was not working, and a calendar that turns to August on Tuesday leaves no more time for patience, not in this must-win season with a two-word game plan: Anything goes.