Thursday, August 11, 2011

Angels Send Mike Trout Back to AA, Might Not Know What They're Doing

When last we discussed Mike Trout here, the Angels had recalled him due to an injury to Peter Bourjos. I admit that I may have had delusions of grandeur, but there was always the chance that he wasn't quite ready. Indeed, his .163/.213/.279 line in 14 games showed that he wasn't quite ready for The Show. If the Angels were in the same position as the Mariners or Astros, playing for 2012 and beyond, it may have made sense to see what he could do in the last two months anyway, but the Angels are not in that position. Engaged in a closer-than-expected race with the Angels in the American League West, the Angels couldn't give Trout the playing time a super prospect needs. Here's where things get a little bit silly.

On August 1, the Angels demoted Trout all the way back down to AA - the level where he'd dominated to a .324/.415/.534 clip in 341 plate appearances. All six tools were on display, and he was the youngest player in his league. The only four players with higher OBPs were between 4 and 12 years older than Trout was. Given that level of production, wouldn't a promotion to AAA have been forthcoming, even if the major league promotion wasn't there?

Apparently Tony Reagins - who, let's let it be said, should have every decision he makes about an outfielder be thoroughly questioned - didn't think so, and sent Trout to continue his apprenticeship at a level where he seemingly has nothing left to learn. What has Trout done there? Why, the same thing he did every night - try to take over the wo.... errr, make AA pitchers feel bad about themselves. In 41 post-demotion plate appearances, he is batting .343/.439/.543, with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 4 steals and 6 walks.

Let me say this definitively. Mike Trout is ready for AAA.

The Angels keeping Trout in AA doesn't just stunt his progress, it stunts theirs as an organization. Most likely, Trout will be a major league callup in September. Wouldn't a month of facing AAA pitching - a major step up from AA for a variety of reasons, most notably the ability of pitchers to throw off-speed pitches for strikes - better prepare Trout to contribute when he does? If there IS a flaw in his game that AAA pitchers could expose, isn't working it out now, rather than next season, the best bet? If he dominates at AAA as well, doesn't he have to be considered a starter next year, to heck with how much money they owe Vernon Wells (who happens to have the worst OBP in the major leagues)?

The Angels, for all the dumb things they do like not playing Mike Napoli and trading Mike Napoli, have won a lot of games the last 10 years. The biggest reason they've won is from contributions from home grown talent. They will need to continue to do so in order to keep up with the Rangers, so it it is worth watching their handling of Mike Trout going forward.

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