L.A. Angels Spring Training: The Mark Trumbo-Kendrys Morales Paradox
The physical laws of nature say the same matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time. This is also true for baseball players.
At this moment in time in their careers, Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales are the same player. Both are big-time power hitters. Both are corner infielders with the potential to play the outfield. Both are still young and with plenty of upside. Both have been displaced by the arrival of Albert Pujols.
If both are healthy, both cannot occupy positions on the same squad.
Despite what GM Jerry Dipoto says publicly, it is no secret his Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are saddled with the best problem in sports: too much talent.
The outfield is overflowing with 11 Gold Gloves, four All-Star selections, two speedy superstars on the rise and an aging veteran to back them all up. In the infield, seven exceptional athletes are all vying for four positions.
And there are no less than three eligible candidates for the designated-hitter spot. Chief among them: Trumbo and Morales.
Injuries, both past and present, will play as big a role as any in deciding who stays and who goes. With Pujols anchoring first base for the foreseeable future, those two will be in a race to see who can heal the fastest and become the most productive.
But if neither is quite ready to take the field, the Angels will give the edge to Morales, who would provide Pujols the best protection in the lineup the team can offer. If that’s the case, Trumbo would need to increase his versatility dramatically to stay on this team.
The problem for him is the Angels will not be so versatile with their openings. The only starting position left for Trumbo to occupy is third base, and even that is no sure thing.
Trumbo is coming off a slow-healing foot injury, which has severely hindered his transition to third, a move many predicted would take him almost the entire offseason to make.
Add to that the sparkling defensive play of Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo in 2011, and Trumbo may only be the Angels’ third best option at third base.
The same is true for the outfield. Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter, two former center fielders with plenty left in the tank, are blocking Trumbo from earning an everyday role there. Waiting in the wings behind them is Mike Trout, one of the top prospects in baseball and a potential fixture on this team for years to come.
Trumbo’s immediate future will be determined by both his and Morales' injuries. If he is ready to go on Opening Day and Morales is not, the choice is already made.
What the Angels must avoid is having both a healthy Trumbo and a healthy Morales on the squad. Again, the same player cannot occupy the same position.
Morales is a switch-hitter, so a platoon at the DH spot is less likely, and the Angels are already set with starters and backups at every other position, leaving Trumbo stuck on the bench.
What should the Angels do with Trumbo?
That is no place for a player with his youth, power and versatility.
Morales' health issues have been well-documented over the past two seasons, but if he is able to swing the bat and run the bases without pain by the time the regular season is underway, Trumbo will be expendable.
It would behoove the Angels, then, to use this spring to evaluate not only the health of their players, but Trumbo’s worth to the rest of the league. If a good deal comes along, take it.
If not, ride out the first half of the season with Trumbo. He is fully capable of backing up at least four spots on the field as well as Morales at the DH spot in the order.
Meanwhile, as the season progresses and the trade market heats up, the Angels can use Trumbo to fill any holes that might be revealed on their roster.
Should they choose to defy nature and try to finagle both Trumbo and Morales into the same lineup, the Angels' own private universe may fall apart.
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