Though the race in the AL West is still far from over as of right now, there is one truth that the Los Angeles Angels need to confront in a hurry.
The offense, in its current state, will not overtake the Texas Rangers.
Sure, the team just posted a weekend sweep of the third-worst team in the majors. Sure, the group went off for 26 runs in the series. Sure, they are tied for the major-league lead in team batting average.
None of that matters right now.
The demotions of Jose Arredondo and Howie Kendrick sent a message to the team that they needed to right things in a hurry. However, those demotions should only be the beginning of the transformation of the offense.
Sean Rodriguez should stay and be given the second base job for good. Brandon Wood should be promoted and handed the job at shortstop. Matt Brown should be tabbed for the outfield.
Those three moves alone would necessitate the moving of Erick Aybar, Gary Matthews and Kendrick.
Aybar is an unqualified bust at the major league level, a speedster in the minors who has taken the running game out of his attack.
In five seasons of minor-league ball, the 25-year-old reached double digits in stolen bases every year and had three seasons with at least 10 triples.
Last season, Aybar had five triples and seven stolen bases in 98 games. He has just 14 thefts in 257 major league appearances after ringing up 250 in 543 contests in the minors.
The only thing that's saved Aybar from being sent back down or dealt is his defensive prowess, and in an era where one tool is a waste of a roster space, the glove alone should not be enough for either Mike Scioscia or Tony Reagins.
Matthews, though he provided depth while Vladimir Guerrero was on the disabled list, has been a bust at the plate yet again. The .238/.285/.325 line notwithstanding, his performance has once again proven that the 2006 season was an anomaly.
The problem with dumping Matthews is that insane contract. Owed $25 million in the last two seasons, the Angels would probably have to eat at least 70 percent of it in any deal made. An unconditional release is a nonstarter, since paying a guy $24 million to play for someone else is much worse than merely paying him $18 million.
Kendrick has the most value from an offensive standpoint, the question with him remains health. Sure, the Angels could potentially be giving away a great hitter, but the same thing was said about Casey Kotchman until Reagins pulled the trigger on the Mark Teixeira deal last July.
The Angels also need to prepare for life without Guerrero, because to even consider bringing him back next season would be the kind of mistake that the Angels of the 1970s and 1980s were known for.
Yes, Vlad provided five solid seasons as the bedrock of the Angels lineup. However, between the knee problems and other factors that are affecting his overall hitting and power numbers, the only thing to do is say goodbye to the player in a classy way at the end of the year.
In the meantime, make the changes on the roster to bring up the kids for a legitimate shot at contributing. Angels fans across the country know that they couldn't possibly do any worse than the trip they would be replacing.