I sat down to write a nice little preview about some of the youngsters that the Angels might be planning on calling up this September to bolster their roster as they try and keep their slowly fading playoff hopes alive. This is a piece I typically enjoy writing because it is like getting to unwrap a shiny brand new toy. This year? Not so much.
Why is that exactly? Because Mike Scioscia hates young people. That's the best that I can figure. Tony Reagins can call up the entire farm system if he wants to come Thursday, but it won't make a lick of difference since Mike Scioscia has shown a total disregard for any of the youngsters he has under his command.
I don't care if Mike Trout might be the greatest player this team has ever seen, I'm not going to play him until he turns 34!
Sorry, I just don't buy that Mike Scioscia is going to make any use of these September call-ups given that he has been so very reluctant to use the few prospects the Halos have already promoted this season.
We all know far too well the ongoing saga of Hank Conger and the paradox of the Angels desperately needing offense behind the plate but Sosh refusing to use Hank as anything more than an occasional starter. Hank has already been called up and then demoted once, only to be called up again, seemingly because Scioscia was finally ready to commit to him... or not. Since being recalled on August 18th, Conger has made just two starts and one pinch-hit appearance in ten games. So, yeah, forgive me if I don't believe that the inevitable promotion of Alexi Amarista is going to amount to anything more than a few pinch-running appearances for the little guy.
The most shining example though of Scioscia's stubbornness is the way he has treated uber-prospect Mike Trout. The Angels surprised many by calling Trout up again on August 19th, but the plan, at the time, seemed to be to get Trout regular starts in Anaheim while Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu shifted into timeshare roles. That was a great plan; too bad it lasted all of three games before Sosh scrapped it. Trout started the first three games of his promotion, going 3-for-11 with one double, one homer and a walk. Not great, but an upgrade over what Wells and Abreu had been giving them. How many starts has Trout made since then? Just one in six games, and he went 2-for-4 with another homer in that start. And I didn't even mention that he made two late entries into games when the score was out of hand, collecting hits in both of those appearances. It is obviously a small sample size, but that combines to give Trout a 1.228 OPS in 18 at-bats since being promoted. His reward for that performance is several splinters in his butt. In Scioscia's defense, Wells and Abreu have come alive, by their standards anyway, since they were informed of their reduced playing time, so they did deserve to continue seeing some action, but not at the expense of a dynamic, potentially game-changing talent like Trout being phased out.
The fact of the matter is Scioscia only uses youngsters out of necessity. Tyler Chatwood spent a great deal of time in the Angel rotation quite simply because the Halos had no other choice. Whereas the decrepit Halo bullpen has gone largely unchanged despite their continued struggles. I would like to think that the Angels could call up any number of relief prospects like Loek Van Mil, Robert Fish, Steven Geltz or David Carpenter to try and give the relief corps a boost, but if they haven't tried that so far, why would Scioscia suddenly turn to those kids for help now?
A more likely scenario is that the Angels will just go the re-tread route and promote the likes of Trevor Bell, Horacio Ramirez and Michael Kohn first shot at giving the bullpen a shot in the arm. Why? Because Scioscia "knows" them. He "knows" that they have all had multiple shots at becoming factors in the bullpen and failed miserably, but at least Scioscia is familiar with them, so, you know, they have that going for them. Fifth time is the charm, right?
So go ahead and comb through the numbers of the guys on the Salt Lake Bees and Arkansas Travelers all you like. I'm sure you will find a number of guys who are having nice seasons, possibly even great seasons that are worth getting excited about, but temper that enthusiasm because you are only setting yourself up for disappointment when that player fails to get any playing time, if he even gets called up at all.
Also keep in mind, AA Arkansas is in the playoffs, so no one off their team will make September appearances until that's all over and even then, only Loek Van mil is actually on the 40-man. Van mil may or may not get MLB hitters out, his tall frame and downward angle on his pitches creates a ton of ground balls, but one thing we've all learned from having Michael Kohn on the mound is it doesn't matter how good or deceptive your fastball is, if you don't have good secondary offerings or a wipe-out pitch, you won't be successful in the majors. Van Mil does not have that strikeout pitch, so I suspect that much like Kohn, he's going to be very tough until he has two strikes on hitter, but he simply won't be able to put them away. His only hope at success is that major league hitters do just as AA hitters have done, fail to make solid contact and get the ball in the air. Not likely. Robert Fish however would be able to step in and be our 7th inning man immediately. He's got Walden's stuff except he's left handed.
All we're going to see is Kohn, Chatwood, Bell, Amarista and Moore. Once the playoffs are over we'll see Garret Richards and maybe Loek Van Mil.