Free Mark Trumbo!!! Free him now! So says most any Angel fan you ask about anything even tangentially related to Angels baseball. The way this large subset of Halo fans would tell it, the fact that Mark Trumbo has not started in three games and has a mere 19 plate appearances thus far this season is the greatest injustice the baseball world has seen since A.J. Pierzynski duped that moron umpire into thinking Josh Paul dropped the third strike (not that I am still bitter about that or anything).
The desire to see more of Trumbo in the lineup is not without merit. Despite his limited action, Mark has been very productive, with two homers, a 1.224 OPS and .526 wOBA. More importantly, he has already walked three times and considerably cut down on his free-swinging ways while striking out just twice. That's all fine and wonderful, but the sample size is so small that we can't just assume that this is a more patient and disciplined Trumbo. Until he gets enough playing time to prove otherwise, it is not unfair to assume that Mark is still the same guy that posted that ugly .291 OBP while swinging at anything within four feet of the plate last season. Of course, that is a bit of a catch-22 now isn't it?
Trumbo cannot show that he has made major improvements at the plate unless he can actually play in games on a regular basis. But Mark cannot play in games on a regular basis unless he shows that he can handle the one defensive position on the field that has available at-bats, third base. In case you weren't paying attention to the first week of the season, Trumbo is somewhere between a Chernobyl-esque disaster and a massive trainwreck at third base. This is the part everyone seems to keep forgetting about.
In order to justify Trumbo's nightmarish third base defense, Mark will need to continue producing at the tremendous level that he has thus far this season, but again, there is no guarantee that he can do so. Let's say that Trumbo does get to play everyday, if he reverts back to being an out-machine that hits the ball really far on the rare occasion that he does make solid contact, then his bat doesn't nearly justify the massive defensive liability he has proven to be.
On the other hand, if he did in fact make strides in his plate discipline, then the defensive liability is most definitely worth it, especially since there is a chance that the regular playing time at the hot corner could allow him to develop into a something approaching a passable defender (which I actually think is possible, believe it or not).
Because of the uncertainty surrounding Trumbo's offensive production this year, it leave Mike Scioscia in an unenviable position. With the risk of Trumbo essentially being the same player he was last season, Scioscia can't just forget about Alberto Callaspo who completely and totally fails to excite the fanbase, but was a perfectly decent third baseman for the Halos last season. If Alberto doesn't play, he'll just whither away on the bench and be useless in the event that Trumbo fails to improve at all. That's why Scioscia needs to hedge his bets and keep Trumbo on the bench more than anyone would like, Scioscia included. The fact of the matter is that the Trumbo Scioscia knows is the one that posted a .327 wOBA and the Callaspo that Scioscia knows is the one that posted a .330 wOBA. Even a stat-o-phobe like Scioscia knows that common sense is to play the guy with the higher wOBA that can actually play defense.
This is the part where you are probably screaming at the computer screen to take my wOBA and shove because, but, like, Trumbombs, dude! To that I respond, "yeah, OK, fine." The only reason why that nonsense is even a remotely valid argument is because the Angels offense is in the crapper right now. Trumbo of 2011 may not actually be of much help in that regard, but the Trumbo that we have seen so far in 2012 most definitely could. So, sure, Scioscia should probably give it more of a shot than he has lately just to see if the Trumbomber can't give the lineup some life. He just needs to hope that Trumbo doesn't kill them on defense in the process. That doesn't mean making Trumbo an everyday player, but definitely not disappearing him to the bench for all but a game or two in a week.
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I'm kind of on board with you but kind of not. Here's why. wOBA be dammed and all but Trumbo was also team MVP last season, hit for a decent average, lead all Angels in homers and RBIs and by all accounts is a tireless worker. We don't exactly need to see him at 3B every day either. Play him at 1B to give Albert a spell, DH for Kendry (Kendry so far isn't all that hot batting from the right side anyway...) and play him in the corner outfield spots (no way he'd be worse than Abreu defensively, that ball that dropped in front of Bobby even Colon would have been able to run down, Bobby needs to go, like yesterday). Trumbo also can strike fear into pitchers hearts the same way Blake Griffin strikes fear into other power forwards, no pitcher wants to be on the bad end of a highlight reel, right now and that might be what we need most.
@David_Schroeder I'll just say this, I think OF is a no go. He has minimal experience there and the last thing the Angels should do is put even more on his plate by asking him to play left field too. I do think he will be getting semi-regular starts at DH though, mostly against lefties.
All in all, they need to see what he can do, but my point is that there is no guarantee that he is going to be an impact bat. And in a strange way, I am kind of glad he hasn't played much third lately. He was getting crucified in the media for his errors, so giving him a mental break from that, in my eyes, was necessary so that his confidence didn't get shattered.
@monkeywithahalo Valid point but one thing's for sure. He has a better chance of being an impact bat while being less of a defensive liability than Bobby Abreu when he fills in at LF. There's no excuse for Bobby to come into the season as out of shape as he is. He looks significantly slower than last year running, his bat is slower at the plate, and he's a horrible leadoff hitter. I stopped counting after his third weak fly ball last night.
One thing to consider too is that we have a guy in Cantu that might have a couple good years left in him that CAN play third, seems like he is in pretty decent shape, and knows how to hit. Yeah he was shitty at the plate the last couple of years but he looked more like his old self this spring.
I hope we can unload Abreu and Callaspo and continue the Trumbo experiment at 3rd with Maicer as a backup, while we have Cantu as a short term insurance policy.
@monkeywithahalo Not really awful, just slightly below average. And fine, I'll admit it was a bad idea. Starting to get desperate. I might agree with you more on Callaspo at third over Trumbo if Callaspo also didn't look terrible at the plate so far. So far he looks like he has zero confidence at the plate. His fielding hasn't looked all that great either. Maicer on the other hand has looked pretty damned good all around.
@David_Schroeder Regarding Cantu, 1) He is an AWFUL third baseman. 2) The last thing the Angels need is someone else adding to the clutter at the corners.
By tireless worker I mean that I believe he will be serviceable defensive 3rd baseman. He certainly has the arm. He just needs live game time. Hell, if we're losing anyway might as well get him his practice right? And if you haven't noticed Callaspo isn't the Callaspo from last year. Maicer would be the better option at 3rd right now.