Fresh off yet another one-run loss thanks to the amazing powers of the Bullpen of Perpetual Sorrow in which the Halos have tied their worst start to a season ever, the Angels have finally reached for the panic button and slammed it hard.
Almost immediately after the loss news broke that struggling, malcontent DH/OF Bobby Abreu had finally been kicked to the curb:
#Angels announce release of Abreu.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 28, 2012
This move was long overdue. The team didn't want him, he didn't want to be on the team anymore. It is also probably not a coincidence that this move comes the day after an "unnamed Angel player" complained to T.J. Simers of the "Scioscia stanglehold." We don't know that it was Bobby, but, c'mon. Even if that had nothing to do with it, Abreu had done nothing on the field to convince the Halos that he was worth the rest of those 400 plate appearances he was promised. Abreu should land on his feet though, some team will certainly be willing to give him a shot since he will basically be playing for free after the Angels hand him his $9 million severance check.
Of course, Abreu wasn't given his walking papers solely for punitive reasons. Turns out the Angels needed to clear a spot on the active roster for uber-prospect Mike Trout:
#Angels call up Mike Trout from triple-A.— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) April 28, 2012
This move was made even though the team had said less than 48 hours before that they had no immediate plans to call him up. I guess getting four-hit by Justin Masterson has a way of making you change your plans.
While they didn't hold to their word on not promoting Trout, let's hope they do keep their promise that once called up Trout would be given an everyday role. That probably is the plan, but it isn't readily apparent how they are going to implement it. Peter Bourjos is struggling mightily, so he is sure to lose playing time and Vernon Wells isn't exactly tearing the cover off the ball either, but Wells hasn't sat much this season, suggesting that Scioscia's preference would be to sit Bourjos more than Wells. Still, it isn't that simple. Mark Trumbo has been the team's most productive hitter thus far and the Angels have had a hard time finding him playing time, resorting to giving him starts in the outfield too in the last week. That likely won't be much of an option going forward, so don't be surprised if they re-visit the Trumbo at third base experiment with a little more dedication now.
Fans will surely be glad to see Trout, who was annihilating Triple-A, but these are less than ideal times to promote him. While fellow top prospect Bryce Harper, who was coincidentally promoted today as well, is being brought into a situation on a winning team where he won't have any pressure to perform, Trout is being thrown right into the fire. Fair or not, fans, and possibly even the team too, will look to Trout to spark the pitiful Angel lineup. As far as they are concerned, he is the savior. He's 20 years old, and he's a savior. If ever there was a more perfect recipe to ruin a seemingly can't-miss star prospect, I don't know what it is.
This is a big risk, and it worries me deeply. But at the same time, I fully understand why they did it. The Angels couldn't just sit idly by and watch their season go further down the drain. They tried preaching patience, but the offense continues to do nothing and the bullpen continues to blow saves.
But that wasn't all that happened. Earlier in the day, Victor Rojas informed us all that Jordan Walden's recent blown save cost him the closer's job:
Mike Scioscia has decided to move Scott Downs into the closer role for the time being. #Angels— Victor Rojas (@VictorRojas29) April 27, 2012
That's now two seasons in a row in which Mike Scioscia has demoted the closer after just one blown save. To be fair, Walden has been fighting his command in every appearance this season, so this move isn't without merit. It supposedly is temporary too, but so was Fernando Rodney's demotion last season.
Personally, I believe Walden will benefit from this as he should be freed up to pitch more regularly, allowing him to tune up his high maintenance mechanics, but I do worry about what effect this will have on his confidence as he spoke candidly about the mental toll his meltdown late in the 2011 season took on him.
And as we learned in tonight's game, the bullpen still has plenty of issues, none of which calling up Trout or naming Downs closer will solve. In fact, I would not be shocked if more moves are announced before the weekend (or even the night) is done. Hisanori Takahashi seems like a prime candidate for demotion with Brad Mills, who has been excellent in Triple-A, taking his place. A call up of Garrett Richards probably isn't out of the question either, although the team has stated that they view him only as a starter right now.
Hold on to your butts, Angels fans, this ride on the way up from rock bottom is going to be a bumpy one.
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