Five Big Questions For The Angels
The five big Angels’ questions I hope to get answered on my trip to Tempe, Ariz., this week:
1. Who is the closer? I know Mike Scioscia says he’ll start with Fernando Rodney and see what happens, and I realize he has a bunch of young power arms he likes in the bullpen. But that still doesn’t answer the question. Rodney was terrible the second half of last season and he has been shaky so far this spring. If the season were opening tomorrow, whom would Scioscia call on to protect a lead in the ninth inning? I don’t think he knows yet, but I’ll be working to find out.
2. Can Peter Bourjos hit enough? Everyone hopes so, but nobody really knows. He had a big second half in Triple-A Salt Lake last season, but until then, he hadn’t shown much with the bat. The kid is a blur on the bases and might already be one of the three or four best center fielders in the game. So he doesn’t have to hit a lot. But it has to be more than the borderline .200 average he managed in his brief time in Anaheim last year.
3. Can Maicer Izturis stay healthy enough to be the regular third baseman and leadoff hitter? His record says no, but it’s not like Scisocia and his staff aren’t aware of it. They know he is fragile, but they also know they don’t really have anyone else to lead off, other than Bobby Abreu, who is probably better batting second. So what if Izturis gets hurt in the first month or two? What do they do then? Exactly. If they have a Plan B, it’s not evident yet.
4. Are they really buying into Scott Kazmir? I realize he had a good effort the other day, and everyone has been positive about the way “the ball is coming out of his hand,” whatever that means. All I know is that this guy was a train wreck last season, and if he can bounce back after putting up all those awful numbers, more power to him. It would make an already very good Angels rotation one of the best. Ah, but if he can’t, how long do they go with him? And would Hisanori Takahashi move from the bullpen to the No. 5 starter’s spot?
5. What Should They Do With Mark Trumbo? Some people saw him as the new Brandon Wood after he hit 36 homers at Triple A last summer, but so far he’s been anything but. He tore it up in the Winter League and has been even hotter so far in spring games, with more homers and RBIs than anyone else on the roster. If Kendry Morales isn’t ready by opening day (and that seems a distinct possibility), the decision is easy. Trumbo opens up as the first baseman. But what if this guy keeps hitting? What do you do with him when Morales gets back? Trumbo could DH or play a little outfield, but Abreu has to play, too. It would be a shame to send this kid back to Triple-A the way he is hitting, but that’s what the Angels did with Wood. The difference is, so far, Trumbo looks more legitimate than Brandon. Stay tuned. This could end up being the most intriguing Angels’ question of all.
— STEVE BISHEFF