I can't really say "there's a fix" for Angels, because I don't believe we're broken. The Kansas City Royals are broken, the Angels, are just having a bad year. We should consider ourselves fortunate that a bad year is .500. Most of us suffered through my childhood (the 1990's) and those were bad years, .500 would have been a victory. Instead of "fixing" the Angels, I'd want to improve the Angels chances of winning this year and in the future and I think there's a few ways to do that.
- Promote Mark Trumbo - He really has developed into a dangerous hitter in AAA. Most experts still see gigantic holes in his swing but thankfully AAA pitchers don't. Slide him in at 1B.
- Move Howie Kendrick back to a timeshare at 2B. The fact is, Howie isn't improving. He's hitting around .240 in the last month. His OBP is down from last year, as is his BA. His BB/K ratio is actually getting worse, which I wasn't sure was possible for him. He simply doesn't deserve to play 1B while we watch Napoli take a seat. If Trumbo doesn't show any sign of hope at 1B within a few weeks, then we can go right back to Howie.
- Move Mike Napoli back to C. Scioscia himself said offense is our biggest problem, so if we move Trumbo to 1B, this should also mean Napoli becomes our everyday catcher. Mathis' numbers indicate he's not improving at the plate or behind it and Napoli at least brings HR power to a premium position.
- DFA Scot Shields. Yeah it hurts my heart too, but Shields isn't the same pitcher anymore and clearly, Butcher can't "fix" him. Jason Bulger is coming off the DL very soon and could definitely help us out in the 6th/7th innings where we struggle.
- Promote Brian Stokes, send Mike Kohn back down to AAA. Hard for me to say, as I'm a Kohner. While he has improved and hasn't given up a run in his last 3 appearances, Kohn can still work on some things in AAA, most specifically control. MLB hitters don't swing at his high fastball, so he has to rely on his slider to put them away, and he needs to work on that as well. Stokes however, has proven in the past he can be a very solid BP option, he deserves a shot at doing so with the Angels.
Offseason Moves - I already feel like our payroll is too high as it is. So I'm only going to list homegrown methods of improving this team. Obviously guys like Crawford or Dunn could help us immensely, but I don't know their price tag. Also, hopefully, Kendry Morales learns how to celebrate, we need his bat for the foreseeable future.
- Trade Juan Rivera. Why Juan? Because Bobby's better than his numbers indicate and his contract makes him less tradeable. Juan never does anything the first half of the season, and would be stuck in a LF/DH rotation with Abreu next year, giving us no defense in LF. I would seek a minor league SP in AA/AAA in return, we're pretty shallow there, hopefully someone in the Sean O'Sullivan/Trevor Bell mold.
- Promote Chris Pettit. He proved already that he can thrash AAA pitching. He plays good defense in LF, and doesn't have awful patience and discipline at the plate unlike many of our prospects. If I'm not mistaken, Pettit handles lefties much better than righties. So play him in LF against LHP while Bobby is DH. Against RHP, If Scioscia wants, throw Bobby back out in LF and use the DH spot for Howie or Napoli.
- Trade Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson. Plenty of teams would love to give Wilson a shot at a timeshare at catcher. I don't think the haul for him would be great, but we could potentially bring in more upper minor league pitching, an area which we are desperately short in after trading for Haren and Callaspo. Mathis, I think would probably be of similar value, but I just can't stand there being a blackhole in the lineup, we're weak enough already.
- Demote Mark Trumbo. This may have nothing to do with performance, but with Kendry coming back and so many other players who can play 1B, I'd rather have Trumbo down in AAA working on things that will improve him at the top level over riding the pine.
- Trade Brandon Wood. Hopefully some team like the Royals bites and swaps him for Alex Gordon. Or maybe we can get more AAA pitching. Regardless, he has upside, Butcher can't help Wood, and the Angels simply don't have room for him.
- Promote Kevin Frandsen. He knows how to hit and can play anywhere on the infield, that's valuable coming off the bench.
- Promote Hank Conger. His defense in AAA has been outstanding. He's a switch hitter and has great discipline at the plate.
Here's the team this series of moves would assemble against RHP
DEPTH: Willits, Pettit, Kendrick, Frandsen
ROTATION: Weaver, Haren, Santana, Pineiro, Kazmir
BULLPEN: Rodney (9th), Jepsen (8th), Bulger (7th), Stokes, Thompson, Rodriguez, Bell.
AAA players who may be promoted: Kohn, Trumbo, Reckling, Amarista, Walden, Chatwood (2nd half).
Against LHP, move Kendrick to 2B, Izturis to 3B, Napoli to C, Pettit to LF, Abreu to DH, Callaspo and Conger to bench. This lineup should be effective than our current lineup because of Morales' return and Conger over Mathis. But also, it looks like it would be about 20 million cheaper than our current payroll of 129 million.
This would allow the Angels to make the necessary offseason moves to following year, as Pineiro, Kazmir, Rodney will all hit FA and names should be available like Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzales, Jose Bautista, Heath Bell, Jon Broxton, Matt Capps, Mike Gonzalez. Lots of opportunity to solidify that bullpen and improve this team.