Yeah, it's been discussed here this offseason, but in light of the Vernon Wells trade the situation has changed.
It's funny because before I would've said we stick with our current OF for 2011, but Vernon Wells is an athlete. And by being one he actually gives us more flexibility for the coming year. Bobby can play right or left if need be, Vernon and Torii can play center (I'd give Torii the nod), and Petey can play anywhere. My point is that our 5th outfielder doesn't have to be a defensive stud this year because our 3 hopeful starters in Wells, Bourjos, and Hunter are.
So what do the Angels gain by signing Vlad? Attendance? A good hitter?
How about payroll flexibility? If we sign Vlad and use him with Abreu at DH we may be able to avoid Bobby's vesting option of 9 million dollars for next year. It would only take 433 plate appearances. If we spent 5 million on Vlad this year, we'd actually be saving 4 million overall!
Another thing to consider is how different Vlad and Abreu are as hitters. We all know because we've seen it, but Abreu is one of the most patient smart hitters there is. And Vlad, well, he isn't, but he's got a lot of talent and as evidenced by last year he's still got some pop in him. The benefit of having these two guys would not be just taking advantage of L/R match-ups, but also the style of the pitching they're facing. Depending on the kind of guy we're set to face, one guy might have a better approach in that situation.
Some days both might be in the lineup, like perhaps when Pineiro pitches and we'd expect the outfield to do less work. Peter Bourjos is likely the best defensive sub in the majors, and an OF of Wells, Hunter, Abreu/Vlad is not horrific on defense, just slightly below average.
Finally, signing Vlad clears a spot for Trout. I don't want to rush the kid either, but I also think it'd be a shame to have Abreu for 9 million dollars when Trout may be ready. Better to have the flexibility than not. So sign Vlad for next year and give the Angels some depth!