A few years back, Domino's Pizza did something pretty amazing. They rebuilt their brand. Successfully. By opening themselves up to ridicule and admitting that yes, they also knew that their products were terrible, they convinced the pizza-eating public to give them another chance. And business has never been better.
The Angels should do the same thing as Domino's (they changed their name in 2012 just like the Angels did in 2005) by opening up to their fanbase and the general public with an admission that things have not been good in Anaheim for a while now. Whether it be the high-profile resignation of their last GM, the alienation of large groups of people, the whole Josh Hamilton debacle, or the lackluster production put up by the team over the past six years, the Angels organization has taken it on the chin on and off the field.
And they could take it on the chin again...by trading Mike Trout. The immediate outcry--from the media, the fans and probably other athletes--would be almost deafening, but in a few years' time, the Angels would regain the title of perennial playoff threat that they enjoyed for most of the 2000s. The trade would signal a complete change of direction and a dedication to building a team, rather than a collection of billboard stars, and no more would there be complaints of "wasting Mike Trout's prime." What's that about truly loving something and letting it go?
Take the most recent World Series contenders, for example. Both the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets have made several farm-building trades in their recent pasts. And some of them were not very fan-friendly, to put it mildly. When the Mets traded R.A. Dickey, who was coming off an NL Cy Young campaign in 2012, alongside Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to the Jays for catcher John Buck and promising, yet unknown prospects Travis d'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard and Wilmer Buiccera, many fans were upset. I'm guessing they've gotten over it.
It works the other way too. When the Royals traded very promising young outfield prospect Wil Myers to the Rays for James Shields, they were heavily criticized. Well, they aren't being criticized any more. In fact, the Myers trade is now seen as a watershed moment for the current World Series champs.
Now, Mike Trout is not just an asset. Sure, he's already established himself as one of the game's greats in his first four years in the league, but he's also a genuinely good guy who connects with fans and keeps his personal life safe and sterile. Trading him would cause a ripple throughout baseball and even popular culture. Yet, as reactionary as the general public are, they are also extremely forgiving.
And just imagine the haul that trading Mike Trout would bring in for the Angels! They could be set up for a generation by dealing a once-in-a-generation talent. If the Angels were to include Mike Trout in a trade package, not only would they be able to fill out some holes in the major-league roster in the hopes of fielding a competitive team in the short run, but they'd also be able to stack the cupboard in the minors for years of winning baseball to come. I can't even begin to speculate on what kind of players Mike Trout would net the Angels, but off the top of my head, I'd look to either the Colorado Rockies or the Baltimore Orioles. Start with Nolan Arenado or Manny Machado and work downward through the minors, picking and choosing a set of position players to fill out the 2018 World Series Champion Angels roster. I'd be more inclined to go to the Rockies first. Not only is their farm system ranked really highly, but there would also be far less chance of Trout haunting the Angels over the next decade. Plus, Arenado is younger and isn't as much of a(n) [insult redacted] as Machado.
I know this move would be heart-breaking, especially considering what the Angels would have to include in the Trout package--most likely Garrett Richards and/or Kole Calhoun. It wouldn't be easy, but if it guaranteed a World Series victory in four years, you'd have to consider it. After all, it's about the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. Right?