Since about Saturday on through the moment I began writing this sentence, I keep thinking about Daniel Nava. If you had told me back in December that just a few games into Spring Training I'd have Nava on my mind this much, I'd have assumed it would be in the form of frustration and regret. Frustration because he's peforming akin to when he was injured last year(Read: not that good) and regret because the unappetizing nature of the aforementioned Daniel Nava frustration would then remind me of all the talented free agents that either chose another team or the Angels passed over all together. But here I am, thinking about Daniel Nava, and in the place of frustration and regret is Excitement and Hope.
This is pretty much how my thought process goes: Daniel Nava is having a great spring, so far. Although, it's only been a handful of games. But he's hit the ball hard, drove in some runs. Still, it's just Spring Training. C'mon, though, he's making quite the case to not only be in the lineup, but to maybe get on base before Trout, say in the #2 spot. Ehhhh, but it's Spring Training, right? Yeah, but he's got a .600 avg and OPS over 1.400 so far. BUT...these games are meaningless and are glorified workout sessions. Yes, but on top of those tasty plate appearances, he's also showing himself to be somewhat valuable on defense, too. Hey, I told you already, it's ONLY MARCH!
The downside of being filled with Nava-inspired hope and excitement is perhaps putting too much weight on his play in camp, let alone the fact that camp barely started. But as Angels fans put the the left field wringer these past few months, we came into the Cactus League expecting a Nava/Craig Gentry platoon that would be "meh" at best and "kill me now" at worst. Going off the small, meaningless sample size, I will say that Billy Eppler may be on to something here.
Craig Gentry, by the way, is so far having a more tempered, ho-hum time out in Tempe, batting .300 in 10 at bats, but coupled with Nava's 8 ABs and the groove he's found, I am starting to feel like a mad scientist who finds his attempts at re-animating a corpse aren't as unfounded and crazy as everybody said they'd be...this Nava/Gentry plan could be JUST crazy enough to work.
Here's a nice cut from Nava on Saturday, in a game in which he was totally on fire. He got good wood on the ball, driving in a run, but it's notable that he's been looking decent from BOTH sides of the plate so far:
Nava will be a guy you'll see more in 2016 as a lefty batter, but if he can prove to Scioscia that he's adept from both sides of the plate, it could give the club more roster options and let them ride out his presumable hot hand...ok, so maybe that's getting far too ahead of myself. Perhaps the more intriguing aspect of Nava's game is his defense. As Stirrups pointed out in the morning links, he's shown off range already in the short time the Angels' camp has been underway, as evidenced by this play against the Royals:
Hope and excitement. If Billy Eppler's master plan was to get some cheap, serviceable at-bats from Nava while, more importantly, making use of his superior defensive skills(at least when compared to the rotten left field ham and eggers the Angels employed last year), then you can almost start to see how it COULD actually come to fruition. And you'll begin to get excited about what a bounce-back year from Nava could do to the Angels' chances in the AL West(Hint: it'd be HUGE).
And yet, I have to continue to remind myself..."it's early, and it's only Spring Training." But the possibility is there. Hope and excitement.