The Angels-St. Louis trade in which the principals were Peter Bourjos and David Freese did a lot of things for both teams, but the most important aspect of the deal is that it means no more moving around for Mike Trout – he is now the Angels’ centerfielder, period.
Trout, the best young talent to enter the major leagues in a generation, is clearly the second best defensive center fielder in baseball. The problem Mike Ssioscia and the Angels faced for the past two years, though, was the fact that in Bourjos, they also had the BEST defensive center fielder in baseball.
Mike Trout Wall Graphic
Relegated to playing in left, Trout only moved back to center field when injuries to Bourjos kept him out of the lineup. Now, Scioscia will have Trout in the same spot every day, and will have many options for the surrounding spots. What he does there, and at second base, however, depends on what additional deals Jerry Dipoto makes.
As of now, Scioscia has several outfield options in Kole Calhoun, J.B. Shuck, Colin Cowgill, Josh
Hamilton, and Mark Trumbo, who may well be trade bait for pitching help and who, if he stays, could return to the DH spot, or could play more at first if Albert Pujols were to become the regular or semi-regular at DH. Shuck and Calhoun played extremely well last season, and deserve playing time, more so than last year’s $125 M bust, Josh Hamilton.
More questions remain on the infield, with another trade possibility, Howie Kendrick, who is coming off his best season. The team is in desperate need of front-line starting pitching, and in Trumbo and Kendrick, the team has two quality everyday players they could shop around. Last season’s late acquisition Grant Green played well and hit .280 in 40 games filling in for the injured Kendrick, and Dipoto and Scioscia may feel he’s now the everyday second baseman and deal Kendrick. If Trumbo is dealt and not Kendrick, he could be moved to first base, with Pujols at DH. There seems like there is lots of maneuverability right now, but with their need for starters, keeping all this everyday talent is a luxury they cannot afford.
As far as the Cardinals are concerned, watching the NLCS against the Dodgers this past post season, it was clear that Jon Jay had a lot to be desired as a major league center fielder on a contending team. In fact, from where I sat in front of the TV, I would have used Shane Robinson ahead of him. Robinson, used
sparingly, did outhit Jay .313 to .192 throughout the playoffs, and in his little time in the field appeared to play at least as well as Jay in center. But, that is now academic as Bourjos, baring injury, will be the everyday center fielder for the Cardinals for the foreseeable future.
Also, their free agent deal with Jhonny Peralta makes him their shortstop (or third baseman?) for the next four years. With Rafael Furcal now a free agent (after missing all of 2013 with Tommy John surgery) and apparently not welcome back in St. Louis, despite a pretty good 2012, the easy answer is Peralta at short, but then who plays third? Another free agent? Some young guy they have hopes for? Pete Kozma or Daniel Descalso? They improved immensely in center, but created a new hole.