Inbox: How much time will Trumbo get at third?
Reporter Alden Gonzalez answers Angels fans' questions
The Angels have whittled their spring roster from 61 players to 38, and Opening Day is April 6. With that in mind, and a Wednesday off-day in the backdrop, this is as good a time as any to tackle your lingering questions in our first Spring Training version of the Inbox.
In your opinion, do you believe Mark Trumbo can eventually end up being a mainstay at third base?
-- Robert L., Murrieta, Calif.
The most likely scenario for Trumbo and third base remains somewhere in the range of 30 to 40 games, with the rest of his plate appearances coming as a corner outfielder, first baseman and designated hitter. But when asked about that on Wednesday, manager Mike Scioscia said there's no ceiling for the amount of time the young slugger spends at the hot corner.
"If he takes this position and runs with it, who knows how many he's going to play?" Scioscia said. "I think he's shown enough that I think we're going to see him playing third base for us. To what extent? We don't know."
As for my opinion? He'll never be Scott Rolen at third, and probably not even Troy Glaus, who is of similar build but moved there as a shortstop, not a first baseman. Given what he can provide on offense, the Angels' hope -- and Trumbo's expectation -- is for him just to consistently make the routine plays at third. And I think he can get there.
I know it's only Spring Training, but Bobby Abreu -- who has had a great career -- hasn't looked too good. What can you see Abreu doing in the regular season? A bench player, or dealt to another club?
-- Steven H., Australia
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No, Abreu has not looked good. He looks out of shape, his bat seems slow and he's batting just .115 through 10 games. Now, Abreu has been in the Majors a long time, and I believe he'll get his timing back and get where he needs to by Opening Day. Once the season begins, Abreu will look to compile starts occasionally at DH and, perhaps most often, as a corner outfielder when Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter need a day.
But if Kendrys Morales is healthy and Trumbo is bouncing around as expected, I don't see any way Abreu gets 400 plate appearances. The Angels would trade him if they could find a team willing to absorb a reasonable portion of his $9 million salary, but that hasn't happened -- and Abreu's play certainly hasn't helped make it happen.
Where are the Angels at with tying up Erick Aybar?
-- Gary, Glendale, Ariz.
They're working on it. Aybar's agent, Fernando Cuza, and some of his associates were in Tempe, Ariz., last week to visit the shortstop and figured they'd sit down with general manager Jerry Dipoto to continue talking about an extension. I was told by several sources that while the dialogue continues and a face-to-face meeting was a positive step, nothing is imminent. The Angels want to lock him up now so they don't risk losing him in the open market -- especially considering the big-spending Red Sox may be looking for an upgrade there this offseason. The combination of Aybar's reps knowing this, and the Angels having No. 2 prospect Jean Segura waiting in the wings, could be slowing a deal down.
With the Phillies (possibly) looking for a second baseman and the Angels having Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo, what does Philadelphia have that the Angels need?
-- Scott V., Villa Park, Calif.
Perhaps a couple of back-end rotation arms? Joe Blanton, who could come in as a fifth starter to eat innings and bridge the gap to the developing Garrett Richards, could be one. But he's owed $8.5 million this year, so the Phillies would have to eat a significant portion of that contract. Kyle Kendrick, currently looking like the odd-man out in the rotation, may be another option, and is owed $7.5 million over the next two years.
The Phillies have publicly stated they're not looking for outside help at second base. They may be waiting to see just how severe Chase Utley's knee injury is and how good Freddy Galvis can be.
I have a question regarding Jordan Walden. How long will management put up with Walden's struggles if it continues into the regular season? Is there someone else who can take his place?
-- Justin Keller, Seattle
Please, let's put a moratorium on panic over Walden's ability due to one bad Spring Training outing. Yes, Walden was hit very hard against the Royals on Tuesday -- giving up four runs while recording only one out -- but let's remember that it's only spring and guys are still working on stuff.
That aside, though, I understand the high alert over any Walden outing -- he's that important to this bullpen, because there really doesn't appear to be anybody else who can take Walden's place as closer, at least not long-term. The Angels didn't have enough payroll flexibility to sign the likes of Francisco Cordero or Brad Lidge as a safety net. Sure, Scott Downs, LaTroy Hawkins and maybe even Jason Isringhausen can take the ninth once in a while, but Walden needs to be right for this bullpen to be good. He has 2 1/2 weeks to be ready.
What's with Kevin Jepsen? Will he be on the Angels' Opening Day roster and will he be back to his 2010 form?
-- Raymond G., Sacramento
If I had to predict right now, I would say he gets one of those open bullpen spots, but it's no guarantee by any means.
The front office and coaches have been raving all spring about Jepsen, who's coming back from knee troubles and seems to have his old velocity back.
If the Angels go with seven relievers to start the season, that would mean two spots are open -- with Walden, Hawkins, Downs, Hisanori Takahashi and likely Isringhausen getting the others. The other two figure to come down to Trevor Bell, Michael Kohn, Bobby Cassevah, Francisco Rodriguez, Rich Thompson (who's out of options) and Jepsen, who has given up a run in five innings.
Does Jorge Cantu have a shot at making the Opening Day roster?
-- Raul U., Mexico
The only way Cantu makes the Opening Day roster -- barring a trade or an injury -- is if Scioscia opens up the season with 14 position players, because they don't need a fifth starter until April 15. And even that would be very temporary. Cantu has had a solid spring -- batting .321 in 13 games -- and still has value in the Majors, but the numbers are against him on this team. He has a May 1 opt-out in his Minor League contract.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.