The Divergent Direction Of The LA Angels (Video)
For the second consecutive season, a winter of massive free agent spending has morphed into a summer of disappointment and discontent for the deep pocketed Los Angeles Angels. The additions of superstars Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have not delivered the level of postseason success, once envisioned by Arte Moreno, the franchise's highly aggressive owner. After finishing in third place, during the 2012 season, LAA once again finds itself on the outside looking in, trailing the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers by 7 and 10 games respectively, as we near the final two months of the 2013 season.
Despite all the underachieving, one incredible bright spot has emerged beneath the hot Southern California sun. That bright spot goes by the name of Mike Trout. It is amazing to consider that amid a roster that includes Pujols, Hamilton, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, the 21-year-old, second-year outfielder has quickly emerged as the Angels' marquee attraction. The greatest example of this can be found by accessing the 2013 American League All-Star balloting. While Pujols tallied 2,671,942 votes, with Hamilton coming it at 1,489,456 votes, Trout garnered a whopping 6,771,745 total votes, placing him in the starting lineup for the July 16th game. Simply put, the 2012 Rookie of the Year generates a whole lot more buzz (in both Southern California and nationally) than that of the above list of multi-time All-Stars.
Trout's epic rookie season (led the AL in runs and stolen bases, finished second in hitting), has been followed up by a slightly less productive, yet still stellar effort. Entering Friday's game versus the Oakland Athletics, the New Jersey native is number four in the AL in both batting average and runs scored, while coming in fifth in stolen bases. In the outfield, Trout has quickly become one of the better defensive players in the game, making the spectacular look routine.
Above is an iFolloSports.com original video of Trout and Pujols interacting with each other, prior to Wednesday's game versus the Minnesota Twins. While the sight of the two players most certainly draws the attention of any baseball fan, the buzz surrounding the younger, considerably lesser compensated Trout ($510,000 salary in 2013) far exceeds that of the future Hall of Famer/all-time great Pujols.
On one hand, young talents like Trout and Mark Trumbo provide the Angels with a bright future. Unfortunately though, the greatest issue facing the team moving forward involves the club's ability to receive a return of investment on their long list of free agent expenditures. No matter the production of the young guys, if the bulk of the Angels resources are tied up in high priced, past their prime players, no amount of youthful exuberance will be able to overcome this potential lack of financial flexibility.