As Brandon Wood continues to tear up Arizona, the Angels are going to have to make a couple decisions; 1) Where will Wood play? Third base with the major league club? Shortstop down in triple-A? 2) If Wood makes the major league roster, who doesn't?
After 18 games this spring, Wood has a team leading .730 slugging percentage (8 extra base hits) in 37 at-bats, while cutting down on his strikeouts. So far this Cactus league season, Wood has struck out just 3 times which is a vast improvement from last spring when he struck out 22 times in 55 at-bats. Having too much depth is a good problem to have if you're the Angels, but someone's not going to make the team. As of today, the active roster looks like this:
1) John Lackey
2) Joe Saunders
3) Jered Weaver
4) Dustin Moseley
5) Shane Loux
6) Brian Fuentes
7) Scot Shields
8) Jose Arredondo
9) Darren Oliver
10) Justin Speier
11) Jason Bulger
12) Kevin Jepsen
13) Mike Napoli
14) Jeff Mathis
15) Kendry Morales
16) Howie Kendrick
17) Erick Aybar
18) Chone Figgins
19) Juan Rivera
20) Torii Hunter
21) Vladimir Guerrero
22) Bobby Abreu
23) Gary Mathews Jr.
24) Maicer Izturis
Who will fill the 25th roster spot? Rob Quinlan, Reggie Willits, or Brandon Wood? Each player has their strengths; Quinlan can play first and third base, Willits is a switch-hitting outfielder and Wood can play both positions on the left side of the infield. Barring a late-spring injury or trade, two of these players won't be on the active roster come opening day. The most likely scenario would be the club carries 11 pitchers which provides depth on their bench. If this happens, Quinlan will surely make the team and Willits would probably take the final roster spot sending Wood to Salt Lake to get consistent at-bats. However, the thinking is starters don't tend to pitch as deep into games early in the season as they will do later, causing a need for added pitching depth. If the Angels go with 12 pitchers, Willits probably doesn't make the team.
To make the decision even harder, all three players are having a good spring with the bat. As stated above, Wood is hitting the ball hard and often, while Willits has taken the Angels new hitting approach to heart by working deep pitch counts in his at-bats. Willits is hitting .318, but has 6 walks to boost his OBP to .464. Add in his 3 stolen bases, and Willits is making a claim as a useful bench player.
- Outfielder Chris Pettit is having a fantastic spring.
Pettit has played in all 18 of the Angels Cactus league games, hitting .342
with a couple of stolen bases. He's also shown his ability to get on
base by drawing 5 walks (with just 2 strike outs) in 38 at-bats. The 24
year-old has hit a combined .309 in his three minor league seasons, but last
season at double-A Arkansas, Pettit hit just .248. A return to Arkansas
is likely in 2009, but he should expect a promotion to Salt Lake City early
into the season if he continues to hit as he's has this spring.
- Gary Mathews Jr. wants a full-time job. In a
LA Times article by Bill Shaikin, Mathews states, "My goal is to play
every day." He then added, "I hope that's here." What does that
mean? If he's not playing every day for the Angels, would he waive his
no-trade clause so he can play for another team? For one reason or
another, many Angels' fans don't like Mathews. But the problem isn't
with Mathews, it's with his contract, especially after this season's falling
free agent prices. Ten million dollars a year is too much for a
part-time player. Actually, it's too much for a full-time player with
Mathews skill set and career numbers, but it's not his fault the Angels were
willing to pay him so much. I think most fans would be very happy to
have him on the team if he were being paid the same amount as Rob Quinlan
($1.1M) instead of twice as much as Bobby Abreu.