There’s been an entertaining if not uninformed percentage of RSN who feel the Red Sox should pursue a trade for slugging Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo. I’m guessing the majority of them are trying to make their case by citing the home run and RBI totals Trumbo put up in 2013. At the same time they don’t bother to look at his OBP and OPS, basically disregarding the Red Sox offensive philosophy as an organization. I will go more in depth on the issue and explain why Trumbo is not a fit for this club at all.
Sep 21, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo (44) looks around during a break in play against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
1. Stop comparing him to Mike Napoli. Aside from the fact that both are locks for 100+ strikeouts and hit majestic home runs from the right side, Trumbo and Mike Napoli are nothing alike. When Mike Napoli strikes out, it’s usually beyond the fourth pitch of the at-bat. He also will get ball four quite often too, as evidenced by the .360 OBP to go with that .259 average. Trumbo on the other hand will swing at ball one three times to get himself out. With the Red Sox only extending a one year deal to Mike Napoli, there’s fading optimism on his chances of returning. But the idea of replacing him with Trumbo brings me to Point 2.
2. A .299 OBP at first base? Seriously?! The Red Sox are big fans of high OBPs. Particularly ones at the first base position. (Side note: This essentially goes hand in hand with my believing that the club would deal Will Middlebrooks to another club before shifting him over to the other side of the diamond). It’s been a long time since the club has had a first baseman with an OBP below the league average. It’s very doubtful they’d start now.
3. All those homers but no .800+ OPS?! Or in the case of 2013, not even a .750 OPS (a mere .747 to go with those 34 homers, 85 runs, and 100 RBIs). The Angels have been an underachiever for the last couple of seasons and much of the blame has been put on the free agent signings of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton (which is definitely part of the problem). But they don’t put any blame on Trumbo who’s basically a feast or famine hitter. The 100 RBIs he had are a credit to guys like Mike Trout (the “MT” guy the Red Sox should really want and maybe are mistaking Trumbo with) getting on base so often for him to bat in. The guys behind him deserve credit for batting him in for the few times he gets on base.
Bottom line: A .747 OPS with that high of a home run total exposes some serious flaws, particularly Trumbo’s inability to make consistent contact and bleed counts. Fun fact: Stephen Drew had a .777 OPS in 2013, one in which he began recovering from a concussion. That was the fourth best OPS among all MLB shortstops. Funny how so many Sox fans want Drew gone (when he’s an awesome defensive shortstop as well) but somehow feel Trumbo would be a superstar acquisition.
4. Back to that organizational philosophy. The Red Sox basically already have their own version of Trumbo in Will Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks is also a free-swinger who can put up good power numbers but will probably never be the best in the OBP category. The club is also poised to add OF prospect Bryce Brentz to the 40 man roster this offseason. Brentz is also of that free-swinging/decent power mold. With the possibility (or is that danger?) of the Sox lineup carrying two of those guys in the near future, the club would be more likely to purge one (or both) than add to that number, or replace one with Trumbo. Which brings us to Point 5.
5. No trade for Trumbo would really make sense. Giving up any blue chips for Trumbo would be counterproductive for the buyer. But even a one for one swap of Middlebrooks for Trumbo wouldn’t make sense either. In the case of the Angels, they’d probably want pitching as well. And though the Sox appear to have a surplus in that category, they’re unlikely to deal from it to acquire a guy who doesn’t fit their organizational philosophy. In the case of the Red Sox, they would be giving up Middlebrooks to acquire an older, more expensive (Trumbo’s eligible for arbitration this year), and less defensively capable defensive player. I am very vocal about my concerns about Middlebrooks going forward. I’m not a fan of his defense at third and his impatient plate approach. But his OBP is much more tolerable at third than Trumbo’s would be at first. I do feel the Sox should shop Middlebrooks this offseason, but only after re-signing Drew (or a different FA SS). I also feel he should be dealt for bullpen help, not a player who’s basically a more expensive defensive downgrade.
Bottom line: Unless the Angels are willing to trade that other guy they have with the initials “MT”, the Sox should stay away. Far away for that matter.