Angels can still win without Morales

Sad news for the Angels, as Kendrys Morales will miss the entire season after needing further surgery on the ankle he broke last year.

MoralesMoralesIn the big picture, it's a tough blow, as Morales' had been one of baseball's top sluggers in 2009, hitting .306/.355/.569, and now it sounds like his career could be in jeopardy. On the positive side, the Angels have a capable replacement in Mark Trumbo, who is hitting .263/.303/.474 with six home runs. The numbers are right in line with his projections -- Baseball Prospectus projected him to hit .276/.320/.488. He's too much of a free-swinger (six walks, 29 strikeouts) to ever be really valuable with the bat, but at least he provides some power. Morales was about a 3.5 WAR-level player in 2009, while Trumbo has been about a 0.6-WAR player so far, so the difference isn't as extreme you may think -- maybe a win over a full season if Trumbo keeps up his current level.

The Angels are 21-17, good enough for first in the AL West right now, despite no Morales, terrible production from Vernon Wells, the desire to keep giving at-bats to Jeff Mathis and the fact that their cleanup hitters are batting .239 with a .292 OBP. While it's easy to give all the credit to Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, the offense actually hasn't been that bad, ranking ninth in the AL in runs scored. But if you adjust for Angels Stadium being a pitcher's park, it actually ranks a little higher, more middle of the pack.

The problem comes with future performance: Howie Kendrick, Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo are all hitting over .300 and Peter Bourjos is hitting .290 despite 40 strikeouts in 131 at-bats. Bourjos, Kendrick and Izturis rank fifth, sixth and eighth in the AL in batting average on balls in play. Bourjos, in particular, is due for a decline in production unless he cuts way back on those strikeouts. Right now, rookie catcher Hank Conger is splitting time with the offensively inept Mathis. While it's understandable not wanting to give the full-time job to a rookie, Conger's bat may be needed on a five-day-week basis, rather than three.

I think the Angels can hang in there. They play great defense (second-best UZR in the majors) and have two aces. And while the offense isn't great, remember that it's 2011 ... not many are.

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