Today, Raul Ibanez, outfielder and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels, turns 42 years old.
The Angels hoped that Ibanez would bring consistent hitting and a veteran presence to the club, but his extended offensive slump has been a detriment to the rest of the team. Yesterday in Oakland, he went 0-for-4 with two fly outs, a line out and a ground out. Ibanez is currently batting .147. His on base percentage and slugging percentage are .259 and .272, respectively.
In the meantime, 26-year-old Grant Green and 24-year-old CJ Cron continue to impress. Green, who has primarily been filling in for Josh Hamilton in left field, has a team-leading .361 batting average. In addition, he hasn’t committed a single error in his 131 innings on the field. Cron has largely made his presence known with his bat. He has 23 hits, three of which were home runs, during his 77 at bats. His .532 slugging percentage, the third best on the team, indicates his enormous potential as a designated hitter or first baseman. Despite these facts and figures, one of these youngsters will likely rejoin the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees in the near future, while Ibanez will maintain his place on the roster.
As the roster currently stands, the Angels have six bullpen pitchers to support their five starters. It was revealed that reliever Sean Burnett tore his ulnar collateral ligament after pitching only two-thirds of an inning this season, leading the Angels to reinstate starter Matt Shoemaker.
Although it has been a strong season so far, the Angels are realistic. They know that pitching is often their weakness, and the presence of only six relievers could be a major setback. At this point, they might opt to bring up one of the highly-touted prospects, RJ Alvarez or Cam Bedrosian. Both have good numbers in the minor leagues and could add considerably to the bullpen. Thus, it is likely that the Angels will send down either Green or Cron and call up a reliever.
Because both have contributed offensively during their time in the big leagues, it will be difficult to decide who to keep and who to option. With Josh Hamilton rejoining the club on Tuesday, the Angels might select the speedier Green. Hamilton will bring the power that Cron has been providing, while Green will serve as a valuable backup infielder and outfielder. On the other hand, the Angels might prefer Cron because he can act as an alternative to Ibanez if he continues to struggle as a designated hitter.
In the long run, Angel fans could very likely see both Cron and Green on the roster. Ibanez has been in a slump for nearly a year. He certainly has more experience than Cron and Green, so his resume will keep him on the team temporarily. If he continues to do the team more harm than good, the Angels could reconsider. For now, Ibanez is fighting to stay on the team.