Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/27/12
Maybe a shakeup is what the Angels need. The decision to release outfielder Bobby Abreu on Friday night isn't going to get the Angels out of their slump. But if the intention was to send a message that more changes are coming, then it should be heard loud and clear throughout the clubhouse. In fact, Abreu's release was coupled with the announcement that outfielder Mike Trout, who was hitting .403 for Triple-A Salt Lake, has been called up. The Angels have said all along that Trout will only be brought up to the big leagues to play on a regular basis, and manager Mike Scioscia confirmed that after a 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians, the Angels' fifth consecutive defeat. The team needs a jolt, and the hope is that Trout can give them one. They lost a game in the bottom of the ninth inning for the second time in two nights and are now 0-6 in games decided by one run. Their 6-14 record is among the worst in the American League. What to do? Cutting Abreu and what's left on his 9-million salary wasn't easy, but the team had to make room for Trout, and it was clear that Scioscia wasn't going to give Abreu the 400 plate appearances he had promised him in the spring. Trout, who is still only 20, is just the kind of player who can give the Angels a positive kick-start. He's a superb defensive outfielder, has blazing speed, good power and hits for average. Now he's going to play every day, presumably in center field, and probably will bat leadoff. Which means the time is right for Scioscia to establish an everyday lineup. Through the first three weeks of the season, Scioscia has changed lineups virtually every day, saying he wanted to keep his players fresh and find a workable chemistry. But that plan has been a failure: The Angels got off to a horrendous start and stalled immediately under the weight of an unreliable bullpen, some shaky starting pitching and an offense that has yet to explode. The celebrations on the opposite side of the field have been difficult to watch. They lost Thursday night in Tampa Bay on a walk-off home run by Brandon Allen, and they blew a 2-0 lead on Friday night in Cleveland when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth. There's really no sense waiting for this current team to turn things around, although that's what Scioscia has been saying since the season began spiraling. This is now the time to begin playing Mark Trumbo at third base and make Trout the everyday center fielder ahead of struggling Peter Bourjos. Changes already began taking shape before the game when Scioscia anointed left-hander Scott Downs as his closer, at least until Jordan Walden can get in more innings and find his comfort zone. Walden blew Thursday's game, but in fairness, he has pitched in only six games and had only two save opportunities this season. For the time being, Walden will be used in seventh and eighth inning situations, although he wasn't called on Friday night when the Angels had a 2-0 lead in the seventh. Walden had 32 saves last season, but he also had a league-high 10 blown saves. As a team, the Angels already have six blown saves. The bullpen has been a problem all season. Starter Jered Weaver pitched six shutout innings against the Indians, although he struggled continually, giving up seven hits and walking four. But he still left with a 2-0 lead that should have been secure. Instead, Hisanori Takahashi yielded the tying runs in the seventh, and David Carpenter gave up the winning run in the ninth. The bullpen is an issue the Angels may have to address very soon, but for now, the Abreu-Trout move allows them to shake up their lineup and energize their batting order. There are no guarantees it will work, but it's a start. They needed to do something.
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