The Other Side of the Coin: Alberto Callaspo
With the recent rumblings of moving rookie stud Mark Trumbo to third base, a justifiably overlooked question has arisen: Whither Alberto Callaspo?
Callaspo led the 2011 Angels in average (.288) and on-base percentage (.366), but this was more an indication of how poor their offense was than how good Callaspo was.
"“I think there’s a need at third base to create balance,” Dipoto said. “I think Alberto Callaspo is a good player. Maicer Izturis is a good player – like Howie Kendrick is a good player, like Erick Aybar is a good player.” – GM Jerry Dipoto"
GM Jerry Dipoto has yet to identify third base as an area he has targeted for upgrade this offseason (though, if it works, moving Trumbo from first to third certainly addresses the need) and instead seemed to suggest that he views the infield as an area from which the Angels could make a trade.
“I think there’s a need at third base to create balance,” Dipoto said. “I think Alberto Callaspo is a good player. Maicer Izturis is a good player – like Howie Kendrick is a good player, like Erick Aybar is a good player. You might need a different spice to liven things up. Is that guy out there on the free agent market? Is he available on the trade market? I don’t know. I do know between those three positions we have four good players. So we’re dealing from a position of strength. You just might want to change the face of the way that strength is happening.”
Obviously shifting Trumbo (if he can handle it) to third and re-inserting Kendrys Morales at first strengthens the lineup offensively. It also makes one of the infielders expendable, and in all likelihood will not be the All-Star (Kendrick) or the Gold Glove winner (Aybar). Since Mike Scioscia enjoys his carousel of interchangeable defensive parts, Maicer Izturis’s ability to play short as well as second and third makes him slightly more valuable than Callaspo. Alberto has played mulitple positions before, but he spent all of 2011 at third base. Offensively, both are switch hitters producing similar numbers, though Callaspo has the edge in rate stats (.288/.366/.375 to .276/.334/.388) and baserunning (8 to 1 SB/CS versus 9 to 6). At 28, Callaspo is also three years younger. Plus, he has recently been cleared from a paternity suit, so he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.
All indications suggest that the Angels figure out a way to move Maicer before his contract expires at the end of the 2012 season or just let him walk. Callaspo will be aribitration eligible in a year and at $2 mil per season is a less-expensive alternative to the 31-year-old Izturis. He does have more value as a trade piece, but more importantly he is a younger, cheaper insurance policy if the Trumbo move doesn’t pan out.
Let’s hope it does.