Taylor Lindsey’s Development Will Determine Howie Kendrick’s Fate With Angels


April 4, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels infielder Taylor Lindsey (79) hits in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels received quite a few calls this winter in regards to the availability of second baseman Howie Kendrick. With pitching needs galore, the team was said to be floating the veteran second baseman in an effort to shore up the starting staff, hoping that a former All-Star with two years left on his deal would help them net a solid return.

However, when the dust cleared, Kendrick’s Angels jersey remained intact, as the team found another way to solve its pitching needs. Instead, the team packaged A.J. Schugel and slugger Mark Trumbo in a three-team deal with the Diamondbacks and White Sox, netting Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs in return.

That left Howie Kendrick standing…for now.

Despite the additions of Skaggs and Santiago, the Angels still remain one of baseball’s oldest teams. Signing of Raul Ibanez and Carlos Pena, while providing some bench depth, does nothing to mitigate concerns over age and injuries. Couple that with the moves made elsewhere within the division, and the Angels could once again be looking at possibly moving Kendrick mid-season. But to do so, the Angels will need to be sure they have a good plan in place to fill that hole at second base.

The Angels tried a few different hands at the position last season, giving reps to both Andrew Romine and Grant Green down the stretch. The 28-year-old Romine came away from the experience as nothing more than a utility infielder with little upside, whereas Green showed some promise after coming over from Oakland and could figure into the mix with a strong spring.

However, the one wild card to watch for could the team’s #3 prospect, Taylor Lindsay.

The Angels first round pick in 2010 (37th overall), Lindsay made quite the jump last season. In his first go-around at Double-A, the 21-year-old slashed a solid .274/.339/.441 and saw a sizable jump in power, notching 17 home runs in the process. However, he profiles more as a line drive hitter in the majors.

With his sudden jump in production, the Angels can look as Lindsey as a possible successor to Kendrick, and possibly in the near future. He has the ability to adequately field the position, meaning he could make the jump in 2014, but the Angels would like to give him as much time as possible to see advanced pitching and will likely start him either back at Double-A or at Triple-A after the spring.

That said, Lindsey will get a shot to report to camp with the big club in Spring Training and show what he can do. If he makes a good impression, then shows that he can continue to develop (even with the Texas League and Pacific Coast League riders applied), Kendrick could become a lot easier to move at the deadline.

Whether that means giving the reins to Lindsey directly and letting the rookie see what he can do, or sharing the duties with Grant Green, is a matter of development. However, having the luxury of choice in the matter, the Angels can wait and see what happens, then make the move that makes the most sense for the team, both in the short-term and the long-term.

If that means they can flip Kendrick for some younger pieces for the future, then I’m sure Jerry DiPoto will be happy with the results.