LA Angels Luis Valbuena goes down with hamstring injury giving C.J. Cron 1st base job
When the LA Angels signed first/third baseman Luis Valbuena to a two-year contract in late January they were hoping he would provide some pop from the left side of the plate and be able play both first and third base.
As time went on there came more and more word that the LA Angels were going to do even more with Valbuena as they planned on making him their primary first baseman unseating C.J. Cron who has the starter for the past two seasons. To me this seemed very strange as Cron has improved each year defensively and has shown much better plate discipline and put up some good numbers despite playing less than 120 games in both seasons.
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In each of the last two seasons Cron has 16 homers and driven in 51 and 69 runs while hitting .262 and .278 respectively. If Cron is healthy for the whole season he would finish in the neighborhood of 25 home runs and 100 RBI’s. Those numbers are very solid. So why the sudden change of heart by the Angels. My answer I haven’t the slightest idea what Scioscia was doing. There had been talk about platooning Cron with Valbuena or even sending Cron down to the minors and giving the job to Valbuena.
After yesterday’s news that Valbuena will be out four to six weeks with a grade one right hamstring strain Cron now has the first base job again which is the way it should be. All Cron has done this Spring is hit .340 smacking three homers and driving in seven runs with an OPS of 1.012 and stealing two bases to boot.
Another person that will benefit from Valbuena’s injury is Jefry Marte. Marte like Valbuena can play both first and third base and he also can play left field. Marte has also had an impressive Spring hitting .302 with three homers and nine runs batted in with a .950 OPS. Last year Marte was one of the biggest surprises coming through with 15 home runs and driving in 44 runs while hitting .252.
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If not for Valbuena’s injury Marte was looking at the possibility of being sent down to the minors, he now has new life as well. Again the question I ask is why is Valbuena so special. I don’t dislike the guy at all and am happy the Angels signed him. However, to have him come in and unseat a two-year starter in Cron and push ahead of Jefry Marte despite inferior numbers baffles me.
Valbuena batted only .200 this Spring with no homers and four RBI’s and a meager .630 OPS. I do understand he missed some games due to injury, but he played in enough games to give you an idea about him. Valbuena’s career numbers are also lacking hitting .232 for his career with 83 homers and driving in 269 RBI’s in eight seasons.
I do understand Valbuena is a lefty with some power which the Angels do need, but to basically give him the first base job is not right or smart for that matter. So I call this a little bit of poetic justice for Cron and Marte both.
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Now it is up to them to again prove themselves while Valbuena is out. When Valbuena returns in early May it will be interesting to see what the Angels decide to do with both Cron and Marte. Throw a healthy Albert Pujols in the mix and that will really complicate things.
This story is far from done. To be continued …