Thursday, August 4, 2011

By David Saltzer, Senior Writer

The 2011 season for the Angels has been filled with a lot of stories. It started with the loss of Kendrys Morales and will hopefully end with a playoff berth. Along the way, there have been a lot of subplots: The incredible outfield defense, the starting pitching, the offense, and a no-hitter.

One storyline has dominated all others throughout the season. That storyline is the Angels’ youth movement. It permeates through all of those subplots. Over the last year, the Angels have made significant changes to their lineup and have done so all while competing for the A.L. West.

It’s hard to imagine where the Angels would be without their younger players. On the current 25-man roster, 10 players have less than two years of MLB service time. Add in Conger, Trout, and Amarista, and it won’t be long before half the team is still learning to play at the Major League level. recently sat down with three of the Angels integral young players to find out more about how they are adjusting to the Major Leagues. As part one of one a two-part series, we interviewed Peter Bourjos, Tyler Chatwood, and Mark Trumbo to get their take on the youth movement. In part two of the series, we will present the viewpoint of three of the veteran—Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Vernon Wells— to get their take on how they are helping the kids adjust to the Major Leagues and shouldering the weight of the team.

The first player interviewed is Peter Bourjos. It’s hard to imagine where the team’s defense or the pitchers’ ERAs would be without him patrolling centerfield. His highlight-play defense alone makes him one of the most important players on the team and a fan favorite.

But, imagine being Peter Bourjos. When he was developing on the farm, centerfield was patrolled by Torii Hunter, a 9-time Gold Glove winner. In one of the most gracious moves by a player, Hunter voluntarily moved over to right field to make space for him. In the offseason, the Angels traded for Vernon Wells, a 3-time Gold Glove winner. Imagine being essentially a rookie and having to take charge as the centerfielder sandwiched between all those Gold Gloves!

That’s exactly what Bourjos has done. He’s blended in with all of that talent to produce one of the best defensive outfields in Angels’ history. He turns to Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells for advice on how to play things, but has gone on to showcase his amazing defense. With the plays that he’s making, it won’t be long before he’s earning Gold Gloves on his own.

Click below to listen to the interview with Peter Bourjos.

When Kendrys Morales went down for the season, the focus of the team became the pitching. From day one of the season, the Angels knew that they would only go as far as their pitching would take them.

So, when Scott Kazmir failed to return to his previous abilities the starting rotation became a big question. With no 5th starter, how would the Angels compete in 20% of their games?

After discussing all of their options, the Angels decided to give Tyler Chatwood a start in the Major Leagues. Even though he had only pitched in three games at Triple A (one in 2010 and the other two in 2011), Mike Scioscia and staff thought he’d be up to the challenge. If ever a player was going to be given the proverbial chance to sink or swim, it was Chatwood.

And swim is what he’s done. In the 20 starts that he’s made on the season so far, he’s gone 6-7 and limited the opponents to 3 or fewer runs in 13 of his starts. For a 21-year old, that’s impressive considering he’s pitching against players that he followed growing up. sat down with Tyler Chatwood to hear him describe what it’s like to be the youngest member of the rotation and what it was like to make his first start in the Major Leagues. Click below to listen in to our conversation.

The last of the youngsters that interviewed is certainly not the least. His bat is putting him in some elite company. With 20 home runs on the season, he leads all rookies in that category. He is just the 6th Halo rookie to hit 20 or more home runs, and the first to do so since Tim Salmon hit 31 in 1993.

As the club leader in home runs and RBIs, Mark Trumbo has been by all accounts the Angels’ MVP on the season so far. Batting 7th for most of the season, Scioscia is now moving him up in the lineup to give him more responsibility and more opportunity to win games.

With 41 games left on the season, there is a chance that Trumbo can come close to matching Salmon’s home run record for an Angels rookie. Already there is talk of Trumbo winning the Rookie of the Year award like Time Salmon did. If he does, he will be only the second Angels player ever to win that honor.

With all the talk of awards and all the pressure from batting higher in the lineup, talked with Mark Trumbo to get his take on the 2011 season and to find out how he’s coping and adjusting to life in the Major Leagues. Click below to listen to our interview with him.

Be sure to check back tomorrow when we will present part two of our series on the youth movement. In it, we will get the reactions from the Angels veterans to how the young players are doing and how the veterans will help shoulder to load over the course of the season.
Love to hear what you think!

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