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Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo Pose Contract Dilemmas for Troubled Los Angeles Angels

Questions Abound for the Team's Upcoming Offseason

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COMMENTARY | While this season has been disappointing on the field for the Los Angeles Angels, there has certainly been no shortage of interesting drama off the field.

Should manager Mike Scioscia or GM Jerry Dipoto be let go? Is the Albert Pujols contract the worst contract in baseball or in the entire known universe? Has owner Arte Moreno been possessed by the demon spirit of the late George Steinbrenner? And did all of this mess start when the Rally Monkey was dating the Outbreak Monkey?

The biggest question surrounding the team is where does it go from here? With the offseason looming, fans of the team can only hope the team makes moves that are actually improvements -- though recent history suggests that's unlikely.

The team desperately needs pitching, and the first order of business will probably be to re-sign Jason Vargas. While I still feel it was a mistake not to trade him -- for anything, anywhere -- he's a serviceable No. 4 starter and there's definitely a place for him in the rotation.

Then there's the matter of Tommy Hanson. When this guy has his good stuff going, he's a perfect No. 2 starter and he could actually be a bargain in arbitration. However, his "good stuff" is currently featured on the sides of a milk cartons through Orange County and with the his injury problems, it's probably best to let that ship sail.

What's really interesting about the team's re-signing issues is what it's going to do with Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo -- two fan-favorites with almost entirely unique contract situations.

Mark Trumbo

I found out pretty fast that Mark is already one of the most popular players in team history when I wrote a piece earlier this year suggesting the Angels trade him while he was at his most valuable. There was an almost unanimous exclamation of "hell no!" from the fan base.

Since that article, Mark has been one of the worst players in baseball. Sure, he's racked up lots of home runs and his defense has actually been better than I originally thought, but his on-base percentage for the season is a putrid .299 -- making him among the league leaders in giving outs to the other team.

In June, July and August, while the team was spiraling into mediocrity, Mark eked out a .260 OBP -- the worst in baseball. With that kind of un-production it would be almost impossible to trade him now, since most GMs are aware of how terrible these numbers really are and most of the statistically impaired GMs (like Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Ned Colletti) already have first basemen.

Despite all of this, Mark remains as popular as ever with the fans. Chicks dig the long ball -- and so do fans who don't understand math. The team will assuredly offer Trumbo arbitration. Then the Angels just have to cross their fingers that the arbitrator finds a way to strike a balance between his robust home runs and his nauseating on-base percentage.

Mike Trout

Last offseason, Mike's agent made a stink when Trout was basically given the standard raise for a second-year player -- as negotiated by the players' union. Sorry, pal. Send your complaints to the Department of Nobody Cares.

The media tried to make a story out of how catastrophically catastrophic this was because Trout had put up such huge numbers. His numbers were incredible -- the best overall production in a decade -- and, even though he was robbed of the MVP Award, he was the best player in baseball.

This year, he again stands as the best player in baseball -- which I wrote about here -- and he again stands to just get a marginal raise in pay. So what? The team is doing what all teams do with young players. It's the great financial advantage of having young players. And if you think it should change, just know that it's based on the same collective bargaining agreement that allows players like Vernon Wells to make $20 million a year guaranteed, so it's not going to change anytime soon.

The Angels really should try to lock Trout up to a long-term deal through the rest of his arbitration years with some options to cover his first couple years of free agency. This is what the Tampa Bay Rays are doing, and it's been working pretty darn well for them. Surely, if I am able to read about what the Rays are doing, the GMs from other teams have access to this information as well.

Of course, all of this is just speculation. With an owner like Arte Moreno, you never know what's going to happen. Maybe he thinks Trumbo's home runs are priceless and he should be paid accordingly. And maybe he thinks he should just pay Trout on a year-by-year basis and see just how pissed off and disrespected Mike can get.

If there's one thing for sure with the Angels these days, it's that whichever way they go, there's going to be a lot of drama.

Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is the lead humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball. You can see him on Twitter @JedRigney.

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