Napoli, Wood could be answers

Vladimir Guerrero is gone for a long spell with his torn pectoral muscle. It might be mid-June before we see him swing a bat again with meaning. Something needs to be done to generate more power, more force, in the Angels’ lineup. But it doesn’t necessarily require a deal.

The Angels need to at least try to make better use of two potentially lethal weapons already at their disposal: Mike Napoli and Brandon Wood.

With Guerrero out, this would be an ideal time to see what Napoli can do as a designated hitter. My feeling is that he’s a natural-born slugger who would emerge as a consistent power source once he’s liberated from the taxing physical demands of catching. That job beats a guy up, drains him. There have been few players like Johnny Bench, who played in an era when games were much shorter and strike zones were larger, meaning fewer pitches to call and absorb.

Jeff Mathis is a superior receiver, as athletic as any catcher I’ve seen. Playing regularly, he’ll hit in the .250 range with some power. Napoli as DH is an idea whose time has come. With his long swing — we’ve seen what he can do when he’s locked in — he could be 35-homer, 110-RBI guy.

Which brings us to Wood. We’ll never know what Brandon can do until he gets a shot at some consistent playing time. His power is as real as Napoli’s. Brandon made big strides this spring in selectivity and discipline. He looks ready to become a solid player, perhaps a big-time run producer. And there is nothing at all wrong with Wood’s defense, at shortstop or at third base. There must be a way to work Wood into the rotation on the left side of the infield.

As this is written, we’re 15 games and six innings into the season. The Angels have 12 home runs — six by Torii Hunter, three by Napoli, three by everybody else.

Wood had four home runs and eight RBIs in seven games at Triple-A Salt Lake, batting .346. Bobby Wilson, who would be summoned as the backup catcher, is hitting .300 and slugging .733 with three homers and six RBIs in eight games.

The Angels are carrying 12 pitchers. Eleven should be enough. If you’re using your 12th guy, it’s pretty much a lost cause anyway. 




    I completely agree with this thought. We know that we have challenges with our pitching. We’ve looked for a spark and have been left searching.

    Maybe a different approach can produce something?? We have prospects that need and deserve a chance to do something. As well as Aybar played in the offseason, I’ve yet to see anything from him and I think we’ve lacked since Cabrera was traded for Garland. Wood needs to be given a chance and can hopefully generate more offense to take some pressure away from our pitching staff.

    Why not let Napoli DH and have Mathis catch?? Use your resources where they can achieve more success. It’s obvious that we’ve been pressing too much.

  2. dredleelam

    I like the OF set with Abreu, Hunter, and Jr.
    I like Morales at 1st and Howard at 2nd.
    I’ve never been hot on Figgie at 3rd. He’s a little better than adequate defensively; he has to be in the lineup. He’d be better at 2nd, but Howard can’t move. So Figgins stays at 3rd. That leaves SS . . . where Aybar can be solid, but won’t hit like Wood. That means Wood should play.

    For me, Izturis and Aybar could be dealt. With Figgie out of position (at 3rd) and Brown ready, both of those role players could go. Along with Rivera and Quinlan for a pitcher who can make a difference (Peavy). If one of the 3 hurt starters doesn’t come back .. they are still one short. Escobar is a crap shoot at best. It’s not like he was indestructible before…

    I think they made a substantial mistake trying to get through this 6-8 weeks with resources from within. They’ve fouled up their rotation AND bullpen, compromising the year. Moseley’s on the DL; Oliver is on the DL; Shields is post-WBC and a mess. They did NOT have the depth to deal with this, even had Nick not been tragically lost. Stretching like this has put a huge burden on the entire organization. Now they are going to rush Ortega into the breech. Loux is horrid. This is a BAD way to start the year.

    The Angels have a wonderful offensive potential. They could begin to score enough runs to soften this all a bit. But holding in to Izturis, Wood, Brown, Rodriquez, Figgins, Kendrick, and 5 catchers at the top three levels of the system are luxuries this team cannot afford this year. It’s not time to panic. But it is time to fall out of love with professed strategies and go fill needs, before they get buried.

    I’m not hot on the Napoli at DH and Mathis behind the plate notion. I’d rather that Nap catches a reasonable amount so that Wood can get the ABs at DH. Then when Mathis rests Nap, he can go to DH. I don’t see the point of trading Wood’s bat for Mathis’ bat . . . though I do understand the issue about the rigors of catching AND I know that Mathis is a bit better defensively. IF Napoli’s hitting seems to be negatively impacted by catching, then I’d agree. I don’t see it (but I’m not there like Lyle is).


    let’s take a look at how many wins the Angels have gotten this year, AND how many of them have been caught by MATHIS! I believe they have only lost one when Mathis had been catching and have ONLY won ONE when Napoli had been catching AND we ALL know NAPOLI has been catching more. I have been saying this from the beginning when the season started, let Nap DH and let MATHIS do the catching. MATHIS is much more solid defensively and with more ABs he could be a productive hitter, yeah he doesn’t have the power that Nap does, AND that’s why NAP should DH! They need to change something becuase it seems also the pitchers work better with MATHIS and their ERA is lower when he catches because I believe he calls a better game. They need to change something because right now it’s not working…


    It’s time for Brandon Wood to play everyday! Take Aybar and put him on the bench! Aybar is struggling and adds nothing to the offense. As for his defense, well, lets just say it’s terrible to say the least.
    Brandon can add power and, hopefully, a consistent swing to the Angels lineup!

  5. fanofiggy

    There’s more than one way to keep both Figgins and Wood in the lineup at the same time. It seems to me that Figgins could be playing left-field, and Wood could be at 3B. Or alternatively, Wood could play shortstop (he is one), and Figgins could remain at third.

    Figgins 3B
    Abreu RF
    Napoli DH
    Hunter CF
    Kendrick 2B
    Morales 1B
    Rivera LF
    Wood SS
    Mathis C


    Figgins LF
    Abreu RF/DH
    Napoli C
    Hunter CF
    Kendrick 2B
    Morales 1B
    Rivera DH/RF
    Wood 3B
    Aybar/Izturis SS

    With Napoli’s high on-base average, ability to take pitches, and power, I don’t see why he isn’t an everyday three-hole hitter for us.

    It comes down to an infatuation with Aybar and Izturis. UZR doesn’t think either are defending well, and they don’t hit or get on base enough to deprive Wood of at-bats at this point. They should be on the field half-time at best.

  6. teif24

    Hey Lyle,
    What is going on with my favorite team. Fuentes is not K-Rod. Boston has alot of young arms that could be closers just like Papelbon. I say trade Brandon Wood to the Red Sox for Michael Bowdon or Masterson.. Good columns Lyle

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