Aybar close to untouchable

For the record, the Angels say nobody on their roster is untouchable. But Erick Aybar is about as close as it gets.

Staying healthy and in the lineup after missing chunks of the past two seasons with hand and hamstring injuries, the 25-year-old shortstop from Bani, Dominican Republic is emerging as one of the game’s most exciting young talents.

Aybar grew up wanting to be like Rafael Furcal, and he is getting there in a hurry by combining superb and consistent defense with a sizzling bat and blazing speed on the basepaths.

With extraordinary range and only five errors in 79 games, Aybar’s .986 fielding percentage is surpassed by only three regular Major League shortstops. He’s batting .316 overall and in the clutch, with a .355 on-base percentage that represents huge improvement over his .298 figure coming into the season.

As Angels general manager Tony Reagins engages in dialogue with other clubs as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches on Friday, Aybar is a popular topic.

You can ask for him, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get him.

Toronto apparently found that out when it demanded Aybar as part of a multi-player package in exchange for Roy Halladay. The Angels are believed to be maneuvering for the Indians’ Cliff Lee, but Aybar again could be a deal-breaker.

“It doesn’t affect me,” Aybar said on Tuesday night through Jose Mota’s translation. “I have a job to do. I can’t worry about my name being out there. It’s flattering teams want me, but it also makes me sad.”

He loves the team he’s with and the style it plays, which is perfectly suited to his skills. Manager Mike Scioscia realizes that there are few athletes in the game on Aybar’s level, having repeatedly expressed the view that Erick has star potential once he settles in and shows consistency with the bat and in the field.

Coming into Tuesday night’s game against the Indians, Aybar was leading Angels regulars with his .316 average, ahead of Bobby Abreu (.314), Juan Rivera (.311), Chone Figgins (.309), Torii Hunter (.305) and Maicer Izturis (.300).

It’s a deep and formidable lineup, and when Aybar is linked with Figgins on the bases, it can be a show. You’d be hard-pressed to find two quicker, swifter baserunners in the same lineup. It calls to mind the St. Louis days when Vince Coleman, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee ran circles around teams. 

“I feel confident,” Aybar said. “One thing I don’t feel is complacent. It feels good to be playing at this level. It’s a lot of fun.”

With an embarrassment of middle-infield riches – Aybar, Izturis, Howard Kendrick, Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez – along with other assets, the Angels could swing a deal by the deadline for a big-time starter or veteran setup man in front of Brian Fuentes.

Just don’t expect Aybar to be part of it.
 

5 Comments

I’ll get excited about Aybar when he actually contributes during the postseason. The same goes for Kendrick. I think the Angels have irrational love affairs with their prospects. It’s a good thing I’m not holding my breath for these guys to be All Stars.

I would hate to see Aybar go but would trade whatever the Jays want at the last minute to get the deal done. I would also try to make a deal with Cleveland sending Mathis and prospects for Victor Martinez. Keep Nap in the DH where he thrives and don’t count on Vlad coming back and making a contribution this season. The offense took off when he went on the DL because it didn’t have someone in the middle hitting into a double play every time there were men on base.

Lyle,
It’s nice to start seeing some of the club’s good young talent playing up to their forecasted potential. Aybar has definitely been as good as advertised. With Kendrick starting to come around as well, and Kendry Morales being an absolute stud so far, the Angels should feel good about their youngsters. Almost forgot about Nap too. What do you think will eventually happen to Wood? Last year he appeared to finally show that he belongs, but there’s such a logjam that he doesn’t get to play? Do you think next year maybe he gets a shot at 3rd or do you think he’ll eventually be traded?
http://mattwestmoreland.mlblogs.com/

Lyle,
It’s nice to start seeing some of the club’s good young talent playing up to their forecasted potential. Aybar has definitely been as good as advertised. With Kendrick starting to come around as well, and Kendry Morales being an absolute stud so far, the Angels should feel good about their youngsters. Almost forgot about Nap too. What do you think will eventually happen to Wood? Last year he appeared to finally show that he belongs, but there’s such a logjam that he doesn’t get to play? Do you think next year maybe he gets a shot at 3rd or do you think he’ll eventually be traded?
http://mattwestmoreland.mlblogs.com/

I have the same kind of feelings of Xcalibur when he wants to see it when it matters most- in the playoffs. We will see if his level of play keeps up for the rest of the year or if its just a month/month in a half show like weve seen with him in the past. And if the Halladay deal didn’t get done because we refused to part ways with Erik Aybar- that will be a joke. Especially when you have a short stop who has hit 45+ HRS in back to back season in the minors! And don’t forget you can plug Izturiz into short and he wouldn’t miss a beat! Might be the same old story of the Angels FO totally overvaluing their young talent. Lets hope not though and see Doc Halladay come to the wild west! Go Halos!

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