The Washington Nationals are calling up Bryce Harper, and the Angels are calling up Mike Trout. One move makes sense, the other one doesn’t.
I think it’s a stupid move for the Nats to bring up Harper right now. He’s just starting to hit at AAA Syracuse after a slow start (.290 in last ten games), but he’s still hitting only .250 with a .708 OPS.
After failing to impress (except for that fact that he was an 18 year old playing AA ball) at Harrisburg in 37 games last year (.256 batting average, .724 OPS), Harper just doesn’t look ready to play regularly at the major league level. He needs to be playing every day at a level where he can establish dominance before he moves up. Otherwise, you risk ruining the great confidence he has. Any of Mark Teahen, Tyler Moore or Corey Brown would have been better choices for brief call-up while the Nationals have a few guys on the disabled list.
The Nats are off to a great 14-5 start, and if Harper doesn’t get off to a great start himself, what do they plan to do? They can’t afford to play him every day if he doesn’t hit, and if they keep him on the bench, they aren’t giving him the playing time he needs to develop into the player everyone expects him soon to be.
I was surprised to see that the Angels released Bobby Abreu this early in the season, especially with nearly all of his $9 million 2012 salary yet to be paid, but when I saw the Angels were going to call up Mike Trout, it suddenly made sense. Trout is hitting .403 with a 1.091 OPS twenty games into the Pacific Coast League season, and there’s no reason to keep him down on the farm any longer. Unlike Harper, Trout has now earned the right to come up and start pursuing his major league career now.
The Angels, I’m certain, didn’t want to cut Abreu this soon, but Mike Trout forced their hand. After the promise Trout showed in 40 major league games late last year, you can’t keep him waiting around while you wait around for a 38 year old veteran to regain his swing when the warm weather arrives.
Meanwhile, expect the teams that need another outfielder to start calling Abreu’s agent immediately. With the Angels on the hook for all but the pro-rated major league minimum, he’s going to get at least two more chances to prove he’s got nothing left before his major league career is over.