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updated: 8/4/2012 4:57 PM

Thoughts on Dempster, Angels' Trout and more

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  • Angels rookie Mike Trout has been hotter than the blistering weather in his inaugural season. The 20-year-old Trout is on pace to finish with at least a .950 OPS, a .340 batting average, 26 HR and 55 stolen bases. No player at any age has reached those plateaus.

      Angels rookie Mike Trout has been hotter than the blistering weather in his inaugural season. The 20-year-old Trout is on pace to finish with at least a .950 OPS, a .340 batting average, 26 HR and 55 stolen bases. No player at any age has reached those plateaus.
    Associated Press

  • The swing of the White Sox' Alex Rios combines physics and geometry to create an elegant sight, according to Matt Spiegel.

      The swing of the White Sox' Alex Rios combines physics and geometry to create an elegant sight, according to Matt Spiegel.
    Associated Press

 
 

Instead of a one-topic blast to the power alley, today I offer an assortment of bloop hits.

Surviving drama with well-scented aplomb:

Amid Ryan Dempster's unseemly exit from Cubdom, it's amazing what Theo Epstein was still able to accomplish.

After wasting a week of Atlanta GM Frank Wren's time as a result of Dempster's capriciousness, you'd think the relationship with that team would be unworkable. Instead, the Paul Maholm deal was struck, with the Braves sending an arguably better prospect north than in the combusted first trade.

Later, with Dempster still dreaming only of joining Ted Lilly for joy and other delights in Los Angeles, he was instead sent to Texas. Theo and Jed Hoyer did not cave in the face of an unworthy Dodgers' lowball offer.

As Dempster struggles in Texas, and he will struggle in Texas, it's Epstein who smells like a rose.

What was your biggest skill at age 20?

I was the probably the finest Arkanoid II video gamer in the dormitory.

Mike Trout, on the other hand, is the best player in the American League. As his Angels invade the South side this weekend, we're getting an up-close look at the kid having perhaps the finest season of any 20-year-old, ever.

He has a lot of competition.

• At 20, Alex Rodriguez hit .358, with 36 HR, 123 RBI, and a 1.045 OPS.

•Al Kaline: .340, 27 HR, 102 RBI.

•Mel Ott: .328, 52, and 151(!).

•Ty Cobb hit .350.

•Tony Conigliaro led the AL in homers.

•Bob Feller went 24-9, threw 24 complete games and struck out 246.

•At 20 in 1985, Doc Gooden led the NL in everything: 24-4, 1.53 ERA, with 268 K's.

Trout is on pace to finish with at least a .950 OPS, a .340 average, 26 HR and 55 stolen bases. No one, ever, at any age, has reached those plateaus. His particular assortment of skills is kind of unprecedented, with the closest comparable season I can muster being Rickey Henderson's MVP year of 1990. Not a bad player to measure oneself against. Trout's calm precociousness is great fun to watch.

If you're keeping score at home:

With the calendar now offering full perspective, it's worth recapping just how good White Sox general manager Kenny Williams is at the trade deadline.

To garner three viable pieces for a pennant push in Kevin Youkilis, Brett Myers, and Francisco Liriano, the White Sox gave up the following:

•Two utility players, and one has already moved on to another team.

•Two low-potential starting pitchers already seen on the big-league level for the Sox -- both probably never needed to be seen again.

•Three prospects ranked No. 23 or lower by Baseball America, from what they deem the worst farm system in baseball.

Oh, and the Sox were sent, by my best estimate, more than $9 million in cash considerations toward the remaining salaries of Youkilis and Myers.

There are few men more efficient as the deadline looms than Williams.

The aesthetic pleasures of a rolling Alex Rios:

There is something tremendously satisfying about that man's power stroke. When he gets hold of one, as he has lately with well-timed frequency, it's gorgeous.

He's a towering presence, but gracefully so. His bat moves smoothly, quickly though the strike zone. A high fastball, turned around rapidly with explosive, implacable force, is watched by him like the rest of us for a deserved moment. His bat and arms finish high, but calmly. There's not a lot of violence there, but the results can be.

Baseball is a beautiful sport, with physics and geometry resulting somehow in elegance.

• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The McNeil & Spiegel Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM, and The Score's "Hit and Run" at 9 a.m. Sundays with his Daily Herald colleague, Barry Rozner. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670. Matt thinks a runner trying to score from first on a double into the gap is the most exciting play in baseball.

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