Angels' Mike Trout and Tigers' Miguel Cabrera could have been… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
As Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout lay the foundation for another spirited race for American League most valuable player, imagine how frightened pitchers might be if Cabrera followed Trout in the lineup.
It could have happened, in the Angels lineup.
When the Florida Marlins decided to trade Cabrera in 2007, the Angels offered second baseman Howie Kendrick, catcher Jeff Mathis and one of two pitchers, Ervin Santana or the late Nick Adenhart. The Marlins wanted both pitchers; the Angels had second thoughts about including Kendrick; the talks deteriorated to the point where the two teams publicly clashed about whether they ever had agreed on a deal.
The Marlins traded Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for six young players, none of whom amounted to much in Miami. That makes it a lose-lose proposition: the Marlins lose for taking an inferior package; the Angels lose for not securing an elite slugger in his prime.
Cabrera signed with the Tigers at 25 for $152 million. The Angels later signed Albert Pujols at 32 for $250 million.
It's Miller time
The Angels selected Trout in the first round of the 2009 draft. The Washington Nationals selected Stephen Strasburg at No. 1 and 21 other clubs passed on Trout before the Angels hooked him.
Regrets, yes, for all those clubs except one. The St. Louis Cardinals took Shelby Miller at No. 19.
In the best pitching matchup in the major leagues so far this season, Miller faces Clayton Kershaw on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. We'll miss you, ESPN.
Miller, 22, is 5-3 with a 1.74 earned-run average in his rookie season. When he beat the Colorado Rockies two weeks ago, he gave up a game-opening single, then retired the next 27 batters.
Kershaw is on the old side among the best five pitchers in the National League this season, Miller included.
Kershaw is 25, with a 1.35 ERA. Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks is 23, with a 1.44 ERA. Matt Harvey of the New York Mets is 24, with a 1.93 ERA. The big brother in the group: the Nationals' Jordan Zimmermann, 27, with a 1.71 ERA.
With teams increasingly protective of young talents, and the bang for the buck they provide, few things in the majors are as rare as one young star traded for another. When the Seattle Mariners traded pitcher Michael Pineda to the New York Yankees last year for catcher Jesus Montero, the Mariners thought they had acquired a middle-of-the-order bat for a decade, and the Yankees thought they had a middle-of-the-rotation arm for a decade.
Pineda is 24. Montero is 23. Neither player is in the majors today.
Pineda has not thrown a pitch since the trade. He still is recovering from shoulder surgery; the Yankees hope he can return around July 1.
Montero, billed as an offense-first catcher, is batting .208 with a .590 OPS and has thrown out one of 24 runners trying to steal. The Mariners sent him to the minor leagues last week, and they might not bring him back until they can clear the designated hitter spot by moving Kendrys Morales at the trade deadline.