Kendry Morales' Season-Ending Celebration
You've seen it dozens, maybe even hundreds of times. A player crushes a ball for a home run in the home half of an inning, be it the ninth or in extra innings, winning the game for his team. He rounds third and sees his entire team there waiting for him. They leave just enough room for him to leap onto home plate, after which they mob him in celebration.
That exact thing happened to Los Angeles Angels first baseman Kendry Morales last night - except that his season is now likely over. After a well-pitched duel between Seattle's Felix Hernandez and the Angels' Jered Weaver, Los Angeles had runners at first and second with one out and the light-hitting Reggie WIllits at the plate.
In an interesting twist, Willits hit a likely double-play ball to former Angel Chone Figgins at second, but Figgins misplayed the ball and the bases were loaded for Morales. Kendry crushed a pitch to straightaway center for a game winning grand slam, then came home for that all-too-familiar jumping mob scene celebration.
Unfortunately he came down just wrong on home plate and fractured his left leg, and is now very likely done for the season. This is unfortunate for both Morales and the Angels. Kendry, who was going to turn 27 in June, was just coming into his own as a top-notch hitter in the league. After hitting .306 and mashing 35 home runs to go with 108 RBI last season in his first full major league season, he was on pace to hit another 35 and tally 124 RBI to go with a .290 average.
There are several subsequent questions, including exactly how long it takes Morales to return to baseball shape, and whether or not he's the same hitter when he finally does return, but those are pretty far off questions right now. What about the present?
This really hurts the Angels for this season. Morales was their best hitter, and Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter are the only other regulars not struggling at the moment.
Their only legitimate internal option as far as a natural first baseman is Mark Trumbo at AAA Salt Lake City, who has been respectable (and has actually matched Morales' homers and RBI so far), but has posted a 138:47 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season and last. That doesn't seem like a player ready for the big time to me.
In terms of a trade, there doesn't appear to be a wide array of options. They might take Dan Johnson from Tampa Bay's AAA Durham squad for a cheap fill-in, and he might even be successful. Or there's always Gary Sheffield and Jermaine Dye.