Scouting Notebook: Angels fire Brandon Wood
The Angels were beyond patient with Brandon Wood, but patience is a virtue only when it results in production. They were sympathetic toward a player who couldn't prove he could do anything well at the major-league level except be a nice guy and try hard to be something he isn't.
Unfortunately, that and a pat on the back will get you nowhere in the big leagues. (Well, it will get you claimed on waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.) Wood never showed adaptability, but neither did the Angels, who did a poor job profiling his talents and placing him in the proper role at the major-league level. The book on Wood never changed -– you get him out with fastballs on his hands and then breaking balls away. He never changed, but neither did the Angels. Wood fits best as a bench player who can play third, short, first, left and right and provide a late-inning right-handed power threat, not as a player who can be an everyday offensive contributor.
At least Wood isn't going to prove the Angels wrong. He won't be morphing into someone who can hit enough to play third base, unless it's in triple-A or Japan. There is something called slider bat speed, and those leagues are where those guys must go.
The Angels also seemed to coddle and protect Wood, giving him opportunities (464 at-bats spread over three seasons, resulting in virtually no contact or power) far beyond what he proved he deserved. The Angels, especially in 2010, had nothing to lose at third base and gave away most of the season trying to win yet again without power from the corners.
Call me old school, but if a 26-year-old big leaguer is still considered a "young" player, then something is wrong. He must hit or get off the team. Wood got something akin to fifth-year college senior privileges from the Angels, far beyond what their long-lost first-round investment warranted. You should never keep a player around just because you like the guy. You should never keep a guy just because you don't want to make him cry when he gets released. A guy can help the club or he can't. It's one or the other.
The Wood years illustrate some of the inherent dangers and most commonly made mistakes of scouting and player development -– the intrusion of emotion into the decision-making process. The Angels wore their hearts on their sleeve for Wood, and it cost them. You can also dream on a young pitcher, but not on a young hitter. You must beware of confusing maximized performance at the amateur or minor-league level with future projection. You cannot give a player that which he does not possess. In the case of Wood, the Angels should learn this lesson: Scout with your head, not with your heart.
-- John Klima
John Klima is a product of the Major League Baseball Scout Development Program and the founder of www.baseballbeginnings.com. Catch his scouting take every Monday on latimes.com.
Photo: Brandon Wood. Credit: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press