SEATTLE -- For the first three weeks of the season, while the offense stalled and the Angels got off to the 6-14 start that ultimately might've cost them the playoffs, Mike Trout was in the Minor Leagues, dominating Triple-A pitching and waiting for his shot to come up to the Majors and ultimately turn in one of the greatest seasons in baseball history.
But what if he had come up sooner?
"I don't know how much sooner we could've called him up," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "I mean, Mike had no Spring Training at all [because of a nasty virus and shoulder tendinitis]. Essentially, if you look at Spring Training, even the game portion of Spring Training is a monthlong exercise. We didn't even give him that long. He had enough time to go down and get his timing, hit .420-something and then pop up and be the best player around. I have not lost sleep thinking about that, about the idea that we didn't call him up soon enough."
Since Trout's first game on April 28, the Angels have the best record in the American League at 83-57, reflective of Trout's 10.7 Wins Above Replacement score, which is far greater than any other player and has sparked a heated debate over voting for the Most Valuable Player Award.
Speaking to reporters at Safeco Field on Tuesday, prior to the penultimate game of the season, Dipoto touched on numerous topics. He confirmed that the coaching staff will return, talked about the aspirations to re-sign Zack Greinke, indicated a desire to bring back Chris Iannetta and, without going into detail, said he'll have "quite a bit" of financial flexibility this offseason.
The date of Trout's callup isn't something Dipoto is second-guessing, but there sure are other things.
"There will always be things that you second-guess about," Dipoto said. "But the worst thing you can do is sit here and drive yourself crazy second-guessing. Should we have done this? Could you have built the roster in this way? At the end of the day, I believe this is a very good team. I do. I think it's a very good team, we played like a very good team for much of the season. You can't control what the other teams around you are doing, and we weren't able to catch them.
"We had a lot of positive things happen, we had a fair number of negative things happen. Now we have to pick up, we have to reset and build for 2013."
Coaching staff to stay intact for next season
SEATTLE -- Angels owner Arte Moreno already has declared that general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia will return next year. On Tuesday, Dipoto confirmed that Scioscia's entire coaching staff will also return in 2013.
That includes pitching coach Mike Butcher, whose job status came into question as the starting rotation sputtered early in the second half, and hitting coach Jim Eppard, who was called up from Triple-A after the dismissal of Mickey Hatcher in mid-May.
"This group's been together for a long time," Dipoto said. "They trust each other, they work hard. At the end of the day, one win or one loss, one defining moment, should not define the way a group, a team, an organization is looked upon. We're here for the long haul, and this is a team that has the ability to sustain into the future."
Besides Butcher and Eppard, Scioscia's coaching staff includes third-base coach Dino Ebel (on staff since replacing ex-bench coach Joe Maddon for the 2006 season), first-base coach Alfredo Griffin (there during all 13 years of Scioscia's tenure), bench coach Rob Picciolo and bullpen coach Steve Soliz (both finishing Year 2 in their current roles).
Butcher is finishing up his sixth season as pitching coach, after replacing current Padres manager Bud Black in November 2006. The Angels' pitching staff had the best ERA in the American League last year (3.57). This year, though, a thin bullpen and a surprising rough stretch by the rotation has them tied for seventh with the Rangers (3.96 ERA).
Eppard was appointed on May 16. Since then, the Angels lead the Majors in batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.341), slugging percentage (.451) and runs scored (632), putting them on pace to top all of last year's totals.
"The terms I used at the time [of the Hatcher dismissal] was that sometimes you need a different voice, you need to change the message a little bit, and I think Eppy has done a terrific job of that," Dipoto said. "He has a wonderful relationship with the players, I think the players trust him. His message has been good. The results have been very good."
Angels, Iannetta see mutual interest for 2013
SEATTLE -- The Angels and catcher Chris Iannetta hold a $5 million mutual option for next season -- and there's mutual interest in a return for 2013.
"It's certainly something we're interested in," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said, after gushing about his catcher.
"I want to be here -- I think I've made that pretty clear," Iannetta said. "I love to be here. I like the city, I like the team, I like the organization. It's a very well-respected organization and I like to be a part of it."
Whether they simply trigger the option or work out something long term remains to be seen. But based on their comments, it seems like a sure bet that Iannetta will indeed be back behind the plate next season.
The 29-year-old missed nearly three months due to right wrist surgery and a right forearm strain, but has displayed his value since returning in late July, batting .261 with a .345 on-base percentage while establishing a good rapport with the pitching staff, catching almost every day and bringing much-needed plate discipline to the No. 9 spot.
"I think it's an absolute shame that Chris had to deal with the injury he had to deal with, because what we've seen since Chris came back from the disabled list is Chris Iannetta," said Dipoto, who acquired Iannetta from the Rockies in exchange for right-hander Tyler Chatwood last November. "This is what he does. This is who he is."
Mike Trout (Outstanding Player and Outstanding Rookie), Jered Weaver (Outstanding Pitcher) and Kendrys Morales (Comeback Player) were all named 2012 Players Choice Awards finalists in the American League by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Trout is also in competition with the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen and the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera for Player of the Year honors by the MLBPA. Winners will be announced on MLB Network on Nov. 5, from 5-6 p.m. PT.
Shortstop Erick Aybar is still sore from a right quad strain he suffered in Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader at Rangers Ballpark. He was out of the starting lineup for a second straight game on Tuesday and won't play in Wednesday's season finale, either.
Torii Hunter was out of the starting lineup Tuesday, after exiting Monday's game early because he was feeling light-headed. He could play on Wednesday, though.
Jered Weaver (Cy Young contender) and Mike Trout (MVP contender) will both start on Wednesday.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.