I was chatting with a longtime member of the Angels organization last week when the topic turned to Brandon Wood.
What, I wondered aloud, would it take to finally ignite this guy's career?
"A change of scenery," was the response.
The question isn't why the Angels designated Wood for assignment Tuesday night. It's why they waited so long. It clearly wasn't doing Wood's career any favors to have him sitting on the bench six to seven days a week. He clearly wasn't helping the team by playing sparingly (and striking out in 57 percent of his at-bats when he did play).
I can only think of two explanations for why the Angels stubbornly held on to Wood even as his role got smaller and smaller. The first is that club officials didn't want to admit to a mistake (a first-round draft pick, plus the expense of signing and developing him). The other is that they simply liked him too much on a personal level to give him away.
I think it was probably a combination of the two. Until now, I had never heard Mike Scioscia say he would be "proud" of a player making contributions for another team, but that's what he said after cutting ties with Wood. Even as his struggles became almost absurd last season, Wood was as approachable as if he had been the hottest player in the league.
Another scene that keeps coming back to me took place in the visiting clubhouse in Texas, right after the Angels swung the trade with Kansas City that brought Alberto Callaspo. A small group of reporters kept pressing general manager Tony Reagins on how the move would impact Wood and Reagins kept insisting it would have "no impact."
In the Angels' next 22 games, Wood played twice.
Clearly, Tuesday's was the right move even if it came well after its due date.