Hamilton's injury not crushing to Angels


Not to sound too dramatic here, but are the Los Angeles Angels in trouble? Josh Hamilton is out six to eight weeks after tearing a ligament in his thumb sliding headfirst into first base on Tuesday.

It comes at a particularly shaky time for the Angels considering: (A) Hamilton was off to a good start, hitting .400/.545/.741 and not chasing as many pitches out of the strike zone (27 percent versus 38 percent last season); (B) they're 3-5, with the three wins against the Astros; (C) they've had bad starts the past two Aprils that dug big holes (9-17 last year, 8-15 in 2012); (D) Albert Pujols hasn't yet looked good enough to ease concerns that he's still slipping; (E) Raul Ibanez might finally be getting old.

OK, let's calm down for a second. We're only eight games into the season, so there's no need to panic. Even if Hamilton misses eight weeks -- about 45 to 50 games -- it's not an end-of-the season moment. Factoring in his start, ZiPS projected Hamilton being worth 3.3 WAR. The team called up J.B. Shuck, who will presumably platoon in left field with Collin Cowgill for the time being. Shuck was worth 0.5 WAR last year while playing 129 games but is projected as basically a replacement-level player (as is Cowgill). So replacing Hamilton with a replacement-level platoon for about a third of the season is worth about a win. Sure, one win of value could hit, but it's far from a devastating injury, assuming Hamilton comes back with no lingering effects.

The bigger issues with the Angels might be everything else, or at least everything else not named Mike Trout. Pujols is hitting .219/.286/.438, but again it's just eight games, and five of his seven hits have been for extra bases. Ibanez, 41, signed to serve as the DH, is hitting .192 with 10 strikeouts, but he's also a notoriously streaky hitter. Other guys are off to slow starts. Again: It's early. The pitching has also been shaky, although Tyler Skaggs did pitch well in his first start.

These next few weeks could be crucial, especially considering the upcoming schedule. After Wednesday's game against Seattle, the Angels do get the Mets for three games, but their next 21 games after that are all against teams that finished above .500 last season (A's, at Tigers, at Nationals, at Yankees, Indians, Rangers, Yankees). That takes the club through May 7. I'm thinking we'll have a pretty good idea where the Angels stand on that date and whether Trout has received much help from his lineup mates.

P.S.: Kendrys Morales?