Few things excite Mike Trout like the weather. Give him a good storm, and you can see lightning bolts in his eyes.

During a blizzard last winter, he phoned in a report to the Weather Channel. In appreciation—or, perhaps, out of sheer amusement—the network promised to send him a weather balloon.

“I heard it’s pretty big. I haven’t seen it yet,” he said this spring. “You send it up in the air, fill it with helium, and it sends you some weather reports, like the wind speed.”

His father piqued his interest in the weather when he was young.

“Storms, I’m always on the computer,” Trout said. “It’s cool. It gets my mind off baseball, for sure. I get real excited. Every city we go to, if [my teammates] know it’s going to rain that night, they ask me what’s going to happen.”

These days, clouds surround his Los Angeles Angels much of the time, and few can predict with certainty what’s about to happen. True, they’ve turned around a 1-4 start to enter Friday on a modest four-game winning streak. But by most other barometers, things appear ominous.

Owner Arte Moreno’s latest attempt at stacking sandbags to stem the flooding sat in his spring training office one day late in camp and pondered a question: Are the consistently underachieving Angels blowing it by failing to take advantage of the prime of Trout?

“I don’t think our urgency is heightened, because we’re always at a high expectation level,” new general manager Billy Eppler said. “We clearly want to build a nucleus around our young, controllable talent.”

Eppler is in this chair because the last GM, Jerry Dipoto, could not work with manager Mike Scioscia under the conditions set by Moreno. Dipoto fled last July, smack in the middle of the season, after losing another head-butting contest with Scioscia, another brush fire set roaring through the smog choking this Angels organization.

The team’s marquee free agent of a few seasons ago, Albert Pujols, is 36 now and has battled leg injuries as he’s aged. Two other key free-agent signings, outfielder Josh Hamilton and starter C.J. Wilson, did not pay off as hoped.

At 33, ace Jered Weaver’s fastball has been muted. He had difficulty reaching 80 mph on the radar gun this spring. The Angels hope he can get by this summer with a chip on his shoulder and smoke with his mirrors.

Moreover, there is not much help on the farm right now to aid either the everyday lineup or to use as trade chips to import new talent. Baseball America this year ranked the Angels as having the worst farm system in the majors. Keith Law, ESPN.com’s expert on prospects, wrote that the Angels have the worst farm system that he’s “ever seen.”

It is not like this just happened overnight. Baseball America last year ranked the Angels system 27th among the 30 big league organizations. In 2014, just like this year, the publication ranked the Angels 30th.

Yes, welcome to Rally Monkey Nation, Mr. Eppler.

Though the Angels produced the best record in the majors just two years ago, they presently appear more in need of extra sandbags than extra October press-box seating.

“This is a team of young, controllable talent,” said Eppler, a top assistant to New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman before taking on the Angels’ challenge. “I look at this club and I see Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, Andrelton Simmons, C.J. Cron, Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Carlos Perez. And some [others] are going to emerge.

“But I’m counting those eight guys as young and controllable guys who can be part of a championship core for years to come.”

As each day passes during the prime of Trout’s career, that championship core, if there is to be one, had better come together soon.

“It’s easy to lose focus of the rest of the guys on the ballclub because of who he is,” Eppler said of Trout. “But other names in those eight are very good players, too.”

The Angels hear this talk about winning with Trout before it’s too late. Predictably, it is not on their list of favorite topics.

“We can’t control that,” Pujols said. “All we can do is control getting ready for this season.”

Said Richards: “We’re not worried about it. We’re going to be fine.”

But time is slipping away.

Through his first six seasons, covering 661 games and 2,915 plate appearances, Trout has played exactly three postseason games. That was two years ago, when the Kansas City Royals skunked the Angels in a three-game romp.

During that span, though the Washington Nationals haven’t won a playoff series either, at least Bryce Harper has been there twice in four years, playing in three times Trout’s total of postseason games. Houston’s Carlos Correa splashed down in October as a rookie last fall.

Though Trout already has won one American League Most Valuable Player award (2014) and finished second three times (2012, 2013, 2015), the Angels have consistently failed to put the kind of team around him that can put a franchise player on the game’s biggest stage.

In Trout’s first full season, 2013, the Angels went 78-84.

Then came ’14, the best record in the majors (98-64) and the postseason splat against Kansas City.

Last year, the Angels dug themselves an enormous hole with inconsistent play early and then came charging back and just missed a playoff spot on the last day of the season with an 85-77 finish.

“It was exciting,” Trout said. “Looking back, it was a positive. We fought until the last day. Every out was huge.

“You look back now, one game maybe in April or May, or June, we let slip by or we weren’t focused the whole game, that one game could have helped us. It comes down to the wire every year for some teams. It’s just getting off to a good start this year. That’s the most important thing.”

The Chicago Cubs buried the Angels in the season’s first two games. Two scouts who watched the Angels this spring said they aren’t bad, maybe a .500 team as constructed, but each noted a potentially lethal lack of depth. A key injury could wreck things quickly because of the paucity of the farm system, putting Trout even further from the postseason stage.

“He’s still only 25 years old,” Calhoun said of Trout [who actually turns 25 in August]. “From a baseball standpoint, he’s got a long baseball life in front of him.”

Before the 2014 season, Trout signed a six-year, $144.5 million deal with the Angels that runs through 2020. It is heavily back-loaded: He will earn $33.25 million in each of the last three years of the deal.

One of these years, he figures the club will get over the October hump.

“You know, we can’t look ahead,” he said. “We’ve got to just make the playoffs. Start from there. That’s the big thing.

“Then, if you get hot during the playoffs, anything can happen. You’ve seen it the past couple of years with the Royals. They have a great team and got hot. We played them…they got hot.

“I think playing meaningful games in September helps you out. It was an exciting finish last year. Obviously, we fell short. But there were definitely some positives.”

As is the case in nearly every other clubhouse at this time of year, the Angels feel good about the spring they just completed and are filled with hope that this year will be filled with sunshine and balloons.

And if it’s not, they think, then who’s to say Trout still won’t lead them to the promised land one day soon?

“I think everybody thinks he’s at his peak,” said closer Huston Street, an 11-year veteran. “Everybody wants to say, ‘How can you get any better than what he is?’

“The kid’s 24 years old. Of course, he has time to get better. That’s what’s exciting for me. Why limit him? He’s one of the most focused, talented players I’ve ever been around. He has humility. He loves the game.

“There’s always a sense of urgency with us, and it has nothing to do with Mike. But when you have a Mike Trout on your team, there’s always a possibility. He’s that dynamic. He changes the game that much.”

Street, 32, a two-time All-Star, can’t imagine thinking he had peaked at 24.

“If someone told me at 24 that I’d peaked, I’d have looked them straight in the eyes and told them they’re an idiot,” Street says.

Trout is too polite and friendly to do that.

But this chatter about the Angels consistently failing to take advantage of his prime? You bet it reaches him.

“Obviously, you hear everything when you’re playing,” he said. “We have a great group of guys together. Billy Eppler is a great guy; he interacts well with us. He gets our opinion. He comes down here and sees how we’re feeling.

“That’s the biggest thing that’s going to help us this year. We’re all together. It starts from the top.”

But while he says they’re all in this together, Trout’s singular greatness naturally places him apart from his teammates. His blinders to that probably are beneficial. At least, they reduce the awkwardness.

“It’s a team game. We’ve got new faces in here, new pieces to the puzzle,” he said. “We’ve got one more year of guys who were a little inexperienced last year. [They] know what to expect this year. They’re more confident, and I think that helps us.

“I just keep playing my game hard. I can’t control what people say. We try to set goals, and our goal is the playoffs.”

And if not, well, maybe by October he’ll have that weather balloon to keep him occupied.


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com