Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Los Angeles Times reports that Jered Weaver is the favorite to get the next start in Bartolo Colon's spot, which will be this Saturday in Toronto. Though the timing of this, two days after Hector Carrasco finally made a good start, seems odd, it unfortunately hints to me that The Fat Man's return is not anticipated to be soon.

Whether or not Jered had much to prove at AAA is doubtful. Through 29 innings in a hitter-friendly league, he has whiffed 38 batters against only five walks, a stunning ratio. His 27 hits allowed gives him a very solid WHIP of 1.10, and it all adds up to a very solid 3.41 ERA. As usual, his Achilles' heel is his propensity to induce flyballs and give up the longball, and his four home runs allowed are too many.

Of course, Erin Sele is also in PCL, where he has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 28:5 in nearly 30 innings, and a 2.43 ERA. Somehow I don't think an erstwhile batting practice pitcher like Sele has finally put everything together, so that underlines how we have to take such small sample performances with a grain of salt. However, Jered has put up similar numbers at every minor league stop, and it's not as though starting Hector Carrasco and Kevin Gregg twice this week was part of anyone's plan.

So I'm all for a Weaver call-up. What's the worst that happens, he gets knocked around for a few innings and we lose? The way we're playing now, it doesn't matter what our pitchers do, we'll find a way to lose regardless. So might as well give the kid a chance and check him out first-hand.


That same LA Times article I link above speaks of how Ie Kendrick has been taking groundballs at third and first bases, and our resident infield defense guru Alfredo Griffin is "not afraid" to post him at either one in a game situation.

This is something else I welcome along the same "what's the worst that could happen?" lines. We've brought up a top prospect (perhaps the top prospect in the organization) to make two starts in a week? That just seems odd -- it seems that he should be playing somewhere. And though I don't really know if he's ready to hit in the majors, I'm pretty sure Edgardo Alfonzo isn't right now, either, so let the kid get a few consecutive days of at-bats and see what he can do with them.

His time may be limited, however, as there is a possibility that both Juan Rivera and Darin Erstad will be back in the lineup come this weekend, which won't give the kid anywhere to play. I hope to see his name pencilled in a third base for as long as Chone Figgins has to man center.

My impressions of Howie at the bat so far: anyone who throws him a fastball in the zone that hasn't been set up by off-speed pitches is a damn fool. He's got a fantastic, quick, and level swing, and if you leave a fastball up and hittable, like Barry Zito did, he'll smack it somewhere. But it's also clear to me that he's not yet comfortable against the top-level breaking and off-speed pitches a guy like Zito brings to the table. The good news is not a lot of guys in the league have the devastating curve/change-up repertoire that Zito provides on his best days.

Zito teased Howie with curves and changes in his first at-bat, and Howie did a very nice job of getting him to a 3-2 count. I was expecting another change on the outside corner, and Howie might have been as well, as he was jammed by a fastball on the inside corner (the same pitch Zito used to catch Tim Salmon looking on a full count earlier in the game).

In Howie's third and final at-bat against Zito, Barry started him off with a fastball away (a purpose pitch just to remind him it was there), then got him out in front on a change for a groundball out.

At every progressive level of baseball, a young hitter will face pitchers with better control and better breaking pitches, so adjusting to this is essential for development and success at higher levels. Kendrick has demonstrated an ability to maintain his gaudy averages as he climbs the ladder, and I have no doubt that in a couple of years he'll know exactly what to do with the change-up on the outside black.

A-a-r-o-n Sele, or how could you possibly forget all that suckage? Was the pain that great?
It's a joke, because "Erin" is the girl's spelling. Because he pitches ... like a girl.

This is a sophisticated form of humor, y'see ...
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