Monday, April 30, 2007


So, no complaints about the weekend series in Chicago. Well, Ervin Santana did pitch horribly Friday night -- he couldn't locate, couldn't throw strikes, and when he did throw strikes, the ball was getting hammered. He must have gotten about four outs on scorched liners in that game. The numbers may not make it seem that bad, but it was an awful start, and he easily could have given up more runs.

(In 28 innings this year, Ervin has K'd 20 batters, which is fine, but has walked 15, which is trouble. He needs to regain the consistency of command we've seen him have the last two years, and at home thus far in 2007.)

The offense played horribly in that game, as well, squandering opportunity after opportunity. That's a game we probably should have lost 12-10 or something.

But everything got better the next two days. Jered Weaver pitched pretty well Saturday. His command and location probably 100% where he'd want it to be, and his awesome strike-to-ball ratio was somewhat inflated by the White Sox fouling off pitch after pitch, but you can't complain about the results. A few line drives for hits, sure, but also some bloopers, and not once did he allow anything worse than a single. Kelvim had a similarly strong start yesterday, allowing only a home run to The Punter, which, though an embarrassment, only brought home two runs.

Legs Figgins returns to the lineup tonight. Pending Maicer Izturis' hamstring, this may send Erick Aybar back to the bench. Izturis and Aybar have produced nearly identically with the bat so far; Ztu doesn't have much power, but what power he does have balances out the on-base advantage Aybar has thus far. I am a confirmed skeptic regarding Aybar's readiness to produce offensively at the major league level, but his performance since stepping into the lineup for Howie Kendrick (282/317/308 in 39 AB) hasn't really done anything to prove me right or wrong.

The problem with Aybar's offense is that it's completely dependent on his batting average. He doesn't draw walks, he doesn't steal bases, and he doesn't have power. Kendrick may not draw walks either, but he's got some pop and steals bases with some efficiency. It would behoove Aybar to step up some other part of his game -- refining his basestealing skills, working counts -- to accompany his strong defense.

At any rate, a healthy Figgins should be good for this lineup right now. I don't know that he would produce a lot more than Izturis in the long term, but I think his baserunning and glove are definitely better than Ztu's at this point. But Maicer is holding down the fort, and despite some inconsistency with the bat has not dragged the team down.

Figgins' return also means that Brandon Wood has been returned to Salt Lake. He wasn't ready, of course, and only got a couple of games as a sampler of the future. He's going to need to recognize breaking pitches better, and know which ones to spit on and which ones he can drive. He'll need time in AAA to develop his talents, but he is only 22, so he has plenty of time to do so.

Finally, long-time readers may recall that I would occasionally post updates on some of our more prominent minor league players. I should have the first edition for this season up tomorrow at the latest.

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