Category: Baseball Rants

Giant Mistake by Bochy

Bruce Bochy is going to get a lot of credit for being a brilliant mind, managing the defending World Champion Giants is his current fame.  However, after Buster Posey was lost for the remainder of the season, Bochy started off with a very stupid move.  Sure, it is still early in the post-Posey era, but replacing Posey’s bat is very necessary, and it isn’t going to happen by just replacing him in the lineup with Eli Whiteside.

The Giants made several moves the same day they put Posey on the DL: INF Mike Fontenot was put on the DL and OF Darren Ford was put on the DL, while DFA INF Ryan Rohlinger.  They followed that up by purchasing the contract of C Chris Stewart and recalling 1B/OF Brandon Belt from Triple-A Fresno, and reaching for SS Brandon Crawford from High-A San Jose.  Stewart is a 29-year-old journeyman, clearly incapable of helping the team, but they needed the depth at catcher with Posey gone.  The real issues come with the prospects, Belt and Crawford.

Crawford is 24 and he has spent the last two seasons going back and forth between High-A and Double-A.  This season, he was playing in San Jose, High-A, playing in 14 games and hitting 3 HR with 15 RBI with a .322/.412/.593 slash-line.  However, in the two seasons before this, he has hit just .264 with 17 HR and 71 RBI in 806 at bats.  This has been done, mostly, in the California League, a notorious hitter’s league.  He received his first start Friday night and promptly hit a grand slam, finishing 1 for 3 with 4 RBI.  So, what’s the big deal?  That he is starting and they can’t find room for the actual prospect.

Brandon Belt struggled in his taste of Major League action earlier this season, hitting just .192 in 52 at bats.  However, his K/BB of 13/8 shows that he wasn’t totally lost, but they needed to do something with their lineup in San Francisco and cleared 1B for Aubrey Huff when Cody Ross returned from the DL on April 20th.  Belt has nothing left to prove in the Minors, especially considering that the Giants starting outfield consists of one player who isn’t replaceable, and that is debatable, in Cody Ross.  Andres Torres, Aaron Rowand, and Pat Burrell are hitting a combined .244 with 7 HR, 26 RBI in 348 at bats.  Belt was hitting .337 with 4 HR and 21 RBI in his first 101 Triple-A at bats.  This is after he rocketed through three levels in the Minors last year, finishing with a .352/.455/.620 slash-line, piling up 43 2B, 10 3B, 23 HR, 112 RBI, and 22 SB as a 22-year-old in 2010.  If you team up the Giants lineup without Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval and with Rowand, Burrell, Torres, Miguel Tejada, and Aubrey Huff as offensive “weapons,” the Giants can’t afford to let Belt sit on the bench or be up to just come off of the bench when needed.  They need him now.

Bruce Bochy was a genius who managed the Giants to the World Series because Brian Sabean drafted Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner, not because of moves that he made with a long list of veteran hitters in his lineup.  If he doesn’t get on board with Belt, Giants fans will be ready to whip him with theirs.

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Edinson Volquez

In 2008, Volquez was 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA with 206/93 K/BB in 196 IP.  He blew out his elbow midway through 2009 and came back late in 2010 and struggled with his command, a normal side effect of Tommy John surgery recovery.  His WHIP was 1.50 in his 12 starts in 2010 and Volquez was leading the league in walks, 38, while showcasing a 2011 WHIP of 1.67 so far.  Look at these stats, though:

Year One:

9.46 K/9, 4.27 BB/9, .299 BABIP

Year Two:

9.35 K/9, 6.71 BB/9, .288 BABIP

Year One is his 2008 All Star campaign, while Year Two is 2011.  His walks remain up but he is getting more guys out when the ball is put in play.  He just needs to keep guys off, which he isn’t doing.  In fact, if he could just start at pitch 30, he’d be fine!  His first 30 pitches of the game, he has allowed a .337 AVG, 25 R, 6 HR, 27/23 K/BB, .482 OBP over 115 plate appearances.  Volquez has a lot to work on, specifically his location and his attitude, as he said on Sunday after his latest shellacking: “Everybody has to step up,” he said, “start to score some runs. In the last five games, how many runs have we scored? Like 13? That’s not the way we were playing last year. We’re better than that.”  They may be but YOU haven’t been.  Louisville should be good for him.

Daniel Hudson

Hudson is a RHP for the Diamondbacks, acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the Edwin Jackson deal last year.  He had a stellar debut for the Diamondbacks, having 11 starts to finish up the season, posting a 7-1 record, 1.69 ERA and 0.84 WHIP over the final months.  This happened after two dominating seasons through the ranks of the minors, where Hudson went 25-9 in 43 starts, 240 2/3 IP with a 2.76 ERA and 274/65 K/BB.  Due to his track record in the Minors and his performance late last season, Hudson became a huge sleeper for the 2011 season in fantasy leagues.  It didn’t start off well, however, as Hudson’s first four starts left him 0-4 with a 5.92 ERA.  In those 24 1/3 IP he still struck out 26 while allowing only 20 hits, but his walks were up, with 12.  Since those first four starts, Hudson is 5-1 in 41 2/3 IP with a 2.16 ERA and 28/6 K/BB.  While his strikeouts are down, so are his walks, and with that has come six straight quality starts.  If you’re in a fantasy league, the time may have passed to get Hudson cheap, but this 24 year old’s potential is just being tapped.  Meanwhile…how is Edwin Jackson doing: 3-5, 4.53 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and a 45/22 K/BB in 55 2/3 IP.  Yuck.

Chase Utley – The Return

Chase Utley is going to be activated Monday, 5/23, from the DL by Philadelphia.  I imagine that he will be a slight upgrade form Wilson Valdez at 2B for the Phils.  From 2005-2009, his full seasons (114 games in 2010), Utley averaged a .301 AVG, 29 HR, 111 R, and 101 RBI.  He is a player who, if healthy, will make the Phillies the favorites to win the NL again in 2011, as their pitching hasn’t had much offensive backing with just Rollins and Howard in the lineup.  This club is quickly aging offensively and not many middle infielders get better in their mid-30’s.  While Utley provides promise, his physical demise could be starting at a demanding position with high cleats, take-out slides, and troublesome knees that have already become a major issue.

Players to Watch: 5/22

Matt Joyce, TB, RF: He kills RHP (.390 AVG, 1.117 OPS) and faces Jay Buente, the Marlins rookie making his first professional start.  Buente has pitched well in Triple A, but he’s 27, so he should.  Joyce will rock him today.

Rick Porcello, DET, RHP: Porcello has been lights out over his last 5 starts, going 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA over 31 2/3 IP.  He seems to be pitching to contact more, though he does has 21 K’s over those 31 2/3 IP.  He’s going against a Pittsburgh lineup today, and, while they have some talent, look for Porcello to continue to roll.

Jose Bautista

Count me in on the Jose Bautista doubters heading into the 2011 season.  I assumed that hitting 54 HR in 2010 was his Brady Anderson year.  I am ashamed to say that I am as wrong as Harold Camping…ZING!!!  Bautista hit 2 HR today, upping his total to 18 in just 37 games thus far.  His 1.350 OPS is incredible but his current pace of 65 HR is still a little less prolific than Barry Bonds (sarcasm).  Bautista can thank Dwayne Murphy, Toronto’s hitting coach, for the new swing.  The use of a leg kick for timing and a coiling motion that rivals Tim Lincecum’s windup on the mound creates this monstrous power.  To think, Bautista was acquired for a player to be named later, Robinzon Diaz (now with Texas’ AAA affiliate in Round Rock).

This guy has incredible power and a solid batting eye.  At some point pitchers will give him the Bonds treatment, as his 38 BB already leads the Majors.  With Aaron Hill finally coming around and Adam Lind due back next week, Bautista and the Jays should only get better.  Don’t be surprised if this team sits at the top of the AL East as soon as 2012.  They have talent in the Minors, pitching depth, and talent already in place in Toronto.  It’s highly unlikely that they overtake the powerful Red Sox, but the aging Yankees could soon fall below them.