Monday, October 23, 2006
Always Looking At What You Can't Do
Harper over at Oleanders and Morning Glories (http://all-baseball.com/oleanders) noted the other day that Rick Short, the 2005 Inaugural National, finally making it to the Big Leagues after over 10 seasons of Minor League Ball, was a player he missed in 2006. Sold by Jim Bowden to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, playing in the Pacific League of Japan's Major Leagues, Rick finished 3rd in batting in 2006.
This lead to a couple of comments back and forth between us about a problem, we both have seen when it comes to evaluating talent for Our Washington Nationals. I stated:
"Rick Short was a fun player to watch, because everyone in the stands could relate to him. Journeyman player, hanging on, for that one last chance to reach a long awaited goal. Never giving up. Succeeding by reaching the Major Leagues, playing for The Inaugural Washington Nationals. The Nats doing what they have always done in their first 2 seasons, bitching about what he CAN'T DO, never looking at what a terrific hitter, with some pop in the bat, he really provided. Same could be said about Church, Carroll, even Endy Chavez. Its a management problem. Too bad."
"That's pretty much deadon. The Nats don't maximize their assets.
Rather than: What do you do well -> Can we use it?
They think: What would we like to have -> Can you fit into that?
Sure a speedy, great-fielding CF with a high OBP would be great to have, but it would serve us better to use decent players in that spot till we get someone we feel is a pretty good chance of filling that description, rather than toss failing player after failing player into a role hoping that something eventually will stick."
Harper makes a great point. Why are the Nats always looking to put that square peg into the round hole. Never does it seem that players evaluations are based on what assets those players bring to the table.
Jamey Carroll was run out of town by Jimbo, because Bowden could never see what Jamey provided--consistency, competence--a winning, professional attitude. Something that Frank Robinson had seen for 4 years, throughout 3 years in Montreal and the Inaugural 2005 season. During 2005, Both Frank and Jimbo kept on giving it to Tomo Ohka--always bitching about him not throwing enough strikes-always Frank yanked him early from games. Ohka had a 3.33 ERA and was just recovering from breaking his arm in June, 2004 on a line drive hit in a game against the Kansas City Royals. Yet, Tomo was an effective hurler, and when he showed up Frank, turning his back to Robinson when being taken out of a game at RFK that first season in Washington--that was it--thrown overboard for basically nothing--Junior Spivey.
Both Carroll and Ohka had respectable years for Colorado and Milwaukee, respectively in 2006.
Obviously, I have always been in Ryan Church's corner. He can't hit a curve ball, even when he knows its coming, but that doesn't take away from his talent. Hits better and with more power, from the left side of the plate--yet Frank rarely played Church against lefties. Does not have the speed to be an everyday centerfielder. But, catches the ball well, decent corner outfielder. Yet, the Nationals never seem to realize his power potential and projected stats laid out over a full season. Always messing with his mind, you have to wonder what the Nats might have on him personally. When he messes up a defensive play in center, sent right to the bench for the next 5-7 games. Church has talent, lets see, once and for all, whether he can do it. If not, cut bait after 2007.
Never was much of an Endy Chavez fan, yet, all that Bowden and Frank could see in him was that he was not Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, Johnny Damon--heck, he wasn't even David Eckstein. All Management wanted him to do was walk, take a pitch, do not provide anything Chavez did well. . Endy was a decent outfielder, could steal bases, when he did get on, he just was not consistent yet--and the light bulb never came on in his head until after he was traded to Philadelphia for Marlon Byrd, released by the Phillies for terrible play, and picked up by a talented, veteran Mets team, that needed him as a 4th outfielder. No pressure. Just do what you do best. Endy did, and had a terrific 2006 campaign. You just know, that Nook Logan is next.
Frank really didn't trust Marlon Anderson in the outfield, yet when traded to the Dodgers at the August 31st, trading deadline, immediately became Los Angeles' starting leftfielder, blasting 7 Home Runs, hitting .375 in 25 games. As the 2006 season progressed, I came to enjoy Anderson more and more, he was feeling at home, becoming a useful player. I understood the trade, but it really makes you wonder about management decisions.
There are a couple other Nats players over the past 2 seasons that never were given a decent chance, yet seem to be prospering elsewhere: Darrell Rasner--pitching, and pitching well, with the Yankees; Brendan Harris-thrown into the Big Cincinnati trade. Harris never did anything wrong for the Nats, just never played enough to prove himself. Never understood what the Nationals thought was wrong with Harris' Game- great arm, fielded well, had some pop in his bat.
Rick Short could flat out hit. He may well have been a liability in the field, yet how many times have you been watching the Nationals, attempting to rally, late in a game, bases full of runners, yet we just don't have that slap hitter, that always gets his bat on the ball knocking it into play. Short could provide that stroke.
Ours Nationals have a way to go, before becoming competitive, but that should not take away from always emphasizing the negative aspects of any players talent. If Albert Pujols was in the Nats Minor League System, would someone complain he can't field? So he's not worth keeping. Carlos Lee? You could minimize, wrongly, just about every power hitter in the game. It took Johan Santana nearly 4 years, at the Major League Level, to develop confidence in his SERIOUS STUFF. For the past 3 seasons, he's been nothing short of terrific. Do you think The Nationals would be so patient. I tend to doubt it, so far.