I’ll admit I spent much of last week quietly rethinking Jose Abreu during his 1 for 26 stretch (I even benched him in my fantasy league with weekly roster changes) but now I’ve learned: do not bother. I mean, he’s just getting started, isn’t he? His strikeout rate should improve. He can cover the whole plate. He looks completely unfazed by anything the MLB can throw at him. What is this, the Cienfuegos Elefantes?? He makes it look so easy, hitting home runs off the likes of Verlander and Price as if he’s seen it all before. As someone born in 1990, I have witnessed three men play first base for the Sox. Not a bad three.
(Okay, fine, Greg Norton and Wil Cordero split the duty at first in 1998 but it’s much better to leave them out of this. Also, Josh Fields probably deserves a spot in our heart for holding down the fort during the Buehrle perfecto.)
I had the idea to start the intro this week with writing "Ball four." and then just spewing a bunch of crap sentences after that as representation of "the dreaded lead off walk". It was a decent idea that I just couldn’t execute. Sort of like the AT&T U-Verse Multiview or the Cubs thinking the last 100 years were worth honoring. But thankfully, Abreu’s walkoff happened and that took precedent. That’s sort of a basic rule I live by: When Jose Dariel Abreu hits a walkoff grand slam after Matt Lindstrom just ridded you of your soul you don’t mess around with clunky bits in the intro. Pretty straightforward. Anyways, the walks… they are coming in waves but, yet, what is there to say about them? They are simply there. We can complain about them all we want, but that’s only going to make things worse. What will make it better will be to openly mock them. Along with the Sale K Zone, I think we should start a bullpen Walk Zone. T-shirts and all.Dayan Viciedo Unleashed
The Sox are now calling up pitchers that even minor league followers are foggy on. At the beginning of the season, it would have been fair to say, "If Scott Carroll ever makes a start, we’ll know the season is over." Actually, in order for Scott Carroll to make a start, one might have assumed a plane crash. Well, guess what, we’re not totally toast yet. (Scotty Carroll, you’re my hero!) And a good reason why is surprising play from guys like Dayan Viciedo. I looked hard at Dayan’s face this week and realized something. He’s still a kid. He still looks really fricken young.
I have been as surprised as any by Viciedo’s start this season but maybe I shouldn’t be. Bill James asserts that a hitter’s prime most often occurs between the ages of 25-29. Since Bill James said it, I tend to believe it. Plus, look at the 2005 team. It was filled with 27, 28, and 29-year-olds. Dayan Viciedo is 25, the same age as Adam Eaton and three years younger than Tyler Flowers. In an organization with a deeper talent pool and a stronger commitment to international signings, perhaps Viciedo would have been given a little more development time, and we would just now be seeing Tank in his 2nd or 3rd full year of action. Instead, we’ve gotten to see all of the growing pains, failed pitch recognition, and piss-poor defense first hand.
My go-to story for a late bloomer, new hitting coach breakout guy is Brad Hawpe from the Colorado Rockies. He didn’t emerge until he was 27 and had four real solid seasons until injuries took their toll on him. But he credits their hitting coach at the time, Alan Cockrell, for finding a fix in his load that allowed him to get the hands where they needed to be. So for him it was a mechanical fix, whereas for Viciedo, the mechanics look unchanged but maybe Steverson has found a mental breakthrough that has helped him lay off the offspeed stuff on the outer half. Pure conjecture, as it’s probably true that hitting coaches are not all they are worked up to be, but I think it’s possible that Viciedo and Steverson are clicking here.
Maybe we’re watching a guy entering his prime who has found something with Steverson. Or maybe he’s just on a hot streak like Beckham in ’09 and we’ll be frustrated for years to come. But unlike Beckham, Viciedo doesn’t have the defense to bail himself out.Matt Davidson
For whatever reason, I’ve written about Davidson more than any other player so far this year without ever seeing him play. So I figured it was time to get my $20 worth on my MiLB subscription and at least have something to base my opinions on. And boy was I not impressed. To start with, I’d sooner watch Roger Bossard’s Turf Clinic before watching another televised Knights game. Then again, I actually really want to watch Roger Bossard’s Turf Clinic. I heard him say the words "leaf elongation" once and I was deeply captivated. Back to Davidson, he’s slumping horribly right now so it wasn’t surprising that he went 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts. What was surprising is just how baffled he looked at the plate, guessing wrong on pitches and looking silly. Hey, Rick Hahn, Jose Miguel Fernandez? What do you say? I’m only half kidding.Marcus and Jordan
Scouts like to describe players as "legitimate five tool players." That’s when you know that they mean it. Therefore I’ve started calling Jordan Danks the Illegitimate Five Tool Player. I’ve long been a fan of Jordan. It’s easy to admire his size, speed and glove. He kinda resembles Paul Bunyan if you look hard enough. I honestly once thought he could be a five tool player, as sad as that now sounds, but he did show glimpses in the minors. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t have it. He’s a guy with enough tools to excel in the minors but not good enough for it to carry over to the big leagues. I hope he proves me wrong but it’s very unlikely.
Conversely, just about everyone has been pleased with Marcus Semien, despite less than great numbers overall. Apparently Marcus has been hiding two cantaloupes in his jock all this time. He’s cooler than a Thayer’s throat lozenge in the biggest of situations, churning out nothing but quality at bats when we need him most. He’s the Michael Jordan of baseball if Jordan decided to just stand still for the first three quarters. Well actually, Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of baseball. Ah, forget it. I’m losing it. Scott Carroll, please don’t you ever leave.