My apologies for my negligence here of late. It’s been busy.
I hope to expand on each of these items separately in the next week, but watching the Rays, Rangers, and Reds flourish (as predicted in March/April) I’ll get cocky and make a few late-season and off-season forecasts:
The Red Sox got so hurt that the Yankee late-season fold (also predicted here) can’t be so bad as to include sliding completely out of the playoff picture. But if they don’t at least get back to the Series I would now expect pitching coach Dave Eiland to be dismissed, and possibly manager Joe Girardi with him. Take the bizarre pitching decisions of this Tampa series and add them to the skid Girardi steered them into during the playoffs against the Angels last year, and you have an issue that seems to become a crisis when the chips are really down.
I also would not be at all surprised to see both New York teams have new shortstops next year. Given the number of Gotham reporters and their traditional fixation with the bad, it really is amazing how little has been written about the deterioration of Jose Reyes’ defense. The Mets will at least try to trade him this winter. And in the Bronx, if it were anybody but Derek Jeter, reporters would’ve tried to run him out of town by now. Jeter has completely collapsed offensively, and is, from what I’ve been told, not handling it or the attempts to correct it, very well. At the present rate of decline he has no bargaining position in the free agent winter ahead and his best hope to stay in New York is on a one-year deal at a (comparatively) low salary and some kind of token, face-saving mutual option. If not he will be an offensive question mark picked up by a team hoping to capitalize on his reputation and his past.
Venturing further afield, I am beginning to suspect Ryne Sandberg will not get the Cubs’ managerial job. There is a future for him at Wrigley Field if he wants it, but the internal reviews of his work running Cubs’ farm clubs these last few years turns out to be far less sanguine than I had been previously told.
Now, for your dining and dancing pleasure, a few more of those wonderful minor league baseball cards of current big league figures:
Yes, it’s General Managers – three current, one former/possibly soon-to-be-again. That’s Doug Melvin of the Brewers on a Neil Sussman set of the 1975 Fort Lauderdale Yankees of the Florida State League, Billy Beane of the A’s from ProCards’ Portland PCL set from 1987, Kevin Towers (formerly of the Padres, perhaps next of the Mets) in the same company’s Las Vegas PCL set from a year later, and Philly’s Ruben Amaro in his pro debut at Salem of the Northwest League in ’87.
Did you see Matt Capps of the Pirates, after Friday Night’s meltdown, warming up before last night’s tilt with the Rockies?
He was wearing a blindfold over his left eye.
Admittedly it was a white sleeve or sock, and it was over the wrong eye, but otherwise it was a mirror image of the Pirates’ old logo (not the ’90s one that appeared to show The Soup Nazi from ’Seinfeld.’). And as pitching coach Joe Kerrigan stood next to him, it looked like the Pittsburgh closer had lost a bet, or was trying to do his impression of the late Eddie Feigner from the softball team “The King And His Court,” and couldn’t quite do the whole handkerchief-over-both-eyes-while-pitching trick.
“Capps was turning his head, over-rotating towards 3rd Base, causing his front shoulder to point behind the righthanders’ batter’s box,” Kerrigan tells me by e-mail from Pittsburgh. “You put a patch over his left eye, so his right eye can see the target, hence he can’t overturn. Simple playground stuff.”
Capps and Kerrigan, according to the Pirates’ game broadcast Saturday night, were also looking at tape of the reliever’s salad days of 2007 and the comparisons to this season are not happy ones. His arm has been well behind his body – he’s expending his energy long before his arm is fully extended and he’s ready to release the ball. Kerrigan apparently diagnosed the problem as he described in the e-mail — over-rotation — and came up with the simple solution for a bullpen session (the out-of-synch release might also explain Capps’ elbow bruising and discomfort).
Unfortunately I don’t think Capps can use it in a game.
HOW ABOUT USING GAMEL IN A GAME?
Did the Brewers really call up one of the game’s top two or three power prospects so he could sit behind the bench for a week, get some DH work during inter-league, and then send him back down?
Third Baseman Mat Gamel was summoned Wednesday from Nashville and entering play today had gotten exactly one at bat. Even when Rickie Weeks took himself out of this afternoon’s game with soreness in his wrist, the Brewers simply moved Craig Counsell from third to second, and inserted Bill Hall at third.
Milwaukee started the day with the second best record in the NL, Counsell has been hot lately, and Ken Macha and Doug Melvin have done a lot more managing and general managing than I have, but the week’s inactivity makes no sense, not in a division as competitive and seemingly as balanced as the Central. The Brewers say they want to treat him more like Prince Fielder in 2005 than Ryan Braun in 2007 but that may not be a luxury they can afford. Gamel is either a vital component (if he can improve to bare-minimum status defensively at third), or a wonderful trading chip (if he can’t, and he has to become a corner outfielder, first baseman, or DH, none of which Milwaukee needs).
Why just have him sit around?
In short, play him (at Milwaukee or Nashville), or trade him!