Monday, February 28, 2005


Taking a four-pitch walk in batting practice is progress, right? Endy Chavez thinks so.
A leadoff hitter's batting average can be a deceptive stat. Managers, hitting coaches and scouts point to two other categories in determining his true value: on-base percentage and runs scored. In both departments, Chavez has fallen short over the years.

A decent leadoff man will get on base 34 percent of the time. The good ones? 37 percent. The really great ones? 40 percent. Chavez, in 41 games batting atop the lineup last season, got on 29 percent of the time....

In case he doesn't show progress, apparently they're considering something none of us have thought of before:
Manager Frank Robinson has made it clear this spring that Chavez must prove he's ready to be a reliable leadoff hitter, or else risk starting the season in the minors.

That's what happened a year ago, when Chavez suffered through a terrible spring, batting .200 in 55 at-bats, with an atrocious .228 on-base percentage. He was promptly sent to Class AAA Edmonton to open the season, a move even Chavez now admits was necessary.

It took me a few seconds of head scratching, trying to figure out why I didn't think of that, or why I've never seen any sort of reference to this possible solution to the outfield logjam before. Then, it hit me. I don't think he has any options left.

I believe that a player only has three years of options, which start once the player is put on the 40-man roster. A player uses an option year when they're on the 40-man, but not on the major league 25-man roster. Chavez played 14 games last season in the minors, using up one of those option years. Additionally, he split time in the majors and minors in 2002 and 2001.

The catch is, and maybe one of you reading this will know, is whether the 2001 time counts as an option. He was taken prior to the season by the KC Royals from the Mets in the Rule 5 draft, because the Mets didn't want to put him on the 40-man roster at the time. The two teams worked out a trade, which left Endy on the Royals, but allowed him to stay in the minors. I believe he would still count as being on the Royals' 40-man roster, but I'm not 100% sure.

If he would count, that would mean he'd have used three option years and would not be able to sent to the minor leagues without passing through wavers. (And as bad as we think he is, someone would be sure to pick him up, as he's an acceptable 5th outfielder.)


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