Sunday, February 20, 2005

Endy Under Fire

The pressure continues to mount for the lineup's main stinkhole sinkhole, the out-tacular Endy Chavez. There's nothing concrete going on, other than a universal acknowledgement that his approach at the plate in spring is going to be viewed microscopically.
The speedy 27-year-old batted .277 in 2004 but had a disappointing .318 on-base percentage, walking only 30 times in 502 at-bats. To retain his regular job and place atop Washington's lineup, Chavez will have to prove this spring that he's maturing as a hitter. Robinson's goals for Chavez include getting on base more often and scoring 100 or more runs for the first time.

"I want him to be the center fielder here because we're going to be a better ballclub if he is," Robinson said. "If he isn't and he doesn't give me all the things I want from him, then I have to look for someone else. I wouldn't say the job is his to lose, but he does have a foot up on everybody else."

The catch is that there isn't a clear solution yet.

Wilkerson in center full-time is a recipe for doubles. I doubt his range in center is Bernie Williams-like, but no one's going to confuse him for Tris Speaker either.

I still think that Alex Escobar is the darkhorse in this race. He has the pedigree, but just hasn't been healthy enough to put together a consistent stretch in the majors yet. Hopefully, he'll get his shot in the spring and ward off the injury demons. If he can live up to a fraction of the potential he showed a few years ago, he's a far better option than Endy.