Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Pop! Goes The Infield

Not even flies drop this fast. Cristian Guzman, the recently-hot-hitting shortstop, tweaked his hamstring and will be out for five to seven days.

This is a surprisingly tough loss to take, because of the injury to Jose Vidro and this team’s poor roster construction. And strangely, the roster composition is being magnified each time Jim Bowden makes a move.

It’s like he’s filling a pothole with gravel. It may get you through rush hour without anyone losing a hubcap, but you’re going to just have to be out there the next morning to refill it.

For the short-term, it appears that Guzman won’t need to go on the DL. There’ll be three hypothetical infielders on tonight’s roster then: Mr. Celibacy, Jamey Carroll (The man who can’t play every day because he’s never played every day finally gets his long-awaited profile), Henry Mateo, and (sit for this) Carlos Baerga.

After Guzman’s injury last night, Carroll slid to short and Baerga (Seen here in the orange) waddled to second.

If Carlos is a major league second basemen, I’m Roger Angell.

You should’ve seen his play last night. With the go-ahead run in scoring position, Royce “Predator” (Thanks, Ryan!) Clayton ripped a liner towards second base. Thankfully, it was a play that didn’t require any range.

Baerga dived to his left, kicking his legs high on the air to get parallel with the ground. Ordinarily, one would like to see lateral movement on a dive, but he just sort of moved at a right angle to the ground. He hung in midair for a moment or two like a bad David Copperfield illusion and somehow, miraculously, the ball clanked off his glove. He got just enough of it to keep it on the infield, scampered to his feet, waddled over, picked it up and fired to first to preserve the tie.

It was a nice play -- a play that 99% of major league second basemen make -- and one that required sheer reflexes. That he turned it into a surreal work of art amplifies his inability at the position. He wasn’t a good fielder in 1995. And he’s definitely not a good fielder ten years and fifty pounds later.

Nonetheless, Baerga will ride one of those motorized carts you see fat people riding in at WalMart out to second base tonight, and for the next few days. And ground-baller Zach Day will be praying he doesn’t get the call in the bullpen.

This just emphasizes the team’s need to bring up another infielder -- even if it’s just for a few days while Guzman heals. Rick Short says hello!

Instead, they’re calling up two more pitchers, Tony Armas and Claudio Vargas. They’re coming up for the DL’d Jose Vidro and (presumably) optioned Endy Chavez.

Why are they going to twelve pitchers all of a sudden? Especially with the sudden lack of options on the bench? There’s no rhyme or reason to it, and it doesn’t seem like they have any kind of plan.

We’ve survived all year with 11 pitchers, and have managed exceptionally well with 10 over the last week. Going to twelve makes little sense.

In a close game, there won’t be any pinch-hitters available, just Jeffrey Hammonds and Tony Blanco. And that’s hide-your-eyes bad.

Obviously something else will shake out in two weeks when Vidro comes back, but, in the meantime, it’d be much more important to have another bat on the bench than an extra pitcher -- especially the way he lets his non-Ohka, non-Day starters throw fairly deep.

But, then I thought it was crazy to have 7 outfielders on the roster too.

What’s the plan, Jim? What are you trying to do? Have you thought about how the roster composition affects the in-game strategy and, in this case, severely limits your options?

Sometimes I really wonder what the answer is.


  • Yet a week ago we were pitching about having too many bats on the bench and not enough pitchers....

    By Blogger Rocket1124, at 5/10/2005 9:53 AM  

  • With the injury to Guzman last night, they might stay at 11 pitchers (let Vargas rehab for another week) and bring up Short.

    Probably not, but there's room on the 40-man to do it.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 5/10/2005 9:54 AM  

  • We weren't bitching when it was at eleven pitchers and our hitters were healthy.

    I just don't understand the logic. They were getting by on ten. Eleven seemed to be the right number.

    So why 11?

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/10/2005 9:54 AM  

  • And I'm pretty sure we were bitching not about having too many bats, per se, but having too many shitty bats. ;)

    By Blogger Yuda, at 5/10/2005 9:54 AM  

  • Errr... 12, I mean.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/10/2005 9:55 AM  

  • Could it be that Puberty Boy is optioned to AAA in exchange for an additional MI? If Frank has lost confidence and is unlikely to go to him, why not let Vargas assume Day's role in the pen and bring up Short or Harris or whomever

    By Blogger Brian, at 5/10/2005 9:56 AM  

  • Might as well trade away Puberty Boy than option him down (if he indeed has option years remaining). He seems like a nice enough chap, but at this point he's a big league pitcher, and I doubt he'd help his trade value if he took a big league attitude upon being demoted.

    But yeah; Short, Labandeira, anyone---we need MIs bad.

    By Blogger Basil, at 5/10/2005 9:59 AM  

  • I've been contemplating that, actually. And that's something I was sort of getting at yesterday, even before the Guzman tweak.

    If Day still has options, maybe they SHOULD jerk him around a little bit, especially if Frank is just going to bury him as the 12th man on an overly-large pitching staff.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/10/2005 9:59 AM  

  • Day will pitch, at most, once a fortnight if this staff has 12 pitchers.

    The other option is Ohka landing on the DL, since Frank seems convinced he's injured.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 5/10/2005 10:02 AM  

  • or maybe both ;)

    By Blogger Brian, at 5/10/2005 10:06 AM  

  • Good points all.

    Well, if Okha goes to the DL, then---unless I'm messing up the math---the fifth spot would be either Day's or Rauch's. (Livan, E-Lo, Patterson, and Armas---yeah, that's right.)

    If so, I'd say maybe Day should be in the rotation. He's a better pitcher than this, and he needs to show it in order to be marketable. Plus, Rauch has said he doesn't mind long relief.

    By Blogger Basil, at 5/10/2005 10:11 AM  

  • I agree that Day's a better pitcher than this. He's got GREAT stuff. He just doesn't throw it for strikes.

    The hitters aren't really tagging him. And when they do, it's only because it's a 3-1 count.

    If he could consistently throw that sinker for strikes, he'd be more than capable of giving us another sub-4 ERA.

    Of course with Baerga and Carroll out there, the best thing for Day is not to be on the mound.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/10/2005 10:14 AM  

  • Excellent point; hadn't thought of that.

    By Blogger Basil, at 5/10/2005 10:15 AM  

  • Are they really planning to start Baerga at second? I mean, seriously?

    By Blogger Yuda, at 5/10/2005 10:25 AM  

  • It's not definite, but why go with him last night then?

    Frank made allusions that Mateo's not quite 100% yet, and that they want to give him more time to rest his arm. Why he's up then, IDK.

    I'm starting to learn to always expect the unexpected with this team.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/10/2005 10:27 AM  

  • Well, if nothing else, we've learned that Frank needs to go ASAP.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 5/10/2005 10:28 AM  

  • Over the last week at New Orleans (7 games):

    Short 6G [2.5 @ 1B; 3 @ 2B; 0.5 @ 3B]
    8/22 3R 5RBI 1BB 2K
    3 doubles
    2 HR
    Harris 7G [0.5 @ 2B; 6.5 @ 3B]
    10/27 7R 7RBI 2BB 3K
    1 double
    1 triple
    3 HR

    By Blogger Brian, at 5/10/2005 10:31 AM  

  • It's about time Harris started hitting. They seem predisposed to not liking him or giving him a chance.

    He's going to have to force them to bring him up with his performance.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/10/2005 10:34 AM  

  • Ladson confirmed, btw, that Baerga is going to be starting at second.

    Frank must think it's 1994.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 5/10/2005 1:17 PM  

  • More on Baerga at second base:

    Poking around the stats I could find (mostly BP FRAR/RAA stats plus Range Factor), he looks to be a bit below average but above replacement there over the last few years. Of course, small sample size caveats apply -- he's played about 25 games there this century.

    The long and short of it is he's probably not going to hurt us too much as long as Day isn't playing.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 5/10/2005 1:25 PM  

  • Which is why I don't especially trust those stats when they're the only thing I have to go on...

    I'm just taking it like this... in his prime (literally 10 years ago) he wasn't regarded as good fielder by the scouts, or by the metrics.

    He's older. Fatter. Slower. That doesn't bode well.

    But, you're right in that it won't affect us too much. Vidro's not Bobby Grich out there. We won't lose a ton out there, other than the bat.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/10/2005 1:29 PM  

  • The good news is Carroll will help make up for it with his improved bat vs. Guzman -- at least Carroll can get on base.

    It's a net loss, at least in the power department, but nothing we can't cope with for a week or two.

    And, who knows, maybe Carroll can Pipp Guzman.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 5/10/2005 1:31 PM  

  • Before that happens, we've gotta bring back the reserve clause.

    I might be mistaken, but I don't think Pipp was making $16MM :)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/10/2005 1:32 PM  

  • Extra points to Yuda for the Wally Pipp reference. Outstanding.

    By Blogger Rocket1124, at 5/10/2005 1:37 PM  

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