Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Odds. Ends. (03.18)

Chicago White Sox
  • Bartolo Colon's first spring outing for the Sox didn't go according to plan.  The Sun-Time's Joe Cowley reports that in his inning-and-two-thirds of work against the Royals, Colon labored heavily to throw strikes, hitting the zone in just 22 of his 40 pitches. ''The most important thing is he was out there healthy, healthier,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said. ''I could say everything about Contreras because I've known Jose for four or five years. Colon, I haven't seen him pitch in a little while. Obviously, his ball was up a little bit. ... His velocity was good enough for me. He did what I expect." The 36-year-old's results are somewhat textbook considering that he recent underwent elbow clean-up surgery.  As a rule, shoulder injuries wind up with decreased velocity while the elbow injury sufferers usually have more problems with control. 
Minnesota Twins
  • La Velle notes the Twins are determined to use Denard Span defensively - with the expense of playing musical lineups with Carlos Gomez, Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young.  The Twins are favoring using him in left field which would be the most efficient implementation of his skills.  The Metrodome has an expansive left-center field area and a Span-Gomez combination would cover a portion of that.  The downside is that Span has never been asked to field left before.  "It's just something I have to learn how to do," Span said. "It's not that I can't do it. I've just never done it in my short career. That's the biggest thing, learning how to play different positions day in and day out.  I play left field today and the ball is slicing this way, and the next day the ball is slicing the opposite way."  In his brief tenure as the Twins right fielder in 2008 (686 innings), Span was ranked the sixth overall best right field defender according to John Dewan's Fielding Bible.   
  • Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron ranks the Twins as the 18th overall organization...one slot behind the White Sox.  Discuss. 
  • The Brewers have designated former Twins relief prospect Eduardo Morlan to assignment after selecting him from Tampa in the Rule 5 draft according to Tom Haudricourt.  The Rays can either allow the Brewers to keep him, or buy him back for $25,000.  Brewers GM Doug Melvin echoed the same sentiment regarding Morlan that one Twins official told me: "We like his arm but that's not our call right now," said Melvin.
 Cleveland Indians
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes celebrated the switch-hitting skills of Indians second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera.  Hoynes notes that Cabrera was taught to be a switch-hitter when he was three-years-old in Venezuela so, therefore, he is a "natural".  Admittedly, Cabrera's minor league splits are that of a disciplined hitter from either side of the plate (.752 OPS RH/.780 OPS LH), but his major league experience has fallen short of his development numbers: in as a left-handed batter he has a .661 OPS with a .957 OPS batting right-handed.  This is not so much a degradation of Cabrera's talents as it is indictment of the media's preconceived notions about switch-hitters: sometimes it is more beneficial to bench a switch-hitter when he is facing a pitcher from his inferior plate side in favor of a platoon instead of wedging the switch-hitter in simply because he fits (I find the managers love it because it is a no-brainer).  The legendary Eddie Murray was viewed as one of the best switch-hitters of all-time but even his numbers suggest that he was better from the left-side (.857 OPS) than his right (.787). 
  • I specifically noted Murray because it gives me the opportunity to forward on this 2003 Joe Christensen article written while he was with the Baltimore Sun (for whatever reason, I keep picturing Christensen with a mullet as I read this...) on the former O's and Indian slugger Eddie Murray.   Christensen - or possibly another reporter - poses the question to Orioles former scouting director Dave Ritterpusch if Murray would have made the Hall had he not been a switch-hitter.  As I highlighted above, he was a better hitter from the left-side, hitting 362 of his 504 career home runs from that batter's box, his non-natural side. 
Kansas City Royals
  • The Twins might not be done with the likes of Sir Sidney Ponson -- according to Bob Dutton at the Kansas City Star, the Royals have signed Ponson to a minor league contract and an invitation to spring training (the 19 days or so left anyways).  In his WBC audition, Ponson worked 9 innings and posted a 4.00 ERA while walking 4 and striking out 4.  After headlining the Netherlands quasi-interesting upset over the Dominican Republic, Ponson will report to Arizona and face the Mariners on Wednesday. 
  • In 2008, Royals catcher John Buck hit .224/.304/.365 - numbers that were fairly consistent with his career line but wiuth a dip in his power.  Buck reveals the source behind his struggles at the plate which puts a human face on why sometimes production declines, something we number-crunchers often forget or don't have access to when providing our analysis.  Buck's wife delivered twins in May - one was hanging on with medical support.  “I had my wife in the hospital,” Buck recalled. “I had one of my boys, Brody, literally on a lifeline with oxygen.  I didn’t want to bring it up. I was having a bad season, and I didn’t want to make it sound like an excuse. To me, that would have been a loser’s excuse. So I kept that private."
Detroit Tigers


  • The Tigers are in such a bullpen predicament that they have invited Juan Rincon to camp and threw over $4 million to Brandon Lyon to help solidify an open sore that was once a bastion of talent in 2006 during their World Series run.  Once again, the young flamethrower that was the centerpoint of the 2006 bullpen, Joel Zumaya, is having shoulder pains that is keeping him from throwing this spring.  After manager Jim Leyland said on Sunday that Zumaya would be ready by Opening Day, Jon Paul Morosi's article in the Detroit Free Press raises plenty of doubts.  After being diagnosed by Dr. James Andrews with an inflammed rotator cuff (not a good cuff to have inflammed), Zumaya started having spasms behind his shoulder, keeping him inactive this spring.  What was once a promising career is now teetering on the brink of being extinguished.