Today’s article is marked by the call-up of a potential future star, a couple of oddly injured players currently in Arizona, the return from irrelevance for a backup Mets infielder and a hurler from Cleveland, as well as a look at two key players in the AL Central.
Mat Gamel is headed to Milwaukee, likely to take the roster spot of Brad Nelson who has been awful this season (0-for-21). Gamel, the teams up and coming start at the plate, was tearing it up at Triple-A hitting .336 with eight home runs and 31 RBI in just 33 games proving that he simply doesn’t need any more seasoning in the minors. The question now becomes, how much will he play? There certainly isn’t a good reason to have him waste away on the bench picking up spare at-bats here and there (he could DH for the club in their upcoming inter-league series). Still, dude has eight errors at third so far this year, and to be honest his name has never been associated with Brooks Robinson. Still, if you have been relying on Bill Hall, it may be nearing the time that you’ll want to be concerned.
Cliff Lee has turned around an abysmal start to the year with a 1.43 ERA over his last six starts during which time he is just 2-4 thanks to a lack of run support. He won’t ever match what he did last year again, but he is clearly over whatever issue was troubling him at the start of the season and appears to have righted the ship completely.
The Tigers owe Magglio Ordonez millions over the next couple of seasons, and word out of Chicago is that the team might actually consider outright releasing their star outfielder to avoid paying him the dough. Here is how it breaks down.
2010: A mutual option for $18 million that becomes guaranteed if he has 540 plate appearances or 135 starts this season.
2011: A mutual option for $15 million that becomes guaranteed if he has 1,080 plate appearances or 270 starts in 2009-10.
If the club lets him go now they would have to pay the remainder of his 2009 salary ($18 million), but would only owe him a buyout of $3 million to void the final two years of the deal “saving” them $30 million. Ordonez has been pretty awful this year hitting .241 with just two home runs and 12 RBI, but would the club really cut him loss after he averaged .326-24-115-90-2 the past three years? Fiscal responsibility – teams need to practice it or they will be left with no-win situations like this one.
Alexei Ramirez went 3-for-3 on Wednesday to push his fledgling average up to .223. In his 103 at-bat this season he has only one dinger and just seven runs scored, so if not for his six steals his value would be miniscule, not just awful. In 583 career at-bats Ramirez owns a .278 average with 22 home runs and 90 RBI, not to mention the 19 steals, but he also has walked just 24 times against 75 strikeouts. There is only one Alfonso Soriano, and as much as people want Ramirez to be the second one, it just isn’t likely to happen, especially considering that Ramirez is already 27 years old and that he still cannot control the strike zone very well.
Fernando Tatis is once again paying huge dividends for those who took a chance on him late in NL-only leagues. Tatis had three hits, including his second home run of the year, as he platted four RBIs for the Mets playing at first base in place of Carlos Delgado on Wednesday. Tatis is now batting .358 on the year and dating back to last season Tatis is hitting .307 with 13 home runs and 55 RBI in just 326 ABs. Considering that he had only 56 total at-bats in the 2004-06 seasons, its been a truly remarkable return from the dead for Fernando.
Joey Votto is out of the lineup on Wednesday after leaving the game on Tuesday due to dizziness that the club believes resulted from the flu combined with the warm, dry air of Arizona. Hey Joey, drink some Gatorade. Speaking of Arizona, we are still awaiting clarification on just what ails Conor Jackson as tests continue to be inconclusive in terms of defining just what his illness is.
By Ray Flowers