It’s Friday and I’m tired. It’s been a long week, I’m not complaining just laying out the facts, and I’m looking forward to what promises to be a nice weekend. My brother’s daughter has her second b-day party on Saturday – we’re getting one of those bouncy castle things to jump in, and don’t think I’m not joining in – followed by a trip down to San Jose as my Dad and I hope to see the San Jose Sharks defeat the Red Wings to move on to the third round of the NHL playoffs. Then on Sunday we have Mother’s Day (you had better run out and get a gift for your mother if you forgot), and I’m getting together with the family to celebrate the best mom in the world which should be great fun.
With my itinerary for the weekend out of the way, here are some thoughts on a handful of younger ballplayers who have been in the news today.
* Jeff Clement is out of the starting lineup again for the Pirates as he continues to work on his stroke on the side. Many thought that they had a steal if they were able to roster Clement as a catcher eligible player, but it just hasn’t happened. You can read more of my thoughts on Clement at Around the Horn.
* Alcides Escobar entered the 2010 season as one of the potential breakout stars at the shortstop position because of his speed on the base or paths. Escobar stole 34 bags in 2008 and last season swiped 46 bags in the minors (42) and with the Brewers (four), and many were looking at him to once again surpass the 30-steal mark in his first full season in Milwaukee. While it could still happen, it would take a rather monumental shift from the way Escobar has performed thus far. To this point, and we’re talking about 25 games and 99 plate appearances, Escobar has attempted just one theft – and he was caught. It certainly doesn’t help that his OBP is awful at .296, but he has never been a big OBP guy (his career minor league mark is just .333). Mike Cameron said that the Brewers limited his attempts on the bases – could the club be doing the same thing with Escobar this season?
* For those that follow me on the Baseball Guy’s Twitter Page this isn’t going to be news, but here is what the Marlins’ owner, Jeffrey Loria, had to say about the phenom that is Mike Stanton. “[Stanton] will probably be (with the Marlins) this summer. The baseball people don’t want him to come and fail… When he’s ready – June, July. I don’t know. Hell probably be here this summer. But he’s got to continue to keep developing. Don’t forget – that’s a lot of pressure to put on a 20-year-old man.” Reading that it’s easy to see that Stanton doesn’t appear headed for Florida until after the All-Star break barring something unforeseen, though if he keeps hitting 500 foot home runs or keeps pounding the ball into the seats with such frequency – 14 homers in 100 ABs – the team could surely amend their current plan.
* Eugenio Velez of the Giants is a talented athlete, but he has had trouble transitioning his physical gifts to the ball field. With his average down to .186 and without a single steal attempt through 17 games, the Giants decided on Friday to send him back to the minors. In 614 career at-bats Velez has hit .259 with a terrible .303 batting average, meaning the only area he has really helped in is with his wheels which have led to 83 runs and 30 steals. Problem is, Velez is frequently picked off when on base, and his instincts often have him taking a first step in the wrong direction. He might need to be moved to another organization because it appears that the Giants have just about given up on him.
And finally, I know he isn’t a “youngster,” but I couldn’t just let go the news out of Atlanta that Brian McCann is once again having trouble with his vision. McCann, who has already undergone two LASIK procedures, will apparently have to wear glasses when he returns to the active lineup on Saturday. Keep a very close eye on this situation – a simply horrible pun as I’m aware – as McCann has hit under .200 over his last 50 at-bats in what has got to be a rather significant concern for the Braves, their medical staff, those who own him in the fantasy game and for McCann himself.
By Ray Flowers