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Name that player
by Hubert Huang on May 19, 2005
Temporarily out of interesting anecdotes to share with each other while stuck in traffic at the tail end of a 10-hour drive to Coachella a couple of weeks ago, I and the three other weary travelers in the car decided to play a friendly game of indie-rock name that tune. Inspired by how well that endeavor passed the time, let's try a baseball version of the game.
He's less than fleet of foot and though he plays a position where offensive production is at a premium, he hasn't been blessed with significant home run power. However, he has a sterling defensive reputation, which has allowed him to win several Gold Gloves and
enjoy a long major league career.
Well, if you follow the Giants at all, it should be obvious that the player described above is J.T. Snow. However, if this description appeared in the New York Post, the first name that readers would come up with would belong to Doug Mientkiewicz.
Normally, first basemen batting .220 aren't the first thing on any fan's mind unless they're accompanied by the words 'fucking loser' but the ex-Red Sox first bagger has been the recipient of some kind words recently, courtesy of Kevin Millar's early season struggles. In fact, some have voiced the opinion that the reigning world champs kept the wrong first baseman.
Perhaps, those vociferous upstarts have been listening to general managers like Doug Melvin of the Brewers, who believes that a good defensive first baseman can save you 10 games a year -- roughly the same amount that Barry Bonds wins with his bat. Of course, Melvin's statement ranks among the all-time most idiotic words ever to be uttered, but it is illustrative of how much "baseball people" (who are generally considered a dim bunch, except by other baseball people) overvalue defense, especially at first base.
For Brian Sabean, this means he should be glued to his mobile knowing that if that if Mets GM Omar Minaya is so elated to be cutting checks to Mientkiewicz to the tune of $3.75 million dollars a year, there must be someone willing to overpay in a trade for J.T Snow, whose salary comes in at an even $2 million. Whether Snow or Mientkiewicz is the superior gloveman is of little consequence, in the minds of baseball people, they're both great.
However, what is of great consequence is that J.T. Snow is batting nearly .300 this year, after hitting .327 a year ago. And although, he's never going to hit anywhere close to 28 home runs a year again, he still draws walks at a high clip, which keeps his on-base percentage near .400. And considering he does all this while playing half his games at a pitcher's haven only makes him more marketable.
A return to the Angels makes sense, if the Halos could only see through Darin Erstad's toughness and realize how much of a detriment he is to their ballclub. Hell, if they want to keep his clubhouse presence, convince him to make the position change to bench coach. Just point out how integral Don Zimmer was in the Yankees' run of championships.
And if Millar doesn't turn around, Boston might once again yearn for a soft glove at first base to corral some of Mark Bellhorn's two-hop throws from second…
Just a few games ago, the Giants could call themselves a winning ballclub. However, the realist knows how dismal the Giants really are.
- They have no starter with an OPS higher than .830.
- They have four starters with an OPS of less than .720 and a fifth starter whose OPS is less than .740.
- The right-handed half of their first base platoon has an on-base percentage of .282 and the left-handed half has zero home runs and a slugging percentage of .385.
- Except for Scott Munter – who was called up a week ago – they have no pitcher on their staff with an ERA under 3.20.
- Kirk Rueter, the "ace" of their rotation, has an ERA over 4.00 and has 67% percent more walks than strikeouts.
- Brett Tomko, their only pitcher with a K/BB ratio over 2:1, has 29 strikeouts and 14 walks.
- Jim Brower, their most frequently used reliever, has an ERA of 6.75.
Giants' fans should pray every night that Jason Ellison's performance isn't a total aberration, because if it is, who knows how bleak things will get.
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by Hubert Huang on May 19, 2005