Thursday, May 19, 2005


I heard on the radio this afternoon that Jason Bartlett has been sent to AAA, and infielder Luis Rodriguez has been brought up to take his place. Gardy claims the goal is to help straighten out Bartlett's swing. Hmm.

Well, in 74 plate appearances in April, Bartlett hit .246/.297/.377. This month, in 26 PA's, he has hit .227/.346/.364.

Here's his batting log this month:

May 3, 0-3
May 5, 2-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
May 6, 0-2, 2 BB, 1 R, SB
May 7, 2-3, 1 BB, 2 R, 1 RBI
May 9, 0-3
May 10, 0-3
May 13, 1-3, 1 RBI

Somewhere in there, he was hit by a pitch, too.

It looks to me like he was doing OK until he had a couple hitless games in Baltimore against Daniel Cabrera and Eric Bedard. His last 6 starts of April, he was 7-for-27 with 2 walks, 2 doubles, a triple, and 4 RBI; so in 10 starts from 4/21 through 5/7, he had 11 hits in 40 at-bats and a .275/.362/.450 line. And in his one chance to redeem himself at the plate since Balmer, he was 1-for-3 with an RBI. All told, in his last 13 starts he was batting .245/.328/.388 (see how much a 1-for-9 set can skew the numbers of such a small sample?).

There may be some tweaking he could do to really get into a groove, but wasn't that to be expected? What do they pay Scott Ullger to do? And if his bat is really the problem, does Gardy really think that Juan Castro is a better option?

How do you decide to yank the kid based on that kind of sample, anyway? It's 26 plate appearances this month, 100 on the season. When the club came north, did management really think, "We'll give him a shot, but if he's not playing like an All-Star within his first 100 plate appearances, we're going back to Castro"?

Yesterday Joe Christensen in the Strib wrote a story, apparently encouraged by Twins management, indicating that the club can't afford to be as patient watching the development of Bartlett and Michael Cuddyer as they could be with Guzman and Corey Koskie in 1999, when the team had no expectations of winning. But comparing Bartlett to Guzman in '99 misses the pertinent issue, which is how Bartlett compares to Guzman's performance of the past few years while the Twins were winning division titles.

As I pointed out on Monday, Bartlett's plate production is roughly the same as what the club got out of Cristian Guzman the past 3 years; and I think Bartlett has better range than Guzman did in the field. So what's the problem? If they could win with Guzy, how is Bartlett unacceptable?

At least Michael Cuddyer apparently has managed to find his groove before Gardy's patience for him ran out, too. In May he's hitting .373/.407/.529, and today he hit a big double with the bases loaded after fouling off 9 pitches. He's also been showing off some soft hands at 3rd base and his throws are looking more accurate lately. Perhaps he just had to work through the jitters of taking over for Corey Koskie at 3B, after he had been training to play 2B last season; or maybe he's a habitual slow starter. This is the 3rd straight season he's had a poor April, and he hit .196 in his first 56 at-bats when the club called him up in the summer of 2002, too.

Anyway, I said during spring training that I believed in Michael Cuddyer. I expect this to be just the beginning of more big things from Cuddy Bear. Let's hope the Rochester coaches help Bartlett accomplish whatever Gardy wants to see him doing there, so that before we know it he's given another chance to make good on expectations, as well.


At 5/20/2005 9:52 AM, Blogger Third Base Line said...


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