Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spare the Rod, Already

If you've been reading the papers or other blogs this week, you've seen how Ron Gardenhire continues to feed the press with discouraging remarks about SS Jason Bartlett, while talking up utility scrubs Juan Castro or Nick Punto like they're really viable candidates to play every day for a contending team starved for offense. Gardy does this even while Bartlett is hitting .387 (12-for-31) in camp. OK, 10 of those 12 hits are singles and the other two are doubles. Still, you'd think a boss might want to be encouraging a kid who is hitting .387--even if he knows that "spring training stats are meaningless."

As evidence that performance in camp doesn't necessarily correspond to the praise or criticism the Twins management doles out to its young charges, consider this item on Jason Kubel from Baseball America:

The Twins have been encouraged by outfielder Jason Kubel's big league camp. Kubel, who had reconstructive knee surgery after a collision with Tigers infielder Ryan Rabun during the Arizona Fall League two years ago, fought hard for a major league job this spring but is more likely to start the year at Triple-A Rochester. "He's made a lot of strides; really made up for a lot of lost time," [Twins minor league director of operations] Jim Rantz said. "We're certainly going to be cautious with Jason, but at this point he's still across the street (at big league camp)."

Kubel, who is being talked up as a possible starting RF to begin the season, particularly if Michael Cuddyer is on the Disabled List, is hitting .211 (8-for-38) with a .263 SLG in camp. Now, I don't mean to say that Gardy should start spreading pessimism about Kubel's future just because he's not hitting this spring. Kubel may need all the encouragement he can get right now, and maybe it'll goose Cuddyer and Stewart to hear the bosses talking up the kid who's coming up behind them too. But how do they justify the kid gloves treatment in this case, while at the same time the manager constantly gives the needle to a young Shortstop who not only is having a decent spring but is clearly the club's best available option at his position?

I don't care much whether he's had any mental lapses in the field this month. In 68 games at SS last season, Bartlett had a .979 Fielding Pct. (where the adjusted average was .972) and a 4.74 Range Factor (where the adjusted average was 4.17). He can field his position, and he's a better bat with greater potential than the utility hacks posing as his competition for the starting job. Let him know you're behind him, Mr. Manager, quit messing with his head, and let the kid play.


At 3/30/2006 8:20 AM, Blogger Moss said...

Amen, my brother Wig. And the same for the Lohse-, Morneau-, and Cuddyer-bashing too. I'm praying for a mutiny.

Good to see you writing again!!

At 3/30/2006 9:16 AM, Blogger frightwig said...

Glad to see you too, Moss!

At 3/30/2006 9:55 AM, Anonymous Jim H. said...

Can Bartlett play third?


At 3/30/2006 12:22 PM, Anonymous Drake33 said...


Pushing him to 3B doesn't solve anything. It just creates another hole.

I'm hoping it's just stupid Gardy speak. I don't know why he has to constantly degrade the young-uns, but that's his MO.

At 4/01/2006 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a thought... if an owner could take Billy Beane and Terry Ryan and combine their good traits, would a competent G.M. capable of building a playoff WINNING team be the result?? Terry's "old school" fundamentalism and Billy's "new age" commitment to stats only, drive me crazy!!

At 9/06/2006 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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