“I’ve Heard Of Sophomore Slumps, But This Is Redonkulous”

First off, I just saw a Molina get caught stealing on a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out in extra innings against the Cubs. Yes, it was a risky play by LaRussa, but the rook batting (Matt “Not Chris” Carpenter) should know that you don’t take a borderline pitch with two strikes in extra innings AND A MOLINA IS IN MOTION FROM FIRST TO SECOND! It’s one thing to strike out swinging on that play, but LOOKING? Bush league, son, bush league.

Now onto Tyler Colvin. I knew he was struggling, and I knew he was demoted and then recently recalled when Alfonso Soriano was injured (no, it wasn’t a pulled ego, or a dislocated wallet). These things happen to players in extended slumps when they still have options left. Julio Borbon was recently sent down, as was Michael Saunders. Nate McLouth was exiled to Gwinnett last year.

But until this game I had no idea of the depth of Colvin’s slump. Today, as of this writing he was 0-5, which means he’s 7-73 on the season. That’s an .096 batting average. Entering this game, he had an OPS+ of 13, whilst last year his OPS+ was 111.

Now, there’s no reason to think he’s THAT bad. His minor league record was pretty good. Of course, his season ended with that hideous accident where a he was impaled by a bat. But that was a freak accident – and people are rarely impaled anymore since Vlad retired from the Carpathian League. (Vlad had a stormy record as part of the Wallachia Wyverns, but he was never intimidated…)

But no matter how his career winds up, this season will be an ugly stain on his bubble gum card. Sure, there’s a chance he can go on a tear, but even if he does, what will his batting average look like.

Well, let’s find out.

Even if he gets hot, he’s probably only going to get about 200 more at bats at most after Soriano returns, thanks to Fukudome, Pena, Soriano, Byrd and Reed Johnson hanging around. The reality is a lot less, but for Tyler’s benefit I’ll go with the higher number.

If in those 200 at bats he hits about what he did last year (.254) – that’s 51 for 200 (.255, close enough).

He’d be 58-273 on the season, or .212.

If he hit .300 in those 200 at bats (60 for 200), he’d be hitting .245.

If he hit .350 in those 200 at bats (70 for 200) he’d wind up at .282.

So all is not lost, Tyler. All is not lost. Just get on a hot streak.

POSTSCRIPT – Albert Pujols just belted a slider from Jeff “Hail Hail To Notre Dame, Maybe I Should Be Pitching For South Bend” Samardzija to the bullpen for a Cards win, and just in time for me to switch to the hockey game. Thus the resurrection of Tyler Colvin’s batting average will have to start tomorrow.

 

 

 

Still Hanging On…

One can never accuse Matt Stairs of not getting his money’s worth out of baseball.

Specifically, hitting the baseball.

He’s always been a hideous fielder, but he’s still active, and ironically with the same organization that he started in long, long ago.

He wasn’t drafted, as baseball didn’t draft international players at the time (he’s from New Brunswick). So he signed with the Expos in 1989. Soon he was their hot prospect, advancing rapidly through the system. He had an outstanding year in 1991 in the Eastern League, and while his raw numbers were down in AAA in 1992 he had a great OBP.

But believe it or not the Expos were in a mode where they didn’t have the luxury to develop another hitter, so they sold Stairs to Japan in mid-1993. He was brought back by the Expos, but Boston purchased his contract. Stairs was in AA all of 1994, at Pawtucket most of 1995, and then signed as a minor league free agent with Oakland for 1996. From mid-1996 onward he’s been in the big leagues for the most part, providing patience and power and no doubt a good clubhouse presence.

How many careers started in 1996 and have already ended?

Stairs is really struggling this year. Last season he didn’t hit for average at all but when he connected he crushed (Matt SMASH!) but this year may be the end of the line, for keeps. But he’s going down with a fight, for sure.

What drew me to this card was not just the fact it’s Matt Stairs, but that there’s a quote on the back from another baseball lifer.

 

If you can’t read it, the quote at the end says: “He’s a great natural hitter, a God-given talent,” said Harrisburg manager Mike Quade.

Yep, the Mike Quade that finally has his chance to manage full-time in the bigs this year – and he’s saddled with the Cubs. Thankfully, the Cubs have no delusions of grandeur this year thanks to a starting staff that should mostly be toiling in Iowa.

I don’t think Matt Stairs has any delusions of grandeur either. MATT SMASH!

A New Era In Smed’s Cards!

No, there will still be snark.

No, there still will be junk.

But now, it’s going to feature cards that are NOT doubles, and are part of my bindered (or will be in my bindered) collection.

There’s a good reason for that – my doubles are almost all gone (except for my grab bag friends – and I haven’t forgotten about you all…I just need to wait a skosh)

I recently received a couple of trade packages back from my Spring Cleaning Buds, from Potch Wheeler and the Wit of Dim. I foised a bunch of guys like Bill Scherrer and Wilbur Howard on them, and they gave me stuff from my want list. Sweet!

In fact, this card is from Dimwit. I would have scanned Potch’s classic 1976 Jesse Jefferson card, but I’ve already bindered that. It will make an appearance I’m sure. If there’s one 70’s player you can snark on, it’s Jefferson.

How can you snark on Cuddy, though?

He’s a fan favorite in Minnesota – ‘good in the room’ – and a team leader. He’s willing to step up and play in awkward positions (like second) for the good of the team.

But…he’s…

…how should I say this…

…lots of Twins fans will stone me, but…

…he’s….

…he’s…

NOTTHATGOOD!

He’s always been a poor defender. He just doesn’t have the range or arm for right. He was hide-your-eyes at third and doesn’t hit enough to play first, left, or DH. (Well, Delmon Young is hitting like Matt Tolbert this year, but Cuddy couldn’t hit well enough to play LF on a normal (read non-injury ravaged) team.)

(Side note about Delmon. Yes, he was hurt. But he’s 25 and supposedly healthy now, and his OBP AND his SLG are under .300! It’s like if Vlad Guerrero was suddenly transformed into Wilton…)

His offense has been generic. In Minnesota nice, he’s, “OK….”

His high RBI totals, and his MVP votes mask his ability, but I did the numbers.

In 2006, he had a 3.6 OWAR, but his fielding knocked him down to 2.1. That ranked as the ninth best RF in baseball that year. He was the fifth best offensive RF but you gotta play both sides of the ball, as it were.

In 2007, he had a 2.8 OWAR, but his fielding knocked him down to 1.9. That ranked as #15 in baseball that season for RF. Offensively, he was 11th.

In 2009, he had a 3.0 OWAR, but his fielding knocked him down all the way to 1.1. Offensively, he was the 11th best RF in baseball even though he got MVP votes (and didn’t even drive in 100 runs). Overall, he was the 18th best RF in baseball. But he was better than Elijah Dukes!

I know that stats aren’t the be-all and end-all, but they are a tool to evaluate players. And Cuddy hasn’t been worth the money they paid him, even if he has played second this year in a time of desperation.

Right now, nothing besides the entire American League opting to fold could save the Twins. But their playoff appearances papered over that their RF with the good counting stats wasn’t doing the job they thought he was.