Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Great Outfield Debate

I had intended to sit down and share my thoughts on Rickie Weeks current struggles at the top of the order, but with the recent news in the Journal that he will probably sit for a few days with his sore wrist (http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=607767), I thought I'd instead turn my focus to the man that everyone wants to see more of--Tony Gwynn Jr.

Let me start by saying that I am a huge Tony Gwynn fan, and was very pleased when he made the team on the last cut out of spring training. Many on talk radio in Milwaukee are quick to remind their listeners that Tony is not his father. And I agree with that assessment--he's not his father. But considering Tony Sr. was a career .338 hitter, Tony Jr. could hit 50 points lower than his old man and still have a solid career (I'd take .288 from my leadoff hitter.)

The problem with starting Tony Gwynn every day at the top of the order (which the masses in Milwaukee are calling for daily) is that Ned Yost is desperately trying to keep all of his OFers fresh. Ned faces the same dilemna that we all faced anytime we landed four Brewers tickets in high scool--what 3 guys am I taking with me today...There are those that argue that Ned should forget about equal playing time and just run his three best out there every day. Here's the rub--if you do that, you greatly diminish the trade value of the guys who ride the pines regularly. And it's pretty obvious that someone is getting shipped come the trade deadline.

Say what you will about Mench and Jenkins, but I think it's essential that the Brewers continue to find at-bats for Corey Hart. This is a kid who has proven himself time and again in the minors, and who often gets overlooked during the discussions of top prospects like Weeks, Hardy and Prince. His upside, however, is almost as high. And despite the fact that he looks like a small town high school basketball team's uncoordinated center, he has a great mix of speed and power.

My suggestion: turn right field and left field into pure platoon situations with Hart and Mench standing in against lefties and Jenkins and Gwynn standing in against righties. I know that makes Gabe Gross the odd man out, and even though he carried this team to their only win this week, I think an occassional start for Hall is all Gross should see over the next couple weeks...So, as I see it, the line-up should look like this...

Against righties...
Gwynn
Weeks
Hardy
Fielder
Estrada
Hall
Jenkins
Counsell
Pitcher

And against lefties...
Weeks
Hardy
Fielder
Hall
Estrada
Mench
Hart
Graffanino
Pitcher

In many ways, the logjam in the outfield is a nice problem to have, especially when you consider that not more than four years ago we were relying on the production of the likes of Jeffrey Hammonds, John Vanderwall, Chris Magruder and Jason Conti...I'd say we have a definite upgrade in talent since '03. Now Ned just has to figure out how to keep them all happy and keep Hart and Gwynn's development moving forward...

One other wrinkle exists in this whole logjam, and he is currently playing at Triple A. (Editor's Note: This will be the first of many bold predictions that I will submit to this blog. Hopefully they pan out better than JD closser...). I said at the time of the Carlos Lee trade, and I'll say again now--Lance Nix has the greatest ceiling of anyone in the Brewers crop of Outfielders (with the exception of Hall, who was a SS at the time of the trade). I consider Nix to be a young Jim Edmonds with a bit less range but, perhaps, a bit more power. When he first came up with the Rangers, Nix was an offensive machine. Slowed by injuries, the Rangers became frustrated with him and included him in the Carlos trade. When Nix first went down to Triple A for the Brewers he started tearing the cover up the ball, was called up, and hit a few dingers before he once again injured himself and was shut down for the remainder of the season. He began this year on the DL as well, but now he's back at Triple A, and through 7 games he is hitting over .400 with 3 HRs. If this kid can ever stay healthy, and admittedly that is a big if, he has the potential to be a .300; 35 HR, 100 RBI, 20 SB type player...with the current logjam, however, those numbers might be put up with another team....

I wanted to share a snippet of what friend and respected sports enthusiast Chad Privatt had to say about my opening blog:

"the best athletes being linebackers????what??? even on the football field- i would rate them 2nd, 3rd or maybe 4th.... i think alot of safeties and running backs are better overall athletes and that doesn't even get me basketball, some track & field athletes, and have you ever seen these professional wrestlers-the size, speed, flexibility, toughness, ect and you say linebackers?"

Personally, I categorize athletes as the combination of strength, speed and power. In all of sports, I can't think of a more apt description than having to shed a blocker, and then chase down a running back, before he gets to the sideline. Ray Lewis, Adalius Thomas, Joey Porter, Nick Barnett--to me these are the real freaks of nature that possess strength and power. But i'm curious what others think, so please feel free to share your comments, by clicking on the word comments and typing your thoughts. If you don't want to create an account, no problem--just make the comment "annonymous" and it should publish on the blog....

But remember to bring your A game.

Until next time...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian, iwspo.net