April 24, 2017

Free Brandon Wood!

May 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

What does a young player have to do to get a crack at regular big league playing time in Anaheim? I think Mike Scioscia is one of the better managers in the game but his man-love for slap-hitting middle infielders is silly.

As I write this only four AL teams have scored fewer runs than the Angels this season. They’re not getting any power from Bobby Abreu, Vlad Guerrero is out with an injury and Juan Rivera’s not doing anything either. All that and Wood, when he did receive a call to the big leagues, never got off the stinkin’ bench.

What gives? Is there something we don’t know about? I mean, Scioscia has used Maicer Izturis in the 3-hole. That’s desperation, I tell ya, even worse than Jim Leyland using Clete Thomas (a guy who wasn’t good enough to make your team out of Spring Training, Jimmy!) there the past week or so.

Here’s what I do know for a fact about Brandon Wood: he has nothing left to prove at Triple-A. He hit 31 HR there last year, 23 the year before that, and he’s already hit 8 HR in 15 games in Triple-A this season. All that comes after the man hit 68 HR combined in 2005 & 2006.

Sure, Wood strikes out a lot. He also walks a fair amount and hits for a solid average. His defense may not be at the level of Eric Aybar or Maicer Izturis but what would be the problem with sitting Rivera and using Wood at DH?

Defense and speed matter to Scioscia, I get that and I support that. There comes a time, however, when you need to include some pop in the lineup. When you’re using guys like Aybar, Izturis, Rivera and Gary Matthews every single day I just don’t see how it could be that hard to take one of them out to get Wood’s power in there on a daily basis, at least until Vlad returns.

Hell, if you’re not going to use the guy why not trade him to get something you actually will put to use, like another punch-and-judy utility man to slot into the 3-hole?

While the Angels are at it, they should free Sean Rodriguez as well. All he’s done is hit 32 HR in his last 358 at-bats at Triple-A….

And no, I do not have either Wood or Rodriguez on my fantasy team…

Random Thoughts

* So, what should be done to umpire Paul Schrieber after he gently pushed Magglio Ordonez in last night’s game?

Tiger manager Jim Leyland says he doesn’t want Schrieber to receive a suspension, though that is probably motivated by his desire for a positive relationship with the Man in Blue going foward, but to me anything less than a suspension is unacceptable.

In case you missed it, Ordonez calmly argued a called third strike during Wednesday night’s game between the Tigers and the Twins and after just a few seconds Schrieber put his hand on Magglio’s shoulder and lightly pushed him toward the Tigers’ dugout.

This was not a violent act on Schrieber’s part but why should an umpire be allowed to make ANY contact with a player? If a player did that same thing to an umpire under the exact same circumstances that player would be looking at a suspension, plain and simple. Therefore the same standard should apply to Schrieber.

Schrieber now says he was just trying to keep from having to throw Ordonez out of the game but that’s a pretty lame excuse. You know what the umpire should do in that situation?

Walk away. Just turn your back to the player and walk away…

It’s a somewhat common problem in the big leagues. Too often the umps fail to do the simple thing that would cut most confrontations off at the pass. Rather than engaging in a verbal dispute with an angry player, the Men in Blue should simply walk away.

If the player doesn’t take the hint when you walk away then throw them out of the game.

Simple.

In this case from Wednesday night, however, Schrieber should receive the same type of punishment a player would for doing the exact same thing but he won’t.

* So now MLB is fining people for NOT hitting anyone? Jeez…

I know a $750 fine for a Major League player is meaningless but still, it’s the principle of the matter. Why can’t pitchers “send messages” by throwing NEAR a batter rather than AT the batter?

I’m okay with fines for head-hunters, or even in cases where it’s quite obvious the pitcher hit someone intentionally, but this has reached the point of ridiculousness. In the past few years I’ve seen pitchers tossed for hitting batters with curveballs, for God’s sake, and now they’re fining guys for NOT hitting batters?

Horrible.

* What’s up with power guys in the leadoff spot?

What gives with Alfonso Soriano, Curtis Granderson and Grady Sizemore batting leadoff?

I understand managers like to keep their guy “comfortable” but having 30+ HR guys batting first, where they won’t get many RBI chances, is just plain silly. Managers have been giving in to Soriano’s desire to bat leadoff for years and I just don’t get it.

I’ll give Eric Wedge and Jim Leyland a little more leeway with Sizemore and Granderson than I’ll give Piniella with Soriano. ‘Phonso has been a slugger for more than 8 seasons now and there’s no reason he should still be hitting at the top of the order, especially with Aramis Ramirez on the DL and Derrek Lee slumping horribly.

Sizemore and Granderson have both developed into power guys and now is the time for their managers to wake up and put them where they belong, which is the 3-hole. Grady would be so much better off hitting immediately in front of Victor Martinez, as would Granderson hitting immediately in front of Miguel Cabrera.

I realize that I’ve never been a Major League manager but that doesn’t mean common sense doesn’t apply. Guys with run producing ability should hit in the middle of the order so that when they do hit their doubles, triples and home runs there are actually men on base to drive home.

Okay, that’s all for now. Next week I’ll be back on my “every Wednesday” schedule, I promise…

Kevin Wheeler is the host of Sports Open Line (M-F 7-9 PM ET) on News Radio 1120, KMOX in St. Louis (www.kmox.com) and he is a baseball instructor with All-Star Performance (www.all-starperformance.net) and the St. Louis Gamers (www.stlgamers.net). You can reach him via e-mail at thebaseballgods@gmail.com

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