Monday, May 05, 2008



Once, way back in the early-1980's, when Dave Kingman was playing first base (and badly at that) for the Mets, he tore his mitt in the middle of one game and had to have it repaired mid-inning. Upon watching one of the Mets equipment guys come out to re-stitch his glove, Mets play-by-play announcer Richie Ashburn quipped that the team should have called a welder.

I thought of this classic quote immediately after I watched poor Eugenio Velez fumble the game away for the Giants yesterday afternoon, as the team's defense as a whole looked as though it did indeed need to be rescued by a blowtorch and a KUKA. Due to a number of defensive lapses and Brian Wilson's first Benitez experience, the team dropped two of three to the Phillies in a series that they easily could have swept.

The chief culprit among the defensive rogue's gallery was Velez, who enabled the winning run to score yesterday when he missed a ground ball, and who also should have been credited with another error in a pivotal Phillies rally in the fifth inning. Velez is a guy who I've been trumpeting to play every day, but now I'm ready to do a 180 on that. Velez's miserable game Sunday brought his line to .232/.264/.354, which coupled with his erratic defense may have Giants fans welcoming Ray Durham back from the doghouse with open arms.

While it'd be fun to see how many triples Velez could rack up with his speed over a full season, I think it's best for all concerned if he were sent to AAA to be the starting second baseman. It's clear that Velez is overmatched by major league pitching, and the worries about his defensive performance that popped up in Spring Training are proving to be legit. As much as we all want to see the Giants play young guys, in this case it's probably only going to stunt Eugenio's development to keep trotting him out there.

Velez's most valuable asset is his speed, but without some ability to take pitches he's just going to turn into Gary Pettis without the defensive rep, and it's hard to get much more useless than that. I'd love to see him get regular playing time from here on out at Fresno and then see if he can't learn to hit there. Remember, his awesome season in 2006 came as a 24-year-old in A-ball, so maybe what we see is what we get. Still, there's really nothing to gain from letting him stink it up in the majors for a whole year, unless derailing his confidence is the stated goal. I'd gladly sit through another couple of months of Ray Durham if it means Velez turns into a useful ballplayer.

--Currently leading the NL in saves...Brian Wilson, with 10! That's right, I surmised in an earlier post that Wilson could theoretically save 30 games this season because every game the Giants win will likely be low-scoring, and thus Wilson should get a lot of opportunities. As if to prove me a baseball genius (rim shot), Wilson is well on his way.

I've always maintained that saves are a stupid junk stat, but if Wilson does rack up a bunch of them then it will help the Giants a lot in the future. For instance, if Wilson puts together a bunch of 30-save seasons in a row, and earns that beloved "proven closer" tag that gets bestowed upon the likes of Rocky Biddle and Derrick Turnbow, then he might have a lot of trade value as his arbitration years start to tick down. I can imagine a desperate fringe contender throwing a prospect or two at the Giants for the chance to get a gritty ninth inning man to solidify their bullpen and look mean. If the Giants could convince Wilson to wear coke-bottle glasses and grow wild facial hair, they'd only be helping their cause.

--I'm not sure what to make of the site called Steve Finley Was Here, since it takes the namesake of one of the most hated players in Giants history. It contains a link to my page, though, so I guess that means I should I plug it, right? Except...2004. Wayne Franklin. I'm so confused. I guess I'll call a truce and grudgingly link to it.

For real, though, check it out. It's all about West Coast baseball, it's good stuff, and if you ever wanted to know what Barry Zito has on his iPod, you're in luck (he apparently doesn't have Tu Quieres Volver...I guess I'm the only young adult in the world who would admit to putting that on a playlist).

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