Monday, February 07, 2005

Excited utterances headline says "Nats ready to bang with the big boys," content of article leads one somewhat confused

Bill Ladson gives us a pre-spring training puff piece. It's fine as far as it goes (sure, Castilla, Guillen, Guzman, while not great, should improve an abysmal 2004 offense), but there's some real head-scratchers here.

For instance, here's some Wisdom, AL Scout style:

"Vinny Castilla is a steady player who belongs in the National League more than he does the American League," said an American League scout.
"People would probably say it should be the other way around, but he hits
National League pitching a little bit better. Castilla is the type of guy that
doesn't rock the boat. He's not an exuberant guy. He's a steady, old player."

Huh? American League guys are boat-rockers, exuberant, unsteady, and young? Are they next-generation David Lee Roths? Well, anyway . . . I'm assuming the quote doesn't reflect a sequential conversation.

The scout continues:

"Jose Guillen comes with extra baggage off the field," the scout said. "If he decides that he's going to play a full year, Guillen is going to hit 35 to 40 home runs and he's going to drive in a bunch of runs. But he has never let himself do that. You don't know how Frank Robinson will handle that situation. Frank is tough, as you know, but he has gotten a little more

Well, we'll see if Guillen hits 35-40 homers this season. It's not like he was suspended in early August. And note to Frank: If Guillen throws any projectiles at you, just don't do anything. Jose needs the leniency, you know.

Finally, there is the curious case of Cristian Guzman, who by congressional mandate is always referred to as a "cornerstone" (making me think the Nats are, as Cosmo Kramer would put it, "architecturally incorrect"):

Bowden called Guzman one of the cornerstones of the team, though the Nationals would like him to improve his on-base percentage, which
stands at .303 for his career. Guzman is expected to bat second in the order.
"I think Cristian Guzman can be better than he was with the Twins, and he
was good," the scout said. "He is in the prime of his career. If he really turns
it up, he could really make a difference for that club. He knows how to play and he has played on a winner. I'm sure Frank is going to really lean on him to be a leader of that club."

1. Ugh. Guzman hitting second. And guess who's batting first? Yep, Endy Chavez. At least Ladson's article puts that somewhat conditionally, based on Endy improving his OBP.
2. Is this really how scouts talk? Either Gammons and Co. gussy up their quotes to make them sound sentient, or this one's just not well-spoken. (I'm betting if he is, he isn't representative; I've only spoken to a handful of scouts in my time as a fan, but they sound pretty intelligent to me.) At any rate, if Guzman can't "turn it up" as far as he can for a contender, what's he going to do with the Nats?

And F-Robbie better keep his postures with various players indexed: "GUILLEN: Lenient." "GUZMAN: Lean on." How's he going to keep it straight?

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