Thursday, February 10, 2005

Hey, actual baseball news!

Moving beyond radio coverage in Richmond, which interests approximately 2.67 people in the whole world, I'll look at a couple actual roster issues

Prompted to do so by this Post article, of course:

The Washington Nationals yesterday agreed to terms on 2005 contracts with three more members of their 40-man roster -- outfielder J.J. Davis and right-handed pitchers Josh Karp and Danny Rueckel -- further preparing
themselves for spring training next week.

---Davis is a fascinating guy, a Two-Thirds True Outcomes slugger (he's not too keen on walking) who could bang out a cheap .500 slugging percentage in some capacity just as easily as he could .180/.240/.290 oblivion. Bowden acquired him (so you know Davis has the "Tools Seal of Approval") when he suckered the Pirates into taking Antonio Sucre. (That's no evaluation of Mr. Sucre, who I'm sure is a wonderful guy and maybe even a baseball prospect; I was just going for a cheap pun. Mr. Tony would be proud.)

From the Post article:

Davis, 26, has hit just .162 in 80 major league at-bats. But he hit .313 with 10 home runs in just 131 at-bats with Navojoa in the Mexican Winter League over the winter. Should Davis have legitimately improved, he could push center fielder Endy Chavez -- who has a .303 career on-base percentage --
for a starting job.

1. I would certainly hold off on ascribing "legitimate improvement" to events recorded in the Mexican Winter League, so I appreciate the caveat.
2. Kudos to the Post for not only mentioning OBP, not only associating the measure with Endy Chavez, but also implying that his sucks volcanic rocks.

---Rueckel is a 25 year-old minor league middle reliever. Not inspired? Well, he's exhibited pretty nice control in the lower minors and, just looking at his stats, strikes me as the kind of guy who could capably handle a middle man role in a big-league bullpen. Then again, his 2.08 ERA at Harrisburg also strikes me as deceiving; he allowed 29 runs, but only 18 were earned. Better not quote a 2-ERA as gospel there, then. Humorously, the Post writer has so little to say about Rueckel that he recounts the movement of our Triple-A franchise. Bill "Guzman is a cornerstone, says Bowden" Ladson must have been his Padawan at one point.

---He has even less to say about Karp, which is strange, since Karp is a somewhat high-profile organizational bust (so far). Of course, I'll readily admit I don't know much about the guy.

I do know there has been some question of his heart:

"Josh has really never been a winning pitcher," Strom said. Karp is 15-16, 3.99 as a pro, though he won 23 of his 30 decisions at UCLA. "I really think he's just learning to compete. When he was in the Eastern League finals with us for Harrisburg two years ago, he said that was the first time he
had ever really played for anything. "That wouldn't have been the case if he
had gone to USC."College rivalry aside, Karp is under Strom's care now, and Strom believes not getting an invitation to major league camp has made Karp work harder. He said the 6-foot-5, 210-pounder came to camp in better shape than ever.

Of course, that was written a year ago, and Karp didn't experience much success, going 4-10 with a 5.95 ERA, although his strikeout rate did tick up a notch or two, which is a good sign. I also believe that he's been somewhat injury prone, but I don't really have time to confirm that now.

Okay, I'll wrap this up with a run-on sentence: Davis although 26 too old to be big-time prospect might be able to contribute Karp probably will remain a bust it wouldn't surprise me if Rueckel got called up in June and gave us 40 games, 60 innings of fine pitching.

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