Wednesday, May 25, 2005

An Endy by any other name

Call up a bench player? What a concept!

"Rocket Bill" Ladson provides the skinny:

In need of a position player, the Nationals placed right-hander John Patterson on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, retroactive to May 16, with spasms in his lower back. [ . . . ] The Nationals have not announced who will replace Patterson on the roster, but it is believed that outfielder Tyrell Godwin will join the team on Friday. [ . . . ] As for Godwin, he is expected to provide speed off the bench. He was arguably the best hitter in the Nationals' farm system. Godwin, a Rule 5 Draft pick, was hitting .333 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. In a perfect world, however, the team would like to keep Godwin in the Minor Leagues to learn his craft. But the Nationals are desperate for a position player. They have been short of such a player for more than a week and are carrying 12 pitchers. The team needed an extra position player on Tuesday against the Reds, but manager Frank Robinson
allowed right-handers Livan Hernandez and Gary Majewski to hit for themselves even though a pinch-hitter was called for both times. "I don't like to put pitchers in that situation," Robinson said. "I don't feel good putting that team in that situation, but we know that it's a possibility every time we go into each game and we live with it."


We've gone through this before, but to recap: Godwin is a 25- (almost 26-) year old slappin' swifty acquired via the Rule V draft (and subsequently retained by trade) from the Blue Jays. He was valedictorian of his high school class and could have played football at North Carolina, but chose not to---or eventually chose not to, or . . . I can't quite remember now. Judging by his age, the latter is more likely, come to think of it.

Godwin's minor league career through 2004 resembles a crude Mason-Dixon Line:

---> A-Ball: Hey, not bad! (.293/.375/.381)
---> Double-A: Pass. (.264/.326/.370)

Those numbers are derived from nearly identical samples, both consisting of over 600 at-bats.

This year, as Rocket Bill indicates, Godwin has been hot to trot, posting a .333/.394/.428 batting line. True to Rocket Bill's word, maybe Godwin is progressively learning his craft. Then again, maybe he's just had a hot 180 at-bats.

St. Barry mentioned Godwin today in a WaPo chat and, while corroborating that Godwin was getting the call-up, was quite dismissive of the player. Well, maybe Svrluga was being realistic. Twice Godwin's name came up; the first time it was in the context of an almost exclusive pinch runner, and the same time St. Barry noted that Godwin brings cleats but not a bat.

Throughout spring training and into the early season, "Tyrell Godwin" has been the word association partner of "Endy Chavez." I'm sure I could dredge up a story from late March or early April that essentially said, "The Nationals are tired of Endy Chavez and they have a similar player, Tyrell Godwin, ready to surpass Chavez on the depth chart." I'm sure I could link to such a story, but what would be the point? We all know such stories were fairly commonplace.

Chavez is long gone, of course, and there's little reason to reference him much anymore. I do believe, though---however misguided the belief may be---that I'd rather have Tyrell Godwin than Endy Chavez. The reason isn't because Godwin's the superior player; in fact, I'd reckon that Chavez is the better player now and probably will be for the balance of their careers.

Instead, the reason is (something resembling) that Godwin is actually the inferior player; consequently, he's likely aware of his limitations and realistic about his opportunities. Endy, by comparison, appeared used to life as an everyday player; when informed that he wasn't---Harper of OMG might caution me that I should insert "initially," and if he did, he'd probably he right---Endy brooded.

Essentially, it struck me that Endy had an inflated opinion of himself---perhaps justified, in that he was granted about 1,000 at-bats in 2003-04. It scared the daylights out of me that Frank Robinson would content himself---again---with a player of Endy's mediocre offensive capabilities. This might have been an irrational fear; it turned out to be unfounded, at any rate. But it was my fear nonetheless, and Tyrell Godwin doesn't invoke one iota of that fear now.

Not because Godwin's better; rather, although I don't know Godwin from Adam, I suspect he knows he's not better and won't insinuate himself into the team's long-term plans.

Of course, I could remind myself right about now that I'm talking about a fifth outfielder/pinch-runner, and Godwin himself is a rather pointless player in such a role. Well, yeah. But when your team's players are dropping like flies, I guess you've got to do something.

And, unlike Endy, Godwin won't mistake a renter for a buyer---as the saying goes.


--------------

Warning: This is going to border on harsh or mean or confrontational. Despite the blog's tabloid-invoking name, that's not really my style here, unless your name is Peter Angelos or Bob DuPuy. But I'll break from form for a second.

Those two probably not being in attendance here, I'll direct my ire toward the sizable and/or vocal (but certainly shrill) portion of Nats Nation that appears disposed to petty whining. You know who you are. Well, you might disagree with my assessment, but I know who you are, and that's really all that matters to me.

I've got to level with you: I hate the whining. Whine away all you want, of course; that's your right. But, really, you guys suck.

Whatever am I talking about? Why, the Post, of course! The drill is familiar:

---> "Waah, the Post covers the Orioles too much."
---> "Waah, the Post covers the Orioles too much and consequently doesn't cover the Nats enough."
---> "Waah, the Post shouldn't cover the Orioles at all."
---> "Waah, the Post should boycott the Orioles, or something."
---> "Waah, the Post is in the pocket of the Pratt Street Anus."

In lieu of calling these jihadists simpletons, Post sports editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz Gonzalez Torres Smith Nakatomi Guerrero Rajstanjani penned a Sunday column explaining why his little old operation still bothers with the zerOes or the Boo Birds or whatever lame nickname tickles today's middle school fancy. It's concise, respectful, conciliatory, reasonable, and to the point:

In recent Post reader surveys, the Orioles ranked below only the Redskins in fan interest among the most loyal followers of the sports section. [ . . . ] When the Nationals arrived, the folks who run the newspaper asked what we should do with the Orioles. The answer seemed obvious: Keep those readers who have enjoyed our Orioles coverage happy by continuing to
cover that team and add the resources necessary to give a new team, the Nationals, the coverage it deserved.

We added reporters and doubled the space we allocate for major league baseball, a boon for readers who enjoy the sport. We set up separate American and National League pages and committed to covering a two-team market the way newspapers in Southern California, New York, Chicago and the Bay Area do.

The editors agreed that the Nationals would be the bigger story; the historical significance of a team returning to Washington clearly would outweigh anything the Orioles did. But we were also determined to remember those readers to whom the Orioles were so important for so many years and continue to cover them as well as possible.

Several points here:

1) The guy says the O's coverage still tests well in his circulation area.
2) We all know the circulation area stretches rather far northward.
3) The O's are a logical fit to base an "American League" entry in an expanded NL/AL baseball section---which seems reasonable since surely there are lots of Yankees and Red Sox fans in the area.
4) Any claim that the coverage is "50/50" is a misrepresentation.
5) I'll add that it's exceedingly obvious that the O's coverage doesn't reduce a milimeter of the Nats' coverage. The Washington Nine would be covered the same way and the same amount even if the O's were to disappear.
6) Like I even need to add this one: MORE BASEBALL = GOOD THING.

Maybe I do need to add the last one, because some people apparently still don't get it. That's okay; that's their right.

I would say that a person of that sensibility is silly and stupid and spiteful, an Angelos in sheep's clothing. But that would be unnecessarily strident.

I'll just say it's whiny. Because, lo and behold, it is.


Disclaimer: I don't mean to categorize every person who bemoans the Post's allocation (or, rather, increase) of resources in such a negative light. Indeed, many such people are reasonable and level-headed on the subject. Just so I make that clear . .

Comments:
I was with ya right up until that disclaimer at the end... typical lawyer there! :)

Take a stand, damnit! :)
 
Well, it's there because it's true. Some of these people are downright reasonable, or at least nice, about the thing! ;-)
 
I love the new Post coverage - it actually looks like a real baseball sports section now.

Unfortunately, I'm not getting enough schadenfreude from the O's this year ... but it's still May.
 
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