Games » Los Angeles AngelsMay31
Getzie's got game
Well, it’s official: Chris Getz wants me to go to arbitration with him. (Actually, he was kidding…I think.) We did talk about Ron Polk’s system and how it’s designed to recognize guys like him. You don’t need me (or Ron Polk) to tell you Pujols or A-Rod is good. But a system that makes you pay attention to the less obvious things a player does (8+ pitch at-bats, outstanding defensive plays, heads up base running), benefits a guy like Chris Getz or Matt Treanor or Alcides Escobar.
Chris said that when he was drafted by the White Sox they told him he’d be a ‘manager’s player’, a guy that managers loved because they could use him in so many ways. Chris doesn’t have to be great at anything if he can be good at a lot of things…and he is. He’s scored points in Ron Polk’s system in just about every way possible… except hitting a home run.
Earlier in the day, Kevin Seitzer talked about what smart player Getz is and how he gives you an at-bat appropriate to the situation. Talking about Getzie’s intelligence reminded me to ask him about a play in Baltimore. He got doubled off third on a line drive and I scored it a mental mistake. I wanted to make sure I got it right because I thought if the contact play was on, he should’ve waited to see the ball come down off the bat. Chris said, no, the Royals version of a contact play meant go immediately on any contact and take your chances. (I went back and changed the scoring.)
Jason Kendall was listening to this conversation and asked if I was going to be like all the other reporters, “I thought you were positive.” Not all the time. If a player is being unfairly criticized I’ll explain what I believe to be the truth, but if a player screws up I’m going to write about that, too. “Getzie’s a smart player, why not give him the benefit of the doubt?”
“Are you saying he’s perfect?”
At this point, Jason stopped the debate to tell Chris, who was listening intently while dressing for the game, that he was putting his ankle brace on the wrong foot. Guess I won that argument.
One I lost
Kevin Seitzer said I’m wrong about the intentional walk. He believes the pitcher who is leaving the game should issue it, not the pitcher coming into the game. So one guy who knows a lot about baseball (Kevin,) disagrees with another guy who knows a lot about baseball, (Tim Bogar). Bogie says you have the new pitcher do it to satisfy the requirement that he face one batter. I asked if the difference in opinion could be the difference in leagues: Bogie is a National League guy and I know I saw Jerry DiPoto come in and issue the intentional walks at least twice when he was with the Mets. Kevin said that might explain it, but still thought I was wrong.
Either way I think the important thing to remember is: KEVIN SEITZER READS THE WEBSITE! (Hi, Kevin.)
I go two for three
If you pay attention to the comments on this website you know a reader thought I was wrong when I said that first base is not the least difficult position to play on the field. The reader suggested I ask John Wathan who played all over the place….so I did.
John said… wait for it… I’m enjoying the moment… I was right. Left field is easier than first. He thinks a lot of people who don’t play think it must be easy because so many bad athletes get stuck there, but to play the position well is extremely difficult. OK, I guess the moment’s over.
Before I forget
Responses like Chris Getz’s are why I’ve gotten reluctant to hand out too many mental mistakes. I’ll do it, but they have to be pretty clear. Often, once you talk to the player involved, you find out something that changes your mind. These guys are usually one or two steps ahead of you when it comes to thinking about the game.
One more thing: Getz told me when he bunts for a hit he likes to do it on the first base side. He’s more comfortable going that way and he’s faster getting down to first. If he bunts to third he’s a 3.7 or 3.8 down to first, if he bunts the direction he’s already going, he’s a 3.5.
Y’know, these guys have thought a lot about this game.
Why Frenchy’s scuffling
I spent some time talking with Jeff Francoeur and asked how things were going to at the plate. He admitted he’d gotten a little ‘pull happy’ after hitting some bombs and pitchers were now burying him inside just off the plate to get him to open up and then going away, which left him swinging with nothing but his arms. Jeff said he got off to a good start this season because he was waiting for a pitch out over the plate and needed to get back to that approach.
Hey, at least he knows what the problem is and how he’s going to fix it.
Then I watch the game and the first AB he hacks at an inside pitch and is out on a grounder to the left side. The second AB he hacks at an inside pitch, gets jammed and flares it to right for an F9. The third AB he’s hacking at inside pitches and finally gets one out over the plate and singles. The last trip to the plate he swings at one out over the plate, fouls it back and then chases something inside and hits a sac fly to left. After the game I’m in the clubhouse and he walks by on his way to the showers. I say, “Hey, Jeff, where were those pitches you were swinging at all night?’
Frenchy starts laughing and yells, “LAY OFF! I’M A WORK IN PROGRESS!” Do you have any idea how much fun it is to give a major league player a hard time and have him know you’re right?
The downward plane
I spent a few minutes with Sean O’Sullivan and he said the key for him was still pitching downhill. If he can make the ball arrive in the hitting zone on a ‘down angle’ hitters will hit the top of the ball and pound it into the ground. If it arrives at a flat angle, they’ll just pound it. Sean says that’s what he’ll be working on in his next start.
The last thing Soria needs
I asked Jeff Montgomery if he’d ever gone through the same kind of struggle Joakim Soria is dealing with now. Monty said it happened to him twice. He said the absolute worst thing about those periods were all the suggestions people made trying to help. He was already lost and dozens of people suggesting dozens of cures only made it worse.
The rule of thumb in athletics is that when you’re going bad, you’re doing too much, not too little. I asked Jeff if he agreed with that and he said absolutely. Somehow, some way you’ve gotten away from the basics and you need to find your way back. Once you do you can’t believe you ever forgot something so fundamental.
Mickey Mantle was at an All-Star game and Ted Williams asked him if he was bottom or top-hand dominant. Mickey said he couldn’t hit for two weeks after that. He thought if Ted knew that stuff he should know, too. After a prolonged slump he walked out one day, said ‘#@$% it’ and just started seeing the ball and hitting it.
Everybody wants to help Joakim right now, but letting him work this out on his own, or with the help of Bob McClure, may be the best thing fans can do.