Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Wormkiller General In His Labyrinth

Some thoughts on last night's drubbing of the Bulls by the not-exactly-loaded Indianapolis Indians...

Mitch "Wormkiller General" Talbot went 4 2/3 shaky innings, escaping having only given up two runs (both on solo homers). However, he was in and out of trouble most of the night, admittedly with an assist from Durham's up-and-down defense. A great pitching performance, it was not, and there's a visible difference in Talbot's approach when he gets into trouble. Simply put, he....slows.....down. And when he slows down, he overthrows and gets the ball up, which is exactly what a guy who lives and dies on sinkers ought not to be doing. When Talbot was on, the strikeouts and the groundouts were both there. But when he wasn't, well, Brad Eldred hit that ball a looooong way.

If the Devil Rays want to ensure that uberprospects Reid Brignac and Evan Longoria to have a hope in hell of hitting at the major league level, they need to do something about the hitting instruction at Durham. Now. The entire team's approach is swing from the heels, swing at everything, and devil take the hindmost. Eliot Johnson is hitting below the Mendoza Line (note to Eliot - until you crack .200, you're not allowed to use that for your at-bat music. It's like Pete LaForest using "Thunderstruck".) and it's easy to see why - he's swinging at pretty much every pitch and he's taking a mighty power hitter's hack from the heels. I was half-expecting him to corkscrew himself out of his shoes each swing. And so, what do you get? Second and third, one out? hack hack done. First and third, one out? hack hack done. I don't know whether it's the influence of hitting coach Gary Gaetti, himself not known for his patient approach during his playing days, or the notion that these guys are trying to earn a promotion with one swing, but either way, the Durham offense is dire, and these guys are rapidly whiffing away any hint of hitting prospect-dom.

Or, to put it another way, 11 strikeouts, including 10 against the immortal Shane Youman.

And Tampa Bay needs to stop farting around with Edwin Jackson, and call up Jon Switzer for their bullpen toot sweet. It was nice of them to give Jackson every chance to resurrect his prospect label, but right now they need someone who can get people out from the pen, and dumping Jackson, moving Jason Hammel into the rotation and elevating Switzer seems like the best way to do that.
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