Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Some random thoughts from Sunday's game between the Durham Bulls and the Richmond Braves...

  • Coming into this season, the big question on Rays catching prospect John Jaso was his defense. If last night was any indication, he's picked it up quite a bit. He blocked several balls in the dirt (actually, the way the Bulls' starter was throwing, it's a surprise some of those balls made it to the plate) and fired off a throw to second from his knees that was dead on target. The Rays may have an interesting dilemma behind the plate next year.
  • The prize of the Adam LaRoche deal with Pittsburgh, infielder Brent Lillibridge, looks completely lost at the plate. You know that bit in 20000 Leagues Under the Sea where the giant squid grabs the submarine and the various crewmen are whacking at it with whatever's handy? He kind of looks like that. After his second at-bat, he was visibly frustrated and angry, which probably didn't help matters.
  • Chris Chambliss still looks like he could kick your ass.
  • Rays CF prospect Fernando Perez can flat-out fly. I mean, I knew he was fast, but...wow. Plus, he's Ivy League. The proud heritage of Columbia baseball, from Lou Gehrig to Gene Larkin, may just get extended.
  • Elliot Johnson has added what can only be described as a "hop" to his swing. It's like he does a half leg kick when he starts the bat moving, and forgets to put his foot down until the last minute. It's weird and vaguely uncomfortable to watch.
  • Scanning the Richmond dugout, I got a definite sense of "Who are these guys?" Apart from Lillibridge and Brandon Jones on the offensive side of the ball, the most recognizable name I saw was Corky Miller - and he was playing first base. Not catcher. Not "defensive replacement for the catcher". First base, the most important offensive position on the diamond*. I'm starting to get the feeling that there are some dark days ahead for Braves fans.

*I know he's filling in for Scott Thormann, who's with the Olympic team, but that still begs two questions. One, if you're missing Scott Thormann, what does that say about the rest of your offense, and two, if the best you can do to replace him is Corky Miller, what does that say about the rest of your player development?
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