Floyd sees East as wide open

As noted in comments, Wilson Betemit hurt his hamstring yesterday running out a ground ball, just as he was starting to hit and to get the team thinking strongly about him as the utility infielder. Right now, the race is down to two punchless wonders, Jesse Garcia and Jorge Velandia. Velandia’s played in the majors for parts of six seasons over the last seven years and has been singularly unimpressive, hitting .151/.231/.201 in 179 ABs. He has a career minor league slugging percentage of .350. How hard is it to find a utility infielder who won’t kill you at shortstop and can at least outhit Hampton and Ortiz?

Among the lefties, Andy Pratt seems to have a bullpen spot in hand and would have to lose it. Of course, one bad outing can savage your ERA, especially in spring. Armando Almanza seems to have the inside track for the second lefty spot, meaning Jung Bong is probably looking at starting the season in the Richmond rotation. I think that’s the best place for him right now.

12 thoughts on “Notebook”

  1. Sad about Betemit. I was really hoping he was the one. Any chance he recovers in time to replace a potentially offensively inept Velandia in April?

  2. Marco Scutaro. That’s how easy it is to find back up infielders. saw him a couple times for the norfolk tides in richmond. he doesn’t look like anything, but he got on base at a .400 clip and slugged .500 for norfolk last year. then got called up and did 213/337/347 for the mets last year. of course, the a’s signed him to a minor league deal and voila, they have a nice useful utility infielder.

  3. Hard to tell with hamstring injuries. Sometimes they go away overnight, other times they recur all season. Betemit appears subject to such tweaks; every time (since hitting AA) he’s started to play well, it seems he gets hurt.

    Like you say, Andy, it’s not hard. But the Braves, you’ll recall, are the organization that thought that a 35-year-old Ozzie Guillen was a more valuable property than Tony Graffanino. They can’t seem to get their heads around the idea that Rafael Furcal doesn’t need a defensive replacement, that with a five-man bench you can’t afford a punchless middle infielder, and that your backup shortstop can be in Richmond.

  4. In theory, Reese is supposed to play on when Derek Lowe is on the mound. Mark Bellhorn’s supposed to play the rest of the time. Whether Terry Francona sticks to that is anyone’s guess …

    But I have no idea why they brought in Womack … unless he figured out that Mariano Rivera tips his pitches during the 2001 World Series.

  5. After roster expansion, Womack would have tactical value as a pinch-runner (if his legs are healthy) and a get-it-in-play pinch-hitter. But I wouldn’t give Francona too many toys to play with — even though the Larry Bowa Era has brought me newfound respect for Terry.

  6. I would like to see CJ Nitkowski get the last lefty slot. The two times I’ve seen him pitch, he’s thrown his fastball in the low 90s with good location, and has a ton of movement on his slider/sidearm curve. I know spring stats don’t mean anything but he has like 12 Ks in 9 innings so far. He certainly seems at least as worthwhile as Almanza.

  7. Womack has now been traded to St. Louis. Strange team, the Cardinals. More star power than any team this side of the AL East, but yet gaping holes that cause them to do crazy things like get Tony Womack. And at what point does the statute of limitations on Tony LaRussa’s genius expire?

  8. Personally, I thought it wore off when he crashed and burned the amazing White Sox club of two decades ago. In 1983, he won 99 games and ran away with the division while playing with a young and talented club. In 1984, they won 74 and he had burned out several very good young pitchers. His A’s had at least as much raw talent as the 1990s Braves. He won 1 WS and tanked 2 more, then his players got big heads, injured and ineffective … how he is lionized and Bobby Cox mocked is beyond me.

    As an attorney myself I can say this without rancor: the baseball media, George Will included, thinks this guy is a f#&^ing genius just because he went to law school. I don’t know about Larussa, but I don’t recall any classes on how to maximize use of a bullpen, when to sacrifice bunt, or how to handle 25 disparate personalities mixed in among the rules against perpetuities or the uniform commercial code.

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