You’ve stumbled into the midst of series on minor league All-Stars. These aren’t the ones you’ll find on the various and sundry All-Star teams that will soon be squaring off against one another around the minors. Rather, these are the prospects who should be regarded as the luminaries of the minor leagues, at least according to this particular pontificator. Here’s my Double-A All-Star ballot, the best of the Eastern, Southern and Texas Leagues….
It was my pleasure to see former A’s great Rickey Henderson play for the Newark Bears on Wednesday night. I’m reminded of that scene in “Eight Men Out” when Joe Jackson is playing out the string on an independent team late in life–except, of course, that Henderson is not banned or anything like that. His at-bats were much like you remember them from his major league career. He came to the plate five times and saw a total of 32 pitches. He drew two walks and hit a single. His first trip to the plate came against Bill Pulsipher of the Long Island Ducks. On a night when Jason Isringhausen pitched for the Cardinals and Paul Wilson was resting up after pitching for the Reds the night before, Pulsipher looked pretty bad. Not that he was necessarily hit hard–none of the five hits he gave up were especially tagged (he also walked a batter without retiring anyone). It was his appearance. If he is serious about getting back to the majors, he needs to trim some ballast. Spare tires are acceptable only after one has won 15 games in a season.
Astros trade Octavio Dotel, John Buck
and a million bucks for Carlos Beltran.
Just an absolute steal. Dotel is a very good reliever, but he’s a reliever,
not a top-three center fielder with as complete a game as any player in
baseball. The Astros, who have been playing a shadow of Craig
Biggio in center field the past year and a half, actually may get
more runs out of this trade defensively than they gain offensively (Beltran
takes Jason Lane’s playing time, with Biggio expected to move
to left and Lance Berkman moving to right).
Moreover, Beltran is a great patch for the Astros’ long-standing balance
problems. As a switch-hitter who bats well from the left side, he makes the
team less susceptible to the righty-killers that the Cubs and Cardinals have
in both their rotations and bullpens.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Andruw Jones and his $12.5 million to Yankees in the right deal? It sounds crazy, but the Braves are going nowhere, even in a division in which all the teams forgot to show up (echoes of “What if we gave a war and nobody came?”). If offered a choice between Carlos Beltran and Jones, who would you rather have? Beltran and Jones, both center fielders, are precisely the same age, having been born two days apart.
G AB HR AVG OBP SLG
Jones 1203 4361 233 .267 .341 .494
Beltran 792 3121 121 .287 .352 .482
Beltran has seemed to blossom while Jones has stood still, but keep in mind that Beltran has been hitting in a park very friendly to hitters, while The Ted has been tougher on Jones. Defensively, Jones is by far the better fielder. Finally, one will become a free agent at the end of the season, while the other is locked in for all eternity… We should probably alter the baseball vocabulary when it comes to pitching and injuries. We normally say, “Kevin Brown will be on the disabled list indefinitely.” A better way of putting it might be to say that “Kevin Brown has been activated from the disabled list indefinitely.” Actually, you can apply that to everything: relationships, mortality…boy, that’s depressing. Better have another donut.