Saturday, April 23, 2005
Romeo and Juliet and Calvin Pickering
Dire Straits would say, "When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong?"
The man picked the WORST possible time to have a slump. A man seemingly destined for great heights just couldn't get it to work early on this year, almost as if he drank the poison and found the "cold and drowsy humour" of a very bad slump, but Baird and Co. don't realize that it's just temporary.
In this case, the "pair of star-cross'd lovers" taking their lives will be Mr. Pickering and the stathead community as a whole. I can see it now: the stathead takes Pickering in the 18th round of a fantasy draft, insisting that he just got a steal and 30+ homers so late in a draft. The typical fan laughs with confusion, and the stathead insists that he is in the right. (No, that wasn't me. It just seems like a familiar tale.) The stathead is now furious. This year's darling, Calvin Pickering, just lost his job without having 50 plate apperances to prove his worth.
Allaird Baird warranted praise for having the know-how to send All-Star Ken Harvey to the minors in favor of Pickering's powerful...bat. (I couldn't think of a word that started with P.)
Pickering started out 4 for 27 with 3 walks, 0 homers, and 14 strikeouts. It's probably unfair to judge a guy based on his first 30 plate apperances in a season. But Pickering didn't exactly go out and take the roster spot in Spring Training. Ken Harvey's .238/.250/.357 had a lot to do with it, but Pickering only hit .211/.318/.404 with that horrendous baserunning gaffe.
Stairs and Sweeney haven't been too shabby this year, either, combining for a .308/.363/.500 line. And you'd like to have some defensive flexibility on the team, too. I don't know much about Diaz's defense, but he's about half the size of Pickering and he can play outfield, so that might help. It's a difficult line to walk. Pickering doesn't fit on the team if he's not hitting the ball hard because he has no other value, and he wasn't hitting the ball at all. Baird's decision is certainly justifiable on those grounds.
The reality is that Pickering SHOULD have a major league job somewhere. He DID earn it last year, and a stretch of 60 bad plate appearances (going back to the spring) shouldn't keep him off a team. He needs more time because frankly, 10.02 AB/HR (His combined AB/HR from AAA and the bigs) doesn't just disappear (it might drop a bit, but it won't just go away). But there's no longer a fit in Kansas City, I guess.
While Pickering was assaulting homers at a record pace, another minor leaguer was having a very nice season, this one for the Durham Bulls. Matt Diaz, Pickering's replacement, hit .332/.377/.571, but in a heavy hitter's park. So, doing some quick conversions:
(Those aren't MLEs; they're park and league adjusted AAA stats). Pickering definitely had a better year last year than Diaz. However, Diaz has shown less of a propensity for striking out, and while strikeouts are no worse than any other out, outs are bad in general, and Pickering this year has been chock full of them.
I suspect that we'll see him again somewhere down the line this year, but this is just another bit of misfortune in a long line of it for Pickering.