Published on: 26th April, 2010
by Scott Mandel
New York — Doesn’t Chipper Jones look like a shell of himself, so far? The 38-year old (where have all the years gone?) third baseman of the Atlanta Braves has played with the R word (retirement) for a couple of years now. He injured a hip yesterday against the Mets by just swinging the bat. Those are the kinds of injuries that fall into the realm of “old-age” hurts. Believe me, I know.
Mike Pelfrey seems to have developed a pair of something, not sure exactly how to say it. But pitching 24 consecutive scoreless innings and compiling a 3-0 record for a mediocre team like the Mets is a sign of something good, isn’t it? He’s challenging hitters like never before and using both sides of the plate with a 93 mph heater and a good, hard slider. Maybe, just maybe this is the year when it all comes together for the 6’7″ righthander.
Javier Vasquez didn’t get it done on the road, either. He hasn’t gotten out of the sixth inning this season. He’s developing this little Ed Whitson appeal, if anyone remembers Ed Whitson. I do know Billy Martin, rest his soul would have remembered Whitson. He got his butt kicked by Easy Ed in a bar, once after having one too many and berating his sensitive pitcher, who never quite got used to playing under the intense scrutiny of New York fans and its press corps. Vasquez, who failed in his first go-around in the Big Apple as a Yankee several years ago, needs to recoup all of the loose ends of his emotions and become a more focused pitcher. It would also help if he lays off his 84 mph breaking stuff (he’s throwing it about 40% of the time) and make Jorge Posada put down the number one more often. Vasquez has a good fastball but either seems to have lost confidence in it or his mechanics are a bit out of whack, lowering his velocity to about 89-90 on his out pitch.
Get on the ball, NFL general managers! Go ahead and get that kid receiver from the University of California, Nyan Boateng, signed up as a free agent. He plays much faster and elusively than the 4.66 forty he ran at the NFL Combine would indicate. It’s like Steve Smith of the NY Giants once told me when I asked him what he did the forty in. He said, “I did a 4.5 in college.” When I inquired what he thought his time would be now, as an established NFL wide receiver who caught over 100 balls last season from Eli Manning, Smith laughed and said, “Not a 4.5 anymore, that’s for sure.”
The measurables in evaluating a college player are fine and dandy. It certainly doesn’t hurt to know how many times a kid could lift 225 pounds on the bench press. But, the numbers don’t measure a kids’ heart or the size of the inevitable chip on his shoulder when he goes undrafted or gets taken late in the game. There’s nothing wrong with bringing a kid in who plays with a little anger-fueled intensity during training camp. Let’s get Nyan in camp, someone.
Congratulations to NY Giants P.R. guru Avis Roper and his wife who gave birth to Sydney, their beautiful new daughter. Other than a little bleary-eyed, Avis tells me everyone in the Roper household are doing fine.