Handed the Angels’ starting job at third base following Chone Figgins’ departure as a free agent, Brandon Wood has made three errors in 97 innings defensively and is just 4-for-40 (.100) with 12 strikeouts at the plate.
Wood also struggled in his previous stints with the Angels, and now has a .178 batting average and equally abysmal 86/9 K/BB ratio through 97 games as a major leaguer. However, manager Mike Scioscia told Dan Woike of the Orange County Register that he’s not ready to pull the plug on Wood yet:
He will get an opportunity because we really feel good about his defense. We have some options if we have to take some pressure off him. There is no finite amount of at-bats where we will make a decision and say, “This is it.” Brandon is going to get an opportunity to contribute because we think his bat will play really well in the big leagues. We’ll see moving forward.
Wood has been a well-known and generally highly touted prospect since 2005, but his gaudy minor-league numbers are inflated by hitter-friendly environments and there were always questions about how his high strikeout rate combined with mediocre plate discipline would translate to the big leagues. So far the answer is “not well.”
He has tons of power, but Wood has continued to swing at everything while making poor contact, and unlike against Double-A and Triple-A pitchers he hasn’t been able to punish as many mistakes. He’s certainly much better than he’s shown thus far and the Angels are right to give him a longer leash, but even if Wood had adjusted quickly to the majors most projections pegged him as a Joe Crede-type player rather than a star.
Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.
Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.
Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.
Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.