Joe Posnanski asks that questions and names some possible successors to Derek Jeter’s throne. I won’t tell you who his first choice is — you have to read it — but many of his candidates seem like good ones. My choice is on that list too, but I’m not gonna tell you right now. I may write separately about it later.
I will say, though, I’m not keen on Mike Trout for that title for the same reason Joe isn’t. He’s not exactly charismatic, even if he is pretty darn affable and, so far anyway, a safe media bet. He’s a Jersey ballplayer in the best sense of those words. That makes him accessible and relatable. But he doesn’t have all that much about him one could call enigmatic, mysterious or even somewhat intriguing.
Which I think is important. Separate and apart from playing for the Yankees and winning championships, the key for Jeter has been that you can project just about anything you want to on him in a way that lets you use him as some sort of avatar with which you explore the world of baseball. He’s a leader, even though we haven’t heard many stories about specific things he’s said or done to rally the troops. He’s an anti-PED ideal, even though he’s hardly said anything on the topic (and what he has said has been fairly sympathetic to PED users). He’s an example for all the kids out there although we know next to nothing about his personal life.
That’s not a criticism of Jeter. Indeed, most of it is pretty damned admirable. But I do think there is some need for the Face of Baseball to allow fans, reporters and everyone else to sort of read what they want into the guy in many respects while still being his own person. Tough trick. One that requires no small amount of guile, I imagine. Not every ballplayer fits that description.
If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.
Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.
The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.
At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.
Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.
Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.
Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.
Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.