Brewers bench Corey Hart for Jim Edmonds

Leave a comment

Not only did Jim Edmonds earn a spot on the Brewers at age 39 after sitting out all of last season, he’s in their Opening Day lineup starting in place of Corey Hart in right field and batting fifth behind Prince Fielder.
Hart was brutal this spring, batting 11-for-64 (.172) with 18 strikeouts while Edmonds went 14-for-48 (.292) with two homers and four doubles, and getting an extra left-handed bat into the lineup against Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez no doubt played a part in manager Ken Macha’s decision as well.
During his career Jimenez has held righties to a .220 batting average and .624 OPS compared to a .248 batting average and .715 OPS from lefties. Similarly, over the past three seasons Hart has an .861 OPS against lefties compared to .778 against righties, and prior to sitting out last year Edmonds posted a robust .882 OPS versus righties in 2008.
In other words, starting Edmonds over Hart in right field today probably gives the Brewers a slightly better chance to beat Jimenez and the Rockies, but given that Hart has been their everyday right fielder for the past three years and Edmonds didn’t play at all in 2009 it certainly qualifies as an Opening Day surprise by Macha.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

Getty Images
6 Comments

The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.