Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

I don’t want them forget Ruth; I just want them to remember me. -Hank Aaron

25 Mar

Vinny sucks, but you knew that

ajc.com | Braves | Questions swarm third base

For instance:

Is Vinny the Mole?

Did Lockhart sell his pictures to Vinny?

If a group of Braves fans passed Vinny on the street, can they chase him down and lynch him?

Would any court convict them?

In what universe is Vinny currently residing?

“I feel good; I feel great,” said Castilla, who went into Monday night’s game against Cleveland batting .190 in 42 at-bats, with one double, no home runs and the same number of RBIs (four) as double plays grounded into.

“I’m ready now. I’m ready to start the season. That’s what spring training’s for, to get ready. [Statistics] don’t matter in spring training, as long as you break camp healthy.”

“I haven’t lost anything,” he said. “I had [45] RBIs at the All-Star break. I was on pace for 100 RBIs. My injury just kept getting worse.”

Is Bobby in that same universe?

Braves manager Bobby Cox said Castilla, 35, has hit the ball hard recently, despite his average. It’s become clear that Cox is tired of answering Castilla–DeRosa questions.

He said in the first week of camp that DeRosa would get more time at third than last season, but he indicated that Castilla was still the primary third baseman. Cox plans to play DeRosa at every infield position except first base.

If Castilla struggles for an extended period again, De?osa could get more starts.

Cox is sticking with Castilla, for now, because the veteran plays superior defense and is under contract for $4.5 million. He doesn’t play another position and has only five pinch-hit at-bats in the past three seasons.

“[Vinny] was instrumental for us last year with his defense,” Cox said. “He should have won the Gold Glove. But people don’t talk about defense.”

Are the Braves good enough to carry the worst hitting regular in the major leagues again?

I can answer the last question: No.

7 Responses to “Vinny sucks, but you knew that”

  1. 1
    bamadan Says:

    I don’t expect Cox to say anything other than that. One of his strong points is his ability to maintain an even keel by keeping the media spotlight from burning players. It doesn’t do any good to anyone but internet posters to hear Cox say that Castilla is the SVOD.

    However, while Cox shouldn’t *say* that the SVOD *is* the SVOD, he better realize that its the truth.

    Castilla’s defense was grossly overrated last year. He has an excellent arm and doesn’t drop balls he can get to. But his range is about one step in either direction. Fielding is about more than just not making errors. But Castilla’s fielding isn’t.

    The talk of Castilla’s defense reminds me of an oft-spoken comment about catchers: the better they hit, the more likely they have a poor defensive reputation regardless of their actual defensive performance. Its been that way as long as I’ve been following the game, from Ted Simmons through Mike Piazza. Even Pudge Rodriguez, as he has gotten better and better offensively, has begun to hear complaints that he doesn’t work well with pitchers. The inverse is also true – if a player can’t hit, his defense will get rave reviews regardless of results ala Rey Ordonez and now the SVOD.

    As long as we are hurling cliches around, signing Castilla last year brings to mind the old Bill James comment about signing free agents: never sign one over the age of 30 unless a good argument can be made that the player belongs in Cooperstown. I first read that comment back when Reggie Jackson signed with the Angels two decades ago. James then began calling it the Kevin McReynolds rule when his beloved Royals signed the rapidly declining former All Star to a big contract as a declining 32 year old. In today’s game, with the growing financial division between experienced players and rookies, it makes even less sense now than when Gene Autry first took a flier on Reginald Martinez Jackson.

  2. 2
    Creg Says:

    Talking about Vinny just makes me so tired, but eventually you have to deal with the elephant in the room. Dan, good comments. I agree with them wholeheartedly.

    The story by O’Brien is pretty straightforward, meaning it doesn’t really say anything. We get comments from Vinny saying he feels great and that spring training stats don’t mean anything (true, but the stats he posted in 2000, 2002 and the first half of 2001 sure as hell should).

    We get quotes from Bobby saying that Vinny’s defense is good (true). But so what? My feeling is that you don’t carry a “glove man” at third base unless he’s as good as Brooks Robinson or Graig Nettles (both of whom, even in their early 40s, hit like Mike Schmidt compared to Castilla).

    We get DeRosa’s stats, but then the story kind of peters out from there. I almost wish O’Brien had gotten one of Jayson Stark’s anonymous/made up scouts or front office guys to give us an unbiased opinion on Castilla.

    What we in fact get is a lot of dancing around in circles; Castilla sucks but he’s going to play anyway. In the words of Eddie Murphy, “Tell me something I don’t know, mother****er.”

  3. 3
    Creg Says:

    OK, so Brooksie retired at 40 and was a pretty wretched hitter even in his late 30s, but one out of two ain’t bad … Dang it, should have looked it up.

  4. 4
    dave Says:

    The reason Pudge Rodriguez doesn’t have a good reputation with pitchers, and working with pitchers, is becuase HE HASN”T EVEN SAT IN ON PREGAME MEETINGS WITH PITCHERS AND COACHES TO GO OVER OPPOSING HITTERS ON GAME DAY. I’d say his reputation as one who doesn’t work well with pitchers is well deserved.

  5. 5
    Mac Thomason Says:

    That’s a side issue, Dave. The phenomenon Dan speaks of is real. To take another example, Jorge Fabergas (remember him?) was supposed to be a good-hit/bad-glove catcher coming up in the minors. But when he got to the majors, he didn’t hit, so everyone decided he was a glove man. I think people just figure that if someone’s in the major leagues, he must do something well, so if he can’t hit he must be a great defensive player.

  6. 6
    Pat Says:

    Not to seem like I’m standing up for Vinny or anything, but I do believe that Neifi Perez (if he still has a job) is the worst hitting regular in the major leagues. Vinny will have to settle for worst hitting National League regular.

  7. 7
    mr skin Says:

    I sure miss the old Saturday Night Eddie Murphy.

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