Game 107 Open Thread: August 4, 2007--And a Rick rant

Wagonmaker

Chico en Español es boy

10-8, 4.38

5-6, 4.73

Yet another humiliating thrashing, not much worth discussing. Pineiro seemed OK until the 4th inning and then ran out of gas. I'd have to think Mike Maroth will be released by the time most of you have read this post, or at least something will be done. Aaron Miles out-pitched three guys who have all started games at one point or another, and I have no idea what to make of that other then he serves as an object lesson that when you throw strikes good things usually happen. The mound put Miles almost eye level with each Nat hitter, which had to help. I can make that stupid wisecrack because I'm 5'6".

I'm sick of talking about this current bunch now, so let's talk about Rick Ankiel instead. La Russa has said just a couple days ago that he will be a September call up. AZ and I got into a little debate about what Ankiel can contribute at the major league level, me being an Ankiel groupie while AZ is skeptical, citing his low walk rate. That's fine and all, but 31 homers is more HR's hit by any professional ball player on this continent right now other then Alex Rodriguez, Prince Fielder and...um...Craig Brazell, who doesn't really help my case. Rick has gone yard once in every 12 at bats, a pretty fantastic rate. My argument with AZ was that while Ankiel could stand to take more walks then just 7% of his plate appearances, the dude could be another Dave Kingman, a monster slugger who hit a HR in every 15 at bats in his career but had only a career .302 OBP. Despite that poor OBP, Kingman had a .274 EqA, that's above average. His raw power helped to compensate for his lack of ability to hit for average and draw walks. "Kong" wasn't a world beater despite hitting 442 career homers, but he was for his 16 year career an above average ball player.

Doing some digging around I found it's best not to argue with AZ. He argued that he would make a decent bench player with some power, citing Ryan Ludwick. I stumbled upon Sean Smith's most MLE's for select AAA hitters, and as of 7/31 Chone has Ankiel at 24 homers and a .235/.273/.482 line. It just so happens "Bryan Ludwig" has a .241/.291/.451 line in 176 big league plate appearances with the Cardinals. Game azru.

Despite the translated numbers, I still can hold out hope Ankiel can be like Chris Duncan. We know that Duncan's MLE's never portended the player we enjoy watching now, they type-casted him as pretty mediocre, and look what's happened with that. It's a rarity, I know, but we're talking about Slick Rick here. How many pitchers can go 2 seasons removed from pitching (throwing out 2006 because of injury) and have an isolated power of .300 at AAA? Yeah, he needs to walk more, I get it. Like I said, he's only in his 2nd season as a hitter, so we should not shoe-horn him into a certain category of hitter because of his current plate discipline, IMO. It's not like he can't develop it at the big league level. It's not something you see a lot, but it can happen.

I think we are all telling ourselves this whole "his OBP sucks thing" because let's face it, Ankiel has been a gargantuan disappointment as a pitcher and we don't wanna get wrapped up rooting for again. I wonder that's why we view him with so much skepticism, we're afraid he doesn't have the mental fortitude to hack it at the big league level and we don't wanna jump on the bandwagon again after getting burned back when. People want to move on, they see this whole Ankiel turned hitter thing as a delay from turning the page and forgetting the whole fiasco. I can understand.

Brian Gunn, who could very well be reading this, typed up a nice piece at THT on Ank when he announced his decision to quit pitching and play outfield. He eulogized Ankiel's career as such---

...And let's face it, after Ankiel hangs up his cleats for good, he'll follow a career path not unlike countless Americans before him. I mean, very few of us get paid to follow our dreams. By the time we reach age 25, most of us have already set aside our ball gloves or our guitars or our paintbrushes and we've started looking for more practical ways to settle down, pay the rent, make do. In a very real sense, then, when we mourn for Rick Ankiel we may as well be mourning ourselves.
I think many of us can relate to that, but you know what? I'm rooting for Ankiel because I'm rooting for myself. I'm quickly hurdling towards age 30, 7 years removed from ministry school that I went to in order to learn about working with at risk youth. I dreamed that I would travel the country and preach to kids in juvenile detention centers, and do all kinds of heroic work like setting up after care programs to get kids out of garbage and into the good things I believe their maker intended for their lives. You may find that odd, or not agree with my personal beliefs, but that's besides the point. That's my dream. You know what I do for a living? I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I work in a call center, explaining to jerks and weirdos about how they have to suck it up, fulfill their obligations and pay their insanely expensive leases they have for copiers or stump grinders, or something completely uninteresting like that. The point is I absolutely refuse to just make due, I'm going to do what I believe I was born to do, and though I feel I'm far from it, and I'm not gonna mourn myself just yet. I've had some hard turns in life and things have happened that have set me back, but I'm not giving up. And neither should Ankiel. He's got a pretty real shot, and there's more to baseball then equivalents and projections, these people are human beings that every now and then surprise us by not being the failure or the joe average we had them pegged as. Hopefully, we all can exceed what the expectations of others have pigeon-holed us as. So therefore, I will keep rooting for Rick, because at least judging by all appearances the man was put on this earth to play baseball at the highest level. I wanna see him live that dream.
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