Happy New Year From VEB

Stephen Dunn

First off, let me apologise for not having a Christmas post up last week. I said I would, I planned on doing something, but a combination of family obligations and a cable modem that decided it didn't much feel like working through the holidays was just too much for me to overcome. I hope everyone had a very nice holiday anyhow.

So here we are, 2014. I don't have much to say today; there isn't much baseball happening this time of year, outside the winter leagues, which tend to be quite tough to follow. On the other hand, Carlos Martinez is pitching in the Dominican this winter, attempting to make up for some of the inning he didn't get last year due to being in the bullpen much of the season. Here's hoping he gets an honest shot to win a starting rotation gig.

Since Texas appears completely set on not moving a shortstop now, I suppose we'll just have to find other prospects to dream on. After all, while the Cardinals may have signed Jhonny Peralta to a four-year deal, I consider him a really great shortstop fix for, say, two years, after which El Birdos may want to have something in the hopper ready to go. So I ask: are you down with O.P.P.? Actually, are let me rephrase: are you down with O.P.S.P.? (Other person's shortstop prospects.) Of course you are.

This week's O.P.S.P.: Chris Taylor, minor league shortstop for the Seattle Mariners. He walked in better than 13% of his plate appearances over two stops in 2013 (High A and Double A, respectively), he has the speed to make an impact on the basepaths (38 steals in 43 attempts in 2013), and by all accounts I've come across he's very capable of manning the position long-term. He wouldn't be cheap to acquire, but in case you haven't noticed, the Mariners have decided to go pretty much all in here of late, and they're going to need some more pitching if they're serious about making this run...

bit of mechanical analysis for your perusal and enjoyment from the Hardball Times, including the Cards' two most recent first-round draft picks, Rob Kaminsky and Marco Gonzales.Some of the analysis is good; some of it I don't at all agree with. But, then again, I'm no kind of expert at all, so take however many grains of sodium chloride you wish with my opinion. Spoiler alert: Mr. Boddy does not at all like what he sees from the two baby birds.

As for me, I'm going to have to disagree with him about Gonzales; I happen to think the delivery is very, very solid. There are a few tweaks that could be made in hopes of getting Marco to throw a bit harder, perhaps, but the timing in his delivery is fantastic, and I think that gives him a great chance of staying healthy for the long term. He doesn't have the highest ceiling, but I think a consistent, durable performer is exactly what the Cardinals are looking at with Gonzales. Want a comp? He's Mark Buerhle. Maybe not quite as good -- Buerhle is a weird case of a guy who is both over- and underrated, depending on who you're talking to, but has had a really, really good career when you get right down to it -- but the same sort of pitcher; a guy who soaks up innings and can be counted on to step on to that mound every fifth day for years to come.

On the other hand, I'm right there with Boddy on Kaminsky's delivery; it's pretty horrible. Somewhat paradoxically, the fact Kaminsky's delivery is kind of awful is one of the reasons I was so high on him coming out of the draft. He's one of those kids who basically pitches standing almost straight up; there's virtually no body or momentum in his delivery, and don't even get me started on how late his arm is. All that being said, Kaminsky is incredibly talented, and if the Cardinals would be willing to really work on teaching him how to properly deliver a ball, I really do think he could end up the steal of the 2013 draft.

It's that old saw about watching two kids putting up identical times trying out for the track team, one who runs like a seasoned marathoner, efficient and sleek, the other wasting tons of energy flailing her way down the track. You pick the one with no idea how to properly do the job, because there's so much more room for growth there. Rob Kaminsky is a big-time prospect despite terrible mechanics. Teach him the right way, and watch him take off.

That's all I've got today, everybody. I hope your New Year's went well. I'll be back next week with a draft preview to kick off my 2014 writing campaign in style. Until then.

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