When the time came for me to write today's VEB Daily post, I unfortunately could not think of just one subject to use for an entire post. However, I have been thinking about a wide variety of topics related to the Cardinals lately, so I figured it was the perfect time to write a post similar to the Bird Bytes posts written by Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Oscar Taveras and the "mechanical flaws" in his swing
In this article by Stan McNeal of Fox Sports Midwest, one snippet irritated me in particular: "Matheny mentioned a couple 'mechanical flaws' in Taveras' swing that the club did not want to address with his plate already full trying to adjust to being in the majors." As Ben Humphrey already discussed, Oscar's contact rates (on pitches inside and outside of the zone) were otherworldly during his very brief MLB stint. Also, as stlcardsfan4 noted on Twitter, there's likely a few valid reasons for demoting Taveras, but seriously, what's the point in Matheny making something up when discussing the move with the media?
Matheny's quote fired me up so much that I watched videos of Taveras from the minors and the majors for roughly thirty minutes after reading it, and I honestly could not point out a noticeable difference. Now, I don't have the tools to watch the videos frame-by-frame like some people do, but I came up with a very rough work-around to watch them in slow-motion on YouTube. My conclusion? If there are "mechanical flaws" in Oscar's swing, then I am worried about the swings of the rest of the players currently in the organization as well. Having seen two home runs in as many games from Matt Adams, my temper has cooled just a bit, but please, the demotion of Taveras could have occurred without the fabrication of some vague criticisms about his one superior tool.
Welcome back to live game action, Aledmys Diaz
Diaz, who was out since April 26th, finally returned to the Springfield Cardinals starting lineup three days ago. He was originally placed on the disabled list due to a shoulder issue, but I saw some reports referencing overall body soreness as well, which is understandable considering it had been 18 months since the last time he played competitive baseball on a regular basis. He has one hit (a single) in eight at bats since his return and has yet to play shortstop. The club plans to ease him back into the everyday shortstop role, while utilizing the designated hitter as needed.
Prior to the injury, I had watched quite a few of Diaz's games on MiLB.TV, and to be honest, I am still not convinced that his glove or range can stick at shortstop long-term. His arm, like most scouting reports I received prior to the signing, appeared above-average, which is a good thing, but only if he is able to improve upon his lateral quickness and his first step to the ball. However, offensively speaking, I cannot help but get excited over mammoth big flies like this one back on April 18th. A successful 2014 for Diaz would see a call-up to Triple-A Memphis and possibly even some MLB exposure when rosters expand in September.
Unfortunately, the PITCHF/x numbers from Rosenthal's last two outings versus the Nationals were not available on BrooksBaseball when I wrote this post. Yet, I did not really need that information to show just how good Rosenthal's changeup has been this season. Its average velocity is 87.63 MPH, while its horizontal movement is -6.06 inches. At ~87 MPH, his changeup is faster than some pitchers' fastballs, which is a feat by itself. The eight to ten MPH drop-off from his fastball is in the desired range and leads to many embarrassing swings from opposing hitters.
He has thrown his changeup 83 times (16.7%), and it has resulted in 20 whiffs (24.1%). When hitters swing the bat, they whiff an incredible 43.48% of the time. In terms of batted-ball outcomes, he has allowed two line-drives and zero home runs on the pitch. He may not be popping 98+ MPH with his fastball right now, but as long he has command of his changeup, he doesn't necessarily need to be. I love his fastball, but I have and always will be a "changeup guy." As fans, we are lucky to have three pitchers (Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, Jaime Garcia) with terrific changeups in their repertoire.
Peter Bourjos and a look at his batting average
Before I get started, I fully realize that batting average is not the best statistic to look at when deciding a player's offensive worth. I also realize that much of Bourjos' value comes from his impact on defense and on the base paths. However, at the same time, I admit that it is impossible for me to completely ignore his batting average. With 139 at bats (155 plate appearances) thus far in 2014, Bourjos has a .209 batting average.
One of the things that stands out to me is the fact that he has attempted to bunt for a hit in seven percent of his at bats this season. I honestly do not know if this should be seen as a lack of confidence in his hitting ability or an utmost confidence in his home-to-first base-running ability. Of the ten attempts, Bourjos has been successful on three of them. I know this may sound ridiculous, but a .300 batting average on bunt attempts sure looks a lot more appealing than his current .209 average. I would love to see Bourjos return to somewhere near his 2011 hitting form, but at what point (I know that 155 PAs is not enough to reach such conclusion) do we agree that it might not happen? Has he been the victim of poor hitting instruction in the past (and present)? Is his wrist fully healthy? Does he need more playing time? These are all questions I would like to see addressed at some point because I am legitimately curious.
Finally, if you have not listened to my appearance on KMOX 1120 yet and would still like to, follow this link and let me know what you think. Considering it took place on Thursday, I must warn that some of what was said is now outdated. Regardless, and I am obviously biased, I think it is a pretty good listen. I thank Chris Hrabe for the tremendous opportunity, and I am most definitely open to doing it again in the future.