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at a glance

according to Bird Land, dove and jimenez have pitched themselves onto the bubble:

La Russa described Kelvin Jimenez and Dennis Dove, both of whom remained with the club after Sunday's start, as prospects he's recently spoken with about how their situations have changed this camp. In La Russa's words, they came to champ with "no chance, now they have an outside chance." He said he spoke with them to make sure they understood that "they are being looked at differently" than from the early days of camp.
if you've been paying even the slightest bit of attention, you know that dove and jimenez have been turning heads all spring. they both threw an inning over the weekend, and since both games were available via i decided to take a look.

before i describe what i saw, though, let's do a quick bit of handicapping here to see how "outside" these two pitchers' chances are. i figure 4 of the 7 bullpen spots are locked up --- isringhausen and thompson from the right side, and flores plus one (either rincon or johnson) from the left. i am gonna surmise that the three remaining spots will all go to right-handed pitchers, with the surplus left-hander either getting traded (rincon) or getting optioned to memphis (johnson). the contestants for those three remaining slots are:

  1. hancock
  2. franklin
  3. springer
  4. falkenborg
  5. dove
  6. jimenez
  7. cavazos
i've listed these guys in order of their probability (per my estimation) to make the big-league club. the first three guys are the presumed front-runners because they're all big league veterans; the last three have never pitched in the majors, and dove has never pitched above double A. franklin has the ability to start, which increases his value; both he and springer are on guaranteed seven-figure contracts, so they'll have to pitch themselves off the team. springer might just do that; he's been neither healthy nor effective so far. if he doesn't win tony/dave's confidence before camp breaks, the cards might put russ on the DL (on account of the guaranteed $1.75m) and try to rehab him before they outright release him. and both franklin and hancock are pretty marginal relievers; their spots look secure for now, but a run of bad outings by either over the last couple of weeks might create an opportunity for somebody else.

jimenez threw the bottom of the 10th inning on friday night vs the braves and preserved a 6-6 tie. i wrote last week that kelvin hasn't faced very stiff competition this spring, and the same pattern held in this game: he pitched to quadruple A slap-hitter willie harris (a favorite of mine, incidentally), triple A shortstop tony pena, and double A outfielder brandon jones. this pitcher is very long and thin; baseball cube lists his dimensions as 6'2", 153 pounds, and while he's not quite that spindly, there's a decided stick-figurey presence about him. (i searched google images for a picture of kelvin jimenez but couldn't find one; the search engine did return this off-the-field image, but i can't vouch for whether or not that's really kelvin.) jimenez pitched exclusively from the stretch on friday night. he has a short, smooth delivery and throws hard without a lot of effort --- holds his hands at the belt, has a low leg kick that never cracks the plane of his waistline, and holds his torso pretty upright as he delivers the ball. jimenez threw his fastball consistently at 93-94 mph (per fox south's radar gun) on friday and spotted it well; he came inside with it on both of the left-handed hitters he faced, ended his stint (and the game) with a called strike on the inside corner vs brandon jones. his off-speed pitch, a slider, appears to be nothing special, and he lacked command with it on this night --- the first two he threw were way high and forced marrero out of his catcher's crouch. versus jones, the best hitter he faced (and a left-handed one), jimenez featured his slider --- threw one on the first pitch (a called strike), another on 0-1 (ball outside), and a third on the 2-1 pitch, which jones chased in the dirt for strike 2. so the guy trusts the pitch enough to throw it from behind in the count.

dove entered the game yesterday in the 6th inning with the cardinals ahead 4-1 and threw to real big-league hitters --- beltran, david wright, alou, shawn green, and jose valentin. he has a big upper body and broad shoulders; has a drop-drive delivery and reaches wayyyy back behind his head and cocks his arm at the elbow, which might make the ball hard to pick up. dove's fastball consistently hit 95 on ksdk's radar gun, while his curve came in as slow as 75-76 mph; that's a terrific split. if he can harness both of those and throw `em for strikes, he could be very difficult to hit.

the mets, however, weren't altogether fooled. dove threw 12 fastballs yesterday, 9 for strikes; the mets swung at 8 of those pitches and put four of them into play (they also fouled off 3 and swung through 1). beltran roped one of those 95mph pitches up the middle for a single, and alou pulled another for a hard-hit base knock to left. dove threw five curveballs, four of them to left-handed hitters --- including the 0-0 pitch to both green and valentine. (green swung and missed for strike one; valentin took the pitch for a ball.) dove finished off his appearance with a beautiful hook to valentin for a called strike 3.

dove looks more like a big-league pitcher than jimenez, imho --- but he also has far less experience, having thrown only 14 or so innings above class A (here are his career stats from the farm). having seen him, i fully understand why they added this guy to the 40-man. he may not make the team out of ST, but that doesn't mean he won't be pitching in the majors by july 4.

as long as i was looking at video, i checked out ryan franklin's 3-inning stint saturday afternoon vs the braves. he faced 12 hitters, got 8 of `em out; fanned 1, didn't walk a man. franklin is listed at 6'3", but he sure doesn't look that big; both in stature and in facial feature he vaguely reminds me of the Schofield Kid from unforgiven. he's bow legged and stiff-backed, pitched from a full windup on sat'dy; keeps his back leg pretty straight during the delivery, dips his right shoulder before he rotates it forward. franklin got by on his breaking pitches this particular day; of the 15 he threw, 11 were over the plate, and he got 5 of the 8 outs on off-speed stuff. franklin lacked command his fastball, which he threw 23 times but only 13 times over the plate; the braves put 6 of those fastballs into play, 3 of them for hits. he does locate the ball well and will pitch inside, which i like to see. i know a lot of people detest this guy already, but i think he has his uses.

a few bits of reading: