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Breaking the Wandy

I have exciting news to pass along to the rest of the members of the Skip Schumaker UZR Watchers Club: for the first time this year, his UZR/150 is below (above?) -10! You remember the story—it's crawled down from a high, in early May, of around 30. Now: -9.9. I'm loath to throw that half a season he spent as history's greatest monster down the drain entirely, but Schumaker spending half a season as a competent major league second baseman is an impressive turn of events. Now to find some way to attribute this to Dave Duncan...

While we're on the topic of the minor leagues—by which I mean we were on the topic last night—Daniel Descalso, the position's current heir apparent, hit his second Memphis home run last night, part of a back-to-back-to-back-to-back with Troy Glaus, Allen Craig, and Mark Hamilton. He's not exactly lighting the place up—his .655 OPS there has lowered his season-to-date numbers to .301/.374/.467—but he is a prospect; what's he doing having started all of five games in the last two weeks?

I love Jarrett Hoffpauir, but if the Cardinals don't think he's better than Joe Thurston right now he's the guy who should be losing at-bats in the Glaus/Craig/Freese roster crunch; I don't think it's particularly important to gauge Descalso's ability to pinch hit in the middle of his big breakout season. 

Good news: the Cardinals play tonight! Bad news: it's that guy. Again. 

I think I'd be less annoyed if any other Astros starter had taken the last two years to turn into Adam Wainwright, because something about Wandy in particular drives me nuts. 

He Beats Albert Pujols. This, of course, has something to do with it. Defeating the Team Champion, both consistently (as these matchups go) and decisively makes his sudden emergence as a borderline ace even more frustrating—there's no outlet for the frustration that wells up when watching a guy who was once one step removed from LOOGYdom deal against all batters left and right. If he goes seven innings of one run ball and the one run is Albert Pujols putting out a few pixels on the out-of-town scoreboard, maybe watching the ball a little more than he usuallyd oes—well, I know it's about The Team and giving 110% etc., but I think I'd be personally satisfied by that outcome. That's all I can say. 

The good news is that Matt Holliday has hit .385/.429/1.077 against him in 14 highly predictive plate appearances. When he got to St. Louis, the first thing he said, after wolfing down his first piece of customary Post-Transaction Family Recipe Apple Pie, was: "Albert, Carp and I have been talking about it and we think we know what your problem is. You've been tipping your swings." I expect no further problems.

He Pitches like a LOOGY. If you take his stats and give him, I don't know, 54 games and 37 innings pitched or something, the Wandy Rodriguez Story makes more sense in my head. He throws a fastball in the low, low, low nineties and a sweeping breaking ball; I can see, say, Trever Miller striking out a batter an inning like that, but a guy who's expected to pitch to more than one batter just should not be doing this. Even his form, compact and awkward, makes me think of a relief pitcher. In short: I just don't know how he does it. And I wish he wouldn't. 

He Used to Be So Average. Not just he was an average pitcher once—that's fine by me. But he came up in a way that's more consistent with, say, Mitchell Boggs than it is the pitcher he's become. He was never a dominant minor leaguer; at his best he was worse than he is now, and he combined that with being uncomfortably old for his level.

His whole thing—and maybe this is what does it to me—is an affront to my flattering belief in my own ability to scout players. I watched him suck for two years. I saw his minor league numbers. I have a blog, for goodness' sake. Doesn't he know who I am? 

There's no reason for that guy, especially after he leads off the old big league career with 270 innings of replacement level ball, to turn into this guy.That guy was once most notable for being named Wandy. 

He's named Wandy. Which brings me to my final point.