Friday, September 3, 2010
Yankees' switch-pitcher finally moves up
From the mailbag, on a subject I'd almost forgotten ...
Rob,yesterday Pat Venditte made his Double-A debut against Akron's 3-4-5 hitters in a one-run game. The results were predictable: three up, three down, one strikeout. And he was the winning pitcher as well.
But no headlines were made.Venditte, baseball's only ambidextrous pitcher, has career minor league stats of ERA 1.61, WHIP 0.91, SO/9 11.1, SO/BB 6.14, HR/9 0.3. Just incredible numbers, yet he is not regarded as a real prospect because he is a "soft tosser" (he gets to mid-80's from the left and to 88 on the right).
Is it possible that the scouts do not know how to value the skill of being ambidextrous, especially as he is one of a kind? In other words, is it possible that the lack of a couple of MPH on his fastball is more than compensated for by the fact that he always has the platoon advantage? I would think that this advantage could be demonstrated to some extent by statistics and I am comforted by the success of several junk-balling LOOGYs as well as some right-handed pitchers who win with control while hitting the mid and high 80's on the speed guns.
Jeffrey (Italy)Anything's possible, Jeffrey. But it's more than a couple of miles an hour. As you know, most good relievers in the majors are failed starters, and relievers in the minors who throw in the 80s rarely even reach the majors, let alone pitch well there. And I'm not sure that it really matters if the reliever is a right-hander, a left-hander, or both.
Still ... I suppose I shouldn't be terribly shocked that Venditte has just made his Double-A debut, but I haven't checked in a while and I am shocked. If the Yankees aren't going to give the guy a chance, you'd wish they would just release him. But of course they won't do that, because if they release him and he winds up reaching the majors and pitching well, Brian Cashman looks like an idiot. So instead they just string him along, waiting for him to finally fail (while the rest of us hope he doesn't hurt one of his pitching arms).
Look, I've written about Venditte many times, and I'm fairly sure I'm on record saying he's very unlikely to pitch effectively in the majors. We know he doesn't throw even reasonably hard for a non-knuckleballer, and we also know the Yankees generally know what they're doing.
But professional sports are supposed to be a meritocracy. Pat Venditte turned 25 in June, and spent four months this season in Class A, posting a 1.73 ERA and a 6.07 strikeout-to-walk ratio. You believe, I believe, and the New York Yankees believe that his stuff won't play at higher levels. That's fine. But for gosh sakes, give him a chance to prove it before he's got crow's feet and liver spots.