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Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Living large in York, Pa.

The York Revolution, of the independent Atlantic League, have invited 3'2" Dave Flood to spring training. Can Flood help the club? The Book's Tangotiger weighs in: Esthetically, I suppose the argument might be, "But he can't run or field or throw."

Yeah, well neither could Calvin Pickering. And he got his shot.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever seriously challenged Major League Baseball's freedom to determine who can and cannot play. The last time this became an issue was, I believe, in 1990 when the Miami Miracle wanted to sign Minnie Minoso; MLB rejected the idea (since then, Minoso has appeared twice with the independent St. Paul Saints).

A couple of practical questions:

1. Could a club justify devoting a roster spot to someone who can do nothing except walk and strike out?


2. Would the pitchers really have a tough time throwing strikes?

I think the answer to Question 1 is probably not ... until September, when every club has gobs of roster space that doesn't even get used; nobody employs the maximum 40 players when the rosters are expanded. And wouldn't every contender have some use for a pinch-hitter (or pinch-hitters) with a .500 on-base percentage?

I think the answer to Question 2 is also probably not. True, they may be throwing Ball 4 on 3-0 counts 35 percent of the time ... but that ignores two facts. One, there's at least some small fear on 3-0 that might prevent the pitcher from just throwing a BP fastball down the middle, and sometimes they're actually not trying to throw a strike (leading to the so-called intentional unintentional walk). And two, even if the pitcher is trying to lay the ball over the plate when the count is 3-0, he has not been doing that earlier in the plate appearance; earlier he's been trying to make good, not particularly hittable pitches.

My guess is that a .500 OBP would be a tall order for a (particularly) short hitter. At least in the majors.