SweetSpot: Pat Venditte
- 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.
Yankees minor league ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte is expected to pitch in his first major league spring training game during Tuesday's split-squad contest against Atlanta.
Venditte, who uses a six-finger glove, pitched at Class-A Charleston and Tampa last season, posting a combined 4-2 record with 22 saves.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi says he has wanted to see Venditte pitch all spring.
I'm assuming that when Girardi says he wants to see Venditte pitch, he means up close and all personal-like. Because Venditte's all over YouTube, plus I'll bet dollars to doughnuts there's somebody running around Tampa's practice fields with a video camera.
Hey, whatever it takes. I've been hearing a lot lately about the eyeball test, and I wouldn't propose to take that vital tool away from the man in the dugout. Maybe, just maybe, Venditte will pitch so well that Girardi will put a burr under someone's saddle and Venditte will get a chance to advance. I was disappointed a couple of weeks ago when I read that he's going to start the season with Class A Tampa ... which is where he finished last season, and pitched as brilliantly as usual.
Venditte has struck out 11.6 hitters per nine innings in each of his two seasons. He'll turn 25 this summer. I understand that he's probably not good enough to pitch effectively in the majors. But wouldn't you like to find out before he turns 27?
• Lynn Henning is right, of course: the Tigers simply can't keep running Dontrelle Willis out there every five days. This was obvious even before the latest debacle, and would be true even if the Tigers weren't actually actually contending for a playoff spot.
• I showed up to read Fun Facts about Farnsworth that make Farnsworth look decidedly non-clutchy, but stuck around for yet another example of Trey Hillman's bizarre stategery. (For the record, though? Farnsworth, over his entire career, has been almost exactly as good in clutch situations as in non-clutch.)
• From 11 Points -- "Because Top 10 Lists are for Cowards" -- 11 Major League Baseball feats that have happened just once.
• Fantastic lede in Alan Schwarz's piece about Pat Venditte:
- The Yankees, whose bullpen is among the worst in the American League, have two arms in Class A ball leading the minor leagues in saves. The left-handed one has kept hitters to a .121 batting average; the right-handed one has not walked anyone in 20 innings. This would all be rather straightforward, except that both arms belong to the same body.
• Jeff Pearlman goes a long way toward explaining why I'm glad I do what I do.
• I know it's time to let this thing go and I will, soon. But in case you haven't been following the Raul Ibanez-and-BBWAA-orthodoxy-vs.-bloggers kerfuffle, here's a a real good roundup (including plenty of solid comments).
• If you used to spend most of your disposable income on "wax packs" -- as I did, for a few years -- you know exactly what Chris Jaffe's talking about.