It's a tricky business, making snap judgments twelve games into the season. It's natural, and baseball is always better with someone to blame. Jack Taschner said he had a mechanical problem, but was able to fix it. He came into the game last night and was blooped and bled to death. They'll count as hits in the public record, but they more resembled legal loopholes. The ERA didn't get healthier, and someone just reading the box score from yesterday's game would be ready to spring for the deluxe spa package at Rancho Christiansen. Still, he's earned more chances with his performance last night.
On the other hand, you have the statistical anomalies like Tyler Walker. He's looked dismal; not only missing out of the zone, but doing it with a dull fastball. Still, this isn't reflected in his statistics. I think. Let me just pull those up on the screen, and....
Sweet wheeled Zeus, those are some bad stats.
The long-time readers of the site know I've always pulled for Walker. He was the kind of reliever every team should be looking for to stash away; a former starting pitching prospect who had limited success as a starter, still had good stuff, and, most importantly, cost nothing to acquire.
Not to dig Man O'War up and start beating him, but Walker's escape from a bases loaded, no-out jam against the Tigers was a supernova of brilliant pitching. Check swings, frozen hitters, swing-through fastballs; everything was working that night. It was a glimmer of Walker's potential, however brief.
And now we have a Walker who isn't quite ready to be that late-inning reliever again, but is perfectly willing to do his impression of a fire at a sewage treatment plant. The potential is a bitter memory, it would seem, as this Walker is wild past the point of reason, except when he's being pounded. It isn't fun to watch.
We sample size fascists need to hold an emergency meeting now, and determine just what the heck to do with Walker. Dropping a reliever after a bad two weeks will always be poor decision-making, provided that it is done solely because of a couple of poor outings. There were two instances of the Giants doing this in recent memory. The first was Al Levine, who fluked his way through March to win a job in April. His stuff was sub-Fassero, and it was coming from the right side. It didn't take long for the Giants to see the shoes peeking out from under the drapes, and realize something wasn't right in the bullpen.
The other pitcher was Ben Weber. The weird Kurt Rambis look didn't help him much, but his stuff looked nice. He could locate his pitches, and they all had wicked movement. Unfortunately, he was the victim of many-a-drubbing in the early part of 2000, and was quickly released. He found new life with the Angels, and had an excellent run for their bullpen.
This isn't to suggest that Walker will be "the one who got away", should the Giants can him. It's more about properly evaluating Walker before ditching him due to a month's worth of outings. Seeing if his arm isn't worth it (Levine) or if it's something to stick with (Weber). The two main questions:
- Is righting a pitcher like Walker worth the effort?
- How far does he have to come back?
It's too early to start lopping players off due to lackluster performance, but never too early to do so because of lackluster abilities. Or conditioning issues, for that matter. The Giants need to figure out which category Walker falls in. And they also need to develop a special TiVo that can skip over Walker's appearances until they figure it out, or I'll start to get litigious on those deep Safeway pockets. No person should have to watch that.