Decisions for Maryvale #1

In just a few days, Brewers’ pitchers and catchers report to their Cactus League home in Maryvale, Arizona. Ned Yost, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and company have a few things to decide…the most important of which:
1. Who will be the starting OF’s?
The early line has Billy Hall a lock in CF and Corey Hart the RF assignment, while the rumor is that Yost will platoon Geoff Jenkins and Kevin Mench in LF.
An e-mail to mlb.com writer Adam McCalvy back in December by one Chris F. of Budapest, Hungary made mention that Jenkins and Mench platooned put up some pretty impressive stats when you look at the righty vs. lefty splits…so I thought I’d post the numbers here as food for thought (due to most contestants having not played an entire season in ’06 and/or switching leagues, I am only looking at BA/OBP/SLG/OPS for now):
Versus RHP’s:
1. LH Gabe Gross .294/.400/.508/.908
2. LH Geoff Jenkins .306/.381/.490/.871
3. RH Bill Hall .261/.321/.525/.846
4. RH Corey Hart .272/.315/.475/.790
5. RH Kevin Mench .257/.294/.385/.680
6. RH Brady Clark .258/.352/.317/.669
…playing strictly by the numbers, Gross would deserve to start ahead of Corey Hart, while Jenkins and Hall also make the top three.
Versus LHP’s:
1. RH Bill Hall .300/.422/.650/1.072
2. RH Kevin Mench .303/.364/.513/.876
3. RH Corey Hart .304/.352/.456/.808
4. RH Brady Clark .273/.338/.375/.713
5. LH Geoff Jenkins .133/.265/.214/.479
6. LH Gabe Gross .095/.208/.190/.399
…Hall again makes the top three, followed by Mench and Hart. In other words, in addition to platooning Mench and Jenkins in LF, a platoon of Hart and Gross in RF would seem to be worth testing in Maryvale. Unlike last season, when the rookie Hart replaced the veteran Jenkins, this time the platoons would be one veteran for another (Mench for Jenkins) and one prospect for another (Hart for Gross).
No doubt that Yost will test this in Maryvale…but he’ll also want to see how Hart fares against righties, too (side note: a few years ago, I caught a Yankees/Indians Grapefruit League game in Winter Haven, FL, and noticed that Joe Torre had stacked his batting order with mostly lefties…against a left-handed Indians’ starter…essentially to see how his hitters responded and to give them a chance to hit into their weakness).
The numbers from last year also indicate that Brady Clark is never the best option–he’s last versus the more common right-handed pitching, and fourth versus lefties. Clark will get plenty of playing time in Arizona due to split squads, but Yost will probably want to spend more time looking at Hart and Gross…and, as I noted in an earlier post, the Brewers will want to add a 12th pitcher within the first week of the season, and Clark would appear to be the odd-man out at this point…eating a $3.8 million contract would hurt, but maybe he could be moved for a prospect and a little salary relief.
David Hannes
Copyright 2007

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