After Wei-Chung Wang’s latest batting practice session against the Braves, it’s probably safe to say Brewers fans have seen all we need to see. The Wei-Chung Wang Wednesday videos put a smile on our face, but there’s nothing funny about any of Wang’s recent appearances. When Curt Hogg at Disciples of Uecker says Wang’s last outing “may-and-should-have been the final straw,” it’s hard to argue. You don’t have to be a scout to see this kid’s in over his head.
Apparently you do have to be a scout to understand why the Brewers seem hell bent on keeping Wang. It was only a few days ago General Manager Doug Melvin was adamant about sticking with Wang:
“We look at him as a player who would be a high draft pick (if in the draft last year or this year) and they aren’t easy to find,” said Melvin. “We’re doing everything we can to keep him.
“I don’t see where he’s hurting the ballclub. He’s no different than any 12th or 13th pitcher on a team. If you look at the other teams’ 12th or 13th guy, he gets optioned out and called back up and then optioned out again. That’s the way it goes.
“Our games are so close, we haven’t been able to get him in there,” he said. “I don’t think you should be afraid to pitch him in some close games. I talked to (manager) Ron (Roenicke) about it. I told him we’re going to do everything we can to keep him.”
Granted, that quote is from before Wang’s latest disappointing performance, but it sure seems like Melvin will keep Wang at almost any cost. Indeed, one wonders how many blow-up outings Wang has to have for Melvin to give him up.
A few days ago Melvin said he didn’t see where Wang was hurting the ballclub. After last night, we have some idea of Wang’s impact. That being said, it’s worth keeping in mind the pain goes both ways. Even though most fans have had our fill of Wang – and I count myself among the fed up – I have to believe these awful performances are hurting him, too.
Manager Ron Roenicke addressed the need to be concerned about Wang’s confidence earlier today:
“I always worry about that,” said Roenicke. “I had Kranitz in late last night with Wang and Frankie (Rodriguez) was here late, talking to him, trying to let him know that we know it’s a very difficult situation for him. Just like a guy who sits on the bench for three weeks without starting and has to go up there with the game on the line and hit. These things aren’t easy.”
Melvin also surely knows that a young player’s development can be hampered if he’s called up to the big leagues too early. A few months ago, Melvin made a comment about Carlos Gomez that some observers took as a shot at the Mets:
“Carlos was pushed in the big leagues way too early,” Melvin said. “If he’d had a couple years at 19 and 20 [years old] in A ball and Double-A, he might not had to wait until 27 [to produce].”
They must really believe in Wang’s upside if they’re willing to expose him to big league failure. But they may be taking risks that have consequences for Wang beyond losing games.
Of course, if we were to be purely Machiavellian, the Brewers wouldn’t be losing as much if they returned a damaged pitcher back to the Pirates. Maybe there’s more method to this Wang madness than we realize.
(Image: Marcus Hamel via Instagram)