Andrew Mearns and I traded questions with Aaron Finkel over at Viva El Birdos. Here are Aaron's answers to our questions. Be sure to check out VEB for his answers to Andrew's.
1) Most Yankee fans hate the way Joe Girardi manages baseball games. The general consensus is that while he does a good job managing his bullpen's workload, he's so committed to his method that he occasionally limits himself to only choosing between bad choices. He also let Jayson Nix play baseball for the Yankees for too long. Would we be happier with Mike Matheny?
No. Not at all. I'm generally pretty easy to please with regard to managers. I don't expect a lot other than occasional frustrations, but I think Mike Matheny is terrible. It's the usual litany for bad managers, I guess. Too much weight given to small sample size results, yanking players around based on the almighty hot hand, not great with the pen, some silly double-switches, and, well, Mark Ellis has almost as many PA's as Kolten Wong, who was so firmly seated on the bench after one rough month that GM John Mozeliak had to send him down to get playing time.
I'm willing to give managers the benefit of the doubt more often than most SABR-subscribing bloggers, but Matheny has lost it. When Oscar Taveras gets promoted to the big leagues, the major league roster will be full of great puzzle pieces to maximize the team's chance to succeed: Peralta can play SS or 3B, Carpenter 3B or 2B, Craig RF and 1B, Oscar can play some center, and Jay & Bourjos have complementary skill-sets. I have no faith that Mike will utilize this flexibility logically.
2) When someone takes Adam Wainwright's curve for a called strike three, how long does it take you to stop giggling? Are you sorry that Carlos Beltran is on the DL for this series?
Well, the initial bout of giggling lasts between 12 and 16 seconds depending on factors such as the batter and circumstance, but it can resurface hours or even days later. In the case of Carlos Beltran, the giggling has never permanently stopped. Last night, my wife woke to the sound of my giggling and said "thinking about Waino again, honey?" I'm glad she's not the jealous type. And yes, I'm greatly disappointed we won't see Beltran this series. He was a real pleasure to watch the last two years, and I hope he recovers and contributes for the Yankees.
Editor's Note: Aaron added in a follow-up email that the Viva El Birdos faithful are desperately hoping to see Brendan Ryan, "who is forever in VEB hearts."
3) How does Matt Carpenter look to you at third base?
To my surprise, pretty bad. Given that he graded out around average at second base last season, and my general belief that Matt Carpenter can do just about anything, I thought he'd be good at third. He might yet make it there, and he has made several excellent athletic plays, but he has also simply let a lot of balls by him this year.
4) Does anyone in baseball have a better forearm tattoo than Carlos Martinez?
Nope! And you should also check out his wonderful myriad selfies. I love Carlos Martinez. Let's talk about him some more.
5) At 32, Adam Wainwright is the old man in the Cardinals rotation. Which youngster excites you the most?
Carlos Martinez. First, let me say that Michael Wacha is clearly the better bet to be a long-term above-average pitcher. I was cooler on him than some coming into the year because he really only showed two pitches (FA, CH) last season, but his curve is looking much better now, and he's been terrific overall. But Carlos Martinez has the stuff of dreams.
There's no guarantee he pans out. He needs to work on command, he needs to learn to throw his really good change-up without telegraphing it (which is why it has nearly disappeared from his arsenal), and he needs to be more consistent with his slider. Those are tall orders, but he could be a good starter with just the first thing, and maybe one of the best pitchers in the league if he can do the rest.
His four-seam reaches triple-digits, his hard slider is nasty, and his two-seamer is extraordinary. It's a 95 mph pitch that runs hard in and down to righties, basically a fastball good change-up action. I'm getting dizzy thinking about it. He's had a tough two months to open the season, and I can't say there are no concerns, but I think there's a reasonable chance he's one of the Cardinals' best starters by this time next year. I hope to see him sent down and stretched out in a couple of months.
6) Outfield prospect James Ramsey is my cousin. Could you say something nice about him to make up for the way Cardinals fans ripped him when the front office made him a first round pick?
Yes! He's going to make a pretty good trade-chip! This is nothing personal, but the current OF has 4 starters already, and Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty are more likely to stick around. That said, he's certainly doing well in the minors, and he seems like a good dude. Is he? You tell me! If the FO likes Ramsey better than what they can get for him in a trade, it's possible they move Jay ahead of hitting arbitration next year and promote James to a timeshare with Peter Bourjos. Plenty around the blogosphere ripped the Kolten Wong pick and were kind of ambivalent about Michael Wacha. I remain cheerfully agnostic about players drafted, though I certainly have some trust in the Redbird scouting department.
Editor's Note: The answer to Aaron's question is, yes, he's a good dude and one of the most dedicated, hardest working people I've ever met. I remember him saying he was going to play big league baseball when we were all playing wiffleball. From my angle, he's busted his butt until he was a very good high school player, then a good college player, and now a good minor leaguer. I talked to him before his Arizona Fall League trip, and his excitement is infectious.
Bonus suggestion from Aaron:
By the way, those of you who like watching other teams should try to check out a Jaime Garcia start sometime soon. You'll miss his turn this week, and I don't trust his health to last, but he's beautiful to watch pitch. Jaime is a true master of getting pitches to move just a little more than the batters expect.