Weekly Notes

Barry Bonds

Has anyone else noticed the difference between Barry Bonds' numbers at home and on the road?  He's hitting .473 with 12 home runs and an OPS of 1.895 in 95 plate appearances at SBC park, the toughest pitcher's park in the majors.  On the road, where the park effect is neutralized, one would expect his numbers to be even better.  But in a strange twist, his numbers are not only worse, they are much worse.  Before coming to Camden Yards this past weekend and facing the worst pitching staff in the American League (both in ERA and WHIP), he had just 4 homers and an OPS more than 800 points lower than his home numbers.  As it stands now, he's batting .308 with 6 homers and an OPS of 1.168 in 126 plate appearances.

Also interesting to note than of the 19 strikes he saw in the two games I watched, he swung and missed 4 of them, which is right in line with his contact rate from last year.  He's not seeing the ball any better than he ever has.  He's just not getting as many pitches to hit and his much-increased strength is doing the rest.  And for any who are interested, he did not hit the warehouse with a flyball in a game or in batting practice.  He did hit one onto Eutaw Street that took one bounce to the warehouse, but he didn't match Ken Griffey Jr's feat of hitting the building on the fly.

Jerome Williams

This was the first time I had seen Williams in person and I was somewhat impressed.  He didn't have great velocity or life on his fastball, so the comparisons to Doc Gooden appear to based solely on a passing resemblance facially.  He did, however, have a nice breaking ball that froze two experienced lefties - BJ Surhoff and Rafael Palmeiro - for called strikes.  He has the type of body that looks like it could put on weight easily, like fellow Hawaiian Sid Fernandez did.  But Livan Hernandez appears to be more of a body match.

As for his delivery, I couldn't help but think of Ken Hill with his quick whip delivery from behind his ear.  Still, when you are compared to the likes of Hill, Fernandez, Hernandez and Gooden, that's gotta mean that you will turn out pretty good, doesn't it?

Sidney Ponson

He claims his weight isn't an issue, and it may not be in terms of his velocity.  But after watching him pitch several times this year,  it seems to me that he has a hard time staying within himself, especially with his mechanics, after 4 or 5 innings.  The numbers bear this out somewhat as his opponents' OPS goes up to .924 from .804 after his third inning of work.  Last year, his numbers stayed virtually the same through the first 6 innings.  This year's OOPS goes back down dramatically after inning 6, but since he's rarely gone past six innings (five times in 14 starts) and only then if everything has been working, that doesn't really tell us much. 

Bartolo Colon is experiencing something similar.  His OOPS last year went down after 3 innings by almost 80 points, but this year it has increased by almost 90.

Orioles Outfield

Even though Larry Bigbie's and Luis Matos' numbers look almost identical last year - .303, with 23 doubles and 13 homers (almost exactly what Bigbie's prorate to) - I don't believe they are similar hitters with similar upside.

First let me say that I don't think Luis Matos will be pushed for playing time regardless of how he hits.  He is an excellent center fielder who covers a lot of ground and possesses a reasonably strong and accurate arm.  That said, his swing is a mess.  Sure, he'll crush the occasional mistake fastball and he does have good enough speed to beat out some infield hits and steal a couple dozen bases.  But he has a very tough time recognizing pitches and locations, and goes through spells where his swing looks tentative. 

Larry Bigbie probably doesn't have as much raw power as Matos, and certainly not the same class of speed or outfield ability.  But he is a better hitter and could become a pretty good one.  He is quick to the ball and doesn't take too many bad swings.  Even though he's not as physically strong as Matos, I suspect he'll hit for more power because of superior mechanics.  It's highly likely that he'll hit for more average, perhaps much more.  I have heard several people compare his swing to that of Rafael Palmeiro.  Not that he'll ever hit with that kind of power but for the fluidity of his stroke, the comparison's may be valid.  In practical terms, that should mean fewer and lesser slumps than a comparable hitter like Matos.

If I were looking to trade for one of these guys in a fantasy league, unless I needed steals, Bigbie would be the one I would target.  Matos is a year younger than Bigbie, but it looks to me that he has more than a year's development to make up.