Youth slow to be served in Chi-Town
Something perplexing has been going on in the Windy City of late. Neither
the White Sox nor the Cubs have what you would call a glut of youthful
offensive talent, and neither lineup is much of an offensive juggernaut. This
makes it all the more maddening when the teams’ respective managers choose to bench young, emerging prospects in favor of zero-upside, unproductive
veterans. But that’s exactly what Lou Piniella and Ozzie Guillen have done this season, standing in the way of powerful talents Tyler Colvin and Dayan Viciedo
from becoming truly valuable fantasy commodities.
Dayan Viciedo vs. Omar Vizquel
The White Sox threw $10 million at Viciedo as a
19-year-old Cuban defector in 2008, so you’d think they’d be eager to see their
investment pay off. After
putting up a .290-14-34 line in 62 games at Triple-A this year, Viciedo has
hit .295 in 44 at-bats since getting called up on June 18. An
impressive beginning for a 21-year-old, but apparently not impressive enough to
net him consistent at-bats.
Omar Vizquel, yes, 43-year-old Omar Vizquel with a career .692 OPS
has been stealing away regulars ABs from Viciedo. Vizquel, who has
started just 34 career games at the hot corner, got the nod over Viciedo in three out of four games since the All-Star break. This
comes in the midst of the youngster’s first career hot streak, which has him
batting .364 with a pair of homers and doubles and seven runs scored over
his last six games.
Maybe manager Ozzie Guillen, a light-hitting middle-infielder in
his day, is trying to live vicariously on the field through his old friend Vizquel.
And yes, Viciedo isn’t Mike Schmidt over at third, evidenced by his costly error on July 16. But once Guillen finally commits to Viciedo, he should have something pretty solid.
At 5-foot-11, 240 pounds, Viciedo generates a lot of power from his extremely stocky
frame, and is literally a well-rounded hitter. Think Juan Uribe with a much better
average. There’s also something to be said about the production potential
of a guy who always puts
the ball in play, as he’s struck out just four times and walked none in his
short big-league stint. Sitting on the bench must be twice as frustrating for a guy who loves to swing as much as Viciedo does, so hopefully for his sake he’ll get more run in the second half.
Tyler Colvin vs. Kosuke Fukudome and Xavier Nady
This one has been even more confounding, as the offensively-starved Cubs have
nothing to lose at this point from giving at-bats to a rookie. Cubs fans feel the same way, as they’ve gone
nuts all season begging Lou Piniella to play their 2006 No. 1 Draft pick over the
33-year-old Fukudome’s career .257 average, and journeyman Nady’s .223 season
Piniella vowed to do so about a month ago, but was slow to come through on his promise,
as Colvin started just two of the team’s last five games before the break. It’s not like
Colvin, a lefty batsmen, is better suited for a platoon, as he’s actually fared
better against southpaws this season with a .300 average.
Other than the money the Cubs are giving to Kosuke and Xavier,
there’s really no explanation for slotting either of them in the lineup over a budding
power bat who put up a .300-14-50 line in 84 games at Double-A last season. The
24-year-old Colvin has been a legit producer when given the chance to play in Chicago, going deep 12 times with 32 RBIs and 33 runs scored in just 196
at bats in 2010. Spread that out over a full season, and you get a 35-100-100 fantasy force . It’s a crime to hold back youthful pop of this nature, especially
on a team that’s going nowhere.
Luckily, Piniella seems to have gotten a clue during the
vacation and has started Colvin in the Cubs’ first four games of the second half, during which he’s gone 6-for-17 with a pair of doubles and runs scored. He was even slotted in the leadoff spot to face Roy Halladay on Sunday night, and responded with a 3-for-5 effort. If this is going to be the norm you won’t want to hesitate on Colvin like his own team did, so scoop the youngster up while he’s available in 93 percent of Yahoo! leagues.