Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This Outfield Only Has Room for One Gabe

On a day when Gabe Gross had his best game of the season and scored the winning run in an extra-innings affair against St. Louis, we learn that he has been traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for a Class A pitcher carrying a 6.35 ERA. I can only assume that this means that Tony Gwynn Jr. is set to re-join Milwaukee in time for tomorrow's game.

Thus ends Team Gabe - I maintain that those of us brave enough to listen to/watch that game today saw history: It must have been the first time in MLB history that two guys named Gabe batted back-to-back in the lineup and played next to each other in the outfield of a major league game.

Good luck in Tampa, Gabe.


I did some quick searching about the prospect that Milwaukee got from Tampa. Here's what a Rays Blog had to say about pitcher Josh Butler before the season started.

Talk about a tale of two seasons. Butler had arguably the best numbers of a very talented Columbus Catfish staff, but got called up to Vero Beach toward the end of June and simply got rocked, missed nearly a month of starts, came back and was slightly more effective.
The University of San Diego product was a surprise 2nd-rounder in 2006, as his draft stock had been falling in concert with his productivity, which sparked concerns over his durability. At his best, Butler throws a low-90s fastball with good sinking actions as well as two serviceable breaking pitches and a changeup. But something really got out of whack in Vero Beach: In 49 innings there, he allowed 9 homeruns. In his previous 357 innings(combined college and pro), he allowed a total of 13.

Before the 2006 draft, BaseballAmerica mentioned that a taxing delivery might be to be blame for his decline over the course of his junior year. The report was that he didn't incorporate his lower body enough, and that's practically inviting an arm injury. Judging from the poor 2nd-half statistics and the time missed, I'd say the concerns over his delivery are as alive as ever. Part of the decline can be chalked up to being promoted a level, but the sharp HR rate increase makes me think it's something else, such as not finishing on his delivery and leaving more balls up.
2007 was the second straight year Butler underwhelmed toward the end. I can probably be accused of saying this too much, but I think it applies to Butler perhaps more than anyone: I think he should make a move to the bullpen. If it is a durability issue, limiting his innings could help. Also, if efforts are made to clean up his delivery, pitching in shorter spurts might allow him to better focus on incorporating those changes.

Then again, perhaps his poor finish was a result of the injury(I can't for the life of me find out why he missed those 3-4 starts). He was dominant in his final outing(7 innings, 2 hits, 7 strikeouts), so it might be best to see if a fully healthy Butler can be successful in Vero Beach as a starter. Either way, VB is almost certain to be where he opens 2008, and he's still got plenty to prove.


the other brad said...

No more Christian rock at Miller Park. It's like the old Seinfeld episode where Elaine finds out Puddy is religious and switches the radio presets.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't go by what a blogger says, go to a place like baseball america that does some real research on players. Butler is rated their 16th best prospect in probably the best minor league system in baseball. that's pretty good return for Gabe. Yeah he's got an ERA over 6, but its in 3 starts

AP said...

A week ago I would've traded him for a Ryan Braun rookie card, the fact that we got a living, breathing person who plays baseball makes this fine by me.

Thanks for the winning run Gabe, and seriously best of luck. He seems like a decent human.....

Krey said...

I actually visited their ballpark this past weekend. Let's just say that the highlight of my time there was their sting ray petting tank. Not a fan of indoor baseball. I don't think Gabe would have agreed to the trade had they maintained the "Devil" aspect of their name. A number of people told me that the name change was a huge deal down there, lots of people were pushing for it. Nothing like a Saturday night crowd of 15,000.