Monday, May 18, 2009

Rangers: Omar Vizquel and Elvis Andrus

Update: Mike Hindman has a quick interview with Elvis.


Omar Vizquel is hitting .360. Yesterday (game photos), at the plate during a hit and run, Vizquel spoiled a fastball off the plate which would have gotten Saltalamacchia thrown out at second base. With the count then 2-1, Vizquel twice prepared to bunt, both times backing his bat away and taking close fastballs for balls, thus drawing a walk. Winning stuff. Rangers players have messed up these types of small plays for years. When Showalter managed, his batters were more likely to "Win a Free Suit" than to lay down a bunt in fair territory. It's a pleasure, now, to see a Rangers batter execute small winning plays.

Vizquel (L) and Andrus (R), photo USA Today
Vizquel could easily be a full time starter this season. His physical conditioning is exceptional. His skills remain formidable. He tripled leading off the 8th inning of a one run game, missing a home run by 4 feet. He is still fast enough to steal bases, and has done so a couple of times. He is a winning player.

For Elvis, it's a mental advantage to sit every 4th day or so. Elvis benefits from some mental relaxation; from some downtime away from the pressure. Elvis also benefits from some quiet time to just observe a major league game: quietly, reflectively, without pressure, as a child observes his parents. The whole situation for Elvis could not be better:

1. Vizquel is super smart (a future manager), mature enough to not be jealous, generous enough to share info with Elvis
2. Vizquel is Elvis' hero, and therefore Elvis is eager to listen
3. Frequent mental rest and quiet observation time allow Elvis to more effectively handle major league pressure.

I say Hamilton could also benefit from more mental rest. Chris Davis, also. These are young players. Hamilton and Davis have tendencies to swing at bad pitches. I suspect, when Hamilton and Davis are mentally or physically fatigued, this tendency is exacerbated and leads to slumps. Therefore, Hamilton and Davis benefit from being fresh.

Kinsler needs no mental rest, as Kinsler really never thinks when he plays, and Kinsler does not often swing at bad pitches. Kinsler is like a good dog who just keeps working, keeps working: the more the dog works, the better he likes it. It's what the dog was born for. You can, during a season, run Kinsler into the ground: he seemingly only gets better.

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