Wilson Valdez hit up to 89 mph.
Every day this month, we here at Philthy Stuff will be counting down the New Year's resolutions of each member on the Phillies, and what they can do to guide this team back to October. Next up, Wilson Valdez.
Every baseball team, for better or for worse, has scrubs. You know, the guys who are fortunate enough to play at the major league level but are seemingly easily replaced by any random minor leaguer. It's impossible to avoid building a team with a handful of these types, because even though you'd love to have someone with the ability of Shane Victorino to come off the bench in the late innings, it's just not feasible.
Enter Valdez, he of six teams in six seasons, a batting average that would make a darn fine ERA and just enough power to make you think “if he can just get one over the inner half of the plate -- and if the left field foul pole can get moved in 50 feet -- then he could totally tie it up with one swing right here.”
I kid, I kid. To be fair to Valdez, the guy has done a bang up job as a backup infielder over the last two seasons. When the infield was stricken with injuries, Valdez stepped up admirably. While he didn't make anyone forget about Jimmy or Chase or Polly, fans from near and far could admire his cannon of an arm and that yellowish mass of hair that he calls a goatee.
Also, he did that dance.
But, like everyone else on the big club, Wilson can do a few things to tighten up his game in 2012.
Get Less Playing Time: This might sound mean (and it is, kinda), but I want to see much less of Valdez on the field this season. It's not that I want the guy to get injured, it's just that, if Valdez is not on the field that means that Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco are on the field. Under no circumstances should Valdez be penciled into a lineup unless one of those three guys are banged up or due a much deserved day off.
Control Issues: One of the best moments of the 2011 season was when Valdez was called in to pitch in the late innings of a marathon game with the Reds in May. After eight pitchers combined to hurl 18 innings, Wilson was called upon to go the rest of the way. And go the rest of the way he did. With the game tied at four in the top of the 19th, Valdez pitched a scoreless inning, where he needed all of 10 pitches to get three outs. As an added bonus he earned his first career win thanks to the Phillies mercifully ending the game in the bottom of the frame.
But even though that was likely Valdez's finest hour as a big leaguer, it wasn't all rainbows and cotton candy, because let's face it, of his 10 pitches, only five of them were strikes. Plus, he hit a batter and couldn't even strike anyone out. Come on, even the worst pitchers get strikeouts.
If Valdez wants to be taken seriously as a late-inning, emergency relief pitcher that will see action less than 1 percent of the time over the course of a season, then he'll need to work on his control issues. This is the Major Leagues, son, and a 50-percent success rate with strikes just isn't going to cut it.
Do That Dance Again: Seriously, did you see it? That was hilarious.