Monday, May 7, 2007

The Natural

Amazing.

That is the only word that sufficiently describes Josh Hamilton. The guy simply does it all. He hits for average, spraying the ball all over the field. He hits for power. He has speed; on the bases and in the field. He has a ”laser-rocket” arm (to quote one of the many Peyton Manning commercials). The young man is literally a natural. His story is, as Thom Brennaman correctly stated during yesterday’s telecast, this year’s best story in baseball. All season long Hamilton has displayed his many talents, but during this past week the young man, who has been out of baseball for four years, batted .429 with nine hits, including two home runs, a triple, a double, two walks and a stolen base. Not only has he clobberd the ball at the plate but his defense has been, well, his defense has been Griffeyesque: a diving grab on Saturday, an over the shoulder catch on Sunday, and an 8 - 5 assist (that’s from CF (8) to 3B (5) for those of you who can’t keep score) on Willy Taveras, who is arguably the fastest player in the NL. After yesterday I doubt if anyone in their right mind will attempt going from first to third on his arm.

Hamilton must be an every-day player, and I believe that Narron has done a fine job of regularly inserting him in the lineup. My feeling is that Edwin Encarnacion should be dealt away so that Freel may become the regular 3B and Hamilton the everyday CF. Freel is a better outfielder than infielder, in my opinion, but Hamilton is a better CF than Freel, and Freel will play just as good at 3B as Encarnacion.

The only bummer about this past week is the inability of the Reds to win! That’s always a downer. Yesterday’s victory stopped a 4-game skid, but tonight’s prospects are grim because the great Reds slayer Roy Oswalt, he of the lifetime 18-1 record versus Cincinnati, will take the GABP mound. The only good news about Oswalt being the pitcher this evening is that Hamilton has done all of his damage against RH pitchers. (Although the Natural did post an o-fer against Oswalt in their first meeting.)

Besides Hamilton this year’s bright spot for me has been the play of one Ken Griffey, Jr. His defense is not, well, Griffeyesque. In fact, during one game in the Houston series he looked horrid in RF, but his RF defense will improve and his bat is coming into fine form. Griffey has absolutely stung the ball the last few games. It seems as if his wrist is completely healed. The only thing Griffey can do better offensively is be more productive with 2-outs and runners in scoring position.

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