Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Margin of Error

Last night’s 4-3 loss to Cincinnati should have answered once and for all those detractors who criticized the Phillies for their unwillingness to call up Gavin Floyd earlier in the season. He still isn’t quite ready. Floyd may not have taken the loss, but he clearly lost the game in the first inning when he failed to cover first base on a ground ball hit to Jim Thome. Break for the bag, Gavin, then ask questions. They teach you that in Little League ball, which isn’t that long ago.

Floyd also failed to hold runners, allowing Ryan Freel to steal second and third and D’Angelo Jimenez to steal second, all in the first inning. TV color analyst Larry Andersen (who has developed into an astute commentator) also noted Floyd missed a sign from second baseman Placido Polanco in the same inning. Replays confirmed his analysis. Andersen described how Polanco indicated he was breaking for the bag but Floyd threw toward the plate anyway.

Floyd pitched well enough after that, scattering eight hits over six innings while striking out five and walking one, but the damage was done. This may sound strange, but the clearest indication Floyd is still too young and inexperienced can be found by reading what he had to say in Todd Zolecki’s piece in the Inquirer. He, “like”, “wished” three times and, “like”, had a “brain [cramp]” on the play at first. (Give Zolecki credit for being able to come up with a suitable synonym in his family-oriented paper!)

I am hardly arguing for the recall of Paul Abbott. The expectation here is that Floyd will eventually get it given enough time, but it’s difficult to learn on the job with the season rapidly winding down and so little room for error.

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