Flores: The GM's assessment
Well, we've already been through this Jesus Flores-Brian Schneider thing, right? You might remember our position-by-position breakdown of it from a couple weeks ago. And I used some Jim Bowden assessments of it in the $.35 edition here. (Those who have that ink-and-dead tree version, keep flippin' those pages to find the gamer. Ugh.)
But I still have in my notebook some Bowden material regarding Flores that you folks might enjoy. So, without further ado (other than to remind you I have a 1 p.m. chat):
"Pat Corrales deserves a lot of credit. Brian Schneider deserves a lot of credit. Jesus Flores, he came in and really wanted to learn and he wanted to make it work, and the way he's put the extra time in with early work on a daily basis, the way he's studied the other hitters, pitchers throughout the league, you should give him a lot of credit."
Bowden then reminded folks that Davey Johnson, when he was scouting for this club last summer - a deal that, at the time, caused a lot of grief because of a perceived threat to Frank Robinson - saw Flores and recommended him. He wanted Bowden to trade for him then.
"Jesus Flores is not Rule 5ed [new verb?] by this club if it had not been for Davey's recommendation last July. That's how we got him. Let's make sure we give credit for how we got him. And then when we Rule 5ed him, certainly it's a big jump from the Florida State League to the big leagues."
Bowden said Mets GM Omar Minaya reminded him that no Rule 5 catcher had ever stuck with the other team all year. They laughed about it.
"He's gotten clutch hits," Bowden said. "He calls a good game, shuts down the running game. Listens, great attitude, never complains he's not playing, accepts his role. He's just been great."
That there's a lot of praise. Lest you think it's self-serving, because Bowden will ultimately get credit or get ripped for personnel moves on this club, listen to Dmitri Young from last night.
"He's improved every day," Young said. "He works hard. He comes in early, works with Pat catching, works with Lenny hitting, picks Schneider's brain. He's eager to learn and eager to better himself. When he's getting the opportunity to play, he's making the best out of it.
"Usually," Young continued, "a Rule 5 guy, you keep him for a year, and next year go back to the minors. He might break that theory and be here next year. He has that kind of talent, and he has that willingness to learn, and he kept his head up. After having two errors - which, one of which was questionable [if you saw the one he appeared to be transferring to his hand] - he didn't worry about that. He went out there and got the hit for us."
Young, of course, doesn't get to make the kind of roster decision that would make Flores a big leaguer or not. Bowden does. Even before last night's 2-for-4 performance - including the game-winner - the GM believed plans for Flores had changed.
"It changes a lot," he said. "I think, in concept, you would have thought - if you had asked me in May or June, we all would have said we're going to option him to Double A next year and he'll play a full year in Double A. I'm not sure we can do that now."
They are sending him to the Arizona Fall League and then he'll play winter ball in his native Venezuela to make up at-bats. Could he platoon with the left-handed hitting Schneider as soon as next year?
"He certainly has the ability to back up, platoon and play every day," Bowden said. "But what the timing is, I don't know." And that leads into the quote I used in the $.35 edition today [see how much stuff doesn't make the paper?]: "I consider Brian Schneider the best game-caller in baseball. To develop the young pitchers the way we have this year could not have happened had Brian Schneider not been the catcher. I don't want to take anything away from Brian. But as far as Jesus, does he have the ability to compete and win the job at some point? Yeah, he does."
"Brian's our catcher. That's the way it is. He's our guy, and certainly he's disappointed in what he's done offensively. He knows those numbers have got to come up. But his game-calling ... we couldn't get there faster with another catcher. You can't develop the Hanrahans and these young pitchers without Brian Schneider as your catcher."
Whether you believe it or not, that's the GM's assessment. What's amazing to me is how quickly Schneider has gone from the up-and-coming guy to the sage veteran who's there as much for counsel as for ability.
All right, we've spent enough time on catching (though feel free go discuss it below). My question: Attendance. There were 15,611 tickets sold last night. That would be the smallest crowd since baseball returned to Washington. It makes some sense: Marlins don't draw a single person, school's starting, day after Labor Day, etc. However, what do you think is a reasonable goal for attendance next year? The park will seat 41,200 people. Do you think, after averaging 24-and-change - the sixth-worst attendance in baseball to this point - that this club is going to jump by 10,000 fans a game just because of a new ballpark? Stan Kasten believes it takes three million fans a year to "pay the freight" in baseball this year. That's an average of 37,037 per game. Can Washington deliver on that in 2008?
Talk to you during the chat, then from the ballpark.
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