Interleague play hasbeen a lot of fun this time for a few reasons.
I got to see Jake Arrieta and the Orioles take on the Giants, and even wrote some thoughts about Arrieta at the Zen Zone a few weeks back (in a nutshell, Arrieta was not as effective as his stat line showed).
Last Sunday, the Giants played the Red Sox at ATT on a glorious Sunday where everything was perfect except for Tim Lincecum, who stuggled through 79 pitches over three innings, and was bested by the totally dominant Jon Lester. I did see Red Sox rookie, and personal fave, Daniel Nava that game, but it was pretty hard to get a read on him. Although, since Nava is from the Bay Area, I want to think the best.
In between, however, I saw the Pirates play the Athletics in Oakland, and that meant seeing the quartet of Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, and Brad Lincoln, who was the starting pitcher.
Walker was most impressive, drilling a single, then a double, and then a homer over his first three at-bats, zeroing in a the cycle. That was until he collided with Ryan Church and suffered a concussion, pulling him from the game. Note Walker's defense was at best adequate: he committed an error and his range was not particularly good.
Tabata, who I saw at the Fall League, got a hit and stole a base, and was holding his own. I actually like Tabata as a prospect in every way, shape, and form. I do think he will become a solid player, and as a 21-year old rookie, he will struggle, hitting around .240-.250 for the remainder of the season.
On the other hand, new third sacker Pedro Alavarez was seriously overmatched. He took the golden sombrero, whiffing four straight times, hitting .152 as the game started. Undisciplined, I have to think Alvarez will go back to Triple-A to get his confidence and his swing back.
But, it was Lincoln who confused me. He is a big guy, listing at 6'4", 215, but I would bet he weighs more than that. Not dominant, Lincoln was in trouble all through his six innings, allowing eight hits and a pair of walks, striking out just batter, the last one he faced.
Five days later Lincoln tossed seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and a walking while striking out six Cubs. Now, the Cubbies are not as patient as the Athletics, but despite a 1-2 mark his last three starts, which were all quality starts, I just don't see Lincoln as a future Mark Buehrle.
He looked more like a middle reliever, or at best fourth starter, and those he only has allowed nine walks over his 33 innings (31 hits), Lincoln has whiffed just 14 (1.31 WHIP), as noted, I see Kiek Reuter more than Mr. Buehrle.
Of course, the beauty of prospects is speculation and hope, not harsh reality. At least not for a few year.
From all of us at Mastersball, have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July.