Now the baseball stuff:
I’d take Castro, partly because he’s hit a bit better, partly because he’s ever-so-slightly younger, and mostly because he’s performed well over a sample nearly twice as large as Tejada’s. To succeed like he has in the Majors at his age bodes extremely well for his future. Sam Miller covered this at Baseball Prospectus recently. This sounds ridiculous, but it’s basically even money Castro winds up a Hall of Famer.
That I had to think about it speaks very well of Tejada, who’s not exactly an old man himself. Tejada doesn’t come with Castro’s prospect pedigree, but I suspect that is more an indictment of the fickle hype machine than the player. Tejada’s not flashy in any way, but he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite Mets to watch play. And I know I’m not alone.
And check this out, following Miller’s lead: If Tejada stays healthy this year and plays well enough to keep his career OPS+ at 92 or above, he joins a very short list of guys who have regularly played shortstop in the Majors at his age and not embarrassed themselves offensively. Only 16 shortstops in history have amassed 1,000 plate appearances with at least a 92 OPS+ through their age-22 season. Of them, five are Hall of Famers and one of them is A-Rod, and every single one that played after the dawn of the All-Star Game was an All-Star at some point.
No, and thank heaven for that because I want to enjoy Mike Trout unencumbered by any of those thoughts. The Angels had two consecutive picks that year from New York teams that had signed away their free agents. With the Mets’ pick — 24th overall — they took a high-school outfielder named Randal Grichuk who is now in High A ball. With the Yankees’ pick — 25th overall, a compensation for Mark Teixeira’s signing — they took a high-school outfielder named Mike Trout who is now impossibly good.
So yeah, if the Mets had their 24th overall pick that year they could have taken Trout. Didn’t happen, but there’s no guarantee they would have anyway. Also, check this out:
The Angels traded Casey Kotchman for Teixeira and got a decent part-season from Teixeira that helped them to the 2008 playoffs, then the pick that brought them Trout. Following the Teixeira transaction-thread back, the Braves’ role in it looks awful. They traded Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (and Minor Leaguer Beau Jones) to get Teixeira and Ron Mahay.
Mahay left in free agency after that season, and the Braves got a sandwich-round pick they used on lefty Brett DeVall, who never pitched in the Majors and appears to be out of baseball. They kept Teixeira for essentially one full season, then traded him for Casey Kotchman and Minor Leaguer Stephen Marek.
They kept Kotchman for 54 games then traded him to the Red Sox for Adam LaRoche, who provided them excellent production over 57 games but whom, as far as I can tell, they declined to tender a contract in the offseason — meaning no draft-pick compensation.
So for Andrus, Harrison, Feliz and Saltalamacchia — all Major Leaguers, three of them All-Stars — the Braves got one season of Mark Teixeira, part seasons of Casey Kotchman and Adam LaRoche, and two guys who never played in the Majors. For Kotchman and Stephen Marek, the Angels got a part season of Mark Teixeira and a draft pick that netted them Mike Trout.
I don’t think they’re going to give up on him in right field this year, nor do I think they should. Duda has been woeful defensively, no doubt, but he’ll likely hit better than he has at some point and we’ll all suddenly be willing to cut him some slack. Plus, if they determine conclusively that he’s a DH/1B type, he’s got to have some value in a trade. And in that case, they’d probably want to keep playing him regularly until they ship him out.
Left field might be an option down the road, but he’s not going to be rangy anywhere. His arm might play a little better in left, but I don’t know that it would make a huge difference for his defense in total.
They have Rocky Mountain Oysters in Denver. I seriously considered them for the novelty, and I’m not normally squeamish about anything, but it came time to get on the line and I just couldn’t do it.
I don’t know that I’ve had anything particularly weird at a ballpark. I had an Ichi-roll in Seattle because I couldn’t not, but though that’s not standard ballpark fare, at this point I’d hardly call sushi “weird.”
I can tell you the most satisfying ballpark food I’ve ever had though: Corn. In the midst of a long baseball roadtrip during a brutal heatwave, stuffed with all sorts of greasy fried food and fast food, my friends and I went to see the Peoria Chiefs. I didn’t know I wanted corn until I saw the corn, but I guess my body was trying to tell me to take a break from the processed food because the corn — roasting over a charcoal grill — looked so amazing. And it was. That’s corn country, after all.