You’ll probably hear people say that Scott Elbert punched his ticket back to the minors this afternoon in Arizona, as he walked four of the six batters he faced and managed to get just six of his 21 pitches across for strikes. That comes after a spring debut in which he walked two in one inning, meaning that he’s walked six of the ten spring batters he’s seen.
Now maybe his slow start to the spring is what’s going to get him knocked down to AAA, and maybe it’s not, but my feeling has always been that it shouldn’t matter. Unless he was able to come to camp and dominate, that always should have been the plan. And why not? He’s always had control issues, walking 5.0/9 in the minors, and last year that went up to an untenable 7.1/9. That’s of course before his well-publicized but little-understood leave of absence that meant he didn’t pitch after June.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers have a wealth of other options, even in the absence of Ronald Belisario and Vicente Padilla, including Ron Mahay, who I’ve been high on. Elbert’s undeniably talented, yet there’s no reason to force him onto the roster before he shows he can harness his control issues and when he hasn’t pitched in a real game in about eight months. He has a minor league option remaining, and there’s no harm in using it. That’s not a reflection on today’s performance; it’s simply what the plan should always have been with him. I still have high hopes for a long and successful major league career from Elbert, it’s just that the events of the last year mean that starting the season back in the minors is hardly an insult.
On the other hand, it’s possible that today’s trouble was all the result of some global conspiracy, coming as it did in the same game as Tim Redding tossing three shutout innings and Juan Castro (!) bashing a homer, which probably assures him of a roster spot. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K…
Clayton Kershaw today received a $500k salary for 2011, his last before arbitration. While I’ve made my preference for a long-term contract for him clear, it’s hard to argue having a guy like Kershaw on the books for a lousy half-million. For the production we expect to get from him this year, is there a better value in the bigs? I think not.