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April 20, 2005

ESPN Column

Nix Up, Gonzalez Down
Apparently, 80-or-so Spring Training at-bats were enough to merit the surprising big-league addition of ADRIAN GONZALEZ and equally surprising demotion of LAYNCE NIX to AAA. Now, 35-or-so genuine at-bats are enough to reverse that decision. One cannot compress the “merit� cycle any smaller without creating a black hole. Anyway, Texas did not stick Nix on a flight to Tampa just for him to sit in the dugout. He should become the regular centerfielder in place of Gary Matthews, though Matthews might get the starts against lefties. Nix warrants an immediate pickup in AL-only leagues. Since he has yet to display much beyond raw power, owners in mixed leagues should avoid him for now.

Strangely, this move could help KEVIN MENCH more than anyone. Gonzalez’s departure makes DAVID DELLUCCI the lefthanded DH by default, so Mench has one less person with whom to share at-bats. For those who followed my suggestion to pick up Gonzalez, I feel your pain. I assumed that if Nix wasn’t good enough to make the Rangers out of Spring Training, he couldn’t hit his way back on in just two weeks. Silly me. Likewise, if Texas is holding Gonzalez’s .194 average against him, perhaps they should also waive Richard Hidalgo.

Not Worth Your Worries
ALFONSO SORIANO threw himself a little hissyfit yesterday upon learning of his lack of presence in the starting lineup. Silliness aside, his behavior won’t make Texas any more inclined to trade him, or bench him, or option him to Bakersfield. I doubt Soriano will call Texas home in 2006, but as long as Texas remains in the playoff hunt, he won’t go anywhere. The wild card is Ian Kinsler, who might hasten Soriano’s departure with a torrid performance in AAA. Kinsler is batting only .229/.275/.438 at the moment. MARK TEIXEIRA still isn’t hitting. If you own him, relax. He’s batting .216 when hitting the ball into the field of play. An average that low is mostly bad luck. If you don’t own him but the person who does is a loose cannon, make a offer.

Vote For Pedro? Revisited
PEDRO ASTACIO turned in his third consecutive terrific start on Tuesday and sports an ERA of 1.64 in 22 innings. I’ve seen his two most recent starts, and he is not getting by with junk and luck. He has been in full command of all four of his pitches and generally making hitters look stupid. Can this continue? I remain the skeptic, but really, you can’t argue with results. His next two starts should come against the Yankees and Red Sox. If he can display the same stuff against them, he’ll have value in any league. With his very dubious history of arm trouble and poor performances over last few years, I can’t recommend him outright. That said, he is a worthwhile risk, and if you’re holding some deadwood, why not pick him up and give him a shot?

Posted by Lucas at April 20, 2005 05:56 PM