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…. Speechless

Kirk Rueter and Felipe Alou are practically in tears over how poorly Woody has pitched this year, according to this SF Chronicle piece.

…. Rueter insisted he does not feel entitled to a spot in the Giants’ rotation because of who he is or what he has done in past years. On the contrary, he said, “I’m not saying I’m better than (Brad) Hennessey or (Kevin) Correia. I think they’re both going to be great, so let them pitch.”

Rueter said he simply believes it is difficult for him, and particularly for inexperienced pitchers such as Hennessey and Correia, to succeed when they have to look over their shoulders wondering if one bad start is going to get them knocked out of the rotation.

“I don’t know if the whole atmosphere is conducive to performing,” Rueter said.

The 34-year-old left-hander reiterated his belief that he is not helping the team by pitching sporadically out of the bullpen and is taking a spot from a deserving reliever. Rueter would prefer going to a team that will let him start every fifth day for the rest of the season to see if he still can do the job.

…. Manager Felipe Alou was distressed to hear Rueter was upset, because of their long association. Alou said he has loved even the players who disliked him, such as catcher Benito Santiago, “so you can imagine (how I feel about) a guy like Woody, who pitched for me when he was a baby. I’m dying a thousand deaths every time he comes to the mound and doesn’t bring his ‘A’ stuff. I hope Woody throws the crap out of the ball in Milwaukee.”

At the same time, Alou would not apologize for the frequent changes in the rotation and how they might have affected Rueter and the younger pitchers. The big leagues, he said, are all about performance.

“The kids don’t come up to stay in the big leagues. The kids come up to be judged and evaluated,” Alou said. “When older guys are not throwing the ball well or swinging the bat well, they are being evaluated, too. Young guys better do their thing quickly. You’ve got to do what Noah Lowry did last year to stick around. The door to enter the big leagues is a very narrow one. It is not a wide gate.

“I hope it’s not people looking over their shoulders making them walk guys or give up 0-2 hits. If anybody is looking over their shoulders, it started in 2005 because we are losing,” Alou said.

“Some people are falling terribly short. If we don’t say it, we’re going to have to lie. We are failing. We are 14 games below .500, so I am failing. I don’t want to blame (just) the pitchers and the hitters.

I copied most of what they had to say, because I think it is illuminating. First of all, kudos to the competitor in Rueter, who still believes he can take the ball every fifth day. It is exactly that kind of supreme single-mindedness that has carried him to 100 big league wins with some of the worst stuff in the game.

It is also, however, up to the manager and general manager to determine whether or not someone is actually getting the job done, and believe me, Woody don’t need no ten more starts for him or anyone to know the answer to that question. Rueter has won but 21 of his last 79 starts, and just 2 of 17 this season. He is, in fact, finished, and he deserves exactly what he is getting (minus the $6 million, of course). It is imperative for the Giants to give these young pitchers the opportunity to start, and I don’t mean spot starts, which brings us to the other part of the article I wanted to comment on.

Alou is wrong when he says these pitchers have to prove themselves game in and game out. They need to be allowed to go out there and throw 100 or so pitches, every fifth day, and learn whether their talents will, in fact, enable them to get big-league hitters out. Whether they succeed or fail right now is immaterial. 2005 is over. The Giants have to accept that, and, for crying out loud, stop giving playing time to 35-year old players.

The time to use 5 relievers to get three outs in one inning is over, and has been for about two months. Let Correia and Hennessey and the rest of these young pitchers and hitters, play, every day, in preparation for 2006. Trade anyone you can to get younger, faster and cheaper. Many, many teams are desperate for starting pitching. Trade Schmidt, Reuter or Tomko if you can get some upper tier minor league talent. Do it.


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