Devil Raysofficials had been privately worried in recent months that top outfieldprospect Delmon Young (right) was developing a poor attitude. Young, 20, whowas suspended three games for bumping an umpire in Double A last year and wasupset about not making the major league roster this spring, confirmed thosefears last week by throwing a bat at a minor league replacement ump after adisputed third-strike call, hitting him in the chest.
Young, the No. 1pick in the 2003 draft, who was batting .329 for Triple A Durham, was suspendedindefinitely by the International League, which will soon determine thepenalty's length. A minimum of 60 games seems appropriate, given the apparentwillfulness of Young's actions. He threw the bat after he was ejected forarguing, as he was walking toward the dugout.
The disgracefulepisode apparently wasn't so much as a wake-up call for Young. Instead ofgiving an immediate, on-camera apology that night, he hid behind a preparedstatement the next day. Quick accountability would have been a good place forYoung to start rebuilding his image.
With his 400thcareer home run last week, Padres catcher Mike Piazza (left) joined anexclusive club. Sure, 40 others have hit 400 homers, but far fewer players--andnone in 30 years--have done so with Piazza's ability to put the ball in playand get hits. Only six players had hit 400 homers with a .300 career battingaverage without striking out 100 times in a season before Piazza did it: BabeRuth, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Hank Aaron.
•Despite a 4-for-5game on Sunday, Braves second-year outfielder Jeff Francoeur (right) washitting .216 at week's end with no walks in 100 plate appearances and noability to hit when he got deep into the count, a critical failure. Francoeurwas batting .184 in at bats when he didn't hit the first pitch and an abysmal.029 (1 for 34) in two-strike counts.
•The Tigers, 16-9at week's end, are a bona fide contender--for now. Says one AL G.M.,"They're legit. Their biggest problem is they're counting on guys who havea history of breaking down, like [Magglio] Ordo√±ez, [Carlos] Guillen and[Pudge] Rodriguez. We'll see if they hold up."
•How badly havefirst baseman Casey Kotchman and catcher Jeff Mathis struggled for the Angels?Los Angeles ranked 29th and 30th in hitting at those two positions throughSunday (.190 and .160, respectively). Says one AL scout, "The mostoverrated young players I've seen this year are [Mariners centerfielder] JeremyReed [.188] and Jeff Mathis."
Extra Mustard byBaseball Prospectus
WHAT'S WRONG WITHOAKLAND'S HITTERS? One of the tenets of Billy Beane's Moneyball philosophy isthat batting average is overrated; the A's have instead focused on drawingwalks and hitting for power. But it's virtually impossible to have aplayoff-caliber team with a batting average in the .230s. Most of the time whena club hits as poorly as Oakland did in April--.232, which ranked 29th in themajors--it means that the hitters aren't making contact often enough. But theseA's are not particularly strikeout-prone (6.2 per game, 14th in the majors);their problem is that their batting average when not striking out was only .286last month compared with the AL average of .328. (The lowest such average overthe past three seasons was .297, by the 2003 Dodgers.) Worst of all, in Aprilthe A's hit only .238 when ahead in the count. Striving to put hittable pitchesinto play more often--rather than trying to work a walk--would go a long waytoward ensuring that Oakland's bats heat up with the weather.
• More from TomVerducci and Baseball Prospectus at SI.com/baseball.
MATT MAY/US PRESSWIRE (YOUNG)
ROBERT BECK (PIAZZA)
BRAD MANGIN (FRANCOEUR)