We're two days away from the first pitch in the brand spanking new Alex Box Stadium, and I'm pretty stoked. Mainieri's holding a press conference in a few minutes, and I'll have some details from that later (no one is dumb enough to give me credentials, it's being broadcast on lsusports.net).
Anyway, I've been rather busy these last two weeks and unable to weigh in on Matt Gaudet being left off the 35-man roster. So, let me say this, with all due respect to Mainieri, who knows a lot more about baseball than I do: Are you on crack?
Gaudet was a fairly productive hitter in limited duty and playing with a back injury. Now that he's healthy, we're going to cut him loose? Now, I know the standard excuse will be that I haven't seen them practice, which is true. But I have seen them in games. And back injury or no back injury, Gaudet was a more productive hitter last season than Sean Ochinko, who is now officially our starter at first base. We cut a guy who is a better hitter than ONE OF OUR STARTERS.
Gaudet hit 270/352/444 and Ochinko hit 272/308/404. Ochinko had 144 plate appearances to Gaudet's 71, just over twice as many. His counting stats are not double Gaudet's (Runs: 19-11, RBI: 21-15, TB: 55-28). I'm not arguing Ochinko should have been cut, but I'm showing why Gaudet should not have been. It's nice to have a hitter who is at least equally as good as your starter on the team.
There's been a bit of a false choice, that Chad Jones took Gaudet's spot on the roster. And there is some merit to that. Jones is a phenomenal talent, but he's never translated that into actual production, and he's going to miss the bulk of the season for spring football practice. Mainieri valued a half season of Jones over a full season of Gaudet. Which, to me, is kind of crazy, but at least justifiable given that Gaudet is a senior, Jones is a sophomore, and there's that whole potential tag hanging around Jones' neck. You almost have to keep him on the grounds of "what if".
No, when looking over the roster knowing you have to cut one guy to make it under the 35-man cap, you probably need to cut an upperclassman who simply isn't going to produce for the team. You hang on to the sophomores and freshman because of the potential, and then you swallow hard and you cut a guy who has been loyal to the program and worked hard for you.
And that guy should have been either Nicholas Pontiff or Kevin Farnsworth. Nothing personal, guys. I'm sure you busted your ass and you are both an upstanding citizen and all, but someone had to get cut. And there is simply no logical way to say that Pontiff or Farnsworth had more value to this year's team than Gaudet. None.
Pontiff is a nice bat off the bench, but he's nowhere near the hitter Gaudet is. And he's a senior. Farnsworth is junior, and he rarely sees the field. He's the third string catcher and I'm sure if both Gibbs and Ochinko got hurt, someone on the roster would be able to catch. I hate to call either of those guys a waste of a roster slot, but I will say the roster slot would have been better used on Matt Gaudet.
It's a mistake to cut him.