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Catching Up

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I hadn't done one of those ol' `quick takes' pieces that I toyed with during the off-season, but hey why not address some less than major items in this format?

Let's start off with the leader for this year's inaugural `Kevin Witt Memorial Trophy', given to the player who lights up Durham while being over 30 years old. Early returns have outfielder Chris Richard as the early favorite. Richard, 32, was drafted in 1995 by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Oklahoma State University, he would be dealt in 2000 to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Mike Timlin, and in 2003 for `super masher' Jack Cust. Since then he's bounced from Texas to Kansas City and now to Tampa's AAA team.

How is Richard doing in comparison to Kevin Witt last season? Through 31 at-bats Richard has hit four homeruns, drove in seven runs, stole two bases, walked four times, and only struck out twice, factor in his .355 batting average and .432 on-base percentage and he's having quite the two weeks.  To put those numbers in perspective Witt had 87 at-bats in April 2006 and only had one more homerun, a .264 average, and a .343 on-base percentage.

Ben Zobrist has been less than delightful, in fact through 43 at-bats he's yet to draw a walk and has struck out eight times. Meanwhile Brendan Harris has doubled Zobrist's homerun amount (1) and quadrupled Zobo-Cop's runs batted in amount (1), and hasn't played ultimately disgusting defense. Harris has even walked once in 10 at-bats, something Zobrist hasn't done in four times that amount of looks, and is averaging 4.18 pitches per plate appearance, upping his career average to 3.82, in contrast Zobrist is drawing 3.70 for the season, 3.68 for his career. Perhaps it's time to give the forgotten one on the end of the bench some more playing time to see if it's simply small sample size (likely) or lightning in a bottle.

Ty Wigginton is off to a great start, and has been splitting time between first base, second base, and designated hitter. It's effectively raising Wigginton's value, I wouldn't be surprised if a team comes biting for Wiggy down the stretch, especially one who has been rumored to be after Cantu, the Twins and the Blue Jays perhaps? It would make sense for the Rays to part with Wigginton, whom is nearing 30 and is set to become a free agent after this year. If he is dealt the Rays could possibly use Carlos Pena full-time (please no), call up Jorge Cantu, or perhaps the most intriguing of possibilities, give Wes Bankston a shot at the job.

Amazingly Bankston is only 23, I know it seems like he's been around forever, other than winning a Jonny Gomes look alike competition, Bankston would finally answer whether or not he's cut out for the bigs. The question has never been if Bankston is talented, it's whether or not he can stay healthy, Wes is doing a nice job making a case for himself by shredding AAA pitching thus far, a .303 batting average and .333 on-base percentage to boot.

It went largely unnoticed on our site, but I felt it was worth a mention from myself at the least. The world, and America lost one of the greatest satirical writers to ever write a sentence when Kurt Vonnegut passed. Vonnegut's most popular piece was of course Slaughterhouse Five, amongst the greatest anti-war piece of literature to ever be written. Vonnegut was special in my life as he was easily my favorite living writer, a distinction that is now passed along to Philip Roth.