Packing the Van and Facing the Facts
The local paper in Nashville has done a story about Milwaukee Brewers prospect Mat Gamel noting his issues fielding the ball. Or, more precisely, throwing it accurately across the diamond from his position at Third Base.
I have seen and heard a number of accounts downplaying this situation because “they are just throwing errors”, as if those don’t count. Actually, I think they are worse than fielding errors because throwing errors often result in an extra base for the runner.
Third to first is a long throw; to do it well requires a transition from picking up the ball (often hard hit, frequently fielded on the move) and transitioning to a throw that is pornographic (that is to say, “long and hard”). It’s not an easy thing to do and, therefore, is not easily corrected. So if Gamel’s issue is that he can’t make this difficult throw consistently, even after working diligently at it for several years, then I think his future at Third is seriously in question and it might be time for the Brewers to face that fact.
At the end of the day, I am not sure it matters why Gamel is a butcher in the field. To me, an error is an error. It doesn’t matter to me if the guy can field like Brooks Robinson if he throws like Steve Sax. It doesn’t matter if his problems are mechanical or mental — the result is the same. Gamel has been working on this for at least three seasons and he is still packing the van with errors. It is possible that he just isn’t cut out for that position.