Houston: We have castoff
Third baseman Mike Lamb will never be confused with Mike Schmidt. Hell, at present he more closely resembles Jack Nicholson's bumbling geriatric from About Schmidt ("Dear Ndugu, I can't hit for shit ...").
Lamb, inked in the offseason for two years and $6.6 million (including a club option for 2010), has done little to prove that he's more than the platoon player that he had been throughout his 8 major league seasons prior to his arrival in Minnesota. A career .281 hitter, Lamb played in more than 126 games just once in his seasons with Texas and Houston, and the first returns of his migration to a Northern starter have been chilly at best.
In 37 games played, Lamb is presently hitting a weak .218 going into the Twins second contest of a four game homestand against the Rangers. And while Lamb had hit at least 11 homers in each of the last four season with Houston, this season he has yet to leave the yard. Furthermore, his on-base percentage is more than 80 points below his career average of .335, and his slugging percentage (due in large part to those lack of long balls) is a scary 153 points below his career mark.
I was thinking that perhaps Lamb's return to an NL ballpark might massage his numbers a bit, as he went to Colorado with a lifetime average of .333 at Coors Field, but alas, the interleague play did little to boost his numbers as evidenced by his 2-for-8 showing with one RBI in two games played. On Saturday night, he had opportunity to echo his lone highlight of the season, but instead struck out against closer Brian Fuentes to end the game. No surprise there really, as Lamb is just 1-for-19 against lefties for the year. As my Grandmother would say," Juddie, honey, that ain't good." (Especially in a division that features southpaw starters C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Aaron Laffey, Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Nate Robertson and Kenny Rogers).
Among American League third basemen with at least 95 at-bats, Lamb is presently ranked last out of 12 ballers in the aforementioned categories of batting average, on base percentage, and slugging. Defensively, the proverbial question mark that has long dogged Lamb has continued to curl, and he's likely to keep his Gold Glove trophy case barren, as evidenced by his average-to-poor ranking in the readily-noted defensive statistics of fielding percentage, range factor, and zone rating. Out of the 23 major league third basemen with at least 35 games played at the position, Lamb ranks 10th, 17th, and 23rd in those categories, respectively .
The Twins ensuing opponents should show the Lay of the Lamb. His career averages against Detroit (.333), Kansas City (.224) and the Yankees (.293) are no doubt respectable in large part. However, should Lamb come up lame come June, it seems readily apparent to me that his performance is more downright funk than "slow start."
According to early reports from spring training, Lamb is a good dude -- a goofball, but a guy who quickly endeared himself to the Twin mentality. But if he can't get it together soon, I'm all for revisiting the "platoon player" status that has defined his career, and giving the job back to Nick Punto, who surely gives the club more options offensively, is better with the leather, and would have to cut off a fin to find the depths of the .210 he hit in '07.