www.mlb.com published a story about Todd Walker’s thoughts on the 2005 season. It seems like Todd’s been talking a lot this offseason, more than the other guys. Anyway, here are some of the things he said that I thought were interesting:
In 2001, the Seattle Mariners began the season without Alex Rodriguez, without Ken Griffey Jr., and without Randy Johnson. That 2001 Mariners team won 116 games and their division.
This little bit of baseball history is brought to you by Chicago Cubs second baseman Todd Walker. He sees a lot of similarities between the Mariners’ situation then and the Cubs’ situation now.
“The thing that keeps popping up in my head is that Seattle lost arguably three of the best players in the game,” Walker said on Sunday. “The year after Alex went to Texas, they won 116 games. They lost their big guys and had a level clubhouse and won 116.”
I’m not buying it, but what’s important is that the players believe it. If they think everything’s lined up just right for them, their Comfort and Self-Confidence scores will be at 100 out of 100, which means they can play up to potential.
“We lost 70 home runs but we didn’t have Nomar (Garciaparra) for a full year, I didn’t play a full year,” Walker said. “I figure we can make up a lot right there. (Jeromy) Burnitz is going to hit some home runs. He’s going to strike out, but he’ll hit some home runs. That’s 30 or 40. I think we can cover it.”
I like to see that Walker’s saying his year-round bat in the lineup will help. He could’ve gone the safe route and said he and Grudz brought different things to the table and whatnot, but he sounds like he’s chomping at the bit to get a full year under his belt.
I also like the way he confesses that he knows Burnitz is going to strike out a lot. So, incidentally, did Sosa. Burnitz won’t match Sammy’s production last year, in my opinion.
Known more for his offense than his defense, Walker spent a lot of time on his glove work. During the holiday break, Walker worked out with two other second basemen — one from college, one in the Texas Rangers minor league system — and they’d spend three hours a day at an indoor facility taking ground balls, doing sprint work, turning double plays.
That’s nice to hear; he’s working on his defense. The same response to the next quote applies here.
New Cubs coach Chris Speier, who will be working with infielders this year, also has gotten a head start by looking at video of Walker on the field.
Good for him. Shouldn’t they be doing that every year? Why isn’t that standard practice?
He made a crack about Sammy’s boombox later. At some point (I guess when Prior or Walker or whoever it was made mincemeat out of Sammy’s Salsa Machine) it became a standard question to ask about Sosa’s boombox. I expect it’ll be as annoying for the players to continue answering questions about the boombox as it was to actually hear the boombox.
Walker’s bat will help, so I’ll live with his defense no matter how bad it is. But if the offseason work pays off — and it seems unlilkely that he’ll suddenly reverse a career-long standard of mediocre defense — he’ll be a big asset to the Cubs this year.