Posted by: Asher Roth | December 8, 2009

Thoughts on Inglett, Scutaro, Ricciardi…

It’s been a while since I have balked, and so this post shall include my musings on a few subjects.

I try to think of sports like popularized Mafia members think of their craft.

It’s not personal, it’s business.

Unfortunately, this is the only way to look at the Jays letting the Rangers grab Joe Inglett off waivers. The way I see it, Joe has always been the victim of politics. He is a player that has not had ample opportunity to prove his worth to a team with any sort of regularity.

Consider this. In 2008, when Aaron Hill went down with his highly unfortunate, career-threatening concussion, Joe Inglett took over his job at second base (for the most part). He hit .297 with 3 homers and 39 RBI, including seven triples. 39 RBI, in 344 at-bats in the 1 or 2 spot in the line-up (need we reference Vernon Wells’ 66 RBI in 630 at bats, in key RBI opportunity spots in the line up?).

Then there was his defence. Joe played 541 innings at second base that year (66 games) and only made five errors. However, Joe was still used as a utility man that year, so he also saw time at a few other positions.

left feld: 167 innings

right field, 87 innings

3rd base, 45 innings

shortstop, 2 innings

centre field, 7 innings.

Combined errors at all of those positions? Zero.

Now for those that say 2008 was a flash-in-the-pan year, I question the opportunities he got before or after. This past season, Joe was sent to the minors before the start of the season. In his 36 games, he hit a respectable .281. And even prior to 2008, he hit .284 in 64 games with the Indians in 2006. That year, he made only four errors while playing four different positions throughout the year.

Joe is not a standout player, but I’m not the first blog to notice how valuable he was to the Jays in 2008. Clearly Aaron Hill is the Jays long-term choice at second, but even before last season, I would liked to have seen Inglett leading off at second base and Aaron Hill at short. Ironically, I thought the choice of Scutaro over him was a mistake before the season. I’ll discuss Marco more later…

So why did the Jays let Inglett go? They simply had nowhere to put him. The utility man job went to Johnny Mac (who, recall, I think should have been chosen as starting SS before Gonzalez was signed), and the left side of the infield belongs to the former Reds. With offensive liabilities like Encarnacion, Gonzalez and McDonald already under contract, the Jays likely want more power for their remaining positions, which is why Inglett was not going to land a starting job in the Jays outfield any time soon.

Still, I think that he could be a half-decent lead-off man, and seeing him go brings figurative tear to my eye.

So how bout the Red Sox signing Scutaro? Good for him. He landed himself a starting job on a good team, and was signed for a reasonable amount of money (which surprised me, given his high free agent status). $5 million a year is not so bad. Granted it doesn’t look great on the Jays, having him sign for less than twice what they are paying Alex Gonzalez. This can’t help but beg the question, how would $2.25 million more hurt the Jays building plans? But the fact that Scutaro was signed for more than a year, has an option for a 3rd, and the fact that he supposedly accepted less money to sign with Boston, are all factors.

Or perhaps the Jays were thinking what I’m thinking: That Marco, despite proving very valuable this year, was a flash in the pan in 2009. Mark my words: Scutaro is never again going to hit twelve home runs in a year. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he never hits above .270 again. Over the course of his career, he has mostly had batting averages in the .260s, with six or seven homers. Don’t be surprised if he falls back into numbers of that nature.

But maybe the Red Sox realized this too. Let’s face it, they’ve had a revolving door of short stops since Nomar departed in 2004. Orlando Cabrera won the World Series with them, then signed with the Angels. Renteria was a bust, as was Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Alex Cora…  so steady was the name of the game here. Clearly, with the talent in the Sox lineup, Scutaro was not signed for his pop.

The one aspect of his career that has been consistent is his ability to get on base and avoid striking out. Ironically, this past season, he set a career-high in strikeouts – with 75. And that number was still LESS than his 90 walks; a very impressive feat. His .379 on-base percentage was very impressive this past season, and a lot to do with his payoff.

Marco probably realized this too, and this is probably why he signed for a relatively small amount of money. Maybe he realized that this past season was an anomaly for him. Maybe he didn’t want to sign somewhere for huge bucks, the media painting him as a team’s new-found Messiah, then disappointing them by playing the game the only way he knows how: unselfishly. And hey, maybe I’m wrong about him never reaching numbers like this past season. After all, he did have a brand new batting stance this year, and it seemed to help him immensely.

Either way, Marco was kindly shown the door by the Jays brass this off-season, and he has leveraged a very good season into a spot on a championship-worthy team. So good on him.

Finally, I would like to discuss the man who has put the Jays in their unfortunate predicament of hopelessness. A few days ago, our old pal J.P. Ricciardi decided it would be wise to come out and announce to the media that Doc Halladay wanted to be traded in the summer, and still feels that way.

Goodness, what news! What a productive comment!

Recall the balk I recently put out about my theory on the media trying to make Toronto fans dislike Doc by constantly providing new angles on how he doesn’t want to be a Jay, doesn’t want to resign, wants to be traded, wants to be traded before spring training or not at all… ok, great. WE GET IT! Our team is going to be devoid of the best pitcher in franchise history. We have known this for a while now.

But this story took it to a whole new degree of trying to piss the fans off. Two main strategies were used: One, announcing that Halladay wanted to be traded in the summer, and reminding us that although his value would have been far higher in the summer, he was not dealt at that time.

Second, Ricciardi’s name and face were used. I don’t know about everyone else, but my fists involuntarily clench every time I see photos like this. Now that he has been fired, it’s almost like a bad break-up with an ex-girlfriend: you don’t want to see them, you don’t want to hear them, and you don’t want to hear about them (unless they were caught doing something really embarrassing). No Jays fan gives two shits about what J.P. Ricciardi is doing, or thinking. After he invited a media circus to bother Doc throughout the whole summer, ruining his all-star break, and most of his season with questions about a trade, nobody wants to hear about how he DID want to be traded. Nobody cares. The summer is done, move on!

Clearly, J.P. must realize how much Jays fans despise him, and maybe that’s why he came out with this comment. I mean, it’s not like anyone cares what he has to say, anyway. Can he read Double-A’s mind? Does he know his plan? Whether he does or not, who cares? His ties with the organization have been severed, for good, and nobody wants or needs to hear his opinions on anything.

Maybe he’ll put out a memoir to discuss all the great decisions he made as GM, like signing Corey Koskie to a multi-year contract, giving A.J. Burnett an opt-out clause, signing Frank Thomas for an obscene amount of money, accepting Luke Prokopec in a trade for Paul Quantrill instead of Eric Gagne… the list goes on.

At the end of the day, it’s all a silly distraction. Rumours will continue to swirl until Doc gets traded. My hope is that Jays fans follow my lead and ignore all the rumours and mindless repetition.

ROY HALLADAY IS NOT GOING TO BE A BLUE JAY AFTER 2010. HE WOULD LIKE TO WIN. HE IS GOING TO BE TRADED THIS OFF-SEASON, OR HE WILL SIGN ELSEWHERE NEXT OFF-SEASON.

There. Done. That’s all we need to know, and so until he is traded, that is all we should train our eyes to observe.

And a note to J.P. Ricciardi: keep your mouth shut, as nobody cares what you have to say, anymore. If you’re looking for attention, there is surely a reflective surface within a reasonable distance that you can smile at yourself in.

Hint: you’ll see yourself better, especially indoors, if you remove your douche-bag shades…

AMGR

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