Sunday, November 2, 2008

Stay Home?

If you're like me, then you know that youth has become the newest fad in today's MLB. Young teams like the Rays, Diamondbacks, Brewers, and Indians have all made the playoffs over the past two years in large part because of their young core. In all honesty, this makes sense. Young players bring energy and exuberance, but most importantly, they are not past their prime like many of today's aging veterans. But even with the massive infusion of youth, there is a Jaime Moyer, who at 46 seems to have many good years ahead of him and is still in his prime, even with his grandfatherly age.

But most guys are not Jaime Moyer. Most players experience the natural regression of old age and diminished skills. But diminished skills does not always equal useless. Unless your name is Barry Bonds, most teams are willing to give experienced and successful veterans the chance to produce or see what they can do. At worst, they bring some name recognition. Case in point: David Cone with the Mets in 2004 or David Wells with the Padres and Dodgers in 2007. Both guys were terrible, but somehow managed to snag a job.

So which geezers SHOULD stay around? Who still has the skills to help a team? On the other side, which guys should stay home on the couch and get to know the family's TIVO a little better? Jorge Says No! takes a look:

Omar Vizquel: Let's look at the positives here: Vizquel can still field and he's still feuding with Jose Mesa, which is easily my favorite sports related mid nineties feud. After that, the positives are non-existent. Vizquel can no longer hit for average and is almost an automatic out at this point (.222 batting average this seasons). Unless Vizquel wants the "Rafael Belliard defensive specialist" role on a contending team, he should retire.
Verdict: Stay Home!
Tom Glavine: Only two years ago, Glavine was the only reliable starter for the Mets in their 2006 postseason run. He was loved by Mets fans for his gutty performances and ability to step up in the big moments. But his performance on the final day of the 2007 season changed everything. From there, it has been all downhill for Glavine. Known for his durability, Glavine missed a large portion of the season because of elbow and shoulder surgeries. Although Glavine was a very useful pitcher before 2008, there are not too many soft tossing lefties, who recover well from elbow and shoulder surgeries.
Verdict: Stay Home!

John Smoltz:
Arm injuries are nothing new to the 41 year old Smoltz, but a torn labrum could potentially end his career. For the past seven seasons, Smoltz has delivered dominant results as both a starter and closer for the Braves. Many times Smoltz looked ageless and dominant, but how many pitchers pitch well after major shoulder surgery? Not many. Throw in Smoltz's age and this task appears to be too great to overcome. But if there is a pitcher that can come back from this, its Smoltz. The guy has too much heart and passion to simply give up without making a comeback attempt.
Verdict: Stay Around!
Ken Griffey Jr: Whenever I think about Junior's career, I can't help but feel some sort of sadness. Griffey was in his prime well before I really knew how special Griffey was. Griffey is only a shell of his former self, but he still can provide some value to a contending team. I would prefer to see Griffey involved in a platoon of some sort because he can no longer hit lefties well. I'm not sure if Griffey would accept a diminished role, but I'd love to see him try and win a championship.
Verdict: Stay Around!

Frank Thomas:
I will be forever grateful to Thomas for helping me win my fantasy baseball league in 2007. Somehow at the age of 39, Thomas managed to hit 26 homers to go along with a .377 OBP. Injuries shortened Thomas' 2008 campaign right as he was getting going, but there is no reason why Thomas should not receive a job offer in 2009. Thomas can still hit, especially against lefties (.336 BA in 2007) and would make a great platoon DH. If Thomas would accept this role, I think he would thrive. I would love to see Frank with the Twins hitting near Mauer and Morneau. How well would that work?
(Note: If any team is going to sign Frank, be well aware that Thomas doesn't get going until at least May. The less Thomas plays in April, the better.)

If a team is going to take a shot on Thomas, they cannot solely depend on him because of the his diminished 2008 campaign and the injuries. I would happily take a chance on him either way because a motivated Frank Thomas is a scary hitter.
Verdict: Stay Around!

Jeff Kent:
There is no doubt that Jeff Kent can hit. He has proven that throughout his entire career and will probably make it into the hall of fame. There is also no doubt that Jeff Kent is a pain in the ass. Between fighting with Barry Bonds, fighting with Milton Bradley, feuding with younger Dodgers, and finally, criticizing the immortal Vin Scully for "talking too much"; Kent brings controversy no matter where he goes. I hope that Kent decides to stay home. I'm sick of his antics. Enjoy the couch Jeff.
Verdict: Stay Home!

Pedro Martinez:
Pedro is so far from his dominate self that it's actually tough to watch him. There was a period where I could be amazed by his guile and grittiness as Pedro masterfully navigated through lineups with terrible stuff, but by the end of 2008, Pedro could no longer survive without his dominant stuff. The 5.61 ERA this season does not fully exemplify how much Martinez actually struggled this year. It's clear to me that Pedro can be a good influence in whatever clubhouse he enters, but his days as a starter are gone. I'm sure someone will take a shot on Pedro as their fifth starter, but I doubt they will be able to get anything out of him.
Verdict: Stay Home!
(Photo: BBC)

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