Like giving kimchi to a man with stomach ulcers, cigarettes to a lung-cancer survivor, or Japanese cartoons to an eplileptic, giving experienced-veteran-loving Joe Torre to experienced-veteran-loving Ned Colletti was only bound to make Colletti’s notorious case of big-name-itis worse.
Exhibits A, B, C, and D of this phenomenon are Doug Mientkiewicz, Jeff Weaver, Juan Castro, and Tanyon Sturtze, four “experienced veterans” who look primed to make the Dodgers opening day roster, all four as non-roster invitees.
As anyone who reads this blog knows, Joe Torre likes to go with what he knows, and always prefers the devil he’s heard of to the devil he hasn’t. And Torre’s fingerprints are all over these four guys.
Mientkiewicz, Weaver and Sturtze have all played under Torre in the past when he managed the Yankees, and who better to play the Luis Sojo/Miguel Cairo role of Torre’s Latino futility-infielder binkie than their stastistical triplet Juan Castro?
The one that makes the least sense of all here is Mientkiewicz, a first baseman who hits like a third-string middle infielder. But he has certain qualities that Torre and Ned Colletti just can’t resist, so let’s quickly run through Mientkiewicz’s truly impressive “experienced veteran” credentials:
- He is a veteran (11 MLB seasons)
- He is known for his defense (gold glove, 2001)
- He is known for his experience (six teams in five years)
- He has won a World Series title (Red Sox, 2004)
- He provides subpar offense (100 career OPS+. At first base.)
- He is over 30 (age 35 in 2009)
- He is white (very much so)
What is there for Torre and Colletti not to love?
Look I realize that it is possible to find good bargains among non-roster invitees, but usually these are younger guys who still have even a shred of upside left. The problem with going with experienced veterans is that they is what they is, and if what they is is not all that much, then guess what you are going to end up with? Not all that much.
Or even worse if keeping a Doug Mientkiewicz means that you have to trade away an out-of-options, cost-controlled, still talented youngster like Delwyn Young just to make room for him.