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.

mientkiewiczExhibits 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.

10 Responses to “Is Joe Torre making Ned Colletti’s big-name-itis worse?”

  1. Josh Roberts says:

    He’s white? You’re really going to imply Torre and Colletti are, what, racist or something? WEAK.

  2. Nick Kapur says:

    I never said Torre and Colletti are racists, Josh, but you would be naive if you thought that race never plays any factor whatsoever in these kinds of decisions.

  3. Sarah Green says:

    White guys who aren’t very good but who have been on WS-winning teams are always “gritty” “gamers” who “know how to win.”

  4. If the article had said he is African American or Latino, we would all be up in arms. If he had just used a stereotypical racist statement like, “He is lazy or Dumb” and been of African American or Latino heritage we would have still called it racist, this statement is racist and inappropriate no matter what heritage he is from. Baseball Players should be judged on how they play ball not on their heritage.

  5. Robert Tyson says:

    I don’t want to belabor the race discussion, although it was a stupid thing to include. Mientkiewicz is a quality clubhouse guy, and you could always use a guy who has shared a clubhouse with Manny (and not bitched about him).

  6. Nick Kapur says:

    David, you are completely and utterly missing my point.

    My point is exactly that “baseball players should be judged on how they play ball and not on their heritage.”

    But sadly that is not always true.

  7. Guys, don’t be delusional.

    It’s the same reason white guys are “gritty” or “awkward” and black guys are “athletic” or “has mental lapses” in reports done by PROFESSIONAL scouts.

    Look, it’s not right, but it’s not coincidence. That’s the point. :o

  8. Back on topic, it’s not so much that Dougie bothers me as a player, he still has value, but he’s simply not better than what the Dodgers have to give up.

    Though I would rather not Sturtze and Pierre be on the team before cutting Doug.

  9. Sarah Green says:

    I think it’s funny that the “white” guy is getting all the controversy here, while Nick’s mention of Torre’s love for sub-par Latino utility infielders has garnered no attention at all. Nick, you should link back to your older post on that topic!

    One more stereotype to add to your list, Kensai – Latino players described in the media as “fragile” or “emotional” (keywords for “effeminate”). Hat tip to Dan Rosenheck of Baseball Think Factory for that observation – it’s so true.

  10. Sarah Green says:

    @Robert – your comment got snagged in our spam filter for a bit, sorry about that.

    I caution you, however – if the Dodgers do succeed this year, and should win the World Series, and have Mientkiewicz in as a defensive replacement, do not, DO NOT, let the pitcher flip the ball to him for the final out. Just have him jog over and step on the bag himself. Darn ball hog.

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