Note; this is a hypothetical discussion. Just because I choose to use a highly specific set of examples doesn't necessarily...um...indic--...well....let's end this charade and get on with it.
Dayan Viciedo was declared ready by his GM the other day. That's exciting. I like Dayan. Cool name, good contact skills, great power, and has cute celebrations. He's not going to rescue the season, nor would he have hit 4 solo HRs off Carl Pavano and single-handedly redeemed Wednesday night's dull thud against the Twins. But if he could improve the team without too much cost, that would seemingly be worth doing, no?
Of course, if you ask someone who's no fun, they'll point out that
there's no natural opening for Viciedo on the roster. No one's hurt or
being openly shopped. None of the outfielders can be optioned down, at
least without their approval...which they won't give.
would need to be DFA'd, which in our fantasy world, literally involves
GM Kenny Williams calling a team meeting without providing a topic, then
strapping on a novelty size brown leather boot as the players scream in
terror and scatter. Still, Kenny locks onto his man, sprints through
traffic, and delivers a mighty kick into the tookus of the unwanted
party that sends him clear through the exit, where his packed bags are
curiously already awaiting him.
There clearly needs to be a
standard for such a fate. There needs to be an unsatisfactory level of
play--not just for an average player, but for their role on the
team--little chance for recovery, a clear replacement, and it needs to
not be an exorbitantly costly measure.
Take Juan Pierre (please!)
for example. His role as Overly Traditional Leadoff Man requires him
to get on base, steal bases, and defend very well. It might also
require him to bunt, but I can't pretend to care about that.
he's pretty unspectacular at getting on-base. Slumping again after a
solid May, Pierre's OBP is .323, which is below average, but not utterly
subterranean. However, I must emphasize that with his limitations,
it's pretty important he succeed in his critical areas.
bases has obviously been a disaster, as he's 10 of 19 on the year.
Ratcheting down his attempts has given him a better success rate, but at
that low volume, it removes that as a benefit from having him on the
roster. Having been picked off several other times doesn't help
Defense has also been pretty much, well....badness. His
accumulated UZR of -8.0 seems outsized and is a preposterously unstable
sample, but probably isn't that bad of an estimate of how much Pierre's
ill-timed gaffes have cost the team. He's still fleet of foot enough to
be effective in his coverage, but we're still only two weeks removed
from the last horrible mistake that dramatically shifted the fate of a game.
here you have a player performing at an unsatisfactory level in all his
key areas, but can he be replaced? Brent Lillibridge has provided
better defense, with preposterously better hitting, but is as big of a
regression candidate as there gets, and ancillary to our discussion as
he's already on the roster.
To replace Pierre with Viciedo, would
not likely bring a significant improvement in on-base skills if last
year is any indication, would ensure that the everyday left-fielder
would never be asked to steal 2nd base ever again, and while he might be
sure-handed, is unlikely to be a defensive upgrade. Essentially, it
would be replacing a player who is providing nothing with one who seems
like sure bet to hit the ball hard. Hey, that's something!
the White Sox are paying Pierre $5 million, so releasing him at this
point would cost oohhhhhh, $2.87 Million. That's not negligible, but
it's unlikely that anything will need to be pawned in reaction, Viciedo
is an excellent bet to make up that value in Wins Above Replacement, of
which Pierre has accumulated -1 so far this season.
Does Pierre have a chance to recover? To keep an already long article short; according to ZiPS - hell no.
you have a pretty woefully unsatisfactory player, a better, but not
worlds better replacement who is in the long-term plans anyway, and it
would cost about $3 million dollars and whatever Ozzie Guillen's broken
heart costs to do it.
Maybe that's too much, I'm not sure. Maybe Williams would rather not
have eaten $3 million when he's pushing the Chairman for a trade later
on in the season. Maybe they feel like they've already invested enough
on offense and crave Pierre's upside for run prevention. Who knows?
But if Pierre's performance and the feasibility of releasing him doesn't
trigger action, it begs the question of whether taking decisive action
to cut ties with a very respected but struggling veteran is something
the team would ever bring itself to do. With the interview Kenny Williams gave the other day,
it's clear that this situation has been analyzed every bit as
thoroughly as it has been by me, so if there isn't action soon, I'd
expect an awfully interesting explanation of what when into this
decision-making process come the end of the season.
Sorry for the jumbled 'thinking aloud' nature of this piece, but what's coming tomorrow should be a lot of fun.