Disrespecting a veteran

Disrespecting a veteran
Omar was strangely thrilled with the Crosstown Cup last year too... // Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune

Omar Vizquel hasn’t played a whole lot, and if I had to hazard a guess, I would say it’s because he’s been terrible.

His .245/.282/.294 line would be rough enough, but he’s paired it with the fielding range of a 44 year-old in a season where the threshold has been a bit more than ‘play better than an injured Mark Teahen‘.

Vizquel actually is second among all non-regulars in plate appearances on the year, but that’s a stat that misrepresents how much run De Aza, Teahen, Flowers, and Viciedo have gotten in their partial-season stints.  The man hasn’t played in nearly two weeks, which can’t help but give him the feeling that he’s wasting his time, as he shared with Chuck Garfien.

“That’s been the tough part, sometimes being on the bench for about three weeks in a row, and you haven’t played much,” Vizquel said. “This is the first time that my time off the field has been really long. I don’t mind. I’m ready whenever they ask me to play. I know Ozzie [Guillen] is not very good at letting me play when the game is wide-open. He doesn’t like that. But whatever he asks me to do, I’ll do it.”

Vizquel has the right diagnosis. September call-up Eduardo Escobar has been nabbing his late-game cameos in the laughers, with 4 of his 6 appearances coming in games decided by 5 runs or more.

It’s a rough way for Vizquel to go out, but it’s completely appropriate tactically.  Vizquel was a disaster the last time he filled in at short, and 2nd and 3rd base are both manned by young, developing starters who can certainly don’t beg for defensive replacements.  There’s no reason to give them days off for a player who doesn’t figure into next season’s plans.

Any future role for Omar seems set to be swallowed up by Eduardo Escobar, who’s undergoing a rather odd career path himself.  After being no great shakes offensively in Double-A, he was legitimately overmatched in Triple-A this year, yet is still getting prepped for a major league utility role.  He’s pretty thoroughly blocked in the organization due to Alexei’s contract, so perhaps it’s just as well they never bother developing his bat.

This is perhaps the easiest layup Guillen’s ever had with deciding to stop playing a guy, but it’s hard to find a parallel in his recent record for burying a veteran reserve with no lasting purpose during the September string.  Mark Kotsay still got into 15 games in the September of his horrible 2010 despite the team paying $4 million in cash explicitly to replace him, and while DeWayne Wise only started 5 September contests in 2009, he managed to worm his way into a whopping 17 other ones.  And all of these guys would kill for the PT Swisher pouted about in 2008.

I wasn’t sure if there would be a point to this exercise when I started other than to satisfy my curiosity about Vizquel’s lack of alarm at his current level of performance (“I think I have the ability to play. I don’t think there’s much difference between me and the other guys on teams.”), and figure out where’s the disconnect between this managerial decision, and the decision to play decently-performing Juan Pierre (who doesn’t figure to have a future with the team) over the splendidly performing Alejandro De Aza (who does).

Instead it appears we must consider that Vizquel somehow exists in a vacuum.  He doesn’t profile as someone who earned a seat in the doghouse, and it’s new for Ozzie to ignore the feelings of veterans.

It probably just comes down to Omar being terrible.


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  • The question is if Omar is that terrible, why would Ozzie want to embarrass his friend during probably Omar's last month as a player by putting him out in the field in meaningless games?

    People say to "play the youngsters to see what we have" and apparently Ozzie is doing some of that.

  • In reply to jack:

    I think Ozzie's doing absolutely the right thing with Vizquel, but Omar has indicated that he wants to play more, even if it is in meaningless game, and it's surprising to me that Guillen has the stomach to refuse him, given his past and present inability to stifle other veterans.

  • 2 hits in your face fegan!


  • Ha. I think if it wasn't for all the sub-replacement starters, I could enjoy having Omar Vizquel around like I should.

    So yes, my answer is 'Blame Alex Rios'.

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