Monday, August 27, 2007

Not to be a killjoy at the Johnny Mac love-in, but...

Seeing as how the Drunk Jays Fans have made their case for the Prime Minister of Defense, allow us to take the other side. Just to be a bit of a prick.

We love watching John McDonald's defense as much as the next guy, and - as any caller to Jays Talk will tell you - the guy deserves a Gold Glove for his work this year. Of course, to paraphrase William Munny, when it comes to the Gold Glove, "deserves got nothin' to do with it."

But McDonald's excellent glove work and hot start to the season have papered over what has been a steady and steep decline in his offensive numbers since mid-June.

We've used June 15th as a midway point, since that's when most of his rate stats hit their apex. With a 2-4 day against the Nationals, McDonald pushed his average up to .302, and his OPS to a respectable .727. He had a homer and six RsBI in 106 ABs to that point.

Since then, his numbers have tumbled considerably. In 53 games and 144 ABs, he is hitting .229 since June 16, with a .538 OPS (albeit, with 19 RsBI).

Those aren't the numbers of a starter on a playoff team.

We'd love to see Johnny Mac back next year as a utility dude, but for an offense that has sputtered as mightly as the Jays' has this year, you just can't carry that sort of dead wood at the bottom of the lineup.



This isn't really the comment of a devil's advocate, because I do see the need for an upgrade at SS, but Johnny Mac's struggles in the second half are no poorer than were Glaus' or Thomas'. This is to say nothing of those numbers being more expected given Mac's track record and the average for a player at his position, as compared to a 3B or DH.

Obviously Glaus and Thomas get the benefit of the doubt given their honorable pasts, but age and bodily decline are catching up to both of them and I'm not sure either were prudent investments for a growing team.

At least you can say we are pretty much getting our money's worth out of the Mac. The defense alone is good and the Red Sox are getting by with a similarly atrocious year at the plate from a defensive cripple in Julio Lugo (a guy many of us, maybe myself included, wanted signed in TO). And Mac is costing about $8MM (US) less.

Many want to set up a straw man to defuse critics of this team but the barometer is really this: does Player X move you closer to the division title or not? Glaus is 19th in BA among qualifying third basemen, 11th in homers - his specialty - and lagging behind a lot of cheaper alternatives in many categories.

I don't mind having one Glaus or Thomas, but two big, slow and old guys will kill you if they are underachieving, and that's precisely what's happened this season.

I sure hope they're better next year. If they are, plugging in upgrades at SS and C, though not easily done, would make this team what Ricciardi wants it to be. If not, it's a lot of money and time wasted figuring that out.


To clarify, I was referring to Glaus and Thomas' first-half performance

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