There was some minor news on Francisco Rodriquez this week, that he is going to pitch for Venezuela in the WBC hoping to showcase himself. At this late date, K-Rod is still a free agent. He didn’t pitch great last year, but he didn’t pitch himself out of the major leagues either. But there he still is, at 31 years old, getting passed over by every GM in baseball. We know why. K-Rod is a world class jerk. But that is not new, what is becoming new for K-Rod is that he is no longer a great talent. If you are going to be a jerk you can still make a roster, but you had better bring plenty of game, otherwise you won’t be worth the aggravation any more.
This gets me to our own Jordanny Valdespin. The first time I saw Valdespin was in Binghamton. I noticed right away that he looked athletic. There was a local season ticket holder sitting next to me, and I asked him what he thought of Valdespin. He said,
“He will never make it. He just does not care.”
That sounded like a rough response and I told the guy so. In Valdespin’s first at bat that night he lined a shot to second base, caught, but a real shot. I became even more intrigued. In the field that same inning a popup was hit a few yards behind Valdepsin, who was playing second that night. He jogged for a few steps like he actually didn’t want to catch the ball and it fell two feet behind him. Then he walked the two feet and jogged back into the infield with the ball. The runner probably could have made second if he was paying attention. The guy sitting next to me smiled and spoke again,
“See, I told you.”
I didn’t have an answer for him. When it comes to Valdespin, I still don’t. You look at our roster and his talent, and if we would just give 85% he would be a mortal lock to make the team. And the thing with Valdespin is that he has talent but not enough talent to be a big jerk. Just like the current K-Rod.
That brings me to a guy who was 180 degrees from Valdespin, Gary Carter. Somehow it has already been a year since Carter passed away. When I read Jimmy’s excellent post this week on Spring Training and his love of the game I thought of Gary. He wasn’t nicknamed “the Kid” for nothing. Carter brought energy and joy to the park, and although he had many great seasons with the Expos, no one was better suited for New York. It was an immediate love affair, and I would like to end today with Carter’s final at bat in his first game as a Met. And yes, once again I was fortunate enough to be there.