It happens every year. A manager gets an itchy trigger finger early in the season and buries a guy before he even gets a chance to earn the faith the manager put in him to start the season. This year is no different, and with an idea sparked from Eric Seidman’s piece yesterday on Brad Emaus — an article that the Mets completely ignored when they waived him today — I present the 2011 Brad Emaus All-Stars.
C: Jeff Mathis
Mike Scioscia has always had a strange Mathis fetish, preferring the way he plays defense and calls a game over more tangible things like not making outs. But after Mathis went home with the golden sombrero on April 9, Scioscia wavered, leaving Mathis on the bench at the outset of five of the next six games. The main beneficiary has been Hank Conger, but Scioscia hasn’t buckled completely, saying on Sunday that, “We need [Mathis] to be part of the solution at the catcher position for us.”
1B: Mike Napoli
Another year, another manager doubting Mike Napoli. Napoli was supposed to see significant time at first base this year, but after starting there on Opening Day, Mitch Moreland has started there in nine of the 15 games, with Michael Young and Chris Davis also starting. Ron Washington has promised to get Napoli more time behind the dish, but at the present time, Yorvit Torrealba has started three times as many games at catcher as Napoli. Napoli hasn’t even done anything to deserve his benching. He’s hitting .292/.452/.708 thus far, which normally would impress the pants off any manager. Apparently Washington is not one of those managers.
2B: Brad Emaus
The first draft of this piece also included Will Rhymes and Jack Wilson, but while both are losing playing time, and Wilson’s actions have even been called “unspeakable” by his manager, they still both have jobs. Emaus doesn’t — which I guess would be surprising if it wasn’t the Mets we were talking about. Are we sure that Isiah isn’t secretly running them too?
3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff / Ian Stewart / Mike Aviles
Since they let just about anyone on to the real All-Star teams these days, I figure the Emaus All-Stars can have three third basemen. Over the weekend, it was revealed that Andy LaRoche will get a longer look at third base thanks to Kevin Kouzmanoff’s struggles at the plate. You know, because Kouzmanoff always hits .182 across whole seasons. And with LaRoche’s .284 wOBA setting fire to everything it touches, it’s clear he should be in the lineup. Wait, what? Ian Stewart’s Spring Training injuries have been used against him since the start of the season, and with the hot start from Jonathan Herrera, Jim Tracy has been able to stick with Herrera at second and slide Jose Lopez and Ty Wigginton to third, burying Stewart in the process. And with Ubaldo Jimenez scheduled to come off the DL tonight, there are now rumors that Stewart might board the Colorado Springs shuttle to make room for him. Finally, after starting on Opening Day at the leadoff spot, Mike Aviles has been somewhat marginalized by Wilson Betemit’s hot start. Manager Ned Yost is noncommittal on his plans because, well, he can’t really figure it out himself.
SS: Marco Scutaro
Last week, I wrote that Jed Lowrie should be playing over incumbent starter Marco Scutaro, and Lowrie spent the last three days making me look good by roping eight hits in 14 at-bats, including two round trippers. While quick to praise his hot bat, Terry Francona has remained mum on who will get the lion’s share of playing time moving forward, but Lowrie’s hot start (and Scutaro’s not-so-hot start) has surely forced more of a job share than Francona had been envisioning at the season’s start. And while I still think Lowrie should be starting, it is unfortunate that the slow start may bury Scutaro, as he is better than what he’s demonstrated so far.
OF: Tony Gwynn, Gerardo Parra, Melky Cabrera
Admittedly, this isn’t a super-qualified group of individuals. And while Tony Gwynn Jr. had started off slightly better offensively than last year, he had set the bar pretty low. As a result, the Dodgers recalled prospect Jerry Sands to see if he can be the solution in left field. But at least Gwynn and the other Dodgers left fielders lost their jobs through good old-fashioned small samples of poor play. Gerardo Parra seems to have lost his job due to the birth of his first child. Well, that and the fact that Willie Bloomquist is clearly going to hit .316 all year. Finally, our lovable band of victims is rounded out with another Royal. In attempt to justify the roster spot for Jarrod Dyson, Yost will apparently look to get him more playing time as well. Kind of makes you wonder why they signed Melky Cabrera in the first place. Oh right, the process.
Not all of these decisions will be poor ones in the long-term. Getting Conger more PT can only be a good thing for the Halos’ chances this year. Ditto Lowrie. And if Sands can push Gwynn back to part-time duty that may be for the best as well. But as “Joe D” commented in Eric’s piece yesterday, to spend a whole offseason and Spring Training coming to a decision, only to change your mind less than 50 plate appearances into the season (42 in Emaus’ case) doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in a manager or front office’s decision-making. To boot, in the aggregate, the replacements here are not even better than those they replace. The Emaus All-Stars entered the season with an average wRC+ ZiPS projection of 90.5, and that’s with Mathis’ putrid 55 dragging the group down. The replacements? They clock in at an average of 86.20. But such is life. These fellows will have to be content with the knowledge that even though they might have been replaced, they’re now in their own way, all-stars.
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