Friday, 29 February 2008

Something smells a little fishy to me...

Originally I agreed with Wilner's assessment that Stew would make the team over Johnson in case of an injury. But after some thinking, that really doesn't seem right to me, especially if Johnson ends up getting non-tendered.

Let's pretend that there is a significant/long term injury to one of: Thomas, Overbay, Wells, Rios, or Stairs. Logically, people could be shifted over so that Stewart could get full time playing. Last year Stewart had a 756 OPS against RHP - not great, but better than Johnson. So from that point of view, I'd rather see Stewart in. Obviously someone would have to be called up to fill the 25th spot - in pretty much all cases, an OF would have to be called up. If Overbay or Thomas are injured, Stairs moves to 1B/DH. If Wells is injured, Rios to CF, Stairs to RF. If Rios is injured, Stairs to RF etc. So yeah, for pretty much any injury we're going to need to call up an OF.

Here's where it gets interesting - the person we're most likely to call up in the event of an injury is Adam Lind. We're not going to call him up to play sporadically - if there's a long term injury, I'd rather see Lind playing LF than Stewart. Hell, even in Lind's horrible 2007 season, he still managed a 720 OPS (251/289/430). If he brings that average up to 270 (I'm not being unreasonable, he could probably get 300 but let's keep our expectations low..), his OPS would be around 750 - pretty much what Stewart's capable of. It's possible Lind could do significantly better, maybe even an 800 OPS or higher.

While I agree that Lind shouldn't be arbitrarily called up if he's doing a bad job, and that he should earn a spot, let's be real here. Raise your hands if you'd rather see Stewart playing LF long term because of an injury instead of Adam Lind. Don't raise them all at once now...

Anyways, if we assume that I'm right (and remember, when we assume, we make an ass out of you and me), than Stewart isn't here to provide insurance in case of an injury. So from that point of view, the most significant factor to making the roster goes back to who can hit LHP the best - Johnson or Stewart. Last year Stew had a 699 OPS against lefties, and the highest he's had over the past 3 years was 700 in 06. On the other hand, Johnson, even after coming back from back surgery, posted a 913 OPS against lefties.

So if we're carrying a 6 man pen (and considering how little Gibby goes to the 7th guy, it wouldn't be as bad as most people think...), it's possible to bring both Stew & Johnson up. But if they go with the 7 man pen, I'm going to go against the common wisdom of bringing Stew, and sticking with Johnson. I'm just not buying the long-term injury excuse when we have a young, left handed, top prospect LF just waiting for his time to come up.


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