Nats Sell Contract Of Good Bat, Poor Glove Second Sacker (And, NO, It's Not Soriano)
Rick Short, the "I think I Can - I think I Can" infielder who made it to the major leagues at the age of 32 is being sold to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japan Central League. This comes a season after flirting with hitting .400 while with the New Orleans Zephyrs [he hit .383] and actually hitting .400 with 2 home runs with the Nationals. He injured himself diving for a ball and was lost for the last week of the season. Most believe that if he hadn't hurt himself, he would have been assured of a place on the team's 2006 roster.
The Nationals, and all of baseball really, have considered Short a "AAAA" player, too good to stay in the minor leagues but not quite good enough remain in the major leagues. It's not Short's bat that is questioned. He's hit at every level in the minors. He batted .299 at the rookie league level, .320 at 'A' level, .313 a class 'AA,' and .324 at 'AAA.' Nothing left to prove there. Short is considered one the finest people in the organization, hard working, mature and a team leader. No, it's not that either. He's considered a "good hit, no field" kind of guy. What I saw during his two call-ups last season was a player with an adequate arm and adequate range. I thought he made up for those deficiencies with a superior knowledge of the game, placing himself in the proper position to get the out almost every time.
So, Rick Short can hit, but he doesn't field very well, right? If he played every day, he'd probably hit .300+ with more homers than the typical second baseman. But he'd also make 30 errors and be one of the poorer defensive second sackers in the league.
You mean, like Alfonso Soriano??
There is no way that Jim Bowden or any of the Nationals' top-guns can convince me that Short is worse defensively than the newly acquired Soriano. Short could have helped the team immeasurably off the bench with his bat, and could have held his own in the field when called upon.
The Washington Nationals, as the Orioles and Cubs, Angels and Royals did before them, won't give Short that chance. Other team's castoffs are now the nucleus of the team's bench. Short, the most popular, hardest-working, leader in the club house, the one guy who is an inspiration to his teammates, is gone. For the second time in his career, he's off to the land where four-A players are banished, Japan.
I had hoped that the Nationals weren't like the rest of major league baseball. I thought that, if nothing else, the team saw real potential in Short as a public relations ploy. You know, "Hard working player with great heart succeeds." Like that. But they didn't. They wouldn't. They couldn't be bothered by giving a real man a chance. It's better to bring in players who refuse to help the team by playing another positon.
I suppose the Nationals will anger me many times during our "relationship" over the next couple of decades before I croak. But this was the first time, and it hurts. Kind of like the first time your wife does something really stupid. Sure, you get over it, and you forgive her and move on. But you never look at her quite the same again.
Some of the luster has begun to come off that curly white "W."
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