Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Bat Isn’t A Failure…YET

The Rays’ 2008 Problem: A lack of power from the right side of the plate, struggles against left handed pitchers

2009 Proposed Solution: A right handed hitter who has averaged over 30 homeruns, 75 runs scored, 100 walks, and 100 RBIs for the last 4 seasons. Let’s not forget, he is a World Series Champion.

Enter: Pat “The Bat” Burrell

Results So Far: 1 homerun, 11 runs scored, 21 walks, and 18 RBIs. The only stat that he is ahead of his career pace is stolen bases; he has 2.

Anyone looking at these statistics would call this signing a complete failure and a waste of $16,000,000 over 2 seasons. Yesterday, I was talking to a good friend of mine who is a Phillies fan. After he rubbed in the fact that the Phillies won the World Series (by cheating, mind you), we talked about Burrell. I told him “I have been disappointed with Burrell’s statistics so far this season, but I refuse to call him a failure, yet.”

The ensuing conversation was quite similar to the talk that Jon Cusack and Jack Black had in the movie “High Fidelity” in which they discussed the meaning of the word “yet.” Rob Gordon’s (Cusack) ex-girlfriend tells him “I haven’t slept with him, yet,” referring to her new boyfriend. With the help of friend and coworker Barry (Black), Gordon is only left figure out the following: What did she mean? Did she want to sleep with him? Does she expect to sleep with him in the near future? Will she sleep with him if nothing changes?

"What does 'yet' mean, anyway?"

What did I mean? Did I want to call him a failure? Do I expect to call him a failure in the near future? Will I have to call him a failure if nothing changes?

I realized I meant that if Pat Burrell keeps up this pace, his failure ranking will be identical to the failure of Dewon Brazelton, the “Hit Show,” and the 2007 bullpen combined. I am not over-exaggerating this, especially when you look at his relatively high salary, the raised team expectations, and the Rays’ need for a right-handed power bat.

I do not want to call Pat Burrell a failure. No fan of the Rays’ wants to see a free-agent come in and not perform up to expectations.

In the near future, I do not expect to call Pat Burrell a failure. The key word 2 paragraphs up is “if.” Pat Burrell is too good of a baseball player to keep up this pace. A 32 year old player who hit 30 homeruns one season does not hit 3 the next. (Author’s note: I know what some of you are thinking here about steroids and stop. Until proven guilty in the matter of performance enhancing drugs, Pat Burrell is innocent.) This is the perfect time for Pat Burrell to start living up to his nickname, “the bat.” The Rays are starting a home series against the team the Rays lost to in the World Series and Burrell’s former team, the Phillies. Please keep in mind that Burrell went yard against Cole Hamels in a Spring Training game in Philadelphia. Knowing how streaky Burrell can be, playing the Phillies could be the right motivation Burrell needs to get on a hot streak. Once Burrell goes on his usual tear, then the talk of him being a failure will go away. Playing the Phillies is just what the bat doctor ordered.

So Pat, please, give Jobu rum, touch your bat with anti-jinx beads, or put on a gold thong. Most of all, do whatever you have to do in order to be mentally and physically prepared. There are no more injuries and no more place for excuses. This is your week to get out of your slump and onto one of your patented hot streak. This is Phillies’ week.

If nothing changes and this pace keeps up, I will have to call Pat Burrell a failure at the end of the season. Do I expect things to change? Yes, I do. Will things change? That is for Pat Burrell to show us. If Pat Burrell can get on a hot streak, that will go a long way towards pushing the Rays back to the top of the AL East. For now, I won't call the signing of Pat Burrell a failure, yet. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

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