Thursday, February 10, 2005


Yet Another Mohr-onic Move

Maybe my favorite type of player in baseball is one that would be classified as a “gamer”, a guy who plays his guts out and does it well, a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve and brings everything he has out onto the field. They crash into walls, they dive head first into the base, they throw helmets and bats, they get into it with umpires. They might not be the most ideal idols for your Little Leaguer, but darn it, they play the game like the fate of the universe hangs in the balance, and that’s what I love to see when I watch baseball. I’m sure you can identify these guys when watching a game. Lou Pinella in his playing days was a classic example, as was Pete Rose, who was so hyper-competitive that he decided to give Ray Fosse the bowling pin treatment in what amounted to a meaningless exhibition. The Mets of 1986, a colorful team that I’ve read about and studied closely, were full of these guys. Ray Knight, Keith Hernandez, Wally Backman, Lenny Dykstra, Gary Carter. All guys who would rather have a leg amputated with a rusty chainsaw than lose a game, a group who would talk smack, win games, and take names while doing it. Part of the reason I’m a pathological Pierzynski apologist is because he is one of these guys: do anything it takes to win, even if it means being a horse’s ass in the process.

Dustin Mohr is one of those guys.

So you can imagine my consternation when I checked the wires one day and read that the Giants had non-tendered the versatile outfielder. Now, I’ve received horrific shocks in my life before. As a Freshman in high school I once found that I had unwittingly walked onto the Senior Lawn, and had about five seconds before the frosh-hating behemoths all noticed and beat me to a pulp. There was the time I watched The Crying Game. There was also the time Neifi Perez sent the Giants to Chicago with an inexplicable home run off of Robb Nen. Shocking were these events, yes, but I was even less prepared for this latest news. The lights started spinning, I started hyperventilating, I wondered what had become of the universe, if possibly we had slipped into some bizarre alternate timestream that wasn’t supposed to be, like in Donnie Darko or something.

Soon my shock turned to anger, then angry questioning. I just absolutely cannot comprehend what Sabean was doing when he decided to let Mohr leave. Mohr was a solid hitter, sporting an .821 OPS, higher than Grissom or Tucker. He was an excellent fielder and he was the type of hard-nosed player that I tend to fawn over and apologize for when they do stupid stuff. Oh yeah, and he was dirt-cheap too. Even after arbitration Mohr probably wouldn’t have even cost a million bucks, so money wasn’t the factor determining his demise. Some would argue that he was excess baggage after the Alou signing, but are you seriously going to tell me that he’s a worse fourth outfielder than Michael Tucker? Even as a fifth outfielder he’s valuable, since the Giants have a geriatric outfield with a collective range only marginally better than Greg Luzinski with a tree trunk strapped to his back. In fact, I’m willing to bet that Mohr would outperform Grissom given the opportunity, and seeing as how Mohr hits righties better than lefties, it would have made sense to keep Mohr and put him in a righty/lefty platoon with Grissom.

But sadly Mohr is gone to the Rockies, another unfortunate misinterpretation of talent by Sabean. Even Sabean’s most questionable moves at least have had a degree of comprehension. The Matheny move was stupid in every aspect, but at least we can see where Sabean was coming from when he said he was going for defense. The Mohr thing defies all common sense. It’s akin to the busty victim in a slasher flick running up the stairs when the audience is screaming for the dumb broad to just run out the door and call the cops. She gets slaughtered, Mohr gets screwed. This just wasn’t a hard decision. It was a freaking no-brainer, but apparently Sabean needs a crash course in brain surgery. I have no idea what rationale there is for not bringing Mohr back. Maybe it was his ill-fated encounter with the bullpen mound in San Diego during the last week of the season. Maybe it was the fact that he was under 30, and Sabean is intent on concocting some sort of strange Logan’s Run in reverse. Maybe Sabean has weird, Dead Zone-esque powers and when he shook Mohr’s hand one day he foresaw a nuclear holocaust or something.* We could toss out reasons until we’re blue in the face, but none of them will be good. So instead of going into the season with a solid, and cheap, reserve outfielder, we’re pondering whether to give the job to Todd Linden, Tony Torcato, or, God forbid, Jason Ellison. The only way this whole situation will be redeemed is if one of these guys inexplicably changes their name to “Mookie”, and I just don’t see that happening.

*Wait, wait. If Sabean really does have precognitive powers, obviously he would be able to tell that Mike Matheny is going to suck this year and each one following it. He surely would have had the foresight to dump Livan Hernandez in 2002, before Game 7, and not to give Marvin Benard a four year deal that would have been better spent on a grilled-cheese sandwich that looks like the Virgin Mary. Of course, it’s possible that he actually has to make contact with the person in question to see their future, not unlike Christopher Walken in the Cronenberg flick. Perhaps he just talked to Matheny over the phone, and won’t be able to see the Laughing Tiger until it’s too late. Wow, that’s certainly a pretty crappy way to tell fortunes, and it doesn’t get us fans anywhere. I guess it’s one of those gifts that’s also a curse.

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