Talking Baseball

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Posted by Mike on Tuesday, February 24, 2004

A Second Chance
Edited - 12:58AM

Espn.com is reporting that Jose Canseco has announced that he will attempt a comeback with the Dodgers this spring. When I heard the news I was immediately overwhelmed by a number of thoughts:

1. I thought he was under house-arrest. Over the last few years he has been in all sorts of trouble ranging from aggravated assault to drug use.
2. Didn't his body deteriorate in the mid-90s because of his extensive steroid use? Yes it did.
3. Does Jose really think that after alienating 85% of the players in the game last year with his comments that he is going to be welcome back with open arms?
4. Are the Dodgers really this desperate for offense?

Canseco has often been referred to as the greatest waste of talent in the modern game, but even during his bad years, he was still productive. So how much value does he still have today? It's tough to tell from his numbers because he was always a quirky player. He was a pure power hitter with few other offensive talents because every time he stepped up to the plate he was trying to hit a home run. Early in his career he was the first 40-40 man but that speed disappeared in the early 90s. He always drew a good share of walks but not nearly as many as he could have. A career OBP of .353 is certainly quite acceptable but before I researched it I was under the impression that it would be higher.


Two years ago he was still a slightly above average hitter but really nothing special. He cannot be anything more than a pinch hitter for the Dodgers because his defense is so attrocious. Perhaps the most memorable highlight of his fielding was in the 1990 World Series when he managed to allow a fly ball to bounce off his head (yes, his head) and into the stands for a home run. If he still has his old strength, then even in expansive Dodger Stadium, he should be able drive the ball out park when given the chance.

Edit: There is a logical reason why this is happening, but I certainly did not see it at first. I couldn't understand why the Dodgers were willing to give Canseco a chance until Jon reminded me that this is part of the new DePodesta philosophy. As a Billy Beane disciple, DePodesta embraces the concept that every player including spare parts, outcasts, and convicted criminals should have a chance to play if they can contribute positively. While I support the more analytic position that DePodesta will bring to the Dodgers, I still feel that in some cases his philosophy can be taken too far. When the Dodgers decided to allow Canseco to try-out, they also brought the controversy and bad publicity along with him.

I suppose if they feel the bad publicity isn't a real concern, then, at worst, having Canseco in their camp is an excellent way for the Dodgers to show their players how far a person can fall. Had Canseco not become a steroid driven (he admitted it), rage filled (aggravated assault), injury case (two full seasons since 1993), then his abilities probably would have been enough to gain entry into the Hall of Fame. Of course there is the issue of whether or not he could have hit all of those home runs had he not been on steroids but the general point remains the same.

In the end, I am convinced that Canseco will fail to make the team and all of this discussion will become moot. He's old, broken down, and hasn't taken a major league at-bat since 2001. Those ingredients are not part of a recipe for success. On the other hand, considering how poor the Dodgers offense is, I'm sure that they're desperate for anyone who can help out.

Frozen Caveman Centerfielder!

What on earth happened to Johnny Damon over the off-season? Maybe this will be confirmed later but I have a hunch that he suffered some sort of long-term brain damage as a result of the concussion he sustained in the ALDS. Bill Simmons dubbed Damon the Frozen Caveman Centerfielder before he grew this beard and it would seem that Damon is really embracing his new role as Red Sox crazyman. Here's a picture...

"I'm just a caveman who fell through some ice and was later thawed by your scientists.
Your world frightens and confuses me."
-Phil Hartman

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