Nobody talked about Maicer Izturis this winter as anything but dead weight on the Blue Jays’ roster, after his disastrous 2013 campaign. Even that awful campaign, a disaster-within-a-disaster, was somewhat overlooked thanks to the screaming deficiencies of guys like Emilio Bonifacio and J.P. Arencibia, but rest assured, he was awful.
At the plate, having arrived looking like a bounce-back candidate following an 82 wRC+ season for the Angels, Izturis nosedived further, down to wRC+ of 62 — the worst mark of his career, save for his 32 game cameo as a rookie on the 2004 Expos — behind a slash line of .236/.288/.310.
In the field he was just as bad, both by the eye test, and by the metrics. According to UZR, only ten third basemen cost their teams more runs than he and Pablo Sandoval (-4.7 UZR), yet Izturis played about 850 fewer innings than the Panda, 600-950 innings fewer than six of the ten behind him on the list, and fewer innings that all but one of them (Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar).
At shortstop, where Izturis logged his next-highest number of innings, the story isn’t much better. Only seventeen of 112 players to spend time at shortstop were worse than Maicer, per UZR, and Izturis’s -2.8 UZR in 174.1 innings was worse than the -2.7 that Jimmy Rollins accumulated over 1318.1.
He was awful, in other words. The worst position player in baseball, per FanGraphs’ WAR (-2.1), and tied for 24th-worst (-0.9) according to Baseball Reference, alongside such luminaries as Brent Lillibridge, Omar Quintanilla, and Darin “Pat” Mastroianni.
Tonight, Izturis hits second again, and will play at second base. And, amazingly, it actually makes sense.
No, it’s maybe not the ideal lineup for John Gibbons to trot out there, but Maicer so far has ten hits in 24 plate appearances, with a pair of walks. If he wants to ride the hot hand, especially with a left-hander on the mound, I can live with that.
That sort of hitting from Izturis obviously, obviously won’t continue — nor will the hot streak Bonifacio is on to start the season, which we will never speak of again — but just as important, Maicer has looked comfortable on the turf, as well. Or, at the very least, he appears to have more range than the Ted Rogers statue, which isn’t something I’d have been quite ready to concede last season.
Shit, per FanGraphs he’s already been worth +0.4 WAR this season — a 2.5 win swing over 2013 already! Which… obviously the numbers don’t work that way, but whatever, it’s just nice to see something resembling the guy that the Jays thought they were getting last year — a phrase that, at least for the time being, you could copy-and-paste into posts about Melky Cabrera, Brandon Morrow, their starting catcher, Brett Lawrie, R.A. Dic– shit, the Astros are a hell of an early-season tonic, aren’t they?
Part of me doesn’t want to pick on R.A. Dickey too much, because he’s a fascinating character and can be a tremendous pitcher when he’s on, but he just makes it so fucking easy sometimes. This week, not only is the I must pitch indoors thing a little bit odd, but according to a piece from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, we need not worry about why Dickey was bad on Opening Day way back in that shitty month of March, because Dickey had a dead arm! The fuck??? “Every pitcher goes through a little bit of a dead-arm period at some point. Hopefully it happens in spring when you’re getting ready,” he said. “Unfortunately for me it happened the week of opening day and the week before that when I pitched against the Yankees.” But… but… but he felt healthy all spring! He was just exercising his arm against the Yankees and the results didn’t matter! Just… stop… talking. Please.
Blue Jays Bat Boy nails the Josh Zeid/sunscreen issue in a tweet: “Astros bullpen pitchers spraying on sunscreen indoors because you can never be too careful from the bright blue seats.”
Great stuff from @bluejaysart, who are ready for a sweep — as is Adam Lind’s beard, apparently.
J.A. Happ starts tonight for Buffalo. Ben Wagner tweets that he says he wants to get up to 100 pitches, which totally sounds like great long-term news for the Bisons rotation. *COUGH*
Next game: Tomorrow, 7:05 PM ET, @ Baltimore
For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.
And now, the lineups…
Toronto Blue Jays
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
2B Maicer Izturis (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
DH Dioner Navarro (S)
3B Brett Lawrie (R)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
C Josh Thole (L)
SS Jonathan Diaz (R)
RHP R.A. Dickey
CF Dexter Fowler (S)
RF Alex Pressley (L)
C Jason Castro (L)
2B Jose Altuve (R)
DH Chris Carter (R)
1B Marc Krauss (L)
3B Matt Dominguez (R)
LF Robbie Grossman (S)
SS Jonathan Villar (S)
LHP Dallas Keuchel