According to an email blast from the Jays, an MRI on Maicer Izturis has revealed a complete tear of the lateral collateral ligament in… whichever knee it was that he injured yesterday on the dugout steps in Baltimore. He’ll get a second opinion, but if the first diagnosis stands, he’s looking at a 4-6 month recovery time, and essentially the end of his season.
Izturis had already been stealing all kinds of playing time from supposed “regular second baseman” Ryan Goins, and in the field looked a world away from the 2013 he spent as a hapless defender and, per FanGraphs’ WAR, the worst player in baseball. He’d had a nice little meaningless streak at the plate, too!
Did that mean he was destined to get over-exposed as ol’ Gibbers vainly tried to wring every ounce of value from him possible even after the bat cooled? Well… it’s shitty to say such a negative thing like that on a day that is surely one of the worst of his professional career — and probably incorrect to suggest that over-exposure can even exist in the way we normally conceive of it on a club that is routinely running Ryan Goins and Jonathan Diaz out there — but… probably?
I don’t mean to be negative on Izturis in a moment like this — shit, I praised him in a Game Threat last week for so far looking much more like the guy the Jays thought they were getting — but there are way too many people in my Twitter feed right now who are frightened about the what this loss means. Uh… it means Goins and Diaz sharing time at second once Reyes is back, which is damn close to what everyone thought was going to be the case two weeks ago. People are similarly mentioning Stephen Drew as a possible replacement, as though two weeks ago they wouldn’t have barely struggled to bother shrugging their shoulders at the idea of Maicer’s possible loss. (Not that Drew isn’t still a very good idea, but this alters that how?)
It was great that he helped out and looked decent for a couple of weeks, but the expectations don’t change after 13 games. Not on the potential of Izturis being good, not on Goins being bad. (Of course, you already entirely expected that Goins wouldn’t hit, right?)
Is this good? Of course not. But there is Goins, there is Diaz (who I think has earned the lion’s share of playing time, despite being the right-hander in the potential platoon), there is Munenori Kawasaki and Chriz Getz and Steve Tolleson and, if you want to move even more pieces (like Brett Lawrie) around, Andy LaRoche and Juan Francisco. This team is rife with replacement-level depth, and this injury means no more today, because Izturis looked back in form, than it would have if he hadn’t had two hot weeks at the plate coinciding with not looking useless in the field.
Don’t get me wrong, I was OK with the Izturis deal at the time, because it looked like he was possibly at a low ebb of his value and had been a nice utility piece in the years previous. Last year proved that he could go a whole lot farther south than I expected, but there was certainly a higher ceiling there than we saw. It’s just… we didn’t expect anything out of him. We got a nice bonus of a couple hot weeks, and that’s great. Yet the slash line had already dipped to .286/.324/.314 (Kawasaki over 289 PA last year: .229/.326/.308), the WAR had fallen by half (from 0.4 when I wrote the Game Threat linked above to 0.2 today), and the defence was never going to look as good as what Diaz or Goins will provide. It’s… it’s fine.
I mean, it sucks for Maicer and his teammates and all that, and it was great to see him looking better than what we remembered, but let’s not anybody act like it isn’t insane to think he was going to keep producing a quarter of a win every two weeks — a half a win per month, or 3 WAR over the course of the year. The difference between having him or Kawasaki as the utility guy isn’t just practically negligible, it may end up being net positive. Relax.