Mark DeRosa was, once, a very good baseball player. Mark DeRosa contributed greatly to a 97 win team during his final season with the Chicago Cubs, in 2008. Then he was traded to the Cleveland Indians where he was decidedly less good and decidedly more hurt. Then has traded again, this time to the St. Louis Cardinals. They, too, were a good team, even though DeRosa was not especially good during his time in St. Louis.
Mark DeRosa then joined the 2010 San Francsico Giants where he barely played. But the team was good! The Giants won the World Series thanks in no way to Mark DeRosa, who got to do a bunch of hanging around but very little actual playing after early May. But he was there and then they won. One more injury-shortened year in San Fran before he joined the Washington Nationals on a cheap, one-year deal.
Once again, DeRosa barely played but the Nats were great, reaching the playoffs for the first time in “franchise” history.
The team release announcing the Blue Jays signing of Mark DeRosa to a one-year, $750000 MAJOR LEAGUE contract now makes so much sense. Mark DeRosa has a role in baseball at this point of his career – Mark DeRosa is the mascot to the stars.
Mark DeRosa is 37 and hasn’t registered more than 120 plate appearances in a single season since 2009. But teams with him around, man do they ever win. Mark DeRosa keeps the room light and does literally nothing else but that is okay. Who needs that 25th spot on the roster, anyway?
Let’s take a step back from the scorn machine for a second. It is easy to overload this utterly inconsequential deal with hate when it simply doesn’t deserve it. It does, however, link back to a thought I haven’t been able to shake for some time.
It is foolish for “luddites” or the wilfully ignorant to deride modern stats and analytics for one simple reason: the average fan doesn’t need to care about them but the front office of their favorite team certainly does. Every team in baseball crunches numbers and spends considerable sums of money looking for new or inventive ways to evaluate or identify talent. Which means the minute the Guy On The Barstool puts his GM for the Day cap on and calls for somebody’s head or job, advanced stats are in the conversation. All statistics are another way of measuring worth.
DeRosa has a reputation around the game as one of the best clubhouse guys there is. Does that matter much? AA thinks so. #Bluejays
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) January 22, 2013
The same applies for leadership and intangibles. We can dismiss it and laugh it off and whine about the inability to capture and place value on these skills, but the front offices of Major League Baseball teams obviously value them. So “the thinking fan” must as well. If the front office thinks having “veteran presents” in the clubhouse, it’s because they believe it will help the team win more baseball games.
It might not make sense to piss away a roster spot when extracting value from every player on the 25 man but that which a player like Mark DeRosa offers is valuable to someone. The manager, the highest earner, whomever. If Mark DeRosa was the only mascot in the league, then we could wonder if Alex Anthopoulos is off his rocker. But he isn’t (and he isn’t.)
If DeRosa doesn’t do what he is supposed to do (make nice and bro down with the fellas during Spring Training), the Blue Jays can cut him loose and be no worse for wear. If injuries mount and DeRosa is pressed into duty, well, then something must be done. But for now, this is a benign move for a team which isn’t wanting for talent on the rest of the roster. Until, of course, they are.