All My Infielders, Episode 4: Vizquel’s Long Goodbye
Judging by his agent’s comments, it looks like Omar Vizquel isn’t going to be brought back. And of course, Bud Shaw came out with a column that mirrors how the mainstream baseball writers feel about Vizquel. Nevermind that Vizquel is going to be 38 next year, and nevermind that the Indians have two pretty good young shortstops that have nothing more to prove in AAA. Yes, Omar is popular in the community, but comments like this drive me insane:
The greatest compliment to Omar Vizquel at age 37 is that his popularity isn’t the biggest reason why the Indians need him next year. The talk of contention, if serious, is No. 1 on that list. Several other reasons tumble into place behind it before you consider any effect he might have at the box office.
Now, if you’ll allow me, I have to take this opportunity to address this. Bringing Omar Vizquel back is not going to sell tickets to the Jake next year; winning is. And the Indians have a lot bigger needs to address than bringing back Vizquel. I don’t mean to be uncaring about what Omar has done during his eleven years with the team, but it’s just time for him to go. Vizquel has been overpaid the last couple years because when the Indians signed Roberto Alomar to a fairly large free agent contract, he went to John Hart and complained. And he got what he wanted; a large extension that paid him roughly $7M this season. Now that his contract is finished and the team has younger, cheaper, and potentially better options at short, Vizquel should part ways amicably and move on; there are several teams out there that would be more than willing to sign him if he still wants to play. Unfortunately, I have this sinking feeling that the local media won’t let this go, and when Jhonny Peralta makes an error sometime next year, one of the local writers will pen an article complaining that Omar Vizquel wouldn’t have bobbled that ball or would have made that throw.
Baseball fans don’t like seeing change, especially when that change involves the last link to the two World Series teams of the 1990s. But in this case change has to happen in order for the team to get better, and if the team does so in the next 3-4 years with Peralta or Phillips at short, these laments will become quieter and quieter.