— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 19, 2014
And in one fell swoop a collective “huh?” went up from Marlins fans everywhere. Jordany Valdespin??
Even more shocking was the inclusion of Valdespin in the lineup for the game tonight against the Giants. This leaves most Marlins fans with two questions; Who is Jordany Valdespin and is he our future second baseman?
For obvious reasons, the first one is much easier to answer. Valdespin is a New York Mets cast-off, a player who the Mets believed had the talent to be a talented player, but maybe not the mentality. He wore out his welcome in New York with misstep after misstep, and eventually found himself without a job.
I will get to some of his more brainless moments in a minute, but his on the field production has been intriguing, if not encouraging. He has excelled in all levels of the minor leagues, posting batting averages approaching .300. He is a utility man with the ability to play all outfield positions and second base, as we will see tonight. He has speed to spare, something that the Marlins have been looking for out of their second baseman.
That is the good. Here is everything else.
He makes Marcell Ozuna look patient at the plate, once walking an incredible 21 times in over 400 at bats in a season in AA. He has a below average arm, and the defensive metrics really don’t like him, giving him a UZR150 rating of -18.9. Granted, most of that has been accumulated in the outfield, but it is not exactly comforting. His speed is somehow a negative, as he relies solely on his speed to try to steal bases rather than good technique and reading pitchers. He did manage 15 steals for the Marlins in AAA this season…but was thrown out 10 times. Not exactly a great percentage.
I will concede that his walk rate has drastically improved since coming to Miami, as he has walked 36 times in 222 at bats in AAA. For comparison, his previous 36 walks took 533 at bats. All of this combined with extracurricular activities makes you question the Marlins capacity to make personnel decisions.
Ah, those aforementioned brainless activities…where to begin? He infuriated the Mets organization by continually showboating home runs, one leading to bench clearing brawl in July of last year that was the beginning of the end for his stay in the Big Apple. He has a history of benchings stemming from a wide range of activities including failing to run out ground balls and disregarding team rules. Also on his record, is reports of a temper tantrum in the Mets clubhouse upon being demoted last year. According to reports, he was upset because the Mets wouldn’t put him on the disabled list with a fake injury.
Oh yeah, he was suspended 50 games last year due to his connection with the Biogenesis scandal.
So you may be asking the question, “Why is this guy even signed, let alone playing for the Marlins?” Well everyone loves to believe that they can change people. We hear it all the time when an analyst proclaims that a player “needs a change of scenery”. The truth is, if it wasn’t for Valdespin’s boneheaded decisions, he would likely still be a Met, but as soon as his behaviour became more of a problem than his talent offered, he was jettisoned.
He has had a solid couple of weeks and that is why the Marlins have decided to give him a chance at the revolving door that is second base. Rafael Furcal, Ed Lucas, Donovan Solano, Jeff Baker, and Derek Dietrich have all had a shot at the position, and for various reasons have been unable to grab control of it. To me, Valdespin is little more than a quadruple A player. Someone who is to good for AAA but not good enough to be a consistent major league player.
I hope I am wrong, and we will see if he has learned from his past mistakes starting tonight, but is he the second baseman of the future?
I hope not.