Or else the curse of untuck isn't real and that would be silly.
Defending Danny Espinosa
Recently Danny Espinosa has been sent down to the minors officially and I just want to reiterate, after reading comments and even columns that seem to suggest otherwise, that Danny Espinosa is not a terrible baseball player. He's not someone that normally would have an issue with major leag ue pitching. He doesn't strike out too much to play in the majors. He is not someone who's "offensive production steadily dwindled" (Sorry Kill-Gore)
He is a good player that got injured and for whatever reason is not getting surgery.
Let's just look at the facts here. Here are Danny Espinosa's minor league stats. Low average, good patience, good pop especially for the age/level combination. Yes, a lot of strikeouts which made you wonder, will he be able to keep up that average in the major leagues, or will major league pitching overwhelm him? A .210 average won't cut it but a .240 probably would. Cut to the majors
First call-up, it was a bit what you feared. The pop was there but the .214 average was just too low. You needed to see how he did with more time.
First full season - .236 / .323 / .414. The average picked up a bit and while he wasn't a star he was certainly a player you should keep playing. He was already worth starting and he could get better.
Second season after a slow start Danny picked up his game and was hitting .258 / .324 / .420 when he jammed his shoulder. That right there is an above average hitting year. Better than the previous year by a touch. It is a tiny bit disappointing that he didn't break out but you'll take steady minor improvement. Plus he was so good in other areas (mainly defense, but a solid baserunner) and 2nd base was such a weak position that Danny was in the Top 5 2nd basemen in overall.
You read that right. As of Sept 8th, 2012 Danny Espinosa was likely somewhere around the 4th most valuable 2nd baseman in the major leagues. Even discounting defense entirely it is likely he was in the Top 10.
Then he jammed his shoulder. He said he had no strength in it. But yet he kept wanting to play and the team kept putting him out there
Sept 8th on. : .171 / .247 / .271
Playoffs : .067 / .176 / .067*
2013 : .158 / .193 / .272
So what happened? Does he finally get surgery? Nope. He gets sent down. Great.
Now a couple things could be happening here. Danny can't be forced to get surgery so maybe he's refusing it and the minor league assignment is punitive in a way (also necessary since he can't hit right now). But if this is the case why are they trying to change his swing mechanics? And why is Danny still not having surgery? It's one thing to say "I don't want to give up my spot to have surgery. I might lose it". It's another to say "OK, I lost my spot regardless, but I still don't want to have surgery because I need to work my way back ASAP". That's a little more stupid. It's not like he's making progress. He's doing terribly right now. Next is "OK I'm out of the majors but if I have surgery now, I might be too old to get another chance". It doesn't make much sense to me.
Of course the alternative, that no one on the team actually believes he's injured, makes even less sense. Do they think it's a swing thing that amazingly happened at the same time as when he injured his shoulder? What a goddamn coincidence. The numbers above are pretty irrefutable.
I don't blame Danny for this. Players are going to want to play unless the actually physically can't. It's their nature. It's up to the team to pull them when they need to be pulled (I think you guys know of a QB that this might apply to). But at this point Danny has been pulled so the onus is back on him. He needs to get surgery. He needs to think about not 2013, not even 2014, but 2015 when he'll still be a cheap commodity and LaRoche will likely be gone. Zimm to first, Rendon to third... 2nd base opens up again.
Defending Storen... sort of
Rob Neyer in a recent column says that Drew Storen would make a good acquisition for a team needing a closer. I don't necessarily disagree with a lot of his points, (so now being an established closer isn't enough for these guys? You have to be an established closer for a good team? What's next - "Kimbrel is ok but I want Brian Wilson. That guy saved games for a WS winner!") but he is way too dismissive of this year's performance. In particular he's too dismissive of Storen's HR/FB rate.
2011 : 11.1%
2012 : 0%
2013 : 13.8%
Obviously that 0% year is a fluke. He does give up more than his share of home runs. At the same time he has pitched worse this year and given up more flyballs. So the homers are an issue. Also in 2011 he was great but he had a high-end LOB rate that made his performance look at bit better than it was.
Storen is a good pitcher right now. Good, not great. Honestly he would be a fine pick-up for someone looking for a closer, but not because he's a special talent right now, because nearly anyone can be a decent closer if given the chance. If you are looking for a great arm in the pen though, picking up Storen only makes sense right now if you are betting that his issues are all mental and that you can manage around that. Otherwise you just got yourself another ok arm.
*It's a little talked about fact that in a series decided by a couple of close games the Nats failure to realize/accept Danny was injured and unable to hit as he normally would may have been a scale tipper.