Sunday, August 31, 2003

Defensive Improvement

The defensive play of Jose Valentin has been much better this year. I doubt most people will acknowledge it, since once a player gets a reputation for being bad defensively, it's almost impossible to shake. But Jose has usually been able to make the difficult plays. He makes careless errors on the simple ones.

He has made the simple plays this year. And the improved infield defense up the middle is a big reason for the Sox resurgence. A lot of people questioned whether replacing Jimenez with Alomar was actually an improvement (see here, here and here). The only thing I can say to these people is that they haven't watched these guys play everyday. I follow numbers and see where they are coming from. But in this case the numbers do not tell the whole story.

Jimenez was not liked by fans, teammates or management. He made stupid mistakes that did not always show up in the boxscore. I noticed earlier in the season how he used to barehand the ball needlessly to turn double plays. The first time I him barehand a ball I actually shouted at my wife that the guy was an idiot and that eventually he was going to drop one of them. And of course he did. Against the Cubs. The Cubs series turned out to be the last straw for fans and management alike. He was gone less the week later and no one had a kind word to say about him. I’ll take the sweet fielding Alomar, even with his limp slugging %, any day.