April 28, 2004

Reader Mail (Did I Mention Luis Rivas Stinks? Edition)

For some reason I haven't done a mailbag entry in a while, so here you go...

From Randy, regarding Monday's entry, in which I complained about Luis Rivas yet again:

It seems to me that you think Luis Rivas is the worst second baseman in the majors. Who would you rather have then, Luis Rivas or Pokey Reese?

Now I'm not hating on Reese here, I like the guy and he has a terrific glove. But no where in your article did you talk about Rivas and his glove, so let's look at the hitting statistics:

Rivas: .207/.233/.345

Reese: .200/.237/.236

Though Reese is currently playing shortstop and we're only comparing hitting stats, Rivas could be hitting like Reese. So as a Twins fan like you are: it could be worse.

First of all, Randy can't possibly be a frequent or long-time visitor to this blog if he thinks I haven't talked about Luis Rivas' defense (yes, I know he specifically said I didn't mention it on Monday...I'm just saying).

I think Rivas' defense at second base stinks. I think he turns a fine double play and I think he has a very strong arm, but I also think he has very little range and hands that are not particularly good. I've probably said this about a thousand times over the last couple years.

Do I think Rivas is "the worst second baseman in the majors"? No, I don't. As long as Enrique Wilson is playing everyday (for the Yankees, no less), Rivas probably doesn't have a shot at that title. But he's certainly among those who need to be considered, and he has been for four years already, which is where my biggest problem with Rivas comes from. The fact that he simply has not gotten better.

Every defense (no pun intended) of Rivas starts with the fact that he is young. First it was "he's only 21." Then it was "he's only 22." Then last year it was "he's only 23." Well, guess what? Now he's 24 and he hasn't gotten any better this whole time. The "he has potential because he is young" theory can only go so far.

In fact, I dealt with this issue in some depth before the season started, in my preview of the Twins over at The Hardball Times. If you missed it back then, I think you'll want to check it out. It should open some eyes for those of you out there still hoping for big things from Rivas.

To answer Randy's second question (Rivas or Reese?), if we are talking specifically about this season, I certainly would rather have Pokey Reese than Luis Rivas. If we're talking about in general, for the future, I'm not sure. If their real-life contracts are to be considered, then Luis Rivas is beyond useless, as he'll be making quite a bit in arbitration next year, certainly way more than I would ever even think about paying him.

Neither Rivas or Reese can do much of anything offensively. The big difference between the two is that Reese is, by personal observations and almost any defensive metric around, one of the best defense second basemen in baseball. Rivas is, as I've said, one of the worst. The difference between the two in this area should not be glossed over, because it is huge.

And really, this is a moot point, because the only reason Pokey Reese is playing every day right now for the Red Sox is that Nomar Garciaparra is out. Not to mention the fact that Reese hasn't played second base all year, since he's been filling in for Nomar at shortstop. Once Nomar returns, Reese will be splitting time at second with Mark Bellhorn and I'd be surprised if he started more than once or twice per week.

As Randy said, "it could be worse" than Luis Rivas. For instance, the Twins could sign me to play my old little league position, second base. I was always stronger defensively than offensively and, at my peak, was pretty damn good with the glove. At this point though, my range is slightly less than that of a potted plant.

However, the "it could be worse" scenario does not include Pokey Reese. I'd make that swap before you can say "bouncing ball just past the outstretched glove of Rivas."

New article at The Hardball Times: Top 50 Prospects: April Checkup (Part One)

Today's picks:

Philadelphia (Millwood) -110 over St. Louis (Carpenter)

Florida (Penny) +105 over San Francisco (Williams)

Montreal (Ohka) +190 over San Diego (Wells)

Total to date: $315

W/L record: 27-29 (2-1 yesterday for +115.)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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