As the Phillies gift wrap a World Series for the Yankees, the time for offseason moves is approaching. The Hot Stove League is one of the best times of the year. Lots to think about, lots to talk about, tons of speculation and none of those pesky losses to agonize over. As the days roll on, I become more and more convinced that my favorite player, Mike Cameron, won't be back. Rumors of him signing with the Cubs swirl and all of the sudden I start to feel like this guy:
“It’s like going into church on Sunday and the priest says, `Everybody go home, Jesus has now sided with the devil,”’ [Packers fan Mark Fields, who was wearing a Favre jersey with "JUDAS" written on the back] said.
(It's okay, buddy. Have some milk and cookies then go take a nap. Everything is going to be all right.)
The consensus seems to be that Mike Cameron will not be back and that the Brewers starting center fielder for 2010 will be none other than Jody Gerut. He's cheaper, he's under team control and he could put up roughly the same numbers. To prepare for this seemingly inevitable move I keep looking at Gerut's stats, his projections, his Wikipedia page and I just can't figure him out. He just doesn't make any sense. He's either going to be a great steal and an amazing asset or one of the biggest busts in team history. I haven't been this confused since my middle school thought the best way to teach kids about sex was by watching Degrassi episodes from the 80s. Not that I was complaining. (Hey Shane, if you think you are responsible enough to handle a kid when you are in middle school maybe you shouldn't eat acid and jump off a bridge a couple years later. Just a thought.)
Let's take a quick look at Jody Gerut's career:
|162 Game Avg.||162||17||65||.264||.329||.436||.765|
Weird no? Now, here's how he got there:
Jody Gerut's 2003 season in the majors involved hitting .279 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI in 127 games. He became the first Indians rookie since Joe Charboneau in 1980 to lead his team in home runs and RBI and finished 4th in the American League Rookie of the Year Award voting. At that point he appeared destined to be a fixture in the Indians' outfield for years to come, but health issues would set him off-track. He had knee surgery before the 2004 season, and did not play after August 10 of 2005 due to more injury issues. In 2004, he slipped to .252 with 11 home runs in 134 games. In 2005, he spent time with three major league teams - Cleveland, the Chicago Cubs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, although he was able to appear in only 59 major league games and 12 minor league games due to injury.
In 2006, he wanted to have more surgery although the Pirates disagreed with that assessment. He was placed on a restricted list (which is reserved for players who fail to show up with their team) and filed a grievance in return. The dispute was settled, but Pittsburgh released Gerut in spring training of 2007, as he had not recovered as well as they had hoped. For the second consecutive year, he missed the entire season.
Gerut returned to action in 2008 as a member of the San Diego Padres organization.
Basically our center fielder is a guy who had two good seasons (2003 and 2008), one average season (2004), one crappy season (2009), an injury plagued season in which he played on THREE different teams (2005) and then some seasons where he simply didn't play at all because of injury (2006-2007). Now, going by his track record one of three things could happen this season.
1.) Jody Gerut plays center field, remains healthy and has a good season hitting 15-20 homeruns.
2.) Jody Gerut is more or less healthy, but just isn't that good.
2.) Jody Gerut gets injured.
That's it. There are no other options and there is no guarantee that one of these three options is more likely to happen than another. The thing is that there is no real way to know. On one hand you can say that players start to break down around age 32, but on the other hand you have to take into account that Gerut missed two full seasons meaning he doesn't have the same wear and tear that a normal 32 year old would have. I really have no idea what he's going to do this season, but I know that it's important that he does well. There will be a dropoff from Cameron (that hopefully will be made up for with an upgrade at catcher, please for the love of god let there be an upgrade at catcher), but what matters is how big that drop off is. Through his career he's been above average defensively and if he can continue that next season it would be huge for the team. If he can't and he hits like he did this year? Look out, you might see 1500 posts by yours truly about why we should have never let Mike Cameron go, followed by a video blog of me lighting myself on fire. (Seriously, there is no telling what I might do if Cameron doesn't come back and the new center fielder sucks. It's one of the biggest sub-plots of the 2010 season.)
The thing with Jody Gerut is that you don't really know what you are going to get. You know what he's capable of doing, but you don't know if he's going to do it or not. This has never been the case with Mike Cameron. You always get the same thing; 800ish OPS, 20+ home runs and excellent defense. From 1999 to 2009 he only went under 20 homeruns three times (19, 18 and 12 in only 76 games). You also get the most popular player in all of baseball and quite possibly the greatest teammate of all time. If Jody Gerut does what they think he's going to do, he's either going to be a slight upgrade or a slight downgrade from Cameron and nobody will really notice because it will be minimal and that'd be a great boon for the team.
Something tells me it won't be as fun though. You have to remember that the untucking we all love so much that drives the Cardinals mad was Mike Cameron's idea. You will miss Mike Cameron. You might think that you won't, but one day you'll be watching Cameron play for another team at Miller Park and you'll see him give an elaborate high five to one of his teammates after a homerun, smiling and laughing with his teammates and you will be jealous. Like seeing your ex-girlfriend legitimately happy with someone else, even if it was you that ended it, it will burn at you inside and you will be sad. You will play The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry" on repeat for an entire three game series. I You will.
(Then again, if they win it all who gives a crap about Mike Cameron? Jody! Jody! Jody!)