Hey, what's up gang? I'm back, I survived the swine flu. (Well, not really but it sounds better to explain the absence.) Did I miss anything? No? Not really? No trades? No 5,000 Jeff Suppan heads on the field on Sunday? Anyways, it's good to be back. You know who else thinks it's good to be back? JJ Hardy.
That's right, he's back! Today against the Cardinals, JJ Hardy will be on the roster. The only thing is he falls one day short of some MLB rule that makes no sense so he remains under Brewers control until after 2011, instead of after 2010. Reading the baseball blogs around the internet people have been calling the Brewers unethical to do this or just plain wrong. Why? Because delaying his free agency like this costs him money. To which I say, who gives a shit?The argument is that Hardy is an above average player, "worthy" of being a major league player and receiving major league money. He DESERVES to get paid millions of dollars. He's earned it. To which I say, shut the hell up.
Here's the thing, I hate to get all Al's Ramblings on you guys but this is America. The way this whole America thing works is that you work hard and you get rewarded. The best of the best as they say. If you are dedicated to what you are doing and put doing it before everything else, you will be rewarded for that dedicati0n. That's how it's supposed to work. In my eyes JJ Hardy has not done this. Look at this quote he gave to A-dub (who is probably reveling in this controversy).
“It’s been simmering. There are questions in my mind,” Hardy said. “The more and more I think about it, the more I think, ‘Why would they do this to me?’
“It beat me up inside. For them to give up on me this year, it kinda hurt. I definitely feel like I was being punished.”
Or allow me to translate for you: WHY ME?! THIS ISN'T FAIR! GOD!!!!!
The fact is JJ Hardy IS an above average MLB player, if only because of his defense, but if Escobar can do the same or better with the bat AND can be better with the glove (AND cheaper) then he is the right choice. That's another part of this America thing, sometimes you are good enough but someone is better and you lose your place. It doesn't matter that you are better than 15 of the other 30 shortstops in the league because this one on the same team as you is better than you. That's just bad luck. Doug Melvin admits this when he says:
“What comes into play is we had another player down there performing,” Melvin said. “We felt this was a chance to give Escobar a feel for what it takes here. Unfortunately it was at the expense of J.J."
If Hardy would play 2B or 3B it might have been different, but he has admitted that he will ONLY PLAY SHORT so this is how it had to go. Tough. Hardy says “I think there was some good intentions, but at the same time I don’t think I’ll ever believe 100% that I was sent down to work on my swing, I think they’ve always had Escobar in the back of their mind." and he probably has a point, but he shouldn't be blaming the Brewers. He should be placing the blame on himself for under performing. Look at the stats: his BABIP has sucked, but his Line Drive % has been dropping for two years and his K% has been rising. It's tough, it sucks, but that's life. Work harder.
That's not really the point of this post though. The point of this post is "Why am I supposed to feel sorry for JJ Hardy?" I am supposed to feel sorry for him because he will be a free agent in 2011 instead of 2010. This costs him money and that's not fair. I am not going to get into the whole "baseball players are paid too much!" ga-ga, but here is what JJ Hardy has made so far in his career.
Signing bonus: $735k
That's almost $10 million dollars and next season he will probably get a raise despite all of this which will put him around $15 million for his career. If he handled his money right, he could probably say "you know what? The Brewers are pissing me off, I am retiring" and then never work again. Not that he would, but he most definitely COULD do that. Could any of us do that? Doubtful. I do not feel sorry for JJ losing money because he has made more than I ever have by multiple amounts. I do not feel sorry for JJ because he has the talent to do something that thousands only dream of.
Jeff Suppan is probably the most hated Brewer right now and it's 100% tied to his salary. If you look at the value portion of his fangraphs, the fans are right. Last season he was just below league average and was almost a break even. This season? He's bleeding money getting paid $12.5M while being worth negative $1.9M, but we signed a contract and we have to pay him. Once that contract is signed there is nothing we can do to change it.
This JJ Hardy situation is the closest you will ever see to a player having consequences for not living up to his contract. I don't know about anyone else, but I am a fan of the Brewers. I am a fan of JJ Hardy because he is a Brewer and when he is gone I might follow his career, but I won't be a fan of his new team I will still be a fan of the Brewers. The Brewers and their success are what matters to me. An extra year of Hardy increases his value to us and to other teams and saves us money to spend on other areas of the team. So why shouldn't we do that?
So shut up people and shut up JJ. You'll be traded soon and you'll probably be the best SS in the system wherever you go and you'll probably go on to make another $10-20 million dollars and live happily ever after in a nice mansion on a nice beach somewhere. I wish you the best of luck, but I don't feel sorry for you. Not for a second.