It is only October 20th and yet the annual "offseason straw-grasp" is already in full swing in the blogosphere. New GM Alex Anthopolous's recent comments regarding the teams non-specific interest in resigning Marco Scutaro caused a few waves. Some considered them a waste of time, others thought they were a clear indication of AA's intent to to retain Scutaro.
I've said all along that I'm against resigning Scutaro. He did a terrific job; first as a utility guy then as the everyday shortstop. That J.P. acquired him for a song and paid him very little (just over $1.5 mil for 2009, less than Johnny Mac!) is very much icing on the cake. Scutaro did well to turn himself into a good leadoff man and an excellent fielding shortsto///////RECORD SCRATCH!!!!!!!!
Remember how we all raved over Scutaro's defense this year, how impressive he both looked and rated in the various metrics? A funny thing happened on the way to a silk glove: Marco Scutaro ran out of gas. Not only did Scutaro's offence go south as the season wore on, his defense did the very same.
Consider this post I wrote on August 5th. The content of the post doesn't look at Macro Scutaro's defensive runs: 16. Meaning his UZR on August 5th was 16.0 runs. Looking at his final season numbers we see a frightening total: 0.3 Over the final two months (6 weeks before his injury) Marco Scutaro played 16 runs below average.
Brian Joseph of Baseball Digest Daily compiled all defensive numbers for shortstops around the same time in August for his excellent Digging in the Dirt series. At that time Scutaro sported a UZR/150 of 7.0 (finished 0.1), a RZR of .825 (finished .799) with 48 out of zone plays (finished with 61) and so on and so forth.
I don't point this out to disparage Scutaro, more than anything I was shocked to see how far his defensive numbers fell. I also recognized this numbers aren't infallible, but they do represent a decline. A significant one, especially as it relates to signing an aging player to a multi-year contract. As each year passes, Scutaro will break down earlier and earlier. There is no guarantee he will ever rediscover his range or his legs as the innings mount.
One option, one I wouldn't oppose, is making Scutaro the everyday third baseman. Though his range declined, Scutaro remained incredibly sure-handed, making few errors on the balls he fielded (other than a few in high leverage situations) and fewer throwing errors. Offensively his skills are decidedly "old player" meaning Cito could slot him in at the top of the order and expect pretty similar production (just not EVERY day Cito, give the man a rest.
Would Scutaro agree to be the third baseman if other offers to play short every day exist? I don't know, though the lure of natural grass is just about enough to get anyone out of town. Hopefully the Jays recognize how "profit" they've already made off Scutaro and don't flush it all down the toilet on an aging player during his decline phase.