Remember Yuniesky, the goal is to pick up the ball…not just stop it. Photo: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Since I began writing for RtB back in the winter of 2010, I have always had a punching bag. By “punching bag” I mean, an aging/overrated/overpaid default player that I can blame all of the teams woes on. Usually it is someone who is past their prime, lacks the tools to be an everyday player, or is insanely overpaid. Lucky for me, I have had one of those every year thus far. That is, until this season…
Going into the 2013 season, I had some concerns about who would be the focus of my blind rage and malcontent. Part of me thought Rickie Weeks might be worthy of carrying the mantle. Meanwhile, other parts of my beer-saturated cranium thought that the signing of guys like Bobby Crosby and Kelvim Escobar would serve nicely. Unluckily for me, Weeks looks to be back in form and both Crosby and Escobar are selling cars at a Dodge dealership in Phoenix (I assume).
On Monday I felt like my prayers had been answered. The Brewers went out and lit $33 million dollars on fire by signing the next best thing to Jeff Suppan, Kyle Lohse. Now granted, I do believe Lohse has more talent than Suppan..but based on age and dollars, it is a wash. This was certainly a step in the right direction, but this signing did not quite fill that void in my hate riddled soul. All this signing did was make me see the disconnect between my two favorite uncle’s, Mark (Attanasio) and Doug (Melvin). This signing did not make Kyle Lohse my punching bag, it made the organization my temporary boxing…sack. You know the one I am talking about right? The one that guys can wail on with one hand and it keeps bouncing back over and over again. The Brewers had made themselves my punching sack…I still needed a punching bag.
Without even so much as a day for me to soak in all the money they just dumped into Lake Michigan, I got a text from old pal and staff writer Colin Bennett. The text read thusly:
"Everything is on hold. We are giving Yuniesky Betancourt a MAJOR LEAGUE DEAL"
The first sentence of that text was in regards to a joint article we were/are working on. The second sentence was a gift…and a curse.
All Spring Training I had longed for a player who could pinch hit with one out and the bases loaded, to deliver that double play. At night I would lay awake and dream about 1 pitch at-bats, ending in a double-play or a pop up to the 3rd baseman. As I watched our talented young position players move base runners with sacrifice bunts and fly balls, I ached for 3 straight swing-and-misses on balls in the dirt. Now…I had all of those things in one horrible, depressing package.
Yuniesky Betancourt was a player that was so unwanted, that the Royals refused to trade us Zack Greinke unless he was part of the deal. How bad do you have to be for a team to force a “throw-away” player on you?
Here are some of my favorite highlights from Yuni’s storied career:
2008/09 – His last season with the Mariners he was statistically the worst defensive starting shortstop in baseball, paired with him walking in 3% of his over 500 plate appearances…also the worst in baseball for a starter. He was then traded to the Royals.
2009/10 – The Royals gave up two minor league nothings to acquire Betancourt, who thanked them by having a .274 on-base percentage…again, the worst in baseball for a starting position player.
2010/11 – Then the Brewers were forced to take him as part of the Greinke deal. As a Brewer he led the majors in fewest pitches seen per plate appearance, 3.16. You guessed it, worst in major league baseball. He also retained his crown of having the worst on-base percentage of any starting position player.
Don’t get me wrong, Betancourt had some moments as a Brewer that were good and possibly great. During our playoff run to the NLCS that year, he was off the charts good. Almost good enough to make me forget about all the times he was the worst player in baseball.
All of a sudden, Kyle Lohse looks like a 14 karat gold plated pooper scooper doesn’t he?
It will be oh so nice to rip Betancourt apart every time he steps on the field. The real difficulty will be trying to keep it fresh. Coming up with new material about a guy I have insulted hundreds of times before will be a challenge that I embrace.
I have been writing about the Crew for so long now that sometimes it seems like they are inside my head. How could they have possibly known that I secretly yearned for one of the worst baseball players of the last half-century?
The only logical explanation, is that someone in the Brewers front office loves my work on all of the over-payed, 40 year old garbage they keep throwing on the field.
My Dad always says, “A turd in a tuxedo, is still a turd”.
Welcome back to Milwaukee you classy, sophisticated turd!!!