Ian Desmond’s month long tutorial on how to play left field began on Friday. He got in some work on his turn-around-and-watch-a-ball-go-over-the-fence move, and he got to field a ground ball single. In a show of respect, no fly balls were hit his way.
He also hit a bullet for a double that nearly cleared the wall. But his hitting isn’t important in spring because this spring isn’t about that. For him it’s about learning a new position.
Surprisingly fans, and writers, are still reacting negatively about this signing on blogs and newspapers within the last few days.
Tim Cowlishaw in The Dallas Morning News had an article a couple of days ago, nearly a week after the fact, decrying the fact that the nineteenth pick was much too much to give up for guy who hit .233.
He pointed out all the great nineteenth picks of the recent past like Michael Wacha, Andrew Cashner, and Shelby Miller, and lamented how much he would much rather have the futures of these good pitchers as opposed to one year of Desmond.
But it’s not fair to compare the best nineteenth picks with the worst year of Desmond’s career.
Why not do the opposite?
Which would you rather have on the Rangers roster in 2016? Ian Desmond, a left fielder who drives in 94 runs. Or Brett Sinkbell, a pitcher who gives you a 13.50 ERA, as he did for the Marlins in 2010.
Which would you rather have this year in left field? Ian Desmond, a guy who hits you 25 home runs, puts up a .292 average, and an .845 OPS. Or John Mayberry, a guy who hits .164 with an OPS of .545, which is what he did for the Mets in 2015.
This is the great thing about baseball arguments. While numbers don’t lie, stats can deceive.
So, is one year of Ian Desmond worth giving up the future of a nineteenth pick for? Below is every nineteenth draft pick since 2000. You decide.
2000 Sean Burnett
2001 Mike Fontenot
2002 James Loney
2003 Conor Jackson
2004 Chris Lambert
2005 John Mayberry (picked by the Rangers)
2006 Brett Sinkbell
2007 Joe Savery
2008 Andrew Cashner
2009 Shelby Miller
2010 Mike Foltynewicz
2011 Matt Barnes
2012 Michael Wacha
2013 Marco Gonzales
2014 Nick Howard
2015 Kevin Newman
Now, let me ask this question: Is one year of Ian Desmond leading the Rangers to a World Series worth giving up Mike Folynewicz and his 5.64 lifetime ERA?
That’s why the Desmond deal made so much sense.
I’d pick going to the World Series any time over Mike Folynewicz or Brett Sinkbell or John Mayberry or Conor Jackson or Chris Lambert.
Let the learning of outfield routes begin.