Judging from what I read on the interwebs, I'm sure this isn't going to be a very popular sentiment.
But, as it seems inevitable that the St. Louis Cardinals will part with utility infielder Daniel Descalso this off-season, I just want to say that I think he is tremendously under-rated and that I'd like to see him stick around.
It's funny that people are so obsessed with the defense of outfielder Peter Bourjos -- but they have no respect for a guy who can play four infield positions at an above average level. It's a great asset for a manager to have a guy who can make all of the plays that can reasonably be expected, no matter where you put him on the field.
Unfortunately, those same folks who excuse Bourjos' crummy offense because he doesn't get to take five at-bats every game think Descalso ought to hit .300 with power despite the fact that he only took 161 at-bats last year despite playing in 104 games. It's a good thing the Internet wasn't around when Jose Oquendo played, otherwise he probably would have been run out of town before he had a chance to become beloved by the Busch Stadium crowd.
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Descalso is a .243 hitter. Oquendo had three good batting average seasons early in his career that boosted his lifetime stats. But the last six years he played he was a .240 hitter with absolutely no pop. He hit four home runs in nearly 1,300 at bats compared to the 10 Descalso has had in 1,223. I don't recall a groundswell of fans back then who wanted to the team to get rid of the Secret Weapon.
But, really, the utility man isn't about offense. His value is that he frees up other bench spots that can be populated players who round out the mix his team needs. Be it in the big leagues or on a high school team, a manager always appreciates a player who can do it all in the field and who never complains about where he plays or how much he plays.
The speculation is that the Birds will let Descalso walk because he's getting too expensive thanks to arbitration. But if the Cardinals don't plan to spend money elsewhere, why not put the best supporting cast possible on the roster?
The notoriously low budget Pittsburgh Pirates say they plan to have a $90 million plus payroll in 2015. So I'd think, with all the low-salaried young players on the roster, the Cardinals ought to be able to shell out a few more bucks for the veterans.