Remember the scene in The Godfather, Part II, where Robert
Deniro travels back to Sicily to avenge his father's murder? When he gets
there, he finds a brokendown old man, confined to a chair, barely able to hear
Vito say his name and the name of his father, Antonio Andolini. Vito is unmoved
by Don Ciccio's condition and runs him through with a knife.
This, thank God, is basically the course the Red Sox took
with Jose Offerman today. Nature had done 90 percent of the job on this utility
cadaver, but the Sox refused to wait the two months for his contract - and
presumably his ML career - to expire.
Offerman had the misfortune of being signed in the wake of Mo
Gate, so the perception among the idiots was that he'd need to produce like the
Hit Dog or be deemed a failure. The problem was that Offerman never produced
like the Offerman Dan Duquette thought he was signing. In his final season in
Kansas City, Offerman hit .315 with a .407 OBP and had 45 steals. He hit .294
with a .395 OBP his first year with the Sox, but he stole only 18 bases. He
did, however, match his 1998 total in one category: caught stealing. That's
right, though he had 27 fewer steal attempts, he still managed to get nailed 12
times, for an unacceptable 60 percent success rate. But the most damning stat
of all that first season - that thing we knew intuitively but didn't know how to
quantify - was his fielding runs total of -29. Baseball nerds John Thorn and
Pete Palmer have concocted a complicated (lots of parentheses) but sound formula
that yields how many runs a player saves or allows above or below league average
with his defense based on his fielding range and fielding percentage. We know
the formula works because ranking Offerman at the bottom of the league's second
basemen confirmed what our eyes had already told us.
Of course after that first season his
offense went in the toilet too. He became a zero-tool player. He couldn't hit,
hit for power, run, field or throw. He was a 26-million dollar statue (or is it
28 with the buyout?) whose only use would be to stand at the plate for a
rehabbing pitcher's simulated game. In keeping with his "me first" rep, I never
heard of Offerman volunteering for this duty, as Carlos Baerga has this year.
It's possible, I suppose, that Offy feared getting beaned by one of his own
pitchers who'd watched him blow one too many DP pivots.
Dan Shaughnessy got in a little hot water earlier this year
for referring to Offerman as "a piece of junk." Presumably the complaints came
from the Junkyard Defense League because, in truth, comparing a ruptured
radiator hose to Jose Offerman is unfair. Even a ruptured rubber hose has uses:
beating Jose Offerman comes to mind.
Our final images of Jose will be a devastating caught
stealing when he went on his own, trying to swipe third in a one-run loss to the
Yankees; and forgetting the number of outs and getting doubled off first with
his team down five runs to the Orioles. For people who cover the Sox, their
lasting image of the 26-million dollar man will be shouting profanity and
throwing clubhouse equipment, undoubtedly poorly.
A terrible defensive player who steals 31 bases in 58
attempts over four seasons and he blames the media on his way out the door.
I'll never forget the home crowd at Dodger Stadium and the Sox fans in
attendance all booing in unison when this awful player came to the plate. I
guess we got lucky. Dodger fans suffered with this guy for parts of six
seasons, three of which he led the NL in errors, including 1995 when he played
in only 119 games of a 144-game schedule. We all know what Shaughnessy wanted
to say. What a piece of %&#!.
No talent. No class. To the bitter end.