“The job of a manager is not to be a buddy of the players,” insisted Ken Macha earlier today at a press conference introduction as the newest manager of the Miwaukee Brewers. And good thing, too, because the former Trenton Thunder skipper had a reputation for being anything but a players’ pal during his tenure as Billy Beane’s
puppet manager in Oakland. At a confusing moment like this, at least we can count on ESPN senior baseball analyst Keith Law to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric.
Earlier today, the Royals acquired former Mets 1B Mike Jacobs from the Marlins in exchange for reliever Leo NuÃ±ez. Before the swap was confirmed Rainy On The Royals’ Rany Jazayerli declared, “the mere fact that Dayton Moore is talking to the Marlins about Jacobs tells me he still doesn™t get it.”
Jacobs turns 28 today. He is eligible for arbitration, and his salary is likely to jump to around $3 million for 2009. He will be a free agent in three years, which isn™t all that relevant, because in three years it™s unlikely that he™ll be worth paying millions of dollars to. He™s unlikely to get any better than he™s been the last three years, and given the difference in league quality, and the fact that Kauffman Stadium is openly hostile to his primary skill, it™s likely he™ll be a little worse in 2009 than in 2008. This is what happens to unathletic hitters who reach the majors at a fairly advanced age: they are very valuable commodities in Year One, and perilously close to becoming liabilities by Year Four. Which is, in part, why the Marlins are so willing to move him.
Jacobs wasn™t even all that good in 2008. He certainly had his uses; he hit 32 homers in just 141 games, and slugged .514 for the Marlins. But he drew just 36 walks, and his OBP was .299. Two-ninety-nine.
Moore doesn™t get that what really ails his offense isn™t the lack of power, it™s the lack of walks. The Royals finished next-to-last in the AL in homers last season. The one team they out-homered? The Twins, who finished third in the league in runs scored and came within a game of the playoffs. But the Royals didn™t just finish last in the league with 392 walks, they had one of the lowest walk totals in a non-strike season in recent American League history.