December 4, 2016 (excerped from a previous article)
Do we visualize Willie, Mickey and the Duke, Joe DiMaggio and Ken Griffey Jr. when we think about centerfielders? I do, and it muddies my judgment. I wind up comparing every new centerfielder to the very best who ever played, and I lose perspective. I forget what a good center fielder actually looks like. It’s like reading a Victoria’s Secret catalogue right before going on a blind date.
I forget how good some of these guys are – and so do major league front offices. Mike Cameron, Kenny Lofton, Jim Edmonds and Johnny Damon, all in their 30s, keep bouncing around the league like itinerate workers but they keep landing on winning teams. Once the season is over, though, they have to pack up and move on to make room for some hot young prospect who has no idea how to play major league baseball yet.
These 30-something centerfielders are baseball’s truck stop waitresses. Nobody wants to marry one, but they can keep a team awfully warm out there in center field after their hot young prospect doesn’t pan out. You would think somebody would figure this out – sign one of these guys to a long term deal and be done with it – but nobody ever does. Cameron, Lofton, Edmonds and Damon will be on new teams again next year, looking for love – or at the very least a two-year contract – in all the wrong places.