clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

You'll Never Believe These 641 Words About Shane Victorino!

These six words do not count.

What he must be hiding.
What he must be hiding.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

First experiment with clickbait: success. Actually, I can do 639 words better. If I had only two words to summarize the trade for Shane Victorino, they would be these: "Shane" and "Victorino." That, in essence, is all there is to it.

Substitute those words for another pair—say, "Conor" and "Gillaspie"—and you're talking about a minor deal. After suffering a routine injury at an already weak position, a first-place team makes an unremarkable trade for an unremarkable player, who should do better than a fresh cadaver, or so one would hope. Experience suggests that said player will probably get DFA'd by September, or maybe stick around the expanded roster long enough to ride the bench into the playoffs. A story like this is how you know it's summer.

A few times each season, though, we'll see a minor deal with "cultural relevance." Instead of a Conor Gillaspie—more affectionately known as Who?—you get a Shane Victorino, a guy who got a 10th place vote on someone's MVP ballot as recently as 2013. Altogether Victorino has had a fine career, even if his reputation has been somewhat inflated by the media's love for short, plucky role-players with multiple championship rings.

On the other hand, he's been injured pretty much ever since, with a .258 / .312 / .346 line in the 63 games he's played over the last season and a half. Fortunately the opportunity cost was effectively zero, since the Red Sox are bailing out their payroll. You probably haven't thought much about Josh Rutledge anyways.

If Victorino stays healthy, he's probably good for about 0.5 WAR, maybe twice that with some good fortune--an improvement over Matt Joyce, at the very least. Given Victorino's age and recent injuries, however, the Angels are still thin in the outfield and under-represented on the left side of the plate.

But patience, young halo fans, and perhaps you too shall admire the glow of Veteran Presence, Clubhouse Leadership, Grace Under Pressure, and other showers of Fox Sports sycophancy often to burst from the lips of Joe Buck or Harold Reynolds. Suppose that some time this October, Victorino beats out an infield single, scrambles to second on a passed ball, takes third on a fielder's choice, and scores the winning run on a sac fly. It happens every day, but every day is not the decisive game of a playoff series.

In a case like that, the Victorino deal will be rewritten as a turning point, the moment It All Came Together through the ineffable virtues of experienced leadership—even if he bats .220 on the season. That's not his fault, of course; he's always played with his heart turned inside out, its quivering chambers open to public scrutiny. For better or worse (but mostly better), his passionate behavior defies the risks imposed by the media, especially on a man of color.

So it's too bad he's most interesting as a character in an evolving sports narrative. The Angels badly need Victorino's help, and the price is hard to argue. If all goes well, he's a better Alex Ochoa. Sadly, he might tell us more about how the Angels will make even minor personnel decisions now that Mike Scioscia is back to running everything from the waiver wire to the concession stands. Always the brand name, never the generic, and to hell with the expiration date. I wouldn't trust this wrecking crew to find the right place in the shed for a tool with more subtle uses.

Anyways, I think there's a rule against grousing about tomorrow when a team is in first place today, and even my commitment to rationalism will only go so far. Above all, I want to fucking win. It's the one impulse I share with gamblers and hedge-fund managers, and the one point I'll bet to keep the hot streak going just long enough.