I hopped on 101 today at my normal time, pleased to find an empty freeway. I had about two seconds of blissful amazement until I realized the reason there was no traffic: most normal people were still in bed, curled up with their new remote-control car, a Furby, a fridge full of turkey or ham leftovers, perhaps a cat or dog nuzzled at their feet, a soft ray of light peeking through the curtains to warm just a corner of the bed, a corner that could be rolled into if too cold, rolled out of if too hot.
Not me. Nope. Have to work. There is another benefit to the day, however, other than the swift commute. The corporate office is closed today, which means there is no chance of anyone remotely viewing my computer screen. I am free to write as much as I want today. I have no restrictions on my time today; no hour of frenzy in some musty, funky library, trying to get a post done. I can take things at my own pace, getting as much supporting evidence as I need for a post.
So 'tis a shame that on a day like this, where time is not the commodity it usually is for my writing, the subject happens to be Jose Vizcaino. Vizcaino is not a turn of the faucet on the ol' word spigot, as there really isn't too much to write about him. He is what he is, which is an old backup shortstop, and one that isn't going to hit well. If Ray Durham misses an extended period of time, there's going to be heartburn. If Omar Vizquel misses an extended period of time, there's going to be heartburn. If Vizcaino's at-bats are kept to a minimum, he isn't going to affect the team either way.
His at-bats are most certainly not going to be kept to a minimum, as we all know he will worm his way into a Felipe Alou lineup three days a week. This move is hardly a travesty, though, because there just wasn't an automatically preferable alternative to carry a torch for. All of the in-house and mercenary options had warts. Most of them had much more than warts. Maybe they should get those things checked out. Vizcaino was one from the pile, and can probably help a team more than Angel Chavez, all things being equal. As mentioned before, though, Chavez would have been reserved for emergencies, and kept at the bottom of Felipe's bench. Vizcaino is well-known for hanging on the street corner, moving dimebags of veteran presence, and that's a dangerous player to shove in Felipe's path. Realistically, the difference in playing time probably isn't going to make a huge difference.
The travesty label is more apt for the Giant farm system. There isn't anyone who can play short in the system who is really a better choice to start over Vizcaino, should the need arise. There isn't a blue-chip prospect to get his feet wet in case a spot opens up, nor is there someone like a Lou Collier of old, who was a respectable veteran bearing respectable veteran gifts for his AAA affiliate. Up and down the organization, almost every shortstop is an organizational soldier not suited for the majors at all right now, or likely ever. There aren't really even Neifi-clones, who could at least zip around and make plays. That the Giants are lacking in majors-ready help from their system isn't exactly news, but it's a problem that really sticks out with the shortstop position.
There was a temptation to come up with some silly metaphor for Vizcaino coming back to the Giants. Perhaps one that likens him to an old girlfriend, or old fling. That doesn't really apply, though, as old girlfriends usually carry at least some memories that transcend feelings of indifference. No, Vizcaino is more like a girl that looks like Dave Attell, and who is attending the same sold-out concert as the Giants. To get the bathroom, they had to uncomfortably brush by her once already. No one thought twice about it, and the unpleasantness was only fleeting. The bathroom break's over, and it's time for the Giants to go back to their seat. This doesn't have to be a big deal. The unpleasantness only needs to be fleeting this time as well. If they linger too much at an inappropriate moment, however, they might get maced.
Please vote for me at The Red Reporter's contest for Worst Forced Analogy at a Baseball Blog, and also welcome back Jose Vizcaino.