Our beloved pastime has a long history of over-the-hill veteran players serving important mentor roles around the game, but the primacy of the Competitive Balance Tax and the perpetual crush of roster spot competition and “efficiency” has rendered these players largely moot. Players like the 40-something version of Jason Giambi, a bench bat for years on the strength of his contributions to his team as a leader beyond just his metric value, have grown frightfully rare. It is sad to see that sort of quasi-player/coach fade to memory.
As I look over the U.S. Olympic Roster, I see an awful lot of well-loved veterans who have lost a step over the years and, with that lost step, any serious hope of a consistent job under the new normal of roster construction. But I am convinced there remains value to the game of baseball to have players like Todd Frazier, Edwin Jackson, Scott Kazmir, and David Robertson around the sport beyond what they contribute to the back of the baseball card. A glance at the current free agent list reveals a small glut of other interesting, memorable players, such as Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Matt Wieters, and Neil Walker, to name a few. Read the rest of this entry »