The Final Post on Jason Bartlett This September | The Process Report

The Final Post on Jason Bartlett This September

By R.J. Anderson //

Those who follow Tommy and I on Twitter probably notice the snark directed towards the lineups recently. Most notably: Jason Bartlett playing versus right-handed starting pitchers. Unabashed supporters of liberating Reid Brignac from the bench, these complaints are usually restricted to matchups versus righties, particularly against righties in left-handed hitting friendly environments.

Let’s clear up that those comments are not personal towards Bartlett. I have never met and will likely never meet Bartlett. I’m sure he’s a nice fellow, but it makes no difference to me. It’s also not about Bartlett failing to replicate 2009. Allow me to speak with Tommy and myself here (we discussed this in private beforehand) when I write that we both knew that Bartlett retaining even 80% of his big season totals was a pipedream. His 2009 happened. Nobody will take that away from him on the back of his baseball cards on his Baseball-Reference page.

There is no need to rehash that argument, though, as I think the point is a pulp twice over. The reason I fiend for some Brignac action is because the one thing the Rays are all about is taking advantage of marginal upgrades whenever possible. Look at the Jose Lobaton situation or the various situational relievers or platoons engaged during a season. The Rays do everything they can to squeak out the Extra 2%. They have to be cleverer than other teams in this division because everyone knows they will never be richer.

They look under every rock and between every page of the book except when it comes to Bartlett. Remember when he started the season as the leadoff hitter. Totally fine versus left-handed pitching (he could bat there now and I would have no issue with it) but nonsensical against righties. Now, thankfully, the Rays’ margin of error increase over time and they pulled the plug on the wishing well quick enough to avoid damage, but this team usually avoids those traps.

They also usually would platoon Bartlett and Brignac straight up without a blink. That’s what I want. That’s what Tommy wants. That’s’ not what we’re getting. We aren’t even getting a resemblance of a platoon and it drives me nuts. Not because I believe Brignac is a superior player in every capacity right now (I do believe him to be a better fielder, which is sort of the entire reason Bartlett is here to begin with) but because I think playing Brignac versus righties makes the Rays even better.

Brignac is not flawless. Beyond the creepy Carl Crawford impression he’s doing lately (down to stance and sleeve wearing) he shares Crawford’s hacking tendencies too. It’s not because Bartlett is a bad player either. He could (and will next season) be the starting shortstop on numerous non-Rays teams including the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. I’ve always enjoyed the mental attributes that Bartlett brings to the team that (thankfully) Brignac seems to be picking up on too.

These games are mostly meaningless, true, yet Joe Maddon is still managing like they mean something by playing matchups, starting (mostly) the lineups that will take the field for him in the playoffs and right on down the list. He implicitly showed that he knows Bartlett versus a righty is not a good matchup by hitting Brad Hawpe in Bartlett’s place last night versus Joba Chamberlain. He knows it. I know he knows it. Maddon is too smart and aware of his personnel not to know it.

That’s why it’s infuriating. This team pushes the utility boundary on everything. Everything. Except Jason Bartlett. Which, from the outside, looks like an obvious fix. Either they are missing something or I am. I’d bet on the latter, but I don’t even know where to begin to find the answer or if there’s an answer to begin with.

One Comment

  1. MrNegative1 wrote:

    As discussed previously, Maddon is not a traditional guy, but is obviously a traditional Shortstop guy. He is not going to make a switch to the “captain” of the infield. It would be nice to see a list of playoff teams that platooned their shortstop or even had a shortstop (not due to injury) had less than 350 Plate Appearances at the beginning of the playoffs.

    None of my comments diminish your view of Bartlett v Brignac moving forward, what I am saying has merit in 2010 and the playoff push. I more than expect Bartlett to be dealt to Pittsburgh, San Diego, St.Louis….

    Just remember, the non-traditional Joe Maddon will be very traditional with the shortstop position, regardless of stat based logical arguments against the tradition.

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