Thursday, February 28, 2008

Church In Hell

I'm really getting tired of Ryan Church. The guy took a lot of crap. Far too much crap. But, jesus, the guy has to be the dumbest guy on the planet. He doesn't know when to shut the hell up. What's that about opening your mouth to remove all doubt?
"How would you feel?" Church said with a laugh one recent morning, sitting at his locker in the Mets' star-studded clubhouse. "It was like an early Christmas present, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders."

Church unfairly took a lot of crap here. He was constantly getting ripped by team officials and fans for not being better than he was. Not too many people looked at what he did, just what he didn't do. Oh, he had his problems, many of them, I suspect because he sometimes come across as a laid-back (idiot) California dude.

This is fairly stunning to hear from a player:
"They'd play me, sit me, play me, make a trade, sit me," Church said of the Nationals. The trade he is referring to is the one that brought Wily Mo Peña to Washington in mid-August, after which Church started just 13 games.

"It's a business, and I totally understand that, and not everybody is going to like it," Church said. "But I think I lost about 100-something at-bats, and there was a reason for that. People who were there know [what that reason was]. You could see it. There's a business side."

Church paused briefly. "There's arbitration," he continued. "There's this . . . "

Church holds up his hand and rubs his fingers and thumb together, the universal sign for "money."

Sounds a lot like something Gary Sheffield would say, huh?

That's a pretty serious charge to level. Not only does it imply that Bowden was pulling the levers behind the scenes, but it's undermining Manny -- that Manny decided to play Nook Logan over Church not as a baseball decision, but as something handed down from the front office. I'm not sure I could see Manny doing that.

Bowden, of course, denies the charge:
"That is absolutely not true," Bowden said. Church "was benched because we traded for Wily Mo Peña and then started scoring one more run a game. I promise you that is not true."

But in doing so, he pees all over Church, as he loves to do. He's implying (with the same level of empirical argument you're sure to get from Rush Limbaugh) that getting Church out of the lineup was the reason for the surge.

For the month before the Pena trade, Church clearly wasn't a problem. He hit a pretty impressive .283 .336 .495 over that stretch. They scored more runs because Kearns found his stroke, because Flores started taking ABs away from Schneider and because, well, anything can happen over a month or so of games. That's just Bowden asserting his GM prowess and taking another unnecessary shot at a player he was never especially fond of.

Anyway... I do feel bad for the way he got jerked around the last few years, while the team fiddled with crapbags -- and worse, OBVIOUS crapbags -- like Endy and Logan. If he's your worst outfielder, you've got a pretty good team. Just nobody every really took the time to notice the small things he did... just the big ugly things he did wrong.

But at the same time, good riddance. The team is better with Milledge than it is with him. And Church's biggest asset to the team always was how cheap his contract was relative to the league-average performance he gave. Now that he's making north of $2 million, that value starts to erode.

I hope he enjoys NY. I hope he enjoys putting his foot in his mouth at some point this year. And I hope he enjoys the choruses of boos he's going to get when he flails weakly at a breaking ball in the dirt. (since he's the only batter in the history of baseball who has a hard time with breaking pitches...)

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