Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The great mentor Omar Vizquel

Its about 7 o'clock on a Monday night, you're sitting at home watching a movie.  Being as tech savy and dependent as you are, you calmly grab your smart phone and check your twitter feed.  Then BAM!

Your twitter feed has exploded with "Omar Vizquel WHAT THE?" tweets.  Bewildered you flip to your MLBTradeRumors app trying to make sense of this. Could it be another elaborate hoax upon Jays fans for attention (ala Gavin Floyd rumors).  You scroll down the Blue Jays feed and see there in the timeline "Blue Jays sign Omar Vizquel", and its confirmed by Jerry Cransnick.

Your mind is spinning trying to make sense of why the age conscious contract extension mastermind Alex Anthopolous would make this kind of move.

To put it vaguely, its for veteran presence.  The Blue Jays are one of the youngest MLB teams out there. There are other options, yes, but none of them are Omar Vizquel the person or Omar Vizquel the aura.

Lets look at it this way.  Omar Vizquel has been around MLB since 1989.  A year before Brett Lawrie born, and only a few months before Henderson Alvarez.

While Omar Vizquel has declined in the field, and will never play as a shortstop again likely (13 time gold glover at SS).  He can be a mentor.  Given that he is on a minor league deal and only can really play 3rd and 2nd anymore and not at a very high level the move could be perplexing, but all you have to do is look at Vizquel's past to figure out the Blue Jays future.

1999: Omar Vizquel takes a young shortstop named John Joeseph McDonald under his wing. For the next 6 seasons Vizquel would take this young shortstop who was full of all the character and grace Vizquel possessed and drive to be the best he could be and helped mold him into the defender and person we now affectionately refer to as Johnny Mac.

2009: Having passed through San Francisco and his defensive abilities clearly starting to wear down, Vizquel headed down to the Texas Rangers where he backed up the very young and very talented shortstop who is one of the best defenders at his position in Elvis Andrus.

2010: Having spent just one season in Texas, Vizquel went north and ended up being signed by Alex Anthopolous' favourite trade partner, Mr. Kenny Williams.  A young position player had been miscast as a 2nd basemen for a couple of seasons, not able to move to his true position of shortstop because of Orlando Cabrera.  Alexei Ramirez had one season at shortstop under his belt when Vizquel came to town, but with Vizquel came the mentorship that had helped John MacDonald and Elvis Andrus before Ramirez, and Ramirez blossomed.  Winning the "Fielding Bibles" Gold Glove equivalent at shortstop and became known as arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball.

While we can't predict the future, the odds are good that any time spent with Vizquel will do nothing but good for Adeiny Hechavarria and even Yunel Escobar.  The Blue Jays are lucky to have Omar in the organization and the best of luck to him.  I know I'll be hoping to see him in the Jays dugout.

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