As we head into the final week before pitchers and catchers report, signifying the end of winter, there are still a handful of players left cold, hungry, and jobless. And by this point, every angle of analysis has been dissected to death, each tiny rumor has been tweeted and posted and refuted...and yet, somehow, we still know so little.
Until now. Today, MLB Daily Dish is proud to investigate the remaining free agents, not judging them through the impersonal scope of a scouting report or list of statistics. But through the prism of television characters, the most conclusive of tests.
Garry Jerry Larry Gergich from Parks and Recreation
(image via Christian Petersen/Getty Images, Wikipedia)
Despite coming off of two 20+ home run seasons, years in which Morales was roughly 20% better than a league average hitter, he's still managed to find himself unsigned at the end of January.
Sure, part of that is the draft pick compensation that's tied up with his signing, but it's also because Morales is about as immobile as it gets, lacking the ability to play first base on a continuing basis, just like Parks and Recreation's Larry Gergich.
Let's also not forget that in 2011, Kendrys Morales finally told the baseball press that they've been saying his name wrong, that it was Kendrys, with an 'S' and not Kendry, the way it had been for his first six years of his professional career.
Finally, only Larry Gergich would have the kind of bad luck to break an ankle and miss close to two years for celebrating a walk-off home run.
(gif via Uproxx)
There are rumors that Morales will wind up in Toronto, assuming they can open up the DH position for him, which, when you think about it, is about the most Gergich-esque place a major league player could go. Given the home run friendly environment in the Great White North, it could be a good fit for Morales' best skill, his awesome power.
TV Character: Snake from The Simpsons
(via Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images, Simpsons.Wikia)
Big, strong, powerful, and pretty bad at minor crimes, this is what the two have in common. Sure, Snake actually tries to rob people at gun point, but if you read some baseball columnists, that's essentially what Nelson Cruz's PED use amounts to.
So despite hitting 135 home runs over the last five years, Cruz's $75 million wish list, and inability to run down fly balls, similar to Snake's inability to evade the police, have kept the market closed on Cruz.
At this point, there are more teams (Reds, Tigers) making it known that they're not interested in the player than there are making offers, so it's really anyone's guess as to where Cruz could show up next season.
TV Character: Badger from Breaking Bad
(image via Rich Pilling/Getty Images, Funny or Die)
Badger and Arroyo are so similar, i wonder why we haven't seen a buddy comedy starring the two of them. They both clearly love the '90s, are undervalued by those around them, can always be counted on (Arroyo for 200 innings, Badger to just, umm, show up), and love to play lousy rock music.
Whether that's fronting Twaughthammer:
Or playing Papa Roach covers with, like, an alto sax. That's right, you've never really heard Papa Roach until you hear them with an alto sax.
And while Bronson Arroyo has shown that despite a mediocre fastball and the propensity to give up home runs (leading the league in home runs allowed in two of the last three years), he can still be successful, no one has offered the soon-to-be 37 year-old hurler a deal yet. It's weird.
At some point, some team will turn to Arroyo, realizing that they could really use that 200 innings at the end of the rotation, kind of like how Jesse always turned to Badger when there were few options on the board, either.
TV Character: Urkel from Family Matters
(image via ClicheLemon)
Can you spot Ubaldo Jimenez in the picture above? Trick question, both photos are of Urkel, the lovable dweeb from everyone's favorite cop-related comedy, Family Matters.
Now, here's Ubaldo:
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
But the similarities between the pitcher and the dorky man who went to space, are many and varied.
- They're both tall and gangly
- They both enjoy showing off generous portions of sock
- They both have catchphrases, Ubaldo Jimenez shouting, "UBALDO!" every time he sees a man with premature male pattern baldness.
- They have both transformed into beautiful swans; Ubaldo Jimenez coming off a 13-9, 3.30 ERA season with the Indians, and Jaleel White making it to Dancing with the Stars.
- They're both great at sports. For proof, Urkel playing basketball:
TV Character: Michael Bluth from Arrested Development
(image via Elsa/Getty Images, Wikipedia)
The quiet, likable, most normal member of the Drew family who has watched himself get dragged down by the Drews around him. (Tim Drew is obviously Buster, being neither seen nor heard during his major league career, the sure sign of a Milford man, while JD got to take on the role of Gob while running himself out of Philadelphia/The Alliance of Magicians).
Unfortunately for Stephen, he's got a streak of Michael Bluth in him, finding misfortune where ever he goes. Whether it's forgetting how to swing the bat like this past October, getting injured at just the wrong time, or having to stay in your son's college dorm room. (This hasn't happened to Stephen Drew, yet. Because his son isn't old enough for college.)
Though the rumors of the Mets signing Drew have quieted, I can think of no better place for Drew to play than in the Bluth-like financial mess that the Wilpons, owners of Flushing's Finest, have found themselves.
TV Character: Ned from Ned and Stacey
(image via Jake Roth-USA Today Sports, Sitcoms Online)
Wait, what do you mean you haven't seen Ned & Stacey? It was an under appreciated classic, featuring not only Thomas Haden Church, but Debra Messing, too! It was a regular staple of USA's morning cancelled sitcom block! Don't tell me you've never watched it--you've never watched it?!
Well, let me tell you, the show is about Ned, a successful businessman who marries Stacey in hopes of a promotion. You know, similar to how Ervin Santana changed his name from Johan Santana so that he could stand out better.
Your whole, "I've never seen Ned and Stacey" shtick brings me to my next point, too. Just like the criminally under-watched classic 90s sitcom, Ervin Santana is under-appreciated in the free agent market, his sub-4.00 ERA in three of the last four seasons, combined with ability to pitch more than 200 innings a year, makes him a better bet to succeed than Matt Garza. And that guy just got $50+ million from the Milwuakee Brewers.
Continuing to mirror Thomas Haden Church, whose career has been a series of ups and downs (Ned and Stacey (up), George of the Jungle 2 (down), Sideways (up), Spider-man 3 (down)), so too has Santana's. Just look at his ERA+ every year since his debut: 91, 106, 79, 127, 87, 102, 111, 74, 127. The similarities could go on forever.
Eight teams are currently in on Santana, ranging from the Dodgers to the Marlins, and Santana's selection could make or break his career. Will he choose a Ned and Stacy or a Spider-man 3: Crying Spider-man?
TV Character: Jeff Winger from Community
(image via J. Meric/Getty Images, Community-Sitcom.wikia)
Okay, so you may be asking "But wait, Jeff Winger isn't a popular character?" Well, unfortunately, the only thing lower than Community's ratings is Bob Gibson's 1968 ERA.
But the two have so much in common. Burnett is a likable charmer, a veteran leader whom the Pirates players looked up to for the past two years. The same way the study group looks up to Winger.
At the same time, Burnett was reviled and ousted from the Yankees, kind of like how Winger was ousted from his law practice for not having an actual degree.
And now, after a winter of indecision, no one knowing if AJ Burnett would retire or return to the Pirates, he's announced that he's willing to play again, but that the market is open for his services.
The Pirates, like the study group, thought that he would always be on their side, that the pitcher with the second-highest ground ball rate and fourth highest strikeout rate in 2013, would be choosing between retirement or Pittsburgh. But now, Burnett is open to the league, just as, at the beginning of this season, Winger had to choose between taking down Greendale in court or becoming a professor.
Which way will Burnett go? Will his hometown Orioles come calling? Will the Dodgers look to make up for missing out on Tanaka? For Pirates fans, they're just hoping for #ThreeSeasonsandaWorldSeries
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- Elliot Johnson, Chris Nelson, Paul Janish sign deals as utility market heats up