Saturday, April 13, 2013

The De Aza-o-Meter

One of the few bright spots for the White Sox in this afternoon’s 9-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians was a homerun by outfielder Alejandro de Aza. Whenever I hear his name, I’m transported back to 2007 when he was a spring training sensation for the Florida Marlins.

The 22-year-old prospect hit .364 and stole 4 bases in the pre-season and began the season as the Marlin’s starting centerfielder. After stealing 27 bases the year before in AA, he was the target of much speculation among CFCL owners. When his name came up for bid in the 2007 CFCL Draft, it  provided one of the more memorable and enduring CFCL Incidents.

At some point in the bidding, I asked Ruffins owner Dave Holian if he had read the blurb on de Aza in the 2007 Baseball Prospectus book. Dave grabbed his copy of the book, flipped to the Marlins section, and burst into laughter. Unperturbed, the owner of Teddy’s Splendid Splinters continued pursuing de Aza, finally acquiring him for .12.

With the bidding done, Dave and I shared what the Prospectus authors had written:

"At the plate, Alejandro de Aza is like the CGI Yoda in a lightsaber duel -- swift, nimble, hyperkinetic, and never lays a good stroke on anything."

We all shared a good laugh (Teddy not joining in so much) but the whole thing might have been forgotten had it not been revisited in Rich's "Draft Day Rebroadcast" in The Monroe Doctrine the next day.  Rich referenced the incident there with this entry in his timeline:
9:27 Teddy bids .12 (and acquires much to his dismay) the “Light Sabre Dude”
And at the end of the article, Rich actually hinted at it joining other Draft Day "incidents" in CFCL lore:
Only time will tell if Teddy stole the show with De Aza or if he created the sequel to the “Ramon Martinez Incident”.  De Aza is officially the new currency of the CFCL, as in “I had to pay three De Aza’s at the toll booth; this promises to be much more enjoyable than what Orestes Destrada did to the CFCL minted greens.
That reference to the "De Aza" as the new currency of the CFCL was all the encouragement I needed.  Starting with in the very next week's roster change report, Rich and I teamed to establish the "De Aza-o-Meter", a weekly update on Alejandro's statistical performance, combined with a blurb from Rich describing some numeric value in terms of "De Azas".  From the April 16 report:

Now, those aren't terrbile stats for the first couple weeks of the season, and Alejandro might have come close to earning his salary if he had kept up that pace.  Unfortunately, he injured himself just a week later, so for the next four months the stats in the De Aza-o-Meter remained unchanged, but we were treated to a weekly bon mot from Rich, such as the following note from the July 16 report:

Finally, in mid-August, De Aza returned - an event commemorated with this o-Meter update from August 13:

De Aza never did get things going after his return, and the season-ending report painted a pretty bleak picture and led Rich to speculate that De Aza's lack of performance might net him the Esasky recognition for worst return on investment in the 2007 Draft:

In the end, De Aza was not honored with the Nick Esasky Award, though he did receive votes - no doubt helped by the season long reminder of his futility.

Every CFCL Draft has at least a couple moments when an owner experiences instant regret and in some cases those moments and the owners' reactions become part of the historic fabric of the league and are revisted time and again, usually with much self-depricating humor from the owners involved.  We'll no doubt be reliving many of those incidents in this blog over the course of the next year.

The De Aza incident was relived on a weekly basis over the course of a season, though.  While the well-intentioned ribbing may have been all in fun, it appeared Teddy - De Aza's owner - didn't quite see the humor.  The Splinters did not make a roster move after mid-May and withdrew from the CFCL at the end of the season.  I'd like to think that the De Aza-o-Meter wasn't the cause, but for whatever reason Teddy pretty much disappeared.

De Aza disappeared as well ... at least for a couple years, before resurfacing with the White Sox, where he's had a couple decent seasons including at least one in which he would have earned well above his 2007 salary of .12. 

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