Industry Insight on Gary Matthews Jr.
Buster Olney had some “inside knowledge” to report on Gary Matthews, Jr.
Some of the highlights, for those who are not “Insiders”:
… one talent evaluator dug into his team’s scouting reports, wondering if maybe his general impression that Matthews was a player in decline was wrong.
The reports for his team were clear: Matthews is a player to be avoided. Slow bat. Declining range. And above all else, a player who wants to be a regular and will be an unhappy distraction in your clubhouse when he’s not in the lineup every day.
Said an executive with another team of the Mets’ efforts to acquire Matthews, which have been extensive, including the discussion of one possible four-team deal this winter: “Baffling.”
I asked a scout with a team not involved in this deal for his observations on Matthews’ play. His response:
“I still see Matthews as an expensive extra outfielder. … He should still be able to play center field while Beltran is out, but he hasn’t shown any sock since he was outed for receiving shipments of HGH a couple years ago. His bat has been dragging through the zone the last couple years. …”
To sum up the view of Matthews within the game: He can’t hit for average, can’t hit for power, his defense ranks statistically among the worst outfielders in the majors and, to top it off, rival scouts have been reporting that in recent years he has been a clubhouse negative.
But hey, good for the Mets for going against the tide, for thinking for themselves, for not allowing others to influence their decision, for boldly going where no one else was willing to go!
Because after all — everyone else could be wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still very much anti-Gary Matthews. His defense is still in shambles compared to Reed/Sullivan, and even Pagan. His reputation is that, if he doesn’t get his way, he sulks and becomes a distraction. He’s also going to be 36, which is certainly on the downslope towards liability. And if history shows us anything, it’s not to get too excited over 2nd half stats. Take, for example, JJ Putz, who returned for Seattle in the 2nd half of 2008 and looked to be every bit of his former self, only then to come to NY and be discovered to be damaged goods. Same, very well, could apply to Matthews. In fact, the odds are in favor of him playing like a washed up bum with the Mets over returning to his steroid-era form.
But for you eternal optimists with your rose-colored glasses out there, there is that small glimmer of hope.