I wouldn’t have taken this loser for free. Giving up Joey Devine and paying him whatever the Braves wind up paying — even if it’s “just” $2.5 million or whatever — is just excrement icing on the crap cake.
Let us ignore his 2007. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that his abhorrent, nay Langerhansine, .214/.279/.296 line (a 57 OPS+) was entirely due to injury. We are still talking about a 32-year-old outfielder who has been declining, as players do, ever since he was 28, who has never made an All-Star team, was never a great centerfielder and who now appears to be below average, and whose career slugging percentage is below the league. This is a player who if he’s lucky gets a guaranteed contract and a platoon job, if he’s unlucky a minor league deal and an invite to spring training. What’s more, the Braves are probably going to hit him second, or even leadoff. At least Margor Blanderson would have hit eighth.
Kotsay was the Marlins’ #1 pick in the 1996 draft, out of Cal State-Fullerton, where he’d won the Golden Spikes in 1995. He tore up the minors, and was in the big leagues to stay in 1997. The Marlins used him mostly as a right fielder, even though he didn’t have the bat for an outfield corner, and even some at first. After a couple of subpar seasons, he had a decent year in 2000, just as he was entering arbitration, and you know the Marlins — time to trade him!
Sent to the Padres for mostly Matt Clement, Kotsay switched to center and had two fine seasons in 2001-02, followed by a slightly below-average 2003. The A’s traded Ramon Hernandez and Terrance Long to get him before the 2004 season, and locked him up on a long-term deal. He played well that year, was mediocre the next, bad in 2006, and subhuman in 2007 before they shelved him with a back injury.
In a good year, he’s a .285-.295-range hitter with some walks, not too many, a .337 career OBP, career high .370. Suboptimal power, slugging percentage below the league despite good batting averages, and a career HR high of 17… No platoon split to speak of. In his defense, he’s played his entire career in pitchers’ parks, and these medium-range power guys often are the hardest hit by tough HR parks. 59 career homers on the road, 44 at home, but his overall stats are actually a bit better in home games… Caught 59 times in 140 career SB attempts. In other words, he’s less valuable on the bases than a guy who doesn’t run at all.
Rotsay’s most-similar player is Garry Maddox. Maddox was a good player, but Kotsay isn’t within a league of him on defense and is playing in a far hitter-friendlier era, and Maddox’s last good year was at 32, Kotsay’s age last year. Marquis Grissom is next, and more promising, but Grissom hasn’t had Kotsay’s injuries and again was far better defensively. Next is Jimmy Piersall, whose last good year was at 31, though we can assume Kotsay won’t go insane.
But he’ll hit for a higher average than Andruw, maybe, and isn’t that all that counts? Our only hope is that he fails his physical. Anyone want to pull a Gilooly on him? Get one Braves fan (with any sense) on the jury, and you’ll never be convicted.