Dioner Navarro – 2008 Topps Update

September 13, 2010

“Chicken One Year; Feathers The Next”

I remember that line spoken by Johnny Rutherford one year at the Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquet, on the occasion of finishing last in the race the year after he won it.

And that certainly is apropos for Navarro. He made the All-Star team (as illustrated in this card) on the back of a torrid start to the 2008 season. As late as June 10, he was hitting .342. At the break he was at .310 with a .785 OPS. He slipped down to .295 with a .757 OPS, but looked to be like a rising star.

He was a bit lucky, as he had a .318 BAbip. (Batting Average for balls in play), but still, Navarro seemed to be the infamous ‘backstop of the future’.

Except he wasn’t.

He didn’t just careen off of a cliff – he poured gasoline on himself and held a match. In 2009, he hit .218 with a .583 OPS, and that was a contributing factor in the Rays’ fizzle. He was ‘unlucky’ with a .231 BAbip, though.

This year, the Rays gave him another shot. No dice.

OBP and SLG under .300 – 41 OPS+. He played in 14 of the 17 games in April, and rewarded the Rays with a .136 AVG and one double. At the end of May, he was sharing time with Jaso. By mid-June, he was an afterthought behind Shoppach and Jaso. By July, he was in Durham. He did get called up in September, and started three games but still Jaso and Shoppach are the main catchers. Jaso DH’s some as well – he even leads off sometimes. Shoppach’s BA is fugly but he’s a good defender and has some pop and patience.

I would gather that Navarro’s a non-tender candidate.

But he’s not the only 2008 All-Star to be found wanting in 2010. While Kosoke Fukudome has his moments, the Cubs would be quite pleased if another team took his salary and you could have Alfonso Soriano as well. Milton Bradley is…well…Milton Bradley. There’s talk the Dodgers may want to non-tender Russell Martin. Nate McLouth has been a mess all season. Cristian Guzman is now an after-thought in Texas. Joe Crede’s back has precluded him from finding work.

And of course there’s Brad Hawpe – All-Star in 2009, DFA in 2010. You wonder why they give multi-year contracts to anyone!

Then there was the All-Star game starter for the NL on July 10, 1990. At the time of the start he was 11-3 with a 2.28 ERA.

He wound up 12-9 with a 3.42 ERA. His team made the Series, but the All-Star game starting pitcher didn’t make the playoff rotation and pitched just once, in long relief, in the post-season.

The next year, he went 7-13 with a 5.48. He was traded with Scott Scudder for Greg Swindell. After one year in the AL (6-15, 4.64), he was drafted by the Marlins in the expansion draft, with the 39th pick. After one season in Florida (9-17, 4.49) and a cameo in 1994 for Texas, he was done.

Now, records aren’t the best measure of a pitcher, but it’s telling. Before the All – Star game start he was 17-13 in his career and and as a 25-year old looked to have the world at his feet. Post All-Star start he was 23-52. Yick.

That pitcher, of course was Jack Armstrong. Not saying that Navarro will be a total flame out, but two years in a row isn’t a good sign. There were concerns last year about Geovany Soto for the Cubs and he’s rebounded nicely.

I guess the moral of the story is – All-Stars aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

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