BY PUMPEDUPJAYS – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
We all know that Mark DeRosa was brought in as the 25th man on the Toronto Blue Jays roster this year and much has been made about him being a veteran presence, a clubhouse guy, someone who’s been through it all before, but what affect does having a guy like this really have on a team?
Clearly teams value it as shown by all the veteran signings that take place each year. One needs to look no further than Omar Vizquel from last year who was signed to tutor the young players, to help mentor Yunel Escobar, to provide that ‘elder-statesman’ presence who’s done it all. To that end, Omar played sparingly, did not prevent Yunel from doing dumb mistakes i.e. the eye-black incident, criticized the manager rightly or wrongly, and made the media question what kind of clubhouse culture the Jays really had.
Now he’s roving the Angels minor league system as their infield instructor. So again, what purpose is there for a 25th man who will rarely play on the field?
This is an attempt to shed some light on the subject in one phrase: being a team player.
Being a good team player is paramount to any championship level team. It infuses an unselfishness amongst peers, puts the team ahead of individuals, and also helps keep everyone focused on the goal at hand. The 25th man should embrace this ideal.
By glancing at a teamwork handbook, I picked up on four key components involving this skill: 1) Contribution in terms of pushing others to perform, and sharing one’s knowledge with others, 2) Collaboration with respect to being flexible to different or new ideas, and helping other players with any problems -personal or otherwise, 3) Communication by emphasizing a team approach, bringing players together, and the all-too-important, helping others to relax and have fun. Lastly, 4) the Challenger is the guy who questions certain methods, may disagree with others to bring about change, and will provide an honest assessment of situations.
Now Omar Vizquel may have been all of these things, but it was the latter that got him in trouble because he spoke up to the media about what he perceived was a clubhouse issue. Toronto fans may also recall Charles Oakley of the Raptors who was never afraid to confront anyone and tell them what they ought to be doing. And he was revered on that team and by the city for that despite sometimes getting into trouble. I wish Omar was around again this year to validate himself and what he said.
Perhaps Omar should have questioned things in-house; he could have easily just had a one-on-one with Farrell to air his concerns, and be done with it. Better that than be made to look like a circus with headlines like “Blue Jays’ death spiral picking up speed.”
Now onto this year’s rendition of a wise, crafty veteran, Mark DeRosa accepts his utility role and has played literally all over the diamond amassing numerous games played at 3B, 2B and the OF. He’s been to the playoffs many times throughout his career, and he’s quite the comedian and communicator too.
Former Washington Nationals teammate Adam LaRoche adds about DeRosa’s role on the 2012 team to “keep the humour going but also pump guys up. He’s going to make a great manager one day.”
DeRosa also has a knack for knowing what other players need to perform.
“Sometimes guys don’t always want to go to coaches, they’d rather come to a player and work them through an at-bat,” said DeRosa.
It certainly looks like he has a handle on several components of being a team-player which can only help the Blue Jays in 2013. For fans that dismiss this free agent signing by the Jays as useless, perhaps they can forget about DeRosa’s batting average of .188 last year and instead focus on other intangibles that he could bring to the table…like teamwork.
Besides, Michael Jordan says it’s pretty important:
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
More MLB: At Blue Jays State of the Franchise