When it comes to quantifying defense, we just don't have many stats that really provide the value of a player that offensive stats can provide.
It is easy to see which player drives in a lot of runs and gets on base a lot, but which players keep runs from scoring?
Which players create confidence and a real peace of mind for a young pitcher when they are playing behind him? Hard to put a stat on that.
Despite the obvious offensive shortcomings, I think the O's should resign Cesar Izturis at short for two more years.
The reasons for that come down to this:
*He remains one of the best defenders in the game.
*The O's need top-notch defense to back young pitching.
*He will come at a reasonable price.
*The O's don't have a player on the farm right now ready to replace him.
*The O's big dollars can be spent better elsewhere.
*Izturis is a real team guy, well-liked and very respected in the clubhouse.
By the way, Izturis has said many times he wants to stay with the Orioles. Not in the I need a contract way, in a I really want to be here and like it here way.
During the Orioles 34-23 run under Buck, Izturis' consistently steady and, at times spectacular defense, went hand-in-hand nicely with the improved starting pitching.
The shortstop is the glue that holds the team together on defense. You can't skimp on defense there to get more hits out of the position.
The team must get better on offense, everyone knows that. But it could and should happen by adding a player or players in addition to the players already there stepping up their games a bit.
With Izturis you know the best you will get is a .240 or .250 average, .300 on base and .600 OPS. He came up even a little short of those numbers this year.
You just need an offense that is good enough before you get to your number nine hitter.
Defense, I feel, is just well undervalued by many fans.
It's not just a matter of making a great play to save a run. How about ranging well to your left to start a double play to keep a rally from starting? How about the stellar play vs. the leadoff batter in the inning that allows the pitcher to get that key first out?
Late in the year Buck said Izturis is the kind of player you sometimes don't appreciate until he is gone.
The shortstop position was a revolving door until Izturis locked it down.
Now, it's time to bring him back and not fret over the lack of offense. It can and will come from somewhere else.
Meanwhile, he will crank out night-after-night of top defense at a premium position that demands that. He will make routine plays, tough plays and easy plays. Plays that are hard to place a value on, but are critical to winning.