I have a small confession to make.
I normally am not a big fan of the “filler” player, the guy who is signed to a one-year deal to provide “veteran leadership” or who “fits in well in the room”.
There are too many bad memories of guys on the tail end of their careers, providing little value and taking away playing time from other, more deserving players. I’m thinking about Omar Vizquel in 2012, Kevin Millar in 2009, and Royce Clayton in 2007.
But here’s the thing: I really, really like Mark DeRosa.
When he was signed I, along with many others, questioned the move. Why bother? We got the same speech as last year with Vizquel, the “he’ll help the younger guys learn how to win” talk. All I could picture was a guy failing miserably both on and off the field.
But I have been pleasantly surprised. His production has been decent – 7 HR, 31 RBI – and his .766 OPS is actually better than Arencibia, Lawrie, and Melky.
But it has been his attitude that has won me over, none more so than last night.
There’s no doubt that this has been a miserable year in Toronto, but DeRosa appears to be playing hard through the bad times. Seeing him mentor Lawrie and calm him down, and seeing the two of them smile and celebrate after last night’s game was fantastic.
After the game, in a post-game interview, DeRosa said that a game like last night was why he signed with the Blue Jays, to have a one-run lead against the Red Sox in the ninth with the closer on the mound. He then said something that I thought was great: despite being in last place, the team isn’t going to give up. They went out and won 11-straight earlier, so there’s no reason why they can’t do it again, and who knows – maybe they can go one of those crazy late season runs.
Nobody expects that to happen, but it’s refreshing to hear a guy say that, especially a player on a last place team that is 9 games under .500 and 15 games out of first.
DeRo still believes, and if the Jays go crazy and make the playoffs I vote for him to get a statue beside Ted Rogers.