(Photo Credit: Yardbarker.com)
The Angels placed always-starting-this-season catcher Jeff Mathis on the DL Tuesday with a fractured wrist, and injury that may keep him out for four to six weeks. Mike Napoli, of course, will replace him as the catcher getting most of the starts, with Bobby Wilson taking over the occasional starting role Napoli had occupied.
Personally, I think this sucks for two very different reasons:
1. Despite how much of a fluke I think Mathis’ recent performance is, on a personal level I hate to see someone doing so well, for the first time at this level, have to sit out because of an injury. If he simply regressed and started losing playing time because Napoli is the more productive overall player it’s one thing, because there are hundreds of players at many various levels, and not everyone can be Joe Mauer. To have it happen on what is basically a freak injury, though, is just unfortunate.
2. When Mathis’ regression does begin to occur, people are going to point to this injury as the reason, saying he “lost his rhythm at the plate” or some other nonsense, and the real reason (that is, Jeff Mathis is just not as good a hitter as he’s seemed over the last 50 or so PA) will be lost, ignored, or never even considered. The regression was nearly inevitable, as I’ve already discussed only a couple posts back, people will have an easy excuse to go to, and an opportunity for an easy lesson in regression and sample size will be lost.
Both of these struck me at about the same time, which just made reading the news about Mathis suck that much more. For now, we’ll just have to hope Napoli can get regular playing time, remind everyone of the value of his bat in the lineup, and he won’t be relegated to so few starts when Mathis makes it back.