In Praise of Super-Utes

The A’s are warming up to their new infield coach, Mike Gallego:

Former infielder Mike Gallego played 624 games at second base, 137 at third base and 434 at shortstop and was proficient everywhere. If his managers hadn’t been biased against short people (no offense, Tony La Russa), he probably would have been adept at first base, too.

It’s no wonder Bobby Crosby, though his new role with the A’s isn’t his preference, is getting somewhat comfortable with his transition from everyday shortstop to utility man.

“He makes things simple, and that’s what you want if you’re playing positions for the first time,” Crosby said of Gallego, the A’s fourth infield coach in four years. “I have much more to learn, but he makes it so I feel I can go into a game without getting myself injured or without embarrassing myself.”

Wait, Crosby was routinely worried about hurting or embarrassing himself before Gallego was hired? Maybe taking away his starting gig was a much better move than even A’s fans realize.

But my point of linking this isn’t to bury Bobby Crosby, it’s to praise Mike Gallego. As regular readers know, I’m a big Jose Oquendo fan, and Mike Gallego falls into that same category. Sure, every team has a utility guy, but they’re almost always middle infielder types without a home — AAAA kind of guys or worse who are just filling the role for a short period of time — rather than true Swiss army knives like Oquendo and Gallego. If I was a manager I’d prefer to have an experienced and professional utility guy around. I mean, you’re going to be on the bench with them a lot anyway, so they may as well be smart older dudes with whom you can have a freaking adult conversation once in a while. Bonus: if they’re super-utes like Gallego and Oquendo as opposed to some possible shortstop prospect, you can toy with the idea of having them play all nine positions during a blowout.

Heck, between a guy or two like that and the five knuckleballers I’d put on my staff, Team Calcaterra would be the greatest show in the game.

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  1. Aarcraft said...

    Oquendo’s line for 1988 is a thing of beauty. A putout at every position, 4 IP with a 4.50 era, and a 102 OPS+. The secret weapon indeed.

  2. Levi Stahl said...

    Something else Gallego and Oquendo have in common: both drew more than their share of walks, despite not being that much of a threat with the bat (Oquendo more so than Gallego).

    I’m still impressed by Oquendo’s 79 BBs in ‘89, when, admittedly, he hit .291—but with not a whit of power.

  3. themarksmith said...

    Yeah, all the passed balls would be comedic. Just make sure to get Josh Bard to be your catcher.

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