The calendar flipped to August, and Daniel Descalso looked like the platonic ideal of a veteran role player.
He was cagey, a versatile defender who could cover multiple positions, and most surprisingly, one heck of a tough out at the plate. When Descalso took the field as the starting shortstop on Aug 2., he was a .324/.429/.438 hitter. Unfortunately that day also marked the end of the season for Trevor Story and the beginning of the “way too much Daniel Descalso” portion of the schedule.
Descalso started 66 games, with the bulk of that work coming in August and September as he and Cristhian Adames filled in for Story. He also played some first and second base as the Rockies played out the remainder of their schedule in the last few months.
The veteran utility player was probably always going to come back to earth, but his decline was magnified by his increased playing time. In the end he slashed .264/.349/.424, a perfectly fine output from a bench player if you’re only looking at numbers. We know better though, and we know that Descalso was in the starting lineup far too often in 2016.
The Rockies thought they were contenders this past summer. Descalso can serve a valuable role on a contending team, specifically one with a number of young players. But his actual playing time needs to be off the bench and in spot duty in those cases. The Rockies did not fall out of the race because of their lineup, but it’s still fitting that the team’s decline coincided with an increase in Descalso’s appearances in the starting lineup.
Descalso is a free agent and will be 30 years old when the 2017 season starts, even though he somehow looks and feels older than that. Maybe that’s because it feels like he’s been around forever, and maybe that’s because he was on a number of insufferable versions of the St. Louis Cardinals.
There’s a place for him somewhere, and maybe it’s back with the Rockies. If he does return to Colorado, that move will only feel like it’s OK if the Rockies have better options to play everyday behind Story, DJ LeMahieu or even Nolan Arenado (gulp) in the event of a lengthy injury absence.
Even in that case it’s boring. OK, but boring. No offense to Descalso, who I’m sure is a lovely man. And it’s probably true that the boring moves are just as important as the exciting ones as the Rockies try to stick as contenders next season. Seriously though, the return of Daniel Descalso would be the most boring thing to happen this winter.