…. Durham’s done

Ray Durham says he feels like shit:

Ray Durham, nursing a sore left hamstring, took a timeout Saturday from a 2007 season he called “embarrassing. By far, this is the worse season I’ve had in my professional career.”

One season after he batted .293 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs, earning a two-year contract and a since-lost job as the fifth-place hitter, Durham is languishing at .222 with 10 homers and 61 RBIs. Moreover, his defense has gone south as he fumbles too many routine grounders.

Durham confessed to a no-no, sometimes dragging his struggles at the plate to second base in the next inning.

“They’re always saying not to let your offense affect your defense,” he said. “In a sense, yeah. In a sense, no. Of course, I’m a competitor, so I’m thinking about what I can do differently. If I’ve just lined out, in the next inning I’ll get a groundball I normally catch and my mind is somewhere else.”

He’s driven in just 14% of the runners who’ve been on base for him, he has the worst batting average among all second basemen in the NL, posting an anemic .222/.302/.354 .656 OPS line. He’s grounded into 16 double plays, he’s only got 32 extra base hits…. I mean, for all intents and purposes, he’s playing his way out of baseball…. well, if he were on a real team, that is. ;-)

He’s untradable, and unplayable; which means that, not unlike the Benitez situation, Sabean and Bochy find themselves with little in the way of options. Either keep running him out there every day in the hope that he has a big finish, which might enable you to dump him to somebody; or bench him and play Frandsen.

Neither choice is satisfactory, since he’s making a nice chunk of change, benching him is more than just an admission of failure by management –it’s pouring money on the ground to boot– and playing him is killing the team. Predictably, of course.

UPDATE: Chris thinks I’m being too hard on Ray:

Hi John, occasional reader, first time poster.

He’s had some nagging injuries but I think he’s been solid for the Giants. He was no Jeff Kent, who peaked as a Giant and had some monster years, but Durham was putting up between 4-5 wins per season. Not too shabby from the 2B position.

Durham’s rank among NL 2B by VORP from 2003-2006

2003 – 8th
2004 – 3rd
2005 – 6th
2006 – 2nd

I’m not sure what you were expecting from Durham? He’s been solid (2003+2005) to great (2004+2006). Of course he’s fallen off a cliff this year but his tenure up until now has been a good one.

A quick look at Durham’s stat page makes me wonder what the hell the BP guys use to come up with VORP.

In ’03, he played in only 110 games, and had 8 home runs, 33 RBI, and scored 61 runs. 17 home runs in ’04, 12 in ’05, 10 this season. His Giants career high in walks is 57, his Giants OBP best is .366, not too bad, but nowhere near the league leaders. He’s never come close to a 200-hit season, or a 30-HR season. For crying out loud, he scored over 100 runs five seasons in a row for the White Sox –and a combined 114 the year before he got here– and has failed to crack that barrier one single time in his five years here…. in fact he’s only cracked 90 runs once.

Fine, he doesn’t have Kent’s home run power, but here’s a question; where are the triples? He’s got speed, he’s got doubles power, he plays in one of the most triples friendly parks in all of baseball; how can he not hit 10, 12 triples a year here? In ’05, he had none, this season he’s got 2. Noted speed demon Rich Aurilia also has 2, Ryan Klesko has 3, even Molina’s got one.

I mean, comparing his Giants career to his pre-Giants career is an exercise in agony. He averaged 154 games a year for the seven years prior to his arrival. That’s one missed start a month, for seven straight years. He’s missed 52, 42, 20, and 25 games the last four seasons, which has hindered his production, no doubt; but that doesn’t give him a pass, it’s just one more part of why he’s been such a disappointment.

It’s not a home park disadvantage, if anything, he hits better at PacBell. But he starts each season as if he was cast in concrete…. the last three he’s put up a combined .656 OPS, horrible enough to hamstring the team –counting on him to hit either behind or in front of Bonds– for three straight seasons.

I’d say that he’s just failed to meet my expectations, but I’d bet that inside the walls of Sabean’s office; he too cannot believe how many games he’s missed, how ineffective he’s been at driving in runs, how many double plays he’s hit into, and how little impact –for a supposed All-Star second baseman– he’s really had. I know that’s how I feel.

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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