In the wake of Dayan Viciedo’s designation for assignment and coming departure, the staff of The Catbird Seat joins together to remember...THE EXPERIENCE of Dayan.
James: In my tradition of wanting someone gone forever and then being overwhelmed with remorse and nostalgia after getting what I want, I’ve been sentimentally parsing through old Dayan clips on the internet. They’re mostly huge dingers and outfield assists, because bad routes, grounders to second, and even most awful drops are not particularly reel-worthy unless they directly lead to a run. Viciedo’s tenure with the Sox was bad and horribly disappointing, but he wasn’t boring. The things he struggled at, he struggled at intensely and cartoonishly. The teasing moments of hope were very bright and blistering, as they would have to be.
This is probably the first prospect I geeked out about in the way bloggers can geek out about prospects and launch tiresome #FREE[PLAYER NAME] campaigns. He was a disaster--a big disorganized box of interesting tools that never worked in concert--which is probably the best thing that could have happened to my judgment, and a trauma that I will always carry.
I won’t miss Dayan, but I’ll remember him...maybe warmly?
Viciedo’s current standing makes obstinate and borderline insubordinate Ozzie Guillen look like a prophet for dismissing the idea that he could help a 2011 team with two black holes in the middle of the order, but the great crest of Dayan optimism came in his first game after getting recalled against Perfect Dayan Target Jason Vargas in Seattle. The soft-tosser gave Viciedo something he could pick up, and the result was extremely lasery.
Then he proceeded to chop everything into the dirt for a month, but I remember this one more.
Collin: Gordon Beckham to me was Viciedo to you, James. So I know what you mean. If nothing else, Viciedo taught us a valuable lesson to never get too high on a prospect, ESPECIALLY one that is being hyped more by the organization than by outside scouts, as often seemed the case.
The White Sox have employed a vast majority of much-hyped prospects who haven’t panned out. Viciedo is the latest. Whether his failure was the most agonizing or not depends on the viewer, but it certainly is frustrating, nonetheless.
Nick: I’d argue Viciedo was boring, because for the past three seasons it’s been the exact same awful, frustrating thing over and over.
Ethan: Viciedo was the worst, but the nice thing was there always was that possibility he’d hit a big dinger. It made him more exciting, and more disappointing. I’ll also miss his cannon arm (and nothing else about his defense).
Also, we now have to re-hash the emergency pitcher debate after deciding that Viciedo would’ve been the guy on the last podcast.
Collin: I remember his walk-off against Seattle in early 2013 and thinking A) The White Sox were going to have an awesome season and B) Viciedo was finally going to break out. I also remember thinking B approximately 15 times over the course of the last 3-4 years.
James: I feel like he’s the dog you have to put down for grievously wounding a neighborhood kid. All he did was stress you out and make life hell but the stories are amazing.
Collin: And then you spend the rest of the night cry-laughing into a beer while talking about all the stupid/funny stuff he did. That’s how I feel right now.
James: Maybe the White Sox are good at keeping a quiet shop, but for someone who, if anything, only regressed in every single phase of the game, he really escaped any questions of work ethic or desire beyond his initial prospect days. By the end of his tenure he was clearly in the best physical shape of his career and a strength coach commented to a scrum of reporters that he had done a tremendous job re-shaping his habits. He just couldn’t play baseball.
I know he never made big waves on Top 100 lists, but Goldstein was always pretty confident he could hit. I think the organizational blowing smoke was that he could play a position. Good gravy how bad must he have been at third? Part of that seemed like Brent Morel was claiming that role for his own and they wanted Dayan in the majors, but he was one of the five worst defensive outfielders in the game.
Ethan: He never got too much love on prospect lists (though I think he was a back-half top 100 guy), but I do remember being very excited about his signing. He was heralded as “the Cuban Babe Ruth” at one time, and this was coming off an exceptionally savvy signing of Alexei out of Cuba. I thought there was a really good chance he would be a significant contributor.
And then there was when he was first called up, when *everyone* had been pining for him to replace Juan Pierre. There was good excitement then. It all went downhill from there.
Collin: I remember that, because I was one of the people who really, really hated Juan Pierre toward the end of his White Sox tenure.
If Viciedo was the Cuban Babe Ruth, what does that make Jose Abreu?
James: Seems pretty weird in retrospect to call a teenager “Babe Ruth”
Ethan: Trivia: Does anyone know who was DFA’d for Viciedo to be called up in 2010? It’s a good name in late-Ozzie Guillen era White Sox history.
James: Well, he wouldn’t disrespect a veteran...
Ethan: Nope, so instead he disrespected the venerable Jayson Nix.
Collin: “Wrong kid died.” -Laynce and Jayson Nix’s dad, probably.
James: Is one of the Nix’s dead?!
Collin: It was a terrible reference. Forget it. Let’s move on.
James: I got the reference but am not sure how it applies?
Collin: Because getting cut is akin to dying? I don’t know. You made me explain it and now it’s ruined.
Ethan: How did our typed conversation wind up in such an off-topic dead end as our podcasts sometimes do? Guess it is my fault for bringing up Nix.
James: Was Dayan….clutch? Sifting through his highlights is a slate of critical home runs, he has at least two walk-offs I can think of right off the bat, he had the go-ahead bomb in Cleveland this year in the ninth, and a seventh-inning go-ahead blast in Toronto, in addition to the go-ahead home run in the Thrillibridge game
Ethan: He has a career Clutch ranking on fangraphs of 1.72. I have no idea what the units on that are or what it means, but I think positive is good?
Collin: I recall an extra-inning go-ahead HR in Minnesota this year, too.
James: I’m mistaken. Konerko homered for the Thrillibridge game, but Viciedo blasted on the Sox new closer a year later in a similar game. I suppose when all you do is rip random dingers with no consistency, your outbursts stand out, but I feel like there were a disparate amount of “Hell yeah, Dayan” moments given how bad he was.
Ethan: Not really relevant, but I think the Sox have mashed against Robertson. He blew a save against them this year I’m 95% sure.
Nick: Yeah, I remember that too, Ethan.
James: The truest Viciedo memory is a catcher setting up a foot outside the zone, Dayan chasing both and falling down 0-2, and then jamming the crap out of himself when they came back inside on him.
Also, the truest Viciedo memory is not actual outfield errors, it was a feel of murderous dread at a routine foul ball hit his way.
Nick: It was the same freaking at bat 2,000 times. It was just that every now and then when he closed his eyes and swung as hard as he could he ran into something.
And what’s crazy is that not only did Viciedo have no range, it felt like he wasn’t sure-handed either. At least Carlos Lee went a whole season without an error. He couldn’t get to much, but when he got to it at least he didn’t horribly botch it.
How do you have a freaking .962 fielding percentage IN LEFT FIELD?
James: Remember when UZR thought Lee was +15 in left field one year? Anyway, has a teammate ever gotten a friendly goodbye message from a teammate before that PERFECTLY encapsulated why he’s leaving?
“Love you Dayan. Stay up, buddy!...you crazy suck-ass”
Ethan: Definitely not that I could remember, other than if they’re saying like “hate to see you go, but you got a bunch of dough”.
When is the last time the White Sox did not have at least one terri-bad defensive outfielder? Dayan, Quentin, Dye, Lee.
James: Maybe early tenure Dye? But even that was after his hip issues started. Carlos Lee was before that. It’s a small outfield. It’s an area where it makes sense for them to concede.
Ethan: That’s a good point, that said, even Melky isn’t that awful for LF, especially in the Cell. Maybe that could be a hidden positive?
Collin: I don’t have a lot of knowledge on how contracts like this work, but it’s pretty solid that the White Sox only owe him $700K if they release him.
Nick: I still saw on Twitter that the White Sox might trade Viciedo. I just...can’t imagine how that would work.
James: Maybe some deal with Sox picking up salary in turn for an org arm? The Frank De Los Santos of our new age?
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