I’m wondering if Eric Chavez should retire.
It’s easy to lose track of how many such visits Chavez has made in the past three seasons, but by my count (and that of the A’s media guide), it’s four. Just since the start of 2007. Not to mention he’s had four surgeries in that time, and that the fixing of one problem always seems to have led to another one.
My point isn’t to rip Chavez. My point is to throw out the possibility that perhaps he should do himself a favor and consider stepping away. I wouldn’t ask him to give back any of his contract (six-years, $66 million, for those of you who haven’t memorized it), and I don’t say this with any venom. Quite the opposite. Chavez always has been one of my more favorite A’s, because he knows how to treat mere acqauintances on a human level, a lost art in our “I am athlete, I am God” culture.
My new life as a desk guy/general assignment reporter/divorced dad doesn’t leave me as much time to get out to the park, and I haven’t exchanged even a single “Hello,” with Chavez this season. But if I could chat with him privately, this would be one of the first questions. Unless he’s changed completely (and no reason to think he has), this health woes have to be eating him up inside. I can remember how he used to struggle internally with the responsibility that came with being who he is for this franchise, so I imagine not getting on the field is killing him.
Is it too soon to say that it’s obvious the Eric Chavez general manager Billy Beane imagined in his most ideal dreams will never ever be seen? I’m starting to have doubts about us ever seeing the Eric Chavez who was the six-time Gold Glove winner (that he’s become an option at first base, a position, I presume he’s learning how to play, says a lot). Heck, I wonder if we’ll see anything even approaching what the man once was (and what he once was, for you skeptics out there, was the best defensive third baseman in baseball, and a guy who could hit 30 dingers).
So I’m wondering if he should hang it up, or even if he’s thinking about it. Better to quit, in my opinion, than to embarrass oneself. And while even the greatest have done that (I’m thinking Willie Mays in the 1973 World Series, and that’s the only time Willie Mays and Eric Chavez should ever be mentioned in the same sentence), it’s still something to be avoided at all possible.
Because at least from my point of view, I’ve seen enough of this act to make me ache for him.