Raul Mondesi misplayed a slicing fly ball to right into a double for struggling Scott Hatteberg and Juan Acevedo allowed a home run on the next pitch to Eric Chavez, as the Yankees lost 5-3 in ten innings to the A's. The Yankees won by the same score last night, and they finish up the tightly contested series tomorrow.
Modesi's misplay was in sharp contrast to Eric Byrnes' spectacular catch in center followed by a go-ahead home run in the next half inning yesterday, though in a losing effort. Also, in last night's game Hideki Matsui made some nice catches in left to ensure a Yankee victory. I know Mondesi has a great arm, which he loves to show off, but his overall defense is not great (last year he had a range factor of 1.86, .26 below the league average for right fielders). Maybe newly promoted Charles Gipson should have been out there instead.
Besides the man does not know his limitations. There was no way without a great play, he was going to come up with the Hatteberg ball. The smart play was to play it on the hop and limit the batter to a single. I know that the next man hit a homer, so it didn't matter where the runner was, but he does determine the pitcher's approach to the next batter as well as the pitcher's confidence.
I have been told by enough learned Yankee fans that Derek Jeter is a better player than his superlative statistical record indicates that I am almost ready to believe it. However, if that is the case, then the opposite side of the coin is personified in Mondesi. He is a good ballplayer and a one-time All-Star, but I think that as a player he is still less than the sum of his parts, talent-wise and statistics-wise. It makes me think of Bill James' delineation of Dick Allen as a player on paper (probably a Hall-of-Famer) and on the field (more negatives than positives).
If the Yankees never had traded for Mondesi, perhaps Scott Wiggins would have been the lefty facing the left-handed batting Chavez in the tenth today. And maybe the results would have been different. Just maybe.