Congratulations, It’s a Center Fielder

Jody GerutOne of the few pleasant surprises in a miserable season has been the resurrection of Jody Gerut’s career. Gerut, who hadn’t played in the big leagues since 2005, signed a minor-league contract with the Padres back in January. Talk about under the radar. As Mick Jagger once sang, “I’ve got no expectations.”

It’s not like he was never any good, though. During his rookie campaign of 2003, Gerut had enjoyed a fair amount of success with the Cleveland Indians, hitting .279/.336/.494. After tailing off a bit the following year, he fell off even further in 2005 before missing the next two seasons altogether. At that point, what’s to expect?

How about a potential medium- to long-term replacement for Mike Cameron in center field. Yeah, right. Hey, wait a second…

Jody Gerut vs Mike Cameron, 2008
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Cot’s Baseball Contracts, and are through games of August 26, 2008.
Gerut 30 0.7 351 .291 .348 .486 126 2.41
Cameron 35 7 393 .257 .346 .525 125 2.41

So, let’s see, that’s essentially the same production for one-tenth the price? Works for me… (Plus, that walkoff homer he hit off Jon Rauch on Monday night to break a seven-game losing streak was pretty sweet.)

Of course, it’s only one (partial) season’s worth of data, and as Gerut himself doubtless will agree, a lot can happen between “here” and “there.” Still, this qualifies as a pleasant surprise in my book. He just might buy the Padres enough time until Cedric Hunter is ready to take over in center.

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Speaking of Hunter, the Padres and Storm play a doubleheader Wednesday at Petco Park. More accurately, the Padres and Diamondbacks play a game at 12:35 p.m. PT, and then the Storm and Inland Empire 66ers square off after that.

If you haven’t been up to Elsinore to see the Storm, do yourself a favor and catch them here in San Diego. As we noted a few weeks ago, the team is loaded with talent (and they’ve since added 2008 first-round pick Allan Dykstra).

Oh, and friend of Ducksnorts Steve Poltz (we did that really long interview with him this past winter) will be singing the national anthem prior to the first game, along with fellow local musician Gregory Page. Go get ‘em, boys. :-)