Mar 27, 2012, 8:57 AM EDT
That’s partially because of the deal he got. Rather than a minor league deal with a spring invite, Cust actually got a one-year deal with an option (it was initially reported as a two-year deal, which caused everyone to freak out). For a guy as ineffective as he had been, and with his negative defensive value,
it was odd for an NL team to guarantee him anything, even if was only around $350,000. UPDATE: I was wrong. He wasn’t guaranteed anything. My bad. Still reflecting the confusion about it from the time he signed. The point still stands that it was odd for an NL team to sign him. Anyway:
But the bigger reason I note what is likely the end of the major league road for Mr. Cust is because he represented something more than just what kind of player he is in 2012. He was … an old flame.
I wrote about this once, many years ago, when he went on a mini-rampage after being called up by the Athletics in 2007. It was a nice little moment for statheads, because Cust had been something of a poster boy for them/us.
Circa 2001-02, there was no doubt in our minds that he was an All-Star in the making. His triple-A numbers in the Diamondbacks’ systerm were pretty astounding, and he was the epitome of take-and-rake baseball that was then so in vogue. This was before “Moneyball” was published, mind you, so we all thought we were really onto something new that no one knew anything about. Hipster sabermetrics, if you will.
But then he cratered. He got three whole plate appearances with Arizona. Then he went to Colorado, where folks figured he’d flourish, but he was awful. In 2003 he got a chance with Baltimore. He had a superficially good season in 2003 — he walked a lot and had power as he always did — but he usually looked awful in a major league uniform, with his vaunted patience at the plate being accompanied by a seeming timidity. A high-profile baserunning mishap that year — Cust fell down twice between third and home in the 12th inning, costing the Orioles the game — sealed his public fate as a one-dimensional DH in a game that would soon change to not favor that dimension as much as it once had. He spent 2004-2006 almost exclusively in the minors, his prospect status transforming into “organizational soldier” mode.
Then 2007 happened. The A’s signed him up and he went crazy, hitting six homers and fourteen RBI in his first seven games. As I wrote at the time, it was like seeing that train wreck of a girl you messed around with a few years ago, only this time she seemed to have it together. Probably still bad news, but man, it was nice to see her. And to see her looking so good.
Cust spent the next few years being Jack Cust. Walking a lot. Mashing a lot. Posting low averages and striking out a lot while providing no defensive value. Even as sabermetrics became more sophisticated, with speed and defense becoming more obviously valuable, there was part of me that felt like Cust was carrying some sort of torch, honoring the Roberto Petagenies, Hee Seop Chois and Erubiel Durazos of the world who didn’t get the shot at redemption Cust got.
It had to end eventually, though. Cust’s power has declined. He can still take a walk, but there usually isn’t any room on a roster for a guy whose only skill is plate patience. Cust is 33 now. He’s not going to suddenly learn how to play left field. He probably has a few triple-A years left in the tank, but it’d be shocking if he showed up on a major league roster again.
But for a stathead of a certain age, Jack Cust’s name will always resonate a little more than your average minor league veteran’s will. He meant something at one time. Maybe not as much as we thought he did — and maybe in some ways our fixation on him and his ilk kept us from understanding certain things earlier — but we’ll always have feelings for him and will always wish him well.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:02 AM EDT
Yost’s controversial call fails to doom Royals after all.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:44 AM EDT
In-game losses left the A’s undermanned in defeat.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:29 AM EDT
In case you missed it, here is the replay of Salvador Perez’s walkoff hit from Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card Game …
Oct 1, 2014, 1:25 AM EDT
You get a bunt and you get a bunt and you get a bunt!
Oct 1, 2014, 1:10 AM EDT
Salvador Perez was held hitless in his first five at-bats of Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, but he smacked a walkoff RBI single down the left-field line in the 12th inning to give the Royals a 9-8 victory over the A’s.
Oct 1, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT
A’s center fielder Coco Crisp was removed from Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game before the bottom of the 11th inning with an apparent hamstring injury.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:49 PM EDT
We’ve got a brand new ballgame in Kansas City.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:53 PM EDT
Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will test his injured shoulder in a simulated game Wednesday. He’s hoping to start Game 3 of the NLDS in St. Louis.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:18 PM EDT
Oakland opened the floodgates on the Royals in the sixth inning.
Sep 30, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
Watch the host Royals take the lead in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game against the visiting A’s on this RBI bloop single from Eric Hosmer in the bottom of the third inning …
Sep 30, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT
Derek Norris came off the bench to replace him.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
Angels starter Matt Shoemaker hasn’t pitched in a game since September 15 due to a left oblique strain, but he is making steady progress behind the scenes and expects to be available for the ALDS.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:04 PM EDT
Braves hitting coach Greg Walker officially stepped down on Tuesday evening, as announced on the club’s Twitter feed.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT
Ishikawa is 31 years old and has started a grand total of three career games in the outfield.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:08 PM EDT
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz underwent surgery Tuesday to correct a right meniscus injury that bothered him off and on throughout the 2014 season. He should have a fairly normal winter.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Kershaw and Greinke four times in five games?
Sep 30, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT
Javier Baez hit just .169 with 95 strikeouts in 52 games as a 21-year-old rookie.
Sep 30, 2014, 6:13 PM EDT
Josh Hamilton has played in just one game since September 4 due to shoulder, chest, and rib cage injuries, but the 33-year-old outfielder took batting practice, threw some long toss, and ran the bases on Tuesday afternoon and has declared himself ready for the ALDS, which begins on Thursday.
Sep 30, 2014, 5:29 PM EDT
It’s all about how you define the term “best,” of course.
Sep 30, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
Gordon led the NL in steals and triples this season.
- Video: Salvador Perez walks off Royals in Wild Card Game 0
- Small ball prevails … in a 9-8 game 8
- Royals complete thrilling comeback to defeat A’s in the American League Wild Card Game 30
- Josh Hamilton declares himself ready for the ALDS 3
- Wild Card Game: A’s vs. Royals lineups 14
- Pouliot’s 2014 National League awards picks 21
- HBT Daily: A’s vs. Royals. Jon Lester vs. Big Game James. WHO YA GOT?! 12
- Playoff Reset: The American League Wild Card Game 21
- Hunter Pence dropped a bunch of F-bombs in his postgame speech. Good. (116)
- Barry Bonds discovered to be “glassing” — it’s just as bad as you think (90)
- Derek Jeter’s final game in Yankee Stadium could be cancelled because of rain (85)
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights (85)
- Previewing the 2014 Playoffs (80)