The San Francisco Giants said they’d made defense a priority in the offseason, but were ridiculed by some circles when they signed 38 year old Omar Vizquel and 35 year old Mike Matheny to provide that defense. Aging players, particularly in their late 30’s, aren’t supposed to get better. They’re supposed to get worse. And fast.
For at least the first year of their deals, the Giants can say ‘Told ya so!’
Vizquel was awarded his 10th Gold Glove on Wednesday, his first in the senior circuit in his first year playing in the NL, while Matheny won his 4th Gold Glove, which was the third in a row for the former St. Louis Cardinals catcher.
Vizquel’s award had several distinctions. He became the first Giant shortstop to win a Gold Glove. He became the oldest shortstop to win the award. He became just the 10th player to win one in each league (joining 2005 teammate J.T. Snow, amongst others). Vizquel had won 9 straight in the American League from 1993 through 2001. He also surpassed the record for Gold Gloves by a Venezuelan player, which had been 9 by Luis Aparicio.
Giants assistant General Manager Ned Colletti had a slightly mixed (if sarcastic) reaction, though. “My only regret with Omar was, if he's this good at 38, what was he like at 28? He was tremendous."
"I think this has been the most emotional Gold Glove I had since the first one,” Vizquel said of the award. “It has marked really big things in the history of baseball."
For Matheny, the award didn’t have as many distinctions, but it was no less sweet. He won his previous three with St. Louis in 2004, 2003 and 2000. His main competition was 2001 and 2002 winner Brad Ausmus of the Houston Astros. Both made only 1 error on the season, with Ausmus ranking bare percentage points ahead of Matheny in Fielding Percentage. However, Matheny won the vote by throwing out 38.2% of attempted basestealers (39 of 102) compared to Ausmus’ 31.6% (18 of 57), and participating in twice as many double plays (13 compared to 6).
Matheny also had a great year with the bat, destroying his career high in home runs with 13 (he’d twice hit 8 for his high previous to 2005), doubles (34, breaking the career high of 22 he’d reached twice before) and RBI (59, breaking the 50 he’d achieved in 2004).
However, Matheny wasn’t so sure he deserved it. "So much of me feeling that I did my job goes hand in hand with how the pitching does," he said. “In that regard, no, I didn't feel I did (deserve the Gold Glove).”
"You're talking about two players who met every expectation. In some ways, they were even better than I had thought they would be.”
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