I apologize in advance, but this morning's conversation has me feeling incredibly frustrated. I feel like this community has been hung up on Casey Kotchman waaaaay too much of late, so let's end this thing once and for all. I don't even think both sides of the debate are all that far apart from each other, but the talk has grown polarized so we're debating silly points half the time. Let's lay this out, get over it, and move on to talking about other important areas of concern for the Rays.
Point 1: Kotchman is riding an incredible hot streak right now. I don't anyone will disagree with this -- Kotch has a .360 batting average, a .388 BABIP, and a .397 wOBA. He's been crazy hot this year, and it's been a really pleasant surprise.
Point 2: He will cool down eventually. Obviously he will -- not even Ichiro hits .360 all that often. I think the divide has been on how much Kotchman will cool down and if he's still a valuable contributor even when he does. At the moment, the Rays are riding a hot streak and that's okay -- it's great to get offensive value from first base, no matter how we're getting it - but as forward thinking, process-based fans, we should be thinking forward to what the Rays do when Kotchman cools off. Will he still deserve to play every day? Do they keep playing him like Fuld? Do they give DanJo more playing time? Do they acquire someone else?
This is the real issue at stake here -- there's so much uncertainty about what level Kotch will regress toward -- and it's one of the reasons I don't see Dan Johnson going anywhere. The Rays love carrying two first basemen (even if the other is as useless as Joe Dillon or Willy Aybar), and they need some insurance depending on how things continue to go with Kotchman. If Kotch can produce at his projected .333 wOBA rate going forward, then with his great defense, he would be a fine fill-in for the Rays this season. He'd have bucked some long odds to do so, but that's one of the crazy things about baseball: the improbable has a way of happening. And if Kotch tanks hard after his streak ends, then the Rays have someone ready to help out.
Point 3: Nobody is rooting against Kotchman. We're all fans of the Rays first, and getting production, no matter how unlikely or surprising, is definitely welcome. Those arguing against Kotchman are merely trying to take a long-term view, and are wondering how to best fill this organizational hole at first base in 2012, etc. This season, the Rays have a relatively weak offensive roster and are somewhat "reloading," so why not ride this hot streak while it's here? It's a long season and Dan Johnson will still get a chance to rebound (or at least, I'm hoping so). Either way, Kotchman has been a nice surprise and is giving us more depth at first base than many of us thought we had going into the season.
There. Can't everyone agree with those basic points? If we're going to
talk debate about Kotchman, let's at least make it about a) how much he'll cool down and b) what the Rays should do at that point. Otherwise, appreciate his current performance and let's move on.