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In hesitant defense of Ian Kinsler

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5 reasons why the Padres need the beleaguered second baseman

Greg Bull - AP

I’ve been writing for publication for over a decade. When I was in high school, I wrote an editorial that linked the country’s most highly paid public employee to a pattern of graft and fraud that ultimately led to his indictment. In college, I created and sold a profitable print magazine in Santa Barbara. Since then, I’ve interviewed Grammy nominated musicians, internationally exhibited visual artists, and prominent actors.

All of this is to say: I’ve never had an assignment harder than this one.

As a fan of the Padres, I’ve rarely seen a player do a worse job of ingratiating himself to a fanbase than Ian Kinsler has done this season. Arriving in town on a two-year contract signed this offseason, the second baseman brought with him a very accomplished resumé: he won a World Series last year with the Red Sox; he’s played in 4 All-Star games; he’s won 2 Gold Glove awards. But all of that meant very little once his first season as a Padre was underway.

Across March and April, Kinsler stumbled out of the gate with a putrid 11-for-91 stretch at the plate. He made a few critical errors on the base paths, and made a few defensive miscues that showed plenty of patina on his formerly golden glove. Worse, Kinsler’s presence—and possible cache with fellow former Texas Ranger employee AJ Preller—made it eminently clear that the organization had little plans to give prized prospect Luis Urias much in the way of playing time.

If the early-going was enough to make Kinsler persona non grata amongst the Friar Faithful, the events of May 16th more or less blacklisted him in the eyes of many.

That was…um, yeah. Regardless of whether you believe Kinsler’s explanation that his “F— you all” outburst was intended for his teammates, his “celebration” brought down an avalanche of criticism on him that, in this article, I will attempt to offset.

Does Kinsler’s early poor play and vulgar May outburst really entitle him to this kind of consensus hate?

That’s what I’ll attempt to examine here, by taking a look at what Kindler does supposedly offer to this team in a positive way.

Deep breath. Are you ready? Here are five reasons the Padres need Ian Kinsler.

This is how we do it?

In the Petco era, welcoming in formerly great players who have seemingly no respect for our organization or our fanbase is a time-honored tradition.

Orlando Hudson once called us “pathetic” via Twitter, and offended far worse with his play on the field.

Matt Kemp, arriving to the Padres as perhaps the most famous Dodger of his era, long elicited suspicion around San Diego that he was actually a covert Dodger agent assigned to sabotage us with his flatulent play in the outfield; these suspicions were deemed justified when, on May 17th, 2016, Kemp actually lowered his trousers and relieved himself on the left field grass of Petco park during a game against the Giants. My memory of the incident is hazy, but I can almost completely remember that it happened.

Doug Mirabelli, after being acquired by the Padres in the 2005 offseason, came to then-Padres GM Kevin Towers early in the 2006 season to request a trade back to his original team, the Boston Red Sox. Reportedly, he told Dave Roberts something to the effect that he, “wanted to get back to the big leagues”. To be fair, Towers was able to trade him back for Josh Bard and Cla Meredith, so it is reasonable to argue he actually did Padres fandom a major solid—besides, his removal from the team really helped to lower the team’s collected SPQ rating, which is a statistical measurement I just invented called Soul Patch Quotient. Thanks, Doug?

Any way you slice it, Kinsler’s double-bird outburst on May 16th is a familiar kind of fan outreach for our fanbase, which isn’t, you know, a “big league fanbase” anyway, right?

Power?

Ian Kinsler may be hitting .206 this season, but he has 7 home runs! Dingers!

Grit?

Everyone knows that what a team really needs at the keystone is a player who provides the one true intangible—Grit. In the rest of this piece I will capitalize the word Grit, because i Imagine that when Andy Green thinks of the word “grit”, it feels capitalized in his mind.

Kinsler’s got Grit. And sometimes, Grit means flipping off your teammates in plain view of young children who idolize you. This link goes to nu metal classic “Down With The Sickness”, which is the kind of music i imagine a Gritty dude like Ian enjoys. Hell yeah.

Leadership?

Ian Kinsler, it was said when he was signed, was brought in to provide leadership. Considering that half of the team is Latino, I’m sure they strongly identify with a white guy from Zona who once said the USA baseball team played the team the “right way”, as opposed to the Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic teams, though he offered he that comment wasn’t “taking anything away from them”. That’s nice to clarify.

He also called Rangers GM Jon Daniels a “sleaze ball” after being traded by Daniels to Detroit. Kinsler then wished that his former team went “0-162” in the season following his trade. That, folks, is leadership and investment personified.

Maybe Urias stinks?

A great deal of the consternation over Kinsler involves his blocking of second base prospect Luis Urias. The problem is: Urias can’t play. We know this because he received 29 at-bats at the big league level this season, and he has only hit .368/.461/.724 in Triple-A El Paso. Any prospect taking the job from a Gritty leader like Kinsler needs to hit at least .400.

Conclusion

Well ok, that was indeed a tough assignment, but I think I can be proud that anyone having read this should be roundly convinced that much of the Ian Kinsler bashing is totally unfounded.

In all seriousness though, I will admit that, though he is eminently unlikable from a personality standpoint, the dude has rebounded well with a .375 batting average in June on the heels of a .254 average in May. Maybe let’s put away the pitchforks and torches for a while?