Monday, April 04, 2005

He's not Omar, he's Jhonny

Those Indians fans looking for a reason to grate some more skin over the loss of Omar Vizquel didn't have to wait too long. In the first regular-season game of the post-Vizquel era Monday afternoon, new shortstop Jhonny Peralta committed a critical boot of a ground ball which allowed the only run to score in the Indians' 1-0 opening day loss in Chicago.
"Omar would have fielded that ball no problem."
There. I said it for all of you.
If Peralta hits .300 this year and finishes in the top 10 in doubles, it will alleviate a lot of the hard feelings created when the Tribe let Vizquel go to San Francisco over the winter. But while Peralta's glove is adequate, every error he makes, every boot Vizquel would have fielded with the smoothness of melted chocolate will be a black mark against Peralta.
It's not deserved. We in Cleveland were spoiled by Vizquel's defense for 11 years. Most shortstops aren't ever as flawless as Vizquel was in his prime, or even now for that matter. Peralta, unfortunately, is an apprentice following a magician.
He's not Vizquel. He never will be Vizquel. Peralta might have to be lifted late in games for defensive replacements, something that never happened to Vizquel.
Peralta can't carry Vizquel's toiletry bag defensively. But Peralta can hit. He was the MVP of the International League last year.
Even with the errors, hopefully fans will allow him to be Jhonny Peralta, and not just the stinging absence of Omar Vizquel.

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