Q. Why do the Mariners still seem lukewarm against him?
A. Pass the microphone to G-Money here, who commented in Spec's thread,
Rivers has been a little lucky as well as a lotta good. His BABIP is .413, which is not gonna hold...but in the minors, BABIP is higher for almost everyone than it is in the bigs. Defenders are worse, so more balls get through. If you drop his BABIP to a minor-league reasonable .330 he's a .900 OPS hitter in a hitter's park, and pretty neutral thus far against righties and lefties. His eye is terrific, basically 1:1. His strikeouts are a little high but if he can walk that much it's perfectly fine.
Rivers wasn't even selected to the All-Star team. Most everyone thinks it's a fluke.
But is it possible that it's not? A division II guy who made it to the bigs is Mike Aviles, SS for the Royals. The Royals were brutal to him but he's persevered. Rivers is gonna have the longest road possible though - he plays a non-glove position which will require him to REALLY hit, not kinda-hit. Pitchers come out of nowhere. Scrappy glove guys might make it work. But an undrafted slugger? He's gonna have to prove it everywhere he goes.
Precisely. Rivers is going to have his "NO-TALENT: VALUE AT ORG LEVEL" label until ---- > three years after his first 100-RBI season, just like Raul Ibanez did. Several years after Ibanez was an ML star, people were still griping about how lousy he was, and how stupid it was to give him an Opening Day job.
This goes wayyyyyy, way beyond simple prejudice. It's not just a question of taste. Rivers' success or failure is -- lightly -- connected with guys' job security.
Bear in mind, that praising Rivers is always going to be an admission of poor judgment or even incompetence -- not in yours and my views, but in the way these amigos think.
If you've been reading SSI, you're aware that we admire scouts' expertise more than any other 'net rat does. We don't always admire corporate politics. Corporate politics drove Dr. D up the wall in Fortune-500, and in baseball they seem to be, if anything, worse.
The nature of the game in baseball is, your street cred is your job -- and that cred is not based on graphs, charts, and sales histories. It's based on an extremely nebulous (though probably valid) reputation for being smart, and every time you're associated with a bad call, it's a body blow to your rep (and your job). Or can be.
Political survival, in F-500 and even more so in baseball, is a question of getting yourself associated with as many right predictions as possible and as few bad ones as possible. All the way along, Rivers is going to be associated with predictions that he didn't have what it takes. He's got the weight of self-fulfilling prophecy to overcome.
Rivers is a longshot mostly because (1) he's a big corner OF, competing with freaks and (2) he has to play clearly better than the Saunderses and Halmans to have any chance at all.
He's not a longshot because of his own ability; he's a longshot because the bar for him (and others like him) is impossibly high.