Eric Chavez, 33, was once one of the elite players in all of baseball. He was a gold glove winning third baseman who slugged the ball. It wasn’t long ago that Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane gave Chavez a long-term deal when he wouldn’t give one to Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Jason Giambi, and many others.
Unfortunately for Chavez he is no longer considered an elite player. Injuries to his back, shoulder, and neck have derailed what potentially could have been a hall of fame career. Instead he is now competing for a job as a backup with the Yankees on a non-guaranteed contract.
The thing is, so far he looks very good. He’s healthy and he’s swinging the bat real well. At this point he seems like a lock to make the roster and if he can keep his health, he may end up being an important piece for the 2011 Yankees.
“He seems to be doing real well right now,” Joe Girardi said. “There’s nothing that I’ve seen from him that would tell me he’s been hurt the last couple of years.”
That’s really what it’s going to come down to for Chavez this season, whether or not he can maintain his health. If he can do that he should have a productive season. However, injuries are a tricky thing and they are impossible to predict. So right now it may be a little premature to expect a huge year out of him, but so far things are looking good.
What do you think? Should we expect Chavez to stay healthy and at least somewhat return to form? Or is he just another reincarnation of Nick Johnson, a player who will spend most of the season on the DL?