What have the Braves done to Johan Camargo?

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Johan Camargo slashed .272/.349/.457 with a bWAR of over 4.0 in his first full season of major league baseball (134 games) last year. The front office (rightfully) went out and acquired Josh Donaldson this offseason on a one year deal and then proclaimed Johan Camargo as the team’s super-utility man. While Donaldson has added necessary depth and pop to Atlanta’s offense, the “super-utility” term used surrounding Camargo really meant “glorified bench bat.”

Last night, Camargo started for the first time since June 2nd! That’s two starts in an entire month. Some of that probably had to do with how hot Atlanta’s offense has been, but I don’t know how it is possible that he only manages to start twice in a month, considering he can play pretty much any position on the diamond.

Now, Brian Snitker has changed his tune, stating the Braves are “not built like that” and the starters are “programmed to play every day.” He finished it with “as long as they stay healthy, they are going to be out there.”

I agree with him to a degree. Resting legs in baseball might be the most overrated thing I’ve ever heard. These players aren’t running marathons; they are standing in left field and sprinting 90 feet a few times a game. These are professional athletes – I remind you. Rest isn’t what cost the Braves the NLDS, talent did.

Where I don’t agree with him is when he says, “We don’t have platoon options.” The way Atlanta is using Camargo like Charlie Culberson is a disgrace. This is a player – that if he were starting every day – might be the fourth or fifth best bat on the team. He is a Gold Glove-caliber defensive infielder, can play both corner outfield spots, and switch hits. Camargo is the perfect type of player to play the matchups and put the best lineup on the field nightly.

That is the issue here. It’s not a matter of rest, only couch GMs think about such things. This is about putting the best players on the field every night. Giving Camargo only two starts in a month makes absolutely no sense, I don’t care how hot the offense has been. It will get overlooked while the team is winning, but the Braves have turned a highly productive 25-year-old player into a pinch-hitter, shunning their original plan, and it will cost them at some point.

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