I'd like to take some time to say something about Matt Diaz as a ballplayer, who also happens to be a great guy, as well. I watched a lot of Atlanta Braves baseball when I was younger. Many of their games were broadcast on TBS, so it was easy to. I loved watching Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and the many underrated players that suited up for the Braves year after year.
One particularly underrated player was Matt Diaz from 2006-2012, with a brief intermission in Pittsburgh for the better part of 2011. His best years were 2006, 2007, and 2009. In those seasons, he posted OPS numbers of .839, .865, and .878 respectively. If he was such a slugger, as those numbers would suggest, then why did he never get an All-Star nod?
Diaz was the kind of player that manager Bobby Cox and general manager John Schuerholtz valued greatly. He did one thing exceptionally well, and that was destroy left-handed pitching. There were a lot of left-handed pitchers that the Braves faced on a regular basis. So, Diaz, even being part of the "weak" side of a corner outfield platoon, saw a lot of plate appearance. He made the most of them.
For his career, Diaz hit .322/.363/.495 (.858 OPS) versus left-handed pitching in roughly 1000 plate appearances. That's compared to .258/.313/.360 (.673 OPS) versus right-handed pitching. Diaz was no Gold Glove outfielder, either, but in left field, he actually was decent defensively (career 1 Defensive Runs Saved). It was in right field that he had trouble (-10 DRS for his career in RF). Considering he saw almost 3 times as much play in left as in right, that gives you some idea how badly he performed in right.
All in all, when Diaz played left field against southpaw starters, he was an above-average player. The rest of the time... well, he was flawed. A former 17th round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays (then known as the Devil Rays) he had a couple cups of coffee before being selected off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles. He was later released, signed with the Royals, then was traded in December 2005 for a pitcher named Ricardo Rodriguez who was out of organized baseball after the 2006 season. It's safe to say that the Braves won that trade.
Even after letting Diaz go after a subpar 2010 season, the Braves would reacquire him for the 2011 stretch run for another minor leaguer who hasn't amounted to anything, either. Unfortunately, that was the end of Diaz. He had a lousy 2012 season, and couldn't stick with the Yankees in 2013. He did manage to get into a few games with the Miami Marlins in 2013, however. He officially retired in 2014 to spend more time with his family.
Matt's a great guy and it was nice to rekindle the old memories of a very useful ballplayer. It would be nice to see the Atlanta Braves return to their old value-hunting ways during their current massive rebuilding project. Who knows if they'll find another Matt Diaz off the scrap heap?