A late season post about middle infielders
What? We have no tags for Jeff Baker&Andres Blanco? We need to rectify that, because they are here for the long haul.
A very popular topic of conversation amongst Cub bloggers is the Mark DeRosa trade. Over the months of this abortion of a season, two camps have sprung up - the "Mark DeRosa is not God" camp espoused by Desipio Andy, and, um, everyone else who tends to track the entire spiralsuck of 2009 on the New Years Eve trade. Naturally, I tend to think the truth falls somewhere in the middle.
Mark DeRosa can be counted on to hit close to 20 homers, drive in close to 70 runs, hit around .260 and get on base 34% of the time. He is not a great fielder, but not a liability, either. His two main talents in life are that he is friendly, and that he leaves his ego in check well enough to allow himself to go play a corner outfield spot, third base, second base or first base.
The latter talent is vitally important to Lou Piniella, who if he had his way would expect every member of his 25-main to be able to play more than one position. Except Z, he would pull his lazy fat core muscles playing in the field. Lou loves DeRosa. Which begs the question: where is all the Lou love for Jeff Baker? Baker is essentially DeRosa, only younger, covers a tad more ground, hits for a better average (albeit less power), and can and will play all the positions Mark does? Of course, I don't recall seeing Baker in a cute YouTube skit, or in the paper much commenting on the cartoon-watching proclivities of a Bobby Scales, or something cutesy like that.
My take on Mark DeRosa, on this 25th day of September, 2009? I do not blame the entire fall of the 2009 Cubs on the loss of Mark. I do think losing him took away one of Lou Piniella's safety blankets, and it would have been better having him around than giving 400 at bats to Mike Fontenot. If you believe that DeRosa was traded, so that his salary could be leveraged to pay Milton Bradley, then you have every right in the world to be pissed off. On the other hand, he was traded at the peak of his value (for once in Hendry's tenure), and although a popular meme in the papers these days is for Hendry to right the wrongs of 2009 by re-signing DeRosa this winter, it seems pointless to have a roster with DeRosa AND Baker AND Andres Blanco AND Ryan Theriot AND Mike Fontenot AND Aaron Miles.
Unless, of course, you do the following:
- install Andres Blanco as the starting shortstop
- sign DeRosa, and let him and Baker rotate between second base, spelling Ramirez at third, spelling Alfonso Soriano in left, and spelling whomever in right.
- this leaves very little room for Fontenot. Get rid of him.
- But! But! What about The Riot? He's our shortstop! He's our starter! He hits .300. If you don't like his fielding at short, can't he play second? Won't he be mad if we got rid of Fontenot?
Yeah, probably. In my humble opinion, I am through with Ryan Theriot at shortstop. I like his .300 batting average, but I don't like his baserunning and I don't like his lack of playmaking ability. I forgot what a real shortstop looked like until Blanco came up from the minors. Compared to him, The Riot looks really bad. So could Theriot play second? Sure.
And here's where it gets complicated. Who starts then? Theriot or Baker? And then, if you re-sign DeRosa, things really get jammed up at second. Therefore, it makes no sense to me to bring back Marky Mark unless you get rid of Theriot, because then you have three starter-caliber guys wanting to play one position, and occassionally spell guys in a couple other positions.
Besides, if you got rid of Theriot, then who backs up Blanco at short? We'd be forced to keep Aaron Miles. Ew. I just threw up a tad.
So, in my world, I start Blanco at short, with Theriot at second primarily, and against lefties, Theriot plays short, and Baker plays second, spelling Theriot once a week. Baker also plays third for Ramirez once a week, plays left for Soriano once a week, plays right once a week, and second 2-3 times a week. Theriot gets about 550 PA, Baker about 500. Soriano and Ramirez get more rest in 2010. The defense improves dramatically. If you sign DeRosa, it would have to be based on the terms I just outlined for Baker. Then you trade Baker, while HIS value his high.
Aaron Miles is allowed to start selling insurance, and Mike Fontenot can go back to Baton Rouge to run a combination batting cage/bar/laundromat.