2009 Recap: Andres Blanco
Now, many of us are pretty much fed up with The Riot out at SS. We figure that he'd be a better second baseman, or maybe a better Oakland A or Minnesota Twin, because he seemed to let a lot of base hits get past him, and he seems to be the resident Bunny Foo-Foo on the basepaths, now that Ronny Cedeno is gone.
On the other hand, the same lot of us were lamenting the poor condition of the 2009 Cubs offense, because if there was any production at all from any of the outfield spots or catcher, then we could afford to play Andres Blanco at shortstop. Blanco can't hit much, we all know. (In fact, he produced more in 2009 than any of us figured. Which ain't saying much.) But he seemed to make amazing plays out there, and the announcers on the teevee and radio RAVED about Blanco's glove, how it would save us bushels of runs over the long haul if he was a regular.
But then, you go out to the Fielding Bible and some of the other Bill James-esque publications, and you find that defensively there is very little difference between Blanco and Theriot at shortstop, as far as the statistics go. Blanco would NOT save us bushels of runs over Theriot, and while Theriot certainly is not the next Mark Belanger, also certainly it is not a good idea to shift him over to second and let Blanco play the position until the Great Starlin Castro blesses us with his presence.
Which was exactly my Basic 2010 Plan for National League Dominance.
Perhaps this is a great example of how we (very provincial) Cubs fans have our judgment clouded by the guys in the booth. Theriot broke into the league as a good hit, no glove kind of guy, whereas Blanco was just the opposite. You'd think the guys in the booth see the product every day; watch the warm-ups, and would be able to more critically judge the relative skill of the two men. Len and Bob and Pat all think Blanco is steak sauce with the glove. Maybe he looks smoother, but the numbers say that he's no better than the guy who plays there now. So is he better? I have convinced myself that he is. But some of you say otherwise, and before I did my research, I was willing to stand here and tell you to eat dung. But now I have second thoughts.
When I took the assignment of recapping Andy White, it was with the understanding that I would stump for him to start 2010 at shortstop. Now, after some distance from the abortive 2009 season, I am not so sure. Because he still can't hit dick. And while he may appear more confident in the field, I am not willing to sacrifice the difference between his and Theriot's offense for his 0.10 increase in Range Factor. Plus, he was no smarter on the basepaths than Theriot. Dohh!
We don't really need him back next year. We have enough middle infielder types around, consuming oxygen, getting paid in real American dollars.