Fringe elements

Looking for more potential A-Rod subs of the fringe kind:

Ron Belliard (Nationals 40-Man): This roly-poly second baseman has hit .282/.334/.433 over the last five years, which means he’s batting life to a draw. No one knows if he can actually field third base or not, a position he’s barely played. He seems to be without a position in Washington as the team tries to move to younger players — through with their recent front office changeover, it remains to be seen if any priorities have changed.

Brian Buscher (Twins 40-Man): The 28-year-old lefty swinger lucked himself into a decent batting average last year, but he’s really not much of a hitter, with very little production outside of that average. He’s been passed by Joe Crede, the Twins have a better utility option in Brendan Harris, and there are better prospective third basemen in the system, including the soon-to-be-ready Danny Valencia.  In short, he’s purely redundant in Minnesota.

Korey Casto (Nationals 40-Man): My colleagues at Baseball Prospectus reminded me of this one today at ESPN. Casto, a third baseman/outfielder is absolutely buried in Washington. A lefty hitter, .250/.320/.400 seems like an optimistic projection.

Chone Figgins (Angels 40-Man): He remains the starting third baseman and no one is particularly pushing him — the Angels don’t seem to believe in Brandon Wood, and he may yet slot in at shortstop. Figgins is valuable as a multi-position player, but injuries have been a problem the last couple of years, and he’s an average hitter at best, lacking the pop to be a regular at the hot corner. He will also reach free agency after this season, which means an acquiring team will only be getting a rental for whatever payment the Angels extort–if they would even consider moving him, unlikely that he’s their primary sub at several positions. Figgins would almost certainly be an improvement on Cody Ransom, and he would give the Yankees an interesting extra burst of speed to pair with Brett Gardner, but he’s not a significant run producer. As BP points out, Minor League vet Matt Brown would be a better candidate as a sleeper pickup from the Angels system.

Jeff Larish (Tigers 40-Man): One of my favorite prospects, albeit for no particular reason, this lefty power and patience type is a natural first baseman or DH, but the Tigers have tried to make him into a two-corner sub. PECOTA hates him, but if he can hit .250 he’ll be an offensive asset. He’s 26, not a future star, and is stuck behind veterans at all of his positions — in other words, the kind of player that a team might flip for, say, a half-decent bullpen piece.

More of these to come as merrily we roll along — we have lots of time for speculation. Before I wish you a good weekend, I’d like to remind any readers in the Baltimore area that Jay Jaffe, Clay Davenport, and I will be doing our talk ‘n’ signing routine on Tuesday evening at the Johns Hopkins University Barnes & Noble, 3330 St. Paul Street in Baltimore.  Closer to home, next Thursday Kevin Goldstein, Cliff Corcoran, Neil deMause, Jay, and myself will be reprising the act in Manhattan at the Barnes & Noble at 18th Street and 5th Avenue. I hope to see you there to talk about the new baseball season and all the crunchy A-Rod goodness you can stand. I’ll be the fat guy with the glasses. Can’t miss me.

6 Comments

Two other options (I guess maybe three). Why don’t the Yankees see if either Swisher or Nady can hold down the position if A-Rod goes down for a few months with surgery? Learning a new position at the MLB level is not ideal, but both these guys have played both the infield and the outfield.

As for external options, there’s also Brandon Inge. I’m sure the Tigers would like to lower their payroll, and Inge offers the option to play third base while A-Rod’s away, but also can serve as insurance for Posada. Using him for the latter might be the better of the two options since his hitting has really tanked to the point where he should no longer play every day, but he does have some pop, and has been a solid fielder at catcher, third base, and in the OF.

I honestly, truly think A-Rod will gut out the season and not only play but play well. Stop worrying about what-ifs, there’s nothing we could do except trust Ransom to play well.

All of you people amaze me. You all assume the worst! Be optimistic! As Ben Franklin said, expect the best, prepare for the worst. I am a believer in preparedness. I want to trade for a third baseman (Belte from Seattle would be nice). However I truly think, with all the information given, that A-Rod will play. Buster Olney says that a hip specialist told him that there’s a 75-80% chance A-Rod can play through the season. So let him! I’ll take the risk. The truth is that w/o A-Rod the Yanks may not even make the postseason, so saying that we could have him back for the payoffs could be a moot point (Yeah, I used the word moot. Laugh.). I’d rather make the playoffs and be w/o him in the postseason than miss the playoffs and have A-Rod back for a too little too late second half run. Anyway, A-Rod could be fine for the whole season. If A-Rod says he thinks he could play, I’ll take the chance.

I think ARod will “gut it out” and piss off the haters by becoming a Willis Reed level holy figure in New York and throughout Yankeeland. Where his defenders would previously have to roll out numbers and park adjustments to prove that he was probably misusing rather than abusing roids, they will henceforth be able to glare his detractors into mumbles, the cries for forgiveness.

He’ll have a good year, too, and that will false all the hypocrites in the dailies to give him the MVP or see their papers go kaput – if there still are papers after the regular season.

Either that or they’ll trade for Blalock, who, if healthy, won’t get on base a lot, but could be a nice fit at new Yankee Stadium.

Great news! A-Rod’s only missing about a month! That’s it! This is GREAT! Let’s go Yankees!

FYI, roly-poly Ronnie Belliard is so roly-poly anymore. He reported to camp something like 20 pounds lighter than last year.

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