Saturday, 13 July 2013
The Second Coming of the Second Baseman
Brett Lawrie is back today, apparently, and will be playing at second base, as opposed to his usual third. This isn't a huge surprise-- he was playing 2B in Buffalo during his rehab assignment and we all heard about it and reacted. So what's the plan here?
Is Lawrie at 2B for good? Is it a good thing? He's certainly athletic enough to play second, given how well he plays third, and of course the bat plays a little better there as well, given how low replacement-level is among second basemen across the league. I feel like putting him at 2B is a big of a waste of the arm, though I suppose he's made enough throwing errors over the past few years that whatever.
I think the bigger part of this, however, is the idea that replacing 2B internally allows AA to go dip within a larger market and find a suitable upgrade for the lineup. There is a much larger market for quality third basemen than there is for second basemen. And after all, if AA does decide that he wants to upgrade, and he finds a 2B, Lawrie can just slide back over to third.
A quick look at the 2B market shows a 34-year old, oft-injured Chase Utley, and not much else. Second base is pretty barren these days. If we're looking for bad offense and mediocre defense at 2B, we've got Kawasaki, Izturis and Bonifacio already, so there's no real need to go out and trade for another one.
The 3B market doesn't have a whole lot more, but there are some pretty good options if available. The Padres have somehow not extended Chase Headley yet, and he's going to be nice and expensive in his last year of club control, given his $8.5MM salary this year. San Diego currently sits 8.5 games out of the division lead (not that the Jays are doing much better), so if they choose to move Headley, they should get a pretty big return on their investment. Beyond Headley, Aramis Ramirez is there as well, despite the fact that he shouldn't be playing third base anymore. He'll be making $16MM next season, plus he has a $4MM buyout on a club option for 2015. I'm sure Milwaukee would be ecstatic to move that contract, given the fact that they're worse than the Cubs at this point in the year. Michael Young would probably be an overall upgrade over Bonifacio or Izturis or whatever, even with the shit defense. Despite his $16MM salary, he should only cost a prorated $6MM (slightly less than $3), thanks to Texas paying $10MM of that.
Obviously they'll need another big winning streak after the break, but if the Jays can line up a bunch of wins together, AA might find himself looking to acquire a third baseman to upgrade second base.