August 19, 2010

Good Wood hunting

Mention the name Brandon Wood to an Angels fan and you’re likely to hear a moan, a scream or a sigh. To say he’s been a disappointment and hasn’t come to close to living up to expectations would be an understatement. He’s been that bad. Most fans can’t understand why he’s still on the roster.

Well, I’m here to tell you why.

I believe that third base is one of the hardest positions to fill in all of baseball. That’s right, really good third basemen are few and far between.

Let’s take a look at some of the players currently covering the hot corner around the league.

There are basically four (possibly five) elite third basemen in all of baseball. They are Evan Longoria (Rays), David Wright (Mets), Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals), Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) and to a slightly lesser degree Michael Young (Rangers). I say slightly lesser because Young’s power numbers are inflated by the ball park that he calls home (16 of his 19 homeruns have come in Arlington).

Wright is signed through 2011 with a club option for 2012; Zimmerman is signed through 2013; Young; and Longoria are signed through 2013 with the Rays holding club options that go through 2016 for the former Dirt Bag.

There are two individuals who have had one or two good years; however, they’re wildly inconsistent from year to year. They are Mark Reynolds (Diamondbacks), currently hitting .214, and Adrian Beltre (Red Sox). More on Beltre in a bit.

Several individuals who are in the twilight of their careers include Scott Rolen (Reds), Chipper Jones (Braves), Aramis Ramirez (Cubs), Mike Lowell (Red Sox), Miguel Tejada, and Pedro Feliz (Astros). Lowell and Tejada (both 37 years old) will be free agents this off season. Ramirez has a $14.6 million player option that he’ll surely exercise.

Some not so impressive names include: Kevin Kouzmanoff (A’s), Edwin Encarnacion (Blue Jays), David Freese/Felipe Lopez (Cardinals), Casey Blake (Dodgers), Jayson Nix (Indians), Chone Figgins (Mariners), Wes Helms (Marlins), Ian Stewart (Rockies), Wilson Betimet (Royals), Brandon Inge (Tigers), Omar Vizquel/Mark Teahan (White Sox), Casey McGehee (Brewers), Chase Headley (Padres), Jorge Cantu (Rangers), Ty Wiggington (Orioles), and Placido Polanco (Phillies).

I think we can agree that none of these names I just mentioned are the kind of corner infielders other teams are clamoring for. We can add the Angels’ Alberto Callaspo to this mix as well and since he’s basically in the same category as those I just mentioned – it would be pointless to acquire any of them.

Young guns trying to make an impact include: Josh Bell (Orioles), Chris Johnson (Astros), Pedro Alvarez (Pirates), Brooks Conrad (Braves) and Danny Valencia (Twins). None of which have set the world on fire as of yet.

Throw in guys like Joe Crede, Josh Fields, Eric Chavez, and Garret Atkins who are either injury prone or have declining skills and you will see that the landscape for a highly productive third basemen isn’t pretty.

So I ask; if not Brandon Wood, who from the list above can the Angels have a reasonable expectancy of acquiring?

Of all the names listed above the only semi-appealing name that will be a free agent in 2011 is Beltre. Now, knowing what we know about Beltre – is anyone willing to give the 32 year old a long term contract? I’d say that’s a risky proposition.

Want to go younger? There are two 29 year old soon-to-be free agents in Wilson Betimet and Jorge Cantu. Pardon me while I yawn. These two look like stop gap answers at best.

So I'll ask again; who can the Angels acquire to play third base? Right now, the current options are either Alberto Callaspo or Kevin Frandsen (if you’re not considering Wood). Neither of whom offer the kind of offensive production the Angels need.

This is why the Angels aren’t giving up on Brandon Wood, nor should they. The Angels have invested a great deal of time in Brandon Wood and there’s an old saying in baseball that no one knows their players better than the team who currently employs them.

Face it; the Angels have never been shy about letting players walk when the time was right (remember the nightmare that was Shea Hillenbrand?). If Brandon Wood doesn’t make it here, I’m willing to venture a guess that he won’t make it any where.

There’s a reason Brandon Wood is still on this roster. He just might be the best option; no matter how much of a long shot some Angel fans think he might be. The key is whether or not the Angels can unlock the potential that he represents. I know, call me Captain Obvious.

Word is that he’ll be playing Winter Ball some place and then come back next year for another go. Now, Wood has not taken well to winter ball in the past, but here’s hoping this year will be different.

All I’m saying is Brandon Wood has to succeed. He has to be the long-term solution at third base. Callaspo is not the answer. At best, he’s a low end insurance policy. Kevin Frandsen? Please, don’t even go there.

I know that Brandon Wood hasn’t given fans much of reason to believe he’s capable of getting the job done. I understand the frustration with him. Never-the-less, I am pulling for the guy. He’s just the kind of guy I can get behind because I like the way he goes about his business. He doesn’t sulk or make excuses. He’s always been nice at spring training and I just like the guy and so does my wife Cheryl.

The way I see it, the Angels must see something there. Mike Scioscia sees something there and for better or worse I’m holding on to that.

BallHype: hype it up!

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure glad I found your blog. I loved to see Bobby Grich in action myself. You seem to know what your talking about. I like Brandon Wood but like you say he has never did any good in Winter Ball. It appears to me he just does not have the focus that it takes!!