All My Infielders, Episode 2

As we left our story, I had this configuration for next season:

1B Casey Blake

2B Omar Vizquel

SS Jhonny Peralta/Brandon Phillips

3B Aaron Boone

UTIF Josh Phelps

UTIF Lou Merloni (or facsimile)

Now Eric Wedge makes an appearance on our program, saying this:

When Wedge talked about the infield for next year, he was reluctant to name a starter at any position except first base.

“I look at Benny as our first baseman,” he said.

If this is true, I need to throw out my previous model. By keeping Broussard around, Blake by default is your second baseman, which means Belliard is probably either nontendered or traded. Also this would mean Omar Vizquel will be playing for another team next year whether he wants to or not. I don’t believe Broussard is arbitration-eligible yet, so he’ll still be making next to nothing. What I am concerned about is the double-play combination. Blake has played a grand total of 0 innings as a major-league second baseman, and Jhonny Peralta looks more like a player transitioning between shortstop and third base. If Jake Westbrook is reading this, he’s probably already cringing.

The upside is obvious; by moving your third baseman left on the defensive spectrum, you are increasing his overall value to your team. And placing Jhonny Peralta at shortstop should be an offensive upgrade over Omar Vizquel, especially in the power department. But is that offensive upgrade worth what seems to me as a downgrade in defense? I’ve never seen Blake at second base, but he was a below-average third baseman to begin with; therefore my first reaction is that he’ll be a terrible defender at second base.

So here’s the 2005 infield, v. 1.1:

1B Ben Broussard ($400k)

2B Casey Blake ($3M)

SS Jhonny Peralta/Brandon Phillips ($300k)

3B Aaron Boone ($3M)

UTIF Josh Phelps ($350k)

UTIF Lou Merloni (or facsimile)

The upside? A pretty good offensive infield:

VORP (2003/2004)

1B Broussard (4.1/31.8)

2B Blake (9.5/36.6)

SS Peralta (-4.0/1.2)

3B Boone (31.5/NA)

Blake, had he played 2B all season, would have been the league’s best by a fairly large margin. Boone should, assuming his knee is healthy come close to matching Blake’s 2004 numbers. Broussard is a league-average first baseman. Peralta is an unknown quantity, but projects to hit with at least decent power.

The downside? Your defense presumedly gets worse, with Blake at 2B and Peralta being big question marks. Boone is a pretty good third baseman, and lets call Broussard average at first.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “All My Infielders,” where plot twists and role reversals happen every show!

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