Tuesday, June 06, 2006


3rd Basemen: There's a LOT of young blood at 3rd, though not quite as much as there is at 1st. Why? It takes a howitzer arm and the reflexes of a cat to man the hot corner... and there are only so many ball players with the skills of an Eric Chavez, Alex Rodriguez, or Scott Rolen.

Dodgers; Willy Aybar: A bit of a gamble certainly, but winning ANYTHING generally involves some measure of risk. Aybar was called up when speedy but dimunitive Jason Repko suffered a high ankle sprain towards the end of May. Repko's an Outfielder you say? Correct, I reply, but Aybar's been shagging flys in an attempt to make himself more flexible. For a team that's as weak-kneed as the Dodgers are any offense is welcome offense, and Aybar is hitting .311/2/17, with 7 Doubles in just 74 ABs. A long-term prognosis I can't give ya', but his ability to play Outfield and 3rd is not without it's appeal.

Reds; Edwin Encarnacion: I was much higher on the 23 year old corner-man at the start of May, when Double-E' had an average of .287, a Slugging % of .550, and squeezed 14 Extra Base Hits and 24 RBIs out of 23 total hits. Nevertheless, Encarnacion is still a very serviceable 3rd Baseman who benefits from a strong lineup... and he just might still be hanging around your leagues' Waiver Wire, bored out of his wits.

Shortstops: Remember when A-Rod, Jeets', and Nomah' were Baseball's answer to "The Tres Amigos?" Man, I loved that movie. "Great, you killed the invisible swordsman, now what do we do?" "Jefe, are gringos falling from the sky? ... Yes, El Guapo!"
Anyway, shortly thereafter Miggy' hit a ton, was annointed the 4th Musketeer... and things really haven't been the same since. A-Rod now suits-up for "The Boss," plays alongside Jeter, at 3rd... and is he a Gold Glove infielder or what? Everyone realized that Ranger Michael Young is a stunningly consistent talent, Jhonny Peralta, who spells his name incorrectly and someone MUST apprise him of this fact, came along last year, and so did Rockie Clint Barmes, Oakland A' Bobby Crosby (okay, he came along earlier... just go with it) can now afford Eric Chavez some protection, and how can we omit the ascension of Met Jose Reyes?


Cubs; Ronny Cedeno: On a team that doesn't have much to cheer about the return to health of Mark Prior (yeah', right... is that a pig that just flew past my 3rd floor window?) and Kerry Wood (that dude's surgically repaired shoulder is about as stable as Mary-Kate Olson) head the list. Coming in at a close 2nd is the young talent manager Dusty Baker is promoting to "The Show." Outfielder Matt Murton has nice tools and has proven himself capable of holding down a job, but Cedeno looks like he too could be a special, solid, everyday player.
Hitting at a .307 pace is nice, but Cedeno also has nice speed; 5 Stolen bags, 8 Doubles and 4 Triples attest to that much. His getting thrown out 4 times also attests to his inexperience. Need a Shorty'? You could do a whole lot worse.

Reds; Felipe Lopez: Lopez may not be a secret... his .291/23/85 15 SB '05 breakout campaign took care of that. But, the Red started the season in sluggish fashion (a .255/3/9 April), was subsequently exiled to many a Waiver Wire, and could still be lingering about as he was on mine. As of today, Felipe's hitting .288/5/22/40, with 16 SB. With 1 more thieved bag than he stole all of last season already in the bank, 40 Swiped Bags and a .295 BA might not be too ambitious a projection.

Marlins; Hanley Ramirez: Does the former Red Sock farmhand really need an introduction? Sent south in the deal that netted the BoSox Pitcher Josh Beckett, Ramirez is a poised, mature, 23 year old 5-tool talent. A talent, mind you, who has already made quite an impression upon the league. With a line of .304/3/19/47, and with 15 Doubles, 5 Triples, and 17 Stolen Bases Ramirez WILL be on someone's squad. That is, of course, unless you play with a bunch of Chimps... and even then he may be unavailable. But, looking every bit the stud, if your team enjoys an embarrassment of riches... or quite the opposite, you have just a few stars and are already thinking about how to best strengthen your team for next season, see if you can acquire the young Shortstop. Hanley Ramirez is an excellent "Keeper" and building block for the future.


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