By Scott Barzilla

The shortstop pool was pretty weak in 2012, so it stands to reason that the free agent crop would be weak as well. SABR president and award winning author Vince Gennaro talks often about the platoon advantage. Essentially, it is the idea that teams can save a ton of money and have close to the same effectiveness with two players sharing a position as one star. Some of the shortstops available could serve in that capacity.

1) Stephen Drew– Boston Red Sox

 

Fielding

Hitting

Running

TRI

2012

-5.4

-6.7

-1.6

-13.7

2011

0.7

-2.7

1.6

-0.3

2010

1.8

13.5

1.2

16.5

2009

3.3

-7.0

0.8

-2.9

2008

-11.3

8.7

-2.2

-4.8

Tyler Durdin of Fight Club fame said that stuffing feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken. The Red Sox have been noted as a sabermetric organization, but their decisions have been increasingly suspect in recent seasons. You cannot call yourself smart unless you actually make smart moves. Signing Drew to a high dollar contract was likely not one of their better decisions.

Yes, he is capable of being a positive impact performer, but recent seasons have shown him to be average or below. Even if we assume that 2012 was an abnormally bad season, we would have to look at the other three seasons (not counting 2010) we see a fairly consistent player. That player shouldn’t get upwards of ten million dollars. That is particularly true when they had a perfectly serviceable player in Mike Aviles for far less.

2) Alex Gonzalez– Free Agent

 

Fielding

Hitting

Running

TRI

2012

-1.6

1.0

-0.4

-1.0

2011

7.0

-18.7

-0.8

-12.5

2010

11.1

-2.7

-0.9

7.5

2009

0.8

-19.2

-0.6

-19.0

2008

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Alex Gonzalez has had two major injuries in the past five years, but otherwise he has value as a top notch defender. Last season, he didn’t produce defensively, but his season was cut short by the ACL tear. Ironically, his offense was better than advertised as well. At this point, he doesn’t look like regular shortstop, but someone could definitely use him as a utility infielder. He has played some second base in the past and could possibly branch out to third if given the chance.

No one would argue that he was superior to Stephen Drew, but you can imagine Gonzalez being a non-roster invitee at some point. Is there really eight million dollars of difference between the two shortstops? It’s these types of questions that make us wonder how smart the Red Sox really are.

3) Ronny Cedeno– Free Agent

 

Fielding

Hitting

Running

TRI

2012

-2.9

0.6

-0.8

-3.1

2011

7.1

-9.2

0.1

-2.0

2010

-5.9

-6.3

1.4

-9.8

2009

0.1

-14.5

1.1

-13.3

2008

-1.2

-3.5

-0.5

-5.2

Cedeno has vacillated between the starting lineup and the bench throughout the past several seasons. As a utility guy, he has been more successful than Gonzalez, but Gonzalez has been more consistent with the glove. It’s hard to believe that Cedeno is still out there with the need for solid backup infielders throughout the game. With the calendar creeping towards February you would have to think he would sign a NRI contract soon enough.

4) Yuniesky Betancourt– Free Agent

 

Fielding

Hitting

Running

TRI

2012

-8.4

-4.5

-1.4

-14.3

2011

-2.9

-11.9

1.2

-13.6

2010

-8.8

-6.3

1.1

-13.8

2009

-13.4

-14.4

-3.6

-31.4

2008

-9.6

-7.6

-2.4

-19.6

Betancourt’s 2009 season might be one of the five worst seasons by a shortstop in recent memory. Other than that season, he has been a pillar of consistency even if those seasons weren’t necessarily good. Last season, the Royals finally tried him off the bench and he showed some surprising pop. Move him away from shortstop and don’t play him everyday and he has some redeeming qualities.

He has been playing in the winter leagues this season and has shown some impressive pop for a middle infielder. So, while the numbers have been pretty bad, he still has some value at the plate. He should find someone to take him as a non-roster invitee and he could crack someone’s 25 man roster if he hits enough in Spring Training.

5) Willie Bloomquist– Arizona Diamondbacks*

 

Fielding

Hitting

Running

TRI

2012

-7.8

-1.6

-0.8

-10.2

2011

-2.7

-10.2

0.5

-12.4

2010

-3.1

-4.5

-0.3

-7.9

2009

-1.4

-13.0

1.5

-12.9

2008

-0.7

-0.1

0.9

0.1

According to mlbdepthcharts.com, Bloomquist is officially listed as being on the outside looking in on Arizona Diamondbacks roster. Given the presence of Didi Gregorious and Cliff Pennington, he likely will not make the opening day roster. That means he will be designated for assignment and likely be exposed as a free agent.

He has more flexibility than Betancourt, so you would have to think he would find a home somewhere. Since he will be cut loose later, he finds himself as the last player listed here. Still, last season wasn’t completely awful as he had more plate appearances than ever and he wasn’t all that bad with the bat.

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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