By Scott Barzilla

In the past three positions, looking at the trailers gave us a ton of insight into the thinking of those organizations that had those guys. Third base won’t be any different. It also gives us some predictability as to which teams may be able to make quick turnarounds. After all, transfer one or two positions from trailers to even average and you can gain as many as five or six games in the standings. Couple that with slight improvement at other spots and you can go from mediocre to playoff contender overnight.

30) Greg Dobbs– Miami Marlins

Fielding: -12.5

Hitting: -4.2

Running: -2.0

TRI: -18.7

The big headliner here is not necessarily the replacement of Dobbs per se. After all, Dobbs was essentially a late season replacement for Hanley Ramirez. Both players combined to give the Marlins some of the worst defense anyone has seen at third base in quite some time. Couple that with Jose Reyes’ bad defense at shortstop and the Marlins will save somewhere near 30 runs at both spots with the additions of Placido Polanco and Adeiny Hechavarria. Sure, they will lose quite a bit of offense in the exchange, but it won’t be 40 runs worth.

Dobbs may or may not be back in the fold as a bench player. Either way, the Marlins should be a lot more effective defensively on the left side of the infield. When you include Juan Pierre replacing Logan Morrison in left field, you will notice a huge upswing in the defensive numbers for the Marlins this season.

29) Chris Nelson– Colorado Rockies

Fielding: -15.2

Hitting: 3.3

Running: 0.2

TRI: -11.7

The Rockies situation at third base was worse than the Marlins situation. Chris Nelson and Jordan Pacheco were a virtual platoon last season and both were terrible offensively. The problem for the Rockies is that neither Nelson nor Pacheco were more than okay offensively. Coors Field has a way of making ordinary hitters look like good hitters. Both were similar in that regard and since both are affordable, that isn’t such a bad thing.

What is bad is the fact that both players combined for nearly -30 runs defensively. That problem is affecting the Rockies throughout the diamond as they seem to be betting that history cannot repeat itself. There might be some logic to that, but I’m not sure I would put all of my eggs in that basket.

28) Chris Johnson–Arizona Diamondbacks

Fielding: -9.6

Hitting: 4.2

Running: -1.8

TRI: -7.2

Michael Young (who does not qualify officially as a third baseman) was dealt to the Phillies this offseason and many wondered why the Rangers would even agree to take on salary to get rid of him. Young would have finished number one or two as a trailer, so the thinking behind that deal was self-evident. The same was true when the Astros traded Johnson for Chris Borchering and Mark Krauss.

If you haven’t heard of those guys, don’t worry, most fans haven’t. If either of them amount to anything it will be a bonus. The idea behind trades like these is not to actually get anything of value, but that you are probably better off with just about anything you have in your organization. At least Johnson is affordable unlike Michael Young.

27) Luis Valbuena– Chicago Cubs

Fielding: 3.2

Hitting: -7.6

Running: -1.5

TRI: -5.9

The Cubs third base situation is an absolute mess, but Ian Stewart is healthy for the first time in two years. That’s good news as Valbuena was never supposed to be a regular at the position. He is a solid utility guy, and as you can see, he is solid defensively no matter where you put him. The trouble in Chicago is that they had three different guys (also including Josh Vitters) and none of them could produce a lick offensively.

26) Ryan Roberts– Tampa Bay Rays

Fielding: 7.3

Hitting: -11.7

Running: -0.8

TRI: -5.2

The Diamondbacks thought Johnson was an upgrade over Roberts and he may have been offensively this past season. Overall, Roberts was a superior player because he can play solid to good defense. Johnson will never be anything better than below average. The Rays swooped in and gobbled Roberts up when Evan Longoria was on the shelf. With all of the additions in Tampa, Roberts might be out of a job, but he showed he could play third and second well, so he might be a valuable bench guy.

The Rays roster building strategy is fascinating to say the least. They continue to add plus defenders in the hopes of continuing their dominance on the mound. The Royals will likely find out that James Shields isn’t as good as what they thought. Average pitchers (the former Fausto Carmona) will come out looking great in Tampa with their advanced defensive shifts and plus defenders throughout the diamond.

 

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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