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2013 Fantasy Baseball, Total Run Series: Shortstops

There can be no more glamour position than shortstop. Players that grow up playing outside the United State usually start off playing shortstop. In Little League, the best athletes are normally shortstops or pitchers (or both). Scouting Directors looking for infielders usually start by scouting and drafting shortstops. The rationale is that if you can handle shortstop you can probably handle second or third base pretty easily. So, shortstops usually represent the very best of what teams have to offer in terms of athleticism and fielding ability.

In fantasy baseball, we are only somewhat concerned with athleticism and not at all concerned with fielding ability unless it keeps a player on the bench. Therefore, finding successful offensive players at shortstop can be a challenge. Most teams aren’t looking for the second coming of Honus Wagner. They’d take the second coming of Ozzie Smith if you shot them up with truth syrum. For our purposes we are still looking for solid performers on teams that either have a surplus at shortstop or are out of the running and can use the prospects.

 

Team

RC

BR

Total

Jean Segura Brewers

36

-1

35

Troy Tulowitzki Rockies

33

-2

31

Jed Lowrie Athletics

29

0

29

Brandon Crawford Giants

25

3

28

Everth Cabrera Padres

25

3

28

Jhonny Peralta Tigers

26

0

26

Ian Desmond Nationals

24

1

25

Brandon Crawford Giants

22

3

25

Elvis Andrus Rangers

21

2

23

Jimmy Rollins Phillies

22

0

22

Alexei Ramirez White Sox

18

2

20

Starlin Castro Cubs

20

-1

19

Didi Gregorius Diamondbacks

18

0

18

J.J. Hardy Orioles

19

-1

18

Asdrubal Cabrera Indians

18

-1

17

Andrelton Simmons Braves

16

1

17

Alcides Escobar Royals

15

1

16

Pete Kozma Cardinals

16

0

16

Nick Punto Dodgers

16

0

16

Yunel Escobar Rays

13

1

14

Jimmy Rollins– Philadelphia Phillies

Rollins is still very useful as he slides into the top ten in terms of offensive value. That being said, there are no more MVP awards in his future. Rollins has enjoyed quite a long career and he is a borderline Hall of Famer at this point. Unfortunately, the Phillies are not a team that looks to compete for a playoff berth this season and that isn’t likely to change in 2014. If they can get some good young prospects for players like Rollins and Chase Utley then they need to do it. If they can get anyone to give them anything for Ryan Howard they need to do it. They have a bloated payroll and a roster full of players on the wrong side of thirty. It’s time to get younger.

You can look at the next list to see which teams can benefit from someone like Rollins. The list will be shorter given that not all ten teams are looking for veteran help. Moreover, even the teams that could use a shortstop down the stretch have to take his contract into account. That probably excludes a team like the Yankees since they expect Derek Jeter to return no later than next season.

Alexei Ramirez– Chicago White Sox

If the White Sox are smart (big if) then they will dangle Ramirez out at the deadline. He offers a couple of things to teams that Rollins does not. First, he is considerably younger than Rollins and there are many fewer miles on those treads. So, any team that gets him will be able to enjoy near peak performance for longer than just 2013. Secondly, his contract situation is a lot more favorable, so a team that is simply looking for a rental could possibly get in on the action.

All this being said, the White Sox are in the cat bird seat and should get a king’s ransom for him. Previous GM Kenny Williams seemed incapable of getting good value for veterans he traded away (he got fleeced in the Carlos Quentin and Sergio Santos deals). Since Williams has been kicked up into the executive booth, maybe the Sox are prepared to get real prospects for their veterans.

Nick Punto– Los Angeles Dodgers

I’m not sure if the Dodgers actually trade Punto here. Punto is serving as a semi-regular shortstop with Hanley Ramirez on the shelf. That makes him perhaps the unheralded member of the huge Josh Beckett/Carl Crawford/Adrian Gonzalez deal with the Red Sox. Punto can play second and third, so he might return to the bench when Ramirez is healthy. With Dee Gordon also on the prowl, it is quite likely that they could deal Punto to another team in search of some quick relief help.

Team

RC

BR

Total

Stephen Drew Red Sox

14

-1

13

Zack Cozart Reds

11

1

12

Pedro Florimon Twins

11

1

12

Marwin Gonzalez Astros

12

0

12

Ruben Tejada Mets

11

0

11

Eduardo Nunez Yankees

7

1

8

Clint Barmes Pirates

9

-1

8

Erick Aybar Angels

8

0

8

Adeiny Hechavarria Marlins

7

0

7

Brendan Ryan Mariners

3

1

4

Brendan Ryan– Seattle Mariners

Situations like this require a deft hand and a lot of patience. A lot of teams have similar decisions at one position or another. They have a player underperforming at the big league level and a prospect waiting to come up down on the farm. Yet, there is that pesky super two problem staring them in the eye (can we fix this on the next collective bargaining agreement?). So, the Mariners will wait until it is safe to recall Nick Franklin. Franklin gets to get more seasoning and Ryan gets more rope. Everyone knows what is going to happen here, so we wait for the calendar to flip to June where the Mariners can call up Franklin and not have him exposed to arbitration for at least three more seasons.

Clint Barmes– Pittsburgh Pirates

This is one of those situations that really begs for a deal to be made. Barmes has underperformed offensively for two seasons. He is great with the glove and normally that would be okay, but the Pirates have been very aggressive in improving their roster around the deadline the past two seasons. This looks like a perfect opportunity to do it and they seem to match up well with the White Sox. They have good young talent in the system and Ramirez might be the difference between finishing around .500 (which would still be an accomplishment) and finishing in the wild card.

The key for this situation is not necessarily to monitor Barmes but to monitor the Pirates as a whole. Barmes’ contract is up at the end of the season, so they could either DFA him when/if a deal is made or simply ask him to be a super utility guy as he can play second and third. So, Barmes really isn’t the key. The key is whether the Pirates keep their head above .500 into July where such a deal would make sense. At this point, the odds are good that they will be in the playoff hunt the.

Eduardo Nunez– New York Yankees

This is one of those situations where the Yankees are a victim of their own success. Any normal franchise would wait until their star shortstop returned from injury. It may not happen until well into the second half, but accepting lower playoff odds is better than taking on another bad contract just to get you through the season. The Yankees aren’t any other team. They have deeper pockets and they have great expectations each and every season. If Jimmy Rollins is the difference between a long playoff run and not then they may pull the trigger despite all of the negative payroll implications in the future.

A Rollins move would make some sense if he or Jeter were willing to move over to third base. Alex Rodriguez has probably played his last game in the field and Kevin Youkilis is only signed for the season (and presently hurt). If that were to happen then a Jimmy Rollins deal would make some sense. Still, it would be adding another thirty something to an already aging roster.

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