See, we have four middle infielders in camp that will make the roster. Starlin Castro is the shortstop, and Darwin Barney will most likely fill the "young guy serving his apprenticeship as the utility guy" role, which leaves us with DeWitt and Jeff Baker. I would like to say that I am underwhelmed by our second base choices, and that we could go out and get someone better. But I am going to go ahead and rate the chance of that happening at "nil".
So....what this boils down to is a comparison of DeWitt and Baker. And, if it comes down to that, I have a gut feeling hunch about these two men that is based on nothing tangible or concrete. In fact, I wish I understood why I feel the way I feel about these two players, whether it is a prejudice against guys named Jeff, or what it is.
After the jump, see the comparison between Baker and DeWitt...
Because I like the idea of Blake DeWitt, and I hate the idea of Jeff
Baker. I just get the immediate kneejerk reaction every single time I
watch the games and see either of these two guys. I hate seeing Baker
at the plate, and I like seeing DeWitt. I hate seeing Baker's name in
the lineup, and I love seeing DeWitt's.
Here's the problem with
that: Baker is a better fielding second baseman than DeWitt. Baker is a
better hitter than DeWitt. Baker hits for more power, and more
average. In fact, Baker destroys left handed pitching. Conversely,
right handed pitching destroys Baker. Maybe the times I have seen
Baker, he was hitting against righties, which should NEVER happen, and
happened a lot during the last two years of Lou Piniella's absentee
DeWitt? A former first-round draft pick of the
Dodgers, based on his strong arm and high average hitting (he set state
records as a pitcher in HS), he was a top third-base prospect until the
Dodgers signed Casey Blake to play the position. He was moved to second
base, where his strong arm is wasted, and his lack of range and
execution of typical second baseman duties have hurt his teams, which is
why the Dodgers were willing to move him for the chance of an offensive
upgrade (in Ryan Theriot).
Yes, I said "offensive upgrade" and
"Ryan Theriot" in the same sentence. To permit myself to think like a
Dodger for a second, I know DeWitt hits .250 with no pop, and Theriot
has hit around .300 with no pop. Well, that's 5% more basehits, right?
Of course, The Riot totally wet the bed in LA, so now he's a Deadbird,
where we can count on picking his dumb ass off base several times this
year. Hell, that's probably the only reason why Zambrano is playing
nice so far this spring...he's looking forward to 5 or 6 pickoffs of
Theriot by himself.
Maybe the other reason why I like the idea of
Blake DeWitt is because he is still only 25 years old, and may very
well improve. However, as he stands, he is pretty much the standard for
"replacement player". His +OPS is a little less than 100, and his Runs
Saved in the field is pretty much 0. So if he improves somewhat, he
will be simply somewhat above average. That may be ok if the team
around him was, otherwise, strong. Of course, our team isn't the '27
Yankees or even the '08 Cubs. Fielding wise, his future seems to be at
third base, except he will never hit for enough power to suit most
teams, which does not make him a strong replacement for Aramis Ramirez.
the short term, he will get most of our ABs this year as our second
baseman against righties, and will hit down in the order. Me myself, I
would hit him seventh, and let Soto compile another .500 OBP hitting
eighth. But there are those who want Soto's superior impact hitting
higher in the order, and those people include Mike Quade, whose opinion
matters most. So DeWitt will probably bat eighth, which is a graveyard
for guys who a) don't especially have great plate discipline and b) need
some good pitches to hit once in a while.
In other words, don't expect big numbers out of this guy this year.