I know, we are in the middle of chasing down the Red Sox and fending off the Angels in our late push for the American League Wild Card. Matt Moore looked like Clayton Kershaw last night and belongs in the rotation out of Spring Training in 2012. But I cannot get passed the fact that the Rays are starting Reid Brignac in nearly every game down the stretch.
I know, there seems to be a post once every other week about our shortstop problem. We all know it is a problem. Nay, a major problem. But it has not left my brain and I have been searching for a solution for this problem so we do not run into this problem again in 2012.
The solution to half of the problem is already here in the form of Sean Rodriguez. He is currently hitting .286/.400/.496 in 160 plate appearances against left handed pitching this season with a remarkable 20/26 BB/K rate. His career line of .265/.364/.430 is well above average for a shortstop proven by the 120 wRC+ over his career against left handed pitching. UZR doesn't exactly like his glove at short this year with a -6.7 but he has a +2.0 for his career and looks, to me at least, to be at least average with the glove with a well above-average arm. I'll take it.
The big problem at the position is what to do against right handed pitching. I don't think Rodriguez can handle right handers for an entire season. He is hitting .194/.271/.293 against them this year with a 14/57 BB/K rate and is .213/.274/.341 in his career. So, who is available that can be a legit platoon partner with Rodriguez? Let's take a look.
Reid Brignac had a fine 2010 season for the Rays but has fallen completely out of favor this year. We all love the glove at short but the bat is horrible. I won't even show the splits against left-handers because it may make you puke but here are his against right-handers: Career .242/.280/.352 and 2011 .193/.227/.228. His 2011 is pure trash and his career line is not passable in the Majors. Do the Rays pray he reverts to his 2010 form where he was at least pasable with a .261/.305/.401 mark or go outside for a replacement? My vote is to go outside if we want to contend.
Who are the options? Here is a list of the potential free agents at shortstop according to Cot's:
Yuniesky Betancourt MIL *
Ronny Cedeno PIT
Adam Everett CLE
Rafael Furcal LAD
Alex Gonzalez ATL
Cesar Izturis BAL
John McDonald TOR
Augie Ojeda ARI
Nick Punto STL
Edgar Renteria CIN
Jose Reyes NYM
Jimmy Rollins PHI
Ramon Santiago DET
Marco Scutaro BOS *
Jack Wilson SEA
Rollins and Reyes are not happening. Renteria, Betancourt, Cedeno, Everett, Gonzalez, and Santiago are all much better against left handers. We already have a guy who can handle that part of the platoon. Scutaro will probably have his option picked up with the Red Sox having no viable option at short as well.
Punto is a reserve player. Furcal is oft injured and about 40 years old and may sadly go for a few more million than we would throw at him. McDonald and Izturis cannot hit anyone. The only solution via free agency is to go after a 37 year old who was not even on the list at shortstop: Jamey Carroll.
Carroll shows no major platoon split and has a career .273/.353/.342 line against right handers and .281/.352/.331 in 2011 proving he can still handle the righties.
No, Carroll is not an ideal guy to handle shortstop for more than half the games but he may be our best option. Any one else have any other reasonable suggestions? I would love to hear them.