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BJ Upton and fielding

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BJ Upton has that big league swing that makes the Devil Rays future look very bright. For a middle infielder, he has that rare combination of a quick bat, power, and plate selection. He has blazed through the minor league levels and made his debut last season as still a teenager. His bat was definately ready, but the weakness in his game came as no surprise. He has been a shortstop throught his baseball career that traces back to his little league days. His defense is the problem. So far it is nothing you can really nail down and say the problem at defense is "this". Sometimes its the throws, sometimes its his glove. He seems to have a problem with the easy plays, but makes the difficult plays.  

Just like some of the other phenoms before him that played shortstop early on in their baseball careers, they also had their share of problems handling the position of SS. Players like Chipper Jones, and Phil Nevin were given the shot at the position early on in their careers but for one reason or another, they had to abandon that childhood dream of playing the position the grew up on when they arrived for good.

Its hard to say if it's a concentration problem or what the issue is exactly. But, before this year, this defensive issues never affected his bat. On the year so far which consists of nine games, he has eight errors.

He has gone to task in the offseason working hard on his defensive game. He took grounders all winter long, spent some time working out with "The Wizzard" Ozzie Smith. He has done everything that is neccesary to approach this year in a new light with his defensive game.

Even LaMar the "brain trust" of the organization was unsure if Upton would be a SS in the majors. This is the same guy who faced a similar dilemma with Chipper in Atlanta. In Jones case, the errors eventually did go away, but because of who Atlanta had on their MLB the roster at the time, Chipper started his career at 3B. Well, not exactly. Who could forget the year before when he just about made the team in spring as LF, before going down with a knee injury.

Based on the errors not going away, and the presence of a decent SS currently playing for the Rays, I say its time for a fresh start at another position for Upton. I think the time has come for everyone involved that the kid gets a fresh start.

So, if Evers or Lamar, or even Sternberg is listening, think about the long term fit for Upton and where his live bat fits in. At some point, maybee he does go back to SS. But, at this point in time he is too good a talent not to be making use of positives he brings to the table now, and should not be pressing this hard at this young age.  

I'd like to see the Upton that was drilling the ball last summer in Durham and making his rise toward the majors.