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The Natural Selection of a Species: Shortstop

From Buster Olney this morning:

The Rays and Cardinals are among the many teams which have shown interest in free agent shortstop Cesar Izturis. He would fit the Rays, in particular, perfectly, because: A) He is among the finest defensive shortstops in the game, and the Rays would benefit from his efficiency and infield leadership; and B) Tampa Bay already looks to have what is going to be a good offensive team, so Izturis, a career .259 hitter, would not be required to do a lot offensively.

With that in mind, I'm sure we all know that we need a shortstop, and after the signing of Hector Gimenez I got the urge to write about some minor leaguers, so a guest and myself took to the minor league free agents list in order to find ourselves that golden goose of a six-holer. After the jump we go through the minor league free agent shortstops one-by-one...

Assisting me in this alphabet slaughter is our old pal Joshua Downie, who you may remember wrote a piece about the atmosphere at the celebration a few weeks ago, he'll take you through the first half and I'll pick up at Andres Blanco.

Matt Erickson - 21 HR in 3456 minor league at-bats, but he does walk a decent amount.

Ronnie Merrill  - UT grad can't hit for average, or walk much.

Bo Hart  - Heart 'n hustle type who's impatient at the plate.

Tony Granadillo  - Was an All-Star in 2007 at AA, but he hasn't played at AAA since 2003 when he injured his arm and shoulder. Strikes out a lot but shows some pop.

Ed Rogers  - .249/.290/.333 at Pawtucket. Eww, something stinks.

John Nelson  - Something also stinks here.

Victor Mercedes  - Slick with the leather, not so much otherwise.

Kenny Perez  - Meh.

Tomas Perez  - No, no, no.

Luis Sierra  - He's played 3 games at SS in his minor league career.

Jeff Bannon  - Utility guy who should probably stay far away from shortstop. Or the infield, for that matter.

Caonabo Cosme  - See above. Also, he's a Jason Tyner-esque 6'2" 160lbs.

Anderson Machado  - Can't hit, can't play SS. The Reds sure had their share of crappy minor league infielders.

Rodney Choy Foo  - Stinks but his name is pretty neat.

Anthony Medrano  - Didn't play in 2007 and probably won't in 2008 either.

Mike Rouse  - Couldn't hack it when given the Indians bench infield guy role.

Tim Olson  - Hasn't played SS since 2005 and has abysmal strikeout totals.

Henry Mateo  - Pass.

Josh Labandeira  - Ranks 10th on the All-Time list of most career at-bats without a hit by a position player.

Andres Blanco  - Plays good defense but even I'm not sure if he can hack his way into a starting job at shortstop with his current bat. .243/.304/.302 is nasty no matter how good your glove is.

Jose Santos  - He's actually thrown an inning in relief for the Braves' minor league system before, which is pretty trivial, but if we want a poor man's Josh Wilson on the mound, he's our guy.

Derek Wathan  - Quite large to be a shortstop (6'3") he's been stuck at AAA since 2002 and since changed organizations four times, I'm guessing his fifth won't come here.

Gary Patchett - Patchett is awful, in fact he's bottom five on this list; he really is that bad.

Chris Barnwell - Like Nas' once said "Everybody wants heaven, but nobody wants hell," well nobody wants Barnwell.

Gil Velazquez  - After I looked his line it screamed Twins to me, and I'm not sure why: .228/.285/.296. Ew.

Jason Alfaro  - Shows some power potential, but he's 29, on his fifth organization and has less range than Napoleon if he would've played shortstop.

Wilson Batista  - Between the Mets, Nationals, and Twins I really don't know which team has the worst corps of shortstops.

Mark Kiger  - When I saw the name I was reminded of Kige Ramsey, unfortunately Kiger went to the University of Florida not Kentucky, and he actually played in two playoff games last year as a defensive sub for the A's.

Andy Cannizaro  - Almost a Marco Scutaro clone; Cannizaro plays great defense and has shown minor league success with the bat, hitting .274/.345/.353 in 658 minor league games. In fact I would say he should've been the Yankees' utility infielder the past two years instead of the likes of Miguel Cairo, and I love me some Miguel Cairo.

Angel Chavez  - Did some time with San Francisco in 2005 and was with the Yankees this past season. He's pretty average at everything, which could also mean he's not good at anything.

Antonio Perez  - Remember when we traded him for Jason Romano? He's got good range at short per his RZR ratings (over .830) but struggles a bit with the bat, none the less, an athletic rangy shortstop who we're semi-familiar.

Francisco Tirado  - Has a decent glove, is only 19, will travel.

Vince Faison  - Lupe Fiasco's Dumb it Down came on when I was about to type this up (buy The Cool on 12/18) and it fits in perfectly because Faison has never even played shortstop, so the windshield is minstrel.  

Gookie Dawkins  - Yes, if only because his name is of the highest quality, yes.

Danny Sandoval  - Barely has a bat (.683 OPS in the minors) so I doubt he's worth the time, even if he's an above average defender, he's not so good as to erase a sub .650 OPS.

Brandon Chaves  - The second Chaves the Pirate have boasted since 1995; he's 27, in double-A and has a career .638 OPS with a 4.01 RF, pass.

Javier Guzman  - Good glove, bad bat, common name.

Jose Hernandez  - He'd be a fine veteran presence, if he wasn't bad at defense and didn't strike out. Every. Freaking. Time.

Rico Washington  - He's really not all that bad, walks, hits for power, hits for average, in fact if he simply wasn't horrible with the glove he'd probably be a big league infielder by now.

Luis Cruz  - The Rays actually had a player of the same name back in the early days, he was just as bad, which should tell you all you need to know about both of them.

Jon Schemmel  - He walks a ton, and he's only 24. Doesn't have any power to speak of, but he's a Paul DePodesta type.

Tomas de la Rosa  - Almost have more letters in his name (13) than he did at-bats last season (16).

Ivan Ochoa  - No.

Jesus Guzman  - Seattle knows a thing or two about growing shortstops, and Guzman does walk, but his glove is lacking, and when I say lacking, I mean he doesn't have one.

Jesus Merchan  - This guy, now this guy, he's just like the majority of this list, not worth our time.

Dave Matranga  - I have absolutely nothing to say about him except that there are three more Mantrangas who have played baseball over the course of time and I know none of them.

Manny Mayorson  - Canada's version of Manny being Manny just can't seem to progress quickly enough through the majors, at this rate he'll be 28 before touching a coffee cup.

Manny Alexander - Look, Cal Ripken's successor and known steroid user! I actually wasn't aware that Manny Alexander still played baseball, good for him.

Melvin Dorta  - The Nationals seem to have an endless supply of shortstops who really don't hit well. It's sad, but heart warming at the same time, so if you or your loved ones know a non-threatening shortstop who needs a home, shoot Jim Bowden an email.

Felix Fermin  - He's 22 and he walks, he's also been on two teams and is still in rookie ball due to the lack of hitting for average or power, but he does walk.

Marcos Yepez - He's also done some relief work, but if the Washington Nationals system can't find a place for him at 25, I'm not sure we can either.

After all of that, we have a handful of decent options; the slick fielding Mercedes, Perez, Cannizaro, and Jon Schemmel. Now if you excuse me I have to go pass out from writing about so many mediocre players.