Comment of the Week

We’ve had some good discussion here this week without much serious participation from me. I try to respond to most comments but, there are some comments that deserve a little deeper reflection. So, I thought we’d try something new. I will pick one comment each week and respond to it at length in its own post. The comment of the week doesn’t have to be the most insightful or well-written comment. Just something that caught my attention.

The first honor goes to Travis who engaged Merrill in an interesting discussion about the Rays’ shortstop future:

[Hak-Ju]Lee is definitely closer to starting [at shortstop] then [Tim] Beckham, but I haven’t given up on him. Beckham started showing some promise leading up to the futures game, though it’s unlikely he’ll ever make Andy feel better about passing on Posey for him. Can you imagine this team with Posey?!

Despite the look of the roster, I think the Rays will be ok at shortstop in 2012 so, as long as Reid Brignac/Sean Rodriguez can combine to be good defensive players and replacement-level offensive players. Both are more than capable of achieving that. (This is based on the theory that most teams don’t get much offense from short but make up for it elsewhere).

That said, I am not totally convinced that Reid Brignac has been conclusively doomed to a lifetime as a replacement-level hitter and I am not ready to search for his replacement.

I try to throw out remarkably good rookie years and remarkably bad second seasons when looking at a ballplayer’s future. I can offer no scientific or SABRmetric justification for this practice but, am open to any mathematical refutation.

In my opinion, first and second seasons don’t count because Major League teams don’t generally spend a lot of scouting resources on rookies. So, rookies have the advantage of unknown flaws and second year players have the difficulty of overcoming the flaws discovered during their rookie campaign. Good players, it seems, are the ones that can remedy the flaws identified by scouts.

Scouts found the hole in Brignac’s swing (right under his hands) and teams capitalized on it in 2011. I think a swing-hole (is that a term? did I just make that up?) is easier to correct than, say, poor command of the strike zone or, an inability to hit a certain pitch-type. (A friend once told me that, if he ran into Jonny Gomes in a dark alley, he’d just pretend to be a breaking ball so that Gomes couldn’t hit him.)

If Brignac has plugged the hole this winter, he’ll be more than solid at shortstop for at least the remainder of his arbitration years.

Either way, I wouldn’t buy any Lee or Beckham jerseys anytime in the near future. The Rays like to bring along prospects, particularly young prospects, slowly. Lee just turned 21 on November 4. He is talented but, I don’t think we’ll see him anywhere near the big club soon. Beckham is older but, has several lost seasons playing shortstop. I think his future is in centerfield which means, he needs to learn to play centerfield.

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