Before we take a look at the third base position, I wanted to point out a few things I’ve read over the last few days to make sure we stay somewhat current on the hot stove rumors.

Curtis Granderson Rumors

I’ve been hearing Granderson rumors like they’re going out of style. It’s as if the media locks in on one guy each off-season for this team and beats it like a drum until something happens. We saw it with Brian Roberts and we saw it with Jake Peavy. We even saw it way back when with guys like Mike Hampton, Barry Zito, Carlos Beltran, etc. We lock onto a guy and never want to rest. That being said, here are the notes I’ve found on it.

Jim Callis of Baseball America said:

“I’d rank them Cubs 1, Yankees 2, Angels 3.
“A huge factor in this is how far the clubs would be willing to get him, but the Cubs would be in a better position to put together a Granderson deal than the Yankees and Angels. If the Cubs wanted to include Starlin Castro, which might be a little crazy but they do have a lot of middle-infield talent on the way up, they could easily get a deal done. Even without Castro, they could put together a bat like Josh Vitters with an arm like Andrew Cashner, Jay Jackson or Chris Carpenter. If the Tigers were willing to take a talent further away from the majors, they could ask for Hak-Ju Lee, if the Cubs didn’t want to part with Castro.
“The Cubs have enough interesting young players to put together a package and still have talent remaining. The Yankees’ best prospect is slugger Jesus Montero, but I’m not sure they’d part with him. Even if they would, I don’t think he’s going to be a catcher, so you’re betting 100 percent on his bat. The Cubs could offer someone with much more positional value as a centerpiece and better secondary players in the deal.
“The Angels don’t have the same depth as the Cubs. I assume they’d try to build a deal around Brandon Wood, but I don’t think they could match the Cubs if the Cubs decide they have to have Granderson. And the Angels already have Torii Hunter, so I don’t think they’d want him as badly.”
Maybe I’m missing something here, but Granderson doesn’t seem to be the player that solves all of our woes. There is not a question in my mind that he would be a great fit from the standpoint that he would provide a lefty power stick that can play a great CF, but I’m not sure that he’s worth the price tag of some guys that I consider core parts of the infield in the next 3-4 years. It’s not that I’m that guy that never wants to deal prospects to get talent. That’s not the case at all. I simply don’t see the worth in Granderson to merit a guy like Castro or Vitters. If you want to look at a package that includes someone like Cashner or Jackson or even someone like Jeff Samardzija, I’m fine with that. I’m just not touching the other two for Granderson. Am I being too shrewd?
Carrie Muskat mentioned “Granderson would fill the leadoff spot”. How do you figure? Why is it that just being fast means you’re the best candidate for the leadoff spot. Granderson’s on base % was a mere .327 last year where he spent the majority of the time in the leadoff position. If we did bring him in, he’s NOT my leadoff man. Give that spot to Fukudome or Theriot with the other hitting 2nd.
Speaking of Castro and Vitters, Project Prospect mentioned both of them in their AFL Rundown – Week 5 post:
Starlin Castro is silky smooth at the plate and on defense. I’ve quickly become enamored with his balanced swing and quick wrists. You don’t need to be a swing mechanics expert to appreciate it his stroke — it really is a thing of beauty. And while his swing won’t lead to high home run totals, so long as he’s playing strong defense at an up-the-middle position and hitting a lot of line drives, he’ll continue to move quickly.
After watching Josh Vitters take infield closely last night, I do not expect him to stick at third base. He has decent hands, OK footwork and a solid arm, but he looks stiff when he fields the ball. Maybe he sticks at the position a bit longer. But he’s the Tin Man in need of oil compared to some of the other third basemen out here.

Now we continue our state of the system series today with the final infield position, third base. It was a sore spot for the team when Aramis Ramirez went out with the shoulder injury. We were shown the lack of depth at the position at that point and played just about everyone over there in an effort to piece things together while Ramirez healed. Let’s take a look at what the system looked like at the position for 2009 and moving forward.

If you’ve missed the first few editions of the series, here are some links as well as the schedule for the week:

C / 1B / 2B / SS / 3B (Tues) / OF (Wed) / Righty SP (Thur) / Lefty SP (Fri)

Age PA ▾ R 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Vitters, Josh 19 L-A,H-A,win 536 67 22 4 18 71 6 3 14 72 .291 .321 .457 .778
Smith, Marquez 24 AA,H-A 505 65 35 1 15 67 5 1 38 95 .278 .337 .457 .794
#Scales, Bobby 31 AAA,MAJ 498 56 23 3 8 54 8 8 57 93 .267 .360 .391 .751
*Spears, Nate 24 AAA 411 48 20 4 2 37 6 5 35 43 .253 .319 .345 .665
Ramirez, Aramis 31 MAJ,L-A 351 48 15 1 15 66 2 1 31 43 .321 .396 .519 .915
Pena, Juan 19 ROK 287 48 18 5 5 40 2 2 32 53 .258 .352 .434 .786
Rohan, Greg 23 SS 258 34 14 1 4 21 1 0 16 36 .249 .315 .369 .684
Altagracia, Joel 17 ROK 255 28 17 0 5 25 3 1 21 82 .206 .283 .346 .630
Matheus, George 20 SS 234 22 5 1 0 22 2 4 20 41 .229 .299 .262 .561
Petraitis, Jordan 22 ROK,SS 193 22 9 0 3 18 4 2 15 53 .201 .285 .308 .593
Contreras, Willson 17 ROK 130 13 5 2 1 6 2 2 10 26 .205 .305 .313 .617
Weimer, Chris 22 ROK 56 10 3 0 0 6 2 1 5 11 .239 .357 .304 .661

Contract info for 2010

Aramis Ramirez – Signed through 2011 with a club option for 2012. (2010 salary – $15.75mil)

Bobby Scales & Nate Spears – Eligible to become a minor league free agent (Rule 55)

Positional Summary

I mentioned above that I’m not about trading a guy like Vitters. Here is where we see some of the reason I take that position. In my mind, he’s more untouchable that Castro, if I had to choose, despite the fact that Baseball America ranked him lower that Castro in their most recent top prospect list for the system. The reason I am of this opinion is because of the stark lack of depth at the hot corner in our system coupled with the fact that prior to Ramirez, third base was a black hole for this organization. I don’t want that to happen again, so I’m keeping Vitters. Could he be Kevin Orie? Sure, but you’ll never know unless you give him a chance. For all we know, Granderson could be Soriano. Outside of Vitters, what do you honestly see in this system at the position that can supplant Ramirez? Marquez Smith is the only name in the system that would be a possibility, but he’s not someone that can be an impact bat for this team for years to come. His ceiling is simply not that high. Take a look at his numbers so far since coming to the system:

Year Age Lev PA R 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2007 22 A_ss-A 308 50 14 1 8 55 1 2 44 48 .280 .380 .436 .816
2008 23 A-A_adv 506 71 27 5 17 66 1 3 47 94 .278 .354 .475 .830
2009 24 AA-A_adv 505 65 35 1 15 67 5 1 38 95 .278 .337 .457 .794
3 Seasons 1319 186 76 7 40 188 7 6 129 237 .279 .354 .459 .813

I’m not overwhelmed and neither are you. Vitters has to be untouchable right now.

2010 Free Agents at SS
Scott Boras clients in Bold

Rich Aurilia (38)
Brian Barden (29)
Adrian Beltre (31) – Type B
Aaron Boone (37)
Craig Counsell (39)
Joe Crede (32)
Bobby Crosby (30)
Mark DeRosa (35) – Type B
Pedro Feliz (35)
Chone Figgins (32) – Type A
Nomar Garciaparra (36)
Troy Glaus (33) – Type B
Adam Kennedy (34)
Mike Lamb (34)
Mark Loretta (38)
Melvin Mora (38) – Type B
Pablo Ozuna (35)
Robb Quinlan (33)
Miguel Tejada (36) – Type A
Juan Uribe (31)

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail