ESPN director of Scout’s Inc. for baseball, writer/scout, food/book critic, Twitter juggernaut and master of all things snark, Keith Law, has begun to roll out his Buyer’s Guides for this year’s crop of free agents. On Monday, Law revealed his players in demand and players to avoid for middle infielders (Insider required) and he does not like soon-to-be former Braves’ short stop Alex Gonzalez…
Alex Gonzalez, SS: He has mistake power and can play shortstop, but he has posted an OBP below .295 in each of the last three years. As the 25th man on a roster, he’s a better choice than yet another right-handed middle reliever. As an everyday shortstop, he should drive fans to grab their pitchforks.
You’ll have to sign up for Insider to read the rest because I don’t want to mess with his Whole Foods money but Law makes an obvious point here. Gonzalez posted a -0.3 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) playing short stop in 2011 which is only his second negative rating at short stop over the past nine seasons. His glove can still play the position and at a pretty high level if you believe last year was an outlier of some other, really good seasons.
Gonzalez will turn 35-years-old before next season and there’s no reason to believe he’ll be useful at the plate. But he hit 23 home runs in 2010 and another 15 in 2011, you say. As Law mentioned, he’s had three consecutive seasons with a sub .300 OBP bottoming out at .270 this past year. His strikeout rate continues to climb over the past three years to 21.2% in 2011 while his walk rate declined to 3.7%. He’s creating a lot of outs to hit those double digit home runs and that’s something I wouldn’t pay for. What do I know though, I give a homeless guy in the French Quarter a sandwich every two weeks to cut my hair.
Short stop is a position of need for the Braves, a subject I’m sure I’ll touch on again, but they won’t be bidding on Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins. Traded for Jack Wilson will also become a free agent but he was just as bad at the plate as Gonzalez, minus the home runs. The Braves just need a stop gap. Baseball America recently ranked the Braves top 10 prospects. Some of the players making that list include short stops Andrelton Simmons (4), Edward Salcedo (6, but destined for 3B) and Tyler Pastornicky (7).
That said, good luck finding a stop gap free agent short stop in this class. Please let me know what you think in the comments. Here’s my off base suggestion which has almost nothing to do with that fact that I sponsor his B-R page, give Brandon Wood a look.