If Nomar played SS full time, could he be roughly what Jeter is defensively? Possibly even better, but that isn’t really saying all that much. It isn’t a question of whether or not Nomar can hit like a middle infielder when he actually plays. We know that he can. Three of his last four seasons have been OPS+’s of 97, 105, and 122. With one aberration of 78. Nomar is a better hitter than that 78. But he isn’t a middle infielder all that much, and he does not play enough games to begin with.
As for the actual premise of the article. It defends Nomar as being a “useful” player. Please define “useful” for me though. I for one would not feel comfortable penciling in Nomar’s name on the lineup card unless I had a viable starting SS waiting behind him. It is unrealistic to expect more than 120 games from Garciaparra at this stage in his career, and even that may be too much. I guess between 100-120 would be a safe bet, but having him as a utility infielder makes much more sense.
As a utility player, Nomar and “useful” make much more sense. Garciaparra can play all four infield positions if needed, and a team could work in enough AB’s I would think for him to be “useful.”
But at what price? A few million wouldn’t be bad, but the risk is so great for Nomar, and he isn’t exactly a brilliant defensive player at any of the positions he can play. Nor is he always on base. Nor does he slug like he used to.
I have no problem with Nomar being referred to as “useful,” when it is used in the right context. But I do have a problem with him being in the same category as Jeter when it comes to “value.” Jeter can play 150 games in a season, with ease. Nomar cannot. When Nomar stays healthy long enough, then maybe we can compare the two, more so. But Nomar is not going to experience consistent good health at this stage in his career, not when he hasn’t experienced it during much of his first 12 seasons.
And this is coming from one of Nomar’s biggest supporters. From someone that wants nothing more, as far as baseball is concerned, but for Nomar Garciaparra to have success as an everyday player again.