The Five Best at the “Hot Corner” in the game of baseball today are…
- Alex Rodriguez: Once his career is all said and done, I won’t mind if people say that he wasn’t the greatest ever. But I will mind if they don’t include him in that discussion. Some put a lot of emphasis on the postseason, and rightfully so, but even if he never has the great postseason that everyone expects from him, it will be tough to make a valid argument against 700+ home runs from an infield position other than first base. His value on an individual basis has been diminished slightly because he moved off of the more difficult position of SS. But 3B aren’t exactly supposed to be this great offensively, either. If Alex Rodriguez is again the best player in baseball in 2009, as he was in 2007, then I will definitely not be surprised. He has been the best player in baseball multiple seasons already.
- David Wright: What can’t David Wright do? Play defense? Check that off. Hit among the best players in baseball? Color in the according circle. Field questions from the media while no one else seems to as your team is collapsing? Circle me silly. And yet, it still isn’t enough. Kind of reminds me of AROD actually, except Wright doesn’t make well over $20 million a year, which people definitely despise Rodriguez for doing. Over the past three seasons, David Wright has three of the top 6 Win Share totals among 3B. The other three belong to Miguel Cabrera (2), and to Alex Rodriguez (1). So what can’t David Wright do? Apparently, he cannot hit in the clutch, or so some think, even though Wright has batted .307/.407/.483 in “Late and Close” situations in his career.
- Chipper Jones: The thing that separates Chipper from the top 2 3B is not performance, necessarily, but performance over a period of time. Chipper is 36 now, and isn’t exactly staying on the field that much. The past two seasons, Jones has played in 128 and 134 games. But the two previous seasons, 2004 and 2005, Jones played in only 109 and 110 games. If Chipper could stay healthy he may move up a slot, but he hasn’t been on the field enough the past four seasons. Don’t take what I am saying the wrong way, because Chipper IS a Hall of Famer. But he happens to slot in nicely at number 3 in this ranking, rather than higher up. When we think of Chipper, think Edgar Martinez, except for one thing, Jones could field third well enough to stick around there, meaning he has/had more value.
- Aramis Ramirez: This is where it drops a little, but far from a ton. Aramis Ramirez, believe it or not, is a really good player. He definitely gets less coverage than the first three 3B mentioned, but that is because two play in New York; one is a Hall of Famer already and appeared in 11 straight postseasons at one point. Chicago is a media haven, but New York is even greater when talking about coverage. Oh, and the other three 3B are better, which may be helpful in adding to why Ramirez gets less props. But Ramirez has five straight seasons of OPS+ of 126 or greater. His defense used to be regarded as semi-atrocious, but apparently he worked on it, and now he is good enough to be regarded as not “semi-atrocious.”
- Ryan Zimmerman: This is where it gets dicey. Evan Longoria may pass Zimmerman this season, but I have one season at the Major League level to analyze Longoria. Zimmerman isn’t the hitter–or hasn’t been yet–that Longoria is most likely going to continue to be. But one thing that Zimmerman does well is his field the position. And three seasons of fielding the position well and batting a little above the average is greater in a ranking like this, than that of one good season. Don’t forget either, Zimmerman is merely 23 years old, Longoria is 22. Both are very young and BOTH have most likely not had the best seasons of their career yet. I do however believe that Longoria moves into the top 5 after another season, might even move up to number 4.
No one is completely “untouchable…”
People keep speaking words that revolve around the Mets trading away some of the core that helped them win a bunch of games this season. A core that consisted of three of the better players in baseball…and a good first baseman. Not including Santana; Beltran, Wright, Reyes, and Delgado are apparently not good enough for some fans. But where would the New York Mets be without these four players? They are not magically winning games with zero talent. They aren’t magically winning games with a great pitching staff, solid enough, but not great. They do play defense, I will give them that. But who exactly plays good defense for them? Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Jose Reyes are the Mets three best and most important defenders on the pitchers side of the catcher. Would this defense exist without these three players? No, it would not.
The Mets traded away some young, but somewhat expendable talent to acquire Johan Santana. So I think it is safe to say that they have a “win now” mentality. Johan should be an above average pitcher for several more seasons, but he is great right now!
Carlos Delgado is 36 years old. Apparently he has one more year on his contract at $16 million. Please let me know if this is incorrect, but my “sources” say this is true. I would find little negative if they could unload that final year of Delgado’s contract and get something decent back in return. However, it is unlikely that they will find any takers to pay Delgado, who is in his late thirties, $16 million. Delgado gave all fans a scare this season when he was miserable for the first two months of the year, then seemingly pulled his bat speed out of a hat. It is safe to say that it will be difficult for Delgado to duplicate the numbers he posted in 2008 next season. It is far from impossible, but not all that likely either. Delgado is expendable, but could still help some next season.
Carlos Beltran is a great player. Great! We all know that Adam Wainwright made him look like an unpassionate, indifferent, five-tool primadonna (Ok, maybe I am exaggerating how Mets fans seemed to have felt/and feel). But that pitch should not sum up Carlos Beltran. He is a very good defender at an up-the-middle position. CB was easily the best all around CF in the National League, great defender, and he helped “create” more runs than any of the other bodies patrolling the middle of the outfield. But that actually kind of hurts Beltran’s case a little, comparing him simply to CF’s. Beltran was one of the five best position players in the entire league this year. If they are built to win the next few seasons, then there are few better players to have than Carlos Beltran.
No one is completely “untouchable…”
…But here are the near untouchables…
Jose Reyes is one of the four best SS’s in the game of baseball. A pretty solid defender at a very important position. And a truly great hitter as far as SS’s go. The mental lapses are there, and they may always be there…but he is 25 years of age. 25! Reyes is still learning the game of baseball. Are there other 25 year old players that have been further along in their development? Definitely. But Reyes is a great talent, one that any franchise should hold onto, hoping that he can grasp the mental part of the game. But everyone knows he will produce, and produce well. How well depends on his focus, and determination to improve as a player.
And then we come to the the third baseman. With Chipper Jones oft-injured…at all times, David Wright is the second best 3B in the game of baseball today. Wright is a strong defender, and is a very good hitter. Any team would love to have him, especially because he is young, and reasonably priced. It is safe to say that David Wright is the least expendable player on the New York Mets. A true team player, and even though the fans tend to focus on some of his negatives because he plays in New York, he, like Reyes, is still learning. He is 25 years old, and already great.
Teams, No, franchises (fan bases included), should embrace these players. They should understand what they mean to the franchise. Games are not won without talent, and these players, the last three mentioned especially, are great talents. They don’t need to trade Beltran. They don’t need to trade Reyes, they need to get someone in there to keep him on his toes. They don’t need to trade David Wright, he has Hall of Fame talent. They simply need to make better moves to improve upon the team that surrounds these talents. Easier said then done, one might say. But the Mets have money. Lots and lots of money! Go out and find a corner outfielder. Go out and sign a few pitchers. Try to win with the awesome talent that you, the Mets, came across, however you did. They don’t need to do much, when compared to other teams, to win 90 games next season. And that should be plenty of motivation to keep the GREAT core that they have right now.