Saturday, March 23, 2013

On second thought, maybe Cruz will play short

After news broke of Hanley Ramirez missing two months with a torn thumb ligament, the speculation quickly turned to who will take his place.  One option was to keep Luis Cruz at third and play the likes of Dee Gordon, Jerry Hairston, and Nick Punto at short.  The other was to move Cruz to short, while Hairston, Punto, and Juan Uribe play thrid.

I thought for sure that Cruz would stay in his spot at third while the others filled in at short. 

Naturally, I thought wrong.

At least it sure appears that way, as Don Mattingly seems to be favoring moving Cruz back to short.  In 23 starts at short (24 total appearances) with the Dodgers last season, he compiled a great .981 fielding %, with only 2 errors in 104 total chances.  He's also had much success in short stints with the Pirates and Brewers in the past.

So, it's not hard to see why Donny Baseball likes Cruz to move over a slot, because he's shown to be very capable of pulling it off.  Throw in the fact that he's hitting .308 this spring with four homers, and that he played very well in the World Baseball Classic (when he wasn't inciting bench-clearing brawls), and you can see why he needs to be in the lineup no matter where he is on defense.

Now that leaves the aforementioned other three guys to man the hot corner.  Whom should it be?  Well, Hairston has a career .893 fielding % in 19 games manning the hot corner, Punto is at .908% in 40 games, and Uribe is at .964 in 259 games.  The advantage in career stats is with Uribe.

But this is also the same Juan Uribe who hit .204 in 2011 and .191 last season with the Dodgers.  So ya... I don't see him starting everyday at third.  Sadly, he probably will get some time there, and that's just something we all have to deal with.  I fully expect Hairston and Punto to get the majority of time there, though.  As well they should be.

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