As we’ve now eclipsed the one-third mark of the 2012 baseball season we are able to get a feel for how players are going to perform as well as teams as a whole. Sure there’ll be ridiculous tears that players will go on and teams will come out of nowhere in August and make the playoff picture interesting. But now is the time you’ll see Dbacks GM Kevin Towers handling the phones.
The most obvious weakness for the Diamondbacks so far has been the inconsistency out of their third basemen. Ryan Roberts had a career year in 2011 and was awarded the starting job this season but struggled mightily in April posting a .152 average in 66 at bats. May was significantly better (.288 avg for the month) and June has been his most productive month so far hitting .346 in his 26 at bats for a season average of .244. It appears as though his dismal start is behind him and we can expect this level of production to continue from here on out. But for a team looking to compete for the N.L. West or at least one of the two wild cards spots, the question is whether the front office thinks that will be enough.
Kevin Youkilis’ name was thrown around the rumor mill two weeks ago but Towers shot that one down pretty quickly and he has struggled worse than Roberts anyway. Now it looks like Padres third baseman Chase Headley may be the answer. Headley is playing in his fourth full season and has been above average so far. In all of the major offensive categories the 28 year old is in the top four of all N.L. third basemen. He is second in OBP and OPS behind only David Wright- both considered two of the most important stats in today’s game. Comparatively, Roberts is 7th or lower in all categories except stolen bases. His fielding is on par with Roberts’ as they both sit around the .960 fielding percentage.
The right handed Headley is a doubles hitter, not a power hitter. He has hit at least 28 doubles in each of the last three years but never hit more than 12 homeruns in a season. His career average is .269 and he’s hitting .273 right now.
So while Headley’s line may not look impressive in itself- when compared to other third basemen around the league- he is actually one of the most productive. He turned 28 in May while Roberts turns 32 in September. Towers knows the Padres organization as well as anyone and watched Headley develop into the player he is today. Headley is earning $3.48 million this year on a one year contract with the Padres. Roberts is earning $2 million on a one year deal as well. So picking up the remainder of his contract wouldn’t be an issue for the team and the possibility of resigning him at five or six million a year for three to five years wouldn’t be out of the question once this season expires.
The question is what the Dbacks would have to give up to get Headley- both in talent and monetarily. As the Padres are clearly in a rebuilding stage, you would think they would look to our pitchers and 20 year old Tyler Skaggs may be on top of their list. It would be surprising to see a swap occur with Roberts heading over to San Diego as the organization has their eye on prospect Jedd Gyorko to take over if and when Headley leaves. Besides, there is definite value with Roberts remaining a Dback and his versatility and clutch hitting have shown that as of late. It would be easy for the team to send Josh Bell back to Reno to clear a roster spot as he hasn’t been able to produce in the big leagues as expected.
It will be interesting to see what Towers has in store for us and we may have to wait longer than usual with the addition of one more wild card team to the playoff hunt. The additional playoff spot will keep teams looking for that extra boost just a little bit longer than in years past. In the meantime, at least Roberts has been more productive over the last few weeks and hopefully from here on out. The team can win a playoff spot with Roberts at third- but only if he can be consistent with his offense as he was in 2011.
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