With the playoff hopes of the Arizona Diamondbacks nearing life support, the team can begin to focus on both near-term and long-term goals. Important decisions will need to be made about certain positions come this offseason. Third Base and Shortstop are by far the two positions Arizona will need to upgrade before the 2013 season begins. The D-Backs would be well-served to get a jump on player evaluations by playing Ryan Wheeler and Jake Elmore every day until the end of the season.
At the time of his inital callup, 3B Wheeler was leading the Pacific Coast League in RBI’s with 90. He is a 2009 fifth round draft pick who was rated the organiztion’s 18th best prospect entering 2012. Wheeler owns a .313 batting overage over his minor league career. After coming up to the Bigs on July 20th, Wheeler started almost every game until the D-Backs traded for Chris Johnson on July 29th. While Johnson has been a productive player for most of his career, he is batting only .237 in the desert and is arbitration-eligible. Arizona should give Wheeler a long look as his bat would be helpful in an offense in deperate need of production.
At 25, Elmore is a year older than Wheeler and was a 34th round pick of the Snakes in 2008. He does not have much power but does get on base as his pre-callup .442 OBP average can attest. He also was hitting .344 and stole 32 bases before coming up on August 11th. If nothing else, Elmore provides speed to a team that has good, but not great base-stealing threats. Although Willie Bloomquist provides a nice spark, at 34, he is not the long term answer at Shortstop. It would be better to give Elmore the at-bats and perhaps bat him leadoff.
Since both players have been at the Big League level, neither Wheeler not Elmore have distinguised themselves. That is probably a side effect of playing every day at Reno and then playing not so much in Arizona. Let them play the majority of the remaining 32 games and find out if theuy are the solutions to two nagging problems. If not, it will be up to GM Kevin Towers to make the improvements.
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