Monday, April 04, 2005

Wilson Valdez 

Fantasy baseball drafts consumed my life last week, so that I did not have time to post much on the adventures of picking the Mariner shortsop. I don't think Wilson Valdez is going to be like the Exxon Valdez for the Mariners, no matter what more pessimistic fans might think.

The M's are committed to providing the best infield defense possible. Unfortunately, Pokey Reese was going to start the season on the DL. Jose Lopez was already demoted primarily because the club thinks his glove is not ready (and they want him to get it ready without costing the M's major league service time). As it turns out he would probably not get the call anyway because he is day-to-day with a sore wrist. Willie Bloomquist does not have the glove to start at short, and neither does any other minor league bat like Justin Leone or Greg Dobbs.

Ramon Santiago has a good glove, but the M's felt that Wilson Valdez would provide more offense with a similarly good glove. Valdez batted over .300 last year in hitter-friendly Alberquerque AND in Charlotte. Admittedly, its a pretty empty .300, but we are looking at short for defense and speed, not power. And speed Valdez has aplenty, having stolen 33 bases last year, and 49 in 2003.

The M's say they have been planning for a Pokey-less Opening Day for the last two weeks. Mike Hargrove said "Had it just snuck up on us, it would have been something we'd have had to deal with. But from the middle of spring training on, we really have been preparing ourselves for this eventuality." Wilson Valdez had impressed M's bench coach Ron Hassey while both were in Florida's Spring Training a year ago, so when the opportunity came to claim him, it was a no-brainer.

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Valdez performs, as he has got to feel the pressure. And it looks like the shortstop position will be one to watch all year.

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