Baseball BeatAugust 30, 2007
Open Chat: Left Sides of the Infield
By Rich Lederer

The National League East boasts two of the youngest and best left sides of the infield in all of baseball. David Wright and Jose Reyes of the New York Mets and Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins are about as good as it gets when it comes to third basemen and shortstops. All four players are also young still under the control of their teams, adding to their value.

A (strong) argument on behalf of the New York Yankees could be made that Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter form the best left side in baseball. However, ARod and Jetes are 32 and 33 years old, respectively. Rodriguez costs about $25 million per season, a salary that will zoom even higher for 2008 and beyond after he opts out of his current deal. Jeter is earning north of $20 million. Together, these two are making about 50% more than the entire payroll of the Marlins.


1. If you were a GM, which left side would you pick for the remainder of the season, irrespective of cost?

2. As a fantasy owner, which left side would you pick for *next* season?

3. If you owned a MLB club, which left side would you pick, giving consideration to all factors, including age, contract status, free agency, etc.?

Your answers can come from the teams and players mentioned above or from any other pair not highlighted.


1. Remainder of season: A-Rod and Cap'n Jetes

2. Fantasy: The boys from Florida (and maybe take a look at Milwaukee)

3. Real life, now and the future: Mets (Hanley is so bad out there he is not a real SS)

1. I would take the Marlins left side of the infield. If you go by VORP, A-Rod (78.5 VORP) and Jeter (41.0) don't compare to Cabrera (60.2) and Hanley Ramirez (71.9).

2. I don't play fantasy, so I don't know, but probably the same as above.

3. For the future, I'd either take Ramirez and Cabrera, or Reyes and Wright. I'd chose one, but honestly, I think I'd be happy with either.

1. If I were a competing team, I'd want Wright and Reyes, just because Jeter can't field short very well anymore, and they have some playoff experience. If I were out of it already, I'd want the Marlins' infield, which is the youngest and probably most talented.

2. For fantasy purposes, I'd probably take A-Rod and Jeter, because of that great Yankee offense. They are fighting for the wild card, and will not rest these guys if they can help it.

3. Marlins infield, hands down. They are the youngest, and with the highest upside. Their contract status could allow me to sign a big arm and a big bopper and compete for years. They also have a lot of marketability, even for small market clubs. Wright and Reyes aren't bad, but Reyes has had injury issues, and all he has is those legs. Lose that, and he's not a great hitter. Hanley can still hit for a good OPS.

1. Jeter and Arod. I can't see how you can pass up on Arod's offense for the rest of the way.

2. Miggy and Hanley, I like the greater total HRs and don't expect wright to steal 35 next year.

3. Reyes and Wright by a longshot. Both are signed to long term low dollar deals with options. Both are good guys, marketable, and exciting. Both play plus defense at key positions. Hanley is a butcher in the field and Miggy is a trip to the buffet table away from being a poor fielding first baseman instead of a poor fielding third baseman.

If you are in a big market (Cubs, Dodgers) go with the Yanks, you are always trying to win now and can afford to develop or later purchase their replacements. Plus you have the market to sell lots of additional apparel. Otherwise the Mets seem more appealing than the Marlins, who by their rep might really be a CF and a RF in a couple of years.

For this year, I just might take the (healthy) Chipper and Renteria ahead of everyone but ARod/Jeter.

Na. I'd take the Marlins duo ahead of 'em, too.

For fantasy, it's gotta be Reyes/Wright. Two first round picks? Maybe top 5? Yes, please. The only question here is if you believe Reyes' April was a complete fluke. But even that risk is mitigated significantly by his SBs, which will almost certainly be there regardless of everything else.

If I'm making a baseball team... I go with the Marlins guys. Hanely Ramirez is controled for longer than anyone else, and he's also probably the best of the 4 pre-FA guys. I'll pay him $2M next year and go sign someone really good with the $20M I'm saving. And I guess Miguel Cabrera's okay, too.

1. Jeter/A-Rod, easy. The combo is too strong and if money's not an object, you gotta take those two.

2. I'd be sneaky, and take JJ Hardy and Ryan Braun. Good tandem, young, plenty of power, I can get them later than the other three, and I don't have to worry about Braun's defense in a fantasy league.

3. Ramirez and Cabrera, assuming I had the money to keep Cabrera around. If I'm a cash strapped team, I definitely want Hardy and Braun. Young players I don't even have to think about losing to FA for another 4 years, and I've got Braun for another 5-6.

If I felt like REALLY taking my imaginary GM career in my hands, I might also consider Garret Atkins and Troy Tulowitski, hoping Garret's '06 wasn't the fluke it now looks like it might have been.

MLB Club: Brewers

Braun 3b and Hardy SS.

Sorry, but this is an easy decision.

Braun & Hardy can't carry the other 3 duos' jockstrap.

Reyes & Wright for all three of them... and I'm not a Mets fan either. (actually the Cubs)

Clearly you are not following baseball this year. Braun is the best hitter of all of these players. David Wright is not even close to the caliber of hitter Braun is. Hardy may be the best defender.

Also, I chose the point of view from MLB Club. Which strongly considers salary commitment and contract. The Brewers duo wins again.

Sorry, but Braun is so far superior to every hitter on this list, except A-Rod. You have to be blind not to see how incredible this guy is.

If we only opened this up to total infield. There would be no contest.



Braun 158
A-rod 178
Cabrera 155
Wright 151

Braun's good, but your way over your head if you think he owns Cabrera and Wright. oh, and Miguel Cabrera is actually about half a year younger than Braun, not to meantion Braun is the least likely player amoung the 4 to remain in 3B going foward. he's glove have been truely attorcious this season. I also hold some reservation on Bruan and his pretty bad K/BB ratio , it's usually a sign that he's going to regress somewhat.

And at least Braun can compete with the other 3, JJ Hardy doesn't hold a grain of salt against the others . he's been very inconsistent. with a 2 good month a great month and 2 terrible month so far.

sorry to bust your bubble here, but there's just too many reason to not take Braun / Hardy duel.

my take...

1. short term no money consideration defenately take A-rod Jeter. Jeter's defense is poor but seriously Hanely is even worse. and over the last 2 + year Jeter's actually been ok thx to some help from A-rod and cano.

2. fantasy wise both the Mets and Marlin duel deserve some consideration... i'd guess i go with the Met's duel though due to better counting stats and more help from their teammates (more runs scored.. giving them more ABs too)

3. long term. hard call. I'm going to go with the Marlin duo though, upside is just too crazy to ignor.

As for the whole infield debate.

You have to be pretty optimistic to remain that optimistic on Rickie Weeks. though i'd agree that no team really has a complete infield going for them anyway (except maybe the Dodgers soon, but non of thier kids project to be super MVPs, )

But if we're only talking about a 3 year or so span without money consideration Yankees still probably win this one, they got 3 spot that's going to be getting monster production while they could concievablly fill the 4th if Wilson Betemit pans out a bit.

For an MLB contending team, I'd probably have to give the edge to Jeter-ARod. ARod is just too good right now, and while I'm not a big believer in "clutch", something definitely feels nice with having Jeter at SS in a pennant race/playoff series.

Fantasy, I'd probably have to go with the Marlins, Ryan Braun is great, but trading JJ Hardy a couple of months ago has been the smartest thing Ive done all year. As of now, he is a 6-7th round pick. Hanley and Reyes are top 10 picks.

Long term though, there really is no other answer than the Mets duo. I would bet in 3 years Hanley is at 3B and Miggy is at 1B, thus their values taking pretty strong hits. Wright and Zimmerman may battle for gold gloves for the next 10 years, and if not for Tulo, Reyes would have a strong claim to a few of his own.

Remainder - Arod and Jeter because of experience.
Fantasy - Wright and Reyes no question
Owner - Wright and Reyes again.

For all the "Braun, Hardy" comments - Braun is an aweful, aweful defender. So why would you want him as your future 3B? He is a LF.
For the same reason, Hanley Ramirez is an aweful SS, and will move to CF.

When you factor in age, contract, defense, and offensive production...Wright and Reyes are the best in the majors.

3. Cabrera and Ramirez - health and meaningless games eliminate them from #2, and health from #1
2. Reyes and Wright - should be good fantasy picks, playing plenty, and well, for the last month - Reyes' is stealing bases enough to make the pick
1. ARod and Jeter - ARod's just too good. I don't have to take their pitching, do I?
0. Braun, outfield next year. Hardy, Nashville within two years.