Saturday, February 13, 2010
The Shortstop of the present
The Baltimore Orioles of 2008 used so many shortstops, I thought I saw Cal Ripken, Jr. at one point during August. Going into 2009, General Manager Andy MacPhail knew he needed to stabilize the position with one solid shortstop, and quite possibly a utility type, too. MacPhail did exactly that in adding Cesar Izturis and Robert Andino.
Izturis was once a very highly touted prospect when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays. He is an exceptionally gifted fielder who can glide to the baseball in the hole with ease, and has just enough of an arm to make every routine. Izturis hit just .256 with two home runs (including a memorable one on opening day) but everybody knows why he's with the Orioles. Izturis solidifies the most important infield position.
Izturis will never win a batting title, hit three home runs in a season, or win an MVP, but he is a very important part of the 2010 Orioles. When there is a black hole at the shortstop position in baseball, your team will be bad defensively and its pitching staff will suffer considerably. I'm not sure how long the Orioles will stick with Izturis for the long haul, but if I had to guess I'd say two more years. The Orioles don't have a significant shortstop prospect in the minors who's pushing him, and unless they draft a college shortstop in 2010 or make a trade, I can't see them just giving Izturis away. I look for Izturis to have a solid season. He'll hit between .260 and .270 with 10-20 steals, and a few home runs.
Tomorrow's player preview: