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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

HOT STOP/SHORT CORNER
So, as linked at Halos Heaven, Brandon Wood is going to be taught how to play third base.

This does not, according to the Angels, signal a position shift -- they're just expanding Wood's skills.

As you know, it has often been speculated that Wood would outgrow shortstop and have to be moved to third. This may yet be, but all the reports as of now are that Wood is still doing just fine at short, thank you, and as such I think any permanent move to third would be premature.

Of course, the Angels have, as predicted when Orlando Cabrera was signed, a positional logjam. Cabrera in the majors means that Erick Aybar stays at AAA (which in and of itself is fine, as he is not ready to hit in the major leagues), which means that Brandon Wood, who put up a 123 OPS+ in AA last year, has nowhere to go. (And even if you wanted to idiotically stunt his development by keeping him at AA, what do you do with Sean Rodriguez?)

Of course, as Aybar is considered an even better defender than Wood, it's Aybar who will stay at short while Wood learns the hot corner, and very possibly may be playing third at AAA this year.

There are several things I don't like about this:

1. I think that if you have a real hitter who can play a competent or better shortstop, you keep him there until he proves that he can't play it.

2. Brandon Wood is a better offensive prospect than Erick Aybar:
         Age  Level  AVG  OBP  SLG
Wood 18 R 288 348 471
Aybar 18 R 326 395 469

Wood 19 A 251 322 404
Aybar 19 A 308 346 446

Wood 20 A+ 321 383 672
Aybar 20 A+ 330 370 485

Wood 21 AA 276 355 552
Aybar 21 AA 303 350 445

Wood 22 AAA ??? ??? ???
Aybar 22 AAA 283 327 416
Wood has outperformed Aybar from the High-A California League on up.

3. Wood's value might be neutered at third base. This is a guy that projects to be a low-average slugger, like a Dean Palmer in his prime. A shortstop with power can carry the low OBP better than a third baseman can.

4. Erick Aybar likely has a decent trade value.

Anyway, that's my thinking. Of course, Wood could always go to third for a year and come back to shortstop. I'm just hesitant to see him at a corner before it's probably necessary.

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