by Matthew Taylor
Tom Verducci’s “Inside Baseball” column on SI.com holds many items of interest for O’s fans, particularly for those concerned with the team’s search for a viable, everyday solution at shortstop. Verducci focuses on the glut of undersized, underwhelming free-agent shortstops and views it as a sign that the “big hitting, big bodied shortstop revolution” never truly came to be.
“It’s hard to remember a time when more teams needed a shortstop and more are available, though almost none of them are very good.
The used-shortstop lot includes free agents Orlando Cabrera, David Eckstein, Adam Everett, Rafael Furcal, Cesar Izturis, Edgar Renteria and Omar Vizquel and trade options Khalil Greene, Jack Wilson, Bobby Crosby and Julio Lugo. Outside of Furcal, it’s buyer beware. The Orioles, Tigers, Cardinals, Dodgers and Blue Jays need somebody to play the position and six other teams already have made changes.
What happened to baseball’s glamour position?”
Verducci also considers a possible correlation between the age of a team’s everyday shortstop and that team’s playoff chances, nothing that “None of the past 56 playoff teams and only two of the 112 playoff teams in the wild card era used someone 34 or older as their regular shortstop (Omar Vizquel of the 2001 Indians and Cal Ripken Jr. of the 1996 Orioles).”
A final item of interest in Verducci’s column is his discussion of less-considered aspects of Mike Mussina’s Hall of Fame resume, which lead him to conclude (rightly, in my humble opinion) the following: “When you judge Mussina against his peers, he never had the peak of Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens. But his durability and elite consistency in a hostile environment makes him worthy of Cooperstown.”