August 11, 2009

Second Guessing

I have seen a flurry of articles and posts recently on how well Ronnie Cedeno is playing.  I might add he is playing well enough to make a few fans miss Jack Wilson a little less.  That is not the point of this post, I am going to focus on the other half of the Pittsburgh Pirates double play combination.

Over the course of the last dozen or so games, I have notice Delwyn Young regressing in his defensive play at second base.  Perry Hill has his work cut out for him.

Young’s footwork around the bag is atrocious at best.  His glove work  at the bag has caused more than one rally in the recent 8 game skid the Pirates are in.

I have two theories as to why this is happening:

1) His brain is getting in the way.  You can see it in his eyes at times, as he attempts to take a throw from anywhere, he is more focused on getting a tag down or firmly planting his foot on the bag and not catching  the ball that is coming his way. 

He has also had some lapses where he failed to make a play where the second baseman has to take control.  A couple games back, Garrett Jones had to make a very difficult over the shoulder catch on the foul line.  A play Young had a much better angle at, Young simply slowed up and let Jones attempt the catch.

He has been charged with errors receiving throws at second on steals  and should have had another that Pearce was charged with.  When playing second, the most important part of the play is catching the ball, he has failed at this a few times over.

On one instance that I have seen, he was destroyed at second on a force out when he failed to move off the bag to attempt to make the throw to first.  His feet were firmly planted.  If he continues to do this, he will be on the DL before the season ends.  Throwing flat footed on a double play pivot is a sure fire way to get injured.

Young needs to get to a point where he is reacting rather than thinking, otherwise second base will end up a higher priority than left handed reliever in the offseason.

2) He needs a bigger glove.  This is more a personal preference than anything factual.  More than once in my life I have switched positions in baseball, or softball, and the glove switch was always a difficult one.  Unlike many infielders, I used a larger glove due to my large hands.  Every time I have ever tried a smaller glove, I have had issues with balls coming off the tip of the glove.  It is like your favorite pillow in bed, if you sleep on a different one, you just aren’t as rested or can’t get comfortable. 

I always used my old reliable glove as I learned a new position, until I felt comfortable at the position.  Comfort is always an important part of learning a new position.  Even today, I have a new glove slightly smaller than old reliable, I find drop or miss balls I never missed before playing catch with my son.   As soon as I dig out old reliable I am catching anything near me.

If Young can’t find his way at second, the Pirates do have some options.  Neil Walker or Andy LaRoche may be forced to learn another position.  LaRoche played some second in his career.  Walker is said to be very athletic and may be able to pick up the position quickly.  There are others, but with Pedro Alvarez on the horizon, I would figure the Pirates would love to keep LaRoche and Walker as viable MLB options as both of their bats would fit well at second.  Much like Youngs does.  Unfortunately the glove doesn’t.

Here is a list of 2009 free agent second basemen who could be on the market in the offseason:

Second basemen
Ronnie Belliard (35)
Jamey Carroll (36)
Alex Cora (34)
Craig Counsell (39)
Mark DeRosa (35)
David Eckstein (35)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
Orlando Hudson (32)
Akinori Iwamura (31) - $4.25MM club option with a $250K buyout
Adam Kennedy (34)
Felipe Lopez (30)
Mark Loretta (38)
Pablo Ozuna (35)
Placido Polanco (34)
Freddy Sanchez (32) - $8MM club option with a $600K buyout; vests with 600 PAs
Juan Uribe (31)



Not a dazzling bunch is it?  Any thoughts or ideas, leave them in the comment section.

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