Way Outside the Box

Larry Dierker has a post today suggesting that the Astros try out Luke Scott at 3rd base (h/t Chron: FanBlog). He says the Astros made a similar switch with Denny Walling years ago and Walling ended up being a good defensive player. Even though, as he points out, the Wigginton deal makes it unlikely, I think it’s interesting because of Wigginton’s past experience at 2B. I’m kind of worried that the Astros will spend too much money this off-season re-signing Mark Loretta and Mike Lamb. I don’t think either of them are worth the several million dollars + per year they’d probably command on the market for players that shouldn’t be full-time starters.

I like this idea for several reasons: 1) you would probably end up with at least league average offense (probably slightly higher) at 2B and 3B with some combination of Scott, Wigginton and Burke sharing the majority of time at those positions. That’s a vast improvement over this year. Especially since the Astros still don’t seem to have any confidence in Burke at 2B. (With our position in the standings, why isn’t he playing there every day?) We should have above average production at 1B, LF and CF (assuming Pence stays there) for the near future.  2) all three of those players are young and under our control for at least the next couple of years, and not likely to cost an exorbitant amount in arbitration. 3) Money saved on Lamb, Loretta, Biggio, Bagwell, Palmeiro, etc, etc can go toward pitching help, another outfielder and catcher.

The main drawback, and it is a significant one, is that it would be a failure because Scott can’t make the transition to 3B. Even assuming he does OK, we would still be average defensively at best at 2B and 3B. That’s why it makes sense to give it a whirl now and figure out how likely it is to work before the off-season.

All that being said, even if the Astros don’t try the Luke Scott experiment, I don’t think they should pursue Lamb or Loretta after this year. That money could be better spent on other more pressing team needs.

I suppose it’s a little late to offer this suggestion. And since Garner platooned with Walling when the Astros won the west in 1986, I have to assume he has given it some thought and decided against it. If Wigginton proves to be all the Astros hope he can be, it’s a moot point. Even so, some thought should be given to position changes in general. To get from where you want to be from where you are, it is not always best to take the shortest route. Sometimes you can get there faster by taking the road less traveled. In other words, start thinking outside the box.

(I saw some wild speculation on astros.com about the possibility that Carlos Lee could play 3B at some point in the future. The Astros need to be thinking about stuff like this, otherwise they’re not likely to get much better soon.)


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