Is The Battle for Shortstop Over?


Recently, Jeff Sanders of the Union Tribune wrote an update on the San Diego Padres battle for shortstop. In his article he states that Alexi Amarista is winning the job currently, but I wonder if Amarista has already won the job based on a couple of factors. First, the failures of his competition. Second, his winter league performance. Lastly, his fast start out of the gate in spring training.

Let’s take a deeper look at these three reasons to see if the battle for shortstop is indeed over.

Before we take a look at the recent failings of Amarista competitions, we must first establish who I am considering his competition. Fans of Friars on Base may remember an article that I wrote this off-season on the potential options for shortstop. I took a look at Amarista, Clint Barmes and Cory Spangenberg. Right now I am going to remove Spangenberg because Bud Black obviously didn’t read the piece and isn’t trying him at short this year. However, I will add Ramiro Pena into the mix since Sanders also included him in his article.

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Okay, now that we have narrowed down his competition let’s look at the stats to see how horribly they have started the spring; perhaps even playing themselves out of a starting role. Barmes has started out poorly at the plate, going one for six in three games – that one lone hit being a single. That isn’t the worst part though. So for this spring, it seems the usually strong defensive Barmes has taken a step backward defensively and committed two errors already this spring. I for one, am pushing the panic button on Barmes and relegating him to a utility role. A role he has excelled at in recent years with the Pirates.

The other player competing with Amarista for playing time is Ramiro Pena, Pena hasn’t been horrible at the plate going three for eight with a run scored. However, he is still a long shot to make the team in 2015, due to the fact that he is a non-roster invitee and will need an astounding spring to make the team just as a utility player, much less the Padres starting shortstop.

Compare his stats to Amarista’s who so far is six for nine with a double and four RBI’s so far this spring, and it is not even close. Amarista has far distanced himself from the competition. If we add what he has shown this spring with his winter league performance, were he flat out mashed, then he has already proven to me that he deserves a shot as the Padres starting shortstop.

Just think about the following numbers for a minute and imagine if he can hit even half as well this season. In the regular season he hit .388 with two doubles a triple and a home run in 67 at bats. Then he decided to turn on the power in the winter league playoffs hitting .227 with five doubles, three home runs and 15 RBIs helping his team wins the title. But he wasn’t finished for the year, he then hit .294 with a double, a triple and five RBIs in the Caribbean Series. Let’s hope that this trend continues well into the regular season.

Time will tell who will be the starter on opening day and a lot of things can still happen, but I am now on Team Amarista.

While I believe the battle for shortstop is over, it still may not be. We could still see Barmes, Pena or a combination of Barmes and Amarista; which the twitter-sphere has started to refer to as “Barmarista”.

Who do you think will be the starter in 2015? Lets debate in the comments below.

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