A successful Desmond audition would have important ramifications for the team as soon as this off-season. They could commit to shifting Guzman to second base, giving him all of spring training to adjust to the new position. They could find out that they don't need to spend on a middle-infielder like Orlando Hudson. They could try to move Guzman, freeing up the $8 million in bad contract still on the books and still go after a free agent.
It seems like Desmond has been around a long time, mainly because he was unfairly overhyped as far back as 2005 by the previous regime as the next Derek Jeter. Beyond a passing facial resemblance, it was a ridiculous comp, and the pressure seemed to weigh heavily on him. He was also pushed hard, playing at high-A Potomac at age 19 and AA at age 20, getting both promotions before he'd really mastered lower levels.
But he's still just 23 (24 this month), and the tools are there. He was named the best infield arm in the AAA International League in Baseball America. And while his error totals have been a concern (28 this year), scouts have consistently raved about his range and arm.
The bat has been the big question, as he's been consistently undone by a bad approach at the plate, chasing too many balls out of the zone. This year, the light seems to have gone on. In 205 plate appearances at Syracuse, his walk rate is 10.1%, up from 8.8% in AA last year, and his strikeout rate has fallen to 17.4% from 24.1%.
He doesn't have much pop, so those numbers still say he'll be a below-average hitter, but if the glove is there, he can be a 2.5-win player right now, maybe a cheap Jack Wilson with more upside.
So I was pretty excited to flip on the game yesterday and see the kid play, maybe even get a look at Guzman at second. Instead, it was Guzman at short and Riggleman's pet, Pete Orr, at second.
Here's what Riggleman said:
"I'll get him some games, but as long as Guzman is healthy he'll be playing. If his foot flares up on him that will be an opportunity to get Desmond in there, but we also have Gonzalez and Orr who will be playing up the middle. I love to see young players play, but I don't ever want to take away the opportunity from the veterans who have been here all year... and disregard their efforts all year by planting them on the bench. Like I said, the at bats might be inconsistent."What's the point? Cristian Guzman shouldn't have a future at short, and Pete Orr has no future anywhere in MLB. And since when has Pete Orr been here all here? This is just a short-sighted, wasted opportunity, and shows the kind of dumb deference to declining veteran players that will keep bad teams from getting better.
Play Desmond, please. Every day.
- Update: Desmond sits again.