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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Catcher Carlos Santana expects to start at third base for Cleveland Indians

Diamond Challenge Roto breaks out eraser.

It appears that the Indians third base job will be an open competition beginning next month in spring training. The man in the middle of that competition could very well be former catcher Carlos Santana.

Santana recently told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.com that if the regular season began tomorrow, he would expect to be the Tribe’s starting third baseman. Santana has been the team’s opening day catcher for the last three seasons.

“Right now, I see myself preparing to play third base, no other position,” Santana was quoted as saying. (All Santana’s quotes were translated from the Spanish version of the ESPN story).

GM Chris Antonetti doesn’t believe in handing out starting positions in January unless your last name is Masterson, Swisher or Kipnis. But he certainly didn’t act as if Santana was out of line for saying what he did after losing the starting catcher’s job to Yan Gomes in the second half of last season.

“We have not made a decision at third base,” said Antonetti. “That’s what spring training is for. But Carlos has gotten a tremendous head start due to the work he’s put in this offseason.

“It started with him working at our complex in the Dominican Republic with our coaches. And it transitioned into winter ball.”

Santana, playing for Leones del Escogido, made three errors in his first five games at third base. In his next 18 games, he made five. No doubt, that’s a lot of E5s and looks a lot his experience at the hot corner in 2006 in the minors with the Dodgers.

Repoz Posted: January 22, 2014 at 07:56 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cleveland

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   1. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4643974)
C/1B/3B would make him one of the most valuable players in fantasy.
   2. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4644030)
I'd like very much to not have to watch Lonnie Chisenhall continue to hit .240/.285/.400, but not if it means watching Santana commit 60 errors instead.
   3. Davo Dozier Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4644043)
Not an entirely unprecedented move. I was extremely surprised to learn that Johnny Bench spent the last two seasons of his career (age 34 and 35) as Cincinnati's primary third baseman.
   4. GregD Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:20 AM (#4644067)
Not an entirely unprecedented move. I was extremely surprised to learn that Johnny Bench spent the last two seasons of his career (age 34 and 35) as Cincinnati's primary third baseman.
My recollection is that Bill James was critical of them for not moving him to first to prolong his career and save him the strain and embarrassment of playing third. But Driessen was the guy holding up that. I think James' view was that you move around your pretty good players in order to see how long you can keep your HOF players productive. I could be misremembering.

Johnny Bench was my all-time favorite player and I remember being mortified watching him struggle along at third. His career ended with a whimper but so do most.
   5. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4644076)
Todd Zeile did it. He wasn't that good at it, but he did it, and after a while he managed to quit embarrassing himself.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4644078)
Todd Zeile, Brandon Inge, Tyler Houston, Keith Moreland, Joe Torre, and Jim Leyritz are some other catchers that moved to 3B.
   7. flournoy Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4644081)
Michael Barrett did the reverse, in a way. He split time between catcher and third base early in his career before shifting full time to catcher.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4644142)
Pablo Sandoval is probably the best comparison, and the best case scenario, for Santana.

As a Santana dynasty owner I'm following this carefully but it's tough to imagine Santana simply stepping in and immediately becoming a fulltime starter at third. If I were the Indians I would use Santana as my backup catcher, find the rest of his starts between first, third and DH, and try and get him into 160 games. But teams usually don't bounce their best players around like that.
   9. flournoy Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4644152)
Paul Konerko was drafted as a catcher, but never played there in the majors. He flitted between third base, first base, and left field after switching from catcher before ultimately settling at first.

Phil Nevin was drafted as a third baseman, but wound up catching 787 innings in the major leagues. I remembered that being a one year experiment by the Angels, but apparently it was the Tigers who tried it first, and he wound up appearing behind the plate in seven different seasons with the Tigers, Angels, Padres, and Cubs.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 12:16 PM (#4644156)
BJ Surhoff also moved from C to 3B.

Terry Steinbach moved from 3B to C.
   11. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: January 22, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4644292)
The most recent success story I can think of is Josh Donaldson. The earliest one I can think of is Deacon White. Santana wasn't very good at 1B though, which makes me skeptical about this.
   12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4644317)
Jordan Pacheco has been playing both positions for the Rockies (and some 1B as well) over the last couple of years.
   13. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 02:10 PM (#4644324)
I always thought the Tribe should have done this with Victor Martinez, who was athletic enough and quick enough with his footwork that it might have been successful.

I'm less optimistic about Santana.
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 22, 2014 at 02:15 PM (#4644330)
I'm kinda surprised the Twins didn't try this with Mauer. He strikes me as athletic enough to do it.
   15. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: January 22, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4644357)
I think the Twins would have tried it with Mauer if they didn't already have Sano.
   16. Davo Dozier Posted: January 22, 2014 at 05:01 PM (#4644518)
Russell Martin has played a handful of games at third base over his career (including 3 times in 2013).
   17. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 22, 2014 at 10:28 PM (#4644771)
Russell Martin has played a handful of games at third base over his career (including 3 times in 2013).


Shortstop or bust.
   18. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 22, 2014 at 11:13 PM (#4644795)
The Padres tried it with Mike Ivie in 1975. He would have preferred to play first, I'm sure, but the Padres had Wille McCovey at first. Ivie put up a fielding % of .899 at third (yeah, I know we don't evaluate fielders by their fielding percentage, but being under .900 is impressive).
   19. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 23, 2014 at 12:33 AM (#4644851)
I know we don't evaluate fielders by their fielding percentage, but being under .900 is impressive


Butch Hobson didn't need no position switch to pull that off.

   20. Drexl Spivey Posted: January 23, 2014 at 12:51 AM (#4644856)
B.J. Surhoff also made the move from catcher to third.

Surhoff started at least 80 games at six different positions. Is that a record?

   21. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 23, 2014 at 01:02 AM (#4644860)
Surhoff started at least 80 games at six different positions. Is that a record?


Are you counting DH as a position?

Without the opportunity to serve as a DH, Pete Rose started 500 games at five different positions (which is most definitely a record). He also started 73 games in center.

   22. PreservedFish Posted: January 23, 2014 at 01:09 AM (#4644862)
Are you counting DH as a position?


I was racking my brain trying to remember Surhoff in centerfield or at second base.
   23. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 23, 2014 at 01:11 AM (#4644863)
Tony Phillips did start 80 games at six different defensive positions (150-plus in RF, LF, SS, 2B, 3B, plus 97 in CF). He also exceeded 80 starts at DH.

Edit: Whoops. He played 97 in center, but he only started 68 games there.

   24. Drexl Spivey Posted: January 23, 2014 at 02:11 AM (#4644878)
.

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