Could Wilson Betemit Start at Third in 2014?
One of the areas of concern for the Indians this offseason is the position of third base. As it stand right now, Lonnie Chisenhall is the incumbent starter at the hot corner. However, with the way 2013 ended one could argue that the position is a two-headed monster consisting of both Chisenhall and Mike Aviles. If you recal, Chisenhall received the bulk of the playing time against righties, while Aviles was plugged in against lefties.
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, Chisenhall has yet to cement his place in the Indians everyday lineup as the starting third baseman. Thanks largely in part to some shoddy defense and a complete lack of discipline at the plate, Chisenhall has spent the better part of two seasons doing a yo-yo act between the big leagues and Triple-A Columbus. It’s gotten to the point that many parties, both inside and outside of the organization, are beginning to wonder if he is the long-term answer at third.
Thus, enter Wilson Betemit.
Betemit has been a journeyman throughout most of his big league career. Despite his career slash line of .267/.332/.442, he has never been able to hang around any place longer than two years. The one lone exception was Atlanta, but only because they originally signed him and took the time to try to invest into his future. And much like Chisenhall to this point, Betemit has been unable to fully tap into the potential he showed as a prospect having been relegated to platoon status himself for most of his career.
This explains partially why the Indians might be interested in signing the 32-year-old veteran. His is used to the rigors of the part-time player role. From that standpoint, there is no reason to think he wouldn’t be able to step in and take over some of the responsibility at third base in 2014.
However, the confusing part of this concerns Betemit’s career splits. While he is a switch hitter, he has shown much more power and ability from the left side of the plate against right-handed pitching. The same is also true of Lonnie Chisenhall, who has struggled mightily against left handers, but excelled the majority of the time against righties. How then does the signing of Wilson Betemit improve this situation any? How are the Indians any better off with a combination of Chisenhall and Betemit than they would be with Chisenhall and Aviles?
The only logical conclusion that could be drawn from such a move is that the Indians are actually considering a move that would involve Lonnie Chisenhall as part of the package. By no means am I saying this is a certainty, but signing Wilson Betemit to platoon at third with Mike Aviles only makes sense if Lonnie Chisenhall is no longer in the picture. Having proving all there is to prove at the minor league level the next logical step would be to move him while his value as a prospect is still relatively high.
Of course, this could all be nothing more than a rumor. A simply inquiry about the status of Wilson Betemit gets picked up by one reporter and spreads around the internet leading to many pundits, myself included, to draw irrational conclusions. Hey, ’tis the season, though.
With that said, do I believe that the Indians are seriously pursuing Wilson Betemit? No, but I am willing to believe that they have inquired simply to cover all their bases. After all, why not at least take a quick look at acquiring another solid bat and glove man for an infield that is sorely in need of both? Stay tuned on this one.