Audience participation time. (Not that this audience is ever disinclined to participate, for which I thank you.) The Braves would seem to have three options at third base, and Bobby Cox articulated them yesterday: “We’ve got [Brooks] Conrad and [Omar] Infante and we should get [Martin] Prado back at the start of next week.”
OK, you be the manager. Pick one.
Being pushy, I’ll go first. I like the Prado option. I think Infante is better at second base than at third, and I think Prado can play either spot just fine. I’m not crazy about the idea of uprooting an All-Star second baseman, but it has to be said: Infante was an All-Star, too.
I’m less high on Conrad. He’s great at the end of games, less great when he starts them. He’s hitting .238, with more strikeouts than hits. (Both Prado and Infante have twice as many hits as K’s.) Besides, having Conrad in the lineup would diminish the full Conrad Effect: He’s the guy you need to pinch-hit with the game to be won. Indeed, he has more RBI’s as a sub than as a starter.
Oh, and since you asked: The notion of Troy Glaus as a starting third baseman was all but quashed by Frank Wren on Thursday. Said the general manager: “Based on the health of his legs, [I don't think] that makes a lot of sense to put him over there.”
There’s also the chance the Braves could try to swing a trade — Ty Wigginton and Chone Figgins are two post-deadline possibilities — but Wren also noted that the combination of Infante and Prado in the everyday lineup was powerful in itself. Quoth Wren: “I’m not sure we’ll find anything better than that out on the market place.”
Reality check: Wigginton is hitting .260 for Baltimore, Figgins .253 for Seattle. Infante is hitting .330.
My batting order would be this: Infante, 2B; Heyward, RF; Prado, 3B; McCann, C; Glaus, 1B; Gonzalez, SS; Diaz/Hinske, LF; Ankiel/Cabrera, CF. Brooks Conrad would be my DH in Games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series. (Just seeing if you’re still reading.)
But I’ve never been known for my lineup-making dexterity (or for anything else, come to think of it), so I invite your input. Pick the new third sacker. It will make you feel better about the absence of Chipper Jones. It will enable you to get in touch with that feeling that rests within all of us — to manage, if only in this space, a big-league team. And I can assure you Bobby Cox will take the results of this poll to heart.
OK, I lied about the last part.