On to second base, where our long regional nightmare is over. Keith Lockhart is a San Diego Padre (or possibly a Portland Beaver — fill in your own joke) and the second base position is theoretically open to someone who (a) can hit a little, and (b) doesn’t remember the Nixon Administration. I don’t really have a good handle on who the Braves want to play there, though. Most outside observers say that Marcus Giles should get the job, but the Braves’ braintrust has never been high on Marcus and might prefer Mark DeRosa. Or Bobby could get a wild hair and bring Mark Lemke out of retirement. You never know with Bobby.
Marcus has undoubtedly been a disappointment since joining the big league club. His career major league numbers are only .247/.327/.416, and he was significantly worse last year than in 2001. To be fair, he was going through a rough stretch personally (one in which he didn’t seem to get a lot of support from his teammates or the team) and had some injuries, but he had lost his starting job when Mark DeRosa got hurt and pushed him back into the lineup. Marcus got hurt about a week later, and when he got healthy again the Braves basically screwed him and demoted him to AAA so the Great Lockhart wouldn’t be threatened.
The Braves are worried about Giles’ defense at second base, but I don’t see it. He makes a few more errors than most second basemen, but so many that it’s a problem, his range is pretty good, and he has a better arm than most. (Lockhart, last year at any rate, was probably a superior defensive player, but not enough to make up for his other shortcomings.) The Braves are considering moving Giles to third or left, but the real key for him will be to find his hitting stroke. He’s capable of being a .900 OPS hitter, which will make even Bobby overlook a few extra errors at second base.
Briefly noted, his most-comparable player through age 24 is Scott Spiezio, who came up a second baseman but is now the World Champions’ first baseman, and a very good one. It’s an interesting comparison, but Marcus is probably too short to play first base.