Scott Moore, infielder
What does he have to do to get a real chance?
Stay healthy and avoid the bad luck he’s had. Moore, who believe it or not played 2010 at age 26, was Detroit’s first-round draft pick out of high school back in 2002. He was rushed to A-ball, in two of the worst places to hit in all the minors. When he predictably struggled, the Tigers shipped him to the Cubs as part of a Kyle Farnsworth trade. The Cubs wisely had him repeat the Florida State League, and he hit .281/.358./.485. Since he was only 21, he wasn’t too old for the FSL, and he continued to hit as he moved to AA at age 22 and AAA at age 23.
Unfortunately, he was a third/first baseman in the Cubs organization in 2007, and he wasn’t likely to beat out Aramis Ramirez or Derrek Lee. So the Cubs traded him to Baltimore in late 2007, and he did well enough in a September cameo to warrant a good chance.
And since then he’s managed to get hurt just when he has an opportunity. In 2008, he was hurt at the start of the year, and Melvin Mora rebounded from a bad 2007 to drive in 104 runs. In 2009, Mora slumped — but Moore hurt himself early in the season and missed most of the season. In 2010, Moore was showing he was recovered from his injury — but first Miguel Tejada and then Josh Bell were given third base.
Moore’s not the most disciplined hitter, but he’s a good-fielding third baseman who should hit 25 home runs. If he’s healthy, he deserves a chance.
When the Orioles traded Miguel Tejada, they promoted Josh Bell to play third base. Should they have tried Moore instead?
In a simulation world, definitely. It should have been clear to everyone in the organization that Bell, despite playing well at the time of his callup, would benefit from more polish and sustained success. The Orioles weren’t going anywhere. In a simulation world, where you’re dealing only with impersonal representations of players, there’s no downside — if Moore plays poorly you haven’t lost anything, and if he plays well you have another asset either for your bench or for trade.
In the real world, though, I’m not so sure. Josh Bell may have thought he was ready for the majors; giving Scott Moore the audition may have been seen as a vote of no confidence. But even worse, the Orioles are grooming Bell as the third baseman of the future and aren’t interested in grooming Moore — which makes some sense since Bell is three years younger. If Moore plays well, he creates undesirable uncertainty. Do you give Bell the job next year? If you don’t, that will certainly reduce Bell’s value. How long do you stay with Bell if he plays poorly? How do you justify taking Moore’s job away after he’s played well? These are the sorts of questions real organizations, with real people involved, would just as soon avoid. By giving Bell the look, you (1) find out exactly where he is in his development and (2) avoid Bell vs. Moore problems.
All that said, I still would have given Moore the job, primarily because I don’t think Bell is a sure thing to be the Orioles third baseman of the future.