First Pitch: Three Reasons Why the Pirates Don’t Need to Extend Neil Walker Right Now

A Pittsburgh Pirates off-season wouldn’t be complete without rumors that the Pirates were interested in extending Neil Walker. The rumors have already come up this off-season, but I’d b surprised if they actually took place at this point. I also feel there’s little need to extend Walker now.

I write about this every time the Walker extension talk comes up. He’s got two years of control remaining, the Pirates are getting no discounts by extending him now, he’s been injury prone, and they’ve got internal options that could take over after the 2016 season. With no cost benefit to extend him now, they can wait until the 2016 season is up and see if they actually need to keep him around.

I’m writing about this again today as a quick review for one of those points — the potential replacements. I believe that Jordy Mercer can handle the shortstop position in the majors, and the Pirates have him under control through the 2018 season. As a side note, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to extend Mercer, since I think the Pirates could get some value here, I think Mercer can still improve, and shortstop is much harder to fill than second base. With that said, they’ve got Mercer for the next four years, meaning that all of the current middle infield options in the farm system are competing for the future second base job.

I’ve written a lot about Jung-Ho Kang and how I think the Pirates should handle his approach. They’ve got the benefit of being able to use him in a bench role in 2015, seeing how he could adjust to the majors. If he’s successful, he could be the replacement at second base for Walker, assuming he’s not needed elsewhere.

Prior to adding Kang, the top future option at second base looked to be Alen Hanson. I don’t know if Kang moves ahead of Hanson right now. Based on where we would have ranked Kang in the prospect rankings, Hanson would still be ahead. There’s just more upper level competition right now. I think Hanson will arrive in the majors at some point during the 2015 season. The Pirates moved him to second base last year in part for that reason, to speed his bat up to the majors. When he does arrive, that will be the start of his attempt to unseat Walker.

Beyond those two, the only other option in the top three levels of the minors that could take over for Walker would be JaCoby Jones. He was our number 19 prospect this year, as profiled today. He’s coming off a big season at the plate in West Virginia, although that did come with some alarming strikeout numbers. He was also learning the shortstop position, and he should remain at shortstop in the short-term. He will spend the 2015 season in Bradenton, and his chances of moving up to Altoona depend on whether the Pirates want to move Adam Frazier off the shortstop position in Altoona, or whether they want to move Jones to second base.

The only way it would make sense to rush Jones or move him to second base would be if Mercer struggles, or if Kang and Hanson both struggle. Otherwise, the Pirates can take their time with Jones, keeping him as either a backup plan if Kang and Hanson eventually don’t work out, or a potential replacement for Mercer down the line.

As for Walker, with the three potential replacements in the top three levels of the minors (or the majors, in Kang’s case) give the Pirates time to decide on an extension. If none of those replacements establish themselves as starting options by the end of the 2016 season, then it would make sense to extend Walker. And the Pirates will probably end up paying the same rate for his free agent years that they would pay right now.

Links and Notes

**The 2015 Prospect Guide is now available on the products page. The book features our full top 50 prospects, plus profiles for every player in the system. I’m on vacation this week, which means all book orders placed will ship out on Monday morning, January 12th. All eBooks will be available for download immediately.

**In the only Pirates related news from the last few days, Clint Hurdle will have left hip replacement surgery on Wednesday. Despite the surgery, he plans on attending winter mini-camp on Monday.

**Winter Leagues: Gustavo Nunez Reaches Base Four Times, Back-to-Back Multi-Hit Games For Edgar Munoz  Update in this link on Alen Hanson and his performance in the Dominican playoffs.

**Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Top Prospects: #19 – JaCoby Jones

  • The whole dWAR thing is very flawed. No Neil Walker isn’t a great defender. But he isn’t bad either. If you go by dWAR it say Andrew McCutchen is a below average center fielder. Cutch get’s overrated for his defense a lot around the league but Please explain to me how he could be a negative dWAR player. He is still above average even though he does sometimes take bad routes to balls and doesn’t always make the right decision on how to catch the baseball

  • Problem with replacing Walker with these guys. None of these guys can replace the production of Neil Walker. Alen Hansen is no where close to a sure thing and he keeps getting yanked off the field for an attitude adjustment. Is that where you want to put the future of the position? I can guarantee. Kang doesn’t compare to Walker offensively. 90% of baseball people say he won’t hit in the big leagues and he won’t provide any more value than a bench spot. The Pirates have shown this off season they have no problem spending money. Walker isn’t the best defender at 2nd but he could easily be moved to a corner spot where his range would be at least average. 270-280 hitter with 20+ Hr power and ability to drive in over 80 runs. With the discount he would give get him signed

  • How much longer could Walker extend his career if he moved to a bench role and played positions all over the field? 3rd, 2B, 1st, RF

  • the rumor i heard is tom walker told nfw don’t make the same mistake as i did. get all all the money you can. idk if his wife is from pittsburgh. my money is on him taking the money. he can see mom and dad in the 6 month off season.

    • What do you think he can get on an open market?

    • taking the money vs staying with the Pirates aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Or at least that’s what the gung ho “SIGN WALKER” crowd would argue.

  • I believe he will build off last years campaign and think he should be moved to 3rd by 2016 and if he can handle himself, then extend him….forget 1stbase, that will be josh bell.

    • I think I would have done something with Walker this year, for 2 reasons 1. It might be easier on his back if he played a corner. 2. I think they are a better defensive team if Walker is at 3rd and Harrison is at second. Since I don’t like UZR as a stat to determine range, In my opinion, Harrison has more range.

  • I am not against trading Walker if I got what I wanted for him, otherwise keeping a good player is not a bad thing. I guess when trading there are two ways to look at it, one is shopping a player around, the other is teams inquiring about your player. I would not be shopping him around. His prime value comes when teams come after him.

    • Walker and bell for Zimmerman?

      • I assume you are talking about Jordan Zimmermann, his contract for 2015 is 16.5mil and he is a free agent in 2016. I don’t think I am going to give up Bell and Walker for Jordan Zimmermann and If you are talking about Ryan Zimmerman he is in the middle of a 100mil contract and needs to play 1st base, somewhere you can also put Walker for a lot less and not give up Bell.

  • Still disagree Tim, Walker becomes more valuable with a market rate extension right now. Money is flying into MLB and prices will only go up. Letting him slide toward FA because we might have a replacement at 1B, 2B, or 3B would be a bad idea. If you sign him and some of these decent, but not great, prospects pan out then he is worth much more in trade than he would be with 1 year left or as a departing free agent. My gut tells me that we will need someone at one of those 3 positions in the next 3 years anyway. 3 win players don’t grow on trees.

    • If you sign Walker to a market rate extension, what logic says that makes him MORE valuable in a trade?

      Why would a team pay market rate for Walker’s post-peak years PLUS give up considerable prospects when they could just go out and sign a market rate 2B instead?

      • Its a market rate extension, not free agent market rate, those are wildly different. FA prices are about $7.5 million per war right now. Walker would certainly sign for less than that, he’s not going to be looking for $22 million right now. Players still prefer certainty to the chance to get more in 3 years. A 4 year extension at $50 million ($8, 10, 16, 16) makes a ton of sense for both sides. Pablo Sandoval just got $20 million a year in free agency and is a similar player. It just seems to me that the fan base in general is massively underrating Walker’s talent level. Walker is a steady hitter who’s bat will play at 2B or 3B, he has good plate control which ages well. The odds that any of the names Tim mentioned becoming a 3 win player by 2016 or 2017 is very slim. Walker should be very good over the next 4 years and sometimes you have to pay for “very good”

        • Walker himself wasn’t a 3 win player until last season. Good luck expecting him to be that for the next four years.

          • That is just nitpicking – 2.6, 2.6, 2.7, 3.7 the last 4 years, 11.6/4= 2.9

            • You dont pay for what a player did, you pay for what he is likely to do. Walker will be heading out of his prime years as his current deal ends, so extending him and expecting near 3 WAR performance isnt smart.

              • No, you almost always play a player for what he did, so you can get him to do more even as he ages. That is why Russell is now back in Canada.
                MLB benches are filled with rich have-beens who got too old too quick to justify the exorbitant contracts they signed when they switched teams.

                • You just argued we should pay for what a player has done so we can have our bench filled with a few rich has beens. Yes, dumb teams pay for what a player has done. But small market teams rarely do. PIT didnt pay Martin market value because he isnt likely to do what he did last year. They wont pay Walker for a few career years because he isnt likely to have career years after age 32-33. Russell is in Canada because some teams have the financially flexibility to take on what may be a bad contract overall for 2-3 good years. PIT cant do that.

        • Walker is getting $20 million over the next two years, what incentive does he have to sell his best two free agent years and thus re-enter the market at 32, for $15 million a piece?

          Players do not offer this type of discount to teams when they are two years from free agency. Players the caliber of Markakis and Melky Cabrera are getting >$40 million total in free agency. Walker is a valuable player and I think some are making too much a single season of defensive numbers, I think he would have little incentive to accept that offer.

          • The incentive is locking in a solid salary increase based on current production. What sense does any extension taht buys out FA ever make, it is how business is done.

            • Yes and players care more about total money not AAV, so I just think asking Walker to sell his two free agent years for $30 million is somewhat cheap considering the total money lesser players are getting. This isn’t a player looking for long term security being signed in his 2nd year in baseball. Maybe he likes Pittsburgh, still I think you need at least another year and more money to get an extension done.

          • also, Melky and Markakis did not get $15 million a year in salary. also, Melky and Markakis are not from the area where they have played their prior careers.

        • You know what doesnt age well? A guy with known back problems. Its also picking and choosing what to use in an argument to say Walkers bat will play at 2B, when another key part of that equation is that his defense wont play at 2B and he is very unlikely to stick there. He has all the makings of a 1Bmen, and if his power dips at all an average one.

          • Looks like yinz guys got this one covered. Checks in the mail. 😉

            • OK so your plan is let him leave in FA after 2016 for a 30ish draft pick or trade him in the middle of a playoff race with little control left for peanuts, that is exceptionally dumb asset management.

              • Actually, its quality asset management if you control a player over the usual prime years (25-31 or 32) and avoid paying market value prices after that while replacing him with a younger and cost controlled option. Him leaving after 2016 gives us an additional 1st round pick while giving a guy like Hanson plenty of time to round into form or find another viable option. It also in no way takes us out of the running for resigning him after 2016 if Hanson implodes. If we think Walker has a chance of taking a friendly deal, that wont change between now and then.

              • Sorry, I like winning baseball games when my favorite team is at the top of the win curve.

                I’m perfectly fine with watching Neil Walker help my favorite team win baseball games through his prime and walk away with a 1st RD draft pick after he’s gone.

                Also not sure how signing him to an extension is better “asset management” in the first place.

            • Lol, dont joke i could use the money. I bill out at 15 an hour.

          • Please provide evidence for your assertion regarding back injuries and impending doom by age 32. Also, his range is the issue at 2B and even with that his defense is league average, he could play 3B in a heart beat. WAR includes defense you know.

            • Well his back injury is well documented. For anyone wanting a reference as to how back injuries can linger and ruin a career, google Don Mattingly. I am not saying his back injury history spells impending doom, but it does paint a picture of a very risky guy once he hits mid 30s. If his back causes even slight regression into mid teens HRs while playing a corner IF spot, he is average overall and we are paying good money for average.

              • Yeah, forget about the injuries and falling off a cliff for a moment.

                Neil Walker was 14% better than average in 2013, and 12% better than average the year before. Unless you believe in a late-20s sustainable improvement, there’s little evidence he’ll even be very much above average into his mid-30s. I don’t know why the Pirates would want to pay that kind of money for a 3B/1B with a wRC+ between 100 and 110 or so.

                That’s essentially 2013 Pedro Alvarez, at best. And I’ll be the first to say I wouldn’t want that at over $15m/yr.

    • You are correct.

  • If Kang signs I am still guessing he is headed to AAA . I agree with elqaupo about Walker but I doubt the Pirates actually are serious about extending him .

    • IMO, if they sign Kang, he is a starter on the Major league team, I don’t see them paying 25mil for a guy they are going to put at AAA, if they do they have more money to throw around than I thought they did.

      • You know I thought that originally also and you may end up being right . Expecting him to come out of an essentially AA league and playing MLB is asking a bunch , I am still guessing ( unless he has a big Spring) he starts in AAA .

        • I think a month or two in AAA would absolutely be worth it. He’s not going to be a starter, so how many at bats will he realistically get?

          As you said, the league he came from is not nearly equivalent to the league he’ll be coming to. Plus there’s that little part about moving into a completely foreign culture for the first time.

          There’s going to be an adjustment period. I’d rather that come in AAA.

      • Kang was asking for roughly 5 million per year, so its not crazy to think they would pay that and have him be purely a bench player. They have done it with Barmes. There is very little reason to think they will just hand Kang a starting position, particularly with the infield as it currently stands.

  • The main reason to extend Walker now is that you can get him for one more season… or two more seasons. We control him for his 29 and 30 year old seasons. I’d take his 31 and 32 year old seasons.

    If we wait until he’s a FA you’ll need to offer him 3+ years with an option and buyout. Since he’s a super two he’s not going to be cheap anyways. Why not get an extra year or two and plan to move him to 1B when Pedro leaves.

    A four year deal with team options with healthy buyouts could make sense.

    • Why would Walker sign a deal that buys out 2 of his free agent years? He would be costing himself a lot of money.

      • Yes. This.

        • how so? he’d just demand what he think he’d make in FA for those years on the contract, right?

          • Which PIT would not pay. That is the issue here. If Walker demands near what he’d make in FA for the extension years, PIT walks. If PIT offers 2 additional years at a hometown price, Walker loses out on his last really big chance at a payday and likely walks away. If NW forgoes 2 more years for a cheap price, he would enter FA in his mid 30s, likely with injury questions and likely a corner IFer with good not great power.

      • because he’s injury prone and could NOT get a 4-5 year deal in FA

        • A second baseman that can hit .270 with 20+ HR will absolutely get a 4 year deal.

    • Hear, hear!

  • Lee Foo Young
    January 7, 2015 8:54 am

    “or if Kang and Hanson both struggle”.

    We HOPE Hanson is the heir apparent. We HOPE Kang can be a middle infield force. Neither are close to being the proverbial ‘sure thing’.

    All it is at this point is hope. And, as a Pirate fan, I ‘hope’ BOTH become viable major league starters.

    I’m not even including JCJ at this point. He needs a solid AA season before I get even remotely excited about him.

    • So Lee, what makes you think then that Dilson Herrera is a ” sure thing ” ? Because he is now in the Met’s organization maybe ?

    • Hope spring eternal, but doesn’t often come to fruition. Think about those thousands of minor leaguers around the world who are all dreaming about making the big leagues and then realize that there are only 750 MLB players on 25 man rosters.

  • Jordy Mercer is just 11 months younger than Neil Walker and is controlled for four more years.

    Not only would it be ridiculous to extend him, the Pirates should absolutely improve the position if the opportunity presented itself through draft or trade.

    • Lee Foo Young
      January 7, 2015 8:55 am

      NMR…very much hindsight, but I sure wished that we hadn’t included Dilson Herrera in the Byrd deal….I didn’t like it at the time, and like it even less today.

      • No Byrd in LF in late 2013, no WC later on. It was the cost of doing business, and as GM’s will tell you, prospects will get you fired.

        • for the record, the Pirates finished 4 games ahead of Cinci that year, and 8 ahead of the next team, the Nationals.

          I’m in no way saying that i wasn’t glad they had Byrd. just that saying that saying they wouldn’t have made the WC game without Byrd is a little intense.

          However, i agree with your overall point that the team needs to be willing to add to the team when it looks like they could change the outcome of the standings. Herrera and Black for Byrd stings a little now, but that’s fine.

      • I’m with both of you on this one.

        I do think they had to get Byrd in 2013, and that inevitably was going to require something pretty nice.

        However, I’m not sure I believe Alen Hanson is a better prospect than Dilson Herrera right now, and I feel like Herrera has a higher floor on his big league projection, as well. At the time of the trade Hanson was most certainly the more highly rated prospect, but an organization has to know they’re own players better than anyone else.

        I could fairly easily see a scenario where the Pirates could’ve kept the better player in Herrera while also holding onto Vic Black by trading Hanson when his value was higher.

    • I agree with everything Tim wrote expect that, the Pirates control Mercer’s age 28-31 seasons, he is not the type of player that you extend, just about average regular, go year to year.

    • And how does one improve on a silver slugger through a draft? Does the position truly need to be improved? If so, how about improving third, first, rf, catching, and the bench.

  • Scott Kliesen
    January 7, 2015 7:27 am

    This is yet another example of how the DH rule negatively affects NL teams. If Pirates had a DH role to fill, it may make sense to extend him. As it is now, Walker is likely headed to an AL club to finish his career as so many position players do.

    • Lee Foo Young
      January 7, 2015 8:50 am

      or 1b on our club if Bell doesn’t work out?

    • Why is Walker likely headed to an AL club? Is he not going to be able to play defense outside of Pittsburgh or something?

      • He cant play defense well while in PIT. Move him to a team that doesnt like to shift, and he could get pretty rough on defense. His range simply does not allow him to play 2B at an above average level.

        • While true, his defense would have to regress quite a bit more to be less valuable as a 2B than DH.

          • I dont think he is a future DH option, but a 1B option. I didnt mean to seem to agree that he is headed for the AL, but he surely is headed for 1B or 3B.

        • I agree that Walker shouldn’t be playing 2B for much longer, that doesn’t mean he becomes a DH. His glove and bat should play well at either 1B or 3B. Also, if Ian Kinsler and Rickie Weeks can continue to get jobs playing 2B, I’m sure Walker can too.

        • the infield shifts are designed so that you don’t need a Ryne Sandberg at 2nd. Shifts are done so that the defense will be where the ball is hit.
          With shifts, everybody looks to be a better defender.
          Please list those teams that don’t like to shift.

          • Well, in comparison with PIT about 28 other teams dont like to shift as much as we do. Now, he could end up with NYY or TB or CLE, but there are a good number of teams that shift far less than PIT and thus would make Walker’s job tougher. Shifting is up overall in MLB, but PIT leads the charge and masks some defensive issues due to it.

          • You’re treading in the territory of yet-to-be-discovered fielding efficiency numbers.

            The 2B actually has the most ground to cover of any infielder in the Pirates shift. Nobody has figured out, at least publicly, a solid way to grade defensive plays while shifted so that data is thrown out. It’s completely possible an adequate fielder would actually be MORE valuable during a shift than playing straight up.

      • Scott Kliesen
        January 7, 2015 5:58 pm

        Ron, my point is Walker has had back problems, which will only worsen over time. On an AL team, he could be given more rest while still having his bat play.

  • Come in, we all know this walker extension talk is cause he’s the Pittsburgh kid. If he was just another player, there wouldn’t be this much talk.
    Play him, thank him when his time is done then trade him and let the newer younger improved players take his place. Don’t know if it’ll be Hanson, kang, Mercer, Jones or an unknown, it’s just the order of doing business. No need to extend a 30 year 2nd baseman with below average defense.

    • The Pittsburgh stuff is definitely part of it, but he’s also a good player. I remember 2 years ago people were clamoring for a Pedro Alvarez extension on the radio, and he is not a Pittsburgh Kid.

      It’s just… people overreact to both the good and bad times of players and think about what they have done more than what they will do. And they’d rather complain about him not being signed long term than realize “hey. they have him 2 more years anyway!” or “hey. Alen Hanson has a significant chance at being even better than Walker!”

      • Hanson has a significant chance of leading the world in errors no matter where he plays.

    • I agree, not only that but he has a bad back. Those injuries linger as you get older, I just don’t see the sense in extending him past his age 30 season.

      • In addition to his age and to exasperate his bad back is the fact that he is a big man in general, let alone for his position , and he is not in good shape.. He doesn’t take great care of himself. He has the physique of a retired offensive lineman , not a starting second baseman. If he wants the extension unnecessarily early , he can show some commitment to his conditioning .

  • I would fear waiting to extend Walker until all other options fail would give him far too much leverage in the negotiations. We could save a little money on one or two years of free agency, though at an admitted risk, to give us security against our prospects not working out. If they do, and the contract is reasonable both in dollars and years, Walker could be a nice trade piece to fill another need which may open up at that point, or to restock the farm system a little bit.

    But I do agree with the idea of extending Mercer. He probably wouldn’t cost much at this point, and I do expect him to at least perform to, if not exceed, the value of any reasonable contract he could sign. There’s also no obvious replacement for him in our system, at least not anytime soon, or with any sort of certainty.

    • The message you might try not to send to players is “when we extend you, it might just be so we can trade you when we want to”. PIT controls Walker over the years it wants to as is, and his defense isnt showing signs of being able to stay at 2B beyond the current contract (or even another year or so). So right now, Walker would be far more of a 1B option than 2B option in 2-3 years. If NW was 2 years younger or healthier it makes sense, but his overall situation is a guy with back problems that doesnt play great defense at 2B. If Walker wants to stay in PIT badly enough, he would understand PIT waiting until closer to the end of his current deal to make that a reality. If Walker isnt as cushy to the idea of taking less money to stay in PIT as people assume, an extension really wont make him happy regardless. Sometimes, both sides see little reason to want what the other side would like.

      Walker would likely enjoy a lower than market value yet still sizable deal that adds 3-4 additional years beyond his current deal, and PIT would like a team friendly deal that covers 1-2 additional years or to avoid ti altogether and refocus on this in 1-2 years.

      • Lukas: All good points, and I especially favor the move to 1B, and Alen Hanson coming to 2B. If Pedro does well at 1B in 2015, do we try to sign him beyond 2016? I think the general consensus is NO, and it is probably a lock that FC & NH move him during or after the 2015 season. Walker got 110 games in 2010 and has been a regular ever since. Cost to Value shows we have paid him $10.4 mil over those 5 years, and his Value as a derivative of WAR over that 5 years amounts to $64.4 mil.

        WAR since 2010 – 1.8, 2.6, 2.6, 2.7, 3.7, even though in 3 of those years his D was in the negative, thereby dragging those numbers down. HR’s since 2010 – 12, 12, 14, 16, 23.

        Last year he was a Silver Slugger for his 25 Doubles, 3 Triples, 23 HR’s, 76 RBI’s. He cannot stay at 2B, but his value to this team with a bat in his hands and the “local boy next door” image is impossible to ignore.

        • To place any value in his local ties is, for me, dumb. Its great that he is a PIT local and that is great PR but that should be left at the door when contract talks come into play. NW has value to us, but not so much value that we can think extending him beyond where he currently is makes sense. He would, unless he truly doesnt like money, want a 3-4 year extension from his current deal and PIT isnt likely to want Walker at mid 30 ages after his back problems.

          His offensive numbers are good, not great, at 1B. The team can move him, see how Bell develops and if Bell falls off a cliff we would still be able to resign NW when FA hits. If NW is really wanting to stay in PIT now, that wont change in 2-3 years.

          • Neil Walker sells Tickets and merchandise. A switch hitter whi Hits 270 and hits 23 Homers

            • Winning sells merchandise and tickets. NW has appeal as a local player, but that doesnt in any way mean the team should consider that when determining his talent value over the course of more years than his current contract. Its also, ill be pretty conservative with wording here, misleading to say he hits 23 hrs as if that is a consistent area for him. He surely could maintain that power level, but its key to note that is the exception to the rule so far in his career as he profiles as a mid teens HR hitter before last year.

              I think Walker made improvements that can make him a 15-20 HR each year, with 25 being his ceiling. I think he hits for average and walks enough to be a solid hitter at 2B. He isnt, however, a guy you try hard to extend beyond his early 30s as he has injury history and is likely headed to 1B in the near future. At 1B, his power has to be closer to his ceiling to make him above average at his spot on offense. Love Walker and appreciate what he does, but much talk of extending him comes from either “we can get 1-2 additional years” or “you do this for a hometown guy” which are both very flawed imo.

        • And why can’t he “stay at second base”. Granted, he has a balky back, but being spiked and having a ruptured appendix doesn’t make a person injury prone. And, no one has shown me any reason why he is not a more than adequate defensive second baseman, to say nothing of his offense.

          • His UZR/150 was a career worst -8.4 last year. His UZR itself was a career worst -24.8, UZR attempts to show how many runs given up or saved overall by a player through a combination of double play runs, range runs, error runs, and outfield arm runs. Its not a perfect system and taking his 5 year total is a better view, but it still shows a negative defender. His 5 year average comes out to roughly a -5 UZR player, which rates as below average. His range tanked to what it was his first few years, leading to the tanking last year.

            The only way a person can argue Walker is a solid defender is if they A) assume a low number of errors and a decent number of double plays shows a ton (which is easily debunked, particularly the DP notion since the team generates a ton of GBs) or B) They simply go “i dont trust advanced metrics at all and trust what i see” in which case its not worth continuing discussion because one side is unwilling to at least entertain different ideas.

        • LOL Well Said…..This seems like rocket science to most people. People underrate Neil Walker. A silver slugger for crying out loud. How many of those are on this team? there’s only what?19 guys in baseball who receive that award? In my opinion Walker could be an above average defender at 3rd or 1st. His glove is solid. He makes ALL the plays hes supposed to. Granted he doesn’t have the best range but a move to the corner would make him one of the more athletic corner infielders

      • Just what is wrong with Walker’s defensive play? In this day of positioning defensive players on almost every pitch, and given the huge amount of technology available to correctly position those players, what is so glaring about Walker’s defense that it is written about as being detrimental? Didn’t he have the second fewest errors in the NL two years ago? Or maybe you want the former 2nd baseman of the Dodgers with all that speed and a cement glove?

        • If you look at stats that accurately attempt to measure defense, Walker was solidly below average last year. It WAS nearly detrimental, unless the only way you call someone detrimental is if he trips over himself and makes error after error. You can use errors to judge defense, or you can use any measure that actually is valid. If you can never move and never make an error, it maybe isnt a great way to frame an argument. Walker has below average range that does not allow him to get to many balls, and PIT masks that with shifts. However, many teams shift far far less than PIT. So on any other team, Walker likely sees his defensive flaws magnified. Walker should be moved to 3B or 1B if he repeats his defense from last year, as the range doesnt play well and his overall athleticism is good not great.

          I love what Walker brings, but im not going to blindly ignore that he has never been a great defender. He had a few years where it looked like he elevated to a status that was average, but tanked last year.