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Tall Tale: How long 'til the O's move Matt Wieters to first base?

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Today, I watched Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, the best hitting prospect in baseball, do footwork drills and take a couple of at-bats in a game.

Was I watching a Hall of Famer in the infant stages of his career?

At 6-foot-5 — look at the height on that leg kick alone! — Wieters would be among the tallest catchers in major league history once he makes the majors. He'd be up there with Sandy Alomar Jr. and Larry McLean. Cool!

Or maybe not. Catchers get the life beaten out of them behind home plate and the taller you are, the harder the beating.

The Dodgers and Mets never did get around to transferring 6-foot-3 Mike Piazza to first base, and it probably cost him 100 career homers. The Twins have to be thinking about the time when 6-foot-4 Joe Mauer, a batting title waiting to happen every season, plays elsewhere in the field. Though he wasn't as tall, Craig Biggio (5-foot-11) moved to second base early on and he ended up with numbers that might get him into the Hall of Fame.

Wieters-to-first has come up in Baltimore conversation before, but why let the debate drag on any further? The Orioles should move Wieters. My case follows below:

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Wieters, who like Jason Varitek switch-hits and went to Georgia Tech (they share an agent, too — Scott Boras) might be Piazza-type good at the plate. Might be better, actually. In a 130-game season in 2008 split between the Orioles' advanced Class A and Class AA, Wieters batted .355/.454/.625 with 27 home runs.

His minor league numbers on defense were OK, too. He sure acted like a catcher in the drills today, despite dropping one. He's tall, but very lean and athletic. His feet are quick and not hulking.

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Eddie Taubensee, who at 6-4 aws one of the better-hitting tall catchers ever (really!) had Herman Munster feet and it made for rough times keeping runners from stealing. The name on the back of his jersey never fit, either.

Wieters looks like he'll be able to throw a guy out, but why bother trying? The Orioles this year have Gregg Zaun, so there's no need for Wieters to jump in and catch 140 games in his rookie season.

At first base, Wieters will be better-insulated from injuries and liberated to hit as many home runs as a boy can imagine. Aubrey Huff is a very good hitter whose glove adds very little. DH him. Play Wieters at first, turn the franchise around and forget that you ever wanted to Boo Teixeira in the first place.

Let him be Glenn Davis (but not hurt, and actually good).

Do not let him be Chris Hoiles.

Done and done. A recipe for Orioles Magic!

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League type:
Free Yahoo League
League size:
10 players
Draft time:
Sep 4 9:00 am
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