Down on the Farm: Snippets from MLB.com

I've been waiting for the MLB.com beat writers to start writing their normal offseason Inbox articles, and today a bunch of them responded. The Mets beat writer Marty Noble and and the Marlin's Joe Frisaro were the only ones writing the Inbox articles until today.

Here are a few snippets regarding some of the top prospects:

Mark Bowman, Braves:

Can the Braves move Chipper Jones to first base and maybe look for a third baseman?
-- Edward G., Santiago, Dominican Republic

Chipper has said numerous times that he'd accept a move to the other corner if the Braves had a better third-base option. While they don't currently have a better option in their system, they could be tempted to make this move if they were to grab Chone Figgins, Adrian Beltre or Pedro Feliz off the free-agent market.

But with the strong possibility that Freddie Freeman could be ready to assume his role as the everyday first baseman by the start of the 2011 season, where would you then play Chipper during the final two years of his contract?

Ken Gurnick, Dodgers:

It sounds like the Dodgers already have no chance at trading for Roy Halladay. If their farm system is so good, why can't they swing deals for big-name players the way the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox do?
-- Seth F., Vero Beach, Fla.

Actually, they made one of the biggest trades for a big-name player in recent years in 2008 -- for Manny Ramirez. In the case of Halladay, if the Blue Jays insist on a Major League starting pitcher in return -- and why wouldn't they? -- then the Dodgers are not a fit. That's the Dodgers' need, not a surplus. General manager Ned Colletti has said he doesn't believe he can improve his starting rotation by trading away a pitcher out of that starting rotation. One thing you haven't heard in recent years is that the Dodgers have blocked young talent, because their young talent has become the nucleus of the team. So there isn't a surplus of Major League-ready players to trade for marquee players. And one who would qualify in that category, Blake DeWitt, is likely to get a shot to be the starting second baseman next year.

More after the jump:

Marty Noble, Mets:

Daniel Murphy is not the answer at first base. The club should re-sign Carlos Delgado for one year, allowing him to demonstrate whether he has anything left. I believe he is an all around better player than Murphy, who seems like he cares, but I'm convinced he at best is a bench player. They should wait for Ike Davis to develop.

-- John A., Whitestone, N.Y.

I'm not sure about Delgado. The Mets have questions about his ability to move at first base. Off what I saw in 2007 and the first half of 2008, I have questions about his willingness to move. His bat seemed potent in the games he played before his hip surgery developed in May.

I suspect you and the club aren't on the same page about Murphy. And I don't see how Murphy and Delgado fit in the same roster, particularly if a right-handed-hitting first baseman is needed. But you and the club seem to agree on Davis. And I have the same sense. Give him time to develop.

Carrie Muskat, Cubs:

Have you heard if Ryan Theriot has been working on his footwork at second base? I believe Jeff Baker has more value off the bench with Aramis Ramirez having his shoulder issues and such.
-- Aaron L., Chicago

Theriot has been told to dust off his second baseman's glove because he could be switching to second base if the Cubs decide top prospect Starlin Castro is ready for the big leagues. Theriot has played second before in the Major Leagues, last doing so in 2007 (37 games). I agree about Baker being a valuable player to have on the bench.

Adam McCalvy, Brewers:

How does the addition of Carlos Gomez affect Lorenzo Cain's future with the organization?
-- Michael Holyoke, Thiensville, Wis.

It slows Cain's progress to the Majors, though injuries in 2009 probably took care of that already. Cain missed time with a left knee injury and then struggled to trust the knee when he returned, according to Nichols. Cain will begin the year at Double-A Huntsville or perhaps Triple-A Nashville while Gomez gets a chance to dig a foothold in Milwaukee. Remember, Gomez is raw himself (at least offensively) so there remains plenty of opportunity for guys like Cain or Logan Schafer or Caleb Gindl.

Jenifer Langosch, Pirates:

Why can't we look at moving Ryan Doumit back to right field to fill our offensive needs rather than trade him? -- Bob, Fombell, Pa.

That would seem to be a viable possibility, but not one the Pirates have shown interest in really exploring further for whatever reason. When I asked Huntington about the possibility of Doumit playing right field, he said the organization sees it as a possibility right now only on days when Doumit is off behind the plate. As a result, don't be surprised if you do see Doumit make a handful of spot starts in right when he isn't catching, in order to keep his bat in the lineup. You'll remember Doumit did just that one time last September.

Keep in mind, too, that the Pirates' right fielder is likely to soon be Jose Tabata. So, if the Pirates do pursue a corner outfielder this winter, it would likely be for a short-term fit. It might not be the best option to move Doumit to right knowing that he wouldn't be able to stay there but for a few months.

 Jenifer Langosch, Pirates:

Where does Milledge fit into next year's lineup? I think he played a pretty strong second half this past year, and showed some improvements in his game. Is he an outfielder of the future, along with Andrew McCutchen?
-- Jake C., Kent, Ohio

If the Pirates' starting lineup is made up of players currently within the organization (meaning no additional offseason adds), I could very well see Milledge slotting into the fifth spot in the batting order, behind Doumit. Milledge finished the season by hitting .311 in his final 44 games, and there's no reason to believe he can't sustain offensive numbers like that for a longer period of time. Also, both Milledge and the Pirates' staff expect him to show more power in 2010 now that his right hand has returned to full strength after an early-season injury.

I do think you can mention Milledge as one of the club's potential outfielders of the future. He was not brought in as a placeholder. In fact, at this time next year, I'd expect we'll be talking about a pretty intriguing outfield trio of Milledge, McCutchen and Tabata.

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