Jose Valentin is going into spring training for the first time in three years as the White Sox starting shortstop reports MLB.com. After putzing around in center field and at third base, Valentin replaces the disappointing Royce Clayton, his one-time replacement at short, and 24-year-old Joe Crede takes over hi first full season at third.
The concern is that Valentin does not have what it takes to start at short. After all his last full season at short, 2000, did result in 36 errors and a .950 fielding percent, didn't it?
I think that this is shear nonsense. Valentin may not be the next Ozzie but he has always had better than average range at short. He is rated a B by Bill James defensive Win Shares. And whatever shortfall he does have defensively, he makes up for it with the bat. Incidentally, he plays even better offensive when used as a shortstop. Take a look at his numbers since being rotated in position like a volleyball players (i.e., 2000-2002):
He hits for more power, takes more walks, and even runs the bases better. Maybe it's just a comfort thing. Moving Valentin to short will strengthen the Sox at two positions as Crede appears to be a pretty good prospect at third (112 adjusted OPS in his half-season). Just eliminating Royce Clayton (and his contract) improves this team immensely.