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May 5, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Neosporin

by Joe Sheehan

Yes, it's quite possibly the dumbest headline ever, but it's the best I could come up with to represent the opposite of "scars." Whereas yesterday we talked about the worst players on contending teams, today we'll be talking about the people who deserve more playing time, the ones who are stuck riding benches six days a week.

Some of these guys are sitting behind good players in their own right, while others are caught behind expensive mediocrities. What they all have in common is this: they could cover over, and help heal, the scars of many teams if they were in the right situation.

Enrique Wilson, like Damian Jackson before him, is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He has just 22 at-bats this year as the Indians' utility infielder, backing up Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar. Wilson is a legitimate defensive shortstop who can also play second base, and would hit enough to be an asset at either position. His performance as the Indians' regular third baseman lat year--.262/.310/.352--needs to be taken with a grain of salt as he was playing through a thumb injury.

If he could just work his way into a trade, he would be just as good a player as former teammate Jackson has turned out to be. While proposing trades has a high silliness quotient, it sure seems like the Astros--with 41 outfielders and Tim Bogar--and Indians--who are looking for Rick Manning's phone number--would have some things to talk about.

Regular readers can skip ahead to the next name on the list, because you've probably heard all you care to about Bubba Trammell. Trammell has done nothing but hit since being taken by the Devil Rays in the Expansion Draft:

        AVG   OBP   SLG   AB
1998   .286  .338  .568  199
1999   .290  .384  .505  283
2000   .281  .378  .531   32

This year, he's being blocked at four lineup spots by thirtysomethings the D-Rays signed as free agents, and desperately needs a trade to a team that will let him be Matt Stairs. Another solution would be for Tampa Bay to slide Dave Martinez into a platoon with Gerald Williams in center field, freeing up right field for Trammell full time. Of course, making the defense worse probably shouldn't be a goal of a team that is already the American League's answer to Kuwait.

My next candidate for more playing time reflects a personal bias, and that's towards having a catcher who can contribute with the bat and who hits left-handed. One of the more unsung members of this category is the Cubs' Jeff Reed. Reed's power numbers the past few years are inflated by his time as a Rockie, but his plate discipline is a real ability and it makes him a valuable early-inning pinch-hitter.

On most teams, that would be enough. With the Cubs, though, he's on a team that 1) starts Joe Girardi and 2) could always use some extra OBP. He's on pace to have his fewest at-bats since 1995 with the Giants, though, and there's nothing in Don Baylor's M.O. that suggests that will change.

These are just three of many, and we haven't even looked at players who are toiling at Triple-A, players who also deserve better than they're getting. But that's a rant for another week.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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