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Matt Wieters: Future First Baseman?

No prospect currently in the Orioles system has drawn more interest than 2007 first rounder Matt Wieters, a 6-foot-5 switch-hitting catcher that seems to possess equal parts talent and poise.

So far no one has doubted his ability to play after his torrid 2008 split between Class-A and AA but David Brown over at Yahoo's Big League Stew wonders if the Orioles might not be better served by switching Wieters to first base.

It's pointed out that the question is not about Wieters's ability to play behind the plate but whether or not it's the best place for someone of his size in the long term. Brown also speculates that the wear and tear of the position may have cost 6-foot-3 catcher Mike Piazza as many as 100 career home runs.

Perhaps the best parallel for Wieters right now is Minnesota catcher Joe Maurer. Maurer, who is always capable of pulling out a batting title, is 6-foot-4 but with Justin Morneau at first base, seems unlikely to be moved. The Orioles, on the other hand, have no such roadblock. Aubrey Huff had a fine 2008 but he's no Morneau.

Of course Baltimore also doesn't have any other major-league ready catching prospects, so moving Wieters up the base line might be self-defeating.

This is clearly not a new debate -- for my money I think pitcher and catcher are the two toughest positions to play -- but the question is whether it's time for the O's to start protecting their investment with a preemptive strike.

I think this might be a discussion that the Orioles will have a few years down the road but what do you guys think, will the man Baseball Prospectus predicts as hitting .311/.395/.544 (ESPN Insider required) in the majors this season be wearing a smaller glove five years from now?

By CJ Holley  |  March 4, 2009; 10:38 AM ET
Categories:  Orioles , Twins  
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Comments

Why not pursue both options? Have him play catcher but draft and/or obtain 1B and C prospects. Wait until we have a sure-fire replacement at either position and then make the decision on the rest of Weiters career. ... i think it's a bit premature to make a decision now. He's technically not even in the bigs yet.

Posted by: ThatGuy2 | March 4, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

No way no how. What makes Wieters elite is his ability as a catcher and the numbers he can put up as a catcher. As 1B his number will be slightly above average.

Posted by: bulldog23 | March 4, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Isn't having 8 or 9 years of an elite catcher is more valuable than 15 years of an elite first baseman? Maybe not the best thing for Wieters, but definately good for the O's.

Posted by: petey5 | March 4, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

lets just change the name of this blog to orioles journal

Posted by: andreekless | March 4, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Not now. No way. This isn't Victor Martinez, who was always questionable as a catcher, or Ryan Garko, who needed to be moved. This is a fine defensive catcher.

The O's have a pretty good hitting prospect in Brandon Snyder at 1st, as well as a guy being squeezed out of the outfield in Nolan Reimold. If Billy Rowell can't stick at 3d, that would be another potential first baseman.

Mauer was always talked about as a potential 3d baseman. He also has had leg problems, and the Twins have had strong fielding backup catchers for few years. Nevertheless, they've thought they were better off with fill in candidates for 3d than using fill in bats at catcher.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 4, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Keep in mind that the Orioles also have the benefit of the DH, which Piazza didnt have in his prime. Wieters can catch 5 of 7 days, and still be in the lineup the rest of the games. One way or the other, this is a discussion for him at age 28, not at 22-23...
Lets get him to the bigs first, start producing, and figure it out from there.

Posted by: jesstyr | March 4, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

No, no.First of all. we Oriole fans are excited to see Matt Weiters with the team sometime this year and behind the plate. Let's not start tampering with his career and the hope of Oriole fans to having another piece of the puzzle in place. Matt needs to be a catcher with the Orioles and for a long time.

Posted by: sfr123 | March 5, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

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