Friday, January 19, 2007

Craig Wilson's Playing Time to be Limited for Braves

The Braves signing of 1B/OF Craig Wilson to help make up for the loss of 1B Adam LaRoche effectively puts an end for now to Wilson's status as a full-time player, as manager Bobby Cox will use him as little more than a spot starter against lefties, a pinch hitter and bench player.

As reported earlier by, LaRoche's trade to Pittsburgh opened a spot for a veteran bat on the Braves 25-man roster. But Wilson's sluggishness in the field, poor footwork and other limited defensive skills preclude him from winning a great deal of playing time.

Wilson, 30, has punished left-handed hitting during his six-year major league career, but the fact he was passed over by New York, Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles and other American League teams needing help at first base or designated hitter betrays his reputation as a defensive liability. Worse, his lifetime batting average against right-handed pitching is a mere .262, and when given an opportunity to prove himself in New York he hit just .212 in 40 games. No wonder the Yankees didn't want him.

That leaves left-handed rookie 1B Scott Thorman as the primary candidate to play first base and hit in the lower third of the lineup on a near everyday basis, barring his complete collapse at the plate.

Wilson's career year was 2004, when he hit .264 with 29 homers in 561 at-bats. The Braves had been scouting Wilson since last year, when his glove cost him his starting job with the Pirates.