Outside the box? Freeman at 3B would be outside the brain

Freddie Freeman ponders life at the Hot Corner. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

I’m all for creativity. (Not that I possess any, but I support it as a concept.) Sometimes the best ideas are indeed the zaniest.

Like Isaac Newton getting bonked on the head by an apple and going, “Whoa! Gravity!” Like Brandon Tartikoff writing “MTV cops” on a napkin and winding up with “Miami Vice,” the one with Don Johnson and pastels and Phil Collins. Like Kyle Shanahan saying, “We’re up 25. Let’s keep throwing!”

(OK, bad example. Sorry.)

The Atlanta Braves are as creative as all get-out. I say that with the utmost admiration … or I least I did until Tuesday night, when word spread that the Braves, in the effort to keep Matt Adams’ bat in the lineup when Freddie Freeman returns, are willing to consider all possibilities, including — pause for emphasis — the notion of Freeman moving to third base.

As I understand it, Freddie at the Hot Corner isn’t Plan A or even Plan W. It is, however, something the Braves aren’t yet willing to rule out. Today I offer this piece of advice: Rule it out. Don’t wait even a nanosecond. Stuff that idea in yonder trashcan, never to be voiced again.

A few notes: Freeman is among the very best position players in baseball; him shifting to third base would mean him playing a position he has never played in the majors; over six big-league seasons, Adams has a career WAR of 5.1, which is less than Freeman mustered in 2016 alone, and — this above all — this same Adams was just traded for Juan Yepez.

It would be great if there was a way to fit both into a National League batting order. There’s not. Adams cannot play anywhere but first base, which belongs to Freeman. You can try Adams in the outfield — the Cardinals did for six games, right before trading him for Juan Yepez — but you’re looking at Evan Gattis all over again, with this difference: Gattis had an arm. There’s a reason Adams is playing the position on the diamond that requires the least amount of throwing. He’s terrible at it.

Is Adams having a great month? Yes. Has he been better than the Braves could have dreamed? Absolutely. But he’s still Matt Adams, who lost his job in St. Louis to Matt Carpenter and who’s a career .215 hitter against left-handers. He’s not Miguel Cabrera. He’s not Freddie Freeman, either.

Old-timers will recall the 1975 Cincinnati Reds moving the 1973 National League MVP Pete Rose from left field to third base to make room for George Foster, who would be the 1977 NL MVP, and proceeding to win 70 of their next 100 games. But that was Pete Rose, who’d come up as a second baseman and could play pretty much anywhere. (That was also the majestic Big Red Machine at its absolute zenith.) Adams is a nice hitter, but he’s not Pete Rose.

But the point isn’t so much Adams. It’s Freeman. He’s the franchise. You don’t mess with the franchise. (You also don’t pay so little heed to the importance of defense. Check out last night’s comedic eighth inning — an Adams throwing error included — for evidentiary backing.) You don’t take a great hitter and render him uncomfortable. You keep him where he is and let him hit. (You don’t see the Angels saying, “What if we move Trout to catcher?”, do you?)

I understand that Adams’ good month has made this a talking point. (Heck, I addressed it just the other day.) But he’s not the franchise. He’s a professional hitter having a big month. (Fun fact: Troy Glaus, professional hitter, was the NL player of the month for these Braves in May 2010. He played his final big-league game that October.) It’d be nice if there was a workaround. Unless the Braves move to the American League, there just isn’t.

From “This Is Spinal Tap”: “It’s such a fine line between stupid and … uh, clever.” The point being: It’s not a fine line at all; it’s as broad as the Downtown Connector. I can’t imagine any way the Braves would choose to play Freddie Freeman at third base. Because Freddie at third would be …

Uh, not clever. The other thing.

Reader Comments 0

19 comments
sea8491
sea8491

Because the Braves draft high tier pitching and lower tier hitters, can the Braves at  least try to keep Adams, who is a good hitter and a clutch hitter?  And oh by the way, Adams wants to be a Brave?

patriotdog
patriotdog

On a team so desperate for major league quality pitching, especially relievers, the idea of NOT using Adams' great month to trade him to acquire that pitching is almost...almost...as absurd as moving FF to 3rd.

Zing
Zing

Mark.... you're right.  Hate to say it.  (J/k).  However, this is GOOD for the Braves - they can sell Adams EXTREMELY high.  Or, if they like what they see and think it is for real and want to keep him and try the outfield experiment - not a bad idea at all - they can trade Markakis or Kemp (probably the former), who both have decent trade value right now - and go all-in for the rest of the year with him in LF and see how it goes.  Any which way you look at it, this is only good for the Braves.

Brave44
Brave44

Let FF play third. First, as far as baseball goes 3rd base is higher on the baseball tier. Second, with his talent he just might have a greater love for the game. And third, he would have something to judge himself against a close friend. Should Matt Adams falter, hey Freddie mind going back to first. Freddie can't lose.

George911
George911

How about letting things unfold and see what happens. It'll be obvious what they should do.

JeffCriswell
JeffCriswell

Yes, great points. Hopefully someone in the Braves' camp is listening. FF is a fabulous player and you are risking his future to move him to 3rd; different game over there and our man has already shown a tendency for injury. 

AKBravesFan98
AKBravesFan98

Mark, You got that one absolutely spot-on right! No one should be considering moving Freddy! Period.

RonMexico
RonMexico

Adams and Phillips will bring very nice returns from contenders looking for one or two more pieces. No point in keeping either around unless the Braves go on a 15-game winning streak starting tonight. 

They've both been great for us, but neither is in the team's long-term plans. They're assets, pure and simple. 

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

I like Adams but probably so do some contenders in need of left handed power at first or as a DH. The Braves have been good for Adams as a place to showcase that he is an every day player. They should strike while he has value and get something back. Once Freeman returns, there is no option of playing both with any consistency.


I also trust that Braves Management sees more than I do, and will focus on the teams long term picture. If they can get some young outfield power or more pitching, they will.

jchris57
jchris57

Seeing Freeman's arm all wrapped up reminded me of another great Braves hitter. I never understood why the Braves left Bob Horner at 3rd after he hurt his wrist diving for ground balls. 

Jay Ko
Jay Ko

landmark day, mb had a coherent thought and printed it.  it's as noteworthy as phoenix becoming hell's waiting room.

Bnealed
Bnealed

I say, let Freddie manage, coach first, and also play catcher

Bravezilian
Bravezilian

Seriously. Freeman will be around hopefully for at least another decade. Keep him at first, and don't worry about that position...


Meanwhile, we have options at third. Camargo is on a roll, Ruiz is improving, Maitan, Riley, Demeritte and Albies are all developing as infielders... Most of them could play third base.


Adams is not in the Braves long-term plans. He's an American League player. Don't rock the boat to accommodate him for a few months.

hardworkinman
hardworkinman

And Adams has never had Kevin Seitzer as a hitting coach. I've been watching basedball for nearly fifty years. Adams can hit - plain and simple. And, he's a left handed power hitter. You're not going to get an equivalent power prospect for him in a trade. Find a way to keep him and play him.

RonMexico
RonMexico

@hardworkinman See Mark's comment re: Troy Glaus. Trust the empirical data from his entire career, not from one month in a no-pressure situation.

Adams is on a nice hot streak, but this is not who he is. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Adams likely a cheap option for the Yankees at the trade deadline to play 1B . Better option for the Yanks , maybe even for the long term. Adams should be a lock for 30 HR with the short porch in RF in Yankee Stadium. Maybe throw in Garcia and make a big deal , Of Clint Frazier , Inf Tyler Wade or OF Dustin Fowler any combination of two of the three. All of these prospects in AAA and ready to join the Braves MLB roster.Just a thought , but this would provide the Braves with younger players and add depth to the roster.

UWreckMeBaby
UWreckMeBaby

Thanks Matt, you've been great, maybe the Bravos keep the rest of the season for insurance at 1B and to pinch hit.  Not about to take Camargo off 3B to make room for M. Adams anyway. Camargo has been hot, and he's got a cannon for an arm! Plus he's cheap for a few years!