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AN INEXPENSIVE ALTERNATE SS SOLUTION


There is another alternative to the A's SS dilemma, not mentioned anywhere. Of course, that could also mean that this alternative is unavailable, for some reason . . .
Without knowing Baseball area/foreign team restrictions, the A's have a good opportunity to reach for qualified SSs during the Winter Leagues' play in Venezuela - if they can get "under the radar". It would just take a scouting/get acquainted trip to the Caracas/Valencia area. Our local publications mention four second-tier SS go-to's - Alex Gonzalez, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Theriot and Maicer Izturis - three of whom are Venezuelan. That country is famous as a seedbed of shortstops (plus, other great baseball players), though there is a particular mystique about that pivotal SS position among all kids growing up in Venezuela. For reference, there are three families of outstanding players, who could be the pointers in a search for qualified fielders in the country - that is the Aparicio, Davalillo, and Carrasquel families - these are the relatives of Hall-of-Famer Luis Aparicio, Alfonso (and Paton) Carrasquel, and Victor Davalillo - to name just the ones who stick in my memory. In fact, Vic Davalillo had a stint with the A's (1973-74) as an outfielder.
It is particularly important to keep in mind that Venezuelan players, just like Cuban players, have great national pride, and are often extremely alert, with a great deal of humorous sharpness. They can be excellent players, as long as they are not offended or put down. Otherwise, their reaction is that of playing below their capability and "closing in." That is what used to be called in Venezuela the "Indian character" reaction. And, that is one rationale for trading for a seemingly less than capable Venezuelan/Cuban player on a team where the clubhouse atmosphere is oppressive. Another characteristic to keep in mind is that in the Caribbean area, baseball is not a business so much as a passion. That is why, with good management, a team can get more dedication and achievements from a - specially - Cuban or Venezuelan player than from other ones, for whom baseball is "business as usual."
A curious aspect of Venezuelan players is that they often double up roles - particularly as pitchers. (Of course, that is also typical to American HS play!). That was the case for Vic Davalillo, who was converted to an outfielder in the Majors because of his short stature, though kept being regarded as a pitcher in Venezuela. At this point, that is also the case of one of A's possible SS trade targets - Asdrubal Cabrera, who is going down to Venezuela in December, to play for the Lions of Caracas Club as a pitcher! (On the other hand, the Izturis brothers, Cesar and Maicer, have dedicated themselves to batting and infield exclusively). Of course, that is only an indication that pitchers are arguably the best overall athletes on a baseball team (with SSs coming in as close seconds, I believe).
Most of this information is readily available from the Venezuelan press on the I-Net, though my attention is riveted to that area because I happened to grow up there. However, for anyone interested, a general listing of all Venezuelan publications could be found at <http: www.zonalatina.com/zlpapers.htm>.

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