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Article:2008 AL Team of the Future: Infield

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RULES - I will assemble a team of players to build the best team for the next five years. - Salaries are not a factor. - Whether or not the player will play for a major league team all five years or start for them is not a factor; therefore, i can select minor leaguers who may not be in the majors for two more years if I feel they are the best player to have. They will be starters on my team. - The players do not have to be a certain age. Although, selecting Jim Thome may be a bad move because he would more than likely retire or fade very quickly.

First Base: Daric Barton

In 84 MLB plate appearances last season, Barton hit .347/.429/.639. Barton has never had HR power in the minors, so it would be a stretch to expect many more than 15 HRs in a full season, but his OBP has stayed in the .380+ in the minors. At 22-years-old, Barton would be a strong pick as an on-base machine. The other candidates are either past their prime age (Carlos Pena), lacking as big of an upside (Kevin Youkilis, Casey Kotchman), or riding a potentially fluke season (Justin Morneau).

Second Base: Robinson Cano

This was a relatively easy selection, even with the great talents of Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler at second base. Cano's strength is not in his bat but rather in his defense. He had a truly spectacular year in 2007 in the field, showing awesome range. None of the other second baseman can match him defensively, and Cano is not a slouch at the plate either, hitting .342 in 2006. Brian Roberts, at 30-years-old, is too old to rise above the others.

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez

This used to be the easiest pick in the book, but no longer. Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria are just as legitimate a pick. Clearly, Cabrera has the experience, but Longoria hit .307/.403/.528 last season in AA, not to mention outstanding defense. Still, A-Rod is coming off of a 54-homer season and still can play around league average defensively. For at least one more season, this honor goes to Rodriguez.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta

After looking like an offensive flop in 2006, Peralta rebounded some in 2007 to be an asset at the plate. His defense, on the other hand, has not wavered from Gold-Glove-caliber play. There are really no other serious competitors for this position, with Carlos Guillen and Derek Jeter past their prime and Guillen shifting positions. Brandon Wood and Asdrubal Cabrera are talented youngsters, but they both have their own defensive and offensive struggles to take care of first.

Catcher: Joe Mauer

Since Mauer has come into the league, Victor Martinez has been Mauer's only competition at catcher, but he has never really been in the same league as a complete player. With superb defense and such a big bat at such a non-offensive position, Mauer is arguable the most valuable asset for any team to have over the next five seasons.

Also appears at timmorelandonline.

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