What IS Marco Scutaro?

OK, raise your hand if you had Marco Scutaro in the Hottest Free Agent Shortstop pool last spring.

Nobody? Hey, me neither. But he's the winner, which leads to a few good questions posed by It's About the Money (Stupid!):

    So what IS Marco Scutaro? A top notch SS who was done in by the "super utility" whims of his prior managers, or just a good ballplayer who had a good two years? What would YOU offer him if you were a GM in need of an infielder, particularly a SS?

The only thing I'll add to the discussion is this: Scutaro should have more time in the majors than he has.

At 21, he reached Triple-A. At 22, he tore up Double-A. At 23, he posted a .362 on-base percentage in Triple-A. But Scutaro played for the Indians, and the Indians had Omar Vizquel at shortstop and Roberto Alomar at second base. So there wasn't anywhere for Scutaro to play.

Then the Brewers picked up Scutaro, but they had Jose Hernandez at shortstop and Ron Belliard at second base. Next it was the Mets, who did give Scutaro his first major-league action but didn't let him play enough to prove that he could actually play. That didn't happen until Scutaro joined the A's, who (of course) were impressed by his minor-league on-base percentages.

And then of course Scutaro didn't play well at all. In his first real major-league season (2004), he got on base just 29.7 percent of the time. To Billy Beane's credit, he gave Scutaro another shot ... and again Scutaro got on base roughly 30 percent of the time. It wasn't until Scutaro's third season with the A's -- and again, credit to Beane for persistence -- that he did essentially what he'd done in the minors.

Yes, 2009 was Scutaro's career season. And yes, it's surprising that it happened when he was 33. But hitting-wise, Scutaro's 2009 was not wildly out of character with the rest of his professional career. He won't hit as well next year, but he'll be far from terrible. He certainly can be expected to hit as well as a shortstop should hit.

Scutaro's defense is a completely different story. Sort of. As Rosenberg details, Scutaro's defensive stats have been all over the map during his career. Sometimes great (2008), sometimes awful (2006) and sometimes perfectly average (2009). On balance, though? Scutaro's defense is just good enough at just about every infield position.

What's a player like this worth? I'll bet that he gets more than most people think he's worth ... and that he'll actually be worth more than that.