Well, we've had our fun examining our strengths at first and second base. Unfortunately, however, the obvious progression now leads us to one of our weaknesses: shortstop.
Luckily for us, however, this is a pretty terrible position for just about everyone, so we needn't feel too bad about our post-Scutaro showing. Times are tough up the middle for MLB teams everywhere. We are not alone!
That being said, there is still some strength in the division, and with a little luck, we could find some of that in our pocket. Let's break it down.
Blue Jays: It seems we'll be getting the winners out of the way first, because nobody in the AL East has an answer to Yunel Escobar. A shrewd pick up for a Toronto team willing to overlook some makeup questions and a terrible start to 2010 in favor of his first three years in the majors, Escobar would reward their faith in 2011 with a 4.3 WAR campaign on the strength of a .290/.369/.413 line.
The rare all-around shortstop, Escobar isn't fantastic at any one thing, but brings an above average glove and above average bat to a position with so few players capable of both offense and defense. With Escobar locked up long-term for very cheap, we're likely to be grumbling about the Braves for years to come.
Rays: Sean Rodriguez isn't going to set the world on fire, but he might just be the runner up at this position depending on where his true talent level lies. On the surface, Rodriguez is a pretty typical defense-first shortstop with no real bat.
Last year, however, he seemed to improve his offensive approach despite having a down year at the plate. If he can bring everything together for 2012, and actually provide a near-average bat, that should be a pretty big boost to the Rays. By no means is he going to be an All-Star, but a solid-or-better regular? That's not much of a reach at all.
Red Sox: Losing Marco Scutaro was a pretty big hit to the Red Sox, but it's quite possible Mike Aviles will make the Fenway Faithful forget some of their pain come the regular season. We've seen Aviles abusing the wall in spring training, and he has had some very real success in years past when his oddly bipolar BABIP is high. There's no real possibility for Aviles to threaten the likes of Yunel Escobar, but there is the chance that he can get himself up to the same levels as the Rays and Yankees' options. With Nick Punto ready to fill in for defensive situations, this might not be a complete disaster.
Yankees: Oh Derek Jeter. Once New York's golden boy, he's now...well, still something of a golden boy, but one who's pretty bad for his team. While the terrible shortstop glove could once be forgiven in favor of his big offensive production, Jeter has provided only a fringe-average bat the last couple of years despite the massive price tag the Yankees agreed to.
His average bat is still worth something at the position, sure, but with limited upside at this point, it's hard to like what Jeter brings to the Yankees on the field. And no, his leadership isn't priceless.
Unfortunately, when disregarding contracts it's hard to put the Red Sox anywhere but around the cellar. Derek Jeter's bat is more proven than Aviles' (though his glove is so awful it might mitigate it completely), Sean Rodriguez' glove makes him an OK option even if the bat doesn't come around at all, and Yunel Escobar is Yunel Escobar. There's upside there, but only to the point of being competitive, which isn't really where you want your ceiling to be.
Until we see Aviles perform in real games, or actually see some real return on Marco Scutaro's money, it's going to be frustrating to look at the position knowing what we gave up.