A game of shortstop musical chairs

Updated: November 20, 2011, 11:26 AM ET
By Buster Olney

Clint Barmes will be 33 years old in March, which is one of the reasons why you wouldn't usually think he'd be getting a two-year deal from the Pittsburgh Pirates, or any other team. Here are some of the other reasons:

His career on-base percentage is .302. Barmes tends to strike out a lot -- 88 times in 446 at-bats last season. He's not a big extra-base-hit guy (39 last season) despite playing his home games in Houston last year.

But there are two things that work in favor of Barmes. First, among all shortstops who played at least 700 innings at the position, he ranked fifth in UZR, and even if you acknowledge that there is no absolutely sound defensive metric, that standing for Barmes does confirm the general perception that he is pretty good at catching the ball.

And second, Barmes is a free agent at a time when there are many teams looking for a shortstop. In fact, the shortstop market is like a game of musical chairs with 10 participants and only four chairs.