Defensively, I mean. However, he meets a minimum standard of competence. He catches the ball when it’s thrown to him. That doesn’t seem like much, but like I said it meets the minimum standard.
First base is an odd position in that it’s where you stick the unathletic hitters, but at the same time a really bad defensive player is going to make you totally miserable. They don’t have to be good, but they have to catch the ball when it’s thrown to them — an activity that isn’t the major part of the job description for anyone else but catchers.
Remember Ken Caminiti? The Braves tried him at first base at the end of his career, and he made six errors in 33 games. Over the course of a full season, that would have been about thirty errors. Throw in the errors charged to the other infielders, and you see the problem.
Brian Jordan has played 19 innings at first and looked awful; he’s only been charged with one error but could have several more. Jordan was a terrific defensive outfielder, is a good athlete, and works harder than anyone. If he can’t make it at first base with all of spring training to work at it, what makes anyone think that someone can just pick it up as he goes along?
Moving Chipper across the infield, with no experience at first base, or moving Betemit there, seems likely to be a disaster. I think Chipper should move, but on-the-job training during the season will cost the Braves games, and the difference between Betemit and LaRoche as hitters just isn’t enough to make it worth it.