Musical Chairs

Last off-season Michael Young wasn’t too happy about moving to third base. That marked the second time in five years that Young move around the infield for the Texas Rangers. Well if you thought that was a big deal, check out the defense for the San Francisco Giants in just the past two months.

The field started off like this:

C- Buster Posey

1B- Travis Ishikawa

2B- Freddy Sanchez

SS- Edgar Renteria

3B- Pablo Sandoval

LF- Fred Lewis

CF- Aaron Rowand

RF- Nate Schierholtz

At this point the Giants were linked to rumors about Dan Uggla. This idea had Freddy Sanchez ready to move to third base which was his spot when he broke in with the Pirates. Sandoval would have moved to first where he will likely end up anyway. Those rumors never seemed to progress very well and GM Brian Sabean turned his attention back to first base. Adam LaRoche was linked to the team but his lofty contract demands turned Sabean’s attention to others on the market, and the defense was still set as is.

Then a flurry of moves started the musical chairs that is the Giants’ infield. Mark DeRosa was signed to potentially play third base. Infielder Juan Uribe was brought back and his late season push of 2009 may have given him the inside path to third, pushing Mark DeRosa to the outfield. Either way, Sandoval will now be their first baseman… Nope.

Sunday night the team came to an agreement with lefty Aubrey Huff. In his early days Huff played third base for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when they were still bottom feeders in the AL East. Now don’t let that fool you. He has since moved on to more of a first base/DH role. Though it’s only a $3M deal, Huff will man first base.

Everything finally appears set with Sandoval moving back to third base where he will, for at least one more year, display his “Kung Fu Panda” skills at the hot corner. Utility man Mark DeRosa will play left and Fred Lewis will battle Nate Schierholtz for the right field job. Ishikawa and Uribe have been moved to the bench but something tells me that Bochy will have a few different lineups this year given the versatility of DeRosa, Sanchez, Uribe and Sandoval.

When the dust settles on this renovation project the Giants will come away with the feeling of pride that they atleast did something, but was it enough? In the powerful NL West it will take big strides to move past the Dodgers and Rockies. Bruce Bochy’s lineup is not built around his stadium which calls for either speed to take advantage of the gaps or power to at least drive the ball far enough into those gaps. The Giants finished 27th in extra base hits and that number won’t rise too much with these middle-of-the-road transactions. The Giants will still be adding another catcher this off-season (meaning the musical chairs aren’t done just yet) but there are no impact bats left in that market. The pitching staff will have a tough challenge ahead of them next season in keeping the scores low out west.

2 Comments

I honestly think the Giants moved to sign LaRoche and then Huff because they wanted to keep Sandoval at third base. DeRosa is better in the outfield than the infield. And he’s also a better fit for right field than Lewis would be, who is a butcher anywhere except left field. Really, the only shuffling that’s gone on is pushing the Velez/Torres platoon and Ishikawa to the bench in favor of DeRosa and Huff.

The Giants only had two truly competent baserunners in 2009: Randy Winn and Andres Torres. Trying to reconstruct the offense for speed and hitting for average would indeed be best for this team, but you won’t see payroll flexibility for that incarnation of “Giants’ Way” until Rowand and Zito’s contracts expire. These moves are more reflective of short term efforts to keep the ballclub competitive so that they can convince their best assets – Sandoval, Lincecum, and Cain – to stay in San Francisco when free agency rolls around.

I expect the Giants to switch more to speed and gap hitting, and swing back towards defense, as their large crop of position player prospects bubble up from AAA over the next 2-3 seasons.

I think that The Giants need to build around The Kung Fu
Panda.. I like the Aubrey Huff Move as He’ll hit 25-30 homers
at AT&T Park. I think that they should sign Ex-Cardinal Outfielder Rick Ankiel as he would be a player to put them over
The top. I heard from many Giants sources that Catcher Yorvit
Torrealba would be signed this week end in Venezuela. I like
local bay area resident Eric Byrnes as a minor league free agent.

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