Friday, January 7, 2011

Hot Stove: The Giants Backup Short Stop Question

The Giants last real need on the roster is some starting pitching depth in the high minors and a short stop to back up Miguel Tejada should he come down with a case of the olds and disintegrates in front of our eyes.

I went over the "6th starter" options in a post a couple days ago and now it is time to look at the backup short stop.

The in house options for this are a little better then what it was for the 6th starter.

Mike Fontenot: Fontenot is already on the team as a backup infielder, he is not a shortstop by trade but he could make a start in a pinch (13 career games at short). His offense isn't spectacular but it is at least major league caliber and he did have a break out year in 2008 with the Cubs where he hit .305/ .395/ .514 which if it came around again would get him an everyday job.

Mark DeRosa: DeRosa is a big money guy without a position home right now. He will likely be the Super Utility guy who is used to give off days to guys but again in a pinch could make some starts at short stop where he has 139 career games. The only issue is that he hasn't played there since 2008 and with any regularity since the early 00's. I doubt that he could give passable defense there everyday which would make me inclined to have him as a plan B, then there is also the question marks about whether he will be able to hit after wrist surgery. I will hope for the best but or first real sense of how things go will come in Spring Training.

Emmanuel Burriss: Burriss has been unlucky with the injuries the last couple seasons that have hurt his development since he won the starting 2B job out of Spring Training in 2009. Burris is still young turning 26 in a couple of weeks but has question marks about his defense and hitting, his 2008 stint with the Giants was decent .283/ .357/ .329 but 2009 was pretty bad .238/ .292/ .267. His defense is also not highly regarded. Zips has him at .264/ .314/ .314 with an OPS+ of 70, so not exactly exciting.

Brandon Crawford: Crawford is a glove first type short stop who is not likely to hit at the major league level. He would be a black hole of outs not seen since the days of Brian Bocock. If this were the Yankees or Red Sox and the team was stacked at every position offensively they could get away with a player like Crawford but that is just not the case. So Crawford needs to hit to get to the majors with the Giants and I am skeptical that it will happen.

The outside options:

Orlando Cabrera: Cabrera is in the decline side of his career and is coming off his worst offensive seasons to date. His defense is still rated pretty good with a UZR of 4.5 over the last 3 seasons. That being said he isn't much of an upgrade over the in house option of Emmanual Burris who is in his late 20's instead of late 30's.

Bobby Crosby: Crosby is a long way from his early Oakland years where he was an interesting hitter. Since 2006 he has hovered around the Mendoza Line never hitting above .238 or getting an OBP to the .300 mark. I would like to pass on Crosby.

Cristian Guzman: Guzman is another blah candidate that is not better then the in house options. The career .271/ .307/ .383 line is pretty ugly especially for a backup short stop who is not an excellent defender. I say pass here too.

Julio Lugo: Lugo in 2009 was pretty good hitting middle infielder hitting .280/ .352/ .405 the only issue is that he was absolutely putrid in the field giving back all of his value. He then turned around and had a dismal showing offensively in 2010. Lugo could be an ok option as a backup as long as the team is willing to put up with some below average defense.

Augie Ojeda: Ojeda has a couple things about him that I find appealing. First he has a very good walk rate, his career rate is 9.6% and that is nearly equal to his strike out rate that is 10.8% so even if he isn't getting hits he still does an ok job of getting on base. Second his defense is pretty good and that is always a plus. I think that he could be a cheap option that wouldn't be a bad choice. The walks tickle my fancy but everything else is pretty underwhelming.

Nick Punto: Punto isn't a true shortstop but he could play there with probably above average defense. The question is with his bat (that seems to be the question with every short stop) where he is not a great hitter. If he was signed it wouldn't be the end of the world but he isn't a clear upgrade over the in house options in my opinion.


The Giants options should Miguel Tejada get hurt or fall off the cliff like Randy Winn is like picking through a pile of poop and saying this one is better because it has a few less chunks of corn in it. Basically the options all kind of suck.

This is more then anything a reflection of the general lack of depth at short stop through out the major leagues.

Do the Giants have to go out and get a guy? Of course not.

Could the Giants be in a tough spot if they don't and the in house option is a flaming pile of poop? Yes but then again one of the guys they go after could turn into the same thing. There is no good option here. If it was my team I would try to get a guy that I can stash in Fresno as insurance but that is just me.

What is likely to happen is that the Giants will hope that Miguel Tejada doesn't break down or suddenly stops hitting but they should still plan for the worst.

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