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Ryan Theriot won a World Series ring with the Cardinals
The way I see it, the Giants will carry 12 pitchers, leaving five open spots for reserves. One is a backup catcher and Brandon Belt has one of the other spots. This leaves three roster spots available, two of which I expect to be filled with middle-infield backups.
The three main candidates for those two jobs are Mike Fontenot, Emmanuel Burriss and Ryan Theriot.
Fontenot sticks because he can play second, short and third base. He is also a better overall hitter than Burriss. Although Fontenot only hit .227 last season, his OBP was .312. He hit four home runs and had 21 RBI and five steals in 220 at-bats.
Fontenot's career averages are much better, however. He has a career batting average of .263 and an OBP of .332. He also has a little pop from time to time, as his .406 SLG suggests.
Burriss is the fastest of the three, but just an average fielder. His offense is predicated around his speed, but the problem is he has trouble getting on base and has absolutely no pop in his bat.
In 2011, Burriss hit only .204 with an OBP of .253 in 137 at-bats.He had no home runs and only four RBI, but did have 11 steals.
For his entire career, which spans 651 plate appearances, Burris has only one home run and 35 RBI. Burriss is out of options, however, so if the Giants do not keep him on the roster, he could be claimed by another team.
The Giants' acquisition of Ryan Theriot was an outstanding move. He gives them a right handed bat that can spell Crawford against tougher left handed pitchers. Theriot is a seven-year veteran and has played both shortstop and second base on a regular basis.
In 2011, Theriot hit .271 with one home run and 47 RBI in 442 at-bats. He has a career batting average of .282 with an OBP of .344. Although Theriot is not as good a fielder as Crawford, he is competent.
In my opinion, the decision is simple. The Giants need to keep Theriot and Fontenot. They are proven big league players and will be able to help the Giants a lot more than Burriss.
My feeling is that Burriss simply has never shown the ability to hit at the major league level. His fielding is only average and the only real asset he brings is his speed. He's the ideal September call-up who can come in and pinch run, however, he is not someone you can play regularity.
The Giants could lose Burriss, but if that happens, so be it. With Joe Panik expected to rise quickly through the Giants' minor league system, losing Burriss is not something the Giants should worry about.