Conor Gillaspie: Get to Know the New San Francisco Giant Third Baseman
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Unfortunately for the Giants, Sandoval is one of a handful of All Star-level players that the team simply cannot afford to lose—a list that also includes Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum.
We know that the Giants have two well-above-average position players in Posey and Sandoval. With Sandoval on the shelf for at least a month, the Giants are down to one.
This isn't to say that Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, Brandon Belt or someone else cannot emerge as an above-average player this season. Cabrera had an excellent season last year and Pagan was very good in 2010.
However, the rest of the Giants' offense consists of players with virtually no major league track records at all in cases of Belt, Brandon Crawford, Brett Pill, Conor Gillaspie and Hector Sanchez. Gillaspie was recalled Thursday to replace Sandoval.
Other Giants have had very inconsistent Major League careers, such as Cabrera, Pagan, Nate Schierholtz, Gregor Blanco, Joaquin Arias, Aubrey Huff and Ryan Theriot.
Thus, it is very difficult to hang your hat on anyone else besides Posey and Sandoval performing at a high level for the Giants this season.
What can be expected of Gillaspie, the Giants' supplemental first round draft pick from Wichita State University in the 2008 drafted that also netted the Giants Buster Posey?
Gillaspie is a perfectly adequate replacement player to have stashed away at Triple A Fresno. He would have been on the big league team to begin with if he had more positional versatility. However, because he is limited to third base, he lacks the utility of being able to play the middle of the diamond to stick on the roster as a back-up infielder.
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Gillaspie, 24, was tearing up Fresno, hitting a robust .362/.417/.521 with nine extra-base hits, including three home runs in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. In 1,782 minor league plate appearances, he has hit a combined .293/.364/.420.
Gillaspie has a good enough bat, glove and control of the strike zone to compete at the big league level. However, with just 26 career minor league big flies, he lacks the power to stick as an everyday player at a corner infield position, at least on a team with aspirations for playoff contention.
The Giants could do a lot worse than Gillaspie at the hot corner with Sandoval injured. Just take a look at the third base situation across the bay with Scott Sizemore out for the season. A's third basemen are hitting an ungodly .129 so far this season.
Gillaspie should be able to provide the Giants with at least the league average line of .249/.313/.398 at the hot corner for the next month.
Don't fault Brian Sabean and the Giants front office for not having a back-up plan in the case of an injury to Sandoval. Gillaspie is a perfectly adequate fill-in. Instead, fault them for the question marks and mediocrity around the rest of the diamond.
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