Giant Infield Problems: Second Should Be First Priority
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While many articles have been written about Tim Lincecum’s start-of-season struggles, there should be even more about the problem at second base.
Since Freddy Sanchez went down last year, the Giants have had no one to fill the spot. They used Mike Fontenot, Jeff Keppinger, and Manny Burriss in the remaining games of 2011. That didn’t work.
So far this year they have used Manny Burriss, Ryan Theriot, and recently-demoted Charlie Culberson. The situation now is even worse.
Through 43 games this season, the position is hitting .186. Yes, lower than Matt Cain’s .200 average and not much better than the .122 average for all of their pitchers.
Ryan Theriot is coming back from the disabled list, so he should get more playing time in the platoon with Burriss.
But if the Giants want consistent hitting and hide this glaring weakness in the 8th spot of the lineup, that won't be good enough. The Giants need to do something different.
Since the trade market will not heat up until after the All-Star break and teams haven’t hoisted the white flag yet, very few names, if any, are on the market. The good news is Pablo Sandoval will be coming back from his injury in two to three weeks, which will free up Joaquin Arias to shift over to second base.
That would be an instant improvement, but the Giants need something better at second base for the long haul. They haven’t had an offensive masher there since Jeff Kent left for free agency following the 2002 season.
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If Arias or the platoon can somehow carry the Giants until July or August, the Giants can trade for a second baseman—but the market is very slim.
Robinson Cano, who will be a free agent with a $15 million dollar 2013 option, would be the monster shot, but the Yankees would certainly inquire about Lincecum, Bumgarner, or Cain and leave with at least a high-profile prospect as an exchange.
Kelly Johnson of the Toronto Blue Jays looks to be the only decent option, as he will be a free agent at year’s end. However, the Giants would be better off not accepting a Lincecum-for-Rios-type trade to get him. Other less significant trade possibilities will arise later in the year.
So, let’s hope Arias can take over the position, hold it steady and let Brian Sabean and the Giants brass figure out a real solution to the 2nd base problem. With a pitching staff this dominant, it's time to time to strike while the iron is hot.
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