Cactus League Will Reveal Answers for San Francisco Giants

Evan AczonSenior Analyst IFebruary 22, 2009

There is finally some closure for the Giants infield. Sort of.

Third-baseman Joe Crede has signed on for the 2009 season. With the Minnesota Twins.

Second-baseman Orlando Hudson has also signed. With the Dodgers. 

As the free agent signings continue to settle, and the rumors are becoming fact, the San Francisco infield and the rest of the lineup are getting closer to being finalized. Almost.

The signing of Crede means that the Giants will probably stay put with Pablo Sandoval at third, backed up by Rich Aurilia or Juan Uribe, depending on who impresses during Spring Training. Aurilia has been more consistent throughout his career, and his career with the Giants should give him a leg up, as should his success against left-handed pitching.

Sandoval at third means that the competition at first base is between John Bowker, last year’s starter for most of the season, and Travis Ishikawa, who impressed in his stint with the team last September. Aurilia also has the luxury of having experience at first, and can complement Bowker or Ishikawa, both left-handers.

Hudson signing with the Dodgers means a couple things for the G-men. San Francisco wasn’t a front-runner to sign Hudson, but his decision seems to solidify other things for the Giants rivals. The solidification of their infield frees up time for GM Ned Colletti to ramp up discussions with Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras.

That should finally take away the speculation around the Giants making a bid for Manny, and it’s a relief to hear that they won’t go above their one-year offer.

Although many questions have been answered, there are still a couple left out there for us to answer.

The second-base competition is still wide open. Emmanuel Burriss ended the season as the starter, and was slated to be the starter at shortstop. However, Burriss had a rough Arizona Fall League season and the Giants signed veteran Edgar Renteria.

That opens it up to Kevin Frandsen, who was the favorite before last year’s Achilles injury, and who returned as a fan favorite late last season. Eugenio Velez and Juan Uribe will also be vying for a spot in the backup role.

Also, the bullpen is very crowded. If the Giants keep an eleven-man rotation, there are a couple of locks, and the rest is wide-open competition. Brian Wilson will close, Jeremy Affeldt will help set up, and the top four starters are already set.

That leaves five spots open. Noah Lowry’s sore shoulder is a concern, and he might start the season at Triple-A. Johnathan Sanchez is probably going to get the fifth spot in the rotation barring a bad Spring Training.

Bob Howry is expected to get a spot, as should lefties Alex Hinshaw and Jack Taschner. Keiichi Yabu, Billy Sadler, and Osiris Matos headline those who pitched last year for the Giants. Veterans who were signed to minor-league deals include Ramon Ortiz, Francis Beltran, and Brandon Medders.

Spring Training should hold these answers for the Giants. Buster Posey has already shown he’s ready to go, hitting a homerun in his first appearance, but he won’t be seen in a big-league uniform until September. Look for a lot of the Giants season to shake out in the first couple weeks of the Cactus League.