San Francisco Giants: With Sandoval Out, Duvall Should Be in

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San Francisco Giants: With Sandoval Out, Duvall Should Be in
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Pablo Sandoval will miss at least the next two weeks.

With San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval due to miss what could be a significant chunk of time, via the San Jose Mercury News, the Giants need to make a bold move to bolster their offense.

According to Giants President and CEO Larry Baer, third baseman Pablo Sandoval has a hairline fracture in his foot.  

Meanwhile, the Giants are disputing Baer’s statement, saying that the portly third baseman’s injury is just a strain.

Either way, Sandoval is on the disabled list and will miss at least the next two weeks. Forget about whether or not the conflicting reports are a sign of things to come. Forget about whether Sandoval’s injury is the result of carrying excess weight.

The most important thing at this very moment is what the Giants must do to replace the jovial slugger in the lineup.

With the team on the road for six more games against two tough opponents—the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves—Joaquin Arias and Nick Noonan aren’t going to cut it. This stretch of games could possibly decide whether or not the Giants—who are 33-29, two games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks—are in the playoff race come August and September.

Now is the time for the Giants to do something bold, which is not something they have been wont to do in the past. In 2011, Rookie of the Year catcher Buster Posey sustained a season-ending injury in May. The Giants decided to go with a tandem of Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart to replace their most important hitter while the club lost precious ground in the standings. When they acquired Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline, it was too late.

That can’t happen again. Although it is still unknown how long Sandoval will be out, the Giants must not play the waiting game. If they want to stay within striking distance, they need to make a bold move.

They need to call up Adam Duvall.

Duvall was selected in the 11th round of the 2010 draft. In his first full season, the powerful third baseman launched 22 home runs for the Augusta GreenJackets. He struck out 98 times in 431 at-bats, which is not horrible for a young power hitter. His on-base percentage was a nice .385, showing his willingness to take a walk.

In 2012, Duvall played in High-A San Jose. While his power numbers increased (30 home runs), so did his strikeout rate (116 K’s in 534 at-bats). Duvall’s OBP dropped to .327 that season, suggesting that he might need a little more seasoning in the lower minors.

Still, the Giants decided to promote the 24-year-old to Double-A Richmond for the 2013 season. Through 111 at-bats, the righty is hitting an impressive .315 with an even better .382 OBP. He’s struck out far less frequently than he has in the past (14.6 K% in 2013 compared to a 19.4 K% in 2012), which is impressive considering the fact that Double-A is widely regarded as the hardest level to hit in.

Duvall has only launched six home runs thus far, but that most likely is a consequence of his new-found discipline at the plate. With a massive .662 slugging percentage—the highest it has ever been in his career—Duvall obviously hasn’t lost his ability to hit for power.

The biggest question surrounding Duvall is his ability to play third base. Over his three seasons in the minors, the Giants have tried the slugger at third, second and first base. This year, Duvall has played third base exclusively. In 27 games, he has compiled an ugly .914 fielding percentage while committing six errors. In 2012, Duvall played 117 games at third and wound up with 29 errors and a .918 fielding percentage.

He obviously has lots of work to do defensively. But the Giants need someone to fill Sandoval’s shoes in the batter's box, and Duvall is the only player in the minor league system capable of doing that.

If the Giants were to call up Duvall, they would have to clear a space on the 40-man roster. To do so, they could waive either utility infielder Tony Abreu or minor league shortstop Ehire Adrianza. Abreu, who owns a career batting average of .250 in the major leagues, has only played two games with the Giants this season. Adrianza, known strictly as a defensive player, is currently hitting .225 in Richmond.

Both players would stand a decent chance of passing through waivers, allowing them to be optioned to the minor leagues and removing them from the 40-man roster. Still, if Abreu or Adrianza was to be claimed by another club, it would not be a major loss to the Giants.

Regardless of how they decide to make the roster alteration, the Giants need to do something to improve the club while Sandoval is on the disabled list. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle suggests that the Giants will make no such move.

But now is not the time for the Giants to make excuses. They should look around the league and realize that more and more teams are bringing up their top prospects. In many cases, those prospects are paying immediate dividends.

The Los Angeles Dodgers brought up phenom Yasiel Puig, and he has done nothing but rake. The Seattle Mariners called up Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino. The Pirates, who the Giants are facing tonight, summoned Gerrit Cole to make his big league debut.

We all know what Arias, Noonan and Abreu have to offer. They are decent backups and nothing more. But if the Giants want to stay afloat while Sandoval misses significant time, they need to do something bold.

They need to call up Adam Duvall.

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