The San Francisco Giants are in the thick of things again.
Six games back of the potent Dodgers in the NL West, and one-and-a-half games ahead of the pack in the NL Wild Card race.
San Francisco's opening day lineup left a lot to be desired. It sure doesn't explain where they are in July. There is, and have been some glaring holes offensively.
Travis Ishikawa's bat, the Giant's first baseman is one of those voids - or is it?
The 26-year-old lefty earned his starting spot in Spring Training. He was the club's best option defensivlely.
After the 2008 season, we were all ready to concede a little defense for scoring some much needed runs.
Travis Ishikawa had been bounced back and forth between Class-A San Jose, Double-A Connecticut, and Triple-A Fresno. His offensive numbers were never jaw-dropping.
In Spring Training, Ishikawa seemed to flourish at the plate. He drove the ball well, and even notched a multi-home run game. On Opening day he made big noise with his bat, a three-run triple in the first inning.
Just when it seemed like Travis Ishikawa had arrived, he was gone again. About six games into the young season, Ishikawa began to slip.
More than a couple Giants batters fell into the same slump. Aaron Rowand, Emmanuelle Burriss, and Fred Lewis went cold offensively alongside Ishikawa.
Over the years, first base has become a power position. Sluggers such as Mark Mcgwire, Jason Giambi, and Albert Pujols are all big, power-hitting first basemen.
Travis Ishikawa, being an unproven minor league asset, and a first baseman, put his offensive numbers under more intense scrutiny. In a position that generally produces home runs, Travis through almost two months of baseball had provided none.
San Francisco's offense began to smack of 2008's inept numbers. Ishikawa was an easy target for the fans and media alike. Giants Manager Bruce Bochy was indeed ready to send him back down to Fresno in late May.
And on the verge of finding himself back in the minors, Ishikawa homered. That was on May 25 against the Braves. Since then, Ishikawa has been steadily been improving.
Over the last 18 games, Ishikawa is hitting .262 with 5 homers and 13 RBI. His 33 games prior to May 25, a not-so dazzling .228 with 0 dingers and 12 RBI.
The big question about Travis Ishikawa, is what do you do now with him? The Giants are obligingly shopping a big bat to continue their push for a postseason appearance.
Does Ishikawa have any trade value? Even when packaged with someone like say... Jonathan Sanchez? I doubt there are many of teams with a Travis Ishikawa on their shopping list.
Should the Giants send him packing to Fresno, and move upstart Pablo Sandoval to first?
This might give the Giants some shopping options for a third baseman with pop. Does it really make sense when up-and-coming prospects (Villalona, etc.) are potential first basemen?
Or should they just let Travis play?
Ishikawa's bat is making more regular contributions while his defense is helping the pitching staff close out games.
San Francisco has a few, large-scale needs. There is a trade deadline approaching. Colorado is closing. The Dodgers are in range.
There are players they could shed. There are positions that need help. The team has obvious chemistry as is.
You are Brian Sabean, maybe even Bruce Bochy for a day: What do you do with Travis Ishikawa?