Revisting Preseason Predictions-Then and Now: Infield

Evan Aczon@TwoSeamGripeSenior Analyst IMay 8, 2008

Position    Wanted Starter        Actual Starter        Current Starter

1B            D. Ortmeier            R. Aurilia                R. Aurilia
2B            R. Durham             R. Durham              R. Durham
SS            J. Castillo               B. Bocock                Bocock/Burriss
3B            R. Aurilia                R. Aurilia                R. Aurilia
C              B. Molina                B. Molina                B. Molina


1B: Rich Aurilia has been looking like his old self lately, and is slowly moving up the Giants record books. He is currently in the top ten in games (8th), hits (8th), doubles (9th), and at bats (10th). It's easy to forget that he came up with the Giants, posting a nine year tenure from 1995-2003. His monster year in 2001, which I touched on in the season preview, was obviously overshadowed, but he had over 200 hits, hitting .324 while adding 37 homeruns. At the beginning of the season I wanted Aurilia at third and Dan Ortmeier at first, but Dan still hasn't proven to be the hitter he could be. Aurilia is still the solid choice, with Ortmeier and John Bowker, another converted outfielder, good to spell him once in a while. Most importantly, like I said before, "Aurilia will do what Ryan Klesko could not last year, and that's be a veteran on a ball-club who will know his place as a role-player." He's done just that, and the Giants front office is appreciating that every day he plays.

2B: The jury's still out on Ray Durham. I said he should be traded, then I changed my mind, but now I can't remember why. There's just something missing there. Eugenio Velez just doesn't produce enough to play every day, so I'm really missing Kevin Frandsen right now. The Giants haven't had production out of this spot since Jeff Kent left, and quite frankly, not many other teams have either. Where are all the second basemen?

3B: Jose Castillo might not be showing it with his .246 average, but the Giants had virtually no options here at the beginning of the season. Castillo is no longer just a stopgap, but has recovered, at least partway, the form he had back in 2005-2006. He's a solid player, playing more games than anyone else on the team. The speed here is key. The Giants have hit nine triples this year already, compared with eight from last year. It just seems that players like Castillo and Velez are adding so much with their speed. I still think Brandon Inge would have fit in well with the team, moving Castillo to SS or 2B.

SS: I'll put this out there again: Brian Bocock is not ready to be a Major League shortstop. I'm sorry, Brian, but hitting .143 with 29 strikeouts means you're not ready. He does lead the team in sacrifice bunts, but not much else. I really like Emmanuel Burriss. He's a scrappy ball player and I like his style. WIth Vizquel coming back from the DL soon, I'd much rather see Burriss every few days than Bocock. Send him to triple-A, let him get some at-bats, and then bring him back up. Like they said, he's got the glove, but there's no designated fielder in baseball. I'm also looking forward to Vizquel's return. He brings another relaxed veteran who also has the knack for when to play around. Having him and Brian WIlson in on the same joke could lead to some crazy antics.

C: Bengie Molina. Clutch. They just go together. He's hitting .295, 4 HRs, with a .357 average when runners are in scoring position. He's leading the team in RBIs on a team that needs every one. But the thing about Molina is he's always quiet about it. He's the first to say that he's just doing his job, trying to make his team better, and I love that about him. Steve Holm isn't that bad, and it seems that the Giants have a bunch of old professional catchers in their system. Oh, and shame on Eliezer Alfonzo. I see that the Giants are helping him with "counseling," but after everything the Giants have had to go through, they should just cut all ties with players who have been caught with performance-enhancing drugs. 

Defense: The infield has made a few errors this year, but being young and inexperienced, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Castillo has a few but he's playing out of position,  Velez is still a raw fielder, Ortmeier and Bowker are learning. Vizquel is still a wizard, and he'll lower that total when he gets back. Aurilia just knows his way with a glove, and I like that. 


Offense: Pretty much as expected. None on the infield are hitting near .300, none of them have more than five homeruns, but they have been getting on base. I really like how all these young guys have been getting their first Major League RBI, first hit, first homer, all those things. Its the beginning of an age. Having the mix of these kids and people like Aurilia and Vizquel is great, and even if they don't win, the Giants will be fun to watch.