SF Giants: Matt Downs Got an Extended Look, Why Didn't Kevin Frandsen?

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJuly 22, 2009

PHOENIX - JUNE 11:  Kevin Frandsen #19 of the San Francisco Giants at bat during the major league baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 11, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 2-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

With the San Francisco Giants no longer the Wild Card leaders, the chances that they can recapture their first-half magic and make the playoffs are starting to dwindle.

But one of the main reasons the Giants have started to slip in the standings is because they have had a revolving door at second base.

However, in order to take a good long look at the difficulties the Giants have had with getting consistent play at the position, it is important to start from the beginning.

During the offseason prior to the 2009 regular season, many believed the Giants' young stud Emmanuel Burriss would be the team's everyday shortstop.

And the reason many believed this to be true is because, well, the words came directly out of Brian Sabean's mouth: "Emmanuel Burriss will be the Giants' everyday shortstop in 2009."

But unfortunately for Giants fans (and this is a big unfortunately), Sabean overreacted to Burriss' poor play during Winter Ball and decided to sign a free-agent shortstop.

Deemed as a way to "improve" the offense, Sabean grossly overpaid for soon-to-be 34-year-old Edgar Renteria. The Giants signed the former Cardinal to a two-year, $18 million deal, despite the fact that he was coming off the worst season of his career with the Detroit Tigers.

With Renteria's signing, the second base position became a three-way race during spring training between Burriss, Kevin Frandsen, and Eugenio Velez.

Velez quickly fizzled out of the race, but even though Frandsen and Burriss split time at second base almost 50/50 during the spring, Burriss' offensive numbers were clearly better than Frandsen, and the former everyday shortstop deservingly won the spot.

For the first two months of the season, Burriss was hot and cold, with the bat and hit both high and low in the lineup. But by the end of May, Burriss was hitting a respectable .277 with 11 stolen bases.

But when Burriss fell into an 0-for-24 slump during June, the Giants decided to send him down to Triple-A Fresno in order for him to fix his swing.

Replacing Burriss should have been Frandsen, but through a weird rule Frandsen wasn't yet eligible to return to the big club.

Therefore, the relatively unknown Matt Downs came up to take over the starting second base duties.

In mid-June, Downs started in six games in a row and in nine games total, batting .194/.302/.306. It was rather obvious that Downs was not the answer to the Giants' second base woes.

But with Downs' struggles, Frandsen was recalled for the month of July and sat on the bench, as Juan Uribe started to receive consistent playing time at second base.

And for two to three weeks during July, Uribe was performing quite admirably as the everyday second baseman, and Frandsen was left as a utility infielder.

However, Uribe has recently fallen into a mini slump, and it appears he will be returning to a pinch-hit role off the bench.

Therefore, it would seem like it's finally time to see Frandsen get a week's worth of starts to see if he truly can be "the guy" at second base for the Giants.

But unfortunately for Giants fans, Sabean decided to send Frandsen back down to Triple-A for what seems like the 50th time in his career, and recalled Downs.

In all fairness, as much as I am an admitted Frandsen fan, the Giants' middle infielder had not been playing up to his capabilities and his on-field play the last few games was not deserving of more playing time.

However, despite an egregious error in Atlanta that cost the Giants two outs, Frandsen seemed to be coming around with the bat.

The middle infielder had three hits in his last six at-bats, including a rocket-double down the right field line in the series finale victory against the Pirates.

This was clearly the time to see if the Frandsen from the second half of 2007 was a fluke or the real deal, but apparently Sabean and Bruce Bochy didn't agree. 

Granted, Frandsen was hitting just .128 this season, but he had not been given an adequate opportunity. With just 39 At-bats on the season, he hasn't had nearly enough plate appearances on a daily basis in order to tell his true capabilities.

For the season, Frandsen has played in 16 games to Downs' 13, yet Downs already has 40 at-bats, one more than Frandsen.

Clearly, Downs has gotten a more significant look than Frandsen despite having zero Major League experience.

And even though Frandsen hit over .330 at the big league level during the last two months of the 2007 season, Frandsen has gotten less of a look as a starter this season than a career minor leaguer?

That just doesn't make sense.

So far this year, Frandsen has started no more than four games in a row, and during those four games, he was hitting line drive after line drive with nothing to show for it.

Why he was sent down at this point in the season is absolutely beyond me, because the Giants have seen what they have with all the other second-base options.

San Francisco has seen what Downs can do, they have seen what Uribe can do, and they have seen what Burriss can do.

However, the Giants have not seen what Frandsen can do, and with Burriss suffering what appears to be a season-ending toe injury, Frandsen is the best option for everyday second base duties.

The move to send Frandsen down makes absolutely zero sense, because the Giants are thin at middle infield, and he can play both shortstop and second base.

With Renteria suffering a minor injury, which may force him to miss a couple games, who is supposed to play if Uribe or Downs gets injured?

If the Giants aren't willing to give Frandsen another shot this season, then they better make a trade to acquire Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez, because neither Uribe nor Downs is the answer.


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