The San Francisco Giants clearly need some offensive help from the free-agent market but re-thinking the way they evaluate their own home-grown talent would help boost their offense from within.
For instance, while the Giants have a plethora of inconsistent young talent including players who may or may not develop into everyday starters, Nate Schierholtz doesn't belong amongst that group.
Throughout the past couple years Giants fans have grouped together such players like John Bowker, Eugenio Velez, Fred Lewis, Travis Ishikawa and Schierholtz in the same category.
But unlike the rest of that group, Schierholtz should already have been rewarded with an everyday spot. His showing in 2009 proved he has the talent level of an everyday big league outfielder.
Unfortunately, the main reason fans group him along with these other "youngsters" (I guess we have to say under 30 is considered a youngster for the Giants) is the fact that manager Bruce Bochy is a poor talent evaluator.
The Giants stuck with Fred Lewis in the outfield for way too long last season and then once Schierholtz showed what he could with everyday playing time, he was essentially jimmy-jacked in and out of the starting lineup the last 30-35 games of the season.
In fact, even though Schierholtz was in a slump towards the end of August/early September, his .731 OPS at the end of August was still higher than Randy Winn's .683.
Therefore despite the slump, Schierholtz' offensive capabilities were still always deserving of a starting spot.
But what does Bochy do? He gives Randy Winn 78 at-bats in September to just 48 at-bats for Schierholtz.
The Giants may be starved for offense, but the poor offensive showing last year isn't entirely the fault of the General Manager for putting together an anemic roster. San Francisco did have a weak offensive team last year but it doesn't help when the manager doesn't put his best players on the field.
Schierholtz was by far the only consistent middle of the order bat not named Juan Uribe to go along with Pablo Sandoval last season. The entire year was a power outage for Winn, Aaron Rowand was simply unwatchable during the second half and Bengie Molina had an on-base percentage at the clean-up spot that was just 16 points higher than Arizona Diamondback's ace pitcher Dan Haren.
Meanwhile, there is Schierholtz who from June 23rd to August 19th hit .347 in 118 at-bats which raised his average from .258 to .299, his on-base percentage from .283 to .326, and his slugging percentage from .376 to .445.
Prior to his insertion into the everyday lineup, Schierholtz was hitting .258/.283/.376 in 91 at-bats from April 7th through June 22nd, a span of 49 games in which he appeared.
The following 36 games saw him take 118 at-bats and hit .347/.390/.551! Simply astonishing numbers over a month-and-a-half of everyday playing time. These incredibly impressive numbers along with his cannon of an arm made Schierholtz a complete outfielder last season.
Now if Schierholtz were to play 162 games next season he most likely won't come close to the numbers he put together during his hot stretch of 2009. However, that doesn't mean he won't hit right around .300, get on-base between .330-.350 and put up a slugging percentage between .425-.450.
And let's not forget that "Nate the Great" absolutely rakes left-handed pitching despite being solely a left-handed hitter. Schierholtz hit lefties at a .370/.393/.680 clip last season.
While he does clearly have a hole in his swing, which is his tendancy to swing at the low and inside breaking ball from a right-handed pitcher, that is his one and only weakness.
Compare that to the likes of Ishikawa, Bowker, Lewis and Velez who all have that same problem against right-handed pitching and numerous other issues with their swing/offensive approach/defensive abilities.
Schierholtz on the other hand has one of the strongest and most accurate outfield arms in all of baseball, understands how to play right-field at AT&T park better than anyone not named Randy Winn. And when given playing time has proved to be more than adequate with the stick.
With all the assets Schierholtz brings to the table, Bochy got away with a major crime by giving him just 285 at-bats last season.
Cheers to Randy Winn leaving as a free agent. Perhaps we'll see Schierholtz become the everyday right fielder. Of course that's banking on Sabean not signing a mediocre veteran out-fielder. If that happens then Bochy will declare the elder statesmen the starter over Schierholtz simply because of experience and completely regardless of talent level.
Oy vey, the tough world of being a Giants fan.
The offense is terrible and yet their top offensive players ride the pine more than they get on the field.