San Francisco Giants: Why Juan Uribe's Signing Puts Lineup Out Of Whack
The San Francisco Giants announced Tuesday that infielder Juan Uribe will return for a second season by the bay, a one year deal worth 3.25 million dollars, much more then he made last season.
What does this mean you ask? It means that Uribe will see much more time on the field then he did last season, which makes the typical Giants fan like you and me jump up for joy.
Because of this, GM Brian Sabean deserves some applause. However, only Sabean knows how to screw up a good thing.
Uribe is currently penciled in as the everyday third baseman, not shortstop. Apparently manager Bruce Bochy and Sabean feel that Edgar Renteria will be "a different player in 2010" now that his elbow has finally "healed."
But while the majority of fans have preferred Uribe starting at shortstop for some time now, we all knew it would never come to fruition with the absurdity of Renteria's contract.
Now Uribe starting at third means two things in particular. Eugenio Velez and Andres Torres were thought to be a platoon in left field and lead off but now will be without a lineup spot. Certain pessimists can say what they want about their past numbers, but seeing how these two could improve in 2010 and provide speed to the lineup was something many fans were looking forward too.
However, if Uribe plays third, DeRosa will be shifted to left field and therefore put an end to the Velez/Torres platoon. In this scenario, what happens to leadoff? Well, Sabean and Bochy are throwing around the Aaron Rowand idea once again.
Rowand, who has average speed at best, and put up a .319 on base percentage with just four stolen bases in 2009 is not a lead off hitter. He simply does not have any of the tools to be a consistent lead off hitter. He doesn't take pitches, he doesn't draw walks, strikes out too much and hardly ever bunts for a base hit.
Last season, the Giants were looking for a spark and randomly put Rowand at leadoff and it worked. Rowand went on a 17 game hitting streak from late May to early June.
However Rowand's pace slowed down like expected. Unfortunately Bochy failed to notice and left him at leadoff for an extremely long time despite the fact Rowand fell into a major slump after his hitting streak. Rowand's average dropped from .309 on June 8th to .275 by July 20th before Bochy took him out of the leadoff spot.
Rowand, Renteria, Sanchez, Sandoval, DeRosa, Uribe, Schierholtz, Posey would appear to be the likely lineup if everything remains the same.
Without sounding too much like a disgruntled fan, let me just say that Renteria's days as a No. 2 hitter are done, Freddy Sanchez doesn't have the necessary power to hit in the three hole, and DeRosa doesn't bring enough to the table to hit fifth and protect Sandoval.
Is this what the Giants want their offense to look like? And to add insult to injury, Sabean has flip-flopped on the possibility of signing Johnny Damon. Prior to the annual winter meetings, Sabean said Damon was no where to be found on their radar but according to recent reports, Sabean isn't willing to deny interest.
Signing Damon would make absolutely no sense at all. If Uribe plays third, DeRosa will have to play right field and take over Schierholtz' spot to allow Damon to play left field.
A 36 year old Damon who has no arm, managed just six assists last season in over twice the amount of outfield innings as Schierholtz who had 10 assists last season.
Damon is only going to slow down and even a year or two of decent numbers won't be enough to make up for another season where Sabean and Bochy fail to see what their unproven youngsters can do with everyday playing time.
Let's think about this for a moment. An outfield of Damon, Rowand and DeRosa? Those three are suppose to cover all that ground at AT&T Park? Not to mention playing numerous games at Coors Field, Petco Park and Dodger Stadium. Even Chase field in Arizona has a lot of ground to cover, and these three over the hill outfielders are suppose to roam the outfield together?
Oy vey. Talk about a disaster waiting to happen. In a rash push for cheap offensive additions, the Giants are going to decrease their defensive talents even though their team is built on pitching and defense.
DeRosa will make 6 million dollars next year and Uribe 3.25 million dollars. That is 9.25 million dollars for two guys that are likely to regress in 2010 rather than keep up their 2009 performances.
Signing one of these guys would make sense, bringing back Uribe for an increased salary makes sense. But signing him after they already gave DeRosa 12 million dollars for two years? That doesn't make sense.
If the Giants knew Uribe would be back, they should have never signed DeRosa. Not only is DeRosa's talent not worthy of the contract he received but Uribe provides just as much if not more to the team.
Uribe can provide the same power hitting fifth in the lineup and provide the same defense at third base than DeRosa can provide and he will do it for about half the cost.
The only thing DeRosa brings to the table which Uribe doesn't is that he can play some average corner outfield but with the likes of Velez and Torres who can play both left and center, the Giants don't need another outfielder.
Unless said outfielder can hit 25-35 home runs with a slugging percentage near and around .500 or better. But DeRosa is not that type of player.
Knowing that, it would much more valuable to have a player with leadoff capabilities play left field since the Giants have no other position manned by a player with lead off tools.
While the Giants could still go out and sign an Adam LaRoche to play first base, his signing at this point would simply add to the clutter. It would force Uribe and his 3.25 million to the bench and simply would be an incredibly expensive utility man.
Of course, the Giants fans' dream of having the power of Uribe, LaRoche and Sandoval on the same infield could have been achieved if Sabean hadn't signed DeRosa.
A 2010 lineup could have looked as follows:
1. Velez/Torres LF
2. Sanchez 2B
3. LaRoche 1B
4. Sandoval 3B
5. Uribe SS
6. Schierholtz RF
7. Rowand CF
8. Posey C
Speed, situational hitting, power in the 3-5 spots, and then a 6-8 group that can step and provide solid contributions in what could have been the 2010 lineup.
Instead, as things stand today, the projected lineup for 2010 will be as follows:
1. Rowand CF
2. Renteria SS
3. Sanchez 2B
4. Sandoval 1B
5. DeRosa LF
6. Uribe 3B
7. Schierholtz RF
8. Posey C
This lineup has no speed, no situational hitting in the No. 2 hole, and no pop in the three spot. While DeRosa and Uribe provide solid pop in the five and six slots, neither one will come close to matching the slugging numbers that LaRoche could bring the table.
Simply said, the Uribe signing is nice, but the Giants are going to play him at the wrong position and subsequently put out a lineup with zero team speed.
In a park like AT&T, this lineup doesn't take advantage of the spacious outfield. Plus the defensive alignment doesn't help out a pitching staff that could really use the best possible defenders at each position.
No matter what happens the rest of this offseason, I don't see my beloved Orange & Black making the playoffs with the way the GM and manager are putting together their lineup.
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