A possible Hall of Famer who has played more games than anybody at his position, or an up-and-coming rookie who has been in the bigs for just a couple months.
This is the decision the San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy faces heading into the second half of the 2008 season.
The current starting shortstop, Omar Vizquel, has seen his offensive production crash the past two seasons, coming into this week hitting only .171. However, his defense has not dropped off at all, with difficult plays still looking routine for the 41-year-old Venezuelan.
The future is Emmanuel Burriss, a speedy shortstop who was a supplemental draft pick in 2006 out of Kent State. After a successful season at short-season Salem-Keizer, Burriss was rated the No. 4 prospect in the Giants' system by Baseball America.
Coming into the year, Burriss' stock had fallen after starting 2007 at Single-A San Jose and hitting only .165 in 35 games. After being sent down to the Giants low-A affiliate, Burriss found his stroke, hitting .321 in 85 games. Despite the strong finish to his season, Burriss' ranking in Baseball America fell from fourth to 10th.
There was some debate whether Burriss would actually be included in the opening-day roster when Vizquel started the season on the DL. The Giants opted to go with Brian Bocock, who traded places with Burriss last season when he was sent down, because his glove was major-league ready.
Burriss got his call to the big club two months ago, although playing time at the start was hard to find. However, with Vizquel's struggles at the plate, the debate has picked up steam.
Coming into this week, Burriss is hitting .286 in 90 at-bats. He has also stolen six bases.
There is no doubt that the Giants are in a transitional phase towards youth. While young players such as Fred Lewis and Jonathan Sanchez are finally seeing regular time after being from Fresno to San Francisco the past few seasons, the Giants are still hesitant to give all their young players consistent playing time.
It's understandable that Bochy is hesitant to pull Vizquel, considering what he has done over his career, but sometimes it's better to sit somebody when they have a struggle at the plate like Vizquel has.
As a Giants fan who loves to see the younger players make a considerable impact, I would love to see Burriss see more time. He is the kind of player that fans should go to watch and would be happy that is he part of the team.
There is only one way for the Giants to find out what Burriss has, and that is to let him play. Management now knows what Lewis can do, even though it took an injury to Dave Roberts for him to get the everyday job.
And the thought of having the speed of Lewis and Burriss is quite a sight. Two of the fastest players on the team reeking havoc at the top of the lineup should have any Giants fan watering at the mouth.
The only question is: will Bruce Bochy pull the trigger and make the change?
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