It was announced today that the Giants are going to start the season with John Bowker as the starter in right field over Nate Schierholtz and that Freddie Lewis will start the season on the DL.
Schierholtz came on strong late in the Spring, pulling his batting average up to .273 with good alley power, but I think announcing Bowker as the starter makes sense, even with his sub-average defense, because Bowker was the Giants’ top hitter this Spring, except for Aaron Rowand. It’s always a good idea to reward the guys who perform, because it sends the right message to everyone else in the organization.
If Bowker goes cold once the regular season starts or Schierholtz gets hot, the Giants can always switch the two. Also, the only outfielder who really hasn’t hit this Spring is Mark DeRosa (.255 batting average and a feeble .638 OPS). If DeRosa doesn’t get his bat going in the first two weeks of the regular season, he may find himself riding the pine with Bowker moved to left and Schierholtz back to starting in right.
The Giants are hoping to win this year, so if starting Bowker and Schierholtz gives them the best chance to win, there’s a real possibility the Giants will suck it up and make DeRosa a $6 million bench-warmer.
With Andres Torres and Eugenio Velez having played well this Spring, the Giants find themselves with six outfielders going into the regular season. Of course, DeRosa can play most of the infield positions, and Velez can play second.
Putting Freddie Lewis on the disabled list looks to be as much about avoiding having to try to slip him through waivers as about his current rib cage injury. Lewis only hit .222, but he hit 3 HRs in 36 Spring at-bats, so placing him on the DL buys the Giants some additional time to make a difficult decision.
Lewis does, in fact, appear to be injured based on his limited playing time of late. The problem for the Giants is that no team is going to want to give the Giants anything for Lewis in trade if he looks like he’s hurt and hasn’t been playing. Most likely, Lewis will stay on the DL beyond fifteen days if a roster space hasn’t opened up for him.
However, if no one has been injured by the end of April and Lewis is ready to play, the Giants will almost certainly be forced to put him on waivers. Someone will likely claim him, and the Giants can try to work out a trade. However, they won’t get much in return, since everyone knows the Giants don’t have a roster space left for him. Most likely, the Giants will be stuck accepting the ever-popular player to be named later.