Giants Might Have More Moves in Mind
The Giants have recalled Buster Posey and signed Pat Burrell to a minor league deal, leaving some to question where all the pieces will fit if things go as the club would like.
Posey started with a bang on Saturday night, playing first base. Let's imagine that he is in the big leagues to stay. And, let's pretend that the veteran outfielder Burrell uses his time in the minor leagues to prove he belongs in the big leagues.
What would happen to Aubrey Huff? He's a first baseman and wouldn't take Posey's job. He's a left fielder, but couldn't handle AT&T's expansive right field if Burrell were to return to his 2008 form.
Nate Schierholtz is the best defensive right fielder on the club, but the Giants would have to decide if they wanted a Burrell, who proves himself productive in a pinch-hitting role given that he hit 33 homers in his last full year in the National League. What about Schierholtz?
Andres Torres is proving he belongs in the big leagues. He gives the Giants their best defense in center field and can play right field well. Plus, he's got the skills a true leadoff hitter needs, so the club needs him in the order when he's hitting. Does Torres become a right fielder if Burrell becomes the left fielder?
This is putting the cart way ahead of the horse. Burrell has a lot to prove. There haven't been this many folks insisting that a guy who switched leagues was a career-ending tailspin, since Giants fans were insisting that Barry Zito should be released after his first two abysmal seasons.
But what if Burrell does pull a Zito and returns to somewhere near the form that made him a 30 homer-90 RBI guy two years ago?
It could be that the Giants have a bigger move in mind if Posey pans out and Burrell returns to slug like he once did.
The club might be considering trading catcher Bengie Molina to a contender looking for a veteran backstop. He can call a game, sure, but he's called the games lately where Tim Lincecum got rocked. The pitchers still make the pitches.
Molina has driven in just two runs since April 18. Fans love him and consider him the heart of the team. But, he clogs up the bases and if the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox are interested in Molina to hit seventh or eighth and provide stability behind the plate—the Giants would be in position to move him if Posey and Burrell perform.
Another possibility could be that the Giants could ship center fielder Aaron Rowand to a contender where he could return to the supporting role he handled so well for the Phillies and White Sox. That opens center field for Torres and, perhaps, even Schierholtz. (It also clears payroll off the books.)
If the Giants were willing to package Molina in a trade, they could solve the lineup riddle by trying to deal him to Boston for right fielder J.D. Drew.
The Giants open a spot for Posey behind the plate. Drew becomes the everyday rightfielder, a proven performer who has fallen out of favor with the Red Sox. He's a left-hand power hitter with some speed. Huff returns to first base full-time. Left field opens up for Burrell and Torres.
See? If everything falls together, the Giants could take their talented farm system and hook up with the Red Sox (also with a nice group of prospects) to completely change the lineup.
It's odd that folks assume the Giants would just keep adding ill-equipped defensive outfielders who can hit some, without an idea in mind to clear some playing time if they all slam their way into the lineup.
If Posey hits, Posey stays in the big leagues. And, it's generally accepted that Molina isn't comfortable with sharing his job. So perhaps, trading the popular veteran catcher would be doing him a favor?
Rowand would seem to be without value to the Giants, but he has proven he can help a championship-type team. Send him where his big contract isn't an issue and where he isn't pressured to be a big-time run producer and—he could have value indeed.
The Yankees gave former Giants right fielder Randy Winn his outright release on Thursday. That opens a spot for a veteran outfielder in the Yankees lineup and, obviously, Rowand's contract wouldn't scare them off if they felt he could help them.
In fact, Molina would fill a hole in New York bigger than the one he could fill in Boston. He can catch until injured Jorge Posada returns, the fill in as a designated hitter for the team that lost DH Nick Johnson to injury earlier.
These are the thoughts fans of a playoff contender should have, rather than those involving who to blame for the most recent 3-1 loss.
Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at: email@example.com
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