San Francisco Giants: Bengie Molina Swap Creates Job for Brett Pill

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San Francisco Giants: Bengie Molina Swap Creates Job for Brett Pill

The San Francisco Giants' decision to trade Bengie Molina creates an opening in the everyday lineup, primarily at first base.

The club surely isn't interested in returning Aubrey Huff to first base, with Buster Posey the everyday catcher.

Huff giving up his spot in the starting outfield creates a spot that could only be filled by returning Aaron Rowand to his role as the starting center fielder, with Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, and Nate Schierholtz sharing the other two starting jobs.

(Burrell's listed as an outfielder-first baseman, but it's hard to imagine the club moving him and creating even more chaos in that outfield.)

Torres hasn't torn it up in the leadoff spot lately. Schierholtz, clearly, isn't in the Giants' long-term plan.

Burrell, arguably, merits the everyday left field job, even though the club can't be certain he will return to the form he showed in his heyday with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Molina deal does bring a credible relief pitcher in Chris Ray. The Texas Rangers reliever was, at one point, the Baltimore Orioles' closer of the future.

That didn't pan out, but relief pitchers given a second and third chance are exactly the guys who catch lightning in a bottle and become lights-out set-up men. And, boy, do the Giants need a lights-out set-up guy.

The Molina trade wasn't made to go back to the outfield merry-go-round, even though it does give Posey the full-time gig he deserves behind the plate.

The Giants have had slick-fielding Travis Ishikawa on the bench all year. The first baseman's presence is inexplicable, save that he's done well as a pinch-hitter.

Ishikawa's chance to follow John Bowker, Nate Schierholtz, Eugenio Velez and others into oblivion, or to prove he can be a big-league contributor, has arrived. He's hit well enough off of the bench to fill part of the hole left at first base.

He's still young and he's flashed power. Barring an accompanying trade for a first baseman, which is unlikely, Ishikawa will be in the lineup now.

The Giants aren't prepared to send Ishikawa out there against left-hand pitchers, though. That means they're likely ready to call on slugging, right-hand hitting first baseman Brett Pill.

He has 10 home runs, 50 RBIs and a .298 batting average at Triple-A Fresno. And, remember, the Giants were anxious to give Pill a shot at winning a big league job this spring before other holes in the roster became more pressing.

Pill is 25 years old and he's hit for more power the last few years in the Giants organization. He's a good enough defensive first baseman to platoon with Ishikawa.

The front office likes Pill and, at 25, they can't wait forever to give him a shot.

Look for Ishikawa and Pill to become the everyday first baseman with Burrell, Torres, Huff and Rowand sharing the outfield slot.

No, Pablo Sandoval isn't the answer in a platoon with Ishikawa. Sandoval's lost his stroke completely from the right side of the plate.

Finally, an Ishikawa-Pill platoon for now gives the Giants a bit of a youth movement when one considers that Posey will also be taking over behind the plate.

If Ishikawa and Pill don't do the job in the coming weeks, there would still be time to see where the club stands and deal for another outfielder to free Huff to play first base.

Posey, Ishikawa and Pill. Giants fans are about to find out that they gotta love those kids, because they will be in the lineup.

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Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Contact Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com.

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