San Francisco Giants Have Issues at Second Base; Give Frandsen One Last Shot

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJune 27, 2009

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 20:  Kevin Frandsen #19 of the San Francisco Giants looks to throw during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 20, 2006 in Denver, Colorado.  The Giants won 7-4. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

From 1997-2002 the San Francisco Giants were set at second base with a player who is arguably one of the best ever to play the position. And even though Jeff Kent's departure from the team wasn't exactly smooth; fighting with Barry Bonds and "washing his truck" come to mind, in the end he was still a great Giant.

Unfortunately for the Giants, since Kent's departure, the organization has not been able to find a quality replacement.

In 2003, the Giants brought in the then 32-year-old Ray Durham. During played five full seasons with San Francisco before being shipped to the Brewers last season.

To be fair, Durham did have a couple quality offensive seasons with the Giants. In his first three seasons he hit .285, .282, and .290. However his power numbers were rather mediocre, averaging just 12 home runs and just 53 RBI and his defense at second base wasn't anywhere close to the ability of Jeff Kent.

And after his best statistical season of his career, Durham hit .293 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI in 2006, he backed it up with a .218, 11 home runs and 71 RBI the following season.

Now, Durham's total body of work during his time with the Giants doesn't seem all that bad but their former second baseman played during mostly a down time for the organization and did not fit the bill as a second baseman of the future.

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Flash forward to 2009 and the Giants have finally decided to move towards their home grown talent at second base.

During spring training, both Kevin Frandsen and Emmanuel Burriss fought it out for the starting spot.

Burriss won the job with his impressive .345 average and superb defense.  However, after a recent stretch during early-mid June that saw the 24-year-old middle infielder go 0-26, the Giants sent Burriss down to Triple A.

With the demotion, the clear choice to replace him would be none other than Frandsen who not only lost the starting position after spring training but started the year in the minors.

However, unfortunately for Kevin, the most likely replacement for Burriss could not yet to return to the Giants. Frandsen had just been sent back down after being called up due to Ishikawa taking bereavement leave.

In MLB rules, a player must spend ten days in the minor leagues after being sent down before being called back up.

Therefore, the Giants had to go in a different direction. With out the ability to bring up Frandsen, San Francisco brought up 25-year-old infielder Matt Downs.

So far in his first big league action, Downs is hitting .207, 6-for-29, with one double and one RBI in nine games.

Not exactly early production to call home about.

Now during this stretch, Frandsen has yet again become eligible for a return to the major leagues.

However, apparently Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean are keen on giving Downs an extended look even though he has yet to do much of anything to help the team.

Despite not making a single error in his first nine games, Downs's defense at second base has been nothing more than average.

Before his promotion, Downs was hitting a solid .288 in Fresno, which is a respectable average but nothing close to Frandsen's average at Fresno that stands at .324.

Frandsen has also hit eight homers for the Grizzlies this season, while Downs has hit six. Consequently neither one of them translate to power-hitters at the big league level.

That being the case, one is hard pressed to find a legitimate reason not to recall Frandsen now that he is eligible to return.

Frandsen has only been given everyday playing time for two stretches. In late-May, the Giants infielder played in four straight games and in mid-June he played in three straight games.

In total this season Frandsen has had just 28 at-bats, and has recorded just two hits. However in his first stint with everyday playing that came in late May, Frandsen was hitting line drive after line drive that ended up as outs. The 0-14 stretch to start Frandsen's season has got to be one of the loudest 0-14 stretch's in recent history.

However, no matter how well any player in any sport may appear to be playing, it is results that count. And yes, so far this season the results have not been there for Frandsen offensively.

But despite the poor average of .071, the sample size is too small to make a judgement on his capablities to play a quality second base.

When given everyday playing time, Frandsen has always been an above .300 hitter. His worst full minor league season saw the second-baseman hit .287 but his career average in the minors is a blistering .326, one point off from his career triple A average of .327.

Not only has Frandsen's minor league numbers been superb, but his last extended big league action was quite phenomenal as well.

In the last month-and-a-half of the 2007 season, Frandsen hit .378, 36-95 from Aug 13th to September 30th.

Unfortunately for Frandsen and the Giants, an injury to his Achilles tendon forced him to miss all but a single at-bat in 2008, a season in which he was thought to be the everyday second baseman.

Now Emmanuel Burriss may end up being the second-baseman of the future and not Kevin Frandsen. But with Burriss working on his swing in the minors, it is time to give Frandsen one last shot.

He's done nothing but prove that he deserves one more shot with significant playing time. With the way he has consistently showed to hit for high average no matter where he plays, it would be idiotic for the Giants not to give him one last shot.

It's not as if Matt Downs is anybody special, so why not see what Frandsen can do and we can finally see if hes cut out for the major leagues.

This continued up and down to the minors thing is only going to keep the question of whether or not Frandsen can be an effective major league player unanswered.

Well with the Giants playing respectable .500+ ball this season without quality second base production, why not answer the question about Frandsen?

At this point the Giants have nothing to lose, but possibly a .300 hitter to gain.

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