The shortstop position had been a huge problem for the giants in 2011.
In the past they have been set in the position at the start of each season. Guys like Rich Aurillia, Omar Visquel, Juan Uribe, Edgar Rent… maybe that last one is a little iffy, but you get my point.
In 2010, the Giants started Uribe at shortstop for the majority of the year. He hit 24 home runs and 85 RBI while hitting a .248 average. His OPS was .749. A career year and pretty good for a shortstop.
In 2010, the Giants won the World Series.
After that magical year, Uribe left the Giants for more years and more money down in LA where he crumbled like coffee cake in a Dodgers uniform. He deserves it.
The Giants finally realized Tejada was not what they hoped for and started playing the new kid, Brandon Crawford from AA Richmond.
Crawford is known for his astounding defense and flashy double plays, but he suffered at the plate barely breaking a .200 average on the last game of the season.
Now, on the brink of the new off-season, the Giants are left pondering what their shortstop options are. Here are my thoughts:
Option 1- Keep it simple
The Giants have a few holes to plug this year. The entire outfield, first base, and shortstop are all up in the air. So instead of buying the top guy for each position (which with the giants apparent “salary cap” on the payroll is not possible), leave the shortstop to a defensive specialist such as Crawford and let him bat eighth ahead of the pitcher.
This option uses a cheap player in Crawford who has tremendous range at shortstop, can throw a decent ball and back up the Giants strong pitching.
Personally, I really like this option if the Giants pursue other offensive players in other positions. I think Crawford can improve offensively too, which would be icing on the cake.
Option 2- Keep it expensive
We have all heard this option already.
Jose Reyes is young. He is fast. He can hit triples in his sleep and he is a decent defender (not at Crawford’s level, however). Reyes is a top tier free agent and he will come with a price.
Reyes was paid $11 million last season and he will be worth more in the off season, looking for a contract of at least 5 years. A lot of other teams will be interested, so there will be a high price for the speedster.
At 28 years old, he is younger than every other free agent shortstop. He is also the most consistent as he has stolen more than 30 bases in all of his six full seasons, had an average of 12 home runs and 65 RBI and has made four all-star games.
He has had his fair share of injuries, which will be a concern for potential buyers, but rest assured, he will still cost a lot of money for one desperate team.
Option 3- The Oldies
Orlando Cabrera (37), Jamey Carroll(37), Craig Counsell (41), John McDonald (37), Edgar Renteria (35), Jack Wilson(34), Jerry Hairston Jr.(37) and Marco Scutaro (37) are all veteran free agent shortstops.
Out of the ones listed, I would only pick Marco Scutaro. He has a $6 million option the Red Sox may or may not pick up, but if they choose not to, he will be a free agent.
Scutaro had a great year with the Sox, hitting .299/.358/.423/.781 while hitting seven home runs and 54 RBI in just 113 games. He doesnt strikeout, which is always nice, and he also happened to walk more than strikeout in 2011.
He averages about 2 WAR per season, but he had a career year in 2009 with a 5.5 WAR. His defense is above average and his offense has been good in the past few years.
Scutaro would be a great option for a short contract for about 2 years/$12 million. I could live with that.
Option 4- Jeff.
Yeah, I wrote a piece on Jeff Keppinger being a possible option for shortstop. I wasn’t really saying we should put him there in a heartbeat, but I’m saying it is something the Giants are going to consider.
Here is the link to read my thoughts on Keppinger. He is an option.
Option 5- Rollins is callin’
Jimmy Rollins is a free agent. He is going to be 33, and he is from the Bay Area. Some may think that will attract him.
Rollins wants money, a good team that can score runs and a five-year contract.
I’m telling you right now, the Giants will not give him either of those things. He is on the decline offensively and he is prone to injuries.
Last year was a decent year for Rollins. He posted a .268 average, .338 on-base % with a .736 OPS, blasting 16 home runs and 63 RBI. On top of that he added 30 stolen bases.
That’s a good year for a shortstop, but unfortunately for the Giants, he is not what they are looking for. He is not a lead-off hitter (which is what the Giants are desperate for), he costs a hefty chunk of money ($8.5 million last season) and he is often injured (the Giants have seen enough injured shortstops, dammit).
I can see the Giants actually paying for Rollins. Brian Sabean likes veteran shortstops, and Rollins is the epitome of a once-really-good player approaching their mid-30′s. He will be expensive though, as the Phillies will do anything to keep him in Philadelphia.
Option 6- Mediocre Madness
There are players like Clint Barmes, Alex Gonzalez, Nick Punto, Ramon Santiago, Cesar Izturis and Yuniesky Betancourt who are all on the open market, they are all in their 30′s and they are all so-so.
They will cost a couple million a year, but wont give you a lot of output. Some are great defenders but cannot handle a bat, others are speedy guys who find it hard to get on base. I wouldnt be surprised if Sabean and Co. panicked and bought one of these guys to fill the role.
It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but the Giants money can be spent better elsewhere.