Pablo Sandoval at third? Okay. I’ll pretend that I’m not worried about his defense and hope for the best. The Giants need to get his bat in the lineup, and if they aren’t trading Bengie Molina, third base is where the opening is.
Travis Ishikawa at first? Okay. I’ll pretend that I’m not worried about last year’s minor league performance being a total fluke. If he didn’t have 171 stellar at-bats in Fresno last season, he wouldn’t even be in the conversation for this year’s job. That isn’t to minimize the improvement he showed in Connecticut, but if he hit .289/.383/.461 for a full year in AA, the consensus would be that was just ducky, but that he needs to do it again in AAA. The glove is good, though, and you can’t just dismiss the AAA performance, so I’ll hope for the best. Josh Phelps is a pretty sweet backup plan.
Kevin Frandsen, Eugenio Velez, or Manny Burriss at second? Uh, okay. I guess. Burriss should start every game somewhere as a shortstop; the Giants don’t have any other in-house options above A-ball should Renteria implode, and Burriss could use the experience. Velez finished the season strong, but so did Dan Ortmeier in 2007; I don’t ever see Velez starting for a good major league team. I like Frandsen more than most, and I think he has a fair shot of becoming a Mark kind of second baseman (Grudzielanek, DeRosa, Loretta), but that half-hearted optimism should not stand in the way of any substantial upgrades.
But I’m hoping Frandsen would get the job, mostly because I didn’t want to see Madison Bumgarner traded in a Dan Uggla deal, nor did I want to see Orlando Hudson on a 4- or 5-year deal. So here’s to Kevin Frandsen, the startin…
Wait. Now I can’t stop thinking about Orlando Hudson. I wrote about him here, scoffing at the eventual contract he was going to receive. But that was before free agents started selling apples on street corners and registering with temp agencies. After the Pat Burrell deal, it’s clear that a lot of hitters aren’t as valuable on the market as they might have thought they were in October.
Orlando Hudson on a two-year deal? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. It would put the Giants over their budget, which they might not want to break for a non-famous player. Hudson would be the best defensive player in the infield, though, and he’d also help the Giants score more runs than any of the alternatives. Three years? Ehh. I’m starting to lose interest, but I wouldn’t be upset.
I don’t know if Hudson’s price has dropped that much. That part is all wild speculation. But if so, I’d rather have Hudson than any of the other remaining free agents. Well, except for Manny Ramirez on a two-year deal, of course, but I don’t even know if the Giants are considering him. You think that someone would let us know how that’s going.
You have to love a lineup where the leadoff hitter, cleanup hitter, and eighth-place hitter are interchangeable in terms of power. But there aren’t too many question marks up there. You kind of know what to expect from everyone up there except for Sandoval and Phelpshikawa; three-quarters of the lineup would likely be league average hitters for their position -- no misplaced optimism needed -- and there is room for varying degrees of league-average optimism at the other two spots.
The Giants have been active on the free-agent market, and they’ve done a good job of making the 2009 team better while keeping their options for 2011 wide open. If they can do the same with Orlando Hudson, they should jump at the chance. Apologies to Kevin Frandsen, but there is suddenly a little more value in having a known quantity for the next two seasons.