On Opening Day in 2008, the Giants’ starting shortstop was Brian Bocock. There were a lot of things wrong with the lineup -- Barry Zito was the ostensible ace, Jose Castillo was at third, Dave Roberts was in left, Rich Aurilia and Dan Ortmeier shared time at first base -- but the real shake-your-head magic was with Bocock starting at shortstop just a few months after hitting like a pitcher in A-ball. It’s understandable how the Giants could be caught without a backup plan to Omar Vizquel, who was only 41. How often do 41-year-olds get hurt? Only a couple each year, I’m sure.
So the next offseason, the Giants made sure to jump ahead of the market and throw money at a player who was fragile and declining. This is how they won the World Series shortly after.
This season, the Giants could be in a similar spot if they’re not careful. The current 40-man roster has Brandon Crawford as the top shortstop, and while he might be a tick above Bocock offensively, the difference is negligible. The Giants need a shortstop.
Derek Jeter -- No. He’d make the Aaron Rowand signing look like a deft move.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka -- The Giants aren’t expected to bid on Nishioka now. Good. Red flags stapled to red flags on this one. No one’s quite sure if he can be more than an average defender in the majors, his recent success in the Pacific League is extremely average- and BABIP-dependent, he’s been injury-prone for most of his career, last year was a complete outlier compared to his other seasons, and he’s going to be really, really expensive. No.
Orlando Cabrera -- Oh, come on. We’re here already?
Edgar Renteria -- He’s preferable to Crawford at this stage, for sure, but there’s something so uninspiring about bringing him back.
Juan Uribe -- He’s almost certainly the best free agent option, which instantly makes him an iffy free agent option because of the competition he’ll create. At what point do the Giants stop matching offers? Is the third year what kills a deal? Is it when the guaranteed money gets over $20M? I can’t blame the Giants for letting him go, and I can’t blame them for overpaying him. They can’t afford to let him go, and they can’t afford to keep him.
If the options are to a) start Crawford or Ryan Rohlinger, b) grossly overpay for Jeter or Nishioka, c) give a small contract to an old-’n’-busted type like Cabrera, or d) sign Uribe for too much money, it’s not much of a choice. Uribe is by far the most palatable option, especially since it isn’t a forgone conclusion that Crawford will ever be a capable enough hitter to start.
So it’s settled. Overpay for Juan Uribe.
Unless there are players on the trade market. Like, oh, Jason Bartlett, Marco Scutaro, J.J. Hardy, Reid Brignac, and maybe even Jose Reyes. But that’s a post for another day. Like, Monday. Maybe Tuesday. It’s the offseason. I need to stretch these damned posts out. For now, though, I think we can all agree it’s Uribe or bust for the free agent shortstops. Well, there are probably a couple of Nishioka partisans, but hopefully they’ll announce their presence early so we can laugh at them.