When I think of Pat Burrell and the 2010 Giants, here’s what I think of:
|facing Jonathan Broxton||2||2||2||0||0||1||2||0||0||1.000||1.000||2.500||3.500|
This is because the San Francisco Giants won the World Series1. Had the Giants lost to Texas, this is how we would likely remember Pat Burrell:
The indelible postseason memory: Burrell waving at a Cliff Lee pitch and asking Jeff Kellogg if it was a strike. When Kellogg answered affirmatively, Burrell mouthed, "Wow." After putting the Giants on his back in the second half, he looked like he was swinging a 15,193-oz. bat throughout the entire World Series. He looked utterly lost and broken.
The indelible regular season memory: Burrell hitting a home run in every eighth inning in which the Giants were tied or trailing. Look it up. Every single eighth inning.
So which Burrell should the Giants expect for 2011? The one-man cavalry of the regular season, or the husk of a slugger who flailed around in the playoffs? Please note that this is the internet, so it has to be one extreme or the other. We can’t just take the middle ground. That’s no fun.
PECOTA shows more Rays and less Giants in his projection, spitting out a slugging percentage that’s a little over .400. And that durn computer didn’t even watch the World Series. There’s something about a mid-30s, one-tool slugger who almost played himself out of the league in the year-and-a-half prior to the Giants acquiring him that projection systems just hate. Jesus Guzman is projected to outhit Burrell, according to PECOTA. Yes, that Jesus Guzman.
Pause for dramatic effect.
And if Burrell isn't hitting, he's not a good player. He wasn't glove-up-the-nose bad in left, but his range is obviously limited. He can't really run. Here's here to hit dingerz and take walks. Once he stops doing either, he's nigh useless. But I can't just write the guy off because of a 13 at-bat sample size of misery. I certainly can't predict a complete implosion because that's exactly what happened in three-quarters of the past couple of seasons. Well, I can probably do that last one pretty easily, but that's no fun.
The best part about Burrell being back is that there are no illusions that he's going to play 160 games for the next three seasons because of a bulky contract. He's here for part-time money -- Jeff Suppan money, even -- and if the postseason struggles carry over, well, the Giants have a one-dimensional lefty-masher off the bench. He's even underpaid for that role. The offseason went something like this, then:
Burrell's agent: We're opening up the bidding.
Every AL Team: We are interested.
Burrell: No DHing. I don't like it.
Every AL Team: We are absolutely not interested.
Burrell's agent: Fine. We like the National League better anyways.
Every NL Team except the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres: We'd rather have you in our IT department than in left field.
Burrell's agent: Uh, well, I'm sure you can start a bidding war between a couple of teams, at least.
Padres: Yeah, maybe we have a little interest.
Burrell's agent: Let's see...if you were to play in Petco Park, you would hit .189 with two home runs in 559 at-bats. That'd be with an OPS+ of 119, but I'm not sure if that's good for a walk year. Hold tight while I go to the bathroom, and we'll discuss this offer.
Dodgers: We are interested in your services. Absolutely. Here's a sack of cash.
Burrell: Hey, cool. Here's something for you, Dodgers. Grabs crotch menacingly. Drinks Bud Light from a can. Throws can at the Dodgers. Hits on Rhianna. Grabs crotch menacingly again, waggles it in general direction of Los Angeles. Flips off the Dodgers. Mutters something under his breath about Juan Uribe.
Giants: Uh, would you come back for $200K?
Burrell: Yes. Yes, I would.
Giants: Oh, wait, that's against the rules. Here's a million.
Burrell's agent: Okay, I'm back. Now I...wait, why are you shaking hands?
Maybe it wasn't a Mechian level of sacrifice, but it's pretty impressive that to stay with the Giants, he's taking a little above the minimum with no guarantee of a starting job. Here's to Pat Burrell, prodigal son, who came to the Giants when they needed a bat and gave them a division.