Marco Scutaro: Free agent of limited mystery

He's in there. Keep looking. It's like one of those Magic Eye things. - Ezra Shaw

He'll be back, unless he isn't. (But he probably will be!)

So baseball isn't over. I mean, it is for this season, but I kind of thought it would be permanently over. The Giants won the World Series, everyone hopped around and cheered, and that was it, right? We were going to have to make up a new sport now, possibly with butterfly nets, foam pucks, and horned helmets. I had some early sketches worked out.

But baseball isn't over. They're going to do the whole thing next year. Like, everything. From spring training to the playoffs. Then they'll play the entire postseason again. Seems hard to imagine right now.

There's probably a time to stop focusing on parades, champagne, and $80 sweatshirts and focus on the makeup of the 2013 Giants. I guess now will do. There are a lot of interesting decisions the Giants have to make. Angel Pagan is a free agent, but he's available in a market with more than a couple free-agent alternatives. Maybe that drives the price down.

Melky Cabrera is back from the moon, and he's a free agent, too. The Giants should have at least one outfield spot open for him if they choose, which they might not. Hunter Pence would make something like $13 million in arbitration, but he finished the season poorly. Really, really poorly. Like Aaron Rowand-after-using-Jeff-Goldblum's-lab-in-The Fly poorly. What to do with Pence will be an interesting decision. The Giants could have a Melky-Pagan-Pence outfield next year, or they could have three completely different outfielders.

It's probably more productive to sit back and focus on the certainties. Or, the near-certainty. There's only one. Of all the free agents, all the arbitration cases, all the fake trades, mock trades, and mocked fake trades, there is only move I feel comfortable predicting. Here goes.

Ain't no way Marco Scutaro leaves.

It's a combination of factors. In no particular order:

Baseball reasons

So many baseball reasons. The Giants' in-house options are Joaquin Arias, Emmanuel Burriss, Nick Noonan, and Charlie Cul… wait, what do you mean he's gone? WHEN? FOR WHOM? Oh, this is a nightmare.

The free-agent options are Kelly Johnson, Kelly Johnson, and Kelly Johnson. There are others, like Adam Kennedy, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Ryan Theriot … so, yeah. It's either Scutaro or Johnson for a contending team, and -- this is important -- Johnson has been pretty lousy in three of the last four seasons. Even if Marco Scutaro had never been a Giant, he would still be a likely free-agent target because of baseball reasons. But there are also …

Sentimental reasons

The least compelling reasons of them all! But they're still applicable. It would have been awful to see Aubrey Huff go to the Dodgers after 2010. In retrospect, it wouldn't have been nearly as awful as we would have feared. But there was a quiet relief after Huff came back for two more years, at least from this corner. Heck, the Giants were going to figure out what to do with him and Brandon Belt, and they were going to do it gracefully, right? Right?

Marco Scutaro is a playoff hero for the San Francisco Giants. Just from a perception standpoint, there's value in the Giants bringing him back for that reason alone. How much value? Well, enough to consider …

Merchandising reasons

There will be a Marco Scutaro bobblehead day. There will be Marco Scutaro shirts and shirseys. There will be downloadable Marco Scutaro screensavers that look like this:

Scoots_medium


These are things the Giants can expect that other teams can't. If, say, the Blue Jays decide they want Scutaro back to play second, they'll have to outbid a rich team still drunk from the World Series, and they won't have any of the merchandising perks that go along with it.

I want a Marco Scutaro bobblehead. You do too. The Giants know this.

Marco Scutaro will be back with the Giants. I could be wrong. We can spend the rest of the offseason debating Melky, Pence, and Pagan -- and we will! -- but I would be stunned, just stunned if Scutaro isn't the starting second baseman for the 2013 Giants.

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