I like when the Giants make good trades. No, no. Hear me out. Specifically, I like when the Giants make trades that I'm excited about without reservations. When the Giants needed help at second base, they used parts of the farm system they wouldn't miss, and they upgraded substantially. Who could argue with that? But enough about Jeff Keppinger.
This here post is about Marco Scutaro, whose acquisition was also an obviously good idea. Ryan Theriot was overextended as an everyday player. He's kind of overextended as an every-other-week player. He's good at looking like an owl and making Aubrey Huff's hand hurt, none of which are especially important to the second-base position. Scutaro has helped.
That's a gross understatement, of course. Scutaro has hit .341/.361/.447, with 11 doubles and 30 runs batted in in 44 games. I don't like using RBI as a way to describe how good a player is, but as a way to point out that there's a reason you're so impressed with him, they'll do just fine. Scutaro has been one of the best things to happen to the Giants in the second half.
In a way, it feels like this is cosmic justice for the Keppinger flop last year. In 428 plate appearances with the Giants, Keppinger and Scutaro have combined to hit .294/.315/.385, which is close to what I would have expected either of them to hit, dang it. But the disappointment of Keppinger (who's having fantastic season in Tampa, by the way) gave way to the reward of Scutaro.
This leads to the obvious follow-up: Should the Giants keep Scutaro around next year? He's hinting that he wouldn't be opposed. From CSN Bay Area:
"I would love to come back here," (Scutaro) told (Andrew Baggarly). "I really love it here. There are great fans, it’s a great place to play. More important, it’s a place where you have a chance to win every year."
Scutaro even said he would be willing to re-sign during the short window of exclusivity after the season and before he’d hit the open market. He isn’t looking to shop his services as much as to find a place to call home.
There are considerations, of course. While he's hitting like peak-level Ichiro right now, he's more likely to regress to his career line of .273/.338/.389. Considering that he'll be 37 next season, that line could fall off a cliff quickly. And while he's pretty good with turning a double play, he kind of has piranha-plant range at second. He's probably not going to get better.
But here are the free-agent options, according to MLB Trade Rumors:
Jeff Baker (32)
Robinson Cano (30) - $15MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Mike Fontenot (33)
Orlando Hudson (35) - $8MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Maicer Izturis (32)
Kelly Johnson (31)
Adam Kennedy (37)
Jeff Keppinger (33)
Jose Lopez (29)
Ryan Theriot (33)
Obviously Cano isn't going anywhere, so that leaves us in the company of three old friends, a utility player, three pretty bad players, the relatively intriguing Maicer Izturis, and Kelly Johnson. I think whatever power Johnson has would get gobbled up like a big ol' Pac Man pellet by AT&T Park, and that's about the only thing Johnson has going for him. I'm not seeing a good trade option, either. I guess Nick Punto could be available.
So it's either Izturis, who would probably want a two-year deal, at least, or Scutaro, who will likely command only a one-year deal. The former might not have any desire to leave his current team. The latter is on record as saying, hey, I'll give you guys first crack at re-signing me.
There's also Emmanuel Burriss. And, hey, where's Freddy Sanchez on that free-agent list? He's around, you know. I suppose the Giants have some internal options. Cough.
I think there's a slim -- really slim -- chance that Marco Scutaro isn't a Giant next year. I figured as much when he started hitting well, but the Baggs article sealed it. There is only one short-term solution that makes any sense for a Giants team that was messing around with all sorts of bad options this year. That short-term solution is already hinting that he wants to stay.
If he does stay, that'd make a good trade even gooder. So much gooder. Considering how much the Giants upgraded, it might be the best deal made by any team at the trading deadline.