For three months now, I have been working on the grand unification theory of backup shortstops. Searching for the perfect backup for this Giants team wasn't easy, but it was possible. After three straight fourteen-hour days, I finally came up with the answer: a six-team, fifteen player deal. Players were traded off the team, released by the acquiring team, only to be added to the 40-man roster of a third team and traded back to the original team. I had pie charts, PowerPoint demonstrations, and a 34-page report on the benefits and drawbacks of the deal.
Then my computer crashed, and I lost it all. No matter, I'll forge ahead, revisiting the subject of backup shortstops. If it appears as if I only started to look into what's available within the past five minutes, that's just your imagination. Your active, fertile imagination, because that is just not the case. Simply untrue.
Sifting through the 40-man rosters of other teams, as well as the remaining free agents, Angel Chavez isn't looking so bad. He's still not looking good, but the options are almost as frightening. Ex-Giants dot the landscape like wayward Coppolas in Hollywood. Royce Clayton, Jose Vizcaino, Rey Sanchez, Ramon Martinez, and Rich Aurilia are all still out there, waiting for a team to snatch them up. In fact, you could have a whole starting lineup of ex-Giants, if you wanted to get clever:
2B Jose Vizcaino
RF Michael Tucker
LF Reggie Sanders
1B J.T. Snow
CF Jeffrey Hammonds
3B Rich Aurilia
C Alberto Castillo
SP Shawn Estes
The good news is there is only one team actively searching for a starting shortstop, and that's Boston. They might trade for someone, and that will probably just shift the hole to another team. This matters because there are two Alex Gonzalezes still available, and one of them is guaranteed to not have a starting position. Both offer a little pop, and passable defense. They aren't players you really want ever starting, but it's worth remembering they are being compared only to Angel Chavez.
Aurilia wouldn't be too bad, but he still thinks he's a starter, and would also cost us a compensatory draft pick. That's not the worst thing in the world, but it is a consideration. When it comes to guys like Sanchez, Clayton, and Vizcaino, I would much rather have Chavez. Felipe Alou would be much less inclined to work Chavez into any given lineup. There is a fear that Alou would see the name of a Clayton-type on the roster, set the mental wayback machine to 1996, and actually start the wretches once a week.
The trade route is even more depressing, as few teams have any second-stringers worth pursuing. The few intriguing players happen to have a fair amount of value to their current team, and wouldn't come cheap. Players like Antonio Perez, Omar Infante, and Mark DeRosa wouldn't exactly be handed over for Brian Cooper, an expiring contract, and a trade exemption. They would all require a relatively lopsided trade for their teams to consider shipping them off.
Given the options, it becomes clear the Giants should have been beating the D'Angelo Jimenez drum from the start. As it stands, it's almost a given the team will sign an ex-Giant. One of Sanchez, Aurilia, Clayton, or Vizcaino will be on the team. I can feel it. You can feel it. It just fits Brian Sabean's modus operandi too perfectly. The only one who has even a chance of having a sliver of offensive value is Aurilia, so he's the default preference of that motley bunch.
If Omar Vizquel gets hurt, the team is screwed. That much is clear. If the Giants were able to somehow trade for a third base improvement, I would be absolutely fine with Pedro Feliz being the only backup on the roster, and Chavez on the Fresno shuttle in the event of an extended absence. So, if the Giants are able to swing a trade for, oh, David Wright, we'll be sitting pretty. If that somehow doesn't come through, then give me one of the Alex Gonzalezes - it really doesn't matter which one - and make it snappy.