The announcement that Brian Bocock will be the Opening Day starter isn't really a surprise. The Giants have been hinting as much since Vizquel went down to pulled age. Bocock is a fantastic defender by all accounts, and it's nice to have one o' them at the shorstop position. But, really, he is not a major league player right now. He might be a nice player eventually, but he hit .220 in A-ball. Not AAA, not AA, but A-ball. He struck out more than 25% of the time in A-ball.
Big deal, right? Vizquel should be back just a couple of weeks into the season, and...*sproing*...huh, that's weird. Vizquel just sprained every old in his body, so he's out for the season. Well, not really, but he could. And that would lead to Mocock. So much Mocock. Ivan DeJesus hit .194/.276/.273 for the Cubs in 1981; I think Bocock would be right around that level for 400 plate appearances. In 2012? Maybe Bocock has a good DeJesus season (1978: .278/.356/.354 with 41 steals) with much better defense.
I wouldn't count on it. Like, at all. But it could happen, and I'm pulling for the guy. His dive in Sunday's game against the Angels was one of the silliest and greatest contortions I've ever seen on a baseball field. It's impossible to describe if you haven't seen it, but it made me root for the guy instantly. His head was two inches from the ground, his arm was behind his ankle, he threw the ball with the tongue of his cleat, and...forget it. Impossible to describe. So I'm pulling for the guy. Gocock?
It's the idea that the line of succession after a 40-year-old shortstop is a struggling A-baller that bothers me. Brian Sabean says "you can't worry about the (service time) clock". I agree with that when it comes to a talent like Lincecum -- if he's ready, there's no sense in playing games. But Bocock isn't ready. He isn't even close. Now he'll be on the 40-man roster two years before he had to be. If there's a future roster crunch, he might be exposed to waivers if he's removed from the 40-man roster. If he does turn out to be a glove-whiz with an acceptable bat, he'll start to get expensive right away.
Again, it's probably a moot point all around. Vizquel will probably stay healthy. Bocock, good glove and all, would have always had a tough climb to the big leagues if he made the climb at all. But the worst decision of the offseason -- aside from the wisdom of throwing $60M at a center fielder they didn't need -- was to assume that Vizquel didn't need a proper backup. No one who had seen Frandsen at short was enthused with his capability to stay at the position. Vizquel is much older than almost any starting shortstop in history. A + B = Hmm, maybe I should make a minor deal for a youngish backup shortstop. When Vizquel comes back, I'm assuming that Bocock goes back down. Then what? Ivan Ochoa? Okay, so he's the backup shortstop then...but not good enough to fill in for a week or two while Vizquel mends? Well, gawrsh, maybe you need a bigger boat better backup shortstop, then.
I just can't wrap my head around this sequence of events. The good news is that it really isn't a big deal in the short- or long-term. I just like to complain. I'm going to have a fantastic next couple of seasons.