Ray Durham: Good Giant. He struggled with injuries in his first couple of seasons with the team, though he still managed over 400 at-bats, and he struggled with crippling suck last season, but he was a good Giant. There was a chance that the suck would leach into 2008, as was incorrectly forecast in this masterpiece of misplaced cynicism.
It didn’t, and the Giants were able to get actual players back for Durham. The organization is surprisingly thin with emergency starter-types after Pat Misch, and Steve Hammond gives a little bit more depth for the next couple of seasons. The organization is unsurprisingly thick with speedy, no-hit centerfield-types, and they’ll just add Darren Ford to the pile. For the next few seasons, the Giants will plunk a quarter in the organizational machine, move the claw around, and hope that they finally grab a speedy centerfield-type who starts to hit. It's better than nothing, though someone with just a touch of power would have made more sense.
Now we move on to the less-than-thrilling debate of What Now?: Second-Base Edition. The contenders:
He actually has a little power. Most of it is doubles power, but his isolated power numbers are still good. After 74 wretched AA at-bats, he’s hit wherever the Giants have stuck him, including the majors.
He wasn’t supposed to be in the majors this season, and he really isn’t a good enough prospect to rush past AAA. More at-bats in Fresno are what Denker needs. And it’s almost impossible to find someone who isn’t an improvement on Durham’s defense, but here he is. I mean, it’s like a million-to-one shot that one of the next players in line for the job would be just as bad. There’s no way that the Giants could find another player who is actually a downgrade to Durham, and….
Oh. Well, Velez brings blazing speed in addition to his fast times from home-to-first and first-to-third, and he wraps it all up with a certain je ne sai quick that is clinically proven to be 34% fastier than store-brand fast. And, don’t look now, but this speed demon was actually hitting in Fresno after his demotion. It would have been easy to pout in those circumstances, so bully for Eugenio.
He was a disaster in the bigs this year. Defensively, offensively, and on the basepaths, the guy was like the protagonist of some classic Greek myth that explains how the gods gave headaches to the world.
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Really, I can deal with the guy as a stopgap at third, as the Giants really don’t have a more appealing option, but putting Castillo at second just gets more at-bats for Rich Aurilia. That does nothing much for the present roster, modest power spike aside, and that does nothing for the evaluation of future rosters.
It’s an absolute travesty that the Giants aren’t letting him get at-bats at any level. Pick an organization from Augusta to San Francisco, put him in the lineup, and let him face professional pitching. The way the Giants have mishandled Burriss and Bocock is worthy of a Bob Woodward exposé. Heck, it’s worthy of a Kitty Kelley exposé, as I’m sure that pill-popping had something to do with it all. Putting Burriss at second will get him some at-bats.
Burriss at second means Vizquel at short, which means zero home runs from 25% of the lineup. Like, a literal big fat zero. Power isn’t everything, but Vizquel and (probably) Burriss will also be in over their heads in every other offensive aspect. And this is all done to get Vizquel in the lineup? Vizquel has had 150+ at-bats of sub-Lincecum production with no signs of improvement. It’s amazing that he’s still a factor.
I dunno. Sure, he was having a nice season in Fresno, and he’s younger than Eugenio, but he’s still a career .255/.338/.324 hitter in the minors.
Give me a side of Eugenio at second, with a main course of more Burriss at short. I’m tempted to go with Denker, but Velez’s performance in AAA swings the vote his direction.