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The Holmless Problem in San Francisco

Opening Day! Opening Day! Opening Day is here...for...everybody else. That's quite a metaphorical handful of sand down the pants, Giants brass. Thanks.

Oh, well. We'll just wait until Tuesday, when Tim Lincecum takes the...

Garrrgh. Don't make me pull out Menace 2 Society quotes just to illustrate how badly I want to see an actual Giants game. What are we supposed to do in the meantime? Write about Andres Torres and Eugenio Velez making the team over a backup catcher? Again?


Andrew Baggarly's guess -- that the current setup isn't going to last more than a couple of weeks -- is almost certainly correct. So it's probably more appropriate to furrow thy brow than it is to totally freak out. I'm more interested in the post-mortem. Let's assume that Torres is worth keeping, which is a point that I'll have more on at the end. What are the Giants trying to do? Why keep both Torres and Velez?

Hypothesis #1 - Make sure that there are enough people to cover second base and center.

This one doesn't fly. With Emmanuel Burriss as the starter, both Juan Uribe and Rich Aurilia can play second. Uribe is the designated backup, and Aurilia is more of an emergency, what-if-Burriss-and-Renteria-eat-from-the-same-bucket-of-tainted-clams kind of second baseman. This shouldn't be the only reason to keep Velez, who can barely field second base anyways. And all three starting outfielders can play center in a pinch.

Hypothesis #2 - Keep Velez (or Torres) on the active roster long enough to enhance his trade value

Why settle for the bag of airline peanuts you can already get if there's a chance that you can score a free SkyMall catalog too? Yeah, this one doesn't make much sense either. Any team that was interested in Velez or Torres for the back of their bench isn't going to suddenly say, "Zoinks, they're in the minors now? Wow, no thanks."

Hypothesis #3 - Someone in the front office had a "He Who Dies With the Most Center Fielders Wins"-shirt printed up, and danged if that's going to go to waste.

I could see this one, actually.

Hypothesis #4 - If Velez can't play center, then he's not very useful, so they'll give him another month to prove himself before erasing him from the organizational set of Mad Libs that tells the story of how the Giants built a franchise.

Testing a center field neophyte at the major league level when you play at a park with one of the biggest outfields in the majors? Why would you need the minors for that sort of thing? This last hypothesis is certainly the most likely scenario, though.

A team with Velez doesn't need Torres. A team with Torres doesn't need Velez. I don't get the need for both, especially when keeping them both means that the 2009 Giants will be the first team in the history of baseball to have a middle-of-the-order, key component position player as their only backup catcher. If I'm forced to choose between Velez or Torres, it's an easy decision. Both are crazy fast. Both can't play second. Both are coming off of strong AAA showings. Only one can actually help a team with his outfield defense, and the other has an option left. What am I missing? This isn't going to make a lick of difference to the Giants' playoff hopes most likely, but I'm still just fascinated with the decision. I want to know more.

Hmm. I started writing this post to express my preference for Torres, but all I did was expand on my post from last week. Sorry. If there's no baseball tomorrow because of a rainout, though, there's a strong chance that I'll revisit the topic again. Maybe I'll do a Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima-thing and explore the decision from both sides. I could go on about this one for days. Weeks, even.

But it's pretty clear that I'll snap if there isn't a regular season Lincecum game on my TV in the next 48 hours. There's been too much bandwidth wasted on this already. The comments section of this post is reserved for the following comment starter: Just how freaking bad do you want the baseball season to start?