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Loony Platoons

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It’s only May, dang it. ‘Tis no time for rosterbation. But there’s a sense of urgency here. Mark DeRosa might miss a significant amount of time, and lefties can’t hit lefties. It’s right there in Leviticus 1:09:

And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.

And if a manager hits a lefty against a left-handed pitcher with a right-handed hitter on the bench, he shall displease the LORD

Except for Nate Schierholtz, of course. Those 54 at-bats against lefties last year and 24 this year totally prove he can hit left-handers better than other lefties

If Bowker gets more playing time from this -- a big if, as the Giants are always likely to say they like his bat coming off the bench, or some nonsense -- it will be in a strict platoon. Strict. Bowker doesn’t start against Clayton Kershaw, Bowker doesn’t start against Clayton Richard, and Bowker doesn’t start against Clayton, Royce should the ex-Giant make a comeback as a left-handed starting pitcher. Strict platoon.

The in-house candidates will be Andres Torres and Eugenio Velez. Torres is a good enough spot starter who can cover center, but he’s not a lefty-mashing corner outfielder. Instead of paying attention to his vast, vast catalog of minor league at-bats, the Giants will assume that Torres is a lefty-masher based on what he did in 78 at-bats last year. And Velez is a switch-hitter, which means that he doesn’t have any platoon splits. You can cite his .242/.289/.353 career line against lefties in the minors, or his .206/.275/.254 (!) career line against lefties in the majors if you want, but you need to go back and reread that first part: he’s a switch hitter, which means he doesn’t have any platoon splits. There’s nothing in any divine proclamation that says anything about switch-hitters being unable to hit lefties.

If the Giants give Torres a bulk of the starts against lefties, I wouldn’t be filled with rage. Bowker does have some platoon issues, and the defensive difference is significant. But if DeRosa goes on the DL, the Giants will call up Velez. Velez will get starts, possibly a lot of them. And because switch-hitters never have platoon splits, Velez will start some games against lefties. In the 12 games started by opposing left-handers this year, Velez has started in a third of them.

The Giants can do better. I’m not going to throw out names, especially since it’s hard to know who’s out of contention just yet. Of the teams that are probably willing to listen this early, the Orioles aren’t going to part with Nolan Reimold without something ridiculous going the other way, and Carlos Lee has passed Barry Zito on the River Styx, contractually speaking. But a right-handed outfielder is suddenly a priority. Maybe it always was. Without DeRosa, though, and considering Bochy’s unwillingness to experiment with hot lefty-on-lefty action, the Giants need to start looking. The alternative is more Velez against left-handers, which is like starting Bill Swift at first. That last clause was not hyperbole. You have been warned.