Wondering if you're a hopeless optimist? This projection should tell you for sure. If you're projecting something like this ...
… you win. You're more optimistic than just about anyone else you'll ever meet, and I envy that. If that projection doesn't come through, you'll console yourself by saying that at least the Giants will get a chance to evaluate Emmanuel Burriss or something. Maybe you'll work in some Joe Panik reverse-panic. You'll always look on the bright side of life, whistling in the face of the Romans. Ain't nothing gonna break your stride. Life is a constant cycle of opportunity after opportunity, not crisis after crisis. Man, how I'd like to be you, even if just for a day. And now you're drawing smiley-faces all over your projection. Cut it out.
Alas, there are fewer and fewer of you and your kind. The news on Freddy Sanchez isn't good.
A bad omen: Freddy Sanchez is off for a couple days. At this point, it's not an overreaction to think shoulder is career threatening.— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) March 26, 2012
That's the speculation of a beat writer, who travels with the team and talks to people in the known both on and off the record. If there were anything -- anything -- in the back of his brain telling him that a tweet like that was premature, he probably wouldn't send it out into the vast internet prairies. Freddy Sanchez can't throw right now. There isn't a whole lot to suggest he'll be able to throw in the near future. Second base isn't a position where a team can hide a bum wing, like the Astros did with Jeff Bagwell for the last years of his career.
Unless … well, maybe the Giants could … I mean, they do need a right-handed first baseman, right? To the situation room!
Anywho, back to the optimistic guy or gal from the beginning of the post. He or she probably doesn't exist anymore. But they were around in the offseason. Some of them even have offices in the ballpark and everything. They were equating the return of Sanchez to the acquisition of a free agent. Even without the injury, it didn't make sense to predict a lot from a 34-year-old second baseman who is a career .297/.335/.413 hitter. That's Juan Pierre without the speed at a position that has a famously short shelf life.
Again, that's before you even think about the injury. That kind of player doesn't sound like someone who should be expected to provide significant help to an offense in desperate need of significant help. Then you think about the injury, and you realize how ridiculous it was for the Giants to rely on Freddy Sanchez -- to hope like hell that he came back at full strength, or something close to it.1
But it's probably not fair to peg the Giants as optimistic. They were probably just as cynical as we were. Heck, even more so, considering that they were the ones interacting with doctors and trainers and such. But "Freddy should be back, and man, should he help!" sounds a lot better to the people buying season tickets than "This is the roster. It should be good enough. We've already spent $130 million, you ungrateful delinquents. Stop treating us like we're the A's."
The Ryan Theriot acquisition was a tacit admission that the team was concerned about Sanchez. And as far as contingency plans go, a lot of teams could do worse than a Theriot/Fontenot combination. The Phillies, for example. And of course, the Giants have a former first-rounder hoping to make the transition from prospect to major-league starter, so we can all start to get excited about this Burriss cat.
It's pretty silly to project Sanchez at this point. I'll put the over/under at 300 at-bats, and I'll take the under. If you think that one of the three alternatives is going to seize command of the starting job (or if that Sanchez will play a substantial amount), go ahead and project that player. I think it will be a constant, swirling miasma of names at second base this year, so I'd rather just project the position. Last year Giants second basemen got 661 at-bats, and they hit a collective .265/.313/.354. That .667 OPS was better than what they got out of center field, catcher, and shortstop. The 2011 Giants!
I'll still guess that Fontheriot gets the bulk of the at-bats, regardless of the trade rumors and suggestions that Burriss has tightened his swing/got in the best shape of his life/figured things out at the plate/learned a new pitch.
Giants second basemen:
Panik! on the roster in September: No ... but awfully tempting
1. I looked for the Sabean "hope like hell" quote from this offseason, but I couldn't find it. The good news is that it led to this quote from Sabean: "We hope like hell he bounces back."2
2. The "he" in that quote was Russ Ortiz.3
3. Spoiler (highlight text to reveal the spoiler): He did not bounce back