The Giants had three middle-infield-utility options coming into the spring, and they somehow released the best one of them.
That's probably too bold of a statement. Mike Fontenot wasn't some would-be starter held down by the shackles of the oppressive utility-player label he was unjustly tarred with. He was a utility infielder. No more, no less. Well, sometimes less. But don't forget the sometimes more! He was our #3 hitter for a week last year, remember.
It's cute that the readers who follow another team think I'm kidding with that. It's true! Mike Fontenot hit for a week, and he was the #3 hitter shortly after. Because, heck, you can't just take a player's career into account when you evaluate him. You have to focus on what he's done over the last two weeks.
Which brings us to Emmanuel Burriss, starting second baseman. Oh, it could be Theriot against lefties, but that sort of misses the point. Burriss is actually a better hitter against lefties for his career, both in the minors and in the majors. The Theriot/Burriss tandem isn't exactly complementary.
And of the three options, Fontenot is the only one I trusted to play a competent shortstop. The Giants could need a starting shortstop. They seem like an organization that might panic in the front office and in the field if Brandon Crawford starts the season hitting .160. Slowly, slowly, slowly, the at-bats would shift to the veterans in this scenario. And if that happens, I'd rather have Fontenot on the team.
But Burriss had a good spring. Looks good. Best shape of his life. The 600 dreadful plate appearances in his career? Just a stepping stone. Ignore that his OPS declined by 100 points every season since his debut. He looked good this spring. Really put it together.
Heck, I'll root for Burriss, I really will. Not all baseball careers are built in the same way, and sometimes hitters really do figure it out when they're 27. Sometimes they become stronger hitters who are ready to contribute, and smart people who watch them can figure out this shift before the statistics have a chance to reflect that.
You just have to assume that the Giants are the team that can figure out when a hitter has turned it around, that they're the team that can see through the statistical matrix to discern the real truth.
Considering that the Giants knew that Freddy Sanchez was made of Chick-o-Stix, they actually did pretty well to reunite Fontenot and Theriot. Lefty/righty combo, both with decent on-base skills. Not bad, considering. But Burriss looked good this spring, so in he goes.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope that when I meet Burriss and congratulate him on his first All-Star selection, he puts a cigar out on my forehead and yells at me. But I have a hard time believing that there's a team who watched the same games that I did over the past three years that would prefer Emmanuel Burriss over Mike Fontenot.