Last off-season Michael Young wasn’t too happy about moving to third base. That marked the second time in five years that Young move around the infield for the Texas Rangers. Well if you thought that was a big deal, check out the defense for the San Francisco Giants in just the past two months.
The field started off like this:
C- Buster Posey
1B- Travis Ishikawa
2B- Freddy Sanchez
SS- Edgar Renteria
3B- Pablo Sandoval
LF- Fred Lewis
CF- Aaron Rowand
RF- Nate Schierholtz
At this point the Giants were linked to rumors about Dan Uggla. This idea had Freddy Sanchez ready to move to third base which was his spot when he broke in with the Pirates. Sandoval would have moved to first where he will likely end up anyway. Those rumors never seemed to progress very well and GM Brian Sabean turned his attention back to first base. Adam LaRoche was linked to the team but his lofty contract demands turned Sabean’s attention to others on the market, and the defense was still set as is.
Then a flurry of moves started the musical chairs that is the Giants’ infield. Mark DeRosa was signed to potentially play third base. Infielder Juan Uribe was brought back and his late season push of 2009 may have given him the inside path to third, pushing Mark DeRosa to the outfield. Either way, Sandoval will now be their first baseman… Nope.
Sunday night the team came to an agreement with lefty Aubrey Huff. In his early days Huff played third base for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when they were still bottom feeders in the AL East. Now don’t let that fool you. He has since moved on to more of a first base/DH role. Though it’s only a $3M deal, Huff will man first base.
Everything finally appears set with Sandoval moving back to third base where he will, for at least one more year, display his “Kung Fu Panda” skills at the hot corner. Utility man Mark DeRosa will play left and Fred Lewis will battle Nate Schierholtz for the right field job. Ishikawa and Uribe have been moved to the bench but something tells me that Bochy will have a few different lineups this year given the versatility of DeRosa, Sanchez, Uribe and Sandoval.
When the dust settles on this renovation project the Giants will come away with the feeling of pride that they atleast did something, but was it enough? In the powerful NL West it will take big strides to move past the Dodgers and Rockies. Bruce Bochy’s lineup is not built around his stadium which calls for either speed to take advantage of the gaps or power to at least drive the ball far enough into those gaps. The Giants finished 27th in extra base hits and that number won’t rise too much with these middle-of-the-road transactions. The Giants will still be adding another catcher this off-season (meaning the musical chairs aren’t done just yet) but there are no impact bats left in that market. The pitching staff will have a tough challenge ahead of them next season in keeping the scores low out west.
My predictions of a free agent hitter each team will still sign this off-season:
Nationals: Chad Tracy to pinch hit and get some defense at 1st base for Adam Dunn.
Royals: Vladimir Guerrero to DH; maybe play some right to keep Jose Guillen rested. (I would say Scott Podsednik but it appears he is about to sign with them anyway.)
Pirates: Rick Ankiel to play right field and hit 4th/5th.
Orioles: Hank Blalock to play first base though Baltimore may use Garrett Atkins there.
Indians: Jose Molina to mentor the team’s young catching prospects.
Mets: Bengie Molina who will start at catcher.
Diamondbacks: Randy Winn to play left field and mentor their young outfielders.
Padres: Brad Ausmus to backup Nick Hundley at catcher.
Astros: Jerry Hairston Jr. to start the season at short until Manzella is ready
Blue Jays: Endy Chavez is a great defender in the outfield.
A’s: Khalil Greene to possibly get some innings at short and third.
Reds: Miguel Tejada to start at shortstop and hit 2nd.
White Sox: Ryan Church to be insurance for oft-injured outfielders Andruw Jones and Carlos Quentin.
Brewers: Fernando Tatis to provide some pop off the bench from the right side.
Cubs: Orlando Hudson to play second base and hit 2nd.
Rays: Marcus Thames who can hit for power and start if Joyce/Perez need time at AAA.
Mariners: Xavier Nady has power and can split innings at first with Casey Kotchman.
Tigers: Alfredo Amezaga to spend time in center and at second while prospects learn.
Braves: Jeremy Reed who won’t cost to much and can play all three OF spots.
Twins: Orlando Cabrera fit right in last year and he’ll be back to play second base this time.
Marlins: Gabe Gross to provide a lefty bat off the bench.
Rangers: Russell Branyan who will have to sign another cheap, one year deal.
Giants: Yorvit Torrealba to share catching duties with Buster Posey like Torrealba did with Iannetta in Colorado.
Cardinals: Matt Stairs to pinch hit.
Rockies: Jason Giambi will re-sign after a fun run in Colorado last year.
Red Sox: Rocco Baldelli to backup the outfield because I believe they will trade Jeremy Hermida.
Dodgers: Felipe Lopez to play second base and thrive in that lineup.
Angels: Melvin Mora who will get time at third and left.
Phillies: Paul Bako to play catcher at AAA and wait for an opportunity like he got last year with the Phillies.
Yankees: Reed Johnson to split time with Brett Gardner in left.