I can understand the logic behind Giants management giving Pat Burrell a minor league contract. The Giants need offense (though that certainly hasn't been the case the last two games; though you have to remember it was against Arizona). He's a free agent. He comes at little cost. He's only two seasons removed from a monster season in Philadelphia (though "monster season in Philadelphia" should always be taken with a grain of salt). And he's a Bay Area kid. What more would you want, right? It's win-win on paper.
And yet, you can't help but feel nauseated by this latest deal. In all honesty, out of all of Brian Sabean's moves this season, this one makes the least sense.
Mark Derosa "allegedly" is due back in a week. Edgar Renteria is due back in a couple. So, the Giants have this dilemma going:
Derosa, Aubrey Huff, Aaron Rowand, John Bowker, Buster Posey, Nate Schierholtz, Travis Ishikawa, and Andres Torres are all going to be fighting for playing time at first base and in the outfield.
Who's Burrell going to replace?
First off, I'm guessing Bowker is the first odd man out. I can get that, especially considering he has an option. Ishikawa is probably another guy out, most likely going to be designated for assignment soon. At the very least, the Giants could get some return. His numbers look good after two big pinch hits (In 22 at-bats, he has a .273 average, a .360 OBP and a .951 OPS) and he has tremendous defensive value (career 10.3 UZR), so it's totally possible that the Giants could get something of value for him. (A low-end prospect or cash perhaps?)
Even with those two guys out of the picture though, the Giants still have to deal with seven players (including Burrell) vying for two spots.
You can't take out Torres because Torres is the best Giants leadoff hitter since Kenny Lofton in 2002 (I know...it's been that long folks). You can't take out Huff because Huff's approach has been very refreshing (high OBP, 0.95 BB/K ratio), even if it's not "Classic Huff" (1.11 GB/FB ratio, 8.8 HR/FB percentage). The Giants shouldn't take out Schierholtz because he's one of the Giants' best defensive outfielders (career 19.4 UZR), and he has been a spark at the plate this year in terms of plate patience (0.77 BB/K ratio), even if the power hasn't come around as expected (.405 slugging, 3.3 HR/FB percentage).
And lastly, the Giants shouldn't take out Posey, mainly because he has six hits in two games and needs more playing time to prove he is a Giants franchise player and worth the $6.25 million signing bonus he signed in 2008.
The most logical thing to do in order to make room for Burrell would be to bench Derosa (who doesn't seem a 100 percent anyway after wrist surgery) and Rowand (who has been tremendously ineffective this year). However, what makes that scenario tough is their contracts. Derosa and Rowand are due $19.6 million dollars this season. Brian Sabean would look awfully foolish with those two players on the bench considering how much cash he threw at them in the 2008 and 2010 offseasons.
Now, I know some people will think Burrell might just be a platoon player, maybe a pinch hitter ala Jim Thome in Los Angeles last season (Bobby Evans mentioned that on the Giants pregame show with Mycheal Urban on Saturday). I don't see that. Burrell had a choice between San Diego and San Francisco and I don't think he signed with the Giants to sit the bench, and I don't think Sabean signed him to pinch hit either. Burrell may or may not finish the season with the Giants, but Burrell's a big-name with a big pedigree. When he gets called up, he will play, and play regularly.
Because Burrell is a detriment to the Giants defensively (career minus-44.6 UZR in LF), the Giants would need to maximize their defense in order to shadow Burrell's inadequacies with the glove. Here would be the best lineup should Burrell be starting:
I definitely think this lineup could be effective. Torres and Schierholtz can cover massive ground in center and right, so that puts less pressure on Burrell. Furthermore, Burrell is put in a spot in the lineup currently manned by Rowand, and I don't think Burrell could be any worse offensively.
There are problems of course with my proposed lineup:
1.) It is highly unlikely that Posey will ever catch for Molina (because Bengie is "so good" at calling games, apparently).
2.) Uribe will get shafted when Renteria comes back healthy.
3.) Derosa needs to be in the lineup (because he's a "vet" and he is being paid to play).
So, the chances of my lineup actually happening I would think would be maybe 10 percent (and even that is generous). What most likely would happen is that Burrell would rotate with Derosa, with Torres in right and Nate on the bench. Not only is this going to hurt the Giants defensively, but overall, the lineup will suffer and somebody effective is not going to get at-bats (be it Schierholtz or Posey), which in the end, is going to cost the Giants wins.
The best scenario, of course, for the Giants would have been to lay off Burrell in the first place. Yet leave it to Giants management to sign a "big name" to confuse Bruce Bochy. I hate to be pessimistic, but in the end, Burrell's acquisition will cost the Giants some games.
150 days to the Cactus League opener
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