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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

San Francisco Giants Midterm Reports: Part 1 of 4

Part 1: Grading the Vets

Nate Schierholtz: A-
Analysis: What can you say about Schierholtz’ performance this season?  Did you see it coming?  Three years ago, I saw this kind of performance from him.  But at this point I certainly didn’t see him becoming the type of game-changing player he has been the past c0uple months.  We’ve always known about his glove and arm, but now the bat is coming around.  If this keeps up, he may just earn his way into the right field role of the future with us.  All of a sudden his average is near .300 and he’s hit 7 home runs, and arguably no position player has made as big of an impact as he has lately. 

Prediction: It seems pretty stupid to sit Nate the Great down now, so the Giants might as well ride out this surge that he is on.  Let’s hope it keeps up.  Realistically, I see a .272, 13 hr, 60 rbi line at season’s end, with more outfield assists and game-saving catches to come.    
Just another game-saving play from Nate the Great.

Freddy Sanchez: B
Analysis: The hottest hitter on the team for most of the season before separating his shoulder on June 10 against the Reds.  Potentially could return very late in the season, possibly for the playoffs.  His spot has been a tough one to fill.

Prediction: Wouldn’t it be amazing to see Freddy in the lineup down the stretch in September?  If he does return, I’d like to think he’ll have a few vintage Freddy Sanchez moments that ignite the Giants faithful. 

Cody Ross: C
Analysis: After missing the first month of the season with a leg injury, Ross has been one of the most consistent hitters for the Giants since his return to the lineup.  His numbers are a bit lackluster, but his .275/.361/.428 is All-World for this team.  He’s hit only 6 home runs, so there’s definitely some room for offensive improvement in the second half if he wants to keep his everyday job.

Prediction: With the emergence of Nate Schierholtz, Ross hasn’t been playing as regularly as he’d like during the past month.  I’m thinking he will run into a hot streak, and will benefit greatly from the acquisition of another hitter.  I don’t think we’ll see his average improve much, but I can see him finishing the year with 17 home runs and 60-70 rbi’s, possibly starting in center field if the team brings in a corner outfielder.       

Mike Fontenot: C-
Analysis: Fontenot’s season has been marred by injuries so far, but he did earn himself a trip into the number three spot in the lineup for a short time.  He’s played in only 38 games, but he has posted a .327 OBP (100 points higher than his batting average) in 113 plate appearances.  He’s back now, hopefully healthy, and has every chance to be the everyday second baseman for the stretch run.

Prediction: Fontenot’s another gritty, hard working player (a “dirtbag” of sorts) who’s going to help his team however he can.  I don’t see him having a breakout second half by any means, but he could provide some solid depth while platooning throughout the infield.  A .265 batting average and a solid glove would look good for his role at this point. 

Eli Whiteside: C-
Analysis: Whiteside was awarded the starting catcher’s job after Buster Posey’s injury, and he hasn’t exactly run away with the job.  While his .229/.315/.385, 3 home run offensive line is an upgrade over backup Chris Stewart, “Whitey” hasn’t proven to be the defensive specialist that he had made his name as during the past couple seasons in San Francisco.  As Mike Krukow mentioned during one game I had on, transitioning from a backup role to an everyday catcher isn’t easy on the body, and maybe it’s been physically taxing on Whiteside.  Whatever the case, he just doesn’t appear to be a suitable starting catcher in the big leagues.

Prediction: I believe the Giants will seek additional catching help at some point, even if they have to turn to hot-hitting Fresno signee Max Ramirez.  This will inevitably cost one of the current two catchers a roster spot, and while the eyeball test says Stewart is probably the better defensive replacement, my gut says Whiteside’s experience keeps him on the team.    

Chris Stewart: C-
Analysis: Stewart has played in 27 games this season since being promoted from AAA.  While he has struggled with the bat (.172/.273/.241 in 58 at bats), he’s certainly shown he has an arm capable of nabbing potential baserunners.  At this point, I don’t think there’s any question that he’s the better defensive catcher on the team.  Once again, however, Stewart is not an everyday catcher who can contribute in the lineup.

Prediction: As mentioned, if and when the Giants bring in another catcher, Stewart’s strong arm will most likely be gunning down runners in the Pacific Coast League.

Aubrey Huff: D+
Analysis: On the one hand, Huff leads the team in homers (8) and rbi’s (44).  On the other, his numbers are putrid (.236/.290/.361) compared to what he produced last year (.290/.385/.506).  If he can bust out of this slump, first base is still his job to lose.  If not, Brandon Belt looks like an awfully nice replacement.

Second Half Prediction: Huff has his bright spots, but is definitely past his prime.  He’ll continue to struggle, finishing the season with a sub-.250 average and 15 home runs.  By September, he may be splitting time with Belt. 

Miguel Tejada: D+
Analysis: Yet another underperforming veteran, Tejada has not provided the Giants what they were expecting when they signed him before the season.  He’s posted a marginal hitting line of .241/.274/.326 with only 3 home runs, all while playing spotty defense at short and third.  Howeever, just when it seemed that he’d lost his everyday job, Tejada began to hit.  Slowly, his average improved in the last month before the break, highlighted by a grand slam in a 15-3 rout of the Tigers in Detroit.

Prediction: With Pablo Sandoval reestablished as the team’s third baseman and Brandon Crawford displaying a magic glove at short, Tejada may have to split time with Mike Fontenot at second base if he wants to see much playing time in the second half.  However, if Huff continues to struggle at first, and the Giants aren’t ready to put Brandon Belt back in the order, Tejada may play some third with Pablo moving to first.  Whatever the case, the former AL MVP shortstop needs to keep hitting if he wants to stick around.  I feel an improved second half coming on, and a final season line of .263 with 8 hr and 55 rbi.  At this point, I think the Giants would take that. 

Andres Torres: D+
Analysis: Torres was a wonderful surprise in 2010, providing a much needed spark in the leadoff spot in the order while showing dazzling speed in center field.  This season, the great defense has still been there, but injuries have kept him out for significant amounts of time, and his offense has really suffered.  His .226 batting average has been cause for concern of late, and Bruce Bochy hasn’t played him regularly for the past couple weeks.  If the Giants acquire Carlos Beltran, things could get very interesting in the outfield, so Torres had better get his bat going. 

Prediction: After last season, it was easy to forget that Torres was a career minor leaguer who bounced around for the better part of a decade before finding a home in San Francisco.  One thing is for sure though – the guy works hard, and he’s very passionate about his performance.  I don’t think he’ll have an MVP-type second half, but he’ll bounce back from this slump.  Look for him to raise his average into the .255-.265 range, hit 10-12 home runs, and steal 15 bases after the break.        

Pat Burrell: D
Analysis: Pat the Bat provided the Giants with some huge home runs last season on their race for the division title.  He opened as this year’s starting LF, but has since lost the job to Cody Ross.  Burrell’s low batting average (.236) should not be a surprise.  Nor should his high strikeout rate (67 times in 171 AB).  However, he still has 7 home runs and an OBP of .343, both of which are very much needed for this offense.  I would like to see him get some more starts in the second half, but the acquisition of another outfielder may end up leaving Burrell out of a job for good. 

Prediction: The Giants need to improve their offense, and it seems they will do so through a trade.  That probably won’t bode well for old Pat the Bat, who will continue to see spotty playing time if he isn’t dropped from the roster.  If he’s going to reestablish himself, he’d better do it in the first few weeks after the break.

Aaron Rowand: D-
Analysis: I see a pattern starting to form here.  Rowand is in year 4 of 5 of his lucrative $60 million contract, and he still isn’t doing much.  He’s had every opportunity to take center field from his fellow underwhelming teammate Andres Torres, but hasn’t taken advantage of his chances.  For a man making $12 million a year, a line of .242/.295/.347 with 2 long balls just isn’t going to cut it.

Prediction: More of the same lackluster production from Rowand, with a couple of feel good doubles sprinkled in.  I can’t wait to see his awkward stance in a different uniform in 2013.        

Marc DeRosa: F
Analysis: DeRosa was just 6-37 in 18 games played this season before reinjuring his shoddy wrist.  I personally haven’t heard a report on the status of his health, but I can’t foresee him suiting up with us any time.  An exciting deal when it took place two years ago, DeRosa’s signing has proven to be essentially lost money for the Giants.

Prediction: If he is able to return before the season is over, I doubt that DeRosa will able to contribute at the major league level.  I highly doubt we ever see him in an orange and black uni again.   

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