Giants know who's on first, but what's on third?

March, 26, 2009
As Henry Schulman reports, the Giants seem to have settled on their first baseman:

    Two weeks before the Giants head north, most of the important position competitions remain wide open, although one decision seems to be clear: Travis Ishikawa looks like the Opening Day first baseman.

    "Ishikawa has played enough now that you can see that he's going to be the first baseman and it will remain to be seen how much latitude he'll be given against left-handed pitching," general manager Brian Sabean said. "We've got time to find that out, too. He's very determined, and we're all impressed by how he's handled things."

    Sabean was less committed to Pablo Sandoval as the everyday third baseman, saying, "It's tough to evaluate Sandoval yet because we're not at the point where you're playing guys two or three days in a row. That's when you get a better read."

    Not clear is what would happen to Sandoval if the brass decided he could not be an everyday third baseman and not the first baseman. The Giants need Sandoval's bat in the lineup every day.

I'll say they do. Reasonable projections for both:

Ishikawa vs. Sandoval
Ishikawa .325 .450
Sandoval .330 .465

Actually, the gap between them as hitters isn't nearly as wide as I thought. Ishikawa has the reputation as an outstanding defensive first baseman, while Sandoval … well, let's just say you probably would win a Gold Glove before he would. No matter which position he plays. These two might constitute a fairly wonderful platoon, except teams typically don't like to platoon young hitters with bright futures. But the Giants have been acting as though they want to win now, and if they want to win now, a platoon might be in order.

Oh, except who will play third base if not Sandoval?

Juan Uribe? Doesn't hit enough.

Rich Aurilia? Probably doesn't hit enough.

Jesus Guzman? He has barely played in Triple-A, let alone in the majors. But John Sickels, author of "Baseball Prospect Book," says he's a sleeper (Sickels: SLEEPER ALERT!! SLEEPER ALERT!!); if the Giants feel like rolling the dice, Guzman might reward the risk.

Guzman has never really found a position, and there's no sense in playing him at third unless he's significantly better than Sandoval with the glove. Considering that Guzman has never played an inning in the majors and Sandoval has 85 innings as a major league third baseman, there's not a great deal more that we can say about them. It's for decisions like this that Bruce Bochy gets paid a couple of million bucks every year.


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