There’s nothing like the old switcheroo trade. Mike Fontenot started today as a Chicago Cub, but he’ll end it as a Giant. The Giants have traded A-ball outfield prospect, Evan Crawford, to the Cubs in exchange for 2B Mike Fontenot.
Fontenot describes the weirdness of changing sidelines and changing teams before a game.
“It’s been a strange day so far, just coming to the field, getting the work in and everything and coming up from the stairs after hitting, and they brought me in the office after hitting to let me know,” Fontenot said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to play here. I’ve been keeping up with baseball as much as anybody else does and knowing that the Giants are in the thick of it really gets you pumped up.”
As the post title states above, the main reason for acquiring Fontenot was Renteria’s return to the DL. As of today, the Giants have placed Renteria on the 15-day DL with a strained left biceps. This marks Renteria’s third trip to the DL this season — he went through groin and hamstring problems earlier this year in May. Picking up Fontenot should mean that the Giants will go with a combo of Juan Uribe and Emmanuel Burriss at shortstop. This presents a couple of problems. (1) Uribe has been an acceptable fill-in this season at short but he’s battled injuries and hamstring issues as well. It’s uncertain if he’ll be able to play a position like SS full-time. (2) Emmannuel Burriss isn’t very good and not someone a contending team should ever play regularly. If Juan Uribe goes down, or can’t play SS, the Giants are in hot water.
What did the Giants get in Fontenot? The 30-year-old 2B has played in the majors on a part time basis since 2007. He’s a career .330 wOBA batter with a league average walk rate (8.9%). He’s show league average power (.149 ISO) over his career as well. Some of his batting numbers are a little skewed by his 2008 in which he hit .305/.395/.514 (.395 wOBA) in 284 at-bats. In non-’08 years, he’s been much closer to a .320-ish wOBA hitter, making him below average on offense. As a lefty batter, Fontent has hit RHP better than LHP over his career — wOBA’s of .337 vs. 277. The ZiPS rest-of-season projections have Fontenot as a .331 wOBA batter for the rest of the year. His defense has rated well by some of the advanced metrics. He’s logged 1,747 career innings on defense at 2B. UZR has him at +8.5 runs per 150 defensive games, +/- has him at +7 runs.
He’s not a bad bench option to have against RHP but his downside is that, while he does appear to play 2B well, it’s really the only position he can play with any skill. He might get the occasional start to rest Freddy Sanchez, but the Giants should keep him limited to games against RHPs.
What the Giants gave up to get Fontenot seems appropriate. Crawford is a 21-year-old putting up a slash-line of .255/.319 /.366 in his first year of A-ball.
Bottom Line: The Giants deepen their bench a little with this move and if Fontenot has to play the field, he’s not going to hurt you on defense. I’d much rather have Fontenot taking hacks as a PH than Burriss or Whiteside.