After a busy week, I’ve been catching up on news. To me the most interesting development of the early spring was this bit from Baggs:
Bruce Bochy said the word “competition” definitely applies in left field, even though in this case, it’s established vets like Mark DeRosa and Pat Burrell who are pitted against each other. It’ll be deep into the spring, I’d imagine, before we can make a reasonable guess at who becomes lead dog in this pack. It’ll also depend on how Brandon Belt looks (possibly moving Aubrey Huff to left field). Injuries have a way of changing plans, too.
Putting aside the dubious practice of letting spring training performance influence roster and lineup choices, I can see the wisdom of not necessarily committing to Pat Burrell whole hog. Burrell’s recent history is checkered and his sudden ability to not embarrass himself defensively in LF may leave as suddenly as it came. The Giants are absolutely laden with flyball pitchers, and that could make Burrell an extra liability.
DeRosa’s long absence last year obviously did not hurt the Giants. He’s not the type of player upon whom a team’s fortune’s rest. No, DeRosa is one of those nice to have players. He can hit at league average or slightly above league average, and he can more or less field five different positions, plus shortstop in an emergency. He’s the ideal injury insurance, because he can slot in at most positions and give you approximately league average production.
But nothing in life goes as planned, so of course the biggest injury liability on the Giants is the guy who’s ideally suited to protect against injury liabilities. It’s been two full wrist surgeries before Mark DeRosa and his floppy tendons have hit the ball with authority. The list of guys who’ve recovered from wrist surgery is pretty long. It includes . . . . Pat Burrell, whose 2004 was ended by wrist surgery, and who bounced back to a great season in 2005. But most of the players who bounced back were 5-8 years younger than DeRosa is.
I still think that Burrell should be given the benefit of the doubt as the incumbent starter. I like the Nate Schierholtz/Pat Burrell centaur that worked so well last season, and I think DeRosa’s combination of health uncertainty and positional flexibility makes him an ideal 9th position player.