The Houston Astros are a pretty terrible team, so you already know that Bill Hall was not having a good year when they released him. It is somewhat humorous to note that the Astros released Hall while another player that the Giants gave away for free last year – Matt Downs – was still on their active roster. Downs is quietly having a nice little season for the Astros.
I know you’d like to hear that Hall was the victim of bad luck in his stint in Houston, and that he’s a sure thing to bounce back, but that’s not really the case. Hall flat out sucked for two months, striking out in 37% of his AB while not doing anything much to make up for it. Also, the only time he’s really been not terrible in the last three years was when his home park was Fenway: a place that can transform a solid, underrated right-handed hitter into a batting champion.
Hall was also not a terribly multidimensional hitter even when his career was going well. He’s yet another Giant that probably won’t get on base at even an average rate, or hit right handed pitchers very well.
The key here is not that Bill Hall is a great bet to transform back into a real hitter, but more the fact that there is some upside in him. He can probably still hit for power, and if he can keep the strikeouts under control for a half season, he’s a real asset. Plus, when you’re already scoring 3.5 runs per game there’s no real reason to play it safe. Especially when “playing it safe” means playing a lot of Manny Burriss. I haven’t given up completely on Burriss becoming a useful part of a major league roster, but giving him a bunch of starts at second base is chapter one in my instruction manual on how to make bad offenses that much worse.
If Hall can bounce back slightly, when Mike Fontenot returns from his injury, the Giants will hopefully have three acceptable options at two middle infield spots, and also Miguel Tejada. That could help move the middle infield from a black hole of outs to something like what the corner outfield spots currently are: a bunch of okay options with no outstanding ones.