Spring training is happily coming to an end, and the Giants apparently contemplating making some decisions based on spring training performances. “Making decisions influenced by spring training performances” is one of those phrases that summons up a feeling of dread. Like decisions under the influence of NyQuil and Triple Sec, you know that the decision won’t be a good one, the best you can hope for is a harmless one.
Deciding whether Gregor Blanco should make the team as a fifth outfielder is exactly the sort of thing that spring training is for. The role has a limited amount of damage he can do, and his history suggests that he is not without upside. That said, I’m a little leery of this new thing where everyone goes looking for the “next Andres Torres” in every speedy outfielder with a history of not hitting. It undersells how rare Torres’s late career turnaround was. Look, if you go around looking for Andres Torreses, you just end up with a bunch of outfielders who can’t hit. Treasure the time you had watching the original, but don’t go looking for it to happen again. Besides, Blanco is relatively young, and with a track record of some modest success. If he pans out, it would be a pleasant surprise, but not exactly something you would make a documentary about.
Deciding who should be the backup catcher is another thing that spring training is perfect for. Especially since a big part of that is deciding whether Eli Whiteside was just hurt last or whether he’s basically as bad a defensive option as he is an offensive one. The one dangerous element in this decision is what to do with Hector Sanchez. I’m a big fan of Hector Sanchez, but his game still strikes me as still very raw. That means I’m not a big fan of this “rush Hector Sanchez so he can be a big league backup” idea. I think Sanchez is a lock to be a quality backup, because he can both catch and hit left-handed. A little more development and he could be more than that, providing the Giants with a valuable asset to either use or trade.
The decision that most has me worried concerns second base. So, it turns out that Freddy Sanchez is not healthy. I’ll pause a moment for you to get over your shock. Drunk on spring training performance and possibly malt liquor, the Giants are contemplating starting Burriss at second base. Chris has already detailed why that’s not a fantastic idea. But it could be one of those wacky things that the Giants try for a week to start the season and then give up on, like Dan Ortmeier, John Bowker or (well) Brandon Belt.
Oh. So not only are we not getting rid of the collection of oily rags and newspapers, but we’re thinking of canceling the fire insurance and selling the fire extinguisher?
If the Giants just end up trading away Theriot and this whole Burriss as opening day starter fad passes, I’ll retract my whining. I think Theriot is probably the better player, but not enough that I’d care about the difference between either of them as the 25th man. I still believe in Mike Fontenot, at least so far as to say that I’m pretty sure he’s better than Manny Burris at every aspect of playing second base. Trading away Fontenot and installing Burriss at second would be taking an unacceptable risk with an offense that needs everything to go right to work already.