Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Giants Have 2 Predicaments...

The San Francisco Giants are coming off a 2-game losing streak for the first time this season, both in late-inning fashion. But up until then, the Giants were and are playing very good baseball. They are hitting surprisingly well and 4 of the 5 pitchers in their rotation have pitched near lights out. But, as far as I'm concerned, there are 2 problems that this team will face in the coming future, and Giants management will have to find which side of the spectrum gives them the better chance to win.

Sanchez or Uribe

The first problem is more of a predicament. Freddy Sanchez is the team's starting 2nd baseman, or at least that is what he was expected to be when they obtained him last season and what he was expected to be when he comes back from injury. But when is that? Reports say early-May, but other reports say end of May possibly early-June. Sanchez has missed Spring Training as well as the first 13 games of the season, and he will most certainly need to get back into real baseball shape in order to get back onto the field. To be safe, I would predict an early-June return for Sanchez.

Meanwhile, the Giants aren't missing him much, which is where the predicament for the Giants comes in. Juan UUUUU-Ribe has taken the 2010 season by storm after getting a 1 yr./$3.25 million contract in the offseason. This has turned out to be a great move for the Giants as Uribe is no doubt the team's best hitter this season, including clutch hit after clutch hit. Through the first 13 games, Uribe is batting .348 with 16 hits (tied for the team lead) and has 11 RBI's, which almost doubles Pablo Sandoval's RBI total, who is in 2nd place on the team.

So what happens when Sanchez comes back? There the predicament lies. There's no room for Sanchez. Edgar Renteria is having a fantastic start to his season, so you can't move Uribe to shortstop. Sandoval and Aubrey Huff are really the only legitimate power-threats next to Uribe, so they aren't going anywhere. So where do you put him? How about the trading block?

Sure, Sanchez is an ex-batting champ, but his recent injuries have done nothing to justify his 2 yr./$12 million deal that he signed with the Giants last season. Plus, who knows how he will come back from this injury. Trading Sanchez would only work if the Giants re-signed Uribe, and also pending Uribe continues on this tear. Bottom line is there is nowhere to put Sanchez other than the bench, and who wants a $12 million player on their bench? The Giants will have to figure out something quick, but the worst thing to do would be to put their best hitter (Uribe) on the bench just get their money's worth for Sanchez. It will cost them games, and the Giants will need every win this year if they hope to contend for a division title.

No doubt, the Giants will have some thinking to do in the coming months regarding this issue, but it will make this predicament even harder to decide upon if Uribe continue to swing the bat like he has. It will boost their win total, though.

Wellemeyer or Bumgarner?

The only thing wrong with the Giants pitching staff so far is its #5 starter Todd Wellemeyer who has been the only "if" in the Giants rotation this season. Wellemeyer signed a minor-league contract with the team in the offseason and won the #5 spot in the rotation in Spring Training over young phenom Madison Bumgarner. But with the struggles so far this season for Wellemeyer, when is a good time to try something new? Maybe call-up Bumgarner.

Sure, Bumgarner is only 20 years old and needs to get some routine starts under his belt in AAA this season, but he pitched surprisingly well in however many starts he had last season in the Majors. Plus, whatever he brings to the table is better than what Wellemeyer has brought so far. Unless Wellemeyer's start to the season is just a fluke, there is no doubt someone like Bumgarner, or even Kevin Pucetas, will get called up to replace him for a few starts.

The Giants, of course, will wait this one out and see how Wellemeyer does in his next several starts, but if he continues to be the only hole in a very solid rotation, something needs to change. It is not right for the other 4 starters to go out and have solid outings, but when its Wellemeyer's turn its an automatic 4-5 runs given up. And with the Giants offense, although good so far, that is hard to come back from.

The only thing holding the Giants from pulling the trigger in the foreseeable future is Bumgarner's first 3 outings in AAA-Fresno this season. In 3 starts, he is 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA, and only made it through the 4th inning once.

So expect to see Wellemeyer for a little while longer as long as Bumgarner is pitching like that in AAA, but know that it has got to be on the minds of Giants management to replace Wellemeyer sooner than later if this keeps up. If Wellemeyer continues to be the only hole in that pretty rotation, then expect Bumgarner sooner, no matter how he is pitching in AAA.

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