Brian Sabean has said he’s done dealing. The budget is maxed out. The roster is set. That makes your starting 2012 short stop. . . Brandon Crawford. Not Jose Reyes. Not Jimmy Rollins. Not even Rafael Furcal.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Crawford’s glove work in the field. He’s a magician with the leather (if you have any doubts, check out this video). But at the plate? Not so much. During his various stops with the Giants last season, Crawford put up a line of .204/.288/.296, with an OPS of .584. His Fangraphs projection for next season isn’t much better, projecting his 2012 line at .232/.297/.340.
Don’t worry, though – he’ll be backed up by Emmanuel Burriss! Wait, that doesn’t make me feel better. Burriss may have a certain amount of speed (and we know that the Giants love the vroom), but he’s even worse at the plate than Crawford, with a line of .204/.253/.212. Plus Burriss doesn’t have Crawford’s pretty defense to even partly compensate for his lack of production at the plate. And yet, according to Andrew Baggarly, the Giants are “banking on a big contribution from [Burriss], including some time at short.” Yikes.
This isn’t to say that I’d rather see the return of Miguel Tejada (.239/.270/.326) or Orlando Cabrera (.222/.241/.270). Obviously the Giants weren’t going to spring for Reyes or even Rollins. And despite Hanley Ramirez’s reluctance to move from SS to 3B for Reyes in Miami, it’s highly improbable (if not definitely impossible) that the Giants would trade for him and his contract ($15m in 2012, $15.5 in ’13, and $16m in ’14). But would it have been so bad to pick up Rafael Furcal? Furcal may not be flashy, but his career .282/.348/.408 would certainly be a decent improvement.
Since this is apparently the plan, though, I’m going to choose to be encouraged by Crawford’s Arizona Fall League play. With the Scottsdale Scorpions this fall, Crawford boosted his line to .276/.315/.414. If this means that Crawford has figured out even a little something at the plate, and even part of this translates over to the big leagues, I’ll happily welcome Crawford as the Giants’ opening day SS. And I’ll root heartily for his success. Because at this point, there is no alternative.