As the Giants are in a favorable stretch in their schedule, some questions have been resolved, but others remain.
The best news is in the outfield where Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera have all stepped up, Cabrera in particular. Though Cabrera was a hitting machine in May, what I’ve most enjoyed about his game is his throwing. At one time, there were many major-league outfielders with great arms, but that’s become a lost art. Not for Cabrera, who has made laser throws from left field to home plate.
Manager Bruce Bochy has figured out how best to use his hitters, putting Blanco, a speedy runner who can steal a base, at the top of the order and dropping Cabrera and Pagan to middle of the order spots, where they belong. Bochy has also made a counterintuitive move with Brandon Crawford, who had struggled to keep his batting average above .200. In the No. 2 slot, he’s seeing more fast balls and his average has risen.
Please, no more of this talk about moving Buster Posey from catcher to first base. As a catcher, Posey gives the Giants hitting production that teams rarely get at catcher. As a first baseman, his power production would be below average. Hector Sanchez is a good backup, period.
The right side of the infield, particularly second base, continues to be a problem. Freddy Sanchez — remember him? — was supposed to be the starter, but he keeps coming up with reasons to keep rehabbing. One broadcaster calls him a “professional rehabber,” implying that Sanchez is deliberately prolonging his recovery so he can be healthy as he goes for another contract after this season.
If so, he’s being both ungrateful and unrealistic. Ungrateful because Brian Sabean gave him an early extension last season (can’t anybody stop Sabean from these ridiculous decisions?), just before he suffered a season-ending injury. Unrealistic because what club would take a chance on him with his injury history. To recap, Sanchez played just 25 games for the Giants in 2009 after a midseason trade with Pittsburgh. In 2010, he played only 111 games due to an injury. Last year, he played 60. So far this season, none.
In his place, Bochy first went to Emmanuel Burriss, a good defensive player with outstanding speed, but not a major-league hitter. Ryan Theriot, signed as a backup, is now playing second, but Theriot’s skills, both with the bat and in the field, have deteriorated. Joaquin Arias, who has been a great fill-in at third, will probably go to second when Pablo Sandoval returns.
At first, Bochy has been alternating Brandon Belt and Brett Pill, but the Aubrey Huff problem is still there. It would be foolish to keep Huff because of his contract. The Giants cut Aaron Rowand last year with more than a year left on his contract because he wasn’t contributing. They should do the same with Huff, who is physically and emotionally unreliable.
Counting this week’s games, the Giants have a stretch of 20 home games in 32, with the 12 road games all on the West Coast. But that favorable schedule won’t be enough if they can’t solve their vexing problems.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.