Word on the street is Marco Scutaro is “50-50” for starting the season on the DL, and the Giants are going to make that decision by the end of this weekend. I can’t even begin to tell you how shocked I am by this news… just kidding. The only way this was a surprise to you is if you take everything the coaching staff says at face value. Most of us around these parts don’t, and I think we were all prepared for the possibility of Scooter breaking camp on the DL. My question is, are the Giants prepared to replace Marco for the first (who knows how long) part of the season?
If Scutaro can’t go by Opening Day – and I’m guessing he won’t – it’s looking very likely that 2B will be a carousel of sorts. Who gets the first shot? Two weeks ago, I would have told you that guy was Ehire Adrianza, hands down. But Adrianza has cooled off pretty significantly with the bat since opening up camp on a tear. My money is on Joaquin Arias at moment, with Adrianza and Brandon Hicks or Tony Abreu seeing some time as well.
To me, it makes perfect sense to give Arias the first look at second if Scutaro is out. The dude isn’t going to light the world on fire, but I think he holds his own out there. Obviously, his greatest value in the past has been subbing in for Pablo Sandoval in late innings, but Pablo really hasn’t shown me any reason to believe he’ll need to be subbed out this year. It’s one thing if the Panda gets hurt, but as long as he’s healthy, he’s a 9-inning guy at the moment.
So, what does the Opening Day lineup look like, sans Scutaro? Here’s my guess:
That’s a lineup I’m perfectly fine with. Bochy has hit Belt #2 in almost every one of the games he (Belt) has played in this spring, and I’m almost certain that’s where he’ll be in Scooter’s absence. That should be a nice spot for Belt, but if he can’t hack it, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Crawford get another shot there as well. He’s looked pretty good in past stints in the 2-hole. Heck, maybe Bochy would even think about switching Pablo and Belt in the order… I can’t think of many 2-hitters better than Pablo when he’s hot, as it seems he is this spring.
The other big question for me at this point is, how much will we see Scutaro on the field this season? I’m sure my take is a little different than some, but I honestly don’t care if he misses the first half of the season. I really don’t. When did Scooter have his biggest impact as a Giant? 2012… down the stretch. When did Freddy Sanchez have his greatest impact? 2010…down the stretch. Edgar Renteria, remember him? Dude played 72 regular season games in 2010, the final year of his contract. If the core players in this offense stay healthy (Posey, Pence, Sandoval, Belt), and the starting pitching rebounds, I’d much rather have Scutaro back, well-rested, for the stretch run than watch him lumber around in pain all season. Can the offense hold up without him? I certainly think they’ve got enough thump in there right now, but you obviously wouldn’t want any of the other key guys to go down.
Ok, let’s wrap this up. We’re about 10 days from decision time, and that infield position still looks like it’s up for grabs. If Scutaro hits the DL, it’s two spots… With 3 guys vying for those spots, the staff will have to ask themselves how much they trust spring numbers. At the moment, it’s Hicks sitting pretty at .394 (33 AB), Adrianza cooling to .194 (31 AB), and Abreu not showing much at .179 (39 AB). Do you trust this group? Is it time for a trade? My guess: Scooter hits the DL, Adrianza and Hicks get big league jerseys, Abreu hits the road. Arias starts the opener. It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out from now until then.