Say it Ain’t So, Marco

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:

Pagan CF

Belt 1B

Sandoval 3B

Posey C

Pence RF

Morse LF

Arias 2B

Crawford SS

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.

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10 thoughts on “Say it Ain’t So, Marco”

  1. Bruce Bochy has said that Arias will get the nod if Scutaro isn’t able to go. Agree with you that Adrianza and Hicks should get the call over Abreu, assuming Scutaro goes on the DL.

    1. Thanks for the heads up. I hadn’t seen Bochy’s comments. It definitely makes sense though. Hicks and Adrianza would definitely give some nice versatility in the infield. I like Hicks’ power potential off the bench, and Ehire’s athleticism. Maybe Abreu would pass through waivers anyway?

  2. It was a recent article: http://blog.sfgate.com/giants/2014/03/20/update-marco-scutaros-opening-day-odds-for-sf-giants-take-a-big-hit/

    But it don’t need a quote to figure that out, Arias has the big contract, Abreu has a low cost contract, and Adrianza is fighting for a major league contract, as well as Hicks. Arias just makes sense, he’s been their go-to guy for infield starts when necessary.

    As for the batting lines, that is all SSS. What will be more important to the Giants is how the hitters look like while hitting well or poorly, I think that is clear from comments in prior seasons. I haven’t seen them, so I don’t know.

    Here’s what I feel would be most pragmatic. Arias would start, and Abreu and Adrianza would be the bench MI, since both are out of options, and continue to battle for the last spot. Hicks, who was signed to a minor league contract, will stay down in AAA. When Scutaro is ready to come back, whenever that may be, the Giants decide the MI bench battle.

    My assumption all along is that the Giants intend to keep Adrianza, but must have been aware of Scutaro’s issues, which led them to keep Abreu around as insurance. You never know. Then Hicks became available, so they got more insurance that they could store in AAA.

    I think the rest is played by ear.

    If Scutaro is out long-term, I think whoever looks good among Hicks, Panik, Noonan in AAA will get the next starting audition, though I suspect Hicks would get the first shot unless he’s totally scuffling. And Adrianza would get the shot if he impresses the staff.

    If Scutaro plays the Durham card and is in and out all season, while Arias is the starter now, I think Bochy will eventually give it to whoever is hitting best at the time, whether Arias or Adrianza. I just don’t see Abreu as a starter. And in this scenario, someone will take the Fresno ride often, when Scutaro is out, and that probably is Noonan.

    And I agree, that’s a great point, we mainly want Scutaro healthy for the second half of the season and the playoffs, should we make it. And I agree that our lineup can take the hit of losing Scutaro. Good observation about Belt batting 2nd. Bochy has stated that Crawford when he’s hitting well, he wouldn’t hesitate batting him second. And Sandoval would be nice in the 2-spot as well, though if he’s hitting for power, as I expect, that would be a bit of a waste in that spot, though it should give our starters a lot of early leads.

    1. Forgot to include Hicks in there if Scutaro is in and out. I think the Giants leave him in AAA if Scutaro is in and out, as he’s insurance, for once he’s called up, if Scutaro returns, then they would have to DFA either Adrianza or Hicks, whereas Noonan could be optioned back and forth. I think Hicks only get the call if Scutaro is out long-term plus in the off-chance that Adrianza is totally overmatched and doing terrible, then the Giants might be forced to DFA him and risk losing him. Hey, it happens, but I don’t think it will happen. Spring is a weird time where fans and beat writers like to speculate on things that might not even be on the Giants minds, like whether they are keeping Adrianza or not.

      1. Thanks for the comments OGC! Great point about the speculation. The Giants definitely seem like they have a plan with these final spots, and in the case of the bullpen it’s quite different than what I was anticipating. These kinds of things have a way of working themselves out. If nothing else, at least there are plenty of options in the case that Bochy needs to ride the hot hand with Scutaro out… Between Arias, Adrianza, Hicks, Noonan, potentially Abreu and even Joe Panik, I’m sure they’ll be able to put together decent production. As long as the defense over there is solid, any offense will be icing on the cake for me, as I think the lineup is more than strong enough to handle Scutaro out for some time.

      2. Wow, there goes my speculation, totally didn’t see that happening, Abreu just got released. I guess it helps that the Giants only had a pay a quarter of his contract to him, didn’t remember that key point there. That made him really cheap insurance.

        Looks like Adrianza got the second MI spot sewn up, and if Scutaro isn’t ready to go, which seems likely, Hicks will be the guy taking his spot. Though the twist could be that Noonan makes the team again in place of Scutaro so that they can stash Hicks in AAA. It will be interesting how things turn out then, as the baseball turns…

  3. I agree with your take, mostly. The smart money is on Hicks going to the minors because he can and the team keeping all three Killer A’s on the roster for now.

    And the Freddy/Edgar comparisons had occurred to me as well. However–I would like to see the Giants consider a trade for a real solution at 2B–and I don’t see any of the backup options as a “real” solution. I don’t think Scutaro is finished forever like Freddy turned out to be in 2012, but I also know that 38 is 38 and a bad back is a bad back. If there’s a longer-term solution out there via trade, I think the team ought to consider it. Unless they’re really convinced Joe Panik is their guy from 2015-on. Are they?

    1. Thanks for the comment Lefty! Despite the options situation, I really don’t see Abreu beating out Hicks for the final spot (if need be). Abreu just hasn’t shown anything of value this spring. Hicks almost seems destined for a spot.

      I wouldn’t be opposed to a trade if something reasonable presented itself, but I don’t really see it happening. I’d expect more of a 2B by committee until Scutaro heals up (if he does). I don’t know how the org feels about Panik, but I think he’ll get his chances as early as next year if he plays well in Fresno. The 1st round pedigree should help him get plenty of looks before all is said and done.

  4. Welcome back again Kyle. Good work as always. Nice input OGC. Yeah, what to do with Adrianza. He sort of appears like who they thought he was before last year : not a major league hitter. He needs to play everyday in AAA. Too bad you can’t buy an option for a million dollars.

    1. Too bad indeed. Thanks for the compliments. Adrianza is a lock for Opening Day, IMO… but stranger things have happened. If Scooter can’t go, I really don’t see any justification for sending Hicks to Fresno in favor of Abreu. I just don’t see Abreu adding much value to the club. A 3-way revolving door of Arias, Adrianza and Hicks sounds ok to me until Scutaro is healthy.

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