Brandon Crawford as the San Francisco Giants 2012 starting shortstop isn’t ideal by any stretch of the imagination. That’s not a slight to Brandon, but this is still a player who was called up to the Major League’s without an appearance in AAA and a player who had less than 800 at-bat’s in AA (and who wasn’t exactly lighting it up offensively there). Many question the Giants’ formula of going into the upcoming season with Crawford playing an integral starting role, and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with questioning – you have to wonder about the alternatives.
Take this into account…
- A revolving door of Sean Rodriguez/Reid Brignac
- Willie Bloomquist
- Jimmy Rollins
- Yuniesky Betancourt
- Ryan Theriot/Rafael Furcal
- Elvis Andrus
- Derek Jeter
- Jhonny Peralta
What do all of those players have in common? They were all the starting shortstop for the teams in the 2011 postseason. And while there are some big names in there, we’re not exactly talking Troy Tulowitzki or Jose Reyes here in terms of impactfulness. Offensively, Brandon Crawford ranks near the bottom of that list but defensively, he’s near the top – and that’s the most important factor going into the season for the ’12 Giants. There simply aren’t any players on the market (that aren’t massive financial risks) capable of playing a good short and contributing on offense, so the decision comes down to one or the other. And given the very below average offensive abilities of all realistic free agent shortstops targets….my decision is made.
Are there realistic trade targets out there that could be an improvement over Crawford? Certainly plausible. But as the free agent market stands? Unless you want to splurge on a Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins (each of whom have their own serious question marks with injury/age) – you aren’t going to find much of an improvement over Crawford on the wire.
I’m not advocating Crawford as the Giants starting shortstop – I do hope they explore a trade but if they come up empty handed, the current crop of free agents sans Rollins or Reyes simply aren’t worth the money – especially given the current market value of players like Jamey Carroll or Clint Barmes who both were vastly overpaid.
Much like an offensively inept catcher, the Giants are going to have to deal with a well below average offensive shortstop no matter who fills the spot. But if you’re going to have a glaring offensive hole in one spot, you better make sure the defense is worth it. I can’t say that’s the case with any current free agent shortstop – but I can, if I must, get by with Crawford – especially if said free agent shortstop is the financial difference in the Giants missing out on retaining Carlos Beltran or adding another needed free agent.