NOONAN!

NOONAN!

The San Francisco Giants released two players today, Ramon Ramirez and Wilson Valdez. Ramirez wasn’t a surprise, as he gave up at least a hit and an earned run in seven of his eight Cactus League appearances. At this point his best bet is probably to head to Fresno and try to regain his form from 2010, if possible. Letting Valdez go was a little more surprising, if only because the Giants don’t have many choices if they’re going to keep a utility infielder on the roster behind Joaquin Arias.

That doesn’t mean it was a bad decision to release Valdez, as he’s a 34-year-old with absolutely no offensive resume or potential to speak of. If the Giants had kept Valdez, people would’ve been crying, “Why did we let Emmanuel Burriss go?” Yes, his bat is that sad. Sad bat. A tragic condition, indeed.

The Giants are still waiting for Ryan Theriot to come to grips with reality (this is your best chance to play at all, Riot), and in the meantime they’re hoping Nick Noonan can pair his excellent defense with a few hits between now and Opening Day. San Francisco took Noonan with the 32nd pick of the first round in 2007, and hasn’t hit a whole lot in the minors (.267/.322/.380 in 2,708 PA). However, Noonan can easily handle second base, third base and shortstop (out of the top five defensive plays I saw in Arizona, Noonan probably made three of them), and is 11 years younger than Valdez.

What about Tony Abreu? Exactly. He has only played in part of one game this spring, and Bochy came about as close as one can to calling Abreu a malingerer for sitting out so much with a quad/knee injury that didn’t show up on three separate MRIs. From Alex Pavlovic:

In the short time that I was gone, Brett Pill managed to fly back to San Francisco, have minor knee surgery, fly back to Phoenix and — apparently — heal. Pill is walking without any sign of the recent procedure and said he felt so good today that he wanted to take BP. The coaches and trainers wouldn’t let him, of course, but Pill remains way ahead of schedule.

“It’s pretty amazing how he’s getting around,” Bochy said. “He had surgery and he could be ready before (Tony) Abreu.”

When Bochy makes a comment like that, you know he’s ticked. Rankled. Hot under the collar, even (if he wore a collar).

Abreu better get back fast, or this job appears to be Noonan’s to lose. However, Grant Brisbee makes a good point: with Arias — who can play every infield position, including first — do the Giants really need to have another player around simply for infield defense? What about a veteran hitter with some power off the bench? I’m not sure if I’m ready to go as far as Brisbee and say they should bring Pat Burrell back, but that could’ve been a joke. Brisbee has been known to go that route on occasion.

That bench-guy-with-power idea could be discussed when the Giants make their end-of-the-month decisions. They have four outfielders, although Andres Torres left yesterday’s game with a sore foot and seems to have assorted little nuisances pop up every few days. They have five infielders. Throw in two catchers and there are two spots available. Do they go with another outfielder and another infielder and call it a roster, or do they get creative?

One thing to pay attention to: Marco Scutaro was a late scratch yesterday due to back stiffness. Unless they plan on Scutaro playing in 150 games, the safe money is on the Giants adding another infielder. Whether it’s Abreu, Noonan, Theriot or someone who gets cut by another team, we’ll just have to wait and see.