It’s official: Rich Aurilia’s KNBR workload just increased by at least 100%. Kevin Frandsen has been optioned to Triple-A Fresno, and Bruce Bochy threw out a 25-man roster to the beat reporters today that’s part inspired, part frightening.
The nuttiest portion of the Opening Day lineup may be who’s behind Bengie Molina at catcher: Pablo Sandoval. That’s right, the same Sandoval who’s also supposed to play 140+ games at third base and anchor the middle of the Giants lineup at age 22.
Why are the Giants doing this? Either they actually want to keep six outfielders, including both Eugenio Velez and Andres Torres, or they’re letting Steve Holm know he might want to start thinking about a career in insurance sales. The Giants are known to be looking for a more experienced backup catcher (Henry Schulman threw out Paul Bako’s name yesterday), so Bochy’s announcement that Sandoval will be Molina’s only backup may be a ruse until the Giants find the dependable (translation: an older veteran with a track record) backstop they’re looking for.
Still, today’s announcements allow us to come to some pretty educated conclusions on several position players:
Kevin Frandsen: Like Jack Taschner, Frandsen may just be a guy who needs a change of scenery. Unless there’s an injury to one of the middle infielders (or Burriss starts out 5-for-90 with 6 errors in April), Frandsen looks like he’ll be in Fresno for the foreseeable future. Since Frandsen turns 27 in May, the fact he was demoted today means he is not in the Giants long-term plans.
Emmanuel Burriss: After all the talk about sending Burriss down to the minors to get regular playing time, he outplayed Frandsen to the degree that he solidified a spot as a starter in San Francisco. With Burriss a staple at second base, the Giants look to have their fastest team in recent memory, especially if Fred Lewis is fully recovered from offseason bunion surgery and the Giants keep both Torres and Velez on the 25-man roster. Burriss hasn’t shown any power to speak of, but it’s not like Frandsen is Dan Uggla or Chase Utley.
Steve Holm: If he wasn’t going to make the big club this time around, he never will. He might see some time in San Francisco if either Molina or Sandoval get injured early on, but I’m guessing the Giants will find a better option to play behind Molina in the coming days/weeks/months who can also possibly back up Buster Posey next Spring. If Holm is ever to have a permanent role in the Major Leagues, it will be with a team other than the Giants…perhaps the Rockies, since they’ve always taken an interest in Giants’ catchers (Steve Decker, Jeff Reed, Kirt Manwaring, Brent Mayne, Bobby Estalella, Yorvit Torrealba…the Rockies are kind of like Jennifer Jason Leigh in Single White Female when it comes to Giants catchers).
Rich Aurilia: He’ll back up Sandoval at third base and wait in the wings for Travis Ishikawa to fail at first base. He’ll be good for at least 300 AB’s this season, and share several pleasant anecdotes with Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert each week on KNBR. Anybody else hope that after Aurilia’s retirement the Giants put him, F.P. Santangelo and J.T. Snow in a room and tell them to fight it out for the Giants’ replacement broadcaster spot? And since Richie’s nickname is Santo (no joke), should he go by R.S. Aurilia to make it an all-initials brawl? And what does J.R. Phillips have to say about all this?
Juan Uribe: Anybody who didn’t think he’d make this team don’t know Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy. Uribe’s two homers yesterday solidified his spot as the main utility infielder for the Giants this season. Giants fans unhappy that Uribe made the club over Frandsen will soon forget their pain once they realize they’ll be able to once again chant “U….RIBE!….U….RIBE!” Actually, I just found out Juan is Jose Uribe’s nephew, and I can’t lie — that fact makes me very happy.
Andres Torres/Eugenio Velez: At least one of them will make the 25-man, but neither one can exhale. Both need to keep an eye on the waiver wire, because the Giants are on the prowl for a backup catcher. If they get one, it’s a “what have you done for me lately” situation. Whoever’s playing better at the time between Torres and Velez will stay, the other one will be a Grizzly quicker than Velez can get picked off first base.