Brian Sabean walked into the Giants’ clubhouse and did a double-take. To his left stood a short utility infielder with dark brown hair, dressing quietly at his locker. Sabean looked to his right, and there was another short utility infielder dressing at his locker. The only difference was this short utility infielder was thinner and had hair of blond.
“What the hell is going on around here? Did Theriot and Fontenot come as a package deal? I don’t remember signing both of these guys … oh, wait.”
The clumsily-written scenario above didn’t actually play out, but it seems like it could have after reading Jayson Stark’s tweet on Saturday:
That experiment didn’t last long.
Mike Fontenot is a slightly better fielder, hits with a little more power and has been a Giant for longer. Ryan Theriot is right-handed and has played in 140+ games four times to Fontenot’s zero.
Either way, it’s going to be difficult to get much more than a middling Double-A prospect for either player, but that may be all Sabean wants. Why? Because Emmanuel Burriss is having a great Spring — which isn’t at all ridiculous, because Aubrey Huff had an amazing Spring in 2011 and that turned out just peachy.
It shouldn’t matter, Burriss’ 17 Spring hits, but they do. Bruce Bochy recently expressed frustration with Nate Schierholtz’s nagging injuries and poor numbers during Spring Training (.216/.237/.270). “You get six or seven years in and you’re a professional, frontline player, sure, you’ve earned that,” Bochy said. “Other players, sure, you’re always competing for a job.”
If Spring Numbers are the entire basis for putting the roster together, and by extension the lineup, here’s how the Giants should look on Opening Day:
1. Gregor Blanco – CF (.391/.472/.435, 9 SB)
2. Emmanuel Burriss – 2B (.436/.488/.615, 5 SB)
3. Melky Cabrera – RF (.381/.395/.714, 3 HR)
4. Brandon Belt – 1B (.348/.392/.630, 3 HR)
5. Hector Sanchez – C (.444/.414/.852, 3 HR)
6. Brett Pill – 3B (.283/.306/.609, 3 HR)
7. Aubrey Huff – LF (.270/.308/.459, 2 HR)
8. Brandon Crawford – SS (.333/.450/.515, 1 HR)
It won’t turn out that way. The Giants don’t care about Spring Training numbers that much. However, the worrisome part of this is not that the Giants signed two mediocre short utility infielders that make each other superfluous. It’s that their underwhelming output this Spring (Fontenot’s slash: .269/.333/.423; Theriot’s: .200/.263/.343) compared to Burriss’ numbers is causing Sabean to pursue a trade.
Being a right-handed utility infielder means a lot more for the Giants than it does for other teams. Since Theriot isn’t hitting, didn’t hit much last year and shouldn’t play shorstop (he’s pretty bad in person), his value on the market is probably low except perhaps in terms of name value. Throw his contract ($1.25 million with $750K in incentives) into the mix, and the Giants are probably stuck with him.
It appears that if the Giants are really going to part with one of diminutive twins, it’ll be Fontenot. He’s making less money ($1.05 million, no reported incentives that I can find) and provides a little more defensive versatility. Maybe Sabean can trade Fontenot to Tampa Bay for Jeff Keppinger!
Hold on, there’s a little bit of info that might be relevant here:
Theriot, 32, will earn $1.25MM this season while the 31-year-old Fontenot will make $1.05MM. Neither contract is guaranteed, and the Giants could release both players by March 29th and only have to pay one-fourth of their salary.
Remember during the winter meetings, when Sabean floated the idea of trading Keppinger to the masses? Remember how that was received by the masses? Exactly. Looks like within the next week the Giants are going to be releasing one member of the “Cajun Connection.” My preference (like during the famed Font vs. Kepp war of 2011) would be to keep Fontenot, but I’m not getting my hopes up.