Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baseball is a Sick, Small World.

Any of y’all who have been following my rants here know I’m hoping we get Angels shortstop, Erick Aybar, here to be our future shortstop for the Giants.  In no way am I trying to throw Brandon Crawford under the bus, it is just a simple fact he isn’t ready, and we need a better overall shortstop.  Unless we acquire THREE serious bats, then I’d be more than happy to see Crawford’s defense cover the infield and win two or three Gold Gloves here in SF.

But my topic today is the Giants shortstop evolution.  What’s the term I am looking for?  Nepotism?  Or maybe incest?  Whatever, it is just a bit too weird for words.

But you know I’ll try to explain anyways.

Last off-season, the SF Giants signed Miguel Tejada for one year and $6.5 million to play shortstop at 37 years old.  Well, he got caught for lying about his age originally.  And he didn’t exactly tell the truth at Palmeiro’s trial…  But I digress…  Yeah, okay…  That didn’t work out so good.  Gee, who saw that one coming?  Ha ha.

Later on, we acquired Bill Hall from the Astros.  Well, we signed him after he was released by the losingest team in baseball.  Story was he was at home playing video games with his cuz or something when the call came in he’d be on the roster for the reigning World Champs.  Yeah, okay…  That didn’t work out so good.  Gee, who saw that one coming?  Ha ha.

Then we went back and shopped the Astros roster AGAIN, for Jeff Keppinger.  We gave up two pitchers: Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel for Kepp’s services as a utility guy.  Basically a career .300-ish hitter, who almost never walks and almost never strikes out.  That worked out alright, I s’pose. Gee, who saw that one coming?  Ha ha.

Then we went and got Orlando Cabrera as our final move at the trade deadline for the 2011 season.  Ooops, there goes one of our top outfield prospects in Thomas Neal for a two-month rental on a 36-year old shortstop to supposedly take us to the playoffs.  Yeah, okay…  That didn’t work out so good.  Gee, who saw that one coming?  Ha ha.

Now, we go into the off-season still looking for a shorty, unless the Giants top brass feel Crawford is a lock for the job.  This is where Erick Aybar could join the storyline.

Really?  So, where’s the story?

Let’s start over again, with the Houston Astros second base position.  On 8/25/2010, the Astros claimed Giants 2B and infield prospect Matt Downs off waivers, after he was DFA’d.  This will always have a bitter sting to me, personally.  I saw Downs play for our G-Men and always thought he had one of the highest “baseball I.Q.’s” I’d seen in a long, long time.  From his positioning, to his heads-up base running, to a good eye at the plate.  More about Matt Downs here.

I’m not sure, but I think he never committed an error as a SF Giant.  He just didn’t hit well enough in his few-and-far-between chances.  In 2009, I said to a friend, “one day Downs will be a big league manager, whether he has a long big league career or a short one as a player.”  Yes, I still truly believe this.

I was bummed.  Mostly by the fact we got NOTHING in return for him.  Not a trade, not a draft pick.  Nada.  Niente.  Zip.  Don’t even get me started on Clayton Tanner this 2011 season, same dealio.  Bummer.

Well, Downs quickly rose to become the starting second baseman for the Astros in 2011.  He basically pushed Bill Hall out of that job.  Oh, ouch.  Yeah, okay…  That didn’t work out so good.  Gee, who saw that one coming?  Ha ha.

First we picked up the 100+ losing Astro’s cast-off in utility guy Bill Hall.

Jeff Keppinger was also on the Astros.  Downs hit something like 6 HR’s in 80 AB’s I think.  Downs basically kicked Kepp out of the 2B job too.

Next we picked up Jeff Keppinger.

Here is one of the sickest things.  Hall came over.  Then lost his job to Keppinger AGAIN.  Bill Hall got a Giants curse, big time.  Don’t know if dude will ever play pro ball again.  Got kicked by Downs, then Kepp.  Then traded.  And kicked by Kepp again.  Oh shizzle.  Don’t mention the Giants around Bill Hall and his family, it’s a very bad six-letter word for him.

You think that ends the story?  Nah.  Far from it.

We go out and get Orlando Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians.

Guess where O Cab played before Cleveland?  Yeah, the O.C. in O.C.  He was in Anaheim.

Damn shizzle, fer rizzle?  Yeah, fer sheezy, Parcheesi.  Uh-huh.  O.C. As he is known (and highly regarded for his younger days down in Orange County), helped groom Erick Aybar as the future Angels shortstop.  Hell, O.C. drives a black Hummer.  Aybar drives a red Hummer.  Am I serious?  Yeah, I am.

Think the story ends there?  Uh, no.

Well, Miguel Tejada is from the Dominican Republic.  He’s played in the Dominican Winter League almost every off-season.  There, he worked closely with fellow Dominican…  A young Erick Aybar.

I tell you it is a story of nepotism fit for the boardroom of a not-for-profit organization, or a story of incest perfect for a made-for-tv movie.  Or maybe a daytime soap opera (are they called ‘daytime dramas’ now?  I dunno).

Anyone remember that play when the Angels played the Gigantes in an exhibition game on a warm, sunny early spring day in 2011, in Tempe, Arizona?  Young, speedy, and talented Angels CF prospect Peter Bourjos bunted for a hit in the bottom of the fourth inning.  Aybar came up and had a bloop double to RF.

Tejada got the relay throw, and got caught totally off guard that Bourjos was rounding third (from FIRST BASE).  Tejada attempted to make a hurried throw to the plate, and it looked like he almost threw the ball at his own foot.  It was ridiculous.  Embarrassing for a former Gold Glover.  And should’ve been a premonition of what was to come of the Giants’ shortstop position for 2011.

There you go.  Now, the Giants just need to complete the circle.

We released Downs.  We got Hall.  We got Kepp.  We got Tejada.  We got Cabrera.  Now, we gotta get Aybar.  It just fits, in a sick-and-twisted way that would make Ren and Stimpy proud.  It's just the right thing to do.

Another side note...  Oh yeah, now?  Downs is playing 2B sometimes, 1B some, and even DH'ed at times.  If only we kept Downs, maybe we’d still have Henry Sosa, Jason Stoffel, Thomas Neal, and would’ve made the playoffs without having seen Hall, Kepp, and O Cab in a Giants uni.  *sigh*.

Oh yeah, 'nother lil’ side note to this too.  Keppinger came over to the Giants in 2011.  Beltran did too.  Although these were separate trade deals, an interesting note here.  Did you know Kepp has a history that relates to Beltran?  Yeah, the Pirates traded Keppinger and Kris Benson to the Mets for Matt Peterson, Jose Bautista, and Ty Wiggington at the 2004 trade deadline (July 30).  Well, a month earlier (June 24, 2004), Beltran was part of a 3-team trade that sent him to the Astros.

Wait, Kepp and Beltran were teammates in Houston for a quick minute?  Yeah, I think so.

So, Kepp was later sent to Kansas City from the Mets, whereas Beltran was earlier sent from KC to the Mets.  And you could say that the Mets replaced their traded Jose Bautista (part of Kepp’s trade), with Carlos Beltran.  Weird.  Weird.

I'm not sure if I wrote that all up in a way that makes any sense.  Don't worry.  There's no sense to be made from it all anyways.

I got a feeling the Mets might like a ‘re-do’ on that Jose Bautista and Ty Wigginton trade deal.  What do you think?


If I REALLY stretch this story, maybe Sabean wouldn’t have felt so desperate to go after Beltran, and we’d still have Wheeler too.  Or maybe if we’d had anything near Downs offensive production, the Giants would’ve spent their energy and prospects to trade for Ramon Hernandez as an improvement for our catching needs.  Yeah, maybe.

It’s a story that also ties in to Nate Schierholtz in my mind.  Two players both got in as part of lackluster platoons for limited AB’s over a couple years (Matt & Nate).  One had a chance to stay (Schierholtz).  The other was released (Downs).  Both proved they could play, and earned starting roles.

Hey, maybe Sabean and Bochy can LEARN that not all prospects should STAY prospects forever.  And you don’t have to be over 36 years old to help a team make the playoffs.  Here’s to hoping anyways.

Remember the week that The Panda ran wild in Colorado?  A cycle.  Two doubles, two homers.  All that jazz?  Well, Sandoval was the NL Player of the Week.  Yeah, Giants fans know this.

Who was the AL Player of THAT SAME WEEK?

Actually, Aybar was AL Co-Player of the Week; with none other than Justin Verlander.

Where else can you get a story like this one?  Ha ha.

Baseball is a sick, sick, small, small world.  lol.

To those who think I'm obsessed with Aybar or something.  It's not that.  He's the best available, and very, very good at his position.  No other player fits as well, IMO.  I would ask you to read:

Now go get Erick Aybar.


Image credit:  Matt Downs from

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