After the San Francisco Giants lost All-Star outfielder Melky Cabrera to a 50-game suspension for testing positive for increased levels of testosterone, the team’s franchise had a dark cloud over its head. Then there came the blockbuster trade between the NL West-rival Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox, which resulted in a number of high profile names swapping teams, including Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett landing with the Giants’ arch rival. And all of a sudden, San Francisco’s future looked bleak.
But the Giants rebounded quickly, and from an unlikely source.
One of their better trade deadline acquisitions came in the form of veteran infielder Marco Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies for a minor league prospect and cash considerations. Since his move to San Francisco, Scutaro has made himself right at home, averaging a phenomenal .325 average, .346 on-base percentage and .444 slugging percentage in 37 games played. Scutaro has also been the centerpiece of some clutch hitting in recent weeks, delivering a walk-off base hit in the 10th inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday. Now, after honing a recent offensive tear at the plate, the team sits a healthy 4.5 games ahead of the Dodgers in the NL-West standings before Wednesday night’s game against the D’Backs.
There are, however, a few red flags that Giants’ ownership might consider before quickly writing up a one-year contract for the 2013 season. For one, Scutaro is not getting any younger. At 36 years of age, he is the oldest second baseman in the majors and well past his prime. He also doesn’t have much power in his swing or much speed on the base path, a position that usually warrants one or the other.
But in case Scutaro falls off the map in a moment’s notice, the Giants don’t have much of an answer in way of upcoming prospects. The closest middle infielder set to stand in as a second baseman is Joe Panik, but he is still making his way up the ranks of San Francisco’s farm system. The 22-year-old prospect still needs about two more years to simmer in the minors before seeing big league pitching.
But that’s just fine. The Giants are set for the 2013 season with Scutaro. He has already outperformed Ryan Theriot (.266/.315/.314) and Emmanuel Burress (.220/.278/.227) in terms of production and has given the Giants hope once again. Something that was almost pulled, like a rug, from under their feet by two wildly surprising scenarios: a mid-season suspension and an outrageous waiver wire acquisition by their arch enemy.
If the Giants want to be smart (and thrifty), they’ll sign Scutaro to a one-year deal. If they want to be stupid, they’ll lose his veteran leadership, his run producing ability and his level swing across the strike zone to free agency. Don’t let this one slip.