They started the trend in 2005 when they signed Omar Vizquel who was 38. He was pretty excellent as far as near-40 shortstops go, though. He was worth 2.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2005, 3.7 in 2006 and 2.1 in 2007. He even won a gold glove in each of his first two campaigns (deserving or not, but at least more so than Derek Jeter’s 2010 honor).
But by the time 2008 came around, the jig was very much up. He got the bulk of the playing time, but his .550 OPS left something to be desired. Ivan Ochoa and Brian Bocock saw some playing time too, but their offensive abilities actually made Vizquel look like Alan Trammell.
Smitten with their recent success regarding prehistoric middle infielders, the Giants jumped on Edgar Renteria as if he were the greatest thing since sliced bread. He got two years, $18 million. The results were mixed – which is a new development. Up until about, oh, the World Series, Rent was the butt of many jokes – that happens when you’re worth less than half a win (0.3) the first year of your ill-advised contract and are injured the majority of the following season. But when Renteria took Cliff Lee just over the wall in Texas (not to mention C.J. Wilson in San Francisco): Boom! Sabean had instant validation.
With that, really the only choice for the Giants’ shortstop position in 2011 was Miguel Tejada. He was, after all, the most… mature option available. At 37 years old, he’s likely not truly belonged at the position for several seasons. Baltimore knew that and so too did San Diego, but they opted to use him anyway in light of less attractive options. Plus, he was more Michael Young than Ozzie Smith at the position to begin with. I hope no person ever mistook him for Barry Larkin. On the plus side, he’s done a pretty good Cal Ripken impression over his career by staying on the field.
Really, I see no end to this, the parade of antiquated shortstops. It’d be nice if they aged like a nice Pinot, but they don’t. So anyway, it won’t end unless the Giants find a way to fill that position from within. With that, I want to introduce a young infielder named Ehire Adrianza.
A lot of people haven’t really heard a lot about him, but they have of Jose Iglesias. Adrianza is a somewhat promising shortstop prospect for the Giants, Iglesias a much more so promising prospect for the Red Sox. They seem to be similar players, of a similar age, of a similar size, of a similar set of skills. John Sickels of Minor League Ball (SB Nation) rates Adrianza the eighth best prospect in the Giants’ system with a grade of C+:
Love the glove, but not sure he’ll hit enough to get beyond a utility spot.
He gives Iglesias a much better report (B), rating him third in the Red Sox’s system:
Won’t have much fantasy value, but in real baseball he will hold a job for a long time due to his glove and line drive hitting.Adrianza is 21 and was born August 21, 1989 in Venequela. Iglesias is 21 was born just five months later, January 5, 1990 in Cuba. Both are right handed throwing and hitting. Adrianza is 6’ 1” and 165 pounds while Iglesias is probably slightly better built to this point at 5’ 11” and 175 pounds.
Across low-A and Double-A last season in 70 games, Iglesias hit .295 wit ha .339 on-base percentage (OBP) and .719 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). His weighted on-base average (wOBA) in the Eastern League (Double-A) was understandably even less impressive than that at .303. Defensively, I don’t know what we can gather except that all I’ve read about him is that he’s exceptional. For what it’s worth, his range factor per game (RF/G) according to baseball reference was 3.65 in 2010.
Adrianza spent his entire 2010 in the California League (A-Advanced). He played in 124 games and hit .256 with a .333 OBP and .682 OPS. His wOBA was .314. But he also stole 33 bases. Defensively, I’ve read a whole lot of the same about Adrianza, i.e. that he already has a major league glove and could be a future Gold Glove winner. For what it’s worth, which probably isn’t much, baseball reference had his RF/G at 4.57 in 2010.
So what’s the difference? I do have a couple of guesses. First off, they might like what they (the scouts) are seeing out of Iglesias offensively a bit more. It could be that he’s just making harder contact. I also suspect people were pretty impressed Boston pushed him all the way up to the Eastern League (Double-A) last season, a notoriously tough league to hit in. But I can’t be sure. But I’ll submit there aren’t a great deal of differences between the two, at least until I’m told otherwise.
With that: I’ve asked some of the prospect mavens across Twitter this question (Keith Law, Jim Callis, Adam Foster and Jonathan Mayo). Both Jim and Adam resonded and the results weren't entirely encouraging. Jim confirmed Iglesias "has [the] better bat," and Adam pretty much destroyed him:
Anyone else care to chime in?
Adrianza can't hit. [I’ve] seen him 5 [times:] no power, poor [strike] zone judgment/pitch recognition
Even if Adrianza never hits enough to play at the big league level, it's a point worth noting. It sure would be nice to have a slick fielding shortstop. I’ve forgotten what that’s like. If the Giants can build some offensive pieces around the diamond (Brandon Belt at first and a rebounded Pablo Sandoval at third) and squeeze some extra offense out of traditionally non-offensive positions (see obscure catcher Buster Posey), I think Giants fans can stomach a light-hitting shortstop if a nifty glove accompanies the shaky bat. At least I can.