When it comes to promoting youngsters to the majors the Giants are in a league of their own. The most obvious of examples include their ace Tim Lincecum, who has one more minor league start than fingers, Kevin Correia made his major league debut a year and a day after signing, and of course Brian Bocock, who is still unsure how he was an opening day starter for a major league team.
Well Brian Sabean and company are at it again, although a bit surprisingly this does not involve rushing Tim Alderson or Buster Posey to the majors instead they pushed the button on Conor Gillaspie. After only 71 at-bats in a-ball, Gillaspie is on the Giants 40-man roster and will be making a handful of starts over the rest of the season.
There are only three explanations for this move:
A. The Giants had a handshake agreement with the Gillaspie party to call him up if Gillaspie signed for slot.
B. The Giants are hoping they can find a cheap fit for third base next season.
C. The Giants have absolutely no clue what they are doing.
I am guessing it is a combination of the three. If it is solely A then they should only be criticized for valuing extra money higher than a 40 man roster spot. They now have 13 (!) infielders making up their 40 men. Consider that: almost half of their available roster is full of players who are listed as being able to play four positions. On top of that only three were born before 1980; Rich Aurilla, Scott McClain, and Omar Vizquel who was born 1970 B.C. otherwise they have 10 infielders 28 or younger.
Sabean has said that Emmanuel Burriss will start at shortstop next season. Now Sabean could find a veteran and use this as a smokescreen or he could start Bocock before the screen of smoke leaves his office, for now I'm going to assume he's telling the truth. Eugenio Velez or Kevin Frandsen will probably start at second and someone, maybe Travis Ishikawa, will play first. That leaves third wide open and since the Giants apparently see that they need to rebuild just like most aware analysts said back in winter and spring it's quite possible they will go young, and who is better to start at third than their shiny new draft pick, that's who!
Fortunately, the Giants seem to be planted again in reality, unfortunately they're still seeing mirages. Going young is fine, in fact I applaud them for doing so, but if the talent is ready you're making a mistake, and Gillaspie is more than likely not ready. What the Giants are thinking more than likely is that if Gillaspie can show something in these next three-plus weeks they can use him at third next season and not pursue anyone in free agency, but that's a false dilemma. In fact it's akin to choosing to live without potatoes or tomatoes, there is absolutely no reason the Giants can't acquire a third baseman and still use Gillaspie next season.
Look at the 2007 Brewers and 2008 Rays for inspiration. Both teams had stud third basemen on their way and both chose to use alternative players for a short while before calling up their studs to A) save service time and B) absolutely make sure their players were ready for major league action.
There's an even bigger problem here; the Giants seem to think three weeks is going to definitively tell them that Gillaspie is either ready or not - note: by "ready" I mean won't hurt the team by playing. If Gillaspie catches fire and Johnny Storms the league that does not mean he's ready and if he goes ice that does not mean he's not ready, it simply means for three weeks he was either streaking or slumping.
What's the real crime here is that Giants fans may have to hope that Gillaspie is slumping for his audition, otherwise it could get even nastier next season.