The Giants need a shortstop. Everyone knows it. Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe are free agents. Bochy is a big fan of both guys. Especially in the clubhouse. But it doesn't seem likely either will return. Neither is really an acceptable everyday shortstop option anyways. So what do the Giants do? Let's examine the options:
There's been murmurs of a Jason Bartlett connection. Jason Barlett had a career year in 2009 hitting 14 homers with 66 RBI's for the Rays. His previous career high was 5 HR and 43 RBI. In 2010, he reverted back to his old self and hit 4 HR with 47 RBI but batted only .254 with an OBP of .324. He has a career average of .281. I would say Bartlett would be a good fit, especially since he has a reputation of being a very good defender and grew up in the Bay Area (Mountain View), except he was subpar defensively last season. And I don't mean just below average, he was really bad if you look at his UZR (-13.9). Can the Giants afford to bring a light hitting SS over in a trade who all of a sudden has questions regarding his defense? It doesn't seem to be the right match or right risk. I mean, if you want a light hitting SS, you have one in your system that is almost ready and is allegedly very good defensively: Brandon Crawford. And by all accounts, Sabean is reluctant to promote Crawford, hence why the Giants are looking for a SS. But Barlett seems to have too many question marks from both sides of his game. I'd pass.
The Red Sox have two shortstops and are trying to trade one of them for bullpen help. Jed Lowrie was supposed to be the shortstop of the future in Boston but injuries have halted him from seizing the job. Marco Scutaro has Bay Area experience from his time in Oakland and is in the final year of a 2 year deal. It's unlikely the Red Sox would trade away Lowrie and keep Scutaro unless the haul was significant. Hence, I think they will deal Scutaro if they deal anyone at all. Scutaro is actually a perfect fit for the Giants. He's like Freddy Sanchez without the batting title. He's a solid, if unspectacular player, but he's one of those guys that fits on to a winning team. He doesn't do anything great but he does the little things well. He hit .275 with a .333 OBP for Boston this year while knocking out 11 round trippers while knocking in 56. He also is an average defender. He'll get to what is hit to him and will occasionally make a great play. What makes him perfect for the Giants is that he's affordable (5M), he's only under contract for a year (with an option), and he would fit in well with the clubhouse and with AT&T park. In SF, he probably would not hit double digit homers like he has in his past 2 seasons, but he'd play a respectable SS and probably bat 7th in the line-up. He shouldn't cost too much in trade either. In my mind, he is the perfect solution to the Giants SS problem.
The thing with the Giants is that they're trying to decide whether they need a stopgap SS or a long term answer. They're waiting for Ehire Adrianza or Brandon Crawford to prove they can be major leaguers but they know they're not ready yet. Crawford is closer to the big leagues than Adrianza and probably will get a call-up sometime in 2011. The Giants don't want to commit to a free agent shortstop until they know definitively whether or not Crawford or Adrianza can be the Giants SS of the future.
Which leads the Giants to one more rumored shortstop on the trade market: Jose Reyes. Jose Reyes is ideal for AT&T park. He's an above average defender, he's fast (something this team needs big time), and he has pop. As a leadoff hitter, here are Reyes's homerun totals in his healthy years (omitting his injury-marred 2009): 19, 12, 16, 11. His batting averages the past 5 seasons? .300, .280, .297, .279, .282. Oh yeah, and he also has stolen over 50 bases in 4 seasons. He's fast. He's basically Andres Torres at shortstop. But better and more consistent with a much larger track record. He would give the Giants insurance if Torres were to fall back to earth. Remember when Torres didn't start? The Giants had to scramble for a leadoff guy and the results usually weren't pretty. It's hard to count on Torres going into 2011. Can you really expect him to repeat his 2010? Even with his great season, he was vulnerable to lefties. Reyes would solve any problems the Giants would face if Torres were to falter as a leadoff option. The problem with Reyes is that he's somewhat injury prone and he would not come cheaply, both in terms of salary and trade pieces. He is a free agent after 2011 which would be intriguing for the Giants because it'd only be a one year investment. But also, by the end of 2011, the Giants will know more about Crawford and Adrianza and if it doesn't look like either are going to pan out, then the Giants can try to sign Reyes long term. There's no way the Giants will sign Carl Crawford but Reyes would be a legit leadoff option they could acquire. The question is who would you trade? I imagine Brandon Crawford, Thomas Neal, and Henry Sosa would get the conversation started. I would think the Mets would want players on the cusp of being MLB ready. Crawford could start Opening Day while Neal would be the blue chip prospect the Mets would likely require. There's no way Sabean deals Belt. However, at the end of the day, I don't think the Mets trade Reyes. They would have to be bowled over with an offer and I don't see the Giants putting together a package that will wow Sandy Alderson enough to part with Reyes. Which again leads me to believe Marco Scutaro is the best option.
Oh, there are other options as well. JJ Hardy might get non-tendered though it seems Minnesota is going to keep him and pair him with Nishioka. Orlando Cabrera (Renteria's nemesis) seems like a typical Sabean signing and wouldn't be the worst as a stopgap. But Cabrera's best years are clearly behind him. And of course, the Giants could just hand the keys to the diamond to Manny Burriss. But they weren't sold on him as a shortstop last season so I doubt they think he'd be the solution for 2011. If the Giants wanted to stress defense, they could sign Cesar Izturis but he's a former Dodger. Again, I'd rather give Crawford a shot than see Izturis in a Giants uniform. Miguel Tejada is another free agent option and can play 3B as well in case Sandoval doesn't relearn his kung fu magic. I would have liked to see a Tejada signing a couple years ago or even last offseason but I'm not sure how I'd feel about a Tejada signing for 2011. The guy looks old. He still can hit a bit but I don't want him to be on the Giants when he falls apart and I think he's very close to that point.
In any case, it'll be interesting to see what Brian Sabean and the Giants do here. There are several options. I think the best happens to reside in Boston right now. What do you guys think?