When the Giants agreed to a one-year $1.25 million deal with Ryan Theriot, most analysts and fans scoffed and thought that it was the Giants trying to, once again, resurrect the career of a middle infielder: see Cabrera, Orlando or Vizquel, Omar. Many believe the Giants got another second baseman (which they don’t need), and still don’t have a shortstop (which they desperately need).
Theriot brings more than that, though. He brings experience and more at the plate than the Giants have had in a few years. Brandon Crawford is clearly the future at shortstop for the Giants, but he has yet to perform at the plate. He has shown flashes of brilliance with a glove, however.
Theriot helps the situation, at the very least, by having competition for Crawford. Theriot can push Crawford to be better at the plate because his job isn’t as secure as it was when Emmanuel Burris was the Giants only other option. If Crawford struggles, the Giants have the option of putting in Theriot, which should elevate Crawford’s game.
Theriot also can be a mentor to Crawford. In his eighth season, Theriot obviously isn’t the answer to anyone’s problems. Crawford, on the other hand, is young enough to mold into the shortstop answer for the Giants. The Giants know this and hope that a little leadership and teaching can help Crawford mature into the player they need at shortstop.
Another option this deal makes available is a platoon situation. Theriot could play in the early innings for hitting purposes and Crawford could come in as a defensive substitution in the late innings.
We can’t forget about the Giants pitching staff, though. They have been one of the top two teams in strikeouts in each of the past four seasons. More strikeouts means less balls in play. This could make it easier on Theriot at short. If the Giants get really creative, Theriot could play on days when Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain or Madison Bumgarner — the Giants big strikeout men — pitch and Crawford could play when others pitch in order to have more help on defense.
Theriot brings experience to this club having played 132 games for the World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals last season. Having been the starting shortstop on a World Series team, Theriot knows what it takes and can help the youth of the Giants. He has also been on teams with Mike Fontenot before, and the two are good friends. The Giants proved in 2010 that good chemistry can turn into wins.
Theriot may not be the answer in San Francisco, but he is a good stop-gap for now. He has big-game experience and more of a bat than the Giants could hope to get from inside the organization. When Crawford starts producing, he will be the clear number one. Until then, though, let’s get the riot started in SF.