The Case for Snow

Instead of looking at the Giants' off-season needs by defensive position, let's look at the holes in the batting lineup.

As I've mentioned before, there are two glaring holes right now: a high-on-base guy to hit behind Durham, and a power bat to protect Bonds. I'd say the former is more glaring. If they can't get a Guerrero or Sheffield or Sexson, the Giants could do worse than Alfonzo hitting fifth. He showed glimmers of being pretty good protection for Bonds down the stretch and in the playoffs last year. Obviously I'd prefer Vlad or Sheff, but I don't think Derrek Lee or Carlos Beltran would be any better behind Bonds than Fonzie.

So let's turn our attention to the 2-slot. Here are the high-OBP guys who are free agents or being mentioned as trade bait/non-tenders. This doesn't include the marquee sluggers like Sheffield, Sexson and Ramirez who would never hit in the 2-slot, no matter how sabermetrically inclined their GMs were; nor does it include guys like Bill Mueller or Luis Castillo who play a position that the Giants have filled:

Trot Nixon (.396 OBP in 2003), D. Mientkiewicz (.393), C. Beltran (.389), J. Edmonds (.385), R. Hidalgo (same), D. Lee (.379), Dmitri Young (.372), C. Everett (.366), S. Stewart (.364), J. Guillen (.359) and so forth. (I freely acknowledge that career OBP is a better indicator.)

J.T. Snow isn't on that list because he didn't have enough qualifying at-bats. But if he did, his .387 OBP would slot right between Beltran and Edmonds. Also, no one on that list will come as cheaply as Snow. Remember, we're looking to fill the #2 slot in the lineup and hopefully have enough cash left over to spend on a slugger to protect Bonds.

The more I think about the two glaring lineup holes and the Giants' glaring lack of spending cash, the more I think re-signing Snow for a year or two is a good idea. That is, if he settles for a million or two per year; if that isn't possible, then this whole argument is pointless.

There's no guarantee he'd get on base at a near-.400 clip next year, or the year after that. But his career numbers suggest that, barring significant decline or injury, he could come close, especially knowing he'd be penciled in behind Durham almost every day and not being counted on as a big run-producer.

I guess Alfonzo could slide up to #2, but I like him in the 3-spot. He'd get great pitches to hit in front of Bonds and even when not hitting for power would still get on base (if you believe his career numbers instead of his 2003 experience). It's also better to have a left-hander hitting #2 to take advantage of the big infield hole whenever the leadoff guy gets on. It's a good spot for Snow, which Felipe realized about mid-season last year.

I admit that this scenario is contingent upon J.T. accepting a modest contract. If I were Sabean, I'd approach him with a low base pay and escalator bonuses contingent upon high OBP (what they want from him most of all) and games played, given his injury problems of the past few years. Sweeten the pot further with Gold-Glove incentives, and post-season bonus money above and beyond what players normally get.


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