Jeff Fletcher | April 2, 2011
Did you notice, in between all the Giants defensive gaffes on Friday night, that Pat Burrell came out for defense in the sixth inning? Continuing a trend that he started last October, Bruce Bochy used the earliest moment possible to lift Burrell. Last October it was basically three-(ABs)-and-out for Burrell, if the Giants had the lead, even if that was as early as the sixth inning.
That worked last year, partly because the Giants bullpen was nails. A two-run lead in the sixth was money in the bank. However, this year could be different. I’ve made it pretty clear that I think the Giants bullpen is not going to be as good this year, and it may even be a problem. So the ripple effect of that could be that defense may suffer because Bochy feels he has to leave his offensive players out there for longer. (Yes, I realize that Jonathan Sanchez blew this one, not the bullpen. That’s not the point.)
And, what happens when Cody Ross comes off the DL? Presumably Aubrey Huff just goes to left field. So will Bochy then remove Huff for defense? Last night he moved Huff to left and put Nate Schierholtz in right. If he’s got Ross in there, would he pull Huff and put Ross in left and Schierholtz in right?
Or he could do something really radical, and move Huff to first and take out Brandon Belt. That would weaken the team at first in exchange for strengthening the outfield. I think Huff’s a better first baseman than he is a left fielder, so you’d probably gain more in the outfield than you’d lose at first. Besides, a fly ball that isn’t caught is probably two bases, while a ground ball that isn’t caught (or a throw that is bobbled) is probably one.
While we’re on the subject of defense, you had to be a little disappointed with Pablo Sandoval last night. Being fit and agile helps a lot, but playing good defense goes beyond simple mobility. You have to use your head. Like, take a look at Matt Kemp when he’s rounding second, just to stop him. And don’t bother throwing that ball that you picked up charging in, because you’ve got no shot at an out. Those were both mental mistakes, not physical ones.