Carlos Santana is still getting ready to play third base

2 Comments

There was a healthy dose of skepticism when it was reported in November that Carlos Santana was working out at third base, but it sounds like a position switch could actually happen.

In a story (link in Spanish) by Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, Santana said that he’s “getting ready to play third base, no other position” and that “those are the plans of the team.”

The experiment is clearly a priority, as the Indians sent infield coach and third base coach Mike Sarbaugh down to the Dominican Republic to help Santana with the transition while he was playing in winter ball. While there have naturally been some struggles, the reviews have been mostly positive. However, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti recently told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that the club will wait before making a final decision on his role for 2014.

“The most important thing is that he’s working hard at it. He’s committed to being the best player he can be at the position, which is great. That’s all we’re looking for at this point. We’re months away from having to make any sort of evaluations or decisions.”

Santana played some third base early on in his pro career as a farmhand with the Dodgers, but he hasn’t done so since 2008 when he was in High-A ball. While the position switch is a bold idea, it’s easy to see the benefits of the experiment, as Yan Gomes could take over as the full-time catcher in 2014. If Santana can’t cut it at third, he’ll likely split time between catcher, first base and DH like he did last season. The Indians still have Lonnie Chisenhall as a fallback possibility at third base, but he has been a disappointment so far in the major leagues.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

Getty Images
6 Comments

The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.