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If All Hell Breaks Loose At Second Base, Will The Giants, You Know, Panik?

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We're down to the dog days of spring. These are the days of Kruk and Kuip filling broadcasts with innings-long jokes about players with uniform numbers in the 90s. These are the days of bar fights that break out over the merits of George Kontos. These are the days of backup infielder intrigue. If you hadn't heard, Tony Abreu was cut Sunday.

Whoa! That got your attention, didn't it?

With Marco Scutaro having played all of three innings this spring, it's just a wee bit unlikely Scoots will make the opening day roster. Or make it into a big league game until, say, June. August, anyone? Now Abreu won't be part of the patchwork.

So let's make the theme of this post not just "who will fill in the first couple weeks when the Giants have 5 days off" but "uh-oh, second baseman alert." It changes the way you look at players. While Baggs chews over who's going to hit second in Scutaro's absence, I'd rather focus on the actual second basemen. Assume the Giants will need fill-ins for a while.

Joaquin Arias is generally considered the first man to step in. He's a fine backup fellow, and if you squint he looks like a decent choice as the RH-hitting part of a second base platoon over a longer stretch of season. He turns 30 this year, so perhaps the Giants want to give him the chance to be a late bloomer, the kind of guy who parlays years of grinding through the minors and bench roles into a nice multi-year run as a solid regular. Say, kind of like this guy.

Ehire Adrianza last fall hit a home run off Andy Pettitte to ruin the big Texan's final start in Yankee Stadium. If Adrianza is like most super-light-hitting shortstop prospects, that will probably be the highlight of his major league career. After smacking the ball all over the Phoenix metro area, Brandon Hicks could be part of the middle-infield picture, too. See, over in this corner of the picture, the guy striking out? That's him.

The less-discussed option is Joe Panik, their first-round draft pick of 2011. He'll start the year at Triple-A Fresno. But keep half an eye on him. If he somehow reverses his three year trend of declining OPS and puts up notable numbers in Fresno, he could be the LH-hitting half of that Arias platoon come June or July. Don't hold your breath. He's not inspiring visions of a regime change at 2B anytime soon. He turns 24 this fall, still young, so no one's pressing the... well, anyway. But when he was drafted (as a shortstop) a lot of commentary drifted toward "could be a good glove, low power, good plate-discipline second baseman." He hasn't done much to maintain even that modest level of prediction.

So as we hit the final turn of spring training, don't think keystones as much as stopgaps, but be very ready for those stopgaps to turn into something more permanent. I hope Marco Scutaro's back proves me wrong, but the night sweats have already begun, with packages of minor leaguers lurking under the bed, dangled as trade bait for Brandon Phillips. I also woke last night screaming the words "Willie Bloomquist!" I think I'd rather see a "Welcome Home, Kevin Frandsen" banner draped over the upper deck railing at Mays Field.

If the Giants make a trade in the next couple months it'll do two things: confirm our deepest fears about Scutaro, and reinforce our doubts about everyone else on tap to replace him. Including Joe Panik.

Got a second baseman trade that kinda sorta makes sense? Let's hear it.


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