The lineup and batting order that makes the most sense for the Giants—and why it makes sense—is of some interest as the club hits San Diego looking to move into first place in the National League West.
1. Aaron Rowand, center field
Rowand's been more productive in the leadoff spot than he has anywhere in the lineup in his two-plus seasons in San Francisco. Don't mess with a good thing...unless he goes 0-for-4 and the Padres win 2-1 in the opener.
2. Freddy Sanchez, second base
Not sure why another three, four at-bats in Triple-A are necessary now that he's made it clear he's feeling good and swinging well.
3. Aubrey Huff, left field
The guy's willing to play the outfield, and I'm willing to watch Buster Posey get four ABs a night at first base. (The move is more aimed at taking some heat off Pablo Sandoval.)
4. Bengie Molina, catcher
It doesn't matter if B-Mo insists he's a No. 6 hitter on a good team. He's the most productive run-producer on this Giants team—which, actually, disproves Molina's theory. He hits well in the four-hole, and the Giants have a good team.
5. Juan Uribe, shortstop
It'd be nice to see him produce on the road like he produces at home.
6. Buster Posey, first base
Posey's arrival solves the left field problem with Mark DeRosa out. Posey will also see more fastballs here (even if this lineup's No. 7 hitter is struggling).
As mentioned earlier, the Giants have convinced me that they aren't sure Posey's ready to be a full-time big league receiver. (Frankly, sending Travis Ishikawa to Triple-A seems the civil thing to do. He's a good clubhouse guy, and it's hard to watch him in the dugout knowing there's no chance he'll pinch-hit and no reason to provide defense at first base.)
7. Pablo Sandoval, third base
He's wondering how the rock star Kung Fu Panda suddenly became a near automatic out. The field microphone picks up the sound of him squeezing sawdust out of the bat handle. The guy's still "The Man" in San Francisco, but he needs to realize that the fame he seems to relish disappears if he doesn't produce.
8. Nate Schierholtz, right field
It's tempting to bump Sanchez into the leadoff spot, with Schierholtz using his speed and ability to hit behind runners in the No. 2 spot. However, Schierholtz has prospered in the eighth spot, and there's no reason to mess with him...yet. Plus, if I'm a pitcher, I'd rather challenge Sandoval with a fastball than have to pitch to Schierholtz.
(Note: Moving Schierholtz to the second spot was mentioned here weeks ago—great speed, lefty hitter, etc.)
If Sandoval doesn't start to swing it, Matt Downs could give him a break at third base. Again, don't know why a kid Sandoval's age would need a rest in May, but...Downs has done a job with the bat, and he's a tough guy. Downs has earned a chance to play the middle infield too. He was at shortstop in Fresno when the season started.
Downs has, interestingly, become the guy fans so desperately hoped Kevin Frandsen would become.
Andres Torres can do what he does best—play late-inning defense, provide the big hit out of the blue when the pitching matchup is right, and play outstanding defense at all three outfield spots.
Oh, sure, the lineup is based on Posey's recall. What to do if he stays in Fresno? Well, then, I'd put Torres in left field platooning with Downs. (Frandsen took fly balls in batting practice for a week and was in left field during a regular season game.) The left field platoon guys would hit No. 8. Schierholtz jumps to No. 7...but that's not really very exciting, is it?
Don't think Downs can play left field? He does! He's got that look of a guy who believes he can do anything—a look the Giants can use in the everyday lineup.
The club is getting close to having an everyday lineup and a potentially serviceable bench.
The Padres will help show how close they are beginning Monday night.