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Giants Still Have Decisions About Bench Hitters

From Gabe Lacques' USA Today piece about players on the bubble, a bit about three San Francisco Giants (and I don't know why I'm forever fascinated by the Giants, but I am) ...

Aaron Rowand/Travis Ishikawa/Nate Schierholtz, Giants: Ishikawa, 26, and Schierholtz, 27, are both veteran, valued super subs who are out of minor league options. Rowand is due to make $12 million this year and next. Yet all of their fates are tied to a 22-year-old who has yet to play a major league game.

Brandon Belt may have slugged his way into the Giants' lineup this spring, a development that would move Aubrey Huff to the outfield and force a tough decision on Rowand, Ishikawa and Schierholtz.

The Giants could simply release Rowand, but it would be hard to stomach eating $24 million in salary. Were they to trade him, they'd have to pick up almost all of his salary anyway.

With Rowand, the question is pretty simple ... Is he the player we saw in 2010, or the player we saw in 2008 and '9?

The player we saw in 2008 and '9, which obviously not worth anywhere near his salary, is useful enough to keep around if you're already paying him. The player we saw in 2010 is an albatross, especially if you can't forget his salary (and who can?). The Giants are all about scouting. If Brian Sabean doesn't think Rowand's going to play much better than he did last season, they should just eat that $24 million. No matter how badly it's going to hurt going down.

Of course, it's hard to make a case for Ishikawa on the roster, either. He plays first base, like Huff and Belt. He bats left-handed, like Huff and Belt. Unlike Huff and Belt, he's not much of a hitter. Even against right-handed pitchers -- he's faced few lefties in his career -- Ishikawa's line is just .269/.332/.417. That's just not good enough for a player with almost no defensive value.

Schierholtz is the most versatile and the most interesting of this trio. For one thing, he can actually play the outfield. For another, there's at least some reason to hope that eventually he will hit. 

Schierholtz's line in 758 major-league plate appearances is not good: .270/.314/.399.

Schierholtz's line in 835 Triple-A plate appearances is quite good: .325/.362/.569.

Granted, the Pacific Coast League is a lovely place for hitters, but there's an obvious disconnect between those two lines. Particularly in the power department. I do know if I had an opening for a platoon right fielder, I'd give Schierholtz another 450 PA and hope for the best.

But the Giants don't have those 450 plate appearances, and will have even fewer if Belt pushes Huff to the outfield.