In light of Renteria’s recent comments (and apparently, his agent’s all too transparent cover-up), I decided to try and find the next best utility shortstop on the market. One name that especially stood out was that of Craig Counsell. He’s a 40-year-old infielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, with dependable numbers and a likeable personality to boot. More importantly, he doesn’t appear to be spoiled by inflated salaries. Keeping this in mind, here are five reasons why I’d like to see him in a Giants uniform next year:
1. Hey look, it’s a left-handed hitter!
Last time I checked, we needed one of these, right? I realize that Counsell isn’t exactly a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed rookie or anything, but he is a well-seasoned player and not terribly shabby in the hitting department. Last season, he batted .250 over 103 games, with 51 hits and 16 runs. Not the most impressive numbers, but then again, it’s not as if the Giants made it to the World Series on hitting power. We’ll take what we can get.
2. Versatility + Utility
Shortstop may be his strong suit, but Counsell can also fill in as a 2nd or 3rd baseman. In 2010, he played the most games as shortstop, while 2009 saw him primarily at 2nd base, and in 2008 he played most often at 3rd. In the 253.2 innings Counsell fielded this year, he made a total of 2 errors with 30 putouts and a .982 field percentage.
3. $3.5M for 2 years? Yes please!
Unlike Edgar’s indignant response to the Giants’ offer, Counsell seems a bit more reasonable. He signed a 1-year, $1M contract with the Brewers in 2009, and resigned for another year at $2.5M. This is a far cry from the $18.5M spent on Renteria, for what looks like approximately the same performance level. No complaints here!
4. The super-cool batting stance.
As you can see in the photo, Counsell’s trademark move was holding the bat almost straight above his head, while facing away from the pitcher. I have to admit, I find it hard to believe that anyone holding a bat that high can actually hit the ball. If nothing else, though, it’s definitely entertaining! Unfortunately, Craig’s signature stance was outlawed by MLB in 2009 for its pure ineffectiveness.
5. He was once a World Series buddy of Edgar’s.
…wait, that’s not a reason. I just wanted to throw this tidbit out there: in the 1997 WS between the Florida Marlins and Cleveland Indians, Craig saved the Marlins with a last-minute sacrifice fly in the 9th, tying the game at 2-2. In the bottom of the 11th inning, Renteria eked out a single right over pitcher Charles Nagy’s head, sending Counsell home from 3rd and winning the championship for the Marlins. See, Counsell is a World Series team player too!
As far as I know, Craig wants to be back in MLB for another year, supposedly with the Brewers. Still, nothing’s been finalized just yet, so perhaps we can sway him to San Francisco. Who’s with me?