Both the San Francisco Giants and the Cincinnati Reds have lost their starting shortstops to injury recently. Omar Vizquel had surgery to remove torn cartilage from his knee, while Alex Gonzalez’ ’sore knee’ turned out to be a broken knee. In both cases, the players are not expected to be ready for opening day and neither team appears to have a major league-ready shortstop ready to step in. The best options for the Giants appear to be Kevin Fransden and Rich Aurilia. Fransden is a natural second baseman while Aurilia has not been a regular shortstop since 2004. The Reds are now stuck with Juan Castro and Jeff Keppinger. Like Fransden, Keppinger is a second baseman by trade and Castro is a journeyman shortstop with a career OPS of .605.
McCovey Chronicles recently suggested that the Giants needed to make a trade and their target should be Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays. Zobrist, a switch-hitter, has impressive minor league numbers that have yet to register at the big league level. Zobrist posted a .428 OBP in the minors with a 176:234 strikeout to walk ratio. However, in parts of two seasons with the Rays, Zobrist has seen those numbers drop to .234 and 47:13 respectively. Now Zobrist is stuck behind Jason Bartlett whom the Rays acquired to shore up their defensive deficiencies. In addition super-prospect Reid Brignac may be ready for the big leagues in 2009.
That leads us to two questions: 1) What would it take to land Zobrist from the Rays? For the Giants, Pat Misch might get the deal done. For the Reds, maybe Bill Bray. 2) Are there any better options out there that either the Giants or the Redlegs could land to fill their holes at shortstop? Let us know in the comments.