By Ben Leonard
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. —
Faced with the prospect of replacing all-time great utility infielder Joaquin Arias, the San Francisco Giants have an uncertain future ahead of them.
After the legend decided to take his talents to Phoenix, the team has scoured high and low for a replacement for jack-of-all-trades infielder– with no luck. The team has explored multiple options to no avail, including former Giant Juan Uribe, whom Arias replaced, forcing him out of town after a championship season. With rumors that the Giants were going to eventually pluck the surging Arias from the Royals’ organization, where he played in 2011, Uribe had no choice but to leave for Los Angeles in search of playing time.
An industry source confirms that the team has been unable to find a player that matches Arias’ rare ability to play every position a a high level. “He’s a once in a generation type of talent,” one anonymous NL executive said. “The market is thin on guys like him — Arizona was incredibly lucky to snag a guy like him on the open market.”
Arizona was clearly sold on Arias’ potential for improvement — the advanced statistics indicated he’s due for invariable regression. Last season, Arias’ BABIP was .244, well below his career average of .286.
The utility infielder showed Arizona he could compete with the best, posting a career .300 batting average against Dodgers’ ace and fellow legend Clayton Kershaw. No moment was too big for Arias — he finished off Matt Cain’s no-hitter with a heroic play, ranging to his right and making an off-balance throw to put out Astros’ catcher Jason Castro.
The Texas Rangers were so enamored with Arias’ talent that they traded Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees for a young Arias in 2004. They saw everything that Arias brought the table — the ability to hit for contact, play solid defense at every infield position, and intimidate the opposition. The very thought of Arias charging down the first base line forced error upon error, even for defensive whiz Scott Rolen.
“He meant so much to this organization,” said a Giants fan who spoke on the premise of anonymity. “I don’t know how I’m going to keep watching Giants’ games without seeing Kobe *I mean Arias* out on the field.”
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Giants are reluctantly in pursuit of Uribe once again, but his asking price has been too high. Evidently, the Giants are unwilling to settle for anything less than Arias — it would be disrespectful to the legacy he left in San Francisco.
Cover Image: San Francisco Giants third baseman Joaquin Arias hits against the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning in a baseball game in San Diego, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)