Burrell to make debut on Friday, Giants renew commitment to crusty old vets

It didn’t take long for the Giants to purchase the contract of Pat Burrell, who will make his debut tonight in Pittsburgh just days after San Francisco signed him to a minor league deal. After all, he’s old, and the organization is committed to old and halting their youth movement as much as possible. (See the signings or re-signings of Rich Aurilia, Edgardo Alfonzo, Bengie Molina, Dave Roberts, Omar Vizquel, Ryan Klesko, Jose Vizcaino and Neifi Perez – just to name a few – in previous seasons.)

In calling up Burrell, the Giants had to make a roster move in the process, meaning 26-year-old John Bowker had to be optioned to Triple-A Fresno. Granted, Bowker was only hitting .207 at the time of the demotion, but the Giants, in all of their infinite wisdom, have decided that 82 at bats were enough to close the book on the outfielder for now.

I have nothing against Burrell, per se. He could turn out to be a solid pinch hitter and I would much rather see him wasting away on the bench than Bowker. But it’s the Giants’ continued philosophy (if that’s what you want to call it) towards judging hitters that infuriates me. They never really gave Fred Lewis a chance and now he’s hitting .304 as the Blue Jays’ leadoff hitter. For as good as a Giant as Randy Winn was over the years, they stuck with him too long last year while a younger, more talented Nate Schierholtz rotted away on the bench. (Speaking of Schierholtz, where does he fit in with the addition of Burrell?) And I’m still not sure who Kevin Frandsen killed to have never been given a legitimate shot at sticking with the big league club either, yet Edgar Renteria is in his second year of wasting everyone’s time in the “City by the Bay.”

San Fran has more pitching than the army has heavy artillery. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez, Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo and Dan Runzler are only the tip of the iceberg. Prospects Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler and Waldis Joaquin still await in the minors.

But for as good as the Giants are at finding pitchers, Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey are the only successful positional talent that they’ve groomed (or are grooming) since third baseman Bill Mueller. And it’s moves like the signing of Burrell that continue to hamper their young players’ development.

Again, I’m not opposed to Burrell – I’m opposed to the idea of Burrell. This move likely means that Bowker won’t ever get a real opportunity to play, just like Lewis and Frandsen didn’t, and now maybe even Schierholtz, too. And for what? The Giants haven’t won anything worth noting since 2002 when they lost to the Angels in the World Series, yet they’ve never committed themselves to rebuilding. Watching GM Brian Sabean go through an offseason is like watching the same re-run of “Everybody Loves Raymond” over and over again. You know what’s going to happen, yet there you are, watching it unfold like a bad dream.

It’s time for this organization to change its philosophy, but with Sabean and Bruce Bochy in charge, that’s very unlikely to happen. The fact that Burrell will be in a Giants’ uniform tonight confirms that.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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