What is a fan to do when a red-hot streak portends the beginning of an exciting, new era, but the end of a special and historic one? It has been bittersweet for San Francisco Giants fans to witness the passing of a torch in Oracle Park.
Three-time World Series champion and longtime shortstop Brandon Crawford may not have a choice in the matter if top prospect Casey Schmitt continues to impress in the big leagues. The veteran was benched in favor of the scorching Schmitt for the third game in a row in Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. Naturally, the media questioned manager Gabe Kapler about the complicated situation.
“I think a lot of it has to do with how well Schmitt is playing,” he said prior to the game, via MLB.com's Maria Guardado. “He’s not the easiest guy to take out of the lineup right now. He’s doing a really nice job at shortstop. He’s having really good at-bats. If you needed to point to one area, that’s probably it.”
The 24-year-old rookie has made a grand first impression, batting .329 in 17 games. Even if he cools off, though, (0-for-3 with a walk Saturday), Schmitt is expected to be the Giants' future shortstop. Crawford is 36 and in the final year of his contract. Furthermore, he is hitting just .172 following a season in which he batted .231. The four-time Gold Glove winner has not been himself in the field either and currently has -1 outs above average.
All of that means that Giants fans need to soak up all of the remaining games they have with the three-time All-Star. Brandon Crawford has been a pillar of consistency and a valued leader in the clubhouse. His contributions will be immortalized in franchise history.
But a new day is quickly dawning in the Bay.