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Kung Fu Panda Down

Pablo Sandoval has been slayed by a hamate bone again — this time on the other hand. The good news is that he came back strong after his six-week absence last year, so maybe he can do it again. The bad news is that his owners are now looking for a third baseman on a waiver wire that just was just raided by Ryan Zimmerman, Kevin Youkilis, and Evan Longoria owners.

On the Giants themselves, it’s likely that callup Conor Gillaspie gets much of the playing time at third. Second base is still a (craptacular) Ryan Theriot / Manny Burriss mashup, and those two dudes are needed over there, and also to backup Brandon Crawford. Against left-handers, the team has the option of moving Brett Pill over to third base — he’s faked the position before. That still leaves a little under 3/4 of the at-bats at third base for the next six weeks available for the rookie.

What can he do?

He’s hitting .356 in Triple-A right now, which might serve as a recommendation to his new manager, despite the crazy .417 BABIP that pushed it. In real-life terms, his plate discipline should be a boon, anyway. Most years, he walks at an average rate or better, and strikes out at a better-than-average rage. He could be expected to do the same in the Major Leagues.

Combine average-or-better contact ability with average-ish power (he’s ISO-ed .132, .157 and .133 at Double-A and Triple-A respectively), and some speed (he stole nine bases last year), and the Giants could get a decent batting average from their rookie. The projection systems like him for about a .266 average, but with his skillset, it wouldn’t be outlandish to expect better. You see those isolated slugging numbers, though, so Pablo’s power will not be replaced. And while Gillaspie stole nine bases in 2011, he also was caught nine times. Don’t expect him to get the green light.

Is he any better than the waiver options out there? Depends on your league. Kyle Seager, fellow 24-year-old, is making more contact, has similar power upside, and has more speed. Plus, his usage has been fairly steady. For those that can’t afford a step back in batting average, he’s a decent option. Pedro Alvarez is an option for those that need the power more — but his Mark Reynolds-like strikeout rate (34.3%) isn’t likely to get much better than last year’s 30.5% rate, considering he’s showing the same (terrible) swinging strike rate. Not only does that mean a bad batting average, it means that his job is always at risk, much like Mark Reynolds has shown. Dan Wade had more on Alvarez earlier in the day. Chris Davis is just another Pedro Alvarez type, although for some reason he’s showing a decent strikeout rate right now.

The best option to replace both the batting average and the power might be in Boston, but he might not be a great option for all six weeks. William Middlebrooks (Will) is now up, and he’s done a great job improving his biggest flaw this year. Known for not walking and striking out too much, the 23-year-old repeated Triple-A this year and improved in both arenas. If the new strikeout rate is to be believed (18%), then he could maybe strike out around league average (19.2% this year) and use his prodigious power and okay speed to hit for a decent batting average. If you can manage to find two spots to replace the Panda, make Middlebrooks one of them.

Deeper leagues? So sorry. A National-League only reader sent me his waiver wire and all I could recommend was Jesus Guzman or Steve Lombardozzi. At least they’re playing semi-regularly. And there’s a chance, of course, that Juan Uribe is out there for you (and for the Giants?).