First off, let me say that I think that Burriss is a legit prospect who probably will eventually do better in the majors than Frandsen. He plays great defense at 2B plus is good controlling his bat and not striking out too many times, plus getting walks now and again at an OK pace.
His main two problems is that 1) he can't hit for average right now, with a horrible BABIP, and 2) even when he does hit, he can't hit for any power, which is necessary for any MLB hitter who hopes to have a long career. These are two critical skills that he has not mastered well enough in the majors thus far.
Frandsen vs. Burriss
Frandsen lost the spring training competition but basically he was on the rise while Burriss on the decline by the time spring training ended. Burriss looked good beating up on the lesser pitchers who were pitching more often earlier in spring training, but as the spring progressed and the better pitchers pitched more and longer into games, they were figuring him out.
Still, I can see why the Giants decided to go with Burriss, though I still didn't agree with it. Frandsen only just recovered last fall and we had no idea whether he was fully healed (though it should be noted that he outplayed Burriss in the Arizona Fall League and though he lost to Burriss, he also batted well too, just not as good) and how he would physically stand up to play during the season. Plus Burriss had a nice end to the 2008 season, giving some indication that perhaps he can handle the job full-time.
Well, Frandsen, after his slow start, probably caused by the disappointment of ending up in AAA when he thought he would at least be a utility guy at the major league level, turned it up and is currently hitting .330/.378/.477/.855 in the minors, which is a MLE of .283/.321/.389/.710, which is not great but looks great in comparison with Burriss's current batting line of .242/.298/.273/.570. Plus, Burriss is striking out a heck of a lot more than Frandsen is. And Frandsen's defense has drawn raves in his short stints up in the majors.
The key thing about Frandsen vs. Burriss is that Burriss has not really hit well at any level in professional baseball. His hitting abilities are still a big question mark, other than we know he can avoid the strikeout on a regular basis better than most hitters. Meanwhile, Frandsen has hit at every single level in the minors, and over 3 years in AAA, he has hit .321/.383/.459/.842 overall with only 52 strikeouts in 532 AB and 9 HR, which is probably 9 more than Burriss would hit. He also had 29 walks and 24 HBP, which total more than his strikeouts.
Fix the Mistake: Call Up Frandsen and Send Down Burriss
Burriss is clearly struggling with the bat. Sure, he plays great defense, based on the sparkling plays he has done, but according to UZR, he's actually below average, trading off dependability and competitence for flashy, shining defensive plays. So he's hurting the team both offensively and defensively.
Frandsen is not looking like he's going to be that good a major leaguer, but he has shown glimpses that he could make the adjustment. We won't know whether he can or can't until we put him in the majors and give him a position to hold for a long period without fear of losing it with a short run of poor play.
One player I've seen him compared to is Dustin Pedroia, and Pedroia also did not do that great in the minors, particularly in the upper minors, but when he made the majors, he made the final adjustments needed to continue to develop and keep up his level of production at the major league level. That is what Frandsen has done his entire minor league career, so we don't know that he won't continue to develop if given a shot in the majors.
The one and only time he was given such a shot was in the last two months of 2007. From August 1st to the end of the season, Frandsen played in 43 games, started 34 of them, and hit .295/.347/.439/.786, with 4 HR in 132 AB, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts, 4 HBP. He delivered.
Burriss, on the other hand, has not delivered very often or for very long.
- From May 25 to June 18, 2008, he hit .414/.528/.517/1.045 in 29 AB
- From August 16 to September 8th, 2008, he hit .371/.463/.443/.906 in 70 AB
- From April 29 to May 14, 2009, he hit .393/.460/.429/.889 in 56 AB
- From May 23 to June 4, 2009, he hit .378/.395/.459/.854 in 37 AB
Clearly, when Burriss is on, he can be one heck of an offensive player, and that coupled with his speed would clearly amp up any offense. However, despite all the above nice stretches of hitting, he has been so cold otherwise that his career MLB batting line is only .265/.331/.304/.634, which is an OK OBP, but horrible SLG and OPS.
He needs to hit for more power, and whatever Lansford is doing with his batting stance to generate more power out of his apparently power arms is not working this far, in fact, it has regressed this season, to 31 ISO from 46 ISO last season. The average 2B in the NL this season has an ISO of 130, so he is almost 100 percentage points lower.
Therefore, the Giants need to admit that they made a mistake giving Burriss the starting job this season. They should have done that when Ishikawa was brought up by sending Burriss down and keeping Frandsen starting at 2B but didn't. They can still do it at any time.
Another option for the Giants is to shop Uribe around to another contender, though I doubt they will do that. They could trade him for a prospect, which is a pretty good return for signing Uribe to a minor league deal, and bring up Frandsen to take over that spot. Fransdsen's utility position was taken by Uribe, but the one silver lining of Frandsen going down and playing in AAA is that he has shown the Giants that he can handle the SS position defensively, and thus he could steal ABs at 2B, SS, 3B, and even LF, and play pretty much full-time, much like how Feliz got so many AB early in his career.
If he can hit over .700 OPS and play decent defense at SS, he could even replace Renteria after Renteria's contract is up. Or even give the Giants thoughts of trading Renteria to a contender if Edgar should heat up his hitting in the second half like he did last season. It does not take much offense to be average, the average NL SS is hitting .263/.322/.382/.704 currently and Frandsen's MLE is right around there. Meanwhile, Burriss is not even hitting replacement level for SS, let alone 2B.
Send Burriss down and, more importantly, bring Frandsen up. That alone could boost up the offense greatly, as he could hit 2nd until Renteria starts hitting again and be OK there. And the defense should not take that big a hit, in fact, it could be even improved with Frandsen there, as Burriss is appearing to be bringing his poor offense with him to his defensive position more often than not, given his negative UZR this season.
Then tell Frandsen that the job is his until after the September call-ups. That would give him a good 2 months to get settled in the job and see what he can do with it on a regular basis. It couldn't be much worse than what Burriss had been giving us during this season.