Dickey: Bochy wise to start the best players, not richest 

One good reason for being optimistic about the Giants’ chances for the postseason: Manager Bruce Bochy has announced that his lineup decisions will be based on performance, not salary.

That wasn’t true before. When Aaron Rowand, midway through a five-year, $60 million deal, came off the disabled list, he went back to center field, though Andres Torres is clearly his defensive superior. Worse, Bochy put Rowand at leadoff even though he was a black hole in the batting order at that spot. When Edgar Renteria, in the second year of an $18.5 million contract, came off the DL, he went back to shortstop, though Juan Uribe is superior defensively and as a power hitter.

Finally, Bochy benched Rowand and put Torres in center and at the leadoff spot, where he has ignited the Giants offense. Rowand sat for several games.

When Renteria came off his second stint on the DL, Bochy left Uribe at shortstop for a few games before putting Renteria back at short. But he also found a place for Uribe in the lineup.

Torres and Uribe are the feel-good stories of the year. It’s the second time around for Uribe, who signed as a free agent for the 2009 season. The Giants re-signed him this year at a higher price, but even at $3.25 million, he’s a bargain.

But not as much as Torres, whose salary was listed on ESPN at $426,000.

Torres is an amazing story. When I first saw him with the Giants last season, I thought he looked like a good player, but he was already 31 and had been in professional baseball since the 1998 season. He’d had brief stints with Detroit and Texas.

Usually, when a player has a résumé like that, you think he’s one of those players who can look good for a short period, but no longer.

But Torres is the real deal. He’s got some power and good speed, with 11 steals in his first 14 attempts. He’s a good defensive center fielder with more range than Rowand, who’s a year older. The Giants should give a bonus to the scout who recognized

Torres’ ability when nobody else did.

Now Bochy has to do some juggling because he’s got veterans who will need rest, especially in the second half of the season.

Renteria is back at shortstop but that’s as much because of his bat as his glove; he’s a streaky hitter who has been hot since he came off the DL. Uribe has to be in the lineup somewhere because he and Aubrey Huff are the only Giants who could be called power hitters.

There’s also a younger player, Nate Schierholtz, who needs more playing time. I suspect it will come at the expense of Pat Burrell, who is cooling off after a hot start with the Giants.

I also think that Bochy is soon going to have to tell Bengie Molina it’s time to retire. Buster Posey is the catcher of the future — and that future should be now.

The rest of the season will be a challenge for Bochy, but he has the green light to play his best players, not his richest. That’s good news.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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Glenn Dickey

Glenn Dickey

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