A Disappointing September
Giants’ fans have definitely gotten spoiled by the last three seasons. With the team completely out of it, and .500 record no longer even possible, it’s been a disappointing end to the 2013 season.
I’m also disappointed the Giants haven’t given more playing time to their youngsters and unproven players. Yusmeiro Petit has gotten an opportunity to show that he could be valuable to the team in 2014. However, Petit’s opportunity came about mainly because it had been painfully clear that Barry Zito has nothing left.
Similarly, Tony Abreu has gotten considerable playing time this September, even hitting a home run in last night’s game against the Dodgers. However, Abreu’s opportunity is the result of Marco Scutaro having played in pain most of the season and now having surgery on the mallet finger he suffered back in July.
The Giants have managed to get back-up catcher Hector Sanchez 54 of his 134 major league plate appearances this year in September, but again his increased playing time is at least in part a result of the fact that Buster Posey is slumping badly most likely because of all the wear and tear he’s faced at catcher this season. I note that even with the time off this month, Buster still ranks seventh in all of MLB in innings played at catcher this season.
In fairness to the Giants, their September call-ups are not a particularly impressive bunch. Still, I would have liked to see slugging AAA catcher Johnny Monell get more than six plate appearances and three innings behind the plate so far this September. Similarly, while I don’t see either of them developing into anything more than a major league back-up, I would have liked to see Juan Perez and Francisco Peguero get more playing time in left field this month.
The same also for shortstop prospect Ehire Adrianze. According to the SF Chronicle today, Adrianze will be out options next year, so the Giants need to give him more playing time in the few games left this season.
The Giants have given a little more work to their young pitchers, but not a whole lot more. Heath Hembree has pitched six shutout innings in six appearances in September, while Jake Dunning has allowed one earned run over 3.2 September innings in six appearances. Meanwhile, Michael Kickham has pitched well out of the bullpen this month (one earned run in 4.2 innings) after getting his brains beaten out as a starter earlier in the season.
The Giants’ resistance to giving their youngsters more exposure is, I suspect, largely the result of the fact that the Giants are still playing to sell-out crowds at home every night. I suspect the team feels an obligation to pack its line-up with stars simply to keep the fans attending the games happy.
While it’s hard to root for the team to lose even when the games don’t matter, I’m hoping the Giants lose enough of their five remaining games to receive a top ten draft pick next June. Aside from the higher draft pick, finishing with one of MLB’s worst ten records means the Giants can sign top free agents this off-season without losing their first round pick.
In a final note of disappointment, Dominican prospect Nathanael Javier, to whom the Giants gave a $500,000 signing bonus in July 2012, has tested positive for steroids and will be suspended the first 50 games of the 2014 season. At age 17 this year, Javier batted only .229/.276/.326 in 59 Dominican Summer League games. However, he finished the season hot, batting .325/.364/.475 in his final ten games.
Javier’s suspension is a particularly big blow because it’s almost certain to cost him almost all of his 2014 season. He was likely to return to the Dominican Summer League for another season, and the league plays only a 70 game schedule. In other words, the positive test will cost him nearly a year of his development as a professional player.