Archive for the ‘San Francisco Giants’ category

San Francisco Giants Trade for Catcher Erik Kratz

March 25, 2019

The Giants traded away middle infield prospect C.J. Hinojosa for 38 year old catcher Erik Kratz.  The Giants released 35 year old catcher Rene Rivera the day before, and for the life of me, I’m not sure what the difference is between Rivera and Kratz.  They’re both good-field, no-hit catchers well past their respective primes.

Once again, it may be a case of the Giants getting a good look at Rivera, deciding he was as bad as could reasonably be expected, and deciding to bring in someone marginally better who they haven’t had a chance to sour on yet.  Either that, or some of the players may have exercised opt-outs when they found out they weren’t going to make the major league team out of Spring Training.

At any rate, all of the Giants’ late Spring Training roster moves feel a lot like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Bringing in Erik Kratz or Michael Reed or Connor Joe isn’t going to make what looks like a weak team significantly better.

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San Francisco Giants Outfield Churn Continues

March 23, 2019

The Gints are still trying to improve their outfield mix as the regular season rapidly approaches, but they keep bringing in more of the same marginal players.  They released Cameron Maybin, and traded for Michael Reed and Mike Yastrzemski, while trading John Andreoli for Reed and RHP Tyler Herb for Yaz.

Reed is going into his age 26 season, and he was really good in 53 games at AAA Gwinnett last year (.997 OPS).  In that sense, he looks a lot like Connor Joe, whom the Giants just brought in yesterday.  Reed can apparently play all three outfield positions and is expected to split playing time with Steven Duggar in center field, assuming Reed makes the major league club out of Spring Training.  For the Twins this spring, Reed went 5-for-18 with a home run.

While Reed seems like an improvement over Andreoli, he’s obviously not much of an improvement.  The recent spate of moves feel very much like a grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-mountain situation, with the has-beens and never-have-beens the Giants started camp with mostly underwhelming and now being replaced at the last minute with a new crop of perhaps, marginially better has-beens and never-have-beens.  None of it inspires much confidence.

Yet another outfielder we could signed by the Giants in short order is former Giants prospect Adam Duvall.  The Braves gave Duvall a $2.88 million contract for 2019 in spite of how poorly he played late last season in Atlanta.  If the Braves release him before the regular season starts, the team will only be on the hook for slightly less than $700,000 of the $2.88M total as severance pay.

Duvall would be a natural fit for the Giants, who can always use a another right-handed power bat in left field (where Duvall’s defense is great), and the Giants have been collecting marginal outfielders like Duvall all off-season.  I’d certainly like to see the Giants give Duvall a shot on a minor league contract if the Braves release him, particularly as it seems more and more clear the team has no intention of bringing in anyone significantly better.

San Francisco Giants Add Connor Joe (Ugh!)

March 23, 2019

I keep waiting for the Giants to do something to improve their outfield situation.  And the Giants keep bringing in guys like Connor Joe.

I have nothing against Connor Joe, but he’s an old 26 (he turns 27 in August), he’s played exactly 49 games of merely above average offensive performance in the Pacific Coast League.  He can play RF, but his 3B defense is terrible (sub .900 fielding percentage).

The Gints traded Josh Johnson and “cash considerations” (I don’t know if that means $25,000 or $100,000 or anywhere else between $10,000 and $1M, although my guestimate is the first set of numbers) for Joe.

The Giants gave up on Rule-5 pick Drew Ferguson, who returns to the Astros, and replaced him with the Reds’ Rule-5 selection of Joe.  New Giants GM Farhan Zaidi is familiar with Joe from the Dodgers’ system, and Joe’s .806 Spring Training OPS was a lot better than Ferguson’s dreadful .405.

What I don’t like about the Giants bringing on Joe is that mlbtraderumors.com speculates that he will take Pablo Sandoval’s roster spot.  Yangervis Solarte has almost certainly made the team, which leaves Sandoval as a likely odd-man out.  Joe can’t defend 3B, but Solarte can, and Joe can play RF, which Pablo can’t.  The logic seems inescapable, but I will be sad to see Pablo go, if he does.

If bringing in Connor Joe is the Giants’ last outfield move before the regular season starts, I’ll expect the Giants to be sellers at the trade deadline.

Don’t the San Francisco Giants Have Enough Over-the-Hill Outfielders Already?

March 20, 2019

The Giants just signed Matt Joyce, now age 34 (he turns 35 in August), to a minor league deal.  Big Whoop!

The Indians released Joyce from his minor league deal with the Tribe on March 19th.  That follows a season in Oakland in 2018 in which he slashed .208/.322/.353.  It’s hard to imagine him having much left, although he did hit well in both 2016 and 2017.

Presumably, Joyce will start the year at AAA Sacramento and get a major league shot if he plays well and someone of the major league roster doesn’t (or gets hurt).

Needless to say, signing Joyce does little to improve the Giants’ outfield situation, which looks pretty bleak as of this writing.  Mike Gerber and Steven Duggar are hitting well in Spring Training, and Gerardo Parra has been O.K.  After that, no one has impressed.  Additionally, Gerber isn’t expected to make the major league team out of Spring Training.

As I’ve said before, there is still time for the Giants to make a move between today and the March 28 season opener in San Diego.  Time is running out, and the fact that the Giants just signed Joyce doesn’t suggest they have a bigger deal in the works.

No Fan of Spring Training

March 19, 2019

Spring Training is one of my least favorite times of the baseball season.  Nothing really interesting is going on, and I find it hard to wait for the real games to start.

Most of the news is who got hurt last and the Spring-Training-everyone’s-still-in-first-place B.S.  Hope springs eternal, and everyone’s got a shot in Spring Training, but I am tired of it.  The Giants look old and under-talented, and they aren’t going to compete unless almost all their stars have great seasons and stay healthy.  That’s not easy when most of the players with talent are over 30.

There are still a few free agents out there, but it’s hard to wait for the at most once a week big signing.  Most of the guys being signed now are guys who just got released from other teams or who have no real chance of playing in the majors and are being signed to fill in Spring Training injuries at the AA and AAA levels.

All the players getting hurt is a drag.  One tends to find out in Spring Training who worked hard in the off-season and who didn’t.  Bet on the guys who hurt themselves during their off-season workouts and not those that get hurt in Spring Training.  But, of course, even the veteran stars get hurt in Spring Training.  You can’t win, and morality doesn’t always tell the truth.

The Giants’ outfield still looks terrible, and experience has told me I can’t yet write off the possibility that the Giants will make a move here.  I can’t remember the Giants going into a season with an outfield this bad without making a move before Opening Day.

The Winter Hot Stove League beats Spring Training.  When the flurry of signings take place between December 1st and February 1st, at least something of seeming consequence is going on.

Yeah, it’s fun to go to Arizona or Florida to watch the games, particularly if you are from a winter weather area.  Not so much in San Francisco — just wet or not wet — and I’ve never been particularly interested in traveling to Arizona to pay to see games that don’t matter.  Maybe when I have more income than I know what to do with.

It’s nice to argue about who should make the team, but the opening day roster is almost always pre-determined based on who is getting guaranteed money and who doesn’t have any options left.  And the Spring Training games just aren’t enough to give all the bubble players enough plate appearances to really mean something.  It doesn’t get interesting for me until the bubble player actually makes the team and starts putting up some regular season stats.

Does anyone remember Brandon Hicks in 2014?  A good Spring Training got him a roster spot, and he hit a ton his first 15 or 20 regular season games.  Then reality set in, and his inability to hit the ball buried his power and willingness to take a walk.  Hicks was done by July 10, but Joe Panik was ready, and the rest was history, as they say.

Anyway, what Brandon Hicks did in the regular season (and the final result) was a lot more interesting than his Spring Training, even if S.T. was largely what enabled him to make the team in the first place.

Toronto Blue Jays Want Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. to Push Himself Away from the Dinner Table

March 15, 2019

Obviously, the main reasons the Blue Jays just sent Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. down to minor league camp are because of a recent oblique strain plus the Jays wanting to ensure themselves another season of team control over one of MLB’s brightest prospects.  However, it’s also clear the Jays are legitimately concerned about young Vlad’s weight and whether he is committed to developing a major league body.

When the demotion was reported yesterday on mlbtraderumors.com, I clicked the link on young Vlad’s numbers, and the one number that stuck out to me most (other than his obviously being ready to start his major league career) is the fact that he’s listed as 250 lbs.  That is big indeed for a man then two days short of his 20th birthday.

Here’s how young Vlad looked when he showed up for Spring Training in mid-February.  Let’s not mince words — a player his age right at the moment of trying to break through to the majors shouldn’t be looking this fat (as least as far as young professional athletes go).  It’s also inescapable that when the oblique strain happened, the team must have drawn a connection to his appearance when he arrived for Spring Training.

Jays’ management has been making comments the last few weeks about young Vlad not being ready for the majors due to “the physical aspect” and how the team wants to “see a light bulb go off” and young Vlad “live his life with intent.”  Even if they haven’t openly complained about his work ethic, management obviously does think young Vlad needs to work harder on his conditioning and obviously weren’t happy about young Vlad arriving at camp a lard-butt.

The most obvious comparison to young Vlad in recent memory is Pablo Sandoval, another enormously talented young 3Bman, whose career was become a disappointment because Pablo could never push himself away from the dinner table for any length of time.  A player with young Vlad’s body at age 20 isn’t going to hold out long enough to become a Hall of Famer, even with all of young Vlad’s talent.

San Francisco Giants Running Afoul of the Law

March 6, 2019

It’s been a bad week for Giants in terms of public relations.  Following team CEO Larry Baer’s ugly incident caught on camera where he pulled his wife off a chair while fighting over a cell phone, Spring Training non-roster invitee Cameron Maybin got popped last Friday for DUI.  Maybin’s blood alcohol level was at .127, well over the legal .08 limit.

Baer quickly took a leave of absence from the Giants after his incident became national news.  Maybin continued to play for the Giants in spring games before his arrest was reported.  However, now that the arrest has been made public, not to mention the fact that Maybin is only 2-for-19 so far this spring, the odds are fairly good the Giants unceremoniously dump him in the next few days.

Releasing Maybin wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for the Gints.  With so many marginal outfielders in camp, releasing Maybin would mean more playing time for the many others.

After nine Spring Training games, five of these outfielders are off to reasonably good starts.  Mike Gerber is 5-for-9 with a double.  Chris Shaw is 5-for17 with two home runs and a 1.039 OPS.  John Andreoli is 2-for-5 with three walks, giving him a .625 on-base percentage.  Gerardo Parra is 4-for-13 with a home run and .949 OPS.  Mac Williamson is only 4-for-16 but has a home run and a .794 OPS.

After those five, all the others currently have OPS numbers below .700, with Austin Slater at the top of the bottom at .624. Steve Duggar hasn’t played much as he recovers from left shoulder surgery, and the other outfielders in camp haven’t hit a lick.

There are still more than three weeks until the start of the real action, so don’t be surprised if the Giants don’t swing a trade for another outfielder between now and then.