Archive for the ‘San Francisco Giants’ category

Lose Weight, Vlad Jr.

August 18, 2019

Vlad Jr. came out of today’s game with left knee “discomfort.”  He’s listed at 6’2″ and 250 lbs at age 20.

Work out harder in the off-season, and eat better, or risk becoming the next Pablo Sandoval.  Pablo has had his moments, but when you have that kind of talent, you have to be thinking of the Hall of Fame.

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San Francisco Giants Promote Logan Webb

August 17, 2019

Well, it sure doesn’t seem like an 80-game PED suspension earlier this season did much to slow Logan Webb‘s move up the ladder as a prospect.  He’s being called-up to a start tomorrow’s Giants’ game.  After serving the suspension, Webb pitched well at AA Richmond and looked good in exactly one AAA start.

I think it’s most likely that the 22 year old right-hander will look raw in his first start, but we’ll see.  Webb’s 80-game suspension may punish him most in the short term because of the lost experience.  He’s only pitched 302.1 minor league innings, and if he’d pitched all year and remained healthy, he’d better poised for the jump to the Show.  14 high minors starts sure isn’t many before facing the truly big boys.

In the long term, the 80-game suspension doesn’t look particularly punitive and certainly not punitive enough to prevent Webb from again bending the rules if he believes the ‘roids helped his performance or development.

San Francisco Giants Dump Joe Panik

August 7, 2019

The Giants designated Joe Panik for assignment today, which effectively means he’s about to become a free agent.  It’s highly unlikely anyone will claim him off waivers, but once he clears, he will almost certainly choose free agency, at which point anyone can sign him for a pro-rated portion of the major league minimum.

Joe Panik’s time as a Giant was pretty much a textbook case of promise unfulfilled.  Even so, I’m a little sad to see him go when he could potentially have helped the Giants for the rest of this season, before his inevitable non-tender in the next off-season.

Scooter Gennett is no sure thing, nor is Mauricio Dubon.  Gennett is off to a 3-for-14 start (but a .714 OPS) as a Giant, and Dubon has gone 4-for 21 in six games since joining the AAA Sacramento River Cats.  I assume that Dubon will probably remain at AAA until September call-ups or until he gets hot, whichever comes first.

Panik’s .627 OPS was poor, but his .310 on-base percentage could have been worse.  I wouldn’t have dumped him until I was certain Dubon is ready to take his roster space.

Instead, the Giants decided they’d go with a platoon Donovan Solano and Gennett and call up an additional pitcher.  Connor Menez and Williams Jerez were called up today, and Sam Selman was sent down after four unimpressive major league appearances.  If nothing else, it will good to see Connor Menez get another major league start sooner rather than later.

Busy Trade Deadline Day for San Francisco Giants

August 1, 2019

After being up in the air about how they were going to go into the trade deadline, the Giants made a flury of moves that kind of split the difference.  The Giants sent away relievers Sam Dyson, Mark Melancon, Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black, held onto Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, and added 2Bmen Scooter Gennett and Mauricio Dubon and a bunch of B and C-grade prospects.

Dyson was the only really important piece for the Giants in 2019, and the Giants got three prospects for his last 1.33 seasons of control.  The three prospects are Prelander Berroa, a 19 year old right-hander who has never pitched above the rookie league level; Jaylin Davis, a just turned 25 year old outfielder who is a former 24th round draft pick but is having a big year this year in the high minors; and Kei-Wei Teng, a big (6’4″, 260 lbs) Taiwanese right-hander pitching well at full season A ball this year at age 20.

After a promotion from AA, Jaylin Davis was slashing .331/.405/.708 after 41 games for AAA Rochester, and he runs well. However, his career minor league .812 OPS is probably a better reflection of his true talents.  MLB.com doesn’t rank any of the three prospects the Giants received as being in the Twins’ top 30.

The Giants got a big return from the Brewers for Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black.  Just turned 25 2Bman Mauricio Dubon was slashing .297/.333/.475 after 427 plate appearances at AAA San Antonio.  Dubon was born in Honduras and went to high school in Sacramento.  He is just the second Honduran born player in major league history — the first was Gerald Young.

The trades involving Mark Melancon and Scooter Gennett were mostly about moving salary for the selling teams.  The Braves will reportedly pay all of Melancon’s remaining contract, which is close to $19M through the end of the 2020 season.  The prospects the Giants got in return reflect it.  Righties Tristan Beck and Dan Winkler don’t impress much.

Beck is a former 4th round draft pick out of Stanford, but missed all of the 2017 season to a stress fracture in his back.  Now age 23, he has an ugly 5.65 ERA in the normally pitcher-friendly Class A+ Florida State League after eight starts this season.  After a fine major league campaign last year at age 28, Dan Winkler pitched his way out of the Braves’ bullpen this year and has had trouble throwing strikes for AAA Gwinnett.

The Giants gave the Reds “cash considerations” for Scooter Gennett, which I assume means that the Giants will be paying all of the remaining $3.25 million owed to Gennett, plus maybe another $25,000 or $50,000.  Gennett has been awful this year since coming back from an injury.  It doesn’t seem likely he’ll hit better in pitcher-friendly San Francisco than he did in hitter-friendly Cincinnati, but you never know.  One thing is for certain — the additions of Dubon and Gennett mean that Joe Panik‘s playing time will be limited going forward unless he gets hot immediately.  It also seems almost certain the Giants will non-tender Panik this off-season.

In another very minor move, the Giants swapped lefty Jacob Lopez for LF/1B Joe McCarthy.  I’m doubtful either player ever reaches the majors, but again, you never know.

The Giants promoted Derek Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez and Jandel Gustave today to replace the traded away bullpen pieces.  None of the three deserved the promotion more than Sam Selman.  However, the odds that all three of Rodriguez, Suarez and Gustave can hold their major league roster spots seem slim, so Selman may get his shot soon enough.

Atlanta Braves Acquire Reliever Chris Martin for Kolby Allard

July 31, 2019

It has been a remarkably quite trade deadline this year with no big stars yet changing teams.  However, the Texas Rangers traded right-handed reliever Chris Martin for 21 minor league starter Kolby Allard.  This move interests me for a couple of reasons.

First, Chris Martin is a pitcher who turned himself into an MLB major leaguer by going to Japan’s NPB for a couple of seasons, where he pitched great and played a higher level of competition than he’d have faced at AAA in front of major league sized crowds.  The Rangers signed Martin for a two-year contract at a modest $4 million guarantee with modest performance bonuses.  Fangraphs says that Martin’s performance as a Ranger for the last 1.65 seasons has been worth $9.2M.

Now, for the last two+ months of Martin’s contract, the Rangers have turned him into a 21 year old AAA starter who was the 14th overall selection of the 2015 Draft.  Kolby Allard was indeed a heavy price for the Choppers to pay for two months of Chris Martin.

Allard isn’t pitching as well this year as he did in 2018, when a strong AAA performance earned him a major league cup of coffee.  His ERA at AAA is a buck and half higher than it was last year, but there’s a lot more offense in the International League this year than in years past and Allard’s strikeout rate has improved — he has 98 Ks in 110 IP so far this year.

Allard is listed as 6’1″ and 190 lbs and he pitched 150 innings in 2017 at age 19, which really wasn’t a good idea.  Thus, the Braves may have concerned about his ability to stay healthy, although his improved strikeout rate in his second go-’round at AAA is a positive sign on the arm health front.

I assume we will find out in short order why the Braves were willing to give up Allard on a rental of Chris Martin.  Still, it seems like a steal for the Rangers.

An NPB pitcher I have my eye on for a return to MLB as soon as 2020 is former SF Giants’ right-handed reliever Pierce Johnson.  After 40 relief appearances this year for the Hanshin Tigers, he has 28 holds in 30 opportunities and 0.90 ERA.  His pitching line is currently 40 IP, 24 hits, zero HRs and nine BBs allowed and 57 Ks.

Johnson had an ugly 5.56 ERA for the Giants as a 27 year old rookie in 2018 but his peripheral numbers were better.  His command appears to have improved dramatically this season, and he looks like he’d be a good sign for an MLB major league team this off-season, at least if he stays healthy and can keep performing in Japan at something close to his current level.

More Reinforcements at AAA Sacramento

July 25, 2019

Although the Giants lost to the Cubs today, a lot of their recent run of success is attributable to the hot hitting of players recently called up from AAA Sacramento.  All of Mike Yastrzemski, Donovan Solano, Alex Dickerson, Austin Slater and Stephen Vogt started the season at AAA and got promoted to the majors the right way — by playing great at AAA.  Zach Green has also been added to the mix, although he may get sent down before he gets a fair chance to prove himself in order to add another pitcher — the Giants have been playing and winning a lot extra-inning games in the past week or ten days.

It is all but certain that at least some of players listed above are going to go cold at some point in the not too distant future.  When they do, there are plenty of other guys slugging away for the Sacramento River Cats, especially in the outfield.

Despite falling flat on his face in a brief early season major league trial, Mike Gerber is still hitting great at AAA Sacto.  He’s slashing .315/.378/598 after 84 games.  Recently acquired Joey Rickard is slashing .388/.436/.582 after 26 games as a River Cat, and recently sent down Steven Duggar has regained his hitting stoke in the hitter-friendly parks of the Pacific Coast League, slashing .333/.425/.540 after 17 games.

Finally, former 1st round pick Chris Shaw is slashing .302/.353/.574 after 42 PCL games after starting the season at AA Richmond.  Since Shaw at age 25 is still young enough to be a prospect, he may be the one to get the next call up, even though his left field defense is likely still dreadful.  Duggar has a lot more defensive value, but one would think the Giants would want Duggar to get at least 25 to 40 more games at AAA to prove his improved hitting is for real and to build up his confidence before another shot at the majors.

Infielder Christhian Adames is off to a good start as a River Cat, and catcher Aramis Garcia has an .846 OPS after 64 PCL games.  Catcher Francisco Pena has an even better .969 OPS after 40 games as a River Cat.  24 year old middle infielder Abiatal Avelino has a .788 OPS after 95 PCL games this year, although that doesn’t suggest he’ll provide much offense at the major league level.

Now, it’s fair to say that just because someone is hitting at Sacramento, it sure doesn’t mean he’ll hit in San Francisco.  The PCL is a hitters’ paradise this year with only three teams (San Antonio at 3.94; Iowa at 4.44; and New Orleans at 4.50) with ERAs below 5.00 and four teams (Tacoma, normally a relative pitchers’ park, at 6.11; Albuquerque at 6.32; Reno at 6.68 and Salt Lake City at a whopping 7.01) with ERAs above 6.00.  That said, the River Cats are a good team this year despite the generally weak state of the Giants’ farm system.  The team is currently 55-47 and leading their four-team division by three games in spite of the fact that their starting pitching has been weak, particularly after the promotions of Shaun Anderson, Tyler Beede and Conner Menez.

28 year old lefty Sam Selman deserves his first major league shot.  After 29 games he has a 1.38 ERA with a pitching line of 39 IP, 17 hits, 13 BBs and three HRs and 64 Ks.  Those are definitely the kind of numbers Giants’ management likes to see.  Selman has always had great strikeout stuff, but it looks like he’s finally found sufficient command this season at age 28.

If remains to be seen whether the Giants will be sellers this trade deadline, or if they will stand pat and try to sneak into the play-offs with what they have on hand already.  I don’t see the Giants being buyers, even if they continue to play well through the trade deadline.

If the Giants stand pat in order to make a run at the post-season, they’ll need to make moves when players on the major league roster get cold.  There’s a famous story about Luke Sewell, manager of the 1944 St. Louis Browns, the only Browns team ever to win the AL pennant.  Baseball talent was pretty limited during the war years, and Sewell had to platoon extensively to get his team to the finish line in first place.  Late in the season, a sports writer noted the success Sewell was having with his roster moves and asked him if he smelled players on the bench getting hot.  Sewell allegedly responded, “No, I smell those bums out on the field getting cold!”

True or not, it’s something for Bruce Bochy to keep in mind as he makes what will be his final play-off run.

Mac Williamson Set to Join KBO’s Samsung Lion

July 23, 2019

Former San Francisco Giant Mac Williamson has reportedly reached a deal to play for the Samsung Lions of South Korea’s KBO.  Williamson is an ideal player to try his luck in the KBO, since it now appears clear he’s never going to establish himself as an MLB major league regular.

What is particularly interesting about the signing is that the Lions will be finishing the season with two position players — big time KBO star Darin Ruf is the Lions’ 1Bman.  KBO teams universally elect to start each season with two pitchers and one position player for their three permitted foreign players.  When the circuit expanded from two foreign players per team to three, the rules required that the third player had to be a position player, since foreign pitchers are considerably more valuable to KBO teams than foreign hitters.

Ruf is one of the highest paid foreign players in the KBO this year.  He’s making $1.4M plus an additional $300,000 in performance incentives, most of which he’s likely to earn because he’s been reasonably healthy this year.

As a result, if Williamson hits well enough in the Lions’ remaining 50 games, Williamson may take Ruf’s roster spot in 2020.  Ruf turns 33 in a few days, so he’s not getting any younger.  If Williamson plays well enough to take Ruf’s roster spot, Williamson likely won’t be much cheaper, given Williamson’s fairly extensive MLB major league experience, particularly because Williamson could also draw interest from Japan’s NPB after a successful 50 game run in the KBO.

How well Williamson actually plays in his 50 game KBO trial run remains to be seen.  Williamson certainly hit in the Pacific Coast League over parts of the last two seasons, but his inability to hit in the majors in spite of numerous opportunities over the last five seasons suggests he may not hit the ground running in South Korea.  If Williamson can get off to a hot start, he certainly has the tools to become a major star in the KBO.