February 27, 2018
NRI infielder Miguel Gomez is hitting .571 in the first week of spring training, and Bruce Bochy says, "The bat plays."
Miguel Gomez just turned 25; he is at the age where major-leaguers are separated from "AAAA" players. He has hit .300 or better at every level of minor-league ball up to AA. (He's never played at AAA.) Since, like most guys off the island, he refuses to take a walk, he'll need to hit at least .300 to keep a job. At 5-9, 200, speed is not his game, but his defense is good-- like Tomlinson, he has played both second and third, with a few games in the outfield. We can't see him ahead of KT even if he hits .600 this spring, but if he hits like this and defense is a priority, he could nudge ahead of Sandoval. Most likely, though, we see Bochy keeping Tomlinson for defense and versatility, and Sandoval for his bat. We'd love to see the Giants keep three backup infielders, but we'll need backup outfielders more. Wish Gomez well and hope he keeps hitting.
The Continuing Story of Jarrett Parker
“Parker has the potential, maybe he can get it together and do well. I know his injury last year was a serious one. If he has he(a)led up he should do better.”
Parker has no potential at all. He is a finished product. What you've seen is what you're going to get. For heaven's sake, he is older than Madison Bumgarner and has 382 career major-league at-bats. We like him-- he'll take a walk, he has power, and we hope he can stay in MLB long enough to get into the pension plan-- but he is and always will be a 5th OF and PH at best.
“Sometimes the lack of talent just can't be overcome by any amount of effort. Parker just doesn't have it. Maybe he'll catch on with an AL team where they can afford those poor stats as long as he hits 30+ HRs.”
Actually, his defense is pretty good. But your first sentence tells the story. He's had the better part of a decade to prove it wrong. No team will make him a regular at his age. He may not hit 30 career home runs (he has 15 now) even if he hangs on for 2-3 more years as a backup. At his very best, he could be another Dusty Rhodes.
We made that last comment without even looking up Dusty Rhodes’ career. The sum total of what we knew about him was that he was a backup outfielder and pinch-hitter who is famous for one brief shining moment: the 1954 World Series. “Backup outfielder and pinch hitter” is how we’ve repeatedly typecast our man Parker, so we turned to the oracle, otherwise known as baseball-reference.com, and lo and behold, here’s Dusty Rhodes with a career trajectory not slightly, but almost exactly, in line with what we’ve projected as a best-possible-scenario for Parker.
Rhodes was 25 in his rookie season, three years younger than Parker a year ago. He played six seasons, all of them with the Giants, and never exceeded 276 plate appearances in any season, averaging less than 200 per. In 1316 career plate appearances he hit 54 home runs and drew 131 walks, decent power and walk numbers, raising his .253 average to a .328 OBP and .445 SLG. That sound like anyone we know?
His power dropped off dramatically after the 1954 Series: he hit 36 homers in 500 ABs his first three years, only 18 in 700 afterward. He averaged about 2 PA’s per game throughout his career, indicating he pinch-hit a lot, probably most of the time. Keep in mind a .253 career average is quite good for a pinch-hitter, and walks in the late innings of close games are rally-builders. By far his best year was ’54 when he hit .341 with a 1.105 OPS, 15 homers, 18 walks, and only 25 strikeouts in 164 ABs; good gracious, he finished 26th in the MVP voting! Add to that his “Bobby Thomson/Travis Ishikawa” moments in the World Series and there you have it.
Jarrett Parker, meet Dusty Rhodes. You could do a whole lot worse.
February 24, 2018
Ben Weinrib ( @benweinrib ) posted a fine article about the late great Bobby Bonds.
Bobby Bonds is also the first 40-40 man, in fact if not on record. In his 39-homer, 43-stolen-base season of 1973, he hit two additional home runs in a game on May 23 that was rained out. It’ll never count, but it did happen.
And Bobby is also, by a comfortable margin, the greatest right fielder in SF history. We were surprised to find this out because we would have guessed Jack Clark was right about even. But Bobby has him 38-31 in WAR, and has significantly more "Black Ink" achievements (ASG invites, MVP votes, etc.) than does Jack. (See the “Greatest Players in SF Giants History” page over to the right of this column.)
ECoastJint, touching on a subject dear to many Giants fans, posted a trivia quiz:
1. Who was the last SFG player to 20 or more HRs in a season and in what year?
Brandon Crawford, with 21 in 2015.
2. Since 2008, which years did not one SFG hit 20 or more HRs?
2008, 2016, 2017.
3. Since 2008, which SFG player hit the most HRs, how many and in what year?
Hunter Pence, with 27 in 2013.
4. Since 2008, how many different SFG players hit 20 or more HRs in a season?
Seven: Bengie Molina, Pablo Sandoval (twice), Juan Uribe, Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey (twice), Pence (twice), and Crawford.
That’s a total of ten 20-plus-homer seasons in ten years.
Christ Haft, regarding the Giants’ signing of veteran left-handed reliever Tony Watson:
“Any manager would covet the flexibility afforded by having three lefties in the bullpen.”
The way Bochy manages the bullpen, three lefties would be a terrible waste. At least one, and maybe all three, would never get enough work to stay sharp.
It's also time for our annual prayer that Bochy will forget about carrying 13 pitchers, for heaven's sake. That's our one concession to the guys who moan about how "old" this team is-- we need a deep bench. At a minimum the Giants should field 11 position players plus the two catchers.
February 22, 2018
“The current day Harper and Trout players are where they are because they were given a chance at a young age. Same for the old days of Mays, Clemente etc. Shaw is not a very young 19 or 20 year old, he is 24, and hopefully ready to contribute NOW. But we will never know unless he is given that chance.”
One thing that has changed between now and then is, today most players go to college. Mays, Clemente, and those guys in that era did not, they were in the organization at 19 or 20. 24 is still just 2 or 3 years out of amateur ball. Even with a good college program accelerating development, it takes 2 or 3 years in pro ball for most. 25 is about the age where you expect potential to turn into production for most young players, in years past it might have been 23.
So that would point to Shaw expecting to be MLB-ready in 2019. We've seen him hit. He has a terrific swing and a certain "swag" at the plate. He's the real deal, and could make the club this year.
Harper and Trout are exceptions, to say the least, once in a decade players. We can't be comparing Shaw to those guys. If he can put up production similar to what, say, Hunter Pence did in his prime, we should be thrilled.
February 21, 2018
Giants sign Tony Watson and DFA Joan Gregorio after his PED suspension.
This is how we got Affeldt and Lopez. The Holland and Watson signings are quite similar to those (though Lopez came in trade, not as FA). When it comes to role-players in the bullpen, it is irrelevant whether they are homegrown youngsters or veterans picked up on the cheap. They tend to have short shelf lives. It's all about what they can do now. The only LHP in the Giants bullpen who's shown anything is Smith, and he's still rehabbing his arm. Of course these guys now have to deliver. That's what set Affeldt and Lopez apart from the crowd. But we like these moves just fine for now.
“Wasn't that what the huge list of invitees to last year's mess of a ST supposed to be, a search for "diamonds in the rough"? how'd THAT turn out?”
“I'm with you there. Trying to stay positive and see this thing as a beauty, rather than just lipstick on the same 2017 pig.”
Come on! There’s no comparison. A year ago the Giants were coming off a playoff season and they thought they'd fixed their one problem-- the closer. They also may have figured Pagan would eventually sign and they could call off the three-ring circus in LF. They were wrong about it all.
Now they are coming off a 98-loss season that embarrassed them. Whether the guys they've signed get the job done or not, the FO have acted with purpose. There are 16 fewer NRIs this year than last.
And neither Watson nor Holland can be compared to the likes of Chris Marrero, Jimmy Rollins, or Mike Morse. They're not searching for “diamonds in the rough.” They are signing proven role players to fill a specific need. Good heavens, Watson pitched in the World Series four months ago!
We’re not saying they're the next Affeldt and Lopez. They probably aren't. But that's the path the Giants are following here.