Saturday, June 3, 2017

Three For the Road (and Beyond?)

YOUR NEW GIANTS are, from left to right, Christian Arroyo (22, just turned), Austin Slater, 24, and Orlando Calixte, 25.  It's been three years since the Giants added a young position player to the starting lineup who's still with the team, and that means it's about time. Of these three worthies, Arroyo has the highest upside. Yes, we know he's hitting only .192 at the moment. Remember, Matt Williams hit .220 in his rookie season. This doesn't mean we think Arroyo is the next Matt Williams; it means any 21-year-old kid who can play in the major leagues without looking ridiculous is a rare commodity. Let's hope the Giants recognize this and hold on to him until he's had time to show what he really can do.

Slater is known more for his defense and throwing arm than for his bat; his numbers at Sacramento look pretty good in a major-league context, and he's had those numbers for a couple of years now, but the PCL is a hitters' league and in that context they don't stand out much. Still, Slater is 24, three years younger than the man he replaced, Mac Williamson, who will be 27 next month and has already shown what he can do. (It ain't enough. And stop with the Adam Duvall comparisons; at 27, Duvall was on his way to a 33-homer season, not being sent down to the minors for the umpteenth time.) Bottom line: at 24, Slater is already more valuable than any outfielder we have not named Pence, Span, or Nunez. (Hello there, Gorkys Hernandez.)

Calixte is the longshot of the bunch. He has no fixed position, and he hits just a little better than does Gorkys Hernandez-- but that means he hits a lot better than Aaron Hill, who has to be on the bubble if and when Mike Morse or Conor Gillaspie return. The good news for Calixte is he can play the outfield as well as the infield, and teams that carry twelve pitchers needs that kind of versatility.

Anyway, the youth movement of the past few weeks has renewed discussion on whom the Giants might be peddling at the trade deadline (and trust us, they'll be peddlin'. That "turnaround" post from a week or so ago? That ship has done sailed, folks. The needed winning streak did not arrive, and yes, it's now too late. Teams simply do not rise from 23-34 and jump into contention. They just don't. Sorry.) as well as the usual "It's about time!" cries from those looking to jettison the flotsam, if not the entire roster, and move on (presumably to football season).

Today, we responded to some shared opinions on those subjects after the Giants' dreary, bullpen-induced loss to the Phillies, which has begged the question, "Hey, Strickland. Why din'cha just serve the suspension and get it over with? Mighta saved us a game today, bucko."

"Arroyo was tearing it up at triple A, but I did think he needed longer there, and I'm sure as more of the original roster gets healthy they'll end up sending him down (unless he gets on a roll).

"Slater already had 16 in AAA and had a great year, was having another this season as well as a solid spring training. Hopefully they give him a real chance unlike what they gave Duvall."

No sir, Arroyo is right where he needs to be. We're not sure who could return to the roster that would justify sending him down. Especially with Hill and Hernandez still on the team. They should be the ones on the bubble.

Slater's AAA numbers were nowhere near Arroyo's, and he's two years older, but we're glad to see him up.  Better he than Parker or Williamson.

Calixte is 25. Tomlinson is almost 27, but he's the more valuable player. We're happy to see them both on the 25-man for now, and both bring more value than either Hill or Hernandez.

"FINALLY, Bochy is willing to give some AAA STANDOUTS a chance over OLD VETS who have had many chances ... I think it's great to have three home grown youngsters on the current roster - that's why we have a farm system! I was getting tired of signing VETERANS from a bunch of other teams for one more chance with the Giants over the past few years." 

Actually, "Boch" took plenty of chances on youngsters in his first three years here, when he had a bad-but-improving team.

But since the Giants began winning big, he has become veteran-friendly.

He remembers Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Freddy Sanchez, Edgar Renteria, Juan Uribe, Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro--  all veterans, all guys he gave a chance, all guys who helped the Giants go over the top. Hunter Pence is a visible reminder of that kind of guy, the last one left.

So he looks at Aaron Hill or Justin Ruggiano or Chris Marrero and he thinks, "Why not? Those kind of guys have done it for us before." He looks at Jimmy Rollins, for heaven's sakes, and he says, "Yeah. They all though Aubrey Huff was washed up after 2009, too." He thinks, "We had the world champions on the ropes last year until the bullpen blew it. Well, we fixed that by getting a closer. So we're close to the top again-- we just need one or two hungry guys with something to prove."

The thing is, it's not Bochy's job to see the obvious-- that Aaron Hill is not Marco Scutaro, that Justin Ruggiano is not Pat Burrell, etc, etc.

That's Bobby Evans' job.  

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