The Thing About Giancarlo Santon

After a long hibernation, a season of solitude and silence, it is time for baseballmonk to speak.

First, props to Houston for beating the Dodgers. That was awesome and your contributions to making 2017 a slightly brighter place are deeply appreciated.

Second, man the Giants were bad. When last we spoke, it was early September and I started previewing the roster through the lens of what was, at that time, the biggest question/mystery of the Giants future: would Jonny Cueto opt out? September was a bleak time.

Third, the Giants brass, to their credit has (a) realized this was a bad year, (b) realized that some trends in the game have passed them by, and (c) seem hell-bent on at least shooting for the moon in pursuing Giancarlo Stanton.

And so, I have thoughts.


First, a philosophical thought. I have NO REGRETS about the Barry Bonds era. Bonds essentially saved the franchise from moving to Tampa Bay, got a new stadium built, provided endless highlights, and darn near won a World Series along the way.

During the Bonds era the Giants philosophy of roster building was centered on two core ideas: (1) Bring in enough veterans to keep Bonds happy, (b) pay Barry a bunch of money and spread whatever was left over around.

After Bonds “retired” the Giants went in a totally different direction, a much more strategic direction (pitching and defense) and won three titles.

Now, a couple of differences between now and then. During the early Pac Bell Park days the Giants scrimped on some money because they were paying down the park. They are no longer in stadium debt which is sort of like getting a couple “free” players back every year.

Another significant difference: also in the early years of Pac Bell (I know it’s AT&T now fools) they were learning the dynamics of the park and they discovered that basically only Barry Bonds and a couple good right-handed hitters could make the place remotely resemble a “hitters park.”

So, the pitching and defense (and develop and sign) philosophy made a lot of sense and paid off handsomely.

And part of the payoff has been the increased ability to spend money. This a major change for fans who have followed the team for 3 decades. For many years the Giants were a “mid-market” team, but the TV deals and the #3Rings propelled them to the upper echelons of MLB. They are a big market team now, no questions about it.

All of that to say, I get wanting Giancarlo Stanton, I really do. And if he comes to the Bay I will be happy to watch him take aim at the Coke Bottle for the next decade. Totally cool with that. But, are we cool with a return to an approach that didn’t work as well as the one that produced an unprecedented championship run?


Second, a more practical thought.

The Giants front office spoke a lot at the end of the season about getting more athletic, improving the defense (especially in CF), bolstering the pitching depth, and adding power. In particular (note #3 in this article), the Giants identified needs at 3B, CF, and the bullpen.

Again, I will LOVE Stanton in a Giant’s uniform. But he does not play 3B or CF, nor does he pitch out of the bullpen. Yet. Just kidding.

Yes, he is a good athlete, and HECK YES he would bring the power, but Stanton is not the final piece to any puzzle that makes a picture of a good 2018 Giants team.

Let’s walk through a couple of scenarios. And let’s make a couple of assumptions. It’s clear that if Denard Span is on the 2018 Giants he will play in left field. There’s a good chance he and Hunter Pence would form some sort of platoon over there. Let’s also assume that while the Giants are bringing back Pablo Sandoval for “free” they do not want him to be their everyday third basemen. Ok, let’s go.

First, let’s say the Giants and Marlins swing a deal where essentially the Giants take Stanton’s contract. No other players change hands. (This would never happen, obviously, but hang with me).

Here’s your 2018 SF Giants:

  • Span/Pence LF
  • Panik 2B
  • Posey C
  • Stanton RF
  • Belt 1B
  • Crawford SS
  • Arroyo 3B
  • Steven Dugger/Hernandez/Parker CF

Even without giving a single player the Giants would enter 2018 with a question about Arroyo at 3B (something I’d be all for, for the record), and a bit of a mess in CF.

Second, let’s examine the most rumored package for Stanton: Joe Panik, Tyler Beede (SP), and Chris Shaw (1B/OF). Let me just say that while I love Joe Panik, if the Giants get Giancarlo Stanton the baseball gods have looked favorably upon them. There’s no way in the world the Dodgers and/or Cardinals could not easily beat this deal, maybe even several times over. What this would mean is that either the Dodgers/Cardinals were not really serious, did not want that contract, or Stanton, for some reason, did not want to go there (he has a full no-trade clause).

Anyway, here’s your team:

  • Span/Pence LF
  • Arroyo 3B
  • Posey C
  • Stanton RF
  • Belt 1B
  • Crawford SS
  • Kelby Tomlinson 2B
  • Somebody CF

We can argue the optimal order of this lineup until the cows come home, but that’s not the point. The point is, you’ve now thrust Arroyo into a major role, and have a gaping hole at 2B, not to mention the CF problem.

This is why you are seeing this deal rumored as well: Third, the Giants send Panik/Beede/Shaw and Denard Span for Stanton, the contract, and 2B Dee Gordon. 

Ok, this is interesting:

  • Gordon 2B
  • Arroyo 3B
  • Posey C
  • Standton RF
  • Belt 1B
  • Pence LF
  • Crawford SS
  • Somebody CF

Somethings I like about this. Dee Gordon, though not my favorite player by a long shot, could be a good leadoff hitter for this team. He also plays a more than decent 2B. He might get 30 triples playing in AT&T. This also allows Hunter Pence to be the everyday LF, something I think he can do for a year. AND (I am so passionate about this), it breaks up the glut of left-handed hitters in the bottom half of the lineup.

I also, for the record, am not opposed to Steven Duggar getting a real shot at CF next year. But, I don’t think they will do that.

Which means: something else is going to happen. #HotTake.

There is no way the Giants go into 2018 with a both Christian Arroyo and Steven Duggar as key cogs in their every day lineup. If they do this I would be shocked (pleasantly surprised too, but also shocked).

What will this other move be? Do the Giants move Brandon Belt for a CF? Perhaps the Red Sox lose out on a couple of guys (like Eric Hosmer and JD Martinez) and get deperate for more power so they go after Brandon Belt (who would be great in Fenway if he can deal with the fans). Imagine this lineup for a moment:

  • Gordon 2B
  • Arroyo 3B
  • Posey C
  • Stanton RF
  • Pence LF
  • Crawford SS
  • Somebody 1B
  • Jackie Bradley Jr CF

That is a much more athletic and much better defensive team than what we’ve seen in a while. But, now there is a hole at 1B.

Which brings me, finally, to my thesis: Giancarlo Stanton would look so good in a Giants uniform. No doubt. But, he is not the silver bullet. He is not the answer to everything. The Giants are a couple moves away from really getting to a good place.

(Also, none of this addresses the pitching/bullpen issues.)

So, hope and pray for Giancarlo, but know that he will not solve all of our problems.

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