Baseball is Coming!

We are just a few days away from Valentine’s, Ash Wednesday/Lent, and, oh yeah, pitchers and catchers reporting.

While I have no earth shattering insights today as we stand on the precipice of a new season, a couple of random thoughts to hopefully get us a bit more excited about what lies ahead:

  1. The PECOTA system, one of the better projection models for baseball, thinks that the Giants will win 84 games and be the second wild card team. They are high on Johnny Cueto having a bounce back season (and Bumgarner/Cueto/Samardzija being very good), which brings us back to what I said a few weeks ago. For the Giants to be good in 2018, Cueto needs to meet his PECOTA projections. Please.
  2. The Giants made another move, by signing Derek Holland to a minor league deal, and there are still many other options out there for pitching depth. Holland was pretty terrible last year, but has been good for the most part during his career when healthy. He also has sported one of the greatest mustaches of all time. holland_stache
  3. I’m not sure how the money and roster moves would work out, but I’d be more than willing to open 2018 with Holland as the 5th starter if he shows anything during camp. His best is a close approximation to Matt Moore’s best (sorry to open that wound), but he will be way cheaper than Moore was ever going to be this year.
  4. Speaking of the 2010 World Series, Tim Lincecum is making another comeback and the Giants are interested. I’m interested too, because IT’S FREAKING TIMMY, COME ON, but also because I still believe in a Lincecum renaissance as a multi-inning bullpen weapon. How even-year-magic would it be if Lincecum turned into a poor man’s Chris Devenski and helped the Giants make another run?
  5. Finally, Fan Fest was this past weekend and how good does Andrew McCutchen look in orange and black? (Answer: real good)920x920
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Andrew McCutchen Trade and Roster Implications

Update: the Giants have traded Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds for Andrew McCutchen.

The good news: the Giants still have Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez, Heliot Ramos, Steven Duggar, and Chris Shaw in their system. For all the talk of the lack of quality in the Giants farm system four of those guys may be positive contributors as soon as this year. Ramos could be a stud, or a center piece in yet another trade (hello, Jackie Bradley Jr.).

The bad news: Kyle Crick had the potential to be a major weapon in this bullpen, and Bryan Reynolds was pretty good in San Jose last year:

That being said, unless McCutchen has a terrible injury this is a solid trade for the Giants. It’s actually kind of hard to believe they made these two moves and held on to those 5 guys.


Opening Day Lineup:

  • Panik 2B
  • McCutchen RF
  • Posey C
  • Belt 1B
  • Longoria 3B
  • Crawford SS
  • Pence LF
  • Duggar CF

Bench:

  • Hundley C
  • Hernandez OF
  • Parker OF
  • Panda INF
  • Tomlinson INF

Starters:

  • Bumgarner
  • Cueto
  • Samardzija
  • Stratton
  • Blach/Beede/Suarez

Bullpen:

  • Melancon CL
  • Dyson
  • Smith
  • Strickland
  • Gearrin
  • Blach??
  • Law/Okert/Someone

I don’t know how they do it, but there is still work to be done to add depth pretty much everywhere. Still, this is better than where we were in September.

Giants Aquire Another 2013 MVP Candidate

The headline is a bit sarcastic, but in making trades this offseason for Evan Longoria and now Andrew McCutchen the Giants have acquired two players who have served as their prior team’s “Buster Posey” for the better part of a decade (I wrote before the 2014 WC game that this was an ideal matchup for MLB because of McCutchen/Posey and Bumgarner/Cole…of course Clint Hurdle blew it and did not start Gerrit Cole and now both Pirates on different teams). While the Giants are at it, they should see if they can get David Wright and Joe Mauer.

A couple of thoughts on this trade:

  • First, we do not know yet who is going back to Pittsburg in this deal although it sounds like no Tyler Beede, Chris Shaw, or Heliot Ramos. If that is true, this is going to be a steal. The lower price has to be due to McCutchen only have one season left before free agency. I also have no idea what the Pirates are doing, as it appears that they have been swindled twice in a week. (Sounds like Kyle Crick is in the deal…I would have liked to see Crick be part of the ‘pen in 2018, but if he’s the center piece of this deal, go on yah Bobby Evans).
  • Second, the Giants got a solid, if declining pro, whose value is going to be determined by how he used and if he can stay on the field. (More on this in a moment). He’s also a ton of fun and will make what has become a boring team much more interesting.
  • Third, the arrival of McCutchen addresses a long-standing concern for me. Since the “retirement” of Barry Bonds the Giants, a franchise boasting one of the most diverse sets of legends in the game, has grown increasingly white. There are many reasons for this, and I do not have time to explore them all here, but in the most diverse part of the country to trot out 8 dudes from Texas (or Georgia) seems a bit off. This is a great addition from that standpoint.
  • Fourth, this is another chapter to the “robbing the Pirates” narrative. It all started with Barry Lamar, but this also includes Jason Schmidt, Freddy Sanchez, and Javy Lopez. (You can sort of add Ryan Vogelsong to this list as well). Those are some impactful Giants, to say the least.
  • Fifth, back to actual baseball things: this move is a VAST improvement if the Giants play McCutchen in either left or right field, and add a solid defensive CF. I don’t know how this affects my Jackie Bradley Jr dream, but let me just throw this out there:
    • Panik 2B
    • McCutchen RF
    • Posey C
    • Belt 1B
    • Longoria 3B
    • Crawford SS
    • Pence LF
    • Bradley Jr. CF
  • That’s actually a damn good lineup

Some people will deride this trade as “the Giants continue to get older”, “continue to seek past glory from decline stars”, etc. And to a certain extent those assessments are true.

However, something I’ve been thinking about lately is the idea that maybe reclaiming past glory is a sometimes undervalued attribute in baseball.

I remember when Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series. It was chalked up to the “good luck” that the Giants enjoyed that season. There’s no doubt they were very fortunate that Pablo had one of his greatest games on the biggest stage. But, was that luck?

My contention is no. Pablo was a talented player, at the height of his powers, and he got to hit that game from the left side, his better side. He has the kind of talent to hit three home runs in a game.

Now, Gregor Blanco (who started in LF), if he hit three home runs (including two off of Justin Verlander), then yeah, that’s incredibly lucky. But those are two very different kinds of players.

My point here is this: it is entirely possible, and maybe even more likely that Longoria and McCutchen are done and have terrible seasons. But, it is not out of the realm of possibility, at all, that they could produce at their career averages in 2018.

Another great example of this: in 2010 no Giant’s fan thought “hey we just signed Aubrey Huff, we’re off to the World Series.” Some look at Huff’s performance that year and think “Giant’s got lucky.” Well, again, yes and no. Yes, they were fortunate to cash in on Huff’s last really good season, but he was always the kind of player capable of that season. It wasn’t out of the realm of question for him to perform at level.

What will be really interesting, long-term, is if McCutchen has a good-to-great year, if the Giants fall in love and sign him long term (which might not be a great move at all).

I’ll probably post more about all this once we know the full terms, but the bottom line is the 2018 just got better, more interesting, and much more fun to watch.