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Where we tend to talk about the recent past a lot

Updated: 2018-01-19T12:09:56-08:00


Ranking the starting pitchers the Giants could pursue


If the Giants spend some of their remaining millions on a pitcher, which one should they get? It’s entirely possible that the Giants are done adding to their lineup. They have Evan Longoria. They have Andrew McCutchen. They have asked the rest of the league VERY NICELY to stop throwing baseballs at Brandon Belt. And they just might start Steven Duggar in center field. If they are done, that’s because they’ve decided to spend their remaining $3 million or so on a starting pitcher. There’s a strong argument to make for this, depending on how eager or scared you are to watch Tyler Beede, Ty Blach, or Andrew Suarez every fifth day. The Giants aren’t necessarily thinking like this ... Bobby Evans said Giants aren't focused on having veterans come in and compete for rotation spots. Blach/Stratton are favorites to be 4/5 starters, followed by Beede/Suarez. Law is frontrunner for Crick's job.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) January 19, 2018 I love the symmetry of the first two options. Dyson is known by Giants fans because he had the superhuman ability to catch anything that was hit in the 2014 World Series. It’s a miracle that he didn’t catch Michael Morse’s Series-winning hit in Game 7, even though he was on the bench at the time. There was nothing more frustrating than the camera cutting away from the hitter to reveal either Dyson or Lorenzo Cain running toward a ball they were obviously going to catch, even if they had no business doing so. Jon Jay might be known by Giants fans, but only because he had troubles catching baseballs in the 2014 NLCS. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> Or, perhaps, from his troubles catching baseballs in the 2012 NLCS: src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> I’ve watched Jay a lot over the last few years because of the Cardinals’ frequent appearances in the postseason and his time with the Padres, and I can say without equivocation that he would not be a defensive asset in AT&T Park. He can hit a little. He has value. He should not be the starting center fielder for the Giants in 2018. The third option listed by Crasnick certainly makes a little sense, and we’re just a year removed from Cameron Maybin having an exceptionally strong season for the Tigers. I’m not entirely sold on his defense, even if he would be a good complement on the roster for Steven Duggar. For what it’s worth, Steamer projects him to be worth a half-win over 347 plate appearances next year, and it projects Gorkys Hernandez to be worth ... a half-win over 348 plate appearances next year. Save the money, in other words. There’s still no indication that the Giants are interested in Austin Jackson, which is still a move that makes sense to me. It’s less urgent to get a right-handed outfielder now that McCutchen and Evan Longoria are in the lineup, but that deal would still help balance the roster if Duggar were ready ahead of schedule, and Jackson actually hit a bunch last year. Still, if the above rumor is to be believed, Dyson is the Giants’ preferred target, and he should be. He’s speedy, and he’s an elite defensive center fielder, even if he’s on the older side and his utter lack of power isn’t ideal. I would absolutely love to see Dyson tracking balls down in Triples Alley, and it’s a surprise the Giants haven’t invested in someone like him already. The most important news is that the Giants view Andrew McCutchen as a corner outfielder, which is absolutely the right decision. All that’s left is for them to find a center fielder who can catch, and they’ll have had a mighty creative offseason. Christian Arroyo and Bryan Reynolds might play in the 2020 All-Star Game, sure, but the Giants had limited resources and a desire to build a better lineup [...]

What the Giants are trying to accomplish with the Andrew McCutchen trade, in one chart


Well, actually, it’s a table. But the internet loves charts, so that’s what’s in the headline. One of the benefits of being a C-grade, third-tier internet sports personality is that people love to share their opinions with you. To provide a topical example, after the Giants traded Andrew McCutchen, I received several tweets and emails that suggested that the Giants are acquiring nothing but over-the-hill, over-35 players. Looks like this is the best team in baseball .......... if it was 2013. The Giants sure love their veteran washups. Why are the Giants even trying? - Sincerely, Bryan Murphy Understandable complaints, all! But when you strip the names away from the Giants’ projected starting lineup and focus on what sort of production they might provide? It starts to make sense. While my biggest quibble is the suggestion that Andrew McCutchen is a 35-year-old player who needs a motorized scooter, it’s probably better to shut up and leave it to the stats to explain. The stats are impartial. The stats are cold and unfeeling. The stats don’t know about even-year nonsense, and they don’t care that the Giants lost 98 games last year. The stats will grind you up and sell your powder on the black market if the return is profitable. Now that we’ve pledged fealty to the cold, unfeeling stats, here’s a comparison of what the Giants received from the top player at each position last year and the stats that ZiPS is expecting from the top player at that position in 2018: Nine wins, then. If you figure that the Giants’ Pythagorean record of 67-95 last year was indicative of their true record, that would give the Giants a 76-86 record without expecting anything more from their pitching staff. Except they’ll be expecting more from their pitching staff. And you would hope — demand? — that the peripheral players on the bench wouldn’t actively work to destroy every hope the Giants had, which is what they did last year. I’m still hoping that the Giants get a center fielder to make the outfield defense better, pushing McCutchen to a corner spot. But even if they don’t do that, they should improve at almost every position by either standing pat or making trades. I’ve followed a lot of Giants teams trying to get better. I don’t remember ever seeing a team that projected better at every position. It helps when a team is at the bottom of the well with broken thumbs, wondering how they’re going to climb out. Still, you can understand why the Giants felt at least a little comfortable trying again with the pieces they had in place. Everything should get better. Everything shouldn’t have been as bad as it was last year. Everything is fine. Everything is fine. Everything is fine. Everything is finb. Evrrything is finb. Borbything i forb Bimpporfm o frlm Brrbbrrrbb or mrr BBBBBbbbBBBbbB But, no, seriously, everything is mostly fine. The Giants might not win the World Series next year, but they should be better. Substantially better, even. While it would be a lot cooler if they could win the World Series, I’ll settle for substantially better. It would be tempting to go full tank, losing 100 games for four years, and building up the same way the Astros did, but those are four, long, long, long years. The Giants can still do that! Just give them one last gasp, first. And if they’re gasping, they’re at least grabbing players who should be better than last year. That’s a start. It might be an end, but at least it’s a start. [...]

The Giants are also getting $2.5 million in the Andrew McCutchen trade



They’ll give up $500,000 in international bonus space, but they’ll get money to sign a center fielder or reliever.

The Giants traded Bryan Reynolds and Kyle Crick to the Pirates for Andrew McCutchen, but that’s not apparently the end of the offseason. The Pirates will send over $2.5 million in the deal, and the Giants will send over $500,000 in international bonus money that they weren’t likely to use before July. That might be enough money to get a starting pitcher or even a center fielder.

Start with the important stuff, which is that even with the $12 million McCutchen will receive from the Giants, the organization is perilously close to the luxury-tax threshold already. If there are several injuries, and they have to add more rookies to the 40-man roster than expected, this will make a difference. If it’s July 31, the Giants are two games back, and they need a tiny little bullpen upgrade, this will make a difference. This $2.5 million salary relief might be more of a buffer than a sign that more moves are imminent.

That written, it gives the Giants a chance to do something else. Like Trevor Cahill for $1.75 million? He might not be so keen on that deal, but at least now there’s a chance. Would Austin Jackson fit for $1.5 million? Seems like he should get a teensy bit more, but we don’t know where this offseason will go. There are ways for the Giants to spend this money that would make them better next year. The only problem is that they’ll need the gift of foresight to get this exactly right.

They have the money, though. They have a little bit of wiggle room, and while the Pirates weren’t looking to pay down McCutchen’s entire contract to get a top-100 prospect, they were apparently amenable to keeping the Giants under the luxury-tax threshold as a contingency of this trade. Now there’s room to do ... something.

Don’t screw up that something. That’s my advice. The Giants are still looking to make McCutchen a corner outfielder, which was my wish all along. If they feel like they have to play him in center, that wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it would be disappointing. There’s still a small amount of money to spend, even

Reminder that Austin Jackson fits this team (and their plans for Steven Duggar) like a panda hat. Unless that’s a bad analogy. Maybe I just should have went with the fits-like-a-glove construction. Yeah, that seems better.

But it’s possible now. The Giants are officially older and probably better, and it seems like there are still ways to improve. That’s all you really wanted, right? Except for the older part, which was inevitable, this team is probably better, and they’re not done yet.