The Giants paid a steep price for the lefty because they were looking forward to having him in 2017. About that ...
Will Smith was supposed to be an anchor, dammit. Whenever one side of my brain started worrying about Mark Melancon being the only addition to a dreadful bullpen that lost Sergio Romo, I forced myself to remember Smith. He’s a quality pitcher. He can get lefties and righties out. He’s young and around for awhile.
He’s probably out for 2017. From NBC Sports Bay Area Network Net ... from Alex Pavlovic:
"They had the same opinion," Bochy said. "There is a tear there. You can try to rehab it and if that doesn't work you're behind a couple of months ... It's not a definite he's going to have it done, but two doctors are in agreement on what this is."
And what this is happens to be an elbow strain that most likely requires Tommy John surgery. Smith would be out for 2017 and probably parts of 2018. If he opts for rehab, he might come back this year, but it’s more likely that he would be out for 2017 and much more of 2018 because his surgery recovery would be kicked down the road.
Smith wouldn’t be a free agent until after the 2019 season, so this isn’t the end of his Giants career. It’s just a crushing blow for a bullpen that is used to delivering the crushing blows, not absorbing them. Steven Okert is almost certain to make the team with a strong spring, and Josh Osich has a chance to make the team, even though his March performance has been disconcerting, at best. Ty Blach might have the upper hand, though, if he doesn’t make the rotation over Matt Cain, who is struggling more than Osich.
In better news, the Giants still have Buster Posey and other good players. Here, breathe into this paper bag.
Smith is the first Giants pitcher from the active roster to need Tommy John surgery since Brian Wilson, though several pitchers on the team have had it before, including Derek Law, Osich, and Hunter Strickland. If there’s a team in baseball that can’t complain a lot about Tommy John surgery, it’s the Giants.
But we can sit at a window and look outside at the rain, silently, wondering if the bullpen is going to be okay. That is allowed, if not expected. Good luck, Will Smith.
2017-03-23T14:28:00-07:00So let’s predict how he’ll do in 2017. It could work. Matt Cain having a good 2017 season is more likely than Ryan Vogelsong having a good 2011 season. Cain having a good 2017 season is also about as likely as Tim Lincecum having a good 2015 season, but focus on the first one. Baseball’s a funny thing, and Cain started an All-Star Game once. Putting him in the rotation isn’t the move that I would make, but, well, being gloomy takes extra effort. It could work. It’s probably not going to work. Cain is saying the right things, of course. He’s making progress. He’s happy with where he is. But for a player who hasn’t been good for four seasons, his awful spring training hasn’t inspired anyone. The only reason to think he’s going to be better this year is faith. He gave up four runs in five innings on Wednesday, and that was one of his better March outings. The battle between Cain and Ty Blach is mostly over, though. Cain is expecting to start the season in the rotation, and the Giants have been quiet since the Will Smith injury because they don’t see any other options. Ty Blach has been stuck coming out of the bullpen for most of spring, and that was before the injury to their top lefty. Blach can still start the season if needed, but all signs are pointing toward Cain pitching his way out of the rotation, not him pitching his way in. Let’s take a break from our regularly scheduled grousing to remember just how special Cain is to the Giants’ franchise. When he arrived, 20 years old and in a dark era of Giants baseball, the Giants were known as a team that couldn’t develop pitching. Shawn Estes and Russ Ortiz were the success stories after years of high-ceiling pitchers who couldn’t stay healthy, like Kelly Downs, Atlee Hammaker, and Scott Garrelts. From 2007 through 2012, the Giants had a 200-inning machine they could count on. That’s a long time for a pitcher to be that reliable, that good. He’s only the eighth pitcher to throw more than 1500 innings since the team moved to San Francisco, and he threw that many in seven consecutive 200-inning seasons. He made three All-Star Games, started one, and helped the Giants win three championships. For two of them, he was absolutely crucial. This kills me, is what I’m trying to say. I couldn’t finish this without a nap, my cat needs my help to get down from the backyard fence, and the first new car I ever bought smells like moist potato chips now instead of a new car. Time just keeps dragging us along, and even when we think we’re ready for something, we’re not ready for anything. I wanted 10 more years with Cain. I wanted him to have one of those careers where he was slogging out to the mound, looking like a hungover Phil Niekro, and flummoxing kids half his age. Instead, it looks like he isn’t even going to outlast Edinson Volquez or Scott Kazmir. There’s no sense in complaining, as he certainly timed his peak well. It could work, though. I didn’t pick those pitchers just because of their ages. Volquez was waiver bait for four seasons before getting back on track in his 30s. Kazmir was pitching with Roger Clemens on the Sugar Land Skeeters, closer to the Italian Baseball League than the majors. Then his body cooperated, and he was fine. Your job today is predict how this is going to end. Using emotions won’t make you more accurate, but it’s entirely understandable. 0 - 10 starts This is probably where the Vegas line would be. The Giants are buying time, hoping that April shows us all something that March has obscured, but pretty sure they know how this is all going to turn out. If Blach takes to the bullpen and Tyler Beede has a strong start in Triple-A, Cain will have a very short leash. I’ve always hated that saying. What, if he struggles, the Giants are going to yank him closer? Tie him to a parking meter and run out the back door of the cafe? Forget the short leash. Cain will be pitching in front of a gong, and we’re all the hacky comedians judging him. They won’t let it [...]
Apologies to Mark Melancon, who didn’t have video highlights and therefore was not included in this post
The United States won the World Baseball Classic last night, and both Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford were on the team, so I can get some Giants-related content out of that. Here is the Giants-related content.
Here is Brandon Crawford doubling in a run against Team Dominican Republic:
Waaaaaait a second, pal. Just hold up there. Don’t do anything rash and sit by the phone.
Really, the best short-term fix would be for Osich to pitch as well as he’s capable of pitching when his body allows. No matter what sort of duct tape you use, though, the Giants’ best left-handed reliever is almost certainly going to be out for a long time, and there isn’t an exciting backup plan that should fill you with confidence.
2017-03-21T08:58:23-07:00I almost said “backup span” but chickened out at the last moment At this time one year ago, if a psychic had told you that Denard Span would be within .1 fWAR of Jason Heyward in 2016, how many World Series would you have thought the Giants would win last year? Eight? Twelve? More? Curse you, hypothetical monkey paw psychic. You’re always giving us false hope. This is an incredibly premature post based in large part on small sample size Spring Training statistics, which are about as reliable as me trying to come up with a non-self referential simile. However, it is also based on scouts watching Spring Training, and both stats and scouts watching the Giants last year, and also also it’s based on the kind of compulsive fretting that’s a hallmark of any good baseball fan, and also also also it’s based on the fact that I can get an article out of it. So what happens if Denard Span is bad this year? It’s a valid concern. 2016 was not an especially impressive offensive year for him, and so far he’s followed that up in Spring Training by hitting .161/.278/.258. But even if he was doing well in Arizona, the questions would remain about whether he ever got truly healthy after coming back from his hip injury, or if he can be a good player again. So if we have our worries about ineffectiveness or even just general worry about injury, what replacements do the Giants have in the organization that could step in and take Span’s place in center? Gorkys Hernandez Hey, uh, you know how I gave stats up there about how bad Span’s been this spring? Gorkys has been worse. So far, he’s hit .139/.184/.222, for a sweet OPS of .406. He’s still strong defensively, of course, but considering his lack of an offensive track record, his weak spring at the plate has got to make anyone leery of declaring him the starter for an extended spell. Jarrett Parker Jarrett Parker has played center field in his minor league career, and he’s even played a little bit of center in the majors. However, he hasn’t been a regular minor league center fielder in some time — the only year he played close to half his games in center was 2012 with San Jose, where he was there for 57 games — and he’s filled out quite a bit since then. It’s not likely that he would play an especially good center field, but if he could play a decent one, and if you combine that with what will hopefully be strong offensive production, then he could well be a decent overall option in center. There are, however, too many ifs in that last sentence to really want to rely on him as a center fielder. Orlando Calixte Calixte was a minor league free agent the Giants signed over the offseason who they then felt was so likely to be taken in the Rule 5 draft that they immediately put him on the 40 man roster. It makes sense too; Calixte is both a center fielder and a shortstop, and if he could hit well enough to play in the majors then he would be an extremely valuable player. That’s quite the if, though. He’s slashed .192/.222/.231 this spring, which feeds into the fact that lack of offense always been the knock on him. He did decently enough last year in the minors, but that’s a far cry from “comfortable starting him in center field for a contending team for an extended period of time.” Kelby Tomlinson The Kelby Tomlinson in the outfield experiment seems to have been abandoned at some point, but still I’m sure if he wasn’t here someone would wonder why, so I am listing him here. Yep, Kelby Tomlinson sure got listed here all right. Austin Slater Slater had a great year last year in AA and AAA, and even had some people talking about a possible September callup last year. A lack of 40 man space prevented that, but Slater still opened a lot of eyes with his minor league performance at the two highest levels. Slater has played all around the outfield, but he played 48 games in center last year, so he isn’t not a center fielder, which is currently a big plus. Steven[...]