Monday, August 1, 2016


In the cold sober light of analysis it seems the Giants made out pretty well at the deadline. Lefty reliever and lefty starter, both young, talented, and cost-controlled, it's easy to say that's a good haul. Sure, they were expensive, but it's a sellers market. The teams out of the race know they have players the pennant-chasers want and they aren't going to give them up without extracting their pound of flesh. I don't worry about pitching prospects. The Madison Bumgarners of the world are rare beasts--projecting a twenty year-old as a future star is tough stuff. Most of them don't make it, and the Giants have had good luck swapping potential talent for proven talent. We all remember Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano, but that's because they were the exception, not the rule.

In this game you have to have the cojones to pull the trigger. Risk is inherent. I give Bobby Evans and the the Brian Trust a lot of credit for identifying the team's needs and finding the guys they thought could help. They pursued their targets with gusto and made the moves. It would have been a lot less painful if they had stuck with minor-leaguers but that wasn't going to get it done. Change is hard. Always. Everywhere, not just in baseball. But BobbyE & Co. are big boys and they made big boy decisions.

I'm happy for Andrew Susac. He deserves a chance to play and he'll get one in Milwaukee with Jonathan Lucroy's departure. Trevor Brown's work this season really did make Susac expendable. On the other hand, I'm gutted about Matt Duffy. He played with such verve and aplomb last season and had to fill the void left when a very popular and accomplished player (Pablo Sandoval, in case you forgot!) departed for (presumably) greener pastures. Duff-ster was one of the best rookies in the game. He had a rough start this season, and a big injury setback, but I had faith he would return to form. Alas, he'll have to do it in Tampa Bay. But I'm not upset at the Giants, just the situation. You have to give up talent to get talent. Duffy was the odd man out. He'll be missed, but the Giants have ably filled that spot with Eduardo Nunez, clearly planning ahead with that acquisition.

So how about these FNGs? Matt Moore was the costliest, and obviously the centerpiece, and he'll be the key going forward. I suppose this means Jake Peavy will get the bump. He's pitched, overall, better than Matt Cain, but Cain is signed for 2017 and Peavy is not. This is Jake's last go-round, and he'll have to do it in the 'pen. Matty is still expected to be a part of the rotation, and perhaps he's healthy now and can be a positive contributor the rest of the way. At the five-spot that should be do-able. Jeff Samardzija has been disappointing after a great stretch earlier, he'll be bumped down one notch as well. Perhaps the lowered expectations will help him regain his touch. Moore was one of the brightest stars in the game not long ago, but got bit by the injury bug and has yet to produce like that again. But he is healthy now (21 starts so far) and has serious fastball/change-up whiff-inducing stuff. He should be able to deliver quality innings in the three-spot behind Johnny Cueto and MadBum. He's only 27, as is reliever Will Smith. He also has a quality arm and clearly will step into the setup role as he's got good splits. He ain't no LOOGY. This means Javier Lopez can get back to that and Josh Osich can be spared some of the high-leverage situations while he matures as a player.

These moves may not pay off. But they are intelligent moves. They are good gambles. Both pitchers will be around for a few years, neither are "rentals," and Nunez is also signed for 2017. So that mitigates the high cost. These guys are investments--they will be a big part of the pennant chase, not bench pieces or role players.

I think, once the dust clears, we should feel good. The pitching staff needed a boost and they got it. The infield needed help and they got it. We'll miss the guys we grew fond of, and we may read about some young stud in a few years who "once was a promising prospect in San Francisco" but those things won't stick. What will stick is a winning ballclub. The Giants have too much at stake RIGHT NOW not to go for it. The Dodgers went "all-in" with their moves and the Giants had to counter as the race has tightened and looks to be the dogfight we expected when the season opened.

Time for the guys to strap it on and stop the slide and get back to winning ways. Let's hope the FNGs bring it!



M.C. O'Connor said...

JC, campanari, Ron: all of you helped clarify my thinking with your insightful comments on the previous post about the trades. I feel like RMC is group therapy! And I did not mean to neglect Zo, who had to bring up Matt Morris. Thanks, pal. That's what we need right now, negative-ness. Go to your corner. Come back when you have a smiley face.

El said...

Excellent moves.
Non-rental quality players that filled immediate and long term needs.

Team FO did exactly what needed to be done.

Zo said...

I don't do smiley face. Good post, though. Still, for what was given up, I am thinking the Brian Trust took a cold hard look at our pitchers and figured that there were too many question marks in Smardjy, Peavy and Cain not to find a good starter. You can't have 2 of those guys breaking down from here on out, and I guess they thought the likelihood too great. And that cost them. Duffy reunites with Evan Longoria (Long Beach State).

carmot said...

M.C., I appreciate your clear, level-minded assessment here. I doubt anybody will recall, but I've wanted Matt Moore for two years. Now that he's showing his recovery from TJS (about 1-in-12 MLB pitchers have complications), his value was high enough that I figured there was no way we'd land him.

I feel for Matt Duffy. No way he deserves the awful facility, turf, Sternberg, and all their shoddy, insulting business practices. And who knows if they stick around Tampa? Once Nunez was acquired, I was actually a little worried Panik might be traded.

Ain't no MLB player signing a contract with 3 TEAM options, that's a dinosaur and the Giants are lucky to have it! NO RENTALS! The cost-certainty and team-friendly terms mean flexibility for things like LF, 3B, extensions, bullpen, bench depth- AND... IMO, Samardzija's value immediately rises as our #4. I expect Moore will be magnificent in SF. Welcome, #45 Matt Moore. Good things, big things, great things. Just don't bee beaning any more Giants players, please! I feel less confident on Will Smith. I hope to write something up soon. Dream big...

campanari said...

Carmot, you were actually the first person I thought of when I saw that the Giants were angling for Matt Moore. (Same reference point for me when I see mention of Danny Salazar, George Springer, or Jean Angomas.)

The majority of comments I've seen, other than those on Giants websites, have liked the Matt Moore trade at the price we paid and, to a lesser degree, the Will Smith trade. The Giants sites, though not this one, often feature fans who have the sentimental staggers over the heartache of lost loved ones or who overvalue "our" guys, in whom they have invested their hopes and for minor leaguers, their faith that salvation is on the way. I wonder if the advent of free agency, with players as well as management entitled to be fickle, and the teams' PR to keep seats filled and merchandise moving, has markedly altered the relation of players and fans. Maybe players have always been pseudo-domesticated as Pandas, Giraffes, Skeeter-owners, and the like, but I don't remember that sort of harmless tripe being so rife in past decades.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Thanks as always for the input, guys. People of my vintage and older can recall through the haze of memory the days before free agency when the reserve clause was in full force and the team actually owned the player for his entire career. The arb-process is the last vestige of that archaic system. Nowadays the successful player has much more control over where he plays. Think of Jonathan Lucroy spurning the trade to Cleveland and picking Texas instead. And free agency has actually made it more likely for teams to trade young talent before they get too expensive to keep! Weird. Certainly with social media the ballplayers interact with fans much more, and the new generation has spent its life on camera and are much more savvy about reporters and interviews than their predecessors. That being said you should read Andrew Baggarly's piece about Duffy--classy kid who seems to have his shit together.