Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Tommy La Stella

Rumor has it the Giants will sign veteran infielder Tommy La Stella. The word is a three-year deal which is an eternity in Farhan Land. I can see the appeal of La Stella as he is a lefty hitter and can play both second and third. He started out in a utility role and as a pinch-hitter with the Braves and the Cubs (2014-2018) and then moved to the Angels in 2019 and split time with them and the A's last year. His career slash line is .274/.349/.423 (104 OPS+) but has produced over an .800 OPS the last two seasons. His calling card is avoiding the strikeout. I'm sure they love his positional flexibility.


Friday, January 15, 2021

Southpaw signed

The Giants brought in Alex Wood to add a lefty arm to the starting rotation. Wood should be familiar to Giants fans from his tenure in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. Most recently he pitched four innings of relief in the 2020 World Series, allowing two hits and no runs with five whiffs.

A quick check of Baseball-Reference shows that his last full season was 2018 when he started 27 games. The year before that he was an All-Star. He just turned 30 years old and has a 3.45 ERA (3.51 FIP) over eight seasons and almost 900 IP (138 GS).

It is a $3M deal for one season with incentives. Another low-risk move by Zaidi, Harris, & Co.


Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!

I suspect that everyone is happy turning the page on 2020 and that all of us are looking forward to better things in 2021. Perhaps one of those things will be a full season of baseball! The game has other problems besides the pandemic--labor relations, for one--so it is hard to know if everyone can get together and pull it off. Things will continue to be different. Things will continue to be uncertain. But I like to be optimistic so I'll hope for the best and talk about baseball and the Giants here at RMC as if all is normal and that we will start Spring Training at the end of next month.

The Giants were a nice surprise last season, showing an improved offense that scored runs early and often and gave the team a fighting chance in many games. Alas, the pitching was not up to par and that kept the team from any chance of consistent winning. Still, they finished close to .500 (29-31) and were more interesting than expected. Over a full 162-game season I suspect the team's weaknesses would have been more exposed and they might have lost a little of that luster by the end. But that was 2020 and we are on to 2021 now.

The Giants have not made any big moves and I don't expect them to make any either. They will continue to improve around the margins and to make incremental upgrades. They are, by their own admission, "sticking to the process." It's frustrating for fans but I think it's the right way to go. The Padres are making headlines with splashy acquisitions of big-name stars, but they are in the right position to do that. They have a good team with a young core of talent and they are quickly closing the gap between themselves and the front-running Dodgers. They had a surplus of prospects that they could trade, and that's what they did. The Giants are not there. They don't have the talented young core (yet) and they don't have a surplus of tradeable youngsters. The Giants aren't close enough to the top teams to make up the difference with fancy free agents or wheeling-and-dealing. It's a re-build, and it takes time.

Go to the site called Cot's Contracts. Click on the payroll link. All the answers are there. This season, Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford will make a combined $110M or so. Next year only Longo ($19M) is guaranteed a contract and both Buster and JohnnyC have low-cost buyouts. Longo has a buyout in 2023 and there are no other commitments on the payroll after that. I think you can see how that informs the team's decision-making.

The Giants highest-rated prospects are mostly pretty young and still at A- and AA-levels. I expect they will be fast-tracked to AAA and get early call-ups, but it will be a year or two before they will be in the lineup regularly. Thus we will have more of the infamous Zaidi "churn" and we will continue to see an emphasis on player development on the major league club. That's Kap's forte--that's why he was hired.

I suppose I've been beating around the bush and what I mean to say is that I don't have high expectations for the 2021 Giants. I think they will be fun and interesting, but I don't think they will make much noise. I'd love to be wrong, of course. But I'm reading all the gauges and all the needles are pointing toward a .500 team at best. I can live with that. It's where they happen to be on the cycle, and they just need to keep the faith and keep going forward. Things will get better!

I hope everyone has a healthy and prosperous New Year.