First, There’s Some Disturbing News
The San Francisco Giants’ critically ill 2017 season just received something akin to emergency resuscitation. While the current four-game winning streak is nice, it’s not a cure. It’s just… well, nice.
San Francisco’s 16-24 record after the first forty games of the season is a deep pit that can only be overcome if you can honestly answer “yes” to the following question: is this Giants team capable of playing at a .575 clip from today through September?
[Spoiler alert!] The correct answer is “no”, this team is not going to go 70-52 the rest of the 2017 MLB season. And that’s what they would minimally need to do if there’s any hope for even a Wild Card slot in October.
Understand there are foundational reasons the Giants have the third worst record of 30 MLB teams on May 15, 2017. It’s not a fluke, it’s not due to (as many Giants fans persist in believing) bad luck or injuries, and it’s most definitely not easily fixable.
“So give me some of that foundation stuff”, I hear you demanding in a threatening tone. Sure!
The Giants -57 run differential (DIFF) is the second highest in baseball (only the Padres -64 DIFF is higher). Breaking that down by hitting and pitching performance shows why the smell test needle has cracked the secure glass case on the smell test gauge.
The Giants are 28th of 30 MLB teams with 139 RS. To compare, Arizona is 5th overall with 196 RS; the Dodgers are 6th overall with 195 RS. So there’s that.
San Francisco is 30th overall with just 31 HR and 26th with 100 extra base hits. Arizona is 3rd in XBH with 135 and 5th in HR with 53.
The bullpen has not been a bright spot. SF is 17th in bullpen ERA at 4.09. Cleveland is #1 with a 1.92 bullpen ERA; the Dodgers are #6 at 2.99.
What we inevitably hear from the mindless rooting community is “sure, but mathematically the Giants can still do this”. Yes, I admit that San Francisco could get to 89-73 at the end of the season by playing at a .600 clip the rest of the way.
But you have to ask yourself one question. Do you feel that lucky with this team, punk? Well, do you?
The July 31st Non-Waiver Trade Deadline is a Deadend
The July non-waiver trade deadline is the #1 in-season reality check for all MLB organizations.
Top level teams (Houston, the Cubs, the Nationals, Yankees, St. Louis, etc.) can fine-tune their rosters in preparation for an October run.
Poorly performing teams (Kansas City, Miami, Pittsburgh, Seattle, etc.) have an opportunity to trade front line players for quality prospects or to simply dump some salary.
The San Francisco Giants are in a difficult position as the July deadline approaches.
First, the Giants only have four players who would bring an impactful, high-end return in a trade. But the team’s branding-marketing model makes it nearly impossible for the front office to trade Madison Bumgarner, or Buster Posey, or Brandon Crawford, or Brandon Belt.
The rest of the offensive roster wouldn’t bring anything of value to the 2017 team or beyond.
The local sport-talk radio community believes that the Giants would get a great return on some package that includes the aging and frequently injured Hunter Pence and one of the team’s many marginal players (Eduardo Nunez, .611 OPS; Joe Panik, .680 OPS; Denard Span, .725 OPS; C Nick Hundley, .603 OPS; Michael Morse, .606 OPS; Gorkys Hernandez, .480 OPS; etc.).
Which of course is illogical. Whenever you think you’ve come up with a great trade for your team, just reverse the proposed trade and ask yourself if you’d make that deal.
Second, the pitching side is equally dismal.
The talented Johnny Cueto can opt out of his 6 year $120m contract after this season. Which he will. Any team trading for Cueto would have to be OK with a potential 3-month rental. How much could the Giants get in that kind of deal?
It is hard to believe that newly signed “closer” Mark Melancon would be dealt since GM Bobby Evans publicly celebrated Melancon’s signing as the last piece the Giants needed to get to the post season this year.
No doubt these are tough times for San Francisco, and the road ahead looks murky. Certainly there is a recent history of success and players like Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner bring leadership and character to the organization.
But in the end, nothing replaces having an exceptional 25-man roster that can actually produce; a flexible 40-man roster that provides league-average back-up; and a vibrant and talented farm system continually bringing new life to the organization.