After an offseason full of disappointment and what looked like inaction from the front office, the defending World Champions pulled off a couple moves that filled their biggest needs.
Earlier today, the San Francisco Giants finalized a two-year deal for one of their own – free agent SP Jake Peavy – for $24 million. His status was up in the air as the organization and fans alike were dreaming of Jon Lester and his 150 million-dollar left arm. Now, with pickings slim and the team in need of consistency in the rotation, Peavy was given the green-light to return to the familiar arms of manager Bruce Bochy, whom he had played for with the Padres in the early 2000s.
Los Gigantes reportedly also solved the third-baseman problem that opened with the departure of fan favorite Pablo Sandoval to the Boston Red Sox – at least for the time being. They remedied it in the form of a trade with the Miami Marlins, acquiring 32-year old veteran Casey McGehee. The Santa Cruz native was deemed expendable by the Marlins after they acquired Martin Prado from the Yankees, and the Giants – if reports are true – were willing to part with minor league pitching. The 2014 NL Comeback Player of the Year will now have to fill the shoes of the beloved Kung Fu Panda. The move is not official as of the writing of this post, but according to multiple sources, it’s as good as done.
These moves – including their recent re-signing of free agent RP Sergio Romo – have many Giants fans scratching their heads. After all, with the rival San Diego Padres making a bevy of moves for players like Justin Upton, Wil Middlebrooks and Matt Kemp, the Giants have been at a standstill, by comparison.
Especially since San Francisco was projected to be a big spender during the Winter Meetings, the narrative by the fan base in recent weeks has migrated from “Let’s get everybody available!” …
… to “Can we at least get SOMEBODY?!!” …
… to “… THAT’S your big move?!!”
Personally, I get it. While it seemed to make the most sense for Sandoval to remain with the Orange-and-Black, he chose differently, and that was upsetting and frustrating for the fan base. Losing out on Lester to the Chicago Cubs, despite the fact that it seemed to make the most sense for him to sign with a team burgeoning as a Patriots-like dynasty, was even more frustrating. Then came all of the team’s other rumored targets – Headley, Upton, Yasmany Tomas, Ervin Santana, Melky Cabrera and Nick Markakis, to name a few – that turned up empty for San Francisco. It got to the point where news of the Giants “looking at” certain players almost certainly meant those players were not coming to play at AT&T Park.
Now, Giants fans are left with two pitchers they already had the year before, and a capable (but not eye-popping) replacement for Sandoval.
Alas, these two latest moves are actually pretty good, considering the circumstances. For example, while Peavy is more recently remembered for his brief implosion in Game 6 of the World Series …
… Some Giants fans are quick to throw away his contributions to the squad in order to reach this year’s Fall Classic. Lest we forget, after he was acquired in a July trade to essentially replace injured starter Matt Cain, the fiery right-hander went 6-4 with an impressive 2.17 ERA. His presence in the rotation righted the ship enough to help get to the postsesaon, and his Game 1 victory against Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals cannot be overlooked. If not for his services, there is likely no third parade marching down Market Street on Halloween.
And let’s not discount the fact that Peavy will likely benefit from a full season – and full offseason – under the Giants’ impressive pitching coaching. After all, Peavy came to San Francisco as a venerable Red Sox castoff, with a 1-9 record and a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts with Boston.
Furthermore, this rotation move will likely not be their last, as they are still odds-on favorites to land Kansas City’s James Shields. While he may not be in the same class as Jon Lester, he would be a much more serviceable No. 2 or 3 starter for the next three to five seasons. In a “can’t beat ’em, join ’em” move, who’s to say “Big Game James” can’t have a few big starts in future postseason runs?
The more unlikely move would be for Max Scherzer, who may command a contract in the $200 million range (if agent Scott Boras has his way, at least). Younger and with more long-term promise than Shields, Scherzer would be inserted right behind Bumgarner in the rotation if the Giants pulled off the next-to-impossible.
And, as for “Hits McGehee,” he will likely have one season to show the Giants he can contribute to a squad trying for a playoff run in an odd-numbered year. Granted, some of his stats are troubling (hit into double plays a league-high 31 times, 4 HRs in 2014), but his 177 hits are pretty good (tied for 13th in hits in 2014). That’s not to mention the.319/.414/.400 he hit with RISP in 2014.
And, who knows – McGehee could be for the Giants in 2015 what Michael Morse (recently departed for the Marlins) was in 2014, and what Mr. Rally Thong himself, Aubrey Huff, was for the Giants in 2010 – average defense and penchant for hitting into DPs, aside.
In any case, the Giants have never been a team that had opposing defenses shaking in their boots when they were at the plate – and hoping for a transformative offensive player or big-time slugger with the way the Giants operate might have been a fool’s errand. The trade for McGehee – not flashy, but potentially productive – is the latest indication of this.
But, again, the Giants’ front office is seemingly never done making moves – even when it looks like it is.