On Cain and Schierholtz

Before yesterday, the Matt Cain contract was a two-year, $10.5M deal. In the event of a wheat thresher accident, the Giants would not have had to exercise the option for 2011.

Now Cain is on a three-year, $27M deal. That’s all guaranteed, wheat thresher or no. The Giants gave about $16M for the extra year, and they guaranteed the money for the option year. That seems a little on the pricey side.

What makes me like this deal, though, is that:

  1. I’m against anything more than three guaranteed years for any pitcher, though sometimes you have to plug your nose and do it for the special pitchers. Cain’s deal is all guaranteed now, but it’s not an epoch-spanning minefield of risk. I’m not sure how the Giants were able to manage that, seeing as the Mariners and Tigers weren’t able to avoid that.
  2. Matt Cain is fifty kinds of awesome, and he’s better than you. I like the guy. You like the guy. For some reason, he irritates Rockies fans, which is fantastic. He’s fifty kinds of awesome, and he’s better than you.

So with most of the pitching staff under contract through 2012, all the Giants need to do is properly evaluate offensive talent sometime in the next three years, and they’ll be perennial contenders.

At the same time, the Giants are scrambling to figure out right field amid (Nate) Schierholtz's .220 Cactus League average.

Dammit. Just dammit.

For all of the good tidings brought in by the Cain extension, there’s always some little reminder that the GM of the team just might consider Cactus League batting averages to be meaningful in any capacity, and that’ s going to eventually screw the team up. To be fair, Sabean did note there might be mechanical issues with Schierholtz:
Most of his issues are mechanics-based.

Hey, fair enough, maybe they aren’t just looking at spring numbers, and…

If he doesn't get it right, he's not going to get it right, and he's not going to be able to face good pitching.

Wait, what? I can’t…wait…hold on, lemme run that through Babelfish’s English-to-Tautology translator, and…nope, still nothing.

My unsolicited, amateur, uneducated advice: Evaluate players on their minor league performances. If said players have stellar minor league performances, if there’s some reason to be confident that they’ll maintain that success in the majors, let them play. Don’t hang spring performances over their heads. Don’t start to fancy another player who doesn’t have the same minor league pedigree, but who is raking in March. Give the player a long leash. Don’t start twitching when they hit .220 in April. Commit. If you don’t go after a rightfielder in the offseason – ostensibly committing to a younger player – don’t panic if they look bad in the Cactus League. For the love of god. Stop.

I can understand the argument that Schierholtz isn’t going to be a worthwhile starter in right. But make that decision in October or November. Don’t make it in March because of spring at-bats and exhibition mechanics. I really can’t believe I had to type this paragraph. I wonder if Rod Serling reads this site. He’d like it.

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