clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Gregor Blanco: Out of Left Field?

After the 2009 season, right after Xavier Nady had completed the transformation into "bad idea", I was pretty sure the Giants were going to get him at some point. He seemed so danged Giantsy -- a player whose OBP was only acceptable if his average was high, and whose supposed power was overstated. I even gathered a bunch of Nady-related headlines together for the site because I was so sure it was going to happen.

X-Factor: Nady Comes Through

X-Files: Nady Does Something

X Marks the Spot: Nady Nady Nady

The Files of the X-Factor Marking His Spot (Ostensibly on a Treasure Map) (With an 'X')

Xzibit A: Yo, Dawg, I Heard You Got a Right-Handed Hitter in Your Right-Handed lineup, So You Can Mash Lefties While You Mash Lefties

There's Something About Nady

Then Nady moved from "bad idea because he was a decent player who was probably going to get overpaid" to "bad idea because he's just awful." After his career season in 2008, he's played for three different teams and racked up 551 at-bats. His line in those three seasons: .254/.299/.359. That's pretty close to what Royce Clayton was hitting before the strike hit in 1994. Xavier Nady probably doesn't play the same kind of shortstop that Clayton did, though maybe we can find out in a 22-inning game or something.

Because of his decline and fall, Nady came over as a freebie, a flier for a team looking for a right-handed hitting fourth outfielder. And considering the options the Giants had, it isn't a bad gamble. We aren't really going to get into multi-tiered debates about Justin Christian vs. Xavier Nady vs. Steve Pearce, are we? Seems like a great way to lose brain cells. Hell, throw Todd Linden onto the pile, too. There was never a great option if the Mets were really asking too much for Scott Hairston.

But that part about him being the fourth outfielder is probably wishful thinking. Bochy is thinking Nady could be more than that:

Bochy said Nady has chance to be everyday guy in left. "It's fair to say Blanco's struggling."

This isn't a case of Jose Guillen vs. Cody Ross, where the latter was clearly better at baseball in every (non-throwing) respect, regardless if you preferred a statistical or observational approach. That was a bizarre month. No, Blanco has been awful. His high-water mark was .288/.390/.468, which is the kind of production you expect from a $100 million player. Since then, he's hit a cool .200/.288/.245, which is the kind of production you expect from a random minor-league free agent. Which he was. So here we are.

I can understand the temptation for a strict platoon. I might even be in favor of it. Take Nady's expected production against left-handers, add some shaky defense, subtract the speed … it's close. Close enough to where I won't get irate either way. Nady is probably toast, but I'm not sure that Blanco was ever bread.

But when it comes to being an everyday left fielder? That's too much. We've reached the tipping point with the Giants when it comes to their imbalanced attack. It used to be that the Giants were so adept at preventing runs, and so inept at scoring them, that it made sense to sacrifice a little defense for a little offense. That was the reasoning behind the initial Pat Burrell acquisition, which certainly worked out.

The Giants aren't quite as adept at preventing runs these days. There are five teams who have allowed fewer runs in the National League, and only the Dodgers play in a pitchers' park. Meanwhile, the Giants have scored 590 runs -- 17 more than the league average. Even if you don't buy the one-year park factors behind OPS+ -- the Giants would be the second-best offense in the NL, don'tcha know -- this isn't a team that is as absolutely desperate for runs as they used to be.

Which is all a long way of saying: Blanco's defense matters. It matters when he's playing behind Matt Cain, and it matters behind Brad Penny. With Nady in the lineup, the Giants have three below-average fielders roaming around a gigantic outfield. That seems like a bad idea, especially with the way this current team is constructed.

In retrospect, the correct answer is for Melky Cabrera to not be such a cheating ninny. Or, at least, to have the common courtesy to get away with it. But that's spilled lactose-containing, pun-tempting liquid. With the bad options the Giants have right now, there isn't really a way they can make the team better. Considering that Melky is still second on the team in homers with 11, I can understand the temptation to get a little more power into the lineup. But ignoring Blanco completely is probably a decent way to make the team worse.