Welcome back to the McCovey Chronicles mailbag! Remember, if your questions weren't picked, it's not because I didn't have space. It's because you did something wrong.
To the questions!
Hey Grant, I don't think enough has been made of Bruce Bochy's skillful handling of the team throughout the season and playoffs. Starting with his naming Bumgarner the Opening Day starter in March -- a kinda bold move back then -- what do you think were Bochy's best decisions as a manager?
Decisions? Huh. I never really think about the decisions when it comes to Bochy. I used to be the type of fan who would get so frustrated with, I don't know, a reliever he put in for the seventh inning, or a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. I would focus on it until the next game, and then I would get so frustrated again. I don't really do that anymore. Every manager is going to drive you nuts with those decisions. Even that one. It's a long season.
That means the corollary is true, though. I can't remember a time when I shrieked "Brilliant!" at an in-game move. And if this question applies to lineup decisions, the only thing I can think of would be whatever role he had in ending the Dan Uggla experiment. He had a say. Whatever he said didn't prevent its end.
When people ask me about Bochy, and if I'm as smitten with him as the rest of the baseball world, I always couch my praise with the caveat that there can't be any ambiguity with the lineup when he's around. He's a manager, a leader of men, a calming soul in the turbulent seas, someone who understands that constant panic is useless in a 162-game season. But the dude isn't my favorite talent evaluator. If you give him a choice between Joaquin Arias and Matt Duffy all season, he might give you 162 games of Arias.
The 2008 and 2009 Giants had ambiguous lineups, and Bochy drove me nuts. When Jose Guillen kept playing over Cody Ross, Bochy drove me nuts. Once the Giants had a lineup card that my cat could fill out correctly, Bochy is unquestionably as good as any manager I've ever watched. You know what kind of respect he radiates. His patience with veterans is frustrating when you want to work a rookie like Brandon Belt or Buster Posey into the lineup, but it's glorious when he's exercising it with slumping players who are actually good, like Hunter Pence.
He's pretty much the best manager for a team built like the current Giants. And I don't think about specific decisions when I arrive at that conclusion.
The Giants re-sign Michael Morse and place him at Third Base.
I once read on this very blog that he had been once upon a time in a Galaxy far far away a shortstop. Third base is much more of a reaction/hit by kinetic energy sort of position.
No mobility necessary. Just a large-ish target and a willingness to lurch in the proper direction. It could happen? The ball could hit him more often than not and he does have an arm once suited for both short and the outfield.
This might even be a situation where Morse himself would object, lest he embarrass himself out there. He was a disaster of a shortstop, and that was 10 years and a different body ago. He's not lanky anymore; he's a delicately stacked pile of granite.
Think about what Pablo Sandoval did well. Throwing from his knees to start a double play. Chucking a ball from 10 feet behind the bag with perfect accuracy to first. Charging a bunt and bare-handing it. Picture Morse doing any of that. Now you're giggling. You take a chance with that kind of defense when you need to work Prince Fielder/Victor Martinez/Miguel Cabrera in the same lineup. You don't do it for what Morse is likely to provide.
Ichiro Suzuki, batting first, playing left field. Why hasn't this happened? Sounds like a short term contract.
It would be a short-term contract! It could definitely happen. Blanco is clearly better than Ichiro at this point, though, and there's no sense stacking the lefties for left field. The Giants are going to look for a right-handed hitter, almost certainly.
Put it this way: Ichiro hit for less power than Blanco last year, except he played in Yankee Stadium. All of the things that made Ichiro great are shadows now. He can still help a team, possibly, but that team isn't the Giants.
What do you think are the chances of the Giants trading for someone like Ben Revere or Denard Span?
The chances? Low. They seem happy enough with Blanco, so long as they get him a right-handed caddy.
The idea? Well, one of those players is actually good. I get them confused, too -- it's because they're left-handed, speedy center fielders drafted, developed, and traded by the Twins, don't judge me. But Span is good. Revere is an empty batting average, and while I do like the speed, but he walked 13 times in 626 plate appearances last year -- that's just awful. If he's not hitting .300, he's completely useless, especially considering defensive stats are pessimistic to indifferent about his glove. Whenever a player has to hit .300 to be good, run away. Batting average is a fickle fellow.
Except for you, Joe Panik. You'll be cool.
Span is the one to target, but the Nationals aren't likely to give him up. They would rather bench Ryan Zimmerman that mess with Span. They know what they have.
Why do we keep Arias around?
You seem very critical. He never gets to bat. He even looks scared.
I personally like him.
First part: He's on a guaranteed contract. The Giants tried to get a little cost certainty with their utility infielder, and it didn't work as well as hoped. I don't know if he would have been punted last year without that contract, but I have a feeling they would explore other directions this year.
Second part: I am critical, but that's because he's the least talented player on a very talented team. He sticks out, and I need someone to pick on. I'm both Waldorf and Statler, here.
Third part: I love him. He makes me laugh. Pence gets all the awkward attention, but Arias is an underrated brand of awkward. I hope he hits .330 with 15 homers this year and sticks around to help the Giants for the next six years, if he can.
He probably can't. Still, don't mistake criticism for personal feelings. I don't remember the last Giants player I actively disliked. Ricky Ledee or something. And he might have been a total sweetheart, dunno.
Buster Posey at 3rd Base?
Follow up questions:
Stupid idea? Maybe Someday? Could he play it? Too valuable as a catcher? Would he be less tired at the end of the season and hit for more power?
You. You, right there. Longtime McCovey Chronicles reader. You're conditioned to scoff at this. But here's the sad truth: One day, Posey will help the Giants more if he isn't catching. That might mean third base. It might mean first. It might mean being a bench player, if we're talking about him at an advanced age. The best catcher in baseball history, Johnny Bench, didn't catch much after he was 32. That's four, five years away for Posey.
For now, though, he's too valuable as a catcher. He's historically great there. There have been just 48 catchers who have had at least one season with 5 WAR or better. Posey is one of 18 to have three or more, and that's not including his 2010 season, when he came up late in the season. Moving him now is almost like asking when Bumgarner's going to slide into that lefty reliever role.
"Chase" is not a name, it's a verb. I don't want anyone calling himself "Chase" on My Giants. It's bad enough having to deal with multiple Brandons — at least "Brandon" is a real name.
My name is a verb.
Just wondering what you might think or if it's even a possibility or good option for SF to trade for Todd Frazier? Or even a young Lonnie Chisenhall?
I just feel that Headley is overrated.
The Giants probably don't have the prospects to get a guy like Chisenhall (who isn't someone the Indians want to give up), and they probably don't have them to get Frazier. But I love the idea of Frazier, and the Reds are about to be one of the worst teams in baseball. Maybe not next year, but soon. It's a messy combination of low payroll, departing players, and aging players that they're going to work with. So maybe they will explore trading Frazier before he gets too expensive.
What that happens, though, other teams will line up, and they'll have shinier trinkets.
And I'm cool with Headley. The defense is great, and Petco murdered his numbers.
Random Anonymous Mailbag question for you... What are your thoughts on Trevor Plouffe? With Sano/Mauer there could Twins make him available?
Anonymous? You aren't asking me about genital warts. You're asking me about Trevor Plouffe.
I would say this makes sense, and Plouffe is kind of a buy-low player right now, but look at the weird Ervin Santana contract. The Twins are going for it. If Sano were ready, they still might do it, but he missed last year with injuries, so his development was delayed a bit. If the Giants get a one-year stopgap at third, Plouffe might be a name they revisit next year.
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