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Mailbag: Yoan Moncada, making fun of Tim Lincecum, and more

Should the Giants sign James Shields? What's up with Daniel Carbonell? On a scale of one to 10, how would I rate my sexual magnetism? The answers to some of these questions, and several more.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It's a New Year's Eve mailbag! This is written before I'm drunk, for you to read later, probably while you're drunk. Reading it before then might lead to boredom, disagreement, and general annoyance. Sorry about that. You probably knew what you were getting into.

I received a ton of emails over the last week, so apologies if I didn't get to yours. Unlike previous weeks, it wasn't because you did something wrong. One of you did something very wrong, deeply offending me, but the odds of you being that one are somewhat slim.


Dear Grant,

Really enjoy your stuff, but why you so mean about Timmy? It's not like you can get the money back at this point; the guy couldn't try harder or take his benchings more graciously; he DID win 12 games last year, more than anyone but Bum, and had a Kershawian streak of dominance going in June/July. So why the constant snark and shade?

This is a concern of mine, something I struggle with almost every day. Trust me. We have two truths:

  1. Tim Lincecum has been bad for three straight seasons, and every possible indicator, from velocity to strikeout rates, are trending in the wrong direction. If his name were Burt Sommerstack and he was an 89-mph righty with a wild streak, yet kept getting these chances, he would be the least popular player on the team for a couple years running.

  2. Tim Lincecum, after he throws his final pitch as a Giant, will have been responsible for more good memories, more brilliant Giants moments, than almost any person to live before or after him. He's a gift, one of the best things to ever happen to Giants fans, and we should be forever grateful.

The problem is that it's clunky to bring up the second point every single time. It's repetitive and takes the reader out of whatever point I'm usually trying to make. The first one is an objective evaluation, and it's important to the day-to-day realities of the team. The second one should always be implied in everything I write, even if I don't explicitly mention it more than once a month.

I write a lot about Tim Lincecum, current major league pitcher. If I neglect to write about Tim Lincecum, marvelous wonder and herald of beautiful things to come, it's not because I've forgotten about that part. It's just not practical to bring it up every time. My writing is clunky enough without the added obstacles.


How legitimate a shot do the Giants have about signing someone like Shields or Scherzer and what would you see the Giants offering them?

"Someone like Shields" is a pitcher on the older side, who wouldn't command a six- or seven-year deal.

"Someone like Scherzer" is a pitcher who just turned 30, has won a Cy Young, and is represented by Scott Boras. If he wants you and your entire family encased in carbonite as a part of his deal, he can make that happen. They're not exactly comparable.

I'd guess -- remember, that's all I'm doing around these parts -- that the Giants are keeping a very close eye on Shields. They might be focusing more on left field for all I know, but I don't think they've written off the idea of an overpriced #2 pitcher. I could see them shoveling almost all of the Pablo savings in his direction.

I'd almost guarantee that they haven't even bothered to send a single text to Boras about Scherzer. His contract is going to be bonkergoofy, and the Giants might want to save that chip for pitchers like David Price, Johnny Cueto, or, guh, Zack Greinke next offseason. If that chip even exists. Maybe someone ate that chip.


Hi Grant, A 'mostly' serious question this week. You had several mentions of Allan Craig this week, and that made me peek at the Red Sox roster. As you mention..Craig is a liability defensively, and a considerable question mark at the plate as well. But...(drum roll) what would you think about Daniel Nava being extracted from the Sox? Several positions, average to slightly above average defensively. A switch hitter, with some power, but more of a consistent contact hitter in the Giants' style. And since taxes apparently are the worry of ONLY the Giants...Nava is a California native and at least aware of the onerous weight of playing near home? I actually think we would be reliable, durable, predictable and an upgrade in Left that we could afford.

I am firmly in favor of Nava. He has a Cody Ross-like skill of demolishing lefties and while his defensive numbers last year were almost certainly a total fluke, he's not tethered to an invisible tetherball pole in left like so many of the other alternatives. Considering the Giants are projected to have a shocking (not shocking) lack of dingers, a well-rounded player like Nava excites me more than a generic defense-first guy.


When the Giants win, why don’t they play the up-tempo "San Francisco Open Your Golden Gate" instead of the melancholy "I Left My Heart…? I think it sends the wrong message to rookies.

I think they should go with "Wicked Game" and let the crowd sing along.

What a wicked game to play, to make me feel this way.

What a wicked thing to do, to let me dream of you.

What a wicked thing to say, you never felt this way.

What a wicked thing to do, to make me dream of you and

I want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)

No, I want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)

Then after that last line, everyone yells "UNLESS IT'S AN EVEN YEAR" and just laaaaughs and laaaaughs.


It's time to think outside the box.  Cuba and America are getting back to neighborly relations.  If Moncada is the stud he's projected to be in a couple years, he's worth the money.  The money spent on him now, might be a discount in the next 10 to 15 years on future Cuban players.  If Moncada becomes the Cuban "Derek Jeter" for example, how many Cuban wunderkind prospects in 10 years would love to be a San Francisco Giant because their hero was a Giant?  How many players in MLB right now who idolized Jeter 10 to 15 years ago, want to be a Yankee?  The money invested in Moncada won't be just for Moncada.  Let's do it Sabean, this is a smart move on both the baseball and societal side!

I agree that if Moncada becomes one of the greatest shortstops in history, the Giants should be interested in him. I'll go out on that limb.

My problem with stealing plutonium for the Moncada bandwagon has to do with my lack of information and scouting expertise. I've read all the things that everyone else has, and he sounds like a special player. But I'm nowhere near qualified enough to make that distinction. I probably spent 2,000 words begging the Giants to sign Kaz Matsui -- DON'T LOOK IT UP -- because I thought he was going to be a franchise shortstop. Not for any real reason, mind you, just because he was an unknown, a bulletin board on which to pin my fanboy hopes.

Moncada sounds like he would be a consensus first-overall type, the kind of prospect teams picking #1 wouldn't hesitate to draft. Other players in this category include Ken Griffey, Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Justin Upton, Bryce Harper, and Delmon Young. So you can see why my default position is "Probably! But don't blame me if everything goes south!"


What trades would you like to see the Giants make for an OF?

The Red Sox and Padres have too many outfielders; do you like any of their surplus? Do you think there is a chance in hell the Giants could get one of their surplus guys, other than Shane Victorino? We wouldn't trade for that old terrible dude would we?

Cameron Maybin? Jackie Bradley Jr? Are these guys good? Would they be good Giants? Do we have anything the Padres/Red Sox would want? Other than Brandon Belt?

I have so many questions! This offseason is making me crazy.

I think Maybin and Bradley could be had for things the Giants are willing to trade, and I like both of them for different reasons. Maybin is a valuable player even if he doesn't hit -- a rich man's Juan Perez, say -- but he still has late-blooming potential. Bradley is a supreme buy-low player who could be a piece for the future, a former top-100 prospect whose value was decimated in one acrimonious season.

Sensible: Nava

Practical, but a little risky: Maybin

Impractical and super risky, but with the most upside: Bradley

Probably Michael Morse, which might not be a bad thing: Allen Craig

What's going to happen: Shane Victorino


The Giants have a spacious ballpark that plays well especially for right handed fly-ball pitchers (suppressing runs at about an 8% rate last time I checked).  They often have some financial flexibility, at least enough to sign a veteran to a low base-salary deal.

Why don't the Giants ever seem to sign a pitcher on a one-year deal to rebuild value?  It would seem like a great fit if someone wants to produce good numbers to hit free agency the following year on a high note, but the Giants never seem to do it.  Obviously these deals don't always work out, but it would seem to be something that would be worth a shot.  We've seen how some teams have turned those situations into clear benefits (take Santana's deal with the Braves last year).  There seems to always be someone out there who could be interesting (think Brandon Morrow this year, or Josh Johnson).  And I'm a firm believer in the idea that there's really no such thing as a bad one year contract.

But they don't seem to ever do it.  They'll offer a minor league deal (see Brad Penny or Dontrelle), but aren't willing to take the risk on a major league contract.  As hard as it is to lure free agent hitters because of the fear of how AT&T will impact numbers, why can't the team turn that same factor into an advantage for getting value from pitchers?

They do enjoy the short-term deals, but more for pitchers who give them modest upside and modest risk, more than pitcher who give outstanding upside at great risk. It's why they nabbed Randy Johnson in 2009 and Tim Hudson last year. Don't forget, though, that for a few years, they didn't really need to mess around with too many extra pitchers. The rotation was spoken for, mostly. Other than World Series-ring-owning Todd Wellemeyer, the Giants didn't set out to find too many rotation additions until recent seasons. Ryan Vogelsong fell into their laps. Or was deftly placed there by the baseball gods. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

They were interested in Dan Haren last year. That's about as close as they'll come as what you're describing, and it's a good thing they missed out on that one, at least.


Hey Grant,
I thought winning championships was supposed to make other players want to come play for that team. Isn't that why players always went to the Yankees? "I just want a chance to win a ring." Ok maybe the money had something to do with it too, but you know what I mean. So why doesn't anyone seem to want to come play here when a winning tradition has been established and the ownership has opened the wallet?

I see what you're saying, but I think there are only two players the Giants really made a dramatic effort to sign. Pablo Sandoval seems like he wanted out, out, out for several reasons, and I wouldn't be surprised if he knew where he was going before he even caught the final out of the World Series. And Jon Lester wanted the challenge of being the first man on the moon (Cubs) rather than the fourth man to orbit the Earth (Giants).

After those players, though, I'd wager the Giants were lukewarm on several of them, and they had the discipline to not spend money just because they had it. I'm bored out of my skull, too, but I don't think it has anything to do with players not wanting to come year. It's that the Giants targeted two players who felt more comfortable somewhere else, and that's how free agency usually works.


How likely do you think it is that Daniel Carbonell will play for the Major League Giants in 2015? And how good could he be?

The word on the AFL street was especially discouraging. Unless he has a 2008 Sandoval-like rise out of the minors, he's someone to look at for a couple years down the road, if he's someone to look at in the first place. The Giants signed him for less than a middle reliever; there's probably a reason for that, even if his San Jose numbers were intriguing.


Hey Grant,
You need to use your prowess to make this happen. Why don't the Giants pursue Emilio Bonifacio this offseason? If the Giants plan on going the platoon route in left field, he'd certainly fit in nicely as he's batted .291 in his career off lefties.

Also his ability to play 3B, 2B or CF seems like he's the perfect fit should : Panik struggle, Pagan go down (again) or Operation McGehee fails.  Lastly, having some speed of the bench seems needed for the current roster. It's like he was created in a lab for the 2015 Giants, all our problems are solved!

Ol' Pretty Face has been good in exactly one of his eight seasons in the majors. That season, 2011, is responsible for about half of his career value. And it came with a flukish batting average on balls in play and base-stealing prowess that he doesn't seem to have anymore.

He's a super utility player if he's making very little money. As is, he's a luxury of questionable value, not a problem-solving addition. I'd rather try Matt Duffy in center field than count on Bonifacio getting 400 at-bats in different positions, and that's only mild hyperbole.


Perhaps you could insert the words "World Champion" before each instance of "Giants" in your future blogs.  Doing so might help soothe the apparently frayed nerves and prevent the gnashing of teeth pandemic among Giants fans these days.

For example, "The World Champion Giants aren’t being cheap" sounds so much better than, "The Giants aren’t being cheap."   Or "Casey McGehee traded to the World Champion Giants."  See?  It helps!

Mentioning that the Giants won the World Series every sentence seems kinda tacky, to be honest. It's gauche to constantly write things like "The Giants, winners of three World Series in the last five years," even if it's really fun to do so. Look, you know the Giants are World's Champions, that they finished in second place to a more talented Dodgers team and then zoomed past them and won another World Series. But do we really need to bring up the World Series win in every sentence. Seems that mentioning the World Series win -- the one that happened just two months ago, not two or four years ago -- every time would get old. In the last 1,500 days, there have been three different World Series parades down Market Street, even though we never thought we'd see one, sure. But mentioning the World Series victory (victories) in every sentence seems like bad form.

I'll mention the World Series win often, but not exactly in every sentence. It's worth remembering the Giants just won the World Series and they've been annoying the rest of baseball for a while now, but just let the accomplishment (of winning three World Series in five years) speak for itself.