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McCovey Chronicles mailbag: Juan Perez, Cliff Lee, and why we hate Shane Victorino

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Not literally hate Shane Victorino, but ... no, wait, yeah, it's a literal hate.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It's mailbag time! I had a couple of emails last time, then I asked on Twitter for more, and then I got 483 of them. So apologies if I didn't get to yours.

Reminder: email me at for next week(ish)'s mailbag. Don't be so rosterbatory, either. I'm a real person with interests other than baseball! That isn't exactly true, but it used to be, so I can at least pretend.


Grant, what about Juan Perez as a viable option platooning with Blanco in left?  That's beginning to look like the Giants' thinking.  Hey, he seemed like a tough out in the Series (especially with two strikes in a bunting situation), he's got that little bit of clutch in him as well as speed and defense.  Do you see much upside in his offensive game and overall as the "fourth outfielder"?

I might be the biggest Juan Perez fan in the world, at least among non-relatives. He has a strong, accurate arm. He has great range and good instincts. He fits on a major league roster, by gum. This new, defense-aware era allows us to appreciate a player like Perez. He's like the Draymond Green of baseball, if Green shot 27 percent from the field and fell down a lot!

That's the problem, though: Perez can't hit enough to justify a platoon spot. He probably can't even come close. If he could hit like his career numbers in the minors (.282/.322/.435), he would get MVP votes. If he could hit like he did in 2013 (.258/.302/.348), he would be worthy of a platoon spot. Alas, I wonder if he's even a good bet to crack a .600 OPS if he's given 300 at-bats. I'm no scout, but I'm pretty sure I can spot the consistently overmatched players.

That written, I'd love it if I were wrong. That way I get to mention Perez's college career even more often (.465/.530/1.102, 37 homers in 215 at-bats, 29 steals, teammates with the kid who faked his age and caused a Little League World Series scandal.)


The Saber-related blogosphere exploded post-Moneyball.  It seems the Giants/Sabean were quickly labeled as old-school, anti-saber, etc., etc.  Even after three World Series in five years, that attitude has been slow to change (don't you read the blogs, it was all luck.  Sorry....thought you knew).

Many front offices now are teeming with these saber types.  Do you think the Giants have difficulty finding trading partners because of these prevailing attitudes?  For example, a front office that thinks the Giants don't know how to properly evaluate players may offer something outrageous in hopes that the Giants will unwittingly bite.  Therefore, an honest, practical and fair discussion never really gets started.

First, I'm sure the Giants use a ton of analytics and have for a while.

Second, the Giants were secretly saber the whole time, getting players like Rey Sanchez and Jose Vizcaino, both of whom look a lot better in retrospect when running the WAR numbers. They were smart, we were dumb.

Third, I don't think there's any team -- other than the Phillies! -- that doesn't use a ton of analytics at this point.

Fourth, Brian Sabean was described as "The Master of the Dry-Hump" by Billy Beane. I'm pretty sure that teams don't deal with Sabean because they're tired of getting dry-humped into the ground, not because they're asking for Zack Wheeler in every possible deal.

Finally, the Giants won their third World Series in five years. Pretty sure Sabean's reputation around baseball is better than the reputation I have in my fantasy league.


Have the Giants given up on Gary Brown? We need an outfielder, and he is an outfielder....

Give up? In their moment of triumph? Never.

But their decision to start Travis Ishikawa -- literally Travis Ishikawa -- in the World Series -- literally the World Series -- gives you an idea of how they view Brown. He's behind Perez on the depth chart, and probably for good reasons. The one thing that Brown does better than Perez is run real fast-like, but just looking at the caught-stealing numbers and reading anecdotal evidence, it seems like that doesn't necessarily translate to baseball value.

Baseball's a weird game with all sorts of funky paths. Think about Andres Torres, for example! So don't take this to suggest that Brown guaranteed to forever be of limited value. It's sure what it looks like right now, though.


What are your thoughts on the Giants building a package around Susac and Lincecum for one of the free agents-to-be like Cueto or Price? I know it sounds rather light initially, but if you look at the trade market lately ( and, it would seem that an asset ready to contribute at at least a league-average level cheaply, for six more years, would suffice as a centerpiece for a premium arm. Lincecum and a couple of the Giants mid-tier prospects would be included for financial reasons, or, if say Detroit wants the salary relief to go after Scherzer, both Lincecum and the prospects would be omitted. Thoughts?

Tim Lincecum almost certainly has negative trade value, so let's just focus on the idea of Susac going for a one-year rental. It's not crazy to think that Andrew Susac has substantial trade value right now, and it's also not crazy to think that the Giants, as currently constructed, would be better off exchanging that value to help their win-now roster for 2015.

The Tigers have an even win-nowier roster, though, so I don't trust the rumors that they're shopping Price just to spend on Scherzer. They'll do both, if possible. They saw what happened to the Phillies when they got too cute with Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. The Reds are in a trickier spot than the Tigers, but their trade for Marlon Byrd suggests they're in win-now mode too, Latos trade be damned. That was the rotation move of their offseason, I think.

Susac for a one-year rental is starting to appeal to me more and more, though, even if it would still take more than him to get someone like Cueto. Maybe it's a bad idea. Maybe it's just THE UNIMAGINABLY BORING OFFSEASON talking. But if the Giants have a chance to make next year's team substantially better, they probably shouldn't worry so much about 2017 and 2018.


I'm wondering about Jarrett Parker, who was called up from AA in 2014 long enough to make a comment about how the hotels are better, and then was sent down to AAA. He's he a legit prospect? Is there any potential he's our left fielder of the future? He bats left, so the platoon with Blanco seems out.

When Jarrett Parker was 24, he struck out 161 times in 131 games. That would have been the third-highest total in Giants history, except he did it in Double-A. He was same age that Dave Kingman was, when Kingman was striking out that much in the majors. It would be a statistical anomaly of the highest order if Parker ever made enough contact to be valuable.

Another way to put it: Mark Reynolds, who holds the single-season strikeout record, never struck out in the minors (at a younger age) as much as Parker did last year in 124 games.

That written, baseball's a weird game with all sorts of funky paths. Think about Andres Torres, for ...


Your thoughts on what the Giants would have to give up (...) Cliff Lee from Philly?

(Part about Marlon Byrd snipped because he was dealt to the Reds after this email.)

Lee would be 2/$52.5 which is a big enough risk since he's coming off of injury, but he becomes a one year/$37.5 million pitcher if they don't pick up the 2016 option.  Everyone is ga-ga over Hamels, but Lee put up 8ish WAR in 2011 and 7ish WAR in 2013.  Yes, that's a lifetime ago for a 36 year old pitcher who is coming off injury, but if they don't have to give up much in the way of players, the most the Giants lose is money.

Just thinking outside the box here.  Having Lee for only two years means the Giants don't have to commit to a long term contract (though they are still paying top dollar for a pitcher's age 36/37 seasons which is part of the concern with a contract to Shields or Scherzer).  My guess is Philly wants to hold on to Lee until he proves he is effective post injury and try to get more at the trade deadline.  (Oh yeah, he would need to approve a trade to the Giants).

One year, $37.5 million. One year, $37.5 million. If Lee is broken, which is what he looked like last year, a team will have to pay him half the Mets payroll to not pitch. He might be the most untradeable pitcher in baseball until he actually pitches well.

Also, the "most the Giants lose is money" part might make sense if they were owned by one eccentric billionaire, but they're owned by a group of dozens. Those people like money. I like money. We're basically the same.


over/under on the number of tires Giant execs have kicked the past 5 years.....

Literal tires? One. Because no one really does that. Maybe in the '50s or something.


unfortunately we have made the difficult decision to close down jon's sandwich shop while we re-examine culinary trends

since the giants are consistently "ahead of the game", what do you think are some culinary trends for 2015?

giant hot dogs?
giant sandwiches?
giant salads?

i'll hang up and listen, thanks


Burritos filled with sticky rice and raw fish, except the burritos are much smaller and the tortillas are replaced with seaweed, and you don't fold over the ends. They're tiny, but you can charge, like, $7 just for one of them, and you need two, three, or four of them just to come close to filling you up. It's a scam, and it's totally the next big thing.


WTF? Why didn't we make any moves at all this winter? Is it cause a. the Giants believe their system is what is winning and have trust in it and Cain and Pagan's return. or b. They actually believe Peavy learned from his complete implosion moment in Game 6 when he screamed like an idiot for Brandon to throw the ball home, and with Hudson Cain and Bumgarner can withstand a Lincecum/Petit platoon as necessary or c. they believe it's smarter to pay less for a good player who can fit our system than too much for a star who will freak out and blow up (see Peavy in game 6) or d. because we are idiots. or none of the above or what? 'Cause Boston and LA and the Yankees and Cardinals and everybody made moves ... wtf?

The Giants were desperate to get either Pablo Sandoval or Jon Lester. When they couldn't, they just didn't love any of the other players enough to spend the same kind of money. It's really not that mysterious -- the Giants weren't going to spend on players they're lukewarm on, just because they missed out on the players they really wanted. Not their style.

I'm bored with this offseason, too, but I still have a feeling that in five years, we'll be enjoying a player whom the Giants couldn't have signed if they were still paying Max Scherzer. I just hope they're good enough then to justify not adding the talent today.


This isn't just about our believed Giants but more a question of fandom writ large. Why in god's name aren't all fans of the previous year's champs just smiling from ear to ear like the feeling that heroin addicts must feel right after that first shoot up of the day.  Why are we so miserable hoping for certified non champs like Shields and Sherzer to come our way? Was the Matrix right? Are humans incapable of being happy?

I struggle with this every day. The Giants just won the World Series again, and I'm complaining about Dillon Gee rumors? What's wrong with me?

Growing up, this Bloom County strip always terrified me. "(Life is) a progress from want to want ... not from enjoyment to enjoyment." I read that when I was 10 and never forgot about it. Is that all life is?

Yes. Yes, it is. The chemicals that my brain made after Pablo Sandoval caught the pop-up are gone. I require new chemicals, please.


Can you remind me why we hate Victorino? Don't get me wrong, I totally hate him and think he's gross. But I forgot why. A diagram or list will suffice. Thanks!

Here's a link that will help. More importantly, when Tim Lincecum debuted, Victorino homered and harshed our buzz. Then he scored a run off Lincecum later in the game after this crap:

That GIF was made on a Sony Walkman, but you get the idea. He totally ran into Omar Vizquel, yet he came around to score after a bogus interference call.

Do you know who drove him in?

Aaron Rowand.

It's all making sense to you, now, isn't it? ISN'T IT?


The contribution from Panik last year was obviously huge.  I track prospects a little but I rarely/never actually watch them (and I have no discernible baseball expertise beyond being a fan).  To my untrained eye, he looked incredible.  Lots of solid contact, a great eye, fantastic defense.  But according to reports, scouts seem lukewarm on him being anything more than an average regular.  My question is, what's the scouting knock on him?  Can we expect to see his major weaknesses through a full big league season, and what are the reported weaknesses?  What's the backup plan at second?

Backup plan? Matt Duffy. Joaquin Arias. Nothing sexy.

Why Panik wasn't supposed to be anything more than an average regular? Because he doesn't hit for power, he doesn't have freakish Darwin Barney super-range, doesn't have the arm for shortstop, and he isn't fast. With that profile, he's the kind of player who has to hit .300 (like he did last year) to be above-average, and players who can hit over .300 every ding-danged year are extremely rare. More likely, he's going to have that sort of Juan Pierre YES-no-YES-no-no-aw-nuts-YES kind of offensive career, in which his value is heavily tethered to his batting average.

Unless he's one of those freaks who can hit .300 every year. Or unless he develops more power than we're expecting. The latter -- 10-homer, 30-double power -- is what the fanboy in me is expecting, and I'm pretty sure he's the next Bill Mueller, right down to the 12th-place MVP finish when he's 32.