Ehire Adrianza is up. The switch-hitting defensive whiz has been oddly productive over his Triple-A career, hitting .317/.400/.434 in 341 at-bats. He's also hit into just two double plays there. Which is a segue into the actual lede, that Casey McGehee was designated for assignment on Tuesday. Unlike the last time, when the Giants had a surprise option in their coat pocket, this time it seems pretty final. If McGehee accepts the assignment to Sacramento, he's off the 40-man roster, which makes it more than a little unlikely that he's going to return this season.
Casey McGehee is gone, everyone.
This isn't a time to ring bells and dance in the streets. The third-base wars were a rout, and the new guy is doing well, so it wasn't like this move was necessary to give the Giants their best possible lineup. It's going to affect a handful of at-bats every week, maybe two or three, some or most of which wouldn't have been in high-leverage situations anyway. Whatever is wrong with the Giants isn't suddenly fixed. They're incrementally better, but it's easy to overestimate just how much better. So the 25th man is different. Big whoop.
On the other hand, McGehee hit into 15 double plays in 138 plate appearances, which is absolutely amazing. You were right to never want to watch him hit with runners on base again. The Giants were, too. Just because it's not the most meaningful move the Giants can make over the next month, doesn't mean that it's without meaning. On a spiritual, I-want-to-watch-baseball level, the Giants have improved immensely.
Because yesterday was spent on the four lessons of Matt Duffy, it's appropriate to recreate the theme with McGehee. When the Giants made the trade, this site didn't melt down. There was mild disappointment and eye-rolling, but there wasn't a 1,000-word screed about why it was the worst possible move the Giants could make. Hey, I was even cautiously optimistic about him this year.
What went wrong?
What are the lessons?
Teach us the ways of the world, Casey McGehee.
The first lesson of Casey McGehee
When a player's only skill is contact and batting average, run away. When the player cannot run the bases well at all, when he's a subpar fielder at best, when he lacks even slightly below-average power, do not look at a .290 average (with the commensurate on-base percentage) and think, "Boy, if he could only do that again, he would be fine."
Never, ever, ever think that. I have learned this lesson. It was painful. I will be more vigilant in the future.
Take a player like Juan Pierre. He had to hit for average to be a successful hitter, a net positive for his team. Like most average-dependent players, his average was wildly erratic, and he'd have outstanding seasons mixed in with unbearable seasons. The modern-day version is Dee Gordon. One of these seasons, if not imminently, the Marlins are going to wonder what in the heck happened to those sweet, sweet Dee Gordon hits. Nothing will have happened to them. And they'll probably come back. That's the joy and curse of the average-dependent player.
Except those dudes can run. They can score from first base on a double, move first-to-third, take advantage of a weak defensive catcher in the late innings. That isn't to say they're perfect players, but the addition of a second tool means so much.
Take a player like Pedro Feliz. He could hit dingers, but he basically hit baseballs like a pre-Jedi Skywalker with the blast shield down. Except that power isn't quite as a flighty and erratic of a skill. It usually shows up with some regularity over a full season, barring injury. Oh, and Feliz could field, too.. Like the dickens, he could.
When you make a list of flawed players, most of them have two skills. If they have just one, but still have a job, that one skill is power. Beware the high-contact hitter who is below-average in every other aspect of the game. Beware. Bewaaaaaaare, now and forever.
The second lesson of Casey McGehee
No, that pretty much covers it.
The Giants had an obvious lineup hole and one obvious internal replacement. They wanted at least one other option if that internal replacement wasn't ready, so they made a trade. It turns out that everything worked out just fine, it was just a roundabout way of getting there.
It wasn't a bad idea, but the reddest of red flags was right there for us. It wasn't that he was out of Major League Baseball for a spell (the Giants have done well with that sort of player) or that he was over 30 (ditto). It wasn't just that he couldn't field, run, or hit for power. It's that the one thing he could ostensibly do well, is also the most elusive and erratic skill to keep steady.
Good luck to Casey McGehee, and let's forge on with the 2015 season. This is my final post for the day because I'm considering it the same as getting two posts out of the way at once.