Jackson Williams was the starting catcher for the 2015 Giants on Monday. Nick Noonan didn't play first, but he was ready if needed.
There. That's about what you need to know about the game. The Giants are still screwed. They're a flawed team with myriad injuries, and occasionally Jackson Williams will catch and Nick Noonan will play first. They lost by a lot of runs, their winning streak is over, and eventually the sun will burn out and the Earth will turn into a disintegrating husk. The Giants had 10 hits, the Diamondbacks had 12, and the game still wasn't really close.
Which means instead of a true blow-by-blow recap, it's probably more sensible to spend the entire time talking about Mike Leake.
Leake made his fifth start as a Giant, and he still doesn't have a win. While pitcher wins are a garbage stat when it comes to evaluating a pitcher's performance, they can sure give you an idea of how you feel about a particular pitcher. And in this case, Mike Leake didn't exactly put the Giants on his back and gallop across the countryside after the trade deadline. Not that he was supposed to. Still, when the Giants traded for him, they were a game back in the NL West and leading the wild card race. Then a Venus flytrap ate the entire team, and it looks like Leake wasn't exactly the missing piece. If the Giants could CTRL-Z the trade right now and get Keury Mella back, they would strongly consider it.
He's been pretty okay, though. He was annihilated on Monday, which makes it the perfect time to discuss his future with the Giants, lest we be overly influenced by a stellar outing. He's looked solid. Every time he pitches, it looks like he knows what he's doing. If this were a fast food restaurant, he would have come in and used the fry-o-lator like nothing, fitting right in. Today he would have gotten a pickle stuck up his nose. Overall, though, the trade could have been a net positive with a spot of luck and some support behind him.
Do the Giants want to keep him around?
The obvious comp is Jake Peavy, who looked like a madduxician after coming over from the Red Sox and played his way into another contract with the Giants. Except the likelihood of Peavy coming back went down after every lackluster postseason start. Whenever he took the mound after September, it was easy to think he couldn't offer much to a contending team in 2015.
Leake won't get the chance to help or hurt his résumé with another month as a Giant, though. That much we know. The ballpark and the defense wasn't a magic combination for him. It didn't turn him into Corey Kluber. We've seen enough Mike Leake to have a pretty good idea of how he could help the Giants. And it goes like this: He can probably help a little bit, except he can go a month or two between wins because he isn't magic. He needs the team to help. He isn't Randy Johnson on the Astros, thoroughly dominating and making a difference entirely on his own. He's a limited pitcher.
Which brings us to the Official McCovey Chronicles Position Regarding Mike Leake's Return.
Okay, sure. Just as long as it isn't the only move of the offseason.
Simple and concise. I like Leake as a third, fourth, or fifth starter. He's young enough to avoid the pitfalls of most long-term pitcher contracts, but he's not so talented that it's going to take a 10-year deal or something ludicrous. He's in a very Giants-friendly sweet spot, and to his credit, he seems pretty enamored of his new team. He makes sense in a couple different ways.
He just can't be the only starting pitcher acquired in the offseason. Like, that's not an option. The Giants need aces, top-o'-the-rotation types, at least one more. The strategy of quantity-over-quantity is why the Giants started the season with seven or eight starting pitchers and while they'll finish the season seven or eight games back. A team with 48 different Ryan Jensens is a team that's still figuring out how to win more games than their rivals. Leake is an upgrade on the Hudson/Lincecum/Vogelsong troika from the start of the season, but he can't be the only upgrade.
This is a good time to note that I'm pretty giddy the Giants didn't empty the farm for David Price.
It's also a good time to note that I'm kind of sad that Cole Hamels isn't around for the next couple years.
Regardless, I've been impressed with Leake, even if the Giants can't freaking win when he pitches, and even if he was deconstructed today. A full season of a pitcher like that, combined with Bumgarner bumgarnering, backed up with Chris Heston or Peavy on the other end of the rotation, would make a lot of sense. If there's another fancy pitcher at the top of the rotation.
Of the premium free agents, at least three of them will bust and bust hard. The Giants need to get lucky if they're going to spend, and I don't envy their decision. They'll need someone more than Leake, though, and he proves that with just about every outing, rain or shine. That's not his fault; he's fine. It's the Giants' fault, and an easily correctable one, at that.