Oh, I don't really believe in even-year Giants nonsense. But I do believe in people who are supremely annoyed by any mention of even years whatsoever, and I do love annoying those people. I also believe that we'll have months of annoying them. Months. Unless the Giants are 13 games back by the end of May, but what are the odds of that, ha ha ha? Ha ha. Ha.
If there's going to be a nonsensical Giants run, though, it's not going to happen the way you expect. There will have to be an Andres Torres (2010), Gregor Blanco (2012), or Travis Ishikawa (2014). There will have to be a minor-league free agent who has an amazing, unexpected season and/or moment. Our job in this brand new year is to find that player.
There are a lot more candidates than you might think.
This is the safe pick. That is, it's extremely unlikely, but of all the minor-league free agents, Blanks is the one you would be least surprised to see back in the majors. His problem hasn't been a lack of production; it's been a lack of health.
"Here, rub this on you."
"OW. What the hell is that?"
"It's even year."
"It stings, man. It really, really ... saaaaay, I feel great now."
If the Giants don't sign a Dexter Fowler or Justin Upton, I wouldn't be opposed to Blanks getting a few starts in left. He was one of my favorite non-Giants before this, and there's no sense stopping that now.
There's a bar at the corner of Grant St. and Green St. in San Francisco. It's called Grant & Green. I saw someone throw up there once. Like, a real rugged evacuation, just all over the place, right in the middle of a crowded area. Ruined a lot of nights. When Grant Green was a draft prospect back in 2009, this was all I could think of. So I figured I should share it with you.
Anywho, Green is a former top prospect that I was irritated the Giants didn't draft, but his career hasn't gone so smoothly since turning pro. To be specific, he has the worst WAR of any of the 49 players drafted in the first round.
He's still a career .309/.354/.469 hitter over his career in the minors, though, and he's a poor man's Zobrist in the field. That's exactly the kind of player who could help the Giants this year, assuming they trade in their even-year chip for him.
Another former top prospect, Lee is still just 25. He made the Baseball America top-100 list three straight years from 2011 to 2013, and he's still athletic enough to play shortstop full time in the minors.
Alas, his offense collapsed completely after reaching Double-A, and he hasn't been able to recover. He's still young and tools-laden, though. He's probably a better bet to stick in the majors than Green, though Green's a better bet to appear in the majors in 2016.
Pena has 610 at-bats in the majors, with a miserable 67 OPS+. In his Baseball-Reference similarity scores, his #2 comp is Kim Batiste, and his most similar by age is Kevin Frandsen.
He did hit .308/.352/.409 in Triple-A last year, though, with a .912 OPS in the Mexican Pacific Winter League. If you're cocky about the even year, this is your pick.
There were actually two Juniors Arias in the Reds' system last year. This is the infielder/outfielder, and he's hit like, well, Joaquin Arias in the minors. He'll be just 24, and he has defensive versatility, with experience in the middle of the infield. He's probably just an outfielder now, though, and not a super-promising one.
Still, we're talking about even years. Do you remember when Joaquin Arias win an elimination game against a strong team by hitting a ball so poorly it couldn't be fielded properly in a game in which the Giants were one-hit into the 10th inning? Sure you do. Arias would be a fine pick, considering the context and history.
Moncrief is 26, and he set a career high in walks last year, while cutting back on his strikeouts. He's always shown enough speed and power in the minors to keep teams interested, and he's played all three positions in the upper minors.
He's left-handed, which hurts his case to be a surprising player at AT&T, but note that Ishikawa is also left-handed. The even year is free of platoon splits.
Suarez had a dandy ratio of three walks for every strikeout while pitching in Double-A. That written, he's going to be 26 and has never been promoted to Triple A. Not to mention his career strikeout rate is 5.9 per nine innings.
He's never been tried in the bullpen, though. He seems like the kind of pitcher who could click in a relief role. There are dozens of stories like that every year. The even year casts a wide net.
I certainly forgot he was in the organization, but it was only four years ago that he was an All-Star with a 10th-place Cy Young finish. He walked seven in eight Rookie League innings after signing with the Giants last year, so his control problems aren't something that will go away if you ask really nicely.
If he starts a game, something will have either gone really wrong or really right. Which sure seems like the way to describe just about everything that happens in an even year.
Still a free agent. Technically. Look in your heart, though.
I'll take Lee, even if I'm completely unsure how he'll get on the 40-man roster, much less the 25-man. But that's the point. It's going to be someone on here, because what's the alternative? That the Giants don't magically win every other year with nonsense and pixie dust?
Seems unlikely, if you ask me.