Over the last century, 484 different pitchers have thrown more than 25 innings for the New York and San Francisco Giants. Of those 484 pitchers, no one has a worse ERA with the Giants than Mike Kickham. His ability to get pummeled was remarkable, really. He entered the 2014 season with a career ERA of 10.16, and it was nearly a full run higher by the end of the year. You have to respect that.
And he's back with the Giants, having signed a minor-league deal with them. Despite what you might think after the first paragraph, this is a good thing. Kickham is still young, still left-handed, still blessed with above-average stuff. He walked 35 batters in 27 Triple-A innings last year, so it's likely that he's still messed up and unlikely to reach the majors again, but when it comes to raffle tickets, he's still a good one. He's still never been tried exclusively in relief, which has been his likeliest path to success for years, now.
Darren Ford is also back again, having re-re-re-signed with the Giants. Ford, originally acquired in the trade that sent Ray Durham away in 2008, is 30 now, and he hit .261/.333/.403 with Sacramento last year, with 11 dingers and presumably superlative defense. With Juan Perez in the Cubs organization now, it would appear this is the defensive center fielder the Giants have in a glass case.
Also, by law, I'm required to include this:
That was before the Giants had won a championship in San Francisco, remember. All things were possible. That one specific thing was impossible. Darren Ford showed us a path into the light.
The other minor-league signing of note is the Giants signed Vin Mazzaro, former A's, Royals, Pirates, and Marlins pitcher. He's still just 29 somehow, and he's settled into the life of a quiet journeyman. Look how beautifully he slots into this legacy of spot starting:
- Brian Powell
- Matt Palmer
- Eric Hacker
- Travis Blackley
- Vin Mazzaro
It hasn't happened yet, but I'm just going to copy that list somewhere for quick access later. Mazzaro has a career 5.5 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9, which means he combines an ability to not miss bats with an inability to avoid walks, but he had a solid year preventing runs in Triple-A (2.70 ERA, with a 7.7 K/9). He throws in the low-90s, and he's always had a sporadically impressive slider, so it makes sense as a depth move.
All of these moves make sense as depth. Can you imagine getting mad at a minor-league deal? For any team, that is, much less one that's had such profound success with them in the last decade as the Giants.
Welcome back, old friends. Welcome, new friend. It takes only one piece of shrapnel from the even-year grenade to screw the Cardinals right up. Good luck.