Start by accepting that Jeanmar Gomez seems like a likely trade target. The Phillies’ closer is absolutely indistinguishable from George Kontos statistically, but he has a lot of saves? Or something. Most importantly, he shouldn’t cost a top-three prospect. That would be a half-victory!
For the first time, we have a concrete rumor that the Giants are interested in Gomez instead of me connecting the dots because this is my 20th trade deadline or so with them. The good news is that they’re also interested in several other relievers as well. From Jerry Crasnick:
I’ll just assume the top scout is Pat Burrell for extra fun.
Burrell: Hello, I am on the 11:35 flight to Philadelphia. I would like to check this suitcase, which is filled with my clothes, and I would also like to check this suitcase, which is filled with three bottles of mineral oil and several thousand phone numbers.
Finally, though! Concrete rumors! It took a few weeks, but we actually have names of the pitchers the Giants might be pursuing. Here are those pitchers:
Jeanmar Gomez really, really is George Kontos. One of them has 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. The other one has 5.8. Both of them walk exactly 2.2 batters for every nine innings pitched. One of them has an ERA of 2.82. One of them has an ERA of 2.86. Does it matter which one is which? It does not.
Now ask yourself if you would like to trade one of the Giants’ 10 best prospects for another Kontos.
Keep in mind that Gomez might replace Kontos, too. It’s likelier that the Giants will go back to the 13-man pitching staff, but if they go with the traditional 12-man staff, either Kontos, Cory Gearrin, or Derek Law would be the odd pitcher out. That seems like a very, very curious strategy of giving up a prospect or three without improving the bullpen very much.
David Hernandez throws hard. Really, really hard. If Kontos and Gomez have a problem, it’s that they don’t miss enough bats. Hernandez doesn’t have the problem, nosiree. He’s also not very good at preventing runs, which is kind of the point. His home run rate would lead the Giants’ bullpen, and so would his walk rate. The only Giants reliever with a worse WHIP is Javier Lopez.
Even after accounting for park factors, this seems like a very, very bad idea. Hernandez is a minor-league deal you consider in the winter, not a deadline deal you make in July. Not unless your bullpen is filled with pitchers who have been even worse than Hernandez, which isn’t the case for the Giants.
ERA isn’t the best way to measure a reliever, of course, but it certainly says something that Hernandez’s lowest ERA since 2012 is 4.28. Like, he hasn’t been good since Aubrey Huff played second base. Hard pass.
Jeremy Jeffress is a curious case, a former first-round pick who’s been an effective reliever for three seasons now. His strikeout rate is down this year, but his velocity isn’t down. We’re talking about eight or nine missing strikeouts out of 170 batters faced, though, so it’s possible, if not likely, that small-sample gremlins are responsible.
He’s been pretty solid for the Brewers. Is he better than Hunter Strickland, though? That’s the question you have to ask about every reliever the Giants are interested in. Assuming the Giants aren’t going to replace Santiago Casilla immediately with whomever they get at the deadline, a move like this would push Strickland, Law, and Sergio Romo back an inning.
And if they do replace Casilla immediately, don’t forget that he’ll be the fireman who’s supposed to get the Giants out of bases-loaded jams in the seventh and eighth innings. We’re a long way from bottoming out, everyone.
Maybe the better question is if Jeffress is better than Albert Suarez, whom he would actually replace on the roster. If that’s the case, then, yes. Yes, he is.
Ask the same question about David Hernandez, and I’m not sure if we get the same answer. We should probably be grateful for the Jeffress rumors.
Will Smith would be a gift from the heavens. But that’s coming from a writer with a quiver filled with dad jokes. As a pitcher, the left-hander has been excellent for three seasons, though he missed the first two months of this season with an injury.
Though if you’re looking for the real Jeremy Affeldt replacement, why, I think we have a winner:
Smith said he was getting ready to shower after pitching in a minor league game on Thursday and was standing on one leg to take off his other shoe when he lost his balance and twisted the knee.
"I pulled hard (on the shoe) and it stayed on," he said. "My knee just went up and popped. Everyone tells you there is nothing you can do about it, but you still feel like you are letting people down."
It’s like the universe is speaking to us. "This guy gets hurt taking off his shoes. He is the one you are seeking."
However, unlike Affeldt, Smith is much more of a LOOGY, with discernable platoon splits over his career. He would be more reliable than Josh Osich, at least for this season, and he wouldn’t be a free agent until after 2019, just like Jeffress. That’s good! It would also jack the Brewers’ asking price way up. That’s bad!
It’s not hard, though, to see the Giants making a monster of a package deal to get both Jeffress and Smith, agreeing to part with former first-round picks and other excellent prospects to secure two of the more reliable pitchers on the market, both of whom would be under contract for three more seasons after this one. It seems more realistic that the Giants could get away with that, rather than overwhelm the Yankees for Andrew Miller, which isn’t going to happen.
The biggest problem with this idea? Jeffress also has platoon splits to deal with, performing much worse against left-handed hitters. That’s still the Giants’ biggest problem. It would be like complaining about Conor Gillaspie’s defense at third and trading for Casey McGehee to fix it.
Remember, one of these pitchers would be replacing Kontos, Gearrin, or Law, all of whom have been imperfect but generally effective.
The real answer is a time machine and a willingness to give Miller a $43 million contract two years ago. Aside from that, the Giants don’t have a ton of great options. Here are four of varying promise.
I’d probably pass on all of them except for Smith, really, and then only if the price wouldn’t be exorbitant, which it should be. Welcome to the 2016 trade deadline!