Here’s something you won’t read on a national baseball site: “Giants get hosed in pair of deadline deals.” You won’t read angry screeds from statheads; you won’t see anonymous quotes from incredulous scouts. If there’s a word cloud for the reactions to the Giants trading for Matt Moore and Will Smith in separate trades, the biggest words would probably be “fair” and “reasonable.”
Like you care. I’m pretty bummed, too. When Matt Duffy is bad, he’s good, and when he’s good, he’s great. When Matt Moore is bad, he’s bad, and when he’s good, it’s several years ago. And the top pitching prospect in the system for a reliever? That is, one not named Andrew Miller? Well, I never.
That’s why these unbiased folks are important. They help us calm down. Here’s what smart people from around the Internet are saying about the two trades the Giants made at the deadline.
Matt Moore for Matt Duffy, Lucius Fox, and Michael Santos
Eno Sarris from FanGraphs got the assignment for the Giants’ side, and he’s bullish on Moore’s potential to be the pitcher he used to be. He looks at Moore’s fastball, curve, and changeup combination and concludes:
How does this sum up and compare? It looks like we have a lefty with plus fastball velocity and two above-average secondary pitches. Among qualified pitchers, that sentence describes only Clayton Kershaw, David Price, and Moore this year.
We can’t hope for a ballpark miracle like we did with Jeff Samardzija because Tropicana Field errs on the side of pitcher friendly, but the analysis is comforting, showing that Moore’s resurgence has stat-scout logic behind it, with improving velocity, movement, and spin rate.
On the other side, Dave Cameron made the case that it was a good haul for the Rays, but he understood why the Giants made the move.
To start, we should note that the projections remain a bit skeptical of his offensive abilities. Both ZIPS and Steamer’s rest-of-season forecasts call for a 98 wRC+, a bit worse than his MLB-to-date career numbers. You don’t usually see players at this point in their career expected to perform worse than they have previously, but Duffy’s 105 wRC+ is propped up by a .321 BABIP that both systems expect to come down a little bit ... and since he’s not an elite strikeout-avoider like Daniel Murphy or Jose Altuve, he’s projected as roughly an average hitter.
Warning: There are also a lot of nice words in there. It’s hard to read. Still quite raw, he said, stroking his Matt Duffy bobblehead, this time with feeling.
The Will Smith trade reviews usually mentioned that the Giants gave up quite a bit, while also acknowledging the lukewarm scouting reports of Phil Bickford and the uncertain health and production of Andrew Susac. First, from Baseball Prospectus:
Smith should add a dynamic weapon to the back-end of the bullpen. His 3.68 ERA doesn’t look special, but he’s only just returning to the mound after a knee injury that cost him much of the campaign thus far. He has struck out north of 30 percent of the batters he has faced as a reliever and doesn’t have a platoon split: righties only hit .193/.264/.281 off him last year.
The 27-year-old lefty features a breaking ball that’s affectionately known as the Slider of Death in Milwaukee. Over the past four years, it has a whiff rate over 30 percent and opponents are only hitting .137 with a .228 slugging percentage against the pitch since he broke into the big leagues in 2012. It’s a devastating pitch that can make even the most accomplished big-league hitter look foolish.
Keith Law of ESPN likes the deal for both sides, too.
The Giants have a great history with relievers, especially with guys like Smith who are more than just specialists, and he provides a substantial boost to a bullpen that has been a real weakness for the team this year.
FanGraphs reminds us that Will Smith’s velocity is on the upswing, which is important, and that scouts were far from sure about Bickford’s potential:
Add to that the Giants’ reputation for knowing which prospects to keep and which prospects to trade away, and Bickford’s prospect ranking might suggest a bit too much optimism. San Francisco also possesses another pitching prospect on BA’s list, right-hander Tyler Beede, so it’s not as if the Giants only had one good pitching prospect with which to make a deal.
I was quite okay keeping Beede over Bickford, considering he’s closer to the majors and a more realistic fit for the back of the rotation at some point in the next couple years. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t checking Bickford’s box scores every day.
It all still stings. When we woke up on Monday, the Giants had an improving farm system and a long-term solution at third base. Now the farm system is dinged up, and Matt Duffy ... oh, sweet Matt Duffy, you’ll tell us if they’re not nice to you, won’t you?
But no one’s calling the Giants a bunch of dummies, which is probably important. The Giants gambled like they haven’t gambled in years, and from here, it at least makes sense why they did it.