clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Giants might be looking for more left-handed bullpen help

New, 223 comments

The bullpen looks full from here, but the Giants might want to take advantage of a soft relief market.

New York Mets v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Did you think you were safe from rumors? You are not safe from rumors. There are rumors hiding in your bushes right now, just waiting to chew on your brain. It’s almost February, and there are still Giants rumors. Be careful out there.

This one comes from Buster Olney (ESPN Insider required):

The teams seemingly most aggressive in the search for a lefty: The Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins.

You might think the Giants are set with left-handers. I sure did. There’s Will Smith as the platoon-free guy, the lefty who can get right-handers out, and then there’s a steel cage match between Josh Osich and Steven Okert. Not only should that be fine, but there’s even a little depth, too.

However, while writing up a fake 25-man roster made from the available free agents, something I noticed was that there were a lot of quality left-handed relievers still looking for jobs. Consider ...

Jerry Blevins isn’t just one of my favorite kinds of players — the kind that sound like a Jerry Lewis noise — he’s a tall lefty with strikeout stuff that struck out 52 batters for the Mets in 42 innings last year, walking 15. The increase in strikeouts since 2014 makes him a fine second option out of the bullpen.

However, I’m not sure he would be a guaranteed improvement over the winner of the Okert/Osich battle, so the Giants might just want to save their money.

J.P. Howell drove Dodgers fans bananas last season, so I like him already. For the four seasons before that, though, he was a quality left-handed-one-out-guy, keeping the ball in the park and missing just enough bats.

However, I’m not sure he would be a guaranteed improvement over the winner of the Okert/Osich battle, so the Giants might just want to save their money.

Charlie Furbush became one of the best strikeout-happy pitchers in the AL a couple years back, and his FIPs suggest he’s an underrated geam. Alas, he hasn’t thrown a pitch since 2015 because of shoulder problems, but that just might make him the best low-cost risk/reward option out there.

However, I’m not sure he would be a guaranteed improvement over the winner of the Okert/Osich battle, so the Giants might just want to save their money.

Boone Logan was supposedly one of the Giants’ trade options last July, and the ex-Rockie has struck out 11 batters for every nine innings he’s pitched since 2012. It’s hard to know how consistent he’s really been because Coors Field has a way of messing with relievers, but I could see him taking to AT&T Park pretty well.

However, I’m not sure he would be a guaranteed improvement over the winner of the Okert/Osich battle, so the Giants might just want to save their money.

Travis Wood would be more for a team looking for a swingman/LOOGY combo, which doesn’t describe the Giants, who could have Ty Blach in that role. But he was effective-ish for the Cubs last year if you look at his ERA, which you shouldn’t.

However, I’m not sure he would be a guaranteed improvement over the winner of the Okert/Osich battle, so the Giants might just want to save their money.

Javier Lopez already has a favorite chair in the clubhouse, not too rigid, not too yielding, and he likes to make faces like this while petting Hello Kitty:

commercials

He also likes to make Joey Votto look bad:

And I don’t remember making this, but I just found it, so I might as well include it:

javier lopez seinfeld

However, it is my belief that Lopez’s inexcusable walk of Anthony Rizzo was the true end of even-year nonsense, and it was a fitting bookend to how the championship era began. With a three-run lead, Lopez walked a hitter who couldn’t tie the game with an 800-foot homer, and that was the beginning of the miserable end. It wasn’t an isolated incident — his command was off all year, and without that, he just can’t be trusted. He can be loved, eternally. Just not trusted to get left-handers out in 2017.

Also, I’m not sure he would be a guaranteed improvement over the winner of the Okert/Osich battle, so the Giants might just want to save their money.

Other candidates would include Craig Breslow (who hasn’t been good for three seasons now) and Chris Capuano (who was an All-Star in 1986, if I remember correctly), but if the Giants are really looking for a reliable second lefty, they’ll focus on some of the names up there.

Is it a good idea to spend cash money on another left-handed hitter? Sure, whatever, fine, okay, assuming the market is really that soft. However, I would like to present another suggestion, which is that while a lot has been made about the Giants not having name-brand prospects to deal, that doesn’t mean that Osich and Okert don’t have substantial value. Okert would have a little more, I’d guess, because of Osich’s offseason knee surgery, but both are hard-throwing lefties with tons of team control left. Those kinds of guys are hot, so hot, these days.

This is just a goofy blogger spitting Teddy Grahams at the ceiling, but a team could probably sell this kind of trade return to their owners and fans:

  • ML-ready outfielder
  • ML-ready second baseman
  • ML-ready lefty setup reliever
  • Prospect

You can fill in the names, and while it would be a quantity-over-quality trade package from the perspective of the rebuilding team, there’s less uncertainty than with a bundle of 19-year-olds in A-ball. I have a shock collar that prevents me from doing fake trades, but it’s not impossible to see the Giants making a substantial trade with young players who fit those descriptions, then filling the holes with veterans.

Most likely? A competition between Okert and Osich. Which is just fine with me. But the rumor mill is still a-churnin’, and this one makes a little sense if you squint. There are a lot of reasons for the Giants not to be looking for another left-handed reliever, but there are also a couple of reasons why they should be.