Giancarlo Stanton has not been traded to the Giants yet, but he should be. Because if he isn’t traded to the Giants, boy, will I feel like a total jackass for writing 20,000 words of speculation based on the original reporting of other writers. So the trade will happen soon. Probably. If only because it would be fair to me.
One of the assumptions thus far has been that Stanton would accept a trade to the Giants because they play on the West Coast, have a functional ownership group, and have contending aspirations. However, this obscures a little-known fact about the Giants: They were absolutely horrible last year. Just a batch of sewage popsicles, straight from the freezer.
Apparently, Stanton has noticed.
One person with some Miami ties to Stanton suggested the 2017 NL MVP has concerns about the depth of the Giants and chances for a turnover after their 64-98 season (way worse than even the Marlins), and the new belief is that Stanton would most like to see where the rival Dodgers stand first, before seriously weighing the other interested teams, including the Giants.
And one person with Miami visors suggested that the only place to watch baseball is from behind home plate, ha ha, but seriously folks, this is troubling. I’ve been sending Stanton links to ESPM.com with fake game stories and standings, hoping he would take the bait, but he apparently caught on to the ruse. The Giants are terrible, and Stanton is a little concerned about playing for a terrible baseball team.
However! I would like to point out that, as jaded and bitter as we are about last season, it doesn’t take a batch of miracles to see the Giants as contenders again. Of all the awful, dumb things that happened last year, here’s the only one that I’m really, honestly worried about: Matt Moore being awful and Hunter Pence never being an above-average hitter again. Everything else — almost literally everything else — can have a plausible argument supporting improvement.
Mark Melancon’s garbage year? His elbow was impinged, and now it’s not. Madison Bumgarner falling off a dirt bike? A fluke! Johnny Cueto’s bad year? His first in the last seven. Brandon Crawford’s down season? Understandable, considering his real-world concerns, and it’s not like he wasn’t excellent before that. Jeff Samardzija’s high ERA? The outfield defense bit him. The outfield defense? Oh, that will get better.
It’s not just me that thinks this. Remember that post from Jeff Sullivan about how the Giants need more than Stanton? It’s still correct, but that includes this:
The trade moves them up to eighth place, just ahead of the Rockies. The Giants start to look like a legitimate wild-card contender, and, as we’ve known for a while, wild-card contenders are World Series contenders.
That’s with Denard Span clornking around in center. It’s with, I don’t even know, Pablo Sandoval starting at third? The Giants would be in the middle of the NL pack without any more moves, and while it’s true that their accumulated WAR projections would put them eighth, they would be just one or two improvements from fifth. There are a lot of things that would have to happen, but the Giants’ holes are stated priorities. It’s not like their lineup is like their rotation, mostly set and hard to change. They’ve expressly pointed out that their priorities include improving two out of the eight positions in the lineup.
And if they don’t, they would probably be in the hunt with Stanton, anyway. For the wild card, at least.
It wouldn’t take Stanton having an overstated sense of self-evaluation to get the Giants from 98 losses to 78. It would just take them having a season that was ... less like the last one.
It’s still reasonable for Stanton to be skeptical. The Giants might be more 2012 Phillies than 2013 Red Sox, and there’s no way around that. But I’m more than a little exhausted by people expressing metaphysical certitude that they’ll be awful for the indefinite future because they were awful last year. That analysis overlooks that almost nobody predicted this kind of fall, and almost every pundit and projection system had them as contenders for a reason. They had players everyone expected would be good in 2017.
Well, guess what? They’ll have those players in 2018. For better and for worse. Much, much worse, perhaps. But the Giants aren’t exactly in “I think you should be more explicit in step two” territory yet. And it shouldn’t take too much to convince Stanton of that.
Besides, you know he wants to hit the Coke bottle.
C’mon. Hit the Coke bottle.
Why, I’ll bet he can’t even do it.
He’s probably too chicken to try.
Forget, he’s not gonna do it.
Forget it, everyone. Just forget it.