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They Might Be Giants

Ten 2018 New Year’s Resolutions For The Giants Farm System

You want resolutions?  Of course you don’t.  But do you want to tell others the resolutions?  Of course you do!  But too late, I just did that.  

Prospect Roundup Cover Image Kevin J. Cunningham

I’m not going to say that 2018 obviously has to be better than 2017, because I minored in Jinx Prevention in college. But the Giants should be trying to do better. In light of that, I have humbly put together a number of suggestions that the Giants would do well to consider for the 2018 calendar year.

1. Don’t Sign Free Agents That Will Cost Draft Picks Before The Next Offseason

To be honest, if Bobby Evans/Brian Sabean/David/Bell/Every Reader just stops at this and says I’m crazy, at least they saw this one. There is a rebuild coming; it’s only a matter of when (and obviously the team is trying to push it off a little longer). But this year, the Giants have that 2nd overall pick, and 2nd pick in each round. The 42nd overall pick is the pick that might be sacrificed.

In 2011, Jackie Bradley (10.8 Career WAR) was #40. Michael Fulmer (8.3) was #44. Trevor Story (5.8) was #45. Taijuan Walker (5.8) was #43 in 2010.

Are any of those players the types who will single-handedly change a farm system? No. But those are just some examples of quality players that will add to a farm system.

Next year, it’s fair to expect the Giants won’t have a high a spot in the draft order. And if Bryce Harper for some reason thinks SF is for him, so be it, then it’s worth sacrificing that 2nd rounder and 5th rounder. But this year? This year’s second rounder is not one to sacrifice.

2. Don’t Trade Heliot Ramos

Why is this not #1? Because it should be that damned obvious that it shouldn’t have to be #1.

Right now, center fielders are becoming what shortstops became in the late-90’s and early-00’s. Shortstops were the hot position with a few young stars and a lot of players who weren’t up to snuff. If you drafted one who didn’t stick at short, they would be someone who could play elsewhere.

Now, that’s how rare and valuable center fielders have become. And with the Giants’ home park, that need is triply amplified. The team whiffed on Gary Brown in years past while trying to take center field seriously. Ramos looks like (in this very early timeframe) a steal of a draft pick. Let him be the first wave of the rebuilding.

Also, ESPECIALLY NOT FOR BILLY HAMILTON.

3. Invest In Thicker Helmets and Padded Batting Gloves

The number of players affected heavily by getting hit by baseballs in the head was ridiculous. Sure, maybe there was no way that Kyle Crick was going to be wearing a helmet while in the dugout during batting practice, but maybe that should become as enforced as the military wearing their cover outdoors. Arroyo (good luck in Tampa Bay) seemed to have Brandon Belt-level magnets in his batting gloves for some reason. Barring personal deflector technology, maybe more padding is what’s needed.

Also, when it comes to Heliot Ramos, has Nike figured out a way to design a baseball uniform out of bubble wrap? No? Consider that resolution #3.5.

4. Aggressively Promote The Top 3 of the 2017 Draft To Augusta

There’s a couple of levels to this. I don’t think anyone thinks putting Ramos in Augusta would be a bad idea, but some might want to go slow with Jacob Gonzalez and Seth Corry. But keep them together.

For one, those three seemed to form a kinship in the Arizona Rookie League. When the next generation arrives, having some high-ceiling guys who feel that way about each other is a boon.

But second, it’s a great thing to do on the business end to a longtime affiliate in Augusta. The GreenJackets have a new stadium this year, which they are opening after fielding a pretty prospect-barren team. Giving them the attention of some top, marketable prospects (at least to start the season) along with that new stadium will be a nice thing to do for them after the rough years they have hosted. And, make them think twice when a different organization comes sniffing around their shiny new facilities and stick with the Giants.

5. Find a Guru That Can Help Raw Pitchers Find Control

Sure, easier said than done, but so is my resolution about finding a soulmate. The Giants have the easier one here.

The Giants have stockpiled many talented, raw arms over the past few seasons, and most of them have flamed out or gotten injured after injured. Whether this guru works with existing guys like Reyes Moronta and Rodolfo Martinez, or newcomer Julian Fernandez, or rehabs guys like Dan Slania, this is the coach the Giants need roving the farm system (and San Francisco.

6. Market Their Farm System To The Major League Fans

Start with a real between-innings promo that profiles the teams/players. Put a 1/2 hour show on CSN Bay Area (If you’re looking for a host, btw, Hello!).

But this isn’t just about the teams or players, or personal career opportunities. As the Giants’ future looks bleaker, the team’s farm system will be a bigger part of fans’ complaints. Today’s average fan is smarter about the importance of the farm system, and the team should acknowledge it. Some publicity about the farm system would be seen as the team saying it understands how important the farm system is to the paying customers they desperately don’t want to lose. Plus, getting fans familiar with the names that will be filling the team in those upcoming lean years wouldn’t be a bad idea.

7. Draft Buster Posey’s Successor at Catcher

It’s not going to be Aramis Garcia; we know this. Posey’s not moving from catcher in the next couple of years, despite the anticipation of some fans. Garcia is one of the few trade chips the Giants have that makes sense to trade, and I expect he will much like Andrew Susac before him. If Buster will be leaving catching in 4-5 years, this is the year to find his replacement.

And no one is going to be as good as Posey, that’s unrealistic. But make a commitment to a catcher with one or two excellent tools, particularly if they are defensive tools.

8. Don’t Whiff On The #2 Pick This Year

Sure, this seems obvious, but the last time the Giants had a pick in the single digits, they took….Zack Wheeler (#6 overall, 2009). Sure, Wheeler has been sidelined by injuries for another team, but when you compare him to that other high draft pick the Giants had (Posey, 2008), it sure doesn’t seem like a one pick difference in quality. It’s shockingly easy to miss with a high draft pick.

Another example: The Giants have had exactly one 2nd overall pick, one 3rd and one 4th in their history. In order, they were: Will Clark (2nd, 1985), Matt Williams (3rd, 1986), and Jason Grilli (4th, 1997). One of those is not like the others.

This year, the MLB draft is loaded with high-level pitching, so don’t be surprised to see a high-ceiling pitcher be that next top Giants prospect, with the possibility of a high school shortstop mixed in there.

9. Don’t Break Roger’s Heart and Trade Chris Shaw

Sure, Shaw’s defensive profile does not precisely fit what the Giants need from an outfielder. But he’s a Giants hitting prospect with power. With real, in-game power. The last Giants prospect to have even a whiff of power like that to come up was Brandon Belt, and that was a one-year track record. Now, look at the pressure and (unfair) disappointment heaped on him for not hitting with tons of power. Before that, who? Nate Schierholtz?

I personally don’t know if Chris Shaw is the one to break the Giants’ many years of post-Bonds malaise in left field. I have my doubts with that strikeout rate. But Giants fans are craving power, and it’s not to be found on the free agent or trade market right now. Give Giants fans some hope via Shaw.

10. Get The Ball Rolling On A New San Jose Stadium

Yeah, Memorial Stadium is historic. It’s also tiny, cramped, facing the wrong way, and doesn’t offer the facilities many minor leaguers need today to develop. The 2nd-most populous city without a Major League Baseball team deserves better.

With the Giants as part-owners of the team, they should take the lead on this. Whether they work with SJSU to build a shared stadium on the same site or nearby, or exploring other sites that are more transit-friendly, the Giants should show again why they made stadium building cool again with AT&T Park and reinvigorated a neighborhood in doing it. (Hey, Athletics, pay attention!) Also, once Google starts moving in, things will get even more expensive the longer anyone waits.

11. Stop Listening To Me

Seriously, Bobby, you should’ve stopped after #1. But if you got to #6, my twitter handle is @SFLunaticFringe. You can reach me there.