The Giants are finalists for Shohei Ohtani. John Shea of the Chronicle talked to someone who believes they’re one of the favorites. It’s at least enough to hyperventilate with great resolve, and it’s one of the reasons why this is simultaneously the most exciting and dumbest offseason I’ve ever covered.
Just what would they do with Ohtani, though? He’s both pitcher and hitter, floor wax and dessert topping. There would seem to be all sorts of options. If it were up to me, I’d see if there’s a way to make Ohtani something of a cross between Andrew Miller and Jay Bruce with Billy Hamilton’s legs. But it’s not up to me.
No, it’s up to Ohtani. And that’s totally cool. Whatever you want, friend.
I would like to ride Bruce Bochy off the mound like a small horsie when he comes to make a pitching change.
Yes, yes, this is very reasonable, and your request will be accommodated. However, it would appear that I’ve made up that request, and that the actual one is that he wants to be a starting pitcher and get regular at-bats. This would seem to favor the American League teams ... except there are just two AL teams in the final seven, and both of them have DHs. The Mariners have Nelson Cruz, who is an outfielder like Cory Gearrin is an outfielder, and the Angels have Albert Pujols, who is owed $50 million for every season through 2093. It’s possible one of them would make a trade (or a benching) to accommodate Ohtani, but they would have to consider the possibility of him in the outfield, too.
The Giants have one of the clearest paths for Ohtani, then. They’ll either have an opening in left field or right field, depending on Giancarlo Stanton’s decision. If Stanton gives the Giants his rose, there’s a minor conundrum in left field, where Hunter Pence and Denard Span would be the very expensive incumbents, but there’s a way around that, too.
Let’s use Alex Pavlovic’s report that the Giants are willing to give Ohtani 300 to 400 at-bats and work from there. What does that look like?
DAY 1: Starting pitcher
Here are 70 to 80 of the at-bats right here. Don’t even need to mess with anything.
DAY 2: Left fielder
He’s the left fielder in this scenario because the Giants have Giancarlo Stanton, too. Hey, I’m not required to play by the rules if the rumor mill isn’t. And now that he’s the starting left fielder on Day 2, he’ll get about 125 at-bats in the games that take place the day after after he starts.
DAY 3: Left fielder
This would be a call for Bruce Bochy, though. Is Ohtani winded? Does he need extra rest? The third day is optional. Let’s say he averages fewer starts and plate appearances on the third day, and he gets 90 at-bats.
DAY 4: Rest
And on the fourth day, he rested. But he was available to pinch-hit. Let’s give him 25 pinch-hit at-bats here.
DAY 5: Rest
And on the fifth day, he rested. But he was available to pinch-hit. Let’s give him 25 pinch-hit at-bats here.
That’s 340 at-bats right there, and all the Giants needed to do was allow him two starts in the field after his start. This allows Pence to still get at-bats (in left and also in right, when Stanton rests). I’m not as worried about Denard Span’s playing time, but there would be bats and pinch-hits mixed in for him, certainly.
While the above is all my personal speculation, it would fit with the idea that a starting pitcher’s most important days of recovery come right before he starts again. If you want, shift the days in the outfield to Day 3 and Day 4, I don’t care. The smart biomechanics people do, though, so listen to them either way.
This will be an experiment, for sure. But there’s been a lot of concern that a player like Ohtani would grind himself into a fine powder if he tried to play the outfield and pitch at the same time. This plan seems reasonable and not overbearing, though. It would be harder on his body, but it’s not like they’ve promised 162 starts for him.
It ... it could work.
Now please resume your offseason routine of staring at your phone and waiting for it to buzz. I’ll resume my offseason routine of anticipating that the Giants are going to end up with Mike Moustakas and Fernando Rodney, thanks. It’s much healthier this way.