Bobby Evans was on KNBR from Scottsdale on Tuesday, and while I miss the gruff, kidney-stone growl of a would-rather-be-working Brian Sabean, I equally appreciate the candor of the current GM. The biggest news from the interview was Evans doubling down on the idea that Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker weren’t going to platoon, and adding a new wrinkle that they don’t both have to make the team at all.
“Yeah, I don’t know that I want both of them to be on this club,” Evans said. “I really would rather one guy take the job and then maybe one of the veteran guys or other non-roster invites to manage so that he’s the second part to the puzzle. In the case of Williamson, he can go down to Triple-A. If Williamson makes the club as the everyday guy, then Parker would either have to make the club and be a backup — not necessarily a platoon but a backup — or you’d have to put him through waivers and I don’t see him getting through waivers. I really need him to step up and make this club.”
The full interview is here, and the topics range from David Hernandez to grading the offseason to Mark Melancon’s opinion of Nick Hundley. But this is the most interesting nugget, in my opinion. There are a couple ways to parse these words.
Mac Williamson is the favorite
You don’t want a platoon, eh? One outfielder can hold his own against lefties, while hitting righties well, and the other outfielder struggles mightily against lefties while hitting righties well.
[starts putting files in briefcase]
Oh, you’re still here. No, that’s it, that’s the argument. Parker has to be platooned. It’s a must. He was solid in a small sample at Triple-A in 2015, but he’s been awful against southpaws at every other level. There is no version of Jarrett Parker that has him starting 150 games. He’s not a prospect, and while players can evolve and adapt, it’s much more useful to consider him a finished project at this point. A useful player with value, sure, but not one who’s likely to evolve.
Williamson doesn’t have to be platooned. What’s more is that I’ll give him a pass on the weird platoon splits as being a function of him missing so much time and seeing fewer lefties than a right-handed hitter should expect. At least, that’s my working theory. He’s not getting the reps.
Now it’s possible to use Evans’ words to support the idea of Williamson as the sole starter.
If Williamson makes the club as the every day guy, then Parker would either have to make the club and be a backup — not necessarily a platoon but a backup
Makes sense. This is what I’ve been arguing all along, and I’m glad the Giants see it the same way.
I really need (Parker) to step up and make this club.
Doesn’t that kinda sorta sound like there’s a favorite? It’s dumb to parse a sentence like that in a 14-minute radio interview, but, well, dumb is my brand, and I’m still thriving. Once you start with the fact that Parker needs to be platooned, then move to the truism that the Giants don’t like the idea of a platoon, the logical conclusion is that Parker will have to be a fourth or fifth outfielder.
My only quibble would be to point out that Parker has probably done enough in the majors to make the club on merit, not in a battle of exhibition stats.
So it’s settled. Unless ...
No, Jarrett Parker is the favorite
The wrinkle here is that Parker is out of options. Williamson is not. So if the Giants want to use Michael Morse, Justin Ruggiano, Austin Slater, Kyle Blanks, Chris Marrero, Wynton Bernard, Steven Duggar, or minor-league free agent Et Cetera, they’ll either expose Parker to waivers or send Williamson down.
They’re not going to do that. And if they’re concerned that Parker would waste away on the bench — possibly as the kind of player who needs regular at-bats to make consistent hard contact — then they’re going to make him the favorite in left. While it’s true that he needs a right-handed caddy, at the very least, he would still get the bulk of the at-bats because there just aren’t that many left-handed starters in the NL West.
Other than the four on the Dodgers.
Giving Ruggiano, who’s a proven lefty-masher held back only by injuries, at-bats against Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray, and the like, wouldn’t have to be a strict platoon. They could let Parker hit against the left-handed randos, the spot starters, and the pitchers in the back of bad rotations. That would allow them to get around the idea of a strict platoon.
Denard Span wasn’t being strictly platooned last year, either, but the Giants found him some rest days that happened to come at a convenient time. He started just one game against Kershaw last year (striking out three times), even though he wasn’t being platooned. Considering that Kershaw started five times against the Giants, that’s saying something.
Yeah, it’s saying that Kershaw started against the Giants in nearly a quarter of his starts, which is a total pile of garbage. Step in, Manfred. Do your job. This seems very unfair.
So there’s a chance that a platoon isn’t a platoon, which means that Williamson’s options might doom him after all.
Looks like we’ll have to rely on spring stats! Which are usually drunk. But the good news is, again, the Giants aren’t just slapping a platoon together because one guy is left-handed and the other is right-handed. That’s a great first step, and we’ll have to wait for March to see who is really the favorite.