In Thursday night’s game, Jarrett Parker was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He saw 11 pitches in the game, and eight of them were strikes. He had a triple the night before, and it was sorely needed, but he’s still all kinds of messed up. I feel bad for both him and Chris Marrero. They don’t want to press, but they know that every one of their plate appearances will be scrutinized by the manager, front office, and fans.
At the same time, the Giants are running around signing outfielders. This can’t help with the sense of panic and dread that has to be felt in some capacity by the current left fielders. Melvin Upton is heading to Triple-A, and Drew Stubbs is already there.
And Giants fans are desperate. I know this because people tweet at me, email me, and talk to me in person about Upton. Is he coming up? He has to be coming up, right? Can’t be worse.
Can’t be worse. I’ve heard that more than once. Seems logical. But is it true? Luckily, we have Dan Szymborski’s big ZiPS spreadsheet to dig through one last time. We at least have some idea of what to expect from both players according to the computers:
Melvin Upton, Jr.
Uh huh. That’s ... not good. What about his projected splits against left-handers?
That’s the same thing. And it’s worth pointing out that these stats aren’t tailored for AT&T Park. These stats are based on the expectation that he would be with the Blue Jays in a much friendlier park for hitters.
ZiPS absolutely hates Upton. Maybe we’ll have better luck with Stubbs.
Also not good! His projected splits against lefties are a little better:
But not much. It’s a cool 37 points below Chris Marrero’s projected OPS against left-handers, for example.
That’s the thing about both of these outfielders: They might be more valuable over a full season than Parker and Marrero, but only because they play better defense. Right now, your problem with the Giants’ left fielders isn’t that they can’t catch, but that they can’t hit.
Upton and Stubbs are not solutions to that current problem.
Plus, neither one of them would play full-time, either. Stubbs absolutely has to be platooned, and while Upton doesn’t have severe platoon splits, I would still take Parker against right-handers. Which would mean he’s getting the bulk of the at-bats. Which would mean the Giants are still dependent on him getting hot. Which means we’re right back to square one.
It’s possible that Marrero never hits, and that the Giants decide if they’re going to have a left-fielder who can’t hit, they can at least have one who can cover some ground in left. That’s a reasonable strategy in an unwinnable situation.
But as a solution to the Giants’ current problem, it’s different for the sake of being different. You can replace Stubbs and Upton with Aaron Hill or Austin Slater or Wynton Bernard or Carlos Moncrief, and it would make just as much sense. That is, very little. Until Jae-gyun Hwang proves he can play the outfield, I’m not sure there is a better solution right now. The Giants are committed to starting an outfielder who will struggle at the plate, and they probably will be for a while. Pinning your hopes on a couple of outfielders who were available after spring training was over isn’t going to help anything.
I’m sticking with Parker for now. I’m less concerned about the specific platoon-mate, and I think Upton makes the most sense, but if Parker doesn’t hit, the position is a disaster, regardless of what the Giants try. It’s up to him. The hitter on the Sacramento side of the fence isn’t greener.