It’s that time of the day again, when we discuss the Giants’ left field situation. If you miss this one, you can catch the 1:45 showing, or the 8:45 showing. I’ll probably cobble an article together over the weekend, too. Do you want to sign up for alerts? I could get something set up.
Apparently the Giants haven’t had a lot of success in left field this season, which isn’t surprising, considering it was the most obvious roster hole of, oh, the last 10 years, give or take. But especially this offseason. It’s too early to judge the Chris Marrero experiment a failure, but there sure isn’t a lot of conflicting evidence. And folks are freaking out.
I’m not opposed to a good old-fashioned freakout, myself, but there’s a simple truth that we’re overlooking: The most reasonable solution in February is one of the solutions the Giants haven’t tried yet. That’s not because of poor internal evaluations or incompetence, but because of injury. Mac Williamson still exists, and he’s still a decent gamble for a team that needs power desperately, just like he was in the offseason.
The problem, of course, is that he’s on the Kyle Blanks development plan, where the amount of granite used to compose the body is directly proportional to the player’s durability. It’s always important to remember that it’s tricky to identify injury-prone players, even when they have four or five different injuries over a multi-year period. What is often attributed to fragility might be a heapin’ help of bad luck, and it’s impossible to tell the difference.
Or it could be fragility. It might usually be fragility. Proceed with caution.
However, Williamson still checks off a lot of boxes for what the Giants are looking for:
- hits for power
- is athletic
- fields well
- runs well
- on the 40-man roster already
In a lot of ways, he’s a reverse-Jarrett Parker, in that his minor-league success didn’t come with a lot of red flags, but he sure hasn’t shown anything in the majors yet.
There are enough red flags to worry about, though. His plate discipline took a step backward last year in Sacramento, even compared to the season before. The projection systems don’t see him as much better than Chris Marrero, which means it could be more of a lateral move than you think. And as long as we’re dwelling on the red flags, I’ll point out that he was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in San Jose last night, which is less than ideal.
But of all those points up there, the most important one might be that he’s on the 40-man roster already. While they have the ability to move Jarrett Parker to the 60-day DL to free up a slot, that’s a move they want to keep in a glass case. Considering the Giants’ roster is so stuffed they were willing to remove a young Triple-A pitcher and trade him for low-minors filler, using this move to get Michael Morse (or Drew Stubbs or Melvin Upton, who was recently hurt, or Jae-gyun Hwang, or Austin Slater, or ...) on the roster would work, but it would still leave them in a jam when the next unfortunate injury happens. It makes far more sense to go with the player already on the roster.
If they put Morse on the roster, the Giants will have to figure out the next Ray Black, Ian Gardeck, or Blackburn to take away if something else happens. Those decisions are only going to get more difficult, so I’m not sure why they would set themselves up for that pain just to keep Williamson away from the 25-man roster.
I’m skeptical about Williamson’s ability to solve left field, just a little less than I was about Parker’s this offseason. I still think the final answer will come in July, and it’s going to make prospect-lovers sad. Until then, the Giants’ best option is to play the guy who probably should have won the job if he stayed healthy. If you think about Williamson as if he were the plan all along, you might feel a whole lot better about the left-field situation.
(You probably don’t feel a whole lot better about the left-field situation.)