Ah, pregame tweets. They feel like having your meal brought to you at a restaurant and just before the server goes, they say, “Oh, it’s the chef’s first day. Thought you should know.”
Bochy: No “concrete plans” to promote Mac or Pence for trip. Me: I still think one of them will be there. #sfgiants— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) May 20, 2018
Hank Schulman, like every single one of us here, has been so very wrong before, and I think he’s been far too generous in his thoughts concerning the Giants’ decision makers. But maybe I’m wrong and his thinking will prove to be right and the Giants will come to their senses. In the meantime, let’s consider this very odd public statement made by the manager.
I’m going to assume that I had an overreaction to reading this tweet and am jumping to unfair conclusions about what the Giants are considering. No “concrete plans” probably just means that Bochy and Sabean haven’t sat down to talk about the roster before the team heads out on an 8-game, 3-city road trip and so rather than create a pregame stir when everybody should be focused on today’s game, he’s just hedging and making a noncommittal statement. That makes sense from a managerial perspective.
From a competition standpoint, it makes no sense. The Giants are about to head into Minute Maid Park, which (lol single-season park factors) is the #1 run scoring environment in all of baseball as I write this dumb post. It’s an AL park now, so, it will always be a higher run-scoring environment than AT&T Park because of the DH. With off days on Monday and Thursday, the Giants can use their vaunted taxi service to interchange 13 pitchers / 13 hitters as needed before doing the Chicago and Colorado leg of the trip.
Still... if we’re being fair to the Giants... maybe they don’t want to rush Mac back from the concussion. He’s been down for so long that his timing probably still needs work. And maybe they don’t want to rush Hunter Pence back yet because they want to see if he can sustain results with his new swing and throwing him back into the heat of the battle might not be the best situation for him.
On the other hand, they’re rushing back Madison Bumgarner because they desperately need him. They rushed him back last season even when they did not. Oh, you want to argue that they had no choice because Bumgarner pushed to come back? I’m sure Mac Williamson and Hunter Pence are pushing to come back in their own way — mainly by hitting very well in their rehab assignments.
Williamson makes more sense because he’s younger and versatile, but for Pence this Houston jaunt would be a homecoming. He was born in Fort Worth and played college ball at UT-Arlington. And, of course, he was drafted by the Astros and played his first four major league seasons with them. Since we know the Giants value loyalty over winning, this seems to be the most likely scenario. And, hey, if the new swing actually works for Pence, I’m all for whatever helps the Giants win games, particularly in situations where they’re overmatched.
They’ll be facing Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. Pence is 4-for-13 in 16 plate appearances against Cole and 1-for-5 in 5 plate appearances against Verlander. I envision a lineup like this: CF Blanco, RF McCutchen, DH Posey, 1B Belt, 3B Longoria, LF Pence, SS Crawford, C Hundley, 2B Tomlinson. I do think Pablo will sneak into the lineup to face Verlander, though.
Keep in mind, the Giants could have a lineup like this if they wanted to: CF Duggar, RF McCutchen, C Posey, 1B Belt, LF Williamson, 3B Longoria, SS Crawford, DH Slater/Sandoval, 2B Tomlinson. Alas!