Back before I decided to give up the life of luxury to pursue my dream of being a baseball blogger, I worked for a small regional magazine that had unbelievable amounts of turnover. During my last year at the job, the magazine lost (and usually failed to replace) two editors in chief, a managing editor, two art directors, two associate editors (including me), and a digital coordinator. About six months after I quit, a second managing editor and a third associate editor left. Unsurprisingly, the resulting dysfunction impacted the final product, and by the end of my tenure, the magazine was a shell of itself.
Of course, baseball is a very different beast than publishing. Turnover is not just expected but even encouraged—so encouraged, in fact, that some commenters turn their usernames into public campaigns to DFA underachieving players.
The inclination for teams to churn through rosters has increased dramatically in recent years, with the average number of players making an appearance on a team’s active roster rising in the last 10 years, from about 45 players in 2010 to about 50 players today.
With the recent call-ups of Aaron Altherr and Shaun “Generic Brand Thor” Anderson, the Giants have now given roster spots to 38 different players so far in 2019. It’s not even two months into the season, and enough players have suited up in a Giants uniform to fill up the typical class at an LA public middle school! #FundPublicEducation
The Roster Spot Shuffle is expected to some degree. Players get injured, or “injured.” Some players don’t perform and get replaced. Trades happen, or a hot prospect forces the issue. Players with options get sent down
to manipulate their service time to make room for a free agent signing, or a fresh arm gets called up in a pinch. It’s easy to see how a team can cycle through 50+ players per season.
Still, by my rough calculations, the Giants are projected to blow past the half-century mark and end up with…327.2 million people making the active roster this year. Which, hey, that’s one way to implement universal healthcare! #MedicareForAll
Okay, I think that’s enough liberal propaganda to blow up the comment section for now. The real projected number I calculated is…75 players. Which is outrageous. I mean, that’s literally three teams’ worth of players. Not even Farhan “I’ve Never Met a Player I Couldn’t Sign and DFA” Zaidi is that mad with power.
But the Giants will undoubtedly blow past their 2018 total of 48 players, and they might very well hit the 60-player plateau.
There are two reasons why I think 60 players is not just possible but likely. So far, the Giants have made it through 42 games with relatively few injuries, fake or otherwise. To put it in perspective, the New York Yankees have more players (7) on the 60-day IL right now than the Giants have placed on the IL all season long (5). That’s bound to change as the season progresses, and it’s only a matter of time before players like Brandon Belt get placed on the IL for injuries they are currently playing through. That means we’ll be seeing players like Chris Shaw, Abiatal Avelino, Austin Slater, Ryder Jones, Ray Black, and others pay San Francisco a quick visit likely sooner than later.
The second reason is both more disheartening and encouraging. You may not have noticed, but the Giants are bad this year. They were also bad last year, and the year before that. And like a black hole, the gravitational force of all that year-over-year suckitude has sucked up a lot of space on the roster. Zaidi’s corporate-takeover tactics are bringing in a lot of new faces, but it’s also giving us a fuller picture of just how awful roster development has been at every level the past few years.
The reason the Giants have picked up (and later DFA’d) players like Gerardo Parra, Yangervis Solarte, Connor Joe, Michael Reed, Erik Kratz, and Pat Venditte is because the system is so barren that it makes The Void from Star Trek: Voyager look like a crowded bit of real estate, and the Giants need somebody to take the field.
I think it’s self-evident why the constant churn is disheartening, both for the fans and the players. But in my opinion, it’s also encouraging, because a team that lost nearly 200 games between the last two seasons alone should not be standing pat with its roster. The only way this team is going to get better is to, well, get better players. The new FO’s MO might be a tad heartless, but you can’t say you’ll feel FOMO about the potentially good players the previous regime might have overlooked.
Yes, that was a pretty forced joke—but sometimes, you just have to do something because it’s the right thing to do. Kind of like methodically refreshing the roster to make a bad team better, or taxing billionaires to support social welfare programs. #InstituteTheUBI
See you in the comments.