Obviously, the Giants were going to need to find a spot for Drew Pomeranz once he returned from the injured list, and the most obvious candidate was the recently claimed Aaron Altherr.
Now, who is Aaron Altherr and when was he on the Giants? What did he do and when did he appear for them? None of that matters. He was a warm body the Giants usedd to keep their 25-man full. He had one at bat (a strikeout). SB Nation’s photo tool doesn’t even include one picture of him in a Giants uniform.
It’s unclear if the team ever really saw a place for him and if you look at his recent track record along with his career splits, you’ll find that he’s basically another Mac Williamson. He’s a right-handed kinda-sorta power hitter with reverse platoon splits.
Had the Giants wanted to keep him, they would’ve had to lose Mac Williamson, who’s still living off his season debut in Coors Field despite being 4-for-30 with eight strikeouts since. On that note, it makes sense that the Giants — even the Under New Management Giants — would show a tinge of loyalty to someone already in their organization.
For Altherr, it’s another opportunity to learn a new city, teammates, and organization. He joins an illustrious list of players designated for assignment by the Giants in the month of May:
- Gerardo Parra
- Breyvic Valera
- Yangervis Solarte
- Pat Venditte
- Andrew Moore
- Erik Kratz
He’s also the fourth outfielder to be DFA’d this season. And all he did was strikeout in one plate appearance. Brandon Crawford has struck out in 25% of his.
Altherr’s five days with the Giants could someday be the basis for a Giants-specific Field of Dreams. It’d be about a crackpot son who wants to raze the local baseball field to make room for more affordable housing. Or something.
On the other hand, Drew Pomeranz is back from his trip to the 10-day IL for a lat strain. His last start before the IL trip was a disaster — 7 earned runs in 1.2 IP — against Cincinnati. Maybe the Giants have figured out that every trip to Cincinnati is a nightmare or maybe we’ll discover that Pomeranz’s unraveling then points to something that might stick a little longer than one IL stint.
If you’re wondering why the Giants keep making so many moves like this on the margin and if it’s good for them or for baseball, here are my answers:
- They keep making these moves because they’re trying to find a diamond in the rough, a winning lottery ticket, or prove Farhan Zaidi’s shadow thesis that any experienced player from outside the Giants’ organization is better than any experienced player on the Giants’ major league roster. Altherr was already a fringe candidate for this and, so, perhaps the plan was to never figure he’d amount to much but just have him there in case of emergency.
- It’s probably a net negative for the Giants at this point and here’s the simple reason why: this is a very old team with a lot of entrenched traditions. Yes, the new President of Baseball Operations has the freedom to remake the culture of the team, but in Zaidi’s case, he’s got a lot of the same old faces and brains still filling up the organization. Maybe there’s some sort of hybrid ideology at play here, but we know the Giants are a slow, old team that abhors change in any measure. The players certainly reflect that. Farhan Zaidi views baseball players as widgets, chattel, fungible parts he can swap in or out in order to build a hot rod for the cost of a used minivan. This conflict coupled with the lack of results from both ideologies feels like it’s going to drag the team down. The good news is, the Giants have been so bad for so long that nobody will really notice the difference except for we weirdos who follow the team every day.
- It’s neither good nor bad for baseball, it’s simply the way the game is managed today. There are a lot of other practices and beliefs that make the game bad, but ultimately, high frequency roster turnover fits into the grand idea that a struggling team should be doing whatever it can to win.
And now we wait for the next move.