I don’t know what will fix the San Francisco Giants offense*, but it won’t be the addition of two former All-Stars who have regressed to the point of being roughly average to mildly above average offensive players. That won’t fix things, but it will make things better, because even average offensive production would be a gigantic shot in the arm for the team’s lineup.
*This is a lie. I know exactly what will fix the Giants offense. A large number of good offensive baseball players will fix the Giants offense.
So don’t expect Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt to turn the Giants into the New York Yankees, but do expect them to be two additions to the lineup that at least make your heart rate drop to a normal, healthy level as you watch them take decent, reasonable at-bats.
Longoria and Belt are due back in the next few days, likely on Thursday, when they’re eligible to come off the Injured List.
The #SFGiants say Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt are still progressing well and on track to be reinstated by the end of the week.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) July 28, 2020
Trevor Cahill is throwing a bullpen today and Yolmer Sánchez has started baseball activities again.
To make room for the two veterans, the Giants will have to get rid of two people from the 30-man roster. It’s an exercise that’s good practice for the organization, as they’ll have to do it again next week when rosters dwindle down to 28 players.
So who goes? With baseball now being full of fluidity and players who can field numerous positions, it’s not as simple as having a first baseman who replaced Belt and a third baseman who replaced Longoria. That would make this all so simple.
Instead it’s complex. Which is fun.
But it’s also simple in one regard, so let’s start there by asking,
Who does Brandon Belt replace?
Joe McCarthy. Next question.
Oh, I’m sorry, did you want me to say more? This is the part where you shake your head to respond “no” but I power right ahead anyway.
McCarthy made the Opening Day roster because Belt was injured. He was an extra left-handed bat, but his Minor League numbers didn’t suggest he was necessarily ready to be making his MLB debut.
But make it he did, and now he’s 0-10 with 5 strikeouts and no hard contact.
The Giants appeared to pull the plug on the McCarthy experiment during Tuesday’s loss to the San Diego Padres. He was making his third start of the year, having gotten the nod every time the Giants faced a righty. But after striking out in his first two at-bats of the game, Gabe Kapler pinch hit for McCarthy, opting for Donovan Solano (a right-handed batter) against a right-handed pitcher.
McCarthy was always destined to return to the alternate training site when Belt returned, but that certainly solidified it.
Who does Evan Longoria replace?
Ahh, now things get interesting.
While Belt isn’t replacing a mirror image of himself — McCarthy played in the outfield, and didn’t get a rep at first base — he is replacing something philosophically similar: a left-handed bat to help keep the lineup ready to platoon on any given night.
Will that be the case with Longoria? Probably not.
Let’s just do a process of elimination situation by looking at the right-handed infielders.
- Mauricio Dubón has been bad, but he’s started every game, started at three different positions, and is a prospect that they need to check out. He’s safe.
- Wilmer Flores has been one of the team’s best hitters, and he’s on a two-year deal. He’s safe.
- Pablo Sandoval has been bad, but he’s stronger from the left side and the Giants need that (and it’s early). He’s safe.
- Donovan Solano has been good, though he becomes a bit redundant on a healthy team. Also, he has an option remaining.
And now let’s look at the right-handed outfielders:
- Hunter Pence has been bad, but there is no chance they’re parting ways with him after six games. He’s safe.
- Austin Slater has been good, and the Giants desperately need to see if he can stick. He’s safe.
- Darin Ruf has been good, after a tremendous camp. He’s safe.
- Jaylin Davis has been mediocre, but the Giants are high on him and, like Slater, desperately need to find out if he can stick. They’re also not in a position to start getting rid of players who are above-average defensively.
That doesn’t leave much room if the Giants want to keep 14 position players. Solano would certainly be the most vulnerable option, but it seems more likely that they’ll take off one of the 16 pitchers instead.
So, who might be on the block there? And who might not?
- Dany Jimenez was awful on Opening day, but he had a strong spring, and he’s a Rule 5 selection, so the Giants would have to send him back to the Toronto Blue Jays if they took him off the active roster. Very hard to imagine them giving up on him so early.
- Caleb Baragar was the biggest surprise of the Opening Day roster, after he was a late Summer Camp addition and wasn’t even invited to Spring Training. He was also quite tremendous in his one appearance, when he put together two strong innings against the heart of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ order.
- Sam Coonrod has been shaky on and off the field, though his strikeout stuff is magnificent.
- Tyler Anderson was not good in his start, after being not good last year. Would the Giants give up on a reclamation project so soon?
- Conner Menez was very good on Tuesday, but it’s fair to wonder how much he brings to a 15-person bullpen.
In summation, I have no clue. My first thought was Baragar because he’s so unproven, but it would seem the Giants are rather optimistic about him or he wouldn’t be in this position to begin with.
So ... umm ... I got nothing. We’ll find out soon.