Bruce Bochy

Casey at the bench: It’s time to move McGehee to the DL

This is a bit overdue, unfortunately. I wanted to post something on what we’re seeing from Casey McGehee last night, but I only had time for this:

By the time I got home from Comcast SportsNet HQ it was 11 pm and the dog still needed to be taken out to the backyard, so you’re getting this post on Saturday morning. Such is life.

The headline is 100% serious. I’m well aware of the Giants’ preferences when it comes to dealing with injured players, particularly veterans. If there’s any chance a guy can “work through something” (to steal one of Jim Harbaugh’s favorite phrases), the Giants are going to give that player some time to rehab, get treatment, and steel himself for a week/month/season of playing through moderate pain.

The season is still young, but McGehee hasn’t given the Giants much of anything. He hit a line drive home run that surprised everyone — including McGehee, by all appearances — in the season’s third game. The Giants won 1-0 in extra innings a day later in San Diego, despite McGehee grounding into a double play and making a throwing error. The Giants lost 1-0 a day later in a game that included another GIDP for McGehee. McGehee crumbled to the ground in his first at-bat the next day, a 10-2 loss. He missed the next four games, and walked in a pinch-hitting appearance in his first game back.

Since “recovering” from his injury, McGehee has started six of the Giants’ last seven games. The numbers aren’t pretty. Two singles in 22 at-bats, one walk, four strikeouts, and GIDPs in his last four games. McGehee killed rallies with two ground balls that led to double plays last night. There are two things at play here. First, he’s hitting ground balls an earthworm-shredding 64.7% of the time, far above his career mark of 48.2%. Second, as we saw on another OK-let’s-just-give-him-the-Gold-Glove-now play from Nolan Arenado last night, McGehee is running like Bengie Molina.

McGehee faced reporters last night, but by all accounts he could barely get his words out due to being so upset with himself. It’s been obvious all year that he’s been pressing, both defensively and at the plate where he tends to swing at just about everything with men on base. His fielding has been competent throughout his career, and the frightening lack of speed from home to first shows that he hasn’t gotten over that bone bruise in his knee. He was never that fast before, but on a team that needs to run a little bit to get over their power shortage, McGehee sticks out.

At this point the Giants should think about not just starting Matt Duffy at third base on a regular basis in the short-term, but consider getting McGehee significant rest with the disabled list option available to them. What they’re doing now isn’t working for anyone — McGehee is on pace to ground into 81 double plays if he plays in 137 of the team’s next 144 games. That’s not going to happen (neither the double plays or the 137 games part), but the Giants’ respect for vets — and they’ve had a decent amount of success keeping guys happy with this philosophy — isn’t warranted in this case.

  • McGehee has grounded into seven double plays in the last eight games in which he’s played at least eight innings.
  • He probably isn’t anywhere close to 100% with the knee.
  • He’s putting a massive amount of pressure on himself because he’s struggling on a new team (near where he grew up) in a contract year.
  • There are two capable replacements behind him in Duffy and Joaquin Arias.

Part of McGehee’s allure is his durability. He played 160 games last year, which is borderline ridiculous for a third baseman. He missed a combined 12 games in 2010-11. The Giants traded for a guy they figured they could plug in for 150-155 games who’d field dependably and hopefully drive in some runs as a gap-to-gap hitter. They knew the double plays were a possibility, as he hit into a league-leading 31 of them last year with the Marlins. But on a team without much power that needs to force the action offensively, the Giants can’t afford to keep trotting McGehee out there if he’s this slow and keeps hitting tailor-made grounders. He’s going to come out of this slump at some point, but it doesn’t look like playing him five or six days a week is helping right now.

That’s why a DL stint would be best for all involved. Will the Giants go this route? Probably not, since they’re not going to change their unwritten rules for working through injuries for McGehee, just because the guy hasn’t been around all that long. Bruce Bochy hasn’t gotten his reputation as a straight-shooter who vets love by shelving a slumping guy for longer than the player thinks is necessary. So we’ll probably see Bochy give McGehee the rest of the weekend off and start on Monday night in L.A.

Extra BASGs

— Chris Heston isn’t as effective at Coors Field as he is at sea level. In other news, Roberto Kelly is still honing is craft in the third base coaches’ box. The last week or so has really driven one positive home, however: the bullpen is legit.

— Justin Maxwell is making things interesting, isn’t he? He hit a 447-foot home run last night that never got more than 30 feet high or so, and while his routes aren’t always the best in right field, he’s capable of making some nice-looking catches. Maxwell’s productive ways might keep Hunter Pence from returning too soon, but what happens when Pence does? Nori Aoki and Angel Pagan have been the two best hitters on the team since the season started.

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