Looks like many of us owe Dennis O’Donnell an apology. When his rarely updated Twitter account announced that the Giants were dealing Tommy Joseph to the Phillies for Hunter Pence on Sunday night, there was a full scale freakout, followed by several jokes (guilty) and an unstated agreement to ignore this rumor until one of the mainstream MLB rumor distributors corroborated O’Donnell’s claim.
Fast forward to two days later…
The Giants finally got a right handed power boost.
The Giants don’t hit home runs at home at all. Even Buster Posey, their best hitter from the right side, only has 3 HR at AT&T Park (the Giants have 16 at home as a team). Pence, in his sixth season, has hit 130 homers in his career (5 at AT&T in 79 PA).
The Giants really like Hector Sanchez and Andrew Susac.
Joseph has 46 homers in his minor league career, but he was expendable since catcher is the Giants’ only position of strength throughout their system. Susac isn’t having an impressive season offensively (.219/.340/.338 in San Jose), but the Giants like his potential. You already know about Sanchez, who should hit double digits in career walks by 2015, barring injury.
Nate Schierholtz got what he asked for.
I missed Schierholtz’s interview with Henry Schulman when I was out of the country, so news yesterday that he supposedly asked for a trade took me by surprise yesterday. Gregor Blanco was apparently the final straw — not exactly because Blanco got a shot to lead off for a while, but because Blanco kept getting chances after he started to struggle (the kind of benefit of the doubt that Schierholtz felt like he never received in San Francisco).
Over time I’ve gotten over the Schierholtz bias that used to pervade this site, but I certainly wish him good luck. Nice guy, great arm, several memorable moments over the course of his career (including several late game base hits, a ridiculously huge HR at Coors, the diving catch in LA to save Brian Wilson’s ass, and many outfield assists). He was the second-longest tenured Giant (10 years in the organization) behind Matt Cain, and at 28 it’s time for Schierholtz to see if he can become a starting outfielder and increase his earning potential during his prime years (he’s arb-eligible in 2013, the earliest he can become a free agent is 2015).
Angel Pagan will never become the second-longest tenured Giant.
In fact, he’ll probably play elsewhere next season. Now he’s in a situation where he may lose his job as the starting centerfielder (he punched something yesterday and bruised his hand, he’s been struggling lately and will probably find himself in a battle with Blanco for playing time).
Melky Cabrera and Pagan are both free agents next season, and Cabrera has a fan club and a .350 average. Pagan’s self-inflicted injury last night was just his latest mental lapse — he’s taken strange routes to balls all season and completely ignored the wishes of his base coaches on countless occasions. Unless he gets hot from here through October, the Giants will probably go with an outfield of Pence, Cabrera, and whatever other cheap options they can cobble together … if they decide to fit Cabrera’s sure-to-be-lofty deal into the (sigh) budget.
The budget still matters.
The Giants are getting cash in the deal, no word on how much (Pence has about $3.5 million coming to him over the last couple months). With a relatively high number of valued catchers in the system, the Giants were fine giving Joseph to the Phillies in order to soften the financial blow (the third player included, San Jose reliever Seth Rosin, isn’t considered a high-level prospect). While I wouldn’t say this news precludes the Giants from signing Cabrera (Pence is slated to get around $13MM in arbitration for 2013), this trade doesn’t mean they’re going to try and outspend the Dodgers sometime soon (or ever again).
The Dodgers are the Yankees, which makes the Giants…
The Red Sox, at least in a sense. The Dodgers are the hyperactive spenders at this moment, while the Giants are the team with a respectable payroll who won’t go QUITE as far as Los Angeles will when it comes to creating headlines and acquiring name guys. The Dodgers have added Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino (as if Giants fans could hate him any more than they already did) and Brandon League, and they are still in on Ryan Dempster according to many.
(Update: Dempster was traded to the Texas Rangers, as the Dodgers decided that the trade deadline passed yesterday.)
However, a higher payroll hardly guarantees playoff entry or success. The Giants still have a better starting rotation than the Dodgers and moves to gain relievers could conceivably be made after the non-waiver deadline passes. The rivals are in a virtual tie at the moment, with the D-Backs close behind. The next two months are going to be fascinating, and anyone who pretends to have any idea what will happen deserves to have the 16 oz aluminum bottle of Bud Light knocked out of his hand.
A DVR-free existence? Yay.
I can’t control any of you guys, but I’ll live up to what I said. At some point in the next week or so, I’ll pick an episode of KPIX news (hopefully one including O’Donnell) and watch every single minute. No Tivo, no flipping channels, just watching the news and all the ads for Ensure and Life Alert bracelets. Like God intended. If time is money, I’m paying up with an hour. Stay tuned for updates on my upcoming television watching, I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seats.