Brian Sabean knows trades for starting position players or pitchers simply don’t happen in June, but he couldn’t keep waiting around for the Giants to pull out of this tailspin. After their sixth straight loss — a 4-1 defeat in Arizona — and only one win in their previous 10 games, something had to be done.
There weren’t many options to change things in a noticeable way — other than bringing up Joe Panik to remedy a situation at second base, a position that’s been an offensive zero for weeks.
Except, the Giants didn’t want to have to do this. Not this soon, anyway. Panik has had a nice minor league career so far as a contact hitter with some patience who doesn’t strike out a ton (171 walks and 180 strikeouts in 1,834 plate appearances). He’s had a nice couple of months in Fresno (.321/.382/.447), but the Giants wanted more than a nice couple of months in Fresno.
Unless someone is a prospect on the level of Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum or Madison Bumgarner, the Giants haven’t had much immediate luck rushing youngsters to the big leagues. And when it’s time to bring up a kid they consider a future long-term starter, it’s not to sit on the bench.
Via Alex Pavlovic:
Manager Bruce Bochy said the plan is to have Panik in the lineup and give him consistent time, starting with the series finale. Today, the Giants just wanted him to get settled in, and Panik is still waiting for his equipment. He got cleats from Sergio Romo, a spare glove from Brandon Hicks.
Bochy said the reports from scouts and coaches were all good, and Panik is said to be wearing a hot glove in the field right now.
“This promotion was earned with both sides,” Bochy said. “We think at this point, we could use the help at second base. He’s one of our best players down there. When you get in a rut like this, sometimes you change it up.”
Make no mistake, the desire to “change it up” with a former first round pick who happened to be playing well at Triple-A is the main reason why the Giants brought him to Phoenix and designated Jake Dunning for assignment. But the Giants may have decided they couldn’t keep waiting for Marco Scutaro to save them yet again.
Thanks again to Mr. Pavlovic:
- The platelet-rich injection he received “made no difference,” according to Scutaro.
- “Scutaro has shown no improvement since spring training, when he got three injections in the back.”
If Scutaro’s best-case scenario is coming back as a pinch-hitter who could play second base for a few innings late in games after occasional double-switches, that’s not enough. Not with Brandon Hicks’ OPS sitting at about .500 since April ended. So Panik will get a few weeks to convince the Giants that they don’t need to trade for another team’s starter at second base. That’s something they’d really rather not do, especially since that would mean parting with prospects and spending even more money at a position where Scutaro is guaranteed another $6,666,666 in 2015.
I understand why the Giants made Panik a major leaguer. I have a difficult time comprehending why they keep doing this:
Pagan out a couple days, but still think they’ll avoid DL. Staff doesn’t want to lose him for that long when he might be ready in two days.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) June 22, 2014
Angel Pagan sat out Saturday night’s game, making that a full week he’s missed. So the Giants can either put him on the DL now (which they obviously won’t) and make sure his back gets another eight days of rest, or they’ll wait another couple days before placing him on the DL retroactive to June 15.
They did the same thing with Matt Cain recently, and that was easy to predict because that’s how the Giants usually handle nagging injuries to key players. I assume they’re so hesitant to use the disabled list until forced out of respect toward the veterans. DL stints are like chicken pox scars — they don’t really mean anything or look that awful, but they’re noticeable and never go away.
That doesn’t justify the Giants’ habit of rolling with 24 healthy players for a week at a time. At most, the Giants might get three or four more days out of a guy by not DL’ing him. How much extra production can those three or four days bring when the player in question is coming off an injury? Especially when the player in question is someone like Pagan, who missed this past week due to a back problem after dealing with knee soreness throughout most of the season.
Rest is not the enemy. They shouldn’t put guys on the DL every time they get a hangnail, because that would cause guys to hide injuries from the training staff. But the Giants should worry more about keeping the bench strong and their players stronger, and less about whatever kind of stigma might come with a recovery period that lasts a minimum of 15 days.