San Francisco Giants

Giants make surprising move, designate Casey McGehee for assignment

With Casey McGehee not hitting or fielding well for several weeks, it appeared likely that a difficult decision would come at some point. I’m just surprised it happened before June 1, the arbitrary point of the season when it’s no longer considered “early.”

Here’s what it means:

1. The Giants have 10 days to trade McGehee after he clears waivers.

But the Giants are on the hook for almost $3.5 million, so that will not occur. Bobby Evans said they’d like it if McGehee were to join their Triple-A team, and it’s hard to predict what he’ll decide. Sacramento isn’t all that far away, but it’s minor league ball, and he’s getting paid regardless of whether he plays or not. He may want to wait it out and see if another team signs him after he becomes a free agent, but he could accept the assignment and try to get his game back in the Pacific Coast League.

2. McGehee’s knee injury was probably never going to heal this season.

Via Alex Pavlovic:

“Coming off spring training, I think that set him back,” Evans said. “He was Comeback Player of the Year last year for a reason. The injury had some effect.”

McGehee, who was noticeably hobbled for a stretch of April games, wouldn’t use it as an excuse.

“Who knows? I had the best year of my career with a bad knee,” he said. “If I’m going out there, I expect to perform. Everybody has got something bothering them. I guess that’s nice for them to try to make an excuse, but I don’t need excuses. If I get out there, I expect myself to perform.”

If McGehee meant 2010 when he referred to the best year of his career (23 homers, highest WAR figures of his career), then OK. But if he meant 2014 (fourth in the NL in hits), then the Giants probably should’ve done some more homework before making that offseason trade. Or not, since they can afford to pay McGehee and still make a deal to acquire another veteran third baseman if the need arises.

3. The bullpen is in a little bit of trouble.

McGehee was replaced by Duffy in the starting lineup, but he was replaced by Hunter Strickland on the roster. The Giants have played 44 games and five of their relievers have appeared in 21 games (so they’re on pace for 77 appearances). Another, Jeremy Affeldt, has appeared in 20 games, and he’s been awful in May. With these games in Colorado, and the doubleheader yesterday, and Sergio Romo and Jean Machi also struggling a bit in recent weeks, the bullpen is looking shaky enough to make a 13-man staff a necessity instead of a luxury.

4. Matt Duffy is quite the story.

The guy skipped Triple-A, and most people (myself included) thought he’d start the year in Sacramento since he had options, but instead he beat out Ehire Adrianza. Adrianza was not picked up off waivers, and he’s hitting .350/.429/.475 for the River Cats in a pretty hitter-friendly league. Duffy, 24, kept coming through again and again in memorable situations, to the point where he forced his way ahead of a 32-year-old established veteran.

Duffy is also hitting .299/.330/.402, which no one saw coming. However, according to a reliable source, Duffy is the hardest-working guy on the team. He’s an easy guy to root for, that’s for sure.

5. The Giants are committed to athleticism.

They’re probably going to have to DFA Travis Ishikawa as well, because Joaquin Arias is the only infielder backing up shortstop and second base with Duffy now a starter at third.  The Giants aren’t going to part with Justin Maxwell to add Ishikawa to the active roster, and Maxwell is one of five very athletic Giants outfielders. The Giants’ starting infield is comprised of four guys under 30 (five if you count Buster Posey), and all of them are complete players. Whether or not is was due to his knee or his natural athletic gifts (ahem), the Giants couldn’t bear to watch McGehee ground into another double play. He even got thrown out at home yesterday in his last game before getting DFA’d. In the post-steroid era, teams have to run and move runners, and Duffy accomplished both tasks much better than McGehee in 2015.

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