Gazing Into The Crystal Ball

by DrLefty

I know we’re all super-excited about the Twins signing 39-year-old Nelson Cruz, and who else had trouble sleeping last night after hearing about Jonathan Lucroy’s deal with the Angels?

As for the Giants? They’re going to have the most kick-ass scoreboard in baseball, yes, they are, which will really come in handy for those (ugh) Oakland Raiders games next season.

I’ve been running on fumes for a while with these weekly blog posts because, well, nothing’s happening. But this week I spent significant time reviewing my old blog posts as I worked on the article I’m writing about how an academic became “DrLefty” and what these two writing personas can learn from each other. Not ready to share the piece yet–still needs work–but the review reminded me that in January last year, when I was similarly struggling to generate content, I did systematic reviews of different parts of the team and where I thought they were at the moment, the better to compare come March or April.

So at the risk of self-plagiarizing (and yes, that’s a thing), today we’ll talk about the Giants’ pitching staff as it is today and try to make a few guesses about where it could end up by the time Opening Day arrives (March 28, 2019, in case you want to mark your new calendar). It’s even harder to predict anything than it would usually be because of the new front office regime, but what the heck else do we have to talk about at the moment?

Well, we could talk about “what if” things were as they used to be:

 

The Rotation

Where it is right now: Madison Bumgarner, Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez, Chris Stratton, Jeff Samardzija

So many questions:

  1. Will the Giants trade Bumgarner this winter?
  2. Will they sign back Derek Holland?
  3. If they don’t sign Holland and Samardzija is not healthy enough to be the fifth starter, who will be?
  4. Will the Giants obtain any new starting pitchers via trade and free agency? Bear in mind that New Sheriff Zaidi likes to be about nine- or ten-deep in starting pitchers and is on record as saying the best-case scenario would be for D-Rod and Suarez to both start the year in AAA (I’m sure they were thrilled to hear that).

Crystal ball guesses:

  • They will not trade Bumgarner and he will be the Opening Day starter for the Giants.
  • They will not sign Derek Holland, as his price tag will be too high.
  • The fifth starter will be someone new, TBD. The current “depth” is Ty Blach, Shaun Anderson, and Tyler Beede.
  • They will definitely acquire some new pitchers, perhaps starting with the Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. It seems like they have to, particularly if they don’t bring Holland back. Even the fringe-y minor league depth pieces like Casey Kelly are gone.

 

The Bullpen

This is a little harder to peg, as there are so many permutations–will a mainstay from last year like Will Smith get traded? Will Zaidi figure out a way to unload Mark Melancon? There have been very few changes to the 40-man roster so far, but a lot of them have involved relief pitchers–who will stick when it all shakes out? In case you haven’t kept up, here’s a recap:

The “sure things” (until they’re not): Will Smith, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson, Mark Melancon, Reyes Moronta, Ty Blach, Pat Venditte

The leftovers: Ray Black, Derek Law, Josh Osich, Steven Okert

The newbies: Melvin Adon, Travis Bergen, Sam Coonrod, Logan Webb

The newbie wannabes (not on the 40-man): Kieran Lovegrove, Jamie Callahan

So many questions: 

  1. Who will get traded among the “sure things”?
  2. Who will get traded or DFA’d from the “leftovers”? Which will make the team out of spring training?
  3. Which “newbies” (if any) will stick on the major league roster?
  4. Will Mark Melancon open the season on the DL again?

Crystal ball guesses:

  • Smith will be traded. From the others, perhaps Dyson. I could even see Zaidi flipping Moronta if he could get something nice back for him.
  • Of the leftovers, Ray Black and Steven Okert have the best chance to make the team but will begin the season in AAA.
  • Travis Bergen is a Rule 5 pick and will be on the 25-man roster out of camp. Zaidi won’t want to waste that pick.
  • Adon and Webb are not ready for the majors yet. They will both begin the year in AA. Coonrod, Lovegrove, and Callahan will be in Sacramento.
  • The Opening Day bullpen will be Melancon, Watson, Dyson, Venditte, Bergen, Moronta, and Blach. If they go with a four-man rotation to start the year, Ray Black will be the extra righty.
Good times

 

All in All…

…This isn’t bad, especially if they keep Bumgarner. The rotation is decent and the bullpen has depth. It’s not an amazing pitching staff, but it won’t be a huge weak link, either. So after Dr Z gets New Guy Fifth Starter (or Holland back), he can focus on getting outfielders.

Next week, I’ll make stuff up from my crystal ball about the position players. That will require a lot more guesswork. Happy almost 2019, and Lefty out.