New Giants pitching prospect Carson Ragsdale, acquired yesterday from the Phillies for reliever Sam Coonrod. He’s tall.
I have to be honest with y’all. This spring will mark four years of doing weekend posts for TWG, and it has never been harder for me to muster up the energy and concentration for a post than it is today. That is nothing to do with any of you or the Giants but rather the deeply troubling national events of the past week. It was hard enough to process in real time. The reports coming out after the fact are horrifying. I suspect we’ll be looking back at January 6, 2021 as we do September 11, 2001, and for those of us old enough, November 22, 1963 and even December 7, 1941. We’ll remember where we were, what we were doing, and how we heard the news. (I was in my office on campus trying to get some work done but kept being interrupted by texts and notifications on my phone. Finally I gave up and went home to watch coverage on CNN.)
OK. With all that said, let’s move on to the Giants news of the week. There was a little bit of it.
Cross “backup catcher” off the shopping list
As Greek Giant posted the other day, the Giants signed former Reds catcher Curt Casali as a free agent, and he will apparently serve as primary backup to Buster Posey in 2021. Chadwick Tromp is also on the Giants’ 40-man roster, having earlier signed a new major league deal, but he has minor league options available and will likely share catching duties with Joey Bart for the Sacramento River Cats.
I don’t think I’d ever actually heard of Curt Casali, but it turns out that one of his best friends in the world is former Vanderbilt teammate Mike Yastrzemski. Casali and Yaz were in each other’s wedding parties, they shared rental housing in the Scottsdale area last spring, and they were part of a training bubble in Nashville during the MLB shutdown. The Giants are slowly turning into Vanderbilt West (Yaz, Casali, Sam Selman, and Tyler Beede), not to mention Reds West (Casali, Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, Matt Wisler, and hitting coach Donnie Ecker). Casali also played with Evan Longoria when they were both on the Rays, and he somehow knows Steven Duggar, too. As he explains in this MLB.com article by Maria Guardado, knowing so many people made it easy for him to decide to sign with the Giants.
The other interesting thing about Casali is that he caught more than half of Trevor Bauer’s starts in 2020, a campaign that resulted in the NL Cy Young Award for Bauer. Casali described Bauer as a friend and offered to try to help recruit Bauer to the Giants. That’s nice, but I’m sticking with my LA/NY prediction for Bauer, and Angels/Mets, to be more precise–especially now that the Mets have traded for Bauer’s former Cleveland teammates Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco.
Goodbye to Sam Coonrod
The Giants are not exactly loaded with proven relievers from the right side, so it was a bit of a surprise to hear yesterday that they had traded Coonrod to the Phillies for a just-drafted pitching prospect (Carson Ragsdale out of University of South Florida). Coonrod had a rough year for the Giants, and that’s putting it politely (9.82 ERA, 16 earned runs allowed in 14.2 innings), and his last act as a Giant was to serve up a three-run homer that, strangely enough, caused the Giants to be walked off in their home ballpark. That will leave an impression.
Sam Coonrod’s legacy in SF. Good riddance. pic.twitter.com/xjA85FjBtF
— Adam 🐼 (@AdamBayBoyy) January 9, 2021
When news of the trade emerged, the immediate reaction from Giants Twitter was that it was related to Coonrod’s actions on Opening Day. It was such a widely held assumption that Coonrod’s departure was related to his stand (see what I did there?), that Farhan Zaidi had to address it in a call with reporters yesterday. From Andrew Baggarly’s article in The Athletic:
“None at all,” Giants president Farhan Zaidi said on a teleconference with reporters on Saturday. “It was a trade we made for baseball reasons. … I understand the question, but there are very clear and obvious baseball reasons to make this move.”
The beat writers go on to explain that the Giants “have a glut of right-handed relief” due to the free-agent acquisitions of Matt Wisler and John Brebbia, the Rule 5 Draft selection of Dedniel Nuñez, the return of Reyes Moronta, and the 40-man-roster additions of three right-handed pitching prospects (Kervin Castro, Camilo Doval, and Gregory Santos). They also brought back Trevor Gott on a new contract that avoided arbitration. So, no, of course the trade of Coonrod had nothing whatsoever to do with his politics and his unpleasant and uncollegial way of expressing them.
Dr Lefty is calling bulls**t.
Just listing a bunch of guys doesn’t mean there’s actually depth or quality. Out of all those names, the only one who’s pretty certain to help the 2021 bullpen is Wisler. Brebbia is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and won’t be available until midseason. Moronta was terrific for the Giants in 2018-19 but is trying to come back from a very serious shoulder injury. As for Nuñez, when was the last time a Rule 5 pick turned out to be anyone useful for the Giants? Of the three prospects added to the 40-man roster, only Doval is close enough to the majors to be a factor in 2021. And who’s the only Giants reliever to be the source of more screaming fan nightmares in 2020 than Coonrod was? Well, that would be Trevor Gott (three blown saves in four horrible days against the A’s and Angels).
The Giants’ bullpen is decidedly not loaded from the right side. Now, in my opinion, trading Coonrod is addition by subtraction, and I’m hopeful that the additions of Wisler and the return of Moronta will help. But I think the Giants could still use at least one more experienced right-handed reliever, and I’m not going to be surprised if they sign one between now and the end of spring training.
So no, I’m not buying that the Giants traded Coonrod, a guy who can hit 100 MPH with his fastball and still has years of team control, because there was “no room” for him in their bullpen. Nope. Others in Giants Nation were not buying it, either.
I wonder what souvenirs Coonrod got from Pelosi's office.
— Alex Reid (@botany500) January 9, 2021
Whatever. I don’t like Coonrod’s views and I really hate that he blames them on Jesus (whom I do like), but I’m primarily glad he’s gone because…well, let’s let Steve Berman, the Bay Area Sports Guy, have a word.
Don't let Coonrod's views distract from the fact that he was a really bad relief pitcher for the Giants in 2020. https://t.co/gF7uRW3ct4
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) January 9, 2021
Finally: Gabe Kapler and Mike Yastrzemski were routinely taking a knee during the National Anthem in 2020. Yaz won the Willie Mac Award, was a top-10 NL MVP finisher, and was named to the All-MLB team. Practically speaking, who are you going to support–your manager and your inspirational leader or your “really bad relief pitcher”?
No Sugano & we still need rotation help, Farhan
In other Giants non-news, Japanese pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano decided to return to his Japanese team, the Yomiuri Giants, rather than sign with an MLB team. Our Giants, Blue Jays, Mets, and Red Sox had been rumored to be in the mix for him, but Yomiuri offered him a four-year, $40 million contract (with several opt-outs), and it sounds like that was too rich for the MLB teams’ blood right now. Too bad. Sugano sounds like he could be pretty good, and the (SF) Giants certainly could use a rotation leader for the next several years.
Grant Brisbee published a piece in The Athletic yesterday ranking the 41 starting pitchers who are still free agents. It was kind of amazing how many of them had already pitched for the Giants (#41 was Jeff Samardzija, Tyler Anderson was on the list, and so are Mike Leake, Matt Moore, and…oh, I just can’t go on.) Brisbee’s #1 choice for the Giants to sign is lefty Jose Quintana. He only had Bauer at #6.
The rumor that the Giants had signed Bartolo Colon was quickly proven to be false. (MrLefty started the rumor.) You laugh, but Bartolo, who allegedly is only 47 years old, is currently employed by a team in the Mexican League. They signed him in early 2020, but he hasn’t pitched for them yet because the season was canceled due to COVID.
Where we’re headed
I just noticed that Brisbee published an article on Wednesday (there was other stuff going on that day, and I wasn’t reading about sports) about the Giants’ likely 26-man roster. It’s a good deep-dive, but in case you don’t subscribe, I’ll give you the Cliff Notes (for you old-timers) or the TL:DR (for you cool kids). The Giants still need a left-handed bat and another starting pitcher. Just to throw names out there, he suggests Brock Holt and Alex Wood.
Brisbee has been pretty good at mind-melding with the Zaidi regime in regards to free agents they might sign (last year he identified Tyler Heineman and Tromp as possible targets; this year he’d pegged DeSclafani), so who knows? Maybe in a week or two I’ll be doing a piece about how Alex Wood plays video games with Austin Slater or something (Casali plays Call of Duty with Duggar, and how random is that? A platoon catcher for the Reds and a fringe outfielder for the Giants are gaming buddies? The world is strange, and I may be getting too old for it.)
Hang in there, folks. COVID continues to ravage the country, there may be another impeachment vote this week, and…is it too early to start day-drinking? Take care and God bless America. Lefty out.