The Lukewarm Stove

by Dr Lefty

So we’ve had a little bit more activity this week. Sort of. We’ve definitely had writers talking about why there isn’t more activity. The best piece I read was by Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. It was linked here a few days ago, but here it is again in case you missed it.  It goes deeper into the reasons for the lackluster offseason pace than just “Well…Stanton. And Ohtani.” Passan argues that the business of baseball–how front offices value players, what players are willing to do–has quietly changed…but that the upshot could be some serious labor problems not too far in the future. Very interesting analysis and worth a read, I thought.

 

The one we care about

We all know that the Giants and Cardinals have made formal offers to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton and that representatives from both teams met with Stanton’s agents in Los Angeles over the past couple of days.  As our PJ discussed under the previous post, this likely means there’s a negotiation window that will close soon. So we could know within a day or two whether the Stanton thing is happening for the Giants, for the Cardinals, or not at all right now.

It’s an interesting negotiation because of all the moving parts. The Marlins want to trade Stanton, but it’s not just a salary dump. OK, it primarily is, but they want something worthwhile in return. So what if the Giants offer more, salary-dump-wise, but the Cardinals offer more, something-worthwhile-wise? Which consideration is higher on their priority list?  And, of course, it’s not all about what the Marlins want–it’s even more what Stanton, he of the full-no-trade-clause wants:  St. Louis and their more encouraging immediate upside and lower state taxes? Or California, closer to home, friends, and family, better weather, more progressive/less racist than the St. Louis area?  Or does he want none of the above? Or contract revisions?

We’ve also heard that the rumors about which Giants would go to Miami in a trade are largely untrue. Grant Brisbee breaks this down pretty well in a recent piece. He points out that Panik is not necessarily a good fit for a team that’s trying to offload expensive players and acquire younger, cheaper ones. Panik’s kind of in-between because he’s now arbitration-eligible. He’s also pretty brutally honest about the limitations of Chris Shaw and how he’s a bad fit for the Giants’ current needs and thus should be traded now.

 

What if we come in second?

Let’s admit it. This is what we’re expecting because the Giants pretty much always do. “We did not receive a rose,” said Bobby Evans, regarding their pursuit of Jon Lester in 2014. Jose Abreu. Zack Greinke. The list goes on. Even when we think we finally came in first, something goes wrong: The Giants trade him (Lucius Fox) or the Cubs steal him (Eddy Julio Martinez). [Damn Cubs. Lester. Eddy. Zobrist. Sick of it.]

When the Giants didn’t get Greinke two years ago, an interesting thing happened. Not even 18 hours later, they’d inked Jeff Samardzija to a five-year deal. A few days later, they signed Johnny Cueto to a six-year deal that was really supposed to be a two-year deal, but well, you know.  But the key thing is that they had Plan B ready to go after they didn’t win the Greinke sweepstakes. I suspect the same is true now, and if the Stanton thing is either resolved in the Cardinals’ favor or put on indefinite hold because Stanton vetoed both destinations, the Giants will move quickly on other options (see photo on top of post). I predict that a week from now, we’ll have more to talk about.

Speaking of coming in second, ouch on Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens, with his exemplary resume, losing out to Aaron Boone, who’s a nice TV analyst who hit an important home run once. Boone might be a great manager, who knows, but there’s no question who had the qualifications in what became a two-horse race. And once again, MLB punts on an opportunity to make its managerial ranks more diverse (and Dusty Baker’s out of the picture again, too).

 

Arbitration tenders

Yesterday was the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to players who are eligible for it or to non-tender them, which would make them free agents. The Giants had five arb-eligible players: Panik, Smith, Dyson, Gearrin, and Strickland. The only one I wondered about was Gearrin–he’s too inconsistent to be a reliable reliever, in my opinion, and I thought letting him go and giving the work to younger, cheaper guys like Crick, Law, and Moronta made some sense–but they tendered all five. A 40-man casualty was Albert Suarez, who was not arb-eligible, but whom they cut anyway, to make roster space. The Giants have some depth in fifth-starter/swingman types (besides Suarez, there’s Blach, Stratton, and in AAA, Gregorio, Beede, and Andrew Suarez), so Albert was expendable.

 

Reality check

David Schoenfield of ESPN’s Sweet Spot published a think piece about how to fix the Giants and even if it’s possible in just one year. Hat-tip to fellow Trojan GSDubs for linking it on the other side. Two parts of it I thought were interesting:  (1) He said that Fangraphs projects the current roster for 78 wins next year, based mainly on a big bounce-back from the starting rotation. Now, 78 wins ain’t all that, but it’s a helluva lot better than 64. (Ugh. I still can’t believe it was that bad. What a nightmare.) He mapped out how, with the addition of Stanton, the Giants could get into playoff contention. His plan mainly involved the Giants blowing past the luxury tax line by obtaining Stanton and signing Lorenzo Cain and Todd Frazier. Anyway, it’s worth a read.

I think that, if the Giants are not going to tear it all down and spend several years rebuilding, and they say they’re not, the only other alternative is to spend and then spend some more, somewhat like when the Dodgers got new owners and immediately started buying everyone in sight so that they could put an appealing product on the field while also building up the farm system. Worked pretty well for the Dodgers. The Giants have deep pockets, too. I still don’t want them to pursue free agents who would cost them draft picks. They worked hard in 2017 to get that vaunted draft position, and they shouldn’t waste it!

 

Heliot Ramos and Hurricane Maria

I knew Ramos was from Puerto Rico, and I’m feeling ashamed that I didn’t wonder more about how he and his family were doing there. I thought about Angel Pagan’s family and my own relatives in Utuado (who are doing OK now), but I kind of forgot about Heliot. Henry Schulman’s story describes how Heliot and his family made it through the storm and how they’re doing now. Sure, Heliot’s also working out to get ready for the season (he’s in Florida now) and wondering if he’ll be traded, but those are far from the top of the list of his concerns. That’s an awful lot for an 18-year-old to have to think about.

 

OK, back to college football binging and checking Twitter to see if there’s any news about Stanton. It will be interesting to see where we are a week from now. Lefty out.