by DrLefty

The Mr and I are in Las Vegas this weekend. We’re going to the Sphere tonight to see U2. We’ve been talking about placing some kind of bet on the Giants while we’re here. Problem is, we know zero, and I mean nothing, about sportsbooks and sports betting. But last night on our way back from dinner, we walked right by the Yahoo Sportsbook in the Venetian, where we’re staying for its proximity to the Sphere. We wandered up to the dudes at the desk and asked to place a bet for how many games the San Francisco Giants will win this year. He told us that the over-under is 81.5 games. We’d bet the over, of course. It’s too depressing to think about rooting for them to lose all year just so we could win our bet.

Anyway, we haven’t placed the bet yet because…they take cash only. That’s a thing? We have a little bit of cash so that we can tip housekeeping and such, but we don’t usually carry much. I’m guessing if we wander around the Venetian enough–and in Vegas, that’s what you do, right?–wander and squander–we’ll find an ATM, probably with some horrible transaction fee. So we’ll keep you posted if we actually place our bet.

So in that vein, let’s talk about some way-too-early “bets” on what the 2024 Giants will look like and accomplish. Feel free to comment on mine or add some of your own.

 

Bets on the 2024 Giants

In no particular order, here are some “bets” I might place if I could custom design my own list at the sportsbook. (Maybe you can? Like I said, I know nothing.)

  1. The Giants will make at least one more major free agent addition. The Boras Four (five if you want to count J.D. Martinez) keep holding their stare-downs with interested teams, even though camps have opened now. Meanwhile, teams keep adding other players–lesser names, but ones that make you wonder if maybe they’re done now. For instance, I saw an item the other day that the Rangers are set, so too bad for Jordan Montgomery, who reportedly wanted to return there. In my opinion, the Giants should be all over that one. They still need a starting pitcher (more on that in a minute), and he’s the one who will not cost a draft pick and will not break the bank. And he could re-unite with fellow Jordan and fellow ex-Cardinal (Hicks). But if the Giants do get one of the Boras free agents, the smart money is still on Matt Chapman, except that…
  2. J.D. Davis will either be the Opening Day third baseman…or traded. I’m pretty sure that the sportsbook won’t let me do a “this or this” kind of bet, but I guess I’m saying that if the Giants sign Chapman, there’s no room for Davis. They already have Wilmer Flores for that extra DH/infield utility type, and Wilmer (a) had a better year than Davis did; (b) has a longer history as a good Giant (Willie Mac winner) and (c) is a good glue piece for a team with young Latin players. By the way, when Davis beat the Giants in their arbitration hearing* last week, it was the first arbitration hearing the Giants had lost since A.J. Pierzynski in 2004.
  3. David Villar will not make the team out of spring training. Did you even remember that Villar was in the mix? We talk about Chapman, about Davis, and about Casey Schmitt, but Villar went into the 2023 season as the presumed everyday third baseman…except for Opening Day, when Flores started there out of “respect.” Anyway, Susan Slusser had an article about Villar a day or two ago referring to him as “the forgotten man” and saying he’s in the best shape of his life, proposed to his girlfriend, life is good, etc. I wouldn’t say I’d entirely forgotten about Villar because I was going through the Giants’ 40-man roster to see who might get DFA’d if they add new players, and he made my short list for that. But I certainly wasn’t thinking of him as being seriously in the mix for 3B, and I still don’t.
  4. Jordan Hicks will surprise everyone and be a good starter for the Giants. I’ll admit I’m rolling the dice on this one strictly because Patrick Bailey gave Hicks rave reviews on his first bullpen yesterday. Hicks’s history has made me dubious ever since they signed him that this starter thing was going to work out. But Hicks seems very excited and motivated for the opportunity, and that counts for something, right? And if he does turn out to be a high-ceiling starter and not just a high-octane reliever, then this would be the best free-agent signing in Zaidi’s Giants tenure because they have Hicks locked in for four years at a reasonable price tag. Let’s dream a bit!
  5. Luis Matos and Heliot Ramos will start the season in AAA. It seems like Ramos has been around forever. But poor ol’ Heliot still has a minor league option, believe it or not. Unless someone gets traded, the Giants are rolling with Jung Hoo Lee, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater, Michael Conforto, and, it appears, Jorge Soler.  Now, you might be protesting that Soler is not an outfielder, and you’d be right, but we heard manager Bob Melvin on KNBR the other day, and he was asked specifically about Soler playing the outfield, and he was all “well, ya know, sometimes you need to rotate other players into that DH spot to give them a partial day off, so…” Anyway, I don’t see any room on the roster right now for either young guy or Wade Meckler to make the team out of spring training. Of course, injuries or trades could change all this, but that’s a caveat to every point you’d make on February 17.
  6. Joey Bart will get traded before the season starts. This seems kind of obvious given the addition of backup catcher Tom Murphy and Bart being out of options (even though Bart was drafted a year later than Ramos was, he made his MLB debut in 2020 after Buster Posey opted out). But one could argue for keeping him through camp in case of an injury to Bailey or Murphy. However, the Giants also have Blake Sabol and Cooper Hummel listed on the roster as catchers, and neither of them is out of options. The Giants may have waited too long to trade Bart, though, because other teams have to know that the Giants will need to DFA Bart if he doesn’t make the team. Why wouldn’t they just wait until Bart is on waivers?
  7. Marco Luciano will be the Opening Day shortstop, but he’ll be back in the minors by May. Will the sportsbook make me place two separate bets on this one? He just didn’t look quite ready last year, and he hasn’t spent that much time in AAA (18 games, 67 ABs). I see them filling in with Schmitt or Tyler Fitzgerald, even though I assume they’re still shopping for a veteran SS.
  8. Ryan Walker will have a better season than either Rogers brother. Melvin won’t screw around with Walker being an “opener,” and he’ll settle into a nice, solid bullpen role. His ERA+ and WAR will be better than that of Taylor or Tyler.  Walker and Keaton Winn are going to salvage the Giants’ 2018 draft class after Bart is traded and Sean Hjelle is DFA’d. (Hjelle has an option, so they won’t DFA him until they need a 40-man spot. But they have too many good young pitchers in the pipeline, and some of them will need 40-man spots this year. Hjelle’s days are numbered.)
  9. Kyle Harrison will be a finalist for the NL Rookie of the Year. Harrison’s going to show he’s the real deal and have a great year. He’ll have new pitching coaches, a manager who won’t screw with him, and all the mentoring he wants from Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, and Robbie Ray, maybe even Hicks. It’s going to be a good support system for the Giants’ top prospect.
  10. If we bet on the over for Giants’ wins before we leave Vegas tomorrow, we will win some money. The Giants will win more than 81 games this year.

 

*It was incredibly stupid that they had a hearing at all in Davis’s case. The differences in team vs. player numbers were small. Davis admitted that he probably would have settled and maybe just taken the Giants’ number. But as Andrew Baggarly put it, “If not for the Giants’ relatively recent adoption of a rigid ‘file and trial’ policy, in which all negotiations cease once an arbitration process reaches the filing stage, then the five-hour hearing wouldn’t have been necessary at all.”

 

So that’s what I’ve got for you–some obvious bets and some obscure ones. That’s how you play this, right? What do you think about my “bets,” and what are yours for the 2024 Giants? Lefty out.

Oh, P.S. I’m excited to see the Sphere, but I still don’t like Vegas. It’s huge, crowded, smoky, and EXPENSIVE. We walked miles yesterday without ever leaving the Venetian. And when we went for a nightcap in the lobby bar, they made us PAY for water. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that in a U.S. bar.

OK, NOW Lefty is really out.