With Spring Training happening now, prospect lists are coming out, from Baseball America and MLB most notably, fans start to compare farm systems and search within themselves how much that farm system matters to how they feel about their team. If you’re the Cardinals, you take pride in knowing the club you have at the major league level is of very good quality, and your farm provides plenty of promise. If you’re the Padres, you hold out hope for the future, because your farm has been good for some time while fans in San Diego have been left with a 2010 rush but not much else recently. If you’re a fan of the Giants, you’ve been given proof in postseasons and parades that the team at the major league level is worthy of being taken seriously, while the system may not be as top-heavy as it has been in the past, so you wonder how long the current MLB club can hold on until you will need reinforcements from the farm, not just on journeymen AAAA players.
While many of the Top 10 prospects of national lists have an estimated time of arrival in 2013, the MLB should expect to see plenty of new, highly-touted arms and bats before the end of the season, we’re not sure who from the Top 10 lists (or really any list) of San Francisco Giants minor leaguers that haven’t had their shot will crack the 2013 rosters AND be a useful piece.
Sure, Francisco Peguero could be useful here and there if one of the corner outfielders find the disabled list, but I haven’t seen a recent report that suggests he has the profile for an everyday spot. Gary Brown, the former number one prospect of the Giants could be that guy, especially with his strong second half he put up in Double-A Richmond. Roger Kieschnick‘s name got whispered last year by some fans, and he’s on the 40-man.
Conor Gillaspie has 48 PA across three different seasons, and you just hope he’ll be a good backup when the time comes, and you hope the same for the featured Fanfest kid Nick Noonan. All we’ve heard about Kensuke Tanaka is from Marty and his “Japanese feet.” Brock Bond has a cool name. That’s pretty much it when it comes to Giants prospects and who makes their living on the dirt.
The big names are all years away, although Chris Heston could be of use if one of the five go down. If he’s no good, then the Giants will probably draw from the AAA well, none of the others being prospects, mmmmaybe before checking in on Michael Kickham. Eric Surkamp is the wild card in all this, who says he’ll start resuming activities in July. Keep all this in mind as you consider whose contracts and service time with the Champs could be coming to a close after 2013.
If there’s anything we’ve seen with Sabean in the last few years, it’s that he’s got this, and this year he may not have to even trade any fringe major leaguers to shore up the ‘pen. Prospect Heath Hembree, still thought by Jonathan Mayo to be a potential closer, could start the year in Fresno and then force the issue after the first month of the season if someone in the bullpen goes down or gets consistently lit up. Perhaps Bochy sees that the front office calls up son Bret Bochy. Jason Martinez of MLBDepthCharts (who also wrote a “window of opportunity” article for ESPN that you should read) also has minor leaguers Jake Dunning and Fabio Castillo as other names to watch that haven’t had a taste of the Major League coffee yet.
Whose Swan Song Might 2013 Be
The Giants have about $70MM of their nearly $140MM budget committed to their rotation this year, but this could be the last year San Francisco pays to have two guys in Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito on their roster. Unless Ryan Vogelsong magically disappears this year, his $6.5MM option will be picked up, and the Giants will still be left wondering who to fill in to the 4th and 5th spots of the rotation with Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner still leading a formidable 1-2 punch out of the gates. Do they commit the money that comes off the books to pitching? Posey? (<–the right answer. your argument is invalid.) Other offense?
The Giants got Hunter Pence for his bat, but his price tag is also very high, but one wonders how much it goes down if he continues what he did as a Giant in the regular season in 2013. If it doesn’t, though, do the Giants put out? Andres Torres, Javier Lopez, and Jose Mijares might also be tipping their caps to SF when the last game ends.
The Future is, and has been, now
Since the Giants have had a stable of young arms (plus Zito), people wondered what would happen if a team drew San Francisco in a best-of-series. 2010 was pretty much what some thought could happen, even if it did with a group of misfits. 2012 was a different set of happenings because the Giants went from three guys they could rely on with Jonathan Sanchez either walking everyone or finding his release point in ’10 to now in three guys and omg what about Lincecum and Zito? Still though, if you have a good to great rotation, and a strong top three for the playoffs, life might not be so bad for you (part of the reason why teams like the Nationals and Tigers should scare you). After this year, the questions arise: Who will be that #4? #5? Who will pick up the offense for an aging Marco Scutaro? (I’m pretty certain he isn’t going to be hitting what he did from acquisition & playoffs throughout his contract time.) Can Gary Brown be an answer?
This doesn’t mean that this is the very last year the Giants will compete in forever, but I believe if Lincecum is let go (which could be the right move in the long-term), and another offensive piece is not found/brought on, 2014 will be a difficult year with some of the top prospects starting to knock on the door for 2015. Therefore, if any big injuries happen to the rotation, or to the offense in 2013, Giants fans could find themselves grumbling for a couple of years before they can realistically start dreaming of parades again. Hopefully, health will be on their side, and everyone’s side, for that matter.
The future of the game and the future of the teams baseball fans have loved for years rest in the bats, gloves, and arms of a lot of these kids that are occupying the Minors and some even have knocked down the door into the national spotlight. People love rankings, so when it comes to ranking the future, it’s easy to see how people can get excited, as well as downright stupid, when these rankings come out. MLB.com released their rankings last night for the Top 100 prospects in baseball, and Baseball America came out with their rankings for the San Francisco Giants farm system this morning, so it’s given us some time to consider what the Giants farm has to offer. Since both these sites are free to access, I’ll post the pictures that give Giants fans what they’re looking for right here:
If you can’t read it because the font’s too darn small, that’s Kyle Crick at 86th, and Gary Brown at number 100. Not a huge surprise to a lot of people, given the hype of Crick we’ve been hearing throughout the year, and even validated by Fangraphs and SBNation rankings from December, and November, respectively. Gary Brown did not have a stellar first half to the year in Double-A Richmond and reports on him soured during that time.
This is Baseball America’s ranking, and here’s a another spot where Crick comes before Brown, but this one has Joe Panik and Chris Stratton before Brown! The Giants farm system is fascinating to me because it seems to be that Crick is the consensus #1 and then from there it’s a lot of cross-checking on strengths and weaknesses on the different guys within the system, which can understandably jumble up the list. Another cool point about this list:
In that list, Crick (#1), Stratton (#3), Blackburn (#6), and Mejia (#10) all are possible starters for High-A San Jose in 2013.
— Stuart Jones (@HeHitsItDeeeeep) January 30, 2013
Top picks for the Giants of 2009 (Brown), 2011 (Panik), and 2012 (Stratton) are all within the Top 5, so while none of them may be gracing the Top 10 of any league-wide national rankings, they are all projected for the moment to be of some use to the parent club, which is a credit to the scouts and decision makers within the organization. However, things don’t always go the way we expect them to, much like the front office may have when they decided to keep Brown and trade Zack Wheeler for old friend Carlos Beltran.
It’s a good idea not to get too overly invested in prospect rankings to the point where you are getting angry over something like Panik being #3 instead of #2 unless you are a prospect evaluator that has plenty of sources to double-check reports. Now, if you do want to become invested in this, take the reports in, ask questions to people in the industry, go to San Jose to catch some games, talk to some scouts to get some info, make some phone calls, and you’ll be on your way to making your own ranking, which is exactly why I don’t make my own rankings on prospects.
As for what’s next in prospect rankings, I’ll be waiting on Baseball Prospectus, as well as MLB.com to release their rankings of the Giants system like Baseball America did today so I have a better idea of some of the kids I might get to see over the course of Spring Training.
You know the news, you’ve had nearly a good half-day to digest the news of the Giants OF now being vacant of a certain hit-generator, laser arm, and wry-smile guy Melky Cabrera. Yes, he’ll be gone for fifty games which includes the rest of the season and would also include the first five games of the postseason if the Giants even get that far. We know that, so now what?
If the Giants get to the NLCS, does he play?
Theoretically, if the Giants play a one-game playoff, he’d be eligible for NLDS Game 5, too, but let’s just say NLCS for argument’s sake. Melky Cabrera would have to train on his own to be in game-ready shape. Most of the time, like Guillermo Mota would get to, and Manny Ramirez got to, players get to rehab in Minor League games but unfortunately those MiLB games will be over and therefore why Melky would have to be relatively self-reliant to get ready.
I believe the Giants would do their absolute best to get Melky ready for an NLCS and/or World Series appearance if the Giants get lucky enough to get that far (not because they’re an unskilled club, but let’s remember how predictable baseball can be). I say in the NLCS, Melky becomes a bench player; World Series, a regular.
This is not a predicting piece saying the Giants will make the postseason. I want to make that clear, just spelling out what I think if the opportunity presented itself.
What happens to Melky and the Giants?
Say what you want about Melky lying to Andrew Baggarly about the rumored drug use, keep in mind though it’s not the first time in history a person has lied to a journalist trying to do their job. I’m not backing Melky, but if you’re going to get mad, make sure you get mad at everyone else.
The Giants save $1.666MM with Melky’s suspension. Melky is a free agent after this year, and while the Giants will have an exclusive negotiating period with Cabrera, it’s anybody’s guess as to what they will do, but a no brainer to the heart-strings if he becomes a postseason hero. Melky is 28 right now, but he will be entering what they call his age 28 season next year, which is supposed to be when players are still within their prime.
I wish we knew how long Melky’s been using the PED, and he’s in a bad situation: if you tell the Giants/MLB how long you’ve been using it, your sticker price goes down; if you don’t tell organizations how long you had been using and they feel they can’t trust you, the sticker price may be even lower.
In the end, I’d expect a 2-year, $8MM deal offer assuming no postseason heroics. “Offer” does not mean he signs it.
The roster moves from here?
Let’s start with this: there are two rosters for an MLB organization that are pretty important — the 25-man, which we know as the MLB squad, and the 40-man roster which encompasses those 25 and includes others the Giants can protect from other clubs. Admittedly, I am not an absolute expert on the rules of moving guys to and from, and who and who is not protected, but let’s start with this:
This means that the Giants don’t have to designate a player currently on the 40-man and risk losing him to another team, I mean, not that teams are on the hunt for Justin Christian or anything, but he’s there for a reason. I’m guessing Melky will be on the Restricted List tomorrow because:
Poor Dan Otero came up for a short bit then goes back down. This opens up two spots on the 25-man roster, and there’s already one open on the 40-man. However, just because there’s a spot open on the 40-man doesn’t necessarily mean someone will be moved onto it. Brett Pill and Justin Christian could come back and my whole next one sentence paragraph could be just a waste of imagination. One option in Roger Kieschnick who is on the 40-man already got eliminated today:
So now we’re left with choosing between the obvious guys of Justin Christian, Brett Pill, and the you-wouldn’t-be-surprised in Xavier Nady (who’s doing horribly in AAA) or even Francisco Peguero (who’s doing better, but not “WOW” better), and the end of the spectrum of surprise in top-prospect Gary Brown.
My guess based off of 100% pure guessing of a guess I’m making in my head: Brett Pill and Francisco Peguero, while the spot in the 40 stays open.
A day off tomorrow probably won’t help matters, but the roster moves will help everyone move on. Winning against the Padres and Dodgers in the next six games will cure many cuts should that winning happen and really there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. If the Dodgers can put together a hot streak with Matt Kemp out and a mediocre roster, why not the Giants?
Really, why not them?
Melky Cabrera, as announced by MLB, has tested positive for testosterone as a performance enhancing drug and will thus be suspended for 50 games effective immediately. The Giants have 45 games remaining and the suspension will carry over into the postseason if necessary.
“My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension… I apologize to the [Giants] and their fans.” –Melky Cabrera
Melky Cabrera will enter his age 28 season next year and will be a free agent after this 2012 season, and should be interesting how much lower his sticker price has become going into that FA period for him. Him being suspended for the first 5 games of the season in 2013 should the Giants not make the playoffs will probably be an overplayed talking point when we have nothing to talk about over the winter.
Melky, who celebrated his 28th birthday four days ago, was having another great year like he was in Kansas City with 159 hits, .346/.390/.516 line, a .387 wOBA, and a 146 wRC+. What would be intriguing here is if the Giants use top prospect Gary Brown in some capacity after his AA season in Richmond is done. That is pure speculation and nobody has been saying anything of that sort. I expect Gregor Blanco to take Melky’s place in the lineup.