Giants add arm, but not second ace
With moves happening left and right and targets the Giants had on their radar finding new homes (David Price and Cole Hamels in particular), Bobby Evans decided to go with plan B. The Giants and Red agreed to a deal that will send RHP Mike Leake to San Francisco in exchange for bright young right-handed prospect Keury Mella and power hitting pseudo-prospect Adam Duvall.
Fans that were holding out hope that the team would be able to find that true number two starter, and another ace to pair with Madison Bumgarner didn't quite get their wish, but the Giants are bringing in a rock solid starter nonetheless. Leake had posted a 9-5 record with a 3.56 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 21 starts for the Reds and he's coming off back-to-back sub-4 ERA seasons in which he had double digit wins (14 in '13 and 11 in '14). While he's going to deepen the rotation and will likely slot in behind MadBum in the 2 slot, he wasn't quite the caliber of pitcher I was hoping the Giants could reel in. I mean, they gave up a guy who many considered their top prospect at the moment for a #3/4 starter who's likely going to be around only 2 months. In my mind, they should have just added another prospect or two on and made a real push for that real difference maker like Price or Hamels, but that just may not have been a realistic option. After those two were dealt I shifted my focus to Jeff Samardzija, then even Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner from their SoCal rival Padres, but knew there were a lot of teams asking about Samardzija and it would be tough to pry to front-end starters like Ross or Cashner from a division rival.
All in all, I felt like the Giants could have done better and there were other options out there, but again, Leake isn't a bum by any stretch. I just feel like there isn't a huge talent gap between Mike Leake and guys they already have like Vogelsong, Cain, Peavy and Heston and the Giants should have tried to shoot for a bigger upgrade. On the plus side, his numbers over the last 3 seasons are second to only MadBum in the rotation and he should see his numbers improve even further now that he's out of the hitters haven that is Great American Ballpark. He's certainly not gonna overpower you though, with a fastball sitting in the high-80's and reaching 91 on occasion, but he has very strong command and can be tough to handle when he's keeping the ball down and has that wicked whip on that breaking ball. When taking into account his peripherals (FIP, BABP, and KK/BB) he's just slighltly above average and that's really what he is. A suitable number 3 or a top-end number 4/5. If they gave up say, Joan Gregorio, Chris Stratton and Adam Duvall or bit of a lesser package of that elk, I would have given it two thumbs up, but I feel like a group headlined by Mella could have gotten them a bit more. For that reason, I give it a C/C+, just cause Leake isn't proven in the postseason.
Now, what do the Giants do between now and the deadline Friday afternoon? Well, they do need to make space for Leake, and they very well may have another deal in the works. They already have a guy in Vogelsong who's out of position in the bullpen and they may need to put another starter out there now. I don't see Boch going with a 6-man rotation, although I guess it is possible. Seems to me like the odd man out at this point would be Yusmiero Petit, but Ryan Vogelsong may not be 100% safe either. The Giants have also been rumored to be in the hunt to bring back Michael Morse, who was just released by the Dodgers after they acquired him from Miami. Morse would be a nice fit as a big power bat off the bench and a guy who can play a little left field and first base, if they can convince him to stay in Sacramento until the rosters expand in September (then if we have our way, he comes off the bench in October and DH's in a possible World Series). They may want Maxwell on the roster over him just because of defense, but Giants have a good defensive outfield this year and don't really need it. Plus they have Blanco coming off the bench to maybe spell Pagan in the playoffs. That's the luxury of having 3 guys who can play right and 3 who can play center, they can afford to carry a thumper who can only play a corner. I think the players would certainly get a kick out of bring the big guy back. Hunter Pence as much as anyone, I'll tell you that much!
Anyhow, as you can tell, not the most exciting move and I doubt there's going to be a huge rush to pick up Mike Leake jerseys at "The Giants Dugout", but Brian Sabean and co. have shown they know what they're doing (for the most part) over the last 5 years, so lets hope this falls right into that category. Leake has a mid-3 ERA, a 34-25 record since the start of 2013, should only get better with the change of ballparks and, again, he does give them another sort of "safe bet" besides MadBum (being he's not a rookie and hasn't missed a chunk of time the last year with injury). I wanna put Heston in that category too now though but he's still just a rookie and I don't think you want him starting a game two of a NLDS in St. Louis for instance. If the playoffs started tomorrow and the Giants were in the NLDS, my rotation would have to be MadBum-Leake-Heston and go from there. Not the most intimidating 2 and 3, but two guys who're having huge years and are more capable of turning in the big performance than Cain and Peavy. Leake was lit up in his only playoff outing in 2012 against San Francisco but he was 24 at the time and wasn't the same pitcher he's become today.