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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Giants find their closer but work remains

Pretty much ever since Brian Wilson went down with his shoulder injury at the start of 2012, the Giants have used a few different guys to close out games. Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla, career set-up guys, basically shared the duties, with Casilla becoming Bochy's #1 choice the last couple seasons. But after that epic second half collapse, largely attributed to that bullpen, and the team getting knocked out in the NLDS because of the bullpen, the Giants made solidifying that 9th inning as their number one priority this winter.

On Monday, the Giants finally found a guy they hope is their answer to their ninth inning woes that reared their ugly head in 2016, signing Mark Melancon to the richest contract in relief pitcher history (although both Kenly Jansen and Aroldis Chapman will most likely set new records after they sign). The Giants will pay the soon to be 32 year-old $62M over four years, which is right around what I thought he'd get. Chapman and Jansen are most likely looking at deals in the triple figures, so the $15.5M annually should be a bargain compared to the other two elite closing options. Not to mention, if you look at all three of their numbers over the last few seasons, aside from strikeout rate, Melancon has been neck-and-neck with those two. I would have loved to see the Giants pry Jansen away from LA, but I knew that would be a long-shot, so this move is the next best thing in my opinion. Chapman is flashy and hurls that 103-mph heater, but we saw him walk the tight-rope quite a bit in the postseason and blow a couple big saves, including one to the Giants in the NLDS that resulted in the Giants one and only win of the series.

Now, Melancon's numbers over the last four seasons are what got him this very lucrative deal, as they have been about as good as any relief pitcher in the game during that span. His highest ERA posted since the 2012 season has been 2.23 (2015) and in the other three seasons he's gone 1.39, 1.90 and 1.64 last season between Pittsburgh and Washington. During that span, he also posted a sub-1 WHIP in each season as he doesn't walk hitters and very rarely gives up the big fly. Since becoming a full-time closer in 2014, he's posted save totals of 33, 51 and 47 while blowing just 10. I don't have the exact number that the Giants blew last season but I'm pretty sure they blew 9 or 10 in September alone. All these reasons, along with him being a fine clubhouse personality and he being a good bet to age well over the course of the deal because he doesn't rely on a 100 MPH heater, are why many baseball people felt like he was the ideal fit for the Giants. Instead of the high-90's fastball/cutter like with Jansen or a 100-MPH laser beam and hard slider Chapman throws at you, Melancon can get you out in a number of different ways. For the most part, we'll be seeing a hard cutter in the low-90's as well as a big sweeping curveball though. He's got a change and a 4-seemer as well.

It's definitely a big sigh of relief for the Giants club and Giants fan alike. Their ninth inning problem is fixed and they did it without dueling out 100 million bucks or parting with half of their farm system. However, they still have question marks pertaining to that bullpen. I'd imagine that the plan is to roll with Derek Law as the primary set-up man with Hunter Strickland also getting an opportunity, but the Giants problem in the pen wasn't just with the closing situation. They struggled all over the place in the second half and although Melancon does change that landscape majorly, I think this pen could still use another sure fire arm or two. The need 2 guys like Romo and Casilla were back at the beginning of the Giants championship run, and strong left-handed presences like Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt (let's cross-our fingers that Will Smith's rough 2016 was just a down year and he's back to norm in 2017 cause that would help a ton).

There's still a long way to go in the offseason, and I expect the Giants to keep all options open regarding both left field and the bullpen, but it sure is a relieving feeling knowing they have a legit, premium closer now on the roster; the one thing many feel cost them their shot at another even year tittle. I personally think they needed another bat as well but who knows what a legit closer could have done with that bunch. They probably win the West and avoid the wild card game and maybe they avoid the Cubs all together or at least face 'em with home field advantage. Anyway you slice it though, that Cubs team seemed to have what other teams didn't this year and I don't know if any team was going to stop them. That was an epic postseason on the north side of Chicago. One very similar to the Giants' huge Fall in 2010, but only about 50+ more years in the making!
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 12:31 AM, Anonymous Giants Fan Dan said…

    Ok, I like the signing like I think most of G's fans do, but I really hope this isn't it for the 2016 offseason. I agree with you they need another solid veteran insurance policy down there. What about Brad Zieglar? has he already signed? I'd love him for a year or two to help out Law and Strickland.

    THey also need a lf'er. I don't care what Bochy says, a platoon of Parker and Williamson is not a good strategy. It could work but platoons aren't for championship teams and that would be taking a risk, especially with two guys who are still unproven. Would have loved to see Cespedes all though we all knew that wouldn't happen. But what about a trade for someone like Braun, CarGo, or Matty Kemp? Giants seem to make their best adds throuigh trades anyway, so why not.

    Sorry for the bad grammar if there is some, a little tipsy tonigth, celebrating finally having a closer! Hell Ya! Now bring us Cargo or JD Martinez or someone Evans and a good set-up man and call it a winter!..

  • At 2:30 AM, Anonymous Tony Almeada said…

    I dont get why the Giants are all tapped out after this signing? I heard they had somewheres in the neighborhood of 50 million clams comin off the books this winter and by my calculations Melancon will be getting 15 of those. Are the rest really all going to guys getting raises? They made it sound like they had all this money to spend and upgrade both closer and left now it seems like they're satisfied with just the one. It's stupid and Idon't get it. Go get Jose bautista or Trumbo, I really don't care about defense that mych in left. We won with Burrell in 2010, he was fine. We need power. So sad that Buster Posey led our team with a measly 14 hr's that is sad. I get that the Giants aren't built for a bunch of power but they need at least a guy who can maybe be a threat to bring in off the bench at least. Do they just assume they can get one in July maybe when it will be cheaper i guess?

    Love yor blog man and your twitter is great too! Keep it up man you and grant at mccovery crhon are like the only giants bloggers who actually tell it like it is and don't always try to sugar coat things.

  • At 6:51 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    I don't think they're completely tapped out. There are significant raises going to a few players so I think that 50 million off the books talk was a little premature. That being said, I think they have enough resources to go out and get another player, but I just don't think this market is too deep with impact players and the Giants probably didn't wanna give someone like Fowler, who's maybe a notch better than Denard Span, close to 100 million dollars.

    I don't think this team is done though. I think they'll be active in the trade market, but it may take awhile. And when they say they're comfortable with Williamson and Parker it's really posturing. Of course they'll have to go with those two if they can't upgrade but they definitely are looking for ways to upgrade. Saying they have a competent plan B though helps in the negotiating stages so I wouldn't read too much into Evans saying they're content with left field.

  • At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Giants aren't a world series contenders after the Melancon signing IMO. It definitely helps but they still don't have a deep roster. If one of the hitters goes down, like Pence last year, it's going to really hurt them again. Same thing with the rotation. If Cueto goes down for a month, that rotation goes from strong to very average. I know you can say that about a lot of teams, but the Giants have the resources so I don't get why they don't get some guys for depth. Go out and get Valbuena to backup the infield and also get rajai davis or someone like that who can not only start if needed. Look at the Cubs last season. They had guys like Jorge Soler and that Shwarber kid ready to come off the bench and a couple other good guys I can't think of off the top of my head. I think Williamson and Parker would be fine 4th and 5th guys but those guys don't even make the Cubs roster and are gonna be the Giants starters in left.

    A huge power bat like Cespedes woulda been nice but we all know that was never realistic, instead they should just get a couple of solid bats like Davis and maybe a power bat to come off the bench like Matt Holliday. I know he signed and I don't know who else is out there but I'm sure they can find a guy like that.

  • At 12:35 PM, Blogger Phuloo said…

    This article is really fantastic and thanks for sharing the valuable post.


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