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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Giants ink Derek Holland for SP depth

The Giants, in their search for pitching help for the low, aka the bargain basement of the free agent pool, found their first arm they've inked all season long, signing former Ranger's LHP Derek Holland to a minor league deal on Friday. Far from the level of guys I was hoping they'd be able to lure in on a minor league deal or Major League minimum, Holland will come in and join the competition for the two remaining rotation spots that are up for grabs.

 I mean, I get the deal in the sense that the Giants need some pitching depth that has major league experience and Holland will provide that and be there in case Chris Stratton, Ty Blach or Tyler Beede don't pan out this spring. However, that being said, I really was hoping the team would be able to get someone with a little more success in recent seasons. Now, the good part of this deal is that it's a minor league deal and won't preclude them from adding another starter with a better chance at making their rotation as we get closer to the season. With the amount of pitchers still looking for work, they may just get lucky and land someone on a minimum deal they could add incentives to. Holland, though, cannot be counted on for very much as he hasn't put together a full successful big league campaign since 2013. He's also coming off the worst season of his career last summer with the White Sox, in which he posted a 6.20 ERA and 1.71 WHIP over 26 starts. Granted, he may not have been 100% healthy, he's been trending down for a few seasons now and he's 31 years old. Unless the Giants found themselves a Ryan Vogelsong part 2, another player who re-invents their career after multiple down or injury-plagued seasons, then he probably will reside in AAA for most of 2018.

As I mentioned before though, there are still names out there like R.A. Dickey, Jeremy Hellickson, Jaime Garcia and John Lackey, that may have to settle for a much lesser deal than I think all of them were anticipating. Hellickson and Garcia should almost certainly get deals out of the Giants price range, but it's been a weird offseason and if they're still looking for work in March, they may have to take what they can get. SF could provide a place to boost their value for next winter while playing for a team with hopes of contention. As for Lackey and Dickey, they could be appealing because both of those guys are coming off of decent seasons and at their age they've earned plenty and may be seeking a team that will give them a chance to win. Lackey, in my opinion, should be the number one target. He's pitched so well in a hitters yard and division for the Cubs the last few seasons and heading into his age 39 season, Baseball Reference has him projected to throw 165 innings with a 4.09 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and nearly a K per inning. Those are good numbers for anyone, let alone a guy on doorstep of his 40th birthday. Dickey too would be an interesting option and I'm sure he wants a shot at a ring before he hangs em up. He's 43 years old, but his knuckle ball and pitching style allow him to stay successful as he hasn't posted an ERA above 4.46 since '09. If you put either Lackey or Dickey on this team last year, they'd have been the teams second best, most consistent starter after Samardzija.

Those are the two I'm looking at mostly because their age won't require any long-term, high salaried contract, and they showed last season they still have some strong innings left in those right arms. I know the Giants seem to be prioritizing more bullpen help at this point, but as I've said in recent posts after they seemed to have shored up their lineup, they cannot neglect their rotation. Yes, their front-3, barring a return to health by Cueto and Bum, are as strong as most in the league, but after that it's really a crap shoot. Stratten looked the part last September but those were in low pressure starts on a team that lost nearly 100 games.

I know the pen can't be overlooked either, and that's the area that has repeatedly unable to get fixed via outside help so they're once again going to bank on their own guys magically turning it around and providing better performances than they have the last 3 seasons. Granted, with a healthy Melancon and hopefully Smith, it will give them two weapons they never really had a season ago.. They have their closer and a couple of set-up options in Dyson and Strickland as well as the return Will Smith, who will be their top left-handed set-up option at the end of the bullpen. Their mid-relief has shown glimpses of being very good (first half of 2016 and the second half of 2017) but have been largely inconsistent over the last two seasons which needs to improve. Derek Law really needs to rebound and they need another guy to step up and be that second lefty (fingers crossed that Smith is healthy enough to be the primary late-inning lefty out of the gate as hoped). I'd love it to be Blach but it looks like he'll be forced into the rotation no matter what he does this spring, unless. on the very off chance. Derek Holland has a lights out March and thoroughly outperforms Blach.

Although the Giants got the as close to the power/defenisve upgrades added to this lineup as they could without going over the luxury tax, they still have some things to figure out within their pitching staff and whether or not they'll be adding more names to the mix in the coming days before they report to Scottsdale for their first P and C workout on the 14th. They also, apparently, are still open to adding some more outfield depth if they can find the right situation. Again though, due to them being less than $2M from the CBT, they really don't have much money to throw around and any move they make will likely have to be a minor league deal or they may have one major league minimum offer that they'd be able to make.

In summation, the Holland deal doesn't make me feel one way or another. I guess I'd lean toward supporting it just because its not costing them major league money while providing depth at Sac if nothing else but I just don't see this guy coming in and making the Giants rotation, otherwise they may be in worse shape there than even I was worried about.... Still time to lure in another arm or two. Bring me Lackey or if not him then bring Liriano, or if he passes his physical, Chris Tillman could be a huge steal if they could get him on the cheap. Scott Feldman is another guy in that class, who at the minimum could make a lot of sense. He is 35 years old, but didn't pitch too bad at all for the abysmal Reds last summer, as he made 21 starts and rocked a 4.77 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. The 3 years prior to last, Feldman posted ERA's below 4 in each season and is equally well versed at starting and relieving so although he's a little older, he could have some major value to a team looking for pitching depth in both the bullpen and rotation.

Granted, Feldy and Liriano's '17 numbers weren't much better than Ty Blach's in most areas, one area they clearly dominated him in was the strikeout column. Also, something just seemed to happen to Blach down the stretch that really made me lose confidence in him as the league seemed to figure him out in a big way. I know strikeouts aren't his bread and butter but when a ML starter K's less than half a batter per inning, it tells you that their stuff isn't the type of stuff that will miss bats regularly. So unless you've got uncanny command and can place the ball where you want when you want (something Blach did not do last season), then your asking for trouble.

Giants Fan Fest 2018: I'm sure that if your a big enough Giants fan then you're well aware that the annual pre-spring Fan Fest is taking place this Saturday afternoon (2/10) at AT&T Park, and it should be quite a different fan fast than in years past. The Giants have some new players they've  added to their core and it will be all three, Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria and Austin Jackson making their first appearance as Giants reps and I';m looking forward as to what these guys will be saying and the optimism surrounding the team. I read that the team is "Euphoric" about the upcoming season and cannot wait to get things kicked off this weekend at Fan Fest before catching their flight out to Arizona to get his comeback attempt officially underway. Usually it's the younger squads that are overly amplified for their upcoming season and not veteran teams coming off a 100'ish loss season so when you got a bunch of vets who, half the squad about has already won a ring this excited and Euphoric about the upcoming campaign it's always a very good sign. I don't remember anything close to this kind of optimism heading into last spring. They also know that if they play well enough to be in the hunt come mid-season and are missing a piece or two then management is essentially showing that they'll do anything possible inside their budget to get this team the players they need. 

Extras: So with the Giants' heavy lifting done for the offseason and Spring Training officially kicking off in 5 days, out next post will be our 2018 San Francisco Giants Preview. In that post, we'll break down the projected 25-man roster as we see it at the time of posting it. Of course plenty can happen over the long month of spring training baseball, and things could change but as we enter spring, we wanted to give you an idea in terms of the Giants full roster, projected lineup/rotation/bench/bullpen as well as some names to keep an eye on during spring training who could have outside chances at making the big leagues out the gate. Those are always one of my funner posts as I get to lay out the Giants 40-man roster and sort of asses it heading into the season. Granted I won't be writing about all 40 guys on the roster, I will project the 25 man as well as 3-5 guys who are right on the bubble and should be watched closely this spring and during the early season.

Of course eventually we'll break off  and start our division-by-division previews, which is another one of my favorite posting topics as we get to become familiar with the National League in its entirety and get an idea of how the Giants match up with the rest of the league. During those stretch of posts we'll, of course, stay tapped in with the Giants happenings and news as well so don't worry, we'll still be covering the team like we regularly would. Time permitting we'll try and do something similar for the American League but depending on what's happening in Giants camp, I may or may not be able to get a full American League division-by-division preview but I will give my thoughts on each division regardless.

It's unlikely the Giants did enough to overtake the West from LA, but they'll likely be in the battle for the wild card spots with the likes of Arizona, Colorado, St. Louis and Milwaukee. If they're healthy, the Mets could be as dangerous as any of those teams with all those power arms and a potentially much improved lineup from top to bottom with the additions of Adrian Gonzalez, the return of Jay Bruce and the bargain 2 yr. deal they signed Todd Frazier to (that's $8M/year to possibly come in and hit 30 jacks and drive in 90 for them over 2 years). Also with Cespedes still in is prime and 2017 breakout performer, before his injury, Michael Conforto, not only will the Mets be able to pitch with anyone in the league, they should be able to score some runs as well! But I'm getting too in depth on that and there will be a time for more team previews in the coming weeks so stay tuned!
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Baseballs'R;Us said…

    So essentially Derek Holland posted Matt Moore numbers last season. They're about the same age and Moore has been slighly better in his career but battled more injury problems. To me I don't see this deal as half bad at all. Worst case is he stays in AAA until they need some pitching help. Best case, he makes the rotation and pitches more like the Matt Moore the Giants got in 2016 rather than the batting practice pitcher he was in 2017... So I dig the deal, no guaranteed money or roster spot. Can't ask for more.

    But I'm with you in that I wish we could get Lackey for a year or maybe Dickey or Jaime Garcia. Giants world series teams always had that strong pitching and just enough hitting. I think they have the hitting part down but not sure they have enough quality arms yet to take down the D-Bags or Cardinals or even Rockies.

    I cannot wait to see this team play though. SO excited to see Cutch, Longo and AJax, I think our lineup is underrated and should be right their after maybe the Cubs, Dodgers and Nationals. Heck I might even think we can outslug Washington if HUnter and Belt are healthy and their regular selves. PPL aren't realizing how good Cutch and Longo are. THey were the heads of their teams and the cornerstone offensive guys bfore. Now they're complementary pieces to guys like Posey, BCraw, Panik and Belt.

    I think we're in for a fun summer guys, really reminding me of 2012 right about now!

  • At 1:58 AM, Anonymous Colin R. said…

    Hey is Giants Baseball Blog gonna be at fanfest tomorrow? I'm coming up from San Jose and write for CCSF sports, mostly baseball. I read your blogs all the time and would be awesome to meet you guys if you'll be there. I e-mailed your contact link on the homepage too cuz I do youtube too and I'd be thrilled to interview you if I could for my baseball youtube vlog I'll be starting this baseball season. You and Grant would be my ideal interviews as far as Giants bloggers but I don't think Grant will be available cuz his work with NBC Sports now.

    PLease, let me know if youll be there cuz it would really be cool to interview you and I could also use it for my spring final. I'm a comm./sports journalism major and trying to interview all the Giants media guys from the bloggers, podcasters to the beat writers.

    Thanks so much for your time and I hope to see you there tomorrow. Please respond to my e-mail if you get the chance and will be there it would be greatly appreciated and add on to what should be an epic day!

    Good post as always though man. Always straight to the point and giving your opinion no matter what others think. I dig it! I don't wanna be stocker'ish but I might try to DM your twitter if I don't hear back cuz I don't know how often you check your e-mail or maybe my e-mail got lost in junk or something cuz it's a school paper e-mail address for the SFCC sports page and I e-mailed you a couple times but haven't heard back yet. If we don't catch up maybe we could do a phone recorded interview or a skype interview? If your not interested or don't have time I completely understand, just let me know but I been reading your stuff for 10 years now and it would be an honor! By the way my name is Colin Rowland so keep an eye out for my DM/E-mail! Thanks brotha, and Orange and Black all the way in 2018!

  • At 3:16 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Hey Colin, sorry for the missed e-mail. I was not at fanfest this year, unfortunately. I really would have liked to make this one to see some of the new guys and get a chance to speak with some of the players about the upcoming year. Apparently the players are all very happy with managements commitment this offseason and they're all probably extremely excited to get this thing going. My unlucky ass had to miss this one because I'm in SoCal for the weekend and not in the bay area. Tried to re-schedule some things but it just didn't work out this year... But I will be at opening day and that's what REALLY matters!

    BaseballR'Us- Matt Moore has always had this big time potential but has always underachieved for some reason, and I don't know what that reason is. He appears to lack intensity on the mound and really has an "I don't care" tendency with his body language out there. Then again, Jonny Cueto is pretty laid back too, but he shows a lot more emotion than Moore... Outside of that one year in 2013 I think it was, when Moore had a low-2 ERA and went something like 17-3 (don't quote me on the exact numbers cuz I'm not looking them up) he really hasn't been any better than slighly above average and last year he was downright terrible.

    That said, Holland was even worse, and while Moore is at least decent out there for the most part (sans last season), Holland hasn't been average or better in nearly half a decade. 2013 was his last, full solid season. He did have 20 starts in '16 but posted over a 5 ERA as a starter that season. Every year aside from that since 2013 has been even worse though.

    He is 31 so he's not necessarily washed up, and we saw Ryan Vogelsong revive his career around the same age Holland is, so I've seen stranger things happen. However, I don't think the Giants made this move banking on Holland to take a rotation spot like they would have had they signed Lackey or someone like that to a similar minor league deal. He's more so here for depth in case the young guys are not nearly ready or MadBum falls off a dirt bike again, or Cueto's blisters or hamstring problem re-occur. In other words, he's more of a backup plan than a guy they're counting on making the rotation out of spring. I just really hope he's not the only pitcher they add before opening day though.

  • At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    fanfest was awesome, you can tell these guys are ready to go and want to win. I feel like last year they were kinda outta place and just sorta expected to win but this year they seem hungry, at least that's what I got from all the interviews. They have a chip on their shoulder, especially guys like Hunter PEnce and Mark Melancon, the high paid guys who did absolutely squat last season. We need big years from Pence and Melancon if we're gonna be something ciz the Giants dont have enough outfielders to make it if Pence hurts his hammy and misses 2 months again. The theme of the season, more than ever, will be health. If they avoid any long-term injuries like Will Smiths, PEnce, Bum Melancon etc. last year then this team's gonna be better than a lot of ppl are expecting. Don't believe me just watch!

  • At 12:12 AM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    Dickey's actually been really good the last couple of seasons. I thuink he had a 3.47 ERA in 2016 or something like that and the guys always good for 30 starts. I'd be all for him. I know it would bring on more ageism comments about the Giants getting older but they're going for it this year and I'm fairly sure that Dickey would be better than any starter they have beside their top-3 and that's what they should be looking for. That and a good reliever like Brian Duensing would be just what the doc ordered for the Giants for Spring Training. They're so close to reeally covering all their holes an they may as well just go the hell for it... It may be another 5-6 years before they're in position like this again, especially if they lose again this season.

  • At 1:57 AM, Anonymous Kevin NIles said…

    I wonder if there would be any possible way for the Giants to trade Brandon Belt to someone, say maybe St. Louis, the Yankees, Astros or Mariners just to name a few. His left handed bat in Yankee Stadium would be a good fit i think. I bet you he'd hit 40 bombs if he went to play in New York or Houston or STL.

    Then the Giants would clear about 15-17 milly from payroll if I'm not mistaken but Im not sure on exact number. With that money they may be able to get Eric Hosmer and still get a starting pitcher like the guys you mentioned like Lackey or Garcia or Hellickson. Or they could let Sabdoval take first while CHris Shaw gets acclimated then he can take over there. I personally never been a big believer in BElt and see him as an underacheiver. He should be hitting 30 a year easy and I know he's had some injury issues in some seasons, he's usally closer to 15 than 30 and that's below his potential.

    I'm affraid theye don't have enough pitching after Madbum, JC and the Shark and its gonna be their downfall, not the offense this year.

    OR maybe they make a trade for a pitcher in the middle of the season when teams fall out of it and are giving their guys away for prospects. I know thye need to cut payroll and Belt seems like the most logical cuz he's still has value, he isn't being paid a crazy high amount and is under 30 years old still.

  • At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I can't believe the Giants neglected the crap out of their bullpen again. It's beyond me how they same weakness they've had since 2016, that actually cost them that season, hasn't been addressed yet? Well I guess they did sign Melancon but he was straight trash before he got injured anyway and I'm afraid the Giants may have gotten an over the hill closer. Shoulda went all in for Kenley Jansen.

    The Giants will be better, no doubt, cause they'll at least be able to score some runs, but Im still very worried about our pitching staff. Yes Bum, Cueto and Shark are going to be fine, I think, but what about the other 8-9 pitchers that will fill out the staff? A lot of if's and question marks on the team heading into the season.


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