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Saturday, February 02, 2019

Giants nab LHP Pomeranz, may look internally for offense?

We're just weeks away from Spring Training reporting dates and 2 months away from the opening of the regular season but the San Francisco Giants, along with plenty of teams, are still quite a ways away from having their 25-man roster in-tact.

Now, obviously Giants' fans weren't expecting a big Bryce Harper or Manny Machado signing, or some huge trade for a Paul Goldschmidt or someone like that. I am, however, a little surprised that they've been as quiet as they have been so far, making a few lower radar additions to their pitching staff and that's about it.

Their first addition of the winter was a nice, under the radar grab in obtaining 34 year-old switch-pitcher, Pat Venditte. This move gained a consensus thumbs up from everyone around the organization, including from us here at The Giants Baseball Blog. Venditte gives Boch the flexibility of essentially having two pitchers in one, slotted into one of the bullpen spots which is extremely valuable if Venditte is getting guys out from both sides of the plate. Farhan Zaidi was brought in to make these exact kind of unorthodox moves that he's had so much success with in rebuilding the Dodgers without tearing the whole thing down and starting from scratch. The Giants are hoping that he can do that to some extent here in San Francisco, although the Dodgers had a much deeper farm system and major league-ready talent on their roster than what the Giants currently have.

The second signing from outside the organization so far was the Giant bringing in LHP Drew Pomeranz on an incentive-laden one-year deal with a team option. This signing actually got me excited because of Pomeranz's ability when he's healthy. Last season in Boston he was not healthy, so let's just put that season aside for a second and take a look at what the 30 year-old gas done in the seasons prior to his injury in 2018. Perhaps his best season as a pro came just the year before in 2017, and I think the Giants' brass looked at that campaign and feel that he'd much more resemble that pitcher than the pitcher he was last summer. During that career best '17 campaign, the lefty dominated in the toughest offensive division in baseball and pitching in one of the toughest parks in baseball on left-handed throwers in Fenway Park. Still, he managed an outstanding 17-6 record supported by a nice 3.32 ERA, 1.32 WHIP to go with 177 K's and spanned out over 176 innings (32 starts) for a very strong ERA+ of 137. Aside from the strong ERA numbers and strikeouts, one of the most impressive stats in my mind was that he allowed just 19 long balls in those 32 outings.

Although his 2016 wasn't quite as strong, he still was right there with 11 wins, 3.32 ERA, 186 K's over 170 innings and a strong 1.18 WHIP splitting his time between San Diego and Boston. Oh, by the way, his numbers the last time he pitched in the NL West, which was that first half of '16 with San Diego: 102 IP, 2.47 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and a 115 strikeout to 41 walk ratio during that span. Now, I know he was hurt last year and it's no guarantee he gets back to his pre-2018 form, but he just turned 30 and still should have at least a handful of solid seasons left in his arm as long as he can keep it healthy.

So yes, the $1.5M guaranteed deal the Giants gave him was a compete victory in my mind. Pomeranz is more talented than Derrick Holland and we all saw how Holland's career re-surged in San Francisco, so imagine what Pomeranz will look like if he makes 30+ healthy starts!

Now, with the re-signing of Holland along with the inking of Pomeranz, the Giants appear to have their starting rotation pretty much set for 2019. Obviously, Madison Bumgarner will head things up until if/when he get's dealt in July (which I think will happen if the Giants are well out of it and Bum is thriving and would bring back a "can't miss" package), followed by Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez and Derek Holland. Then, battling it out for the fifth spot will be a handful of guys including Jeff Samardzija (who would have the upper hand if he's healthy and throwing well in spring), Pomeranz, Chris Stratton, Ty Blach (although I see him more of a long-reliever for them) and the guy who's really seen his stock go from top prospect just a few years ago to barely hanging on by a thread, Tyler Beede. One dark horse candidate too, and a guy who was just granted an invitation to spring who I can't wait to see throw in March is right-hander Shaun Anderson, the centerpiece in the deal that sent Eduardo Nunez to Boston in 2017. The 24 year-old has really impressed at every stop since coming over to the organization midway through 2017 and I've heard Dereck Rodriguez as a comparison when talking about the right-hander.

As far as the two other big names that I'm really looking forward to watching get their feet wet with big league players this spring are the 2018 MLB amateur draft's #3 pick, catcher Joey Bart, as well as one of the team's top-10 prospects, 24 year-old infielder Ryan Howard. Heliot Ramos had been the team's consensus top prospect the last two seasons, but after a rough go of it in 2018, Joey Bart has leapfrogged him and is the clear-cut #1 prospect in the Giants organization and he hasn't even spent a whole summer with the club yet. However, after being drafted in June last summer, he immediately showed his prowess. In 51 games between low-A and rookie ball, the right-handed slugging 22 year-old raked, slashing .295/.364/.588, with 31 extra-base hits (13 of which left the yard). He also drove in 40 runs and scored 39 run himself, all over the course of just 51 games and 205 at-bats. I know, it's only rookie league and low-A ball, but he showed the Giants so much that they feel like he's ready for big league camp, which means he very well could start the year as high as AAA Sacramento, but more likely in AA Richmond. Bart may be the Giants best, most well rounded power hitting prospect they've had in quite some time, and he will be monitored closely early on as I'm sure the Giants would like to fast track him and get that powerful bat into the big league lineup as soon as they possibly can..

The couple issues getting in the way of Joey Bart's advancement are two guys by the name of Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. Despite the hip issues, Posey and the Giants have given no indication that his catching days are becoming numbered, however, as he recovers from major hip surgery from last September, he will be brought along slowly which is why Bart should be given plenty of looks during spring training.

As for Belt, it's been floated out there for the last few season's about the possibility of moving him out into left field to allow Posey to play first base and preserve his legs. Belt is a strong defensive first basemen though, so it's tough to move his glove out of there. He certainly has the arm to play left field though and I would like to see more experimenting with that this spring. The Giants need power and guys who can hit 20+ jacks per year. They had a grand total of ZERO guys hit 20+ HR last year and it really puts pressure on an offense when they don't have the confidence to be able to put up a handful of runs with one swing of the bat. I'm not saying you need a bunch of 20 HR guys to be successful, but you do need some pop and if you aren't hitting long balls, then you need guys who can still find gaps and you need multiple guys who can steal bases and put themselves in scoring position without having to string together a bunch of hits.

I think Zaidi should be, and maybe he is, looking ahead to 2020 with the thought in mind that if Belt can finally break out in 2019 like he's capable of and like we've been waiting for the last 5 years and he takes to left field while Buster does the same thing while probably collecting his most playing time at first base in 2019, then those two could have new positions in 2020. Especially if Bart comes along like we're all hoping he does and becomes that 20-25 home run guy right away and is ready by 2020 to be an everyday big league catcher. I know this is jumping ahead of the rebuilding year of 2019, but imaging a lineup something like this in 2020:

CF Steven Duggar (age 26 in 2020)
2B Joe Panik/Ryan Howard (age 30/26 in '20)
1B Buster Posey (33 in '20)
RF Marwin Gonzalez* (31 in '20)
C Joey Bart (23 in '20)
LF Brandon Belt (32 in '20)
3B Evan Longoria (35 in '20)
SS Brandon Crawford (33 in '20)
(*Gonzalez is just an example as a possible signee. SF is interested though so I figured I'd throw him in. If not him then hopefully another free agent/trade addition as good or better)

NOTE: We originally had this post far too long so we condensed some things and have made sort of a part two to this post that we will be posting at some point on Sunday/Monday so stay tuned as well get more in depth on the Giants direction and what options still lay out there on the free agent market for them.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    Interesting linuep projection for 2020. I like most of it but I really wish we could find someone to take Longoria off our hands.. I also wonder if there's anyway the Giants could groom Joey Bart to be a third basemen. I would hate to see him come up and catch and get hurt of see his power dissappear like whats happened to buster the last few seasons. For my dream 2020 lineup, and it's obviously a dream but i'd like to see them just save money this year and go for the free agency next year and come up with soemthing like this-

    S. Duggar CF
    S. Gennett 2B
    B. Posey C
    K. Davis RF
    J. Bart 1B
    A. Rendon 3B
    B. Belt LF
    B. Crawford SS

    Madison Bumgarner
    Dereck Rodriguez
    Andrew Suarez
    Johnny Cueto
    Sonny Gray

    I have no idea if they have the money to do that, or what they;d have to do or if they can keep Bum and still add those other guys, but if they save money this winter like they have and then some more money comes off next year with Samarja amd i think a few other guys then they only have to sign davis, rendon and gennett and gray. I don't think any of those guys are going to be huge huge deals. Davis would be great cuz he has 30-40 hr power and they need that. Rendon and Gennett are just really good hitters with pop too. The rotation should be good with DRod and Suarez getting experience another year and then sonny gray is the most undeerrated guy imo. I seen him pitch a bunch in oakland and he can be about as good as any right hander. He pitched against cueto once i think in 2016 and i remeber they both were dealing and were about the same level pitcher. Gray is way younger though so he could be good for years to come... I know it's a long shot but it's the offseason and this is the fun of it!


  • At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is the most ridiculous offseason, how are we 2 weeks aways from spring training and most of the top free agents are still out there and the Giants haven't signed a single outfielder? I know we're rebuilding but I thought Zaidi would at least make the team interesting. He's done nothing but add a pitcher that fell off last year badly and a 35 year old middle reliever? I don't get it?

  • At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Charalampos said…

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