Thursday, September 27, 2012

Your 2012 Giants Playoffs: No Crying Over Melk-less Playoffs

The Giants announced (and Baggarly shushed out with his internal sources) today (Schulman) that Melky Cabrera will not be included on the Giants playoff roster if and when he become eligible.

ogc Thoughts

This is not surprising.  The media has done a good job of surveying the atmosphere of the club regarding Melky.  And it has not been favorable, besides Cabrera and Romo's separate statements about him.  There has been many more comments - including Melky's (former?) best bud on the team, Pagan - about moving on.  According to the account from Pavlovic, this was decided on by management without consultation of the players, though I'm sure Bochy generally knew how people felt about Melky.

Also, the point was made by the Giants that it was this current team that won the division and thus deserve a roster spot, and I agree.  The Giants at the time of Melky's suspension was only tied for the division lead.  Even if LA had not collapsed, the Giants went 25-9 the day after Melk-Gone and it is doubtful that the D-gers could have matched that pace, and thus the Giants would be leading right now anyway.  A 500 record on the part of LA would still have left them six games behind still.  Even if they played those 35 games at their winning pace on August 19th, that would only get them one more win over the 18-17 .500 pace, to 19-16, and they would still be five games behind.  The Giants won the division after Melky left the team.

Melk-Gone Forever

As much as Melky would be a cheap option for the team for 2013, I think the Giants will pass for a number of good reasons.

First, I expect the Giants to keep LF open for prospects and Blanco to claim.  I expect them to sign both Pagan and Pence to long-term deals during the off-season, Pagan first, probably during the team-only negotiation period after the season ends.  Given that Pagan has been very positive about the team and openly campaigning to return in 2013, even when all indications were that the Giants would pass on him, particularly after the Pence trade, I assume his reps have kept the team informed of what it would take to resign him, and that the Giants would, like any good negotiator, give them hints of what they would be willing to pay.  Pagan not that long ago again reiterated his desire to return, so with both sides seemingly wanting the same thing, I don't see how it don't get done.

That leaves LF as one of the few open starting positions and the Giants like to leave things open for prospects and potential call-ups.  First off, there is Gregor Blanco, who is most likely to be the starter for 2013.  While Melky would be better, that is asking the wrong question.  The right question is:  can the offense win with Blanco in LF and our pitching/fielding defense?  Given how well this team has been doing offensively, I think the conclusion is clearly that they can win with Blanco.  Second, Peguero has a season under his wing in AAA.  While he did not do great, apparently he was still recovering from his injury earlier in the season, and got better.  His two best months were in June and August and while July was poor, he was injured in that month as well.  While nothing to write home about, especially in the hit-happy PCL, it is enough, I think, considering that Peguero is only 24 YO this season.  Both he and Blanco could play all three OF positions.  Third, Gary Brown had a nice second half to his 2012 AA season, and with a good first half of 2013 could be ready for promotion if necessary.   In that case, Brown would move to CF and push Pagan to a corner spot, eventually, though he did start in LF near the end of the season. That's three potential options, plus I expect Xavier Nady to be hanging around as a backup OF, if not starting LF.

Second, the Giants have been tarred nationally with the Scarlet "P" for PEDS, first for Barry Bonds, plus the parade of players named in the BALCO investigation, and now for Melky, as well as Mota earlier in the year.  If the Giants didn't have Pence, I can see that maybe the Giants would be tempted to re-sign Melky.  However, with Pence securely in the OF for 2013 (the question is whether they keep him in RF, where his defense is rated pretty low so far for us, almost negating his offense but which is his long-term position, or move him to LF) and Pagan most probably returning, the need for Melky in the OF is minimal, if not zero.  Need, not want.

Thirdly, even at a low amount, if he were to do well, he would want more in the future.  While the Giants had penciled in his salary after the Pence trade, that money should be allocated mostly to Pagan for the next 2-3 years for around $10M per season (my guess-timate), plus with the way Scutaro is playing, the Giants most probably will resign him for a couple of years as well, near his current salary of $6M, something which probably was not on the team's radar at the time of their statement.  The two of them pretty much uses up the money the Giants would have allocated to potentially signing Melky in 2013-14.  Plus, if Scutaro is signed, there is no open position for a young player to win (Panik won't be ready in 2013 anyway for 2B), which brings us back to LF again.  A low salary works in 2013, but not in 2014, as in addition to these two players, I think the Giants would like to have the core set of players signed long-term by this off-season:  Posey, Sandoval, Pence, Belt, Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner.

For all these reasons, I just don't see how the Giants will even look into signing Melky.  Thanks for all the Melk, but I think the Giants have to move on.

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