Saturday, January 24, 2015

Your 2015 Giants: Vogie In!

As much as I thought that Vogelsong's exclamation at the victory parade for the 2014 Championship was his final words as a Giant - "Vogie Out!" - because of the full rotation we have plus Petit, a part of me was hoping beyond hope that the Giants could retain him.

That has come true, after various rumors of interest on the part of teams, then him flying into Houston, apparently THAT close to signing with them, it has been reported that Vogelsong will return to the Giants with a $4M deal with incentives (probably related to IP).  He had made it clear numerous times that he, in an ideal world, would return to the Giants, the team he loved so much that he begged for a job with the Giants, after being offered a spot with the Dodgers (they did so in 2011 and the rest is history...).  

He acknowledges that his role on the team is undefined, and he says he's fine with it, as he will take the ball when they give it to him and give it back when they ask for it back.  He (and particularly his wife) is happy to be back home in SF.

No news on who is next to be removed off of the 40-man roster.

FYI, Schulman tweeted that Scutaro was released with the thought that if a spot opens up early in the season (no DL outside of the season), they would add him to the roster and immediately put him on the 60-day DL.  I guess that would add to his MLB time for pension purposes.

ogc thoughts

Unless the Giants go with the 6-man rotation idea (my pet idea I've been pushing; however, according to Schulman tweet, none of the Giants upper brass is enamored with that idea), my best guess is that Vogelsong is rotation insurance and that he'll get first shot at the rotation should anything open up.

If the disaster scenario don't happen and all five starters keep their current spot - Bumgarner, Cain, Hudson, Peavy, Lincecum, in that order - Vogelsong will get a spot in the bullpen, making the bullpen pretty set right now:  Casilla, Romo, Affeldt, Lopez, Vogelsong, Petit, with only one spot open.  Then Machi, Kontos, Strickland, and maybe Okert and Hall too, will battle for that last spot (Gutierrez too, I suppose, since he rejoined the team in the minors after being DFAed).

Hudson Rest Scenario

One scenario that Krukow laid out was that Hudson's recovery could extend into the first part of the season and that it would not be the worse thing to happen.  He's 40 now and extra rest like that would make him stronger later in the season.   So the idea here is to put Huddy on the DL to start the season, to rest up and get to 100% (and not just functional), with Vogie taking over the starting spot.  When Hudson is ready to return to the roster, I would guess that most probably, Vogie will be pushed to the bullpen unless another starter is having a really tough time (meaning, mostly, Lincecum, but we all know the question marks with everyone else:  Bumgarner's 270 IP, 4000+ pitches in 2014, Cain's own recovery, Peavy's reverting to first half or second half 2014 form, Lincecum able to dominate consistently with his Dad again helping game to game).

Thinking it over a lot, I think that this scenario makes the most sense.  Hudson probably would be ready by spring training and be able to take the starting mound to start the season, but probably not at 100% given his age and that the surgery just happened in late December.   Why not sign Vogelsong to start the season in his place, then see where the team is when Hudson is ready?  There are enough question marks that such a risk mitigation move would make a lot of sense.

Plus, Vogelsong really wanted to return to the team and he's at the age where he's not going to get a lot of chances to win it all again, better to take reduced role with potential champs than veteran teacher role with a losing team trying to transition back into the fast lane.  There's time enough to take such a role down the line as a coach if he wanted.

In addition, that allows the Giants to keep both Machi and presumably Kontos on the roster longer.  Both have done well in the majors for the Giants and both are out of options, I believe, so the Giants most likely will probably trade one off instead of DFAing him.   They would probably get more value from either player by trading in the middle of the coming season than they would trading them during spring, though if a team suddenly (injury) had need, they could do the trade then and let Strickland or Hall or Okert come up instead.
I like both, but neither has really distinguished themselves in the playoffs, certainly not like our four-some of Casilla, Romo, Affeldt, Lopez (and just imagine if Wilson had been able to stay healthy...).   And I'm torn between the two.  Machi is the only guy with a great fastball in our bullpen, so that is one great reason to keep him.  Kontos, on the other hand, is only 30 YO (Machi will be 33) and has a good slider to strike out people.  I think ultimately youth and specialty pitch will win over age and possibly fading fastball (Machi's K-rate went down a lot in 2014 vs. 2013).  But the Giants will do what they think is right, so it will be interesting what happens.

Other Scenarios

Obviously, if any other starter should need to be replaced, be it injury or poor performance, Vogelsong will probably be the first in line to take his spot.  Should the rotation stay healthy and productive together, he'll probably be the spot starter who will get a few middle innings relief jobs to keep his pitches sharp, while Petit will be the full-time long relief and occasional spot starter, especially given that Petit has done very well when placed in the rotation, but not as well when spot starting.   Sabean in an interview a day or two ago, noted that Petit will be a "super reliever", which suggests that he'll be used like Lincecum was in the 2012 playoffs, much like how I was hoping that Lincecum would do for the Giants at some point when he's no longer starter material.

I'm just happy he's back with the team, and (unfortunately for him) hope that he's stuck in the bullpen all season long.  But hopefully he'll be plenty rested and ready to do great things in the playoffs, should we make it in (and I think we should).

Go Giants!

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