Tuesday afternoon on the Greg Papa Show on 95.7 The Game, Jon Morosi summed up the San Francisco Giants perfectly with one word: stuck.
The night of July 11, I boarded a flight to Cuba for a nice vacation. Earlier that day, the Giants were 49-46 after defeating the Chicago Cubs in extra innings. I returned to the Bay Area, and the Giants were still three games over .500 after a 5-1 win over the red-hot Oakland A’s.
Granted, they had some time off with the All-Star Break, but that’s the 2018 Giants: A team seemingly stuck in neutral. They can’t go backwards, and sell off pieces to re-tool for the future, because they’re somehow still hanging around in the NL West and wild card races, one hopeful winning streak from being in contention. They can’t move forward because they don’t have the wiggle room to add a piece that could be a difference maker.
The fact is that San Francisco is a .500 ballclub that’s doled out so much cash, that heading into the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline, they don’t have the financial flexibility to absorb an eight-figure salary that could get the club over that hump. The Giants are right up against the competitive balance tax, which the front office doesn’t want to go over.
Ahead of their two-game series against the Seattle Mariners, the Giants are in a peculiar situation. One game over .500 (51-50) and 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Dodgers, who acquired All-Star Manny Machado for five prospects while I was chillin’ on a beautiful beach in Varadero, sipping on frozen pineapple juice mixed with rum.
I kept sipping. I wasn’t surprised that the Dodgers ended up with Machado. They have the prospects and finances to make a blockbuster deal like that happen. The Giants don’t.
Sure, San Francisco can believe that injuries have kept them from being the consistent team they envisioned being. However, former National League MVP’s Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen have been disappointments offensively, the left field position continues to be a black hole and Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto have been so-so since they’ve come off the disabled list.
So what do the Giants do ahead of the deadline? We know Brian Sabean and general manager Bobby Evans ain’t sellin’. That’s not in their DNA, especially with a team that still has a glimmer of marketable hope.
Twelve of the next 14 games, the Giants could easily fall completely out of the race as they take on Seattle (60-40), Milwaukee (57-45), Arizona (55-46) and Houston (66-36).
Unfortunately, that daunting stretch ends August 7, a week after the trade deadline and leaving the Giants stuck. Until then, they won’t know whether to buy or sell, and by then, it will be too late.
Evan Longoria will be back sometime within the week and Hunter Strickland is not too far behind, but are we kidding ourselves?
San Francisco is 23rd in the major leagues in runs scored, 21st in on-base percentage, 23rd in slugging. Despite some heroic efforts by Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez, they rank 14th in ERA, 11th in quality starts, 23rd in batters struck out and 17th in opponent’s batting average.
Haven’t we seen enough of the Giants to know they are lightyears away from competing for their fourth World Series title this decade?
I’ve already given you my opinion about Madison Bumgarner. The way he’s nibbling around the strike zone with a drop in velocity, he could be the first piece in helping this team reset and rebuild.
You can argue that the contracts of Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon have been been a combined $152 million dollar mistake. To put it kindly, those acquisitions haven’t worked out.
I’m sure Sabean and Evans would love to dump Samardzija off to another team, as well as Hunter Pence, but what team will take on Samardzija and the $39-plus million dollars he’s owed? San Francisco undoubtedly would have to eat some of that money.