After coming within a game and a half of first place, the Giants have been in a bit of a tailspin. After getting swept by the Rockies in Colorado and dropping two of the first three to the Cardinals at home, change was seemingly in the cards. The Giants lineup, which has been deadly at times with the sheer length in the middle of the order with the combination of Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Andrew McCutchen, and Buster Posey, has scored 10 runs in the past six games. The returns of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija were supposed to bolster a surprisingly good young rotation of Chris Stratton, Andrew Suarez, and Dereck Rodriguez, but both have lost their opening starts. The Giants need to breathe new life into a team that is on the downswing at the worst time and decided to make a move, shipping Austin Jackson, Cory Gearrin, and emerging pitching prospect Jason Bahr to the Rangers, for a player to be named later or cash.
Bruce Bochy has always been known amongst Giants’ fans as someone who relies on veterans too much and blocking the playing time of young players. It happened a little with Bengie Molina and Buster Posey, Marco Scutaro/assortment of others and Joe Panik, and currently a bit with Hunter Pence/Austin Jackson and Steven Duggar, the Giants top outfield prospect, who is slashing .272/.354/.421 at AAA Sacramento. This is also true with the bullpen to an extent, as proven by the failed Sam Dyson experiment just last week and the Santiago Casilla debacles. This gives Bochy young talent all over the field, with Duggar in center, Slater in left, Hanson at second, and the young rotation.
This trade shows that the Giants believe they can really compete this year, and I do not blame them. For stretches, this team has shown glimpses of being one of the best teams in the National League with a seemingly endless supply of good players coming up from AAA, notably Alen Hanson, Austin Slater, and Dereck Rodriguez. The Giants might have the best depth in the whole league when you consider all the injuries that have plagued them starting way back in Spring Training, with Madison Bumgarner missing the first three months of the season. The Giants hope to see the same production from two more AAA guys in Steven Duggar, and most intriguing, Ray Black.
Duggar is a known quantity to most Giants fans. He had an impressive Spring Training in which he was touted at the center fielder of the future. He continued his production in Sacramento, proving he can hit high level pitching. His promotion seemed like it was only a matter of time, especially given Austin Jackson and Hunter Pence’s production. Ray Black is a different story. He burst onto the scene in the Arizona Fall League a few years ago when he was throwing 103 after numerous arm ailments and procedures. He could not pitch on back to back days for a while and could not throw enough strikes to be a real possibility for the Majors, but he has seemed to figured it out. In basically 32 innings pitched, Black has walked just 11 while striking out 58, which would warrant at least some discussion upstairs about a promotion. Gearrin also was not pitching well and not pitching at all it seemed unless in mop up duty. The Giants identified two weaknesses and have replaced two grossly overpaid veterans given their production with cheap, in house talent. I do not know many other teams who can do that once, let alone time and time again like the 2018 Giants. Out with the old, in with the new.