Giants have eight million reasons to keep looking at Matt Moore in second half

Giants have eight million reasons to keep looking at Matt Moore in second half

SAN FRANCISCO — The numbers jump off the page, and not in a good way. 

An ERA of 6.04, last in the National League. A WHIP of 1.69, also last in the National League. A .307 batting average against. 

There is no way to sugarcoat Matt Moore’s first half, during which he has alternated being wild with being stunningly hittable. With Madison Bumgarner one rehab start from returning, the Giants soon will be pulling a starter from the rotation, and on merit Moore would be part of that discussion. 

It’s a move they can’t make, though, in part because of what this season has become. Austin Slater was getting a look in left field until an injury, Jae-Gyun Hwang is getting a chance to show what he can do at third, and Moore, a veteran in the big leagues, is all of a sudden in the same boat. 

Among other things, the Giants need to use the second half to figure out who Matt Moore really is. They have eight million reasons to do so. 

Moore came from Tampa Bay on a team-friendly deal, and when the Giants acquired him last August 1, it looked to be a lock that they would pick up the remainder of his deal. Moore was their new Bumgarner, a young lefty who would annually be underpaid. The Giants picked up the first of Moore’s options last November and it was a no-brainer given how he pitched down the stretch and in the NLDS. The second option year is for 2018 at a cost of $9 million, with a $1 million buyout. There is a $10 million option in 2019 with a buyout of $750,000.

The Giants will almost certainly still view $8 million as a worthwhile investment for 2018 given the price of free agent pitching and the talent Moore still shows in flashes, but it’s not the layup it once was because Moore has not been the pitcher he was. Moore’s inclusion in the second-half rotation might not be the layup it appeared to be, either. Asked about what the Giants might do to try and fix Moore, manager Bruce Bochy said discussions have been had. 

“We’ve talked about it. I don’t have something to give you, but we’ve talked about what we can do to help all these guys and set up our rotation,” he said. “We’ll continue that the next two days.”

The Giants likely will have Johnny Cueto and Bumgarner lined up for the first two games of the second half. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. Moore said he’ll use the break to fish, play some golf, and clear his head. 

“I’ll catch my breath a little bit,” he said.

Moore said he’s looking forward to his next start. He’s also looking forward to officially being into the second half of the season. 

“With relief pitchers, they probably think about it in the sense of months. A new month is a new season. Hitters go day to day,” he said. “For me, (a new half) is something to set my sights on. You have the whole second half to figure out the things that are keeping you from getting to the seventh and eight inning. That is one of the things I’m looking forward to.”

Giants CEO Larry Baer won't face criminal charges over incident with wife


Giants CEO Larry Baer won't face criminal charges over incident with wife

The San Francisco district attorney's office announced Tuesday that it has decided not to charge Giants CEO Larry Baer in relation to the March 1 incident with his wife, Pam.

"After a careful review of the relevant evidence, including multiple videos, statements from several witnesses and the parties themselves, the evidence does not support filing criminal charges," Alex Bastian, a district attorney’s office spokesman, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Giants said March 4 that Baer was stepping away from day-to-day operations of the Giants. MLB said on the day of the incident that it was “aware of the incident and, just like any other situation like this, will immediately begin to gather the facts. We will have no further comment until this process is completed."

Giants' new role players must step up for team to have successful 2019

Giants' new role players must step up for team to have successful 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before you start reading this, knock on wood a couple dozen times. 

The Giants have stayed healthy this spring, and that's the first step towards being better than they were the last two years. 

But that could change at any moment. After all, Madison Bumgarner got hurt in his final start last spring. Whether it's next week or next month, the Giants will need to start dipping into their depth, and while this has been a remarkably quiet offseason, they have done a decent job of upgrading the back ends of the active and 40-man rosters. 

The 2018 Giants were bad, but the 2018 Sacramento River Cats were also bad, which gave the big league club little hope of finding adequate replacements when injuries popped up, or regulars became ineffective. 

That's one area where this year's team should be better, and if you're looking for a way Farhan Zaidi can automatically pick up a few wins in Year 1, look no further than last year's roster. This is some of what he has had to replace:

Gorkys Hernandez: Despite the homers, he had a .656 OPS in 451 plate appearances
Hunter Pence: He is beloved, but posted a .226/.258/.332 line in 248 plate appearances
Gregor Blanco: Also a #ForeverGiant, but he hit .217/.262/.317 in 203 plate appearances 
Austin Jackson: Had a .604 OPS in 59 games before he was salary-dumped
Kelby Tomlinson: Great dude, fan favorite ... slugged .264 in 152 plate appearances
Chase d'Arnaud: Great dude, great with fans ... had a .618 OPS in 100 plate appearances

The pitching staff was better, but the Giants still had a lot of appearances Zaidi believes can be more effectively replaced. Notably, Hunter Strickland, who was non-tendered, had a 3.97 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 49 appearances and Pierce Johnson had a 5.56 ERA in 37 appearances. This year's bullpen is deeper and the rotation is deep enough that Andrew Suarez won't be in it to start the year. 

Of all the players listed above, Hernandez (0.5) was the only one with a positive WAR. The rest combined for negative four Wins Above Replacement.  

[RELATED: How will Giants narrow bullpen options before Opening Day?]

Will Yangervis Solarte make better use of those spare infield at-bats? Will Travis Bergen or Trevor Gott be better than the relievers who were let go? Will Mac Williamson, Gerardo Parra and Cameron Maybin greatly outperform Hernandez, Pence and Blanco? 

We'll see, but the standard set in 2018 was not at all a high one, and improvement from the complementary pieces on this year's roster would help the Giants inch a bit closer to meaningful September baseball.