Giants

The latest round of Name That Unwritten Rule in baseball

The latest round of Name That Unwritten Rule in baseball

Yasiel Puig got two games for punching Nick Hundley in the mask. Jose Ureña got six games for throwing at Ronald Acuña’. Nobody is happy on any side.
 
And that, ladies and jellyspoons, is baseball justice, now and forever.
 
But it is also sports justice, which is typically very flexible when it comes to precedent anyway, save for drug suspensions, which are covered under the collective bargaining agreement.
 
Puig got his two as part of his ongoing feud with the San Francisco Giants, and theirs with him. Hundley chastised Puig for being unhappy with a pitch he missed, and Puig, remembering all the cheery times he has had against the Giants, responded in more than kind. As a result of the brawl he helped inflame, he will have to go to the trouble of losing his appeal of a two-game suspension while Hundley was merely fined for acting like everyone’s dean of students. And you know the dean of students at your school was so beloved.
 
By now, though, it is clear that Puig and the Giants have issues, and there seems no impetus on any side to make them go away. In other words, the punishments may or may not have fit the crime, but it is clearly not meant as a deterrent. It certainly won’t be one for Hundley or the Giants, who have made Puig a long-running personal cause.

Me, I'd give Hundley two games along with Puig, and fine both teams $10 million and tell them, "Make this nonsense stop." Then again, commissioners don't get to take big money to teams without paying a price down the road, which is why I would have to be named imperial emperor to have that kind of pull.

In other words, this will happen again.
 
As for Ureña, his six games (or one start) will be regarded as a gift from MLB for what looked to all the world like a purposeful beanball attempt. The length of the suspension is probably mitigated further by the fact that Acuña played Thursday against Colorado.
 
But the more interesting notion is that MLB decided not to guess on Ureña’s intent, because intent can’t be proven, and if baseball wanted to go down that particular rabbit hole, it would be in court in no time having to defend breaking precedent so violently for something that must be negotiated as part of the collective bargaining agreement with the players.
 
That is not yet a fight the owners seem to want to have – not when there are so many others to employ between now and the time negotiations begin before the 2021 deadline.
 
In addition, baseball does not throw large suspensions around as a general rule. If you take out the drug-related suspensions (either recreational or performance-based), the longest suspensions on record for a player are Roberto Osuna’s 75 games for domestic violence (which he has denied while accepting the suspension for the thing he said he didn’t do, if that makes sense to you), and Lenny Randle’s 30 days for punching out Texas manager Pat Corrales in 1977, when Randle was a Ranger himself.
 
But the Ureña/Acuña case is about player safety (as opposed to the usually tedious old school/new school arguments that remind us that we make generations hate each other as part of the gross national product), which one would think the union would be interested in enhancing and defending.
 
Player safety should matter, of course, but the distrust between the sides runs so deep that any introduction of language that allows the MLB mall cops to judge someone’s intent as binding evidence would become a war in its own right. The sides would rather play negotiation chicken and hope no players get maimed or worse playing “Name That Unwritten Rule.”
 
Which is why Ureña only misses one start, even though it seems about three starts too light. As for Puig and the Giants, well, September 28 in San Francisco, no later than the fifth inning. If baseball can’t get into the world of intent, it has no chance with a hatred that never seems to die.

Acquiring Drew Pomeranz checks off many boxes for Farhan Zaidi, Giants

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USATSI

Acquiring Drew Pomeranz checks off many boxes for Farhan Zaidi, Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — When asked Wednesday afternoon about some of the bigger names that remain on the free agent market, Farhan Zaidi said he won’t talk about specific players.

But the new president of baseball operations at Oracle Park has been open about some traits he specifically is looking for in free agents, and in that respect, Drew Pomeranz checks off a lot of boxes. 

Pomeranz, a 30-year-old left-hander, was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal Wednesday that could guarantee him as much as $5 million if he hits incentives, according to The Athletic. He will be plugged into the rotation, and the Giants feel they have found their 2019 version of Derek Holland, a veteran lefty who rebounded last year in a new environment. 

Holland returned last week on a one-year deal that similarly fit what the Giants are looking for as they take a step back in the roster-building process. Here’s how Pomeranz fit that mold, too:

--- Look at the track record: When discussing guys like Mike Gerber and his Rule 5 picks, Zaidi has talked about the importance of going a few years back in a prospect’s profile. The same holds true for Pomeranz. He had a 6.08 ERA in 2018, but a year earlier he posted a 3.32 ERA while making 32 starts for an American League East club. He had a 3.32 ERA in 2016, too, and it was 2.47 for the Padres before he was traded to Boston. 

Pomeranz’s 3.32 ERA in 63 games across those two years ranks sixth among left-handed starters, behind Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Madison Bumgarner, Alex Wood, and Chris Sale. Zaidi worked with three of those pitchers in Los Angeles and now has two in San Francisco, and given that Pomeranz is just 30 years old, it’s not unrealistic to picture him getting back to that production. 

“You go back to 2016 and 17, he’s one of best left-handed starters in baseball,” Zaidi said. 

Zaidi later went way further back than 2016, repeatedly mentioning Pomeranz’s pedigree. 

“Drew’s got a pedigree dating back to his college days,” Zaidi said. “Team USA, and being a top-five pick in the draft.”

--- Take advantage of the ballpark: Pomeranz’s wife is from the Bay Area and the former Athletic met her here. He mentioned repeatedly that he likes San Francisco, and threw in how the ballpark can help starting pitchers. 

“The big thing for me was opportunity,” Pomeranz said. “My big thing for me was getting back on track and doing what I can do and just being myself again.”

Zaidi has made no secret of the fact that he’s using Oracle Park as a selling point for pitchers in need of a bounce-back, and he’s even open about how helpful it may be for them financially. He said Pomeranz’s side pushed for a one-year deal.

“It was important to get a one-year deal and reposition himself in free agency,” Zaidi said. “We’re certainly hoping we can give him that kind of platform to have him have a really strong year and re-enter the market or stay in San Francisco if it works for both sides.”

It’s a win-win. Pomeranz gets a shot to rebuild some value and cash in next winter, and if he does pitch well at Oracle Park, the Giants get a good starter … and a good trade chip. 

[RELATED: Will moves be made closer around Spring Training?]

--- Short-term deals: Zaidi inherited the worst future payroll situation in the league, and it has become clear that the Giants do not want to further dig that hole before a season in which they are not expected to contend, even though Zaidi said there’s no mandate for short-term deals. All three additions thus far — Pomeranz, Derek Holland, and Pat Venditte — have come on one-year deals, and the Giants have not been seriously in on any of the big names in the market. 

--- Versatility: Pomeranz has made 74 relief appearances in his career and allowed just a 3.00 ERA when coming out of the bullpen. He was signed to be a starter, but like Holland, he should be able to seamlessly move into the bullpen if needed at some point. 

“We value guys who have that flexibility, but where we are as a staff, with our depth in the bullpen and need for innings and more of a veteran presence on the rotation side, our plan is for him to be in the rotation,” Zaidi said.

Giants part ways with first player Farhan Zaidi added to roster

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AP

Giants part ways with first player Farhan Zaidi added to roster

SAN FRANCISCO — The first player Farhan Zaidi ever added to the Giants roster is no longer on the roster. 

To clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Drew Pomeranz, the Giants on Wednesday designated Mike Gerber for assignment. Gerber, a 26-year-old outfielder, was claimed from the Detroit Tigers on the first day of the Winter Meetings in December.

Pomeranz signed a one-year deal on Wednesday. 

Gerber looked headed for plenty of spring training time in an outfield that is lacking big-league talent. When the Giants picked him up, they talked up his minor league track record and the fact that Gerber can play all three outfield spots. 

The move leaves the Giants with just five outfielders on their 40-man roster, including one — Rule 5 pick Drew Ferguson — who was added three days after Gerber and outlasted him. None of them have been regular starters in the big leagues, although Steven Duggar is expected to be that guy in center field this season.

Currently, Austin Slater leads Giants outfielders in career plate appearances, and he’s at just 352. 

Zaidi has said repeatedly that he expects to add at least two outfielders to the mix before the season, perhaps guys who fit the short-term mold displayed by the Pomeranz signing.