Would Andrew McCutchen be a fit for Giants?


Would Andrew McCutchen be a fit for Giants?

SAN FRANCISCO — You can disagree with some of the moves — or many of them — the Giants have made over the past couple of years while sinking to 98 losses, but give them credit for one thing: They certainly don’t shy away from big names. 

With the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes dragging on, the Giants are now for the first time connected to Andrew McCutchen. He has always had fans in the organization, for good reason, and on Wednesday morning Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported that the Giants have been in contact with the Pirates and he could be a target if Stanton goes elsewhere. 

On the surface, McCutchen would be a blockbuster acquisition. He’s a former MVP and finished in the top five of the voting for four consecutive seasons. He is Pittsburgh’s Buster Posey, and who wouldn’t want that? 

But does the 31-year-old actually make sense as Plan B? Here’s a closer look: 

Why He Fits: After a downturn in 2016, McCutchen’s offensive numbers rebounded in 2017. He posted a .363 on-base percentage, 28 homers, 88 RBI and an OPS+ of 121. By any metric, he would be the best hitting outfielder on the roster, and he could give Posey a sidekick and provide the offense with the right-handed pop that is so sorely needed.

At 31, McCutchen should still have plenty left, and he would be in a contract year. That’s another reason why this is a good fit. With some creative accounting and perhaps another trade, the Giants could absorb all or most of McCutchen’s $14.75 million and stay under or right at the tax, and he wouldn't add to their financial issues going forward. After a couple years of trade rumors, he doesn’t figure to be too expensive in terms of prospects, either.

If you’re just talking about his offensive profile and his contract, McCutchen — also known as a good clubhouse guy — is the perfect fit for an aging team trying to take one last shot at the postseason. 

Why He Doesn’t Fit: Of course, defense matters. It matters a lot to the Giants in particular after the way 2017 played out. They have made fixing the outfield defense a priority, and putting McCutchen in center field would fly in the face of everything management has talked about over the last several months. 

Per FanGraphs, McCutchen was worth negative 16 Defensive Runs Saved in 2017, making him one of the three worst defensive center fielders in the big leagues (the Giants already have the worst). This wasn’t a one-year fluke, either. McCutchen's defensive metrics have been brutal over the last couple of years and the Pirates actually moved him to right field before Starling Marte’s suspension wrecked their plans. 

The Giants went down this road with Angel Pagan and then again with Denard Span. At some point, a player needs to move to a corner, as Span now will, and they absolutely can’t look at McCutchen as a stopgap in center field, not with the story told by his defensive numbers and the eye test. 

If McCutchen is being looked at for left field or right, he’s a nice fit. But the Giants already owe Span and Hunter Pence about $30 million, so it’s hard to see a path forward that includes those two, McCutchen, and a new defensive-minded center fielder. That’s not a reasonable allocation of resources for a team with so many holes to fill. 

Giants, Marlins play beanball near end of dramatic season series

Giants, Marlins play beanball near end of dramatic season series

SAN FRANCISCO — On Tuesday morning, in Los Angeles, Evan Longoria had his fractured fifth metacarpal repaired. In the afternoon, in San Francisco, Hunter Strickland had a similar procedure. 

The metacarpal madness did not lead to any excess caution for a team that has dealt with injuries throughout. It was the opposite, in fact. The Giants sprinted headfirst into a beanball war with a team with nothing to lose. That led to a scary moment for Buster Posey, but ultimately the Giants came away unscathed, and with a win. 

Players and coaches predictably shied away from the drama in the moments following a 6-3 win. But manager Bruce Bochy repeatedly praised rookie Dereck Rodriguez for the way he handled himself — he drilled opposing rookie Lewis Brinson — and said this was just part of the game.

“It’s baseball,” Bochy said. “We’re men. This is what happens in baseball.”

The Giants say they were upset over a Dan Straily pitch last week that sent Longoria to the disabled list, and Bochy twice mentioned that Kelby Tomlinson was hit in Monday night’s game. This doesn’t quite hold up under scrutiny. If the Giants wanted to get revenge on behalf of Longoria, they would have hit a Marlin on Monday night. Or they could have waited for Straily’s at-bat in the top of the second inning Tuesday. No, this was about more than a couple of pitches that hit Giants players.

There was never much doubt that the Giants would retaliate against Brinson, and Rodriguez didn’t waste any time. His first pitch to Brinson, with two on and one out in the second, was a 92 mph fastball that drilled his hip. 

“Runners on second and third and less than two outs, you don’t want him to get a sacrifice fly,” Rodriguez said. “I was trying to go in. It got him. It happens.”

Brinson knew it was coming following Monday night’s theatrics. After a 95 mph fastball from Strickland shot up toward his head, he lined the game-tying single into right. Brinson, 24, hopped up and down as he headed toward first and turned and yelled something at Strickland. A few minutes later, Strickland’s night was done, and he walked near third base on his way to the dugout, exchanging words with Brinson. 

Rodriguez’s pitch a day later led to warnings for both sides, but the Marlins are headed for the top of the draft, and they didn’t much seem to care about losing their starting pitcher. Dan Straily drilled Posey on the arm in the bottom of the second and was immediately ejected. Retaliation?

“I don’t know,” Posey said. “I don’t know. It seemed that way.”

Bochy came out raging, and he later said that Marlins manager Don Mattingly had indicated payback was coming.

“I don’t know what happened there when he came out,” Bochy said. “I guess he was upset about the warnings. I guess they thought they have to do something. I guess there was fuzzy math going on when our third baseman is on the DL for eight weeks and we had a guy get hit in the back last night.”

The only math that ultimately mattered was 90 feet. Whether they were upset about Longoria, or about Brinson’s trip around the bases Monday night, the Giants decided to get into it at a time when they can’t afford another injury. The pitch to Posey rode up and in, and was near his hands, where metacarpals are all too easy to break, but he jogged the 90 feet down to first and chatted with Justin Bour. 

That would be it for the drama, but the Giants and Marlins may not be done, no matter what’s said behind closed doors. The visiting starter for the final matchup of the season between these two will be Jose Urena, who hit an MLB-leading 14 batters last year and three Cubs on opening day this year. 


Tensions boil over as Giants snap losing streak to Marlins

Tensions boil over as Giants snap losing streak to Marlins


SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants are apparently feuding with the Miami Marlins. At least this time the drama came with a win. 

Buster Posey homered and was hit on a fiery night at AT&T Park, when the bullpen finally allowed the offensive work hold up. The Giants won 6-3, beating the Marlins for the second time in six tries this season. Here are the details … 

--- A night after Hunter Strickland and Lewis Brinson exchanged words, Dereck Rodriguez's first pitch to Brinson was a 92 mph fastball to the hip. Both benches were warned, but the Marlins still retaliated. Dan Straily hit Posey on the arm in the bottom of the inning and was immediately ejected. Posey was uninjured. 

--- Gorkys Hernandez, who hit zero homers last year, crushed his eighth. The two-run blast put the Giants on top 3-0. Posey had a solo shot in the first. 

--- Dereck Rodriguez had one rough inning, but otherwise pitched well. He was charged with three earned in five innings, all of the damage coming in the fourth. He struck out six and walked none. 

—- Alen Hanson had a rough weekend in Los Angeles, but he bounced back with a huge night: a single and two doubles, including one that would have been a triple if not for iffy baserunning ahead of him. He also made a spectacular play at short to end the eighth. 

--- Will Smith pitched the eighth and started the ninth, but Sam Dyson came on with one out and one on. He got a game-ending double play.