Bay Area

Is it time for the Giants to replace Casey McGehee?

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When beloved Pablo ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Sandoval dipped for the Boston Redsox following the San Francisco Giants’ third championship in the fall of 2014, he literally left a large void at third base. The Giants did not have have any internal options to replace Sandoval, nor were there any affordable options on the free agent market. With that said, the front office went the trade route, acquiring Casey McGehee from the Miami Marlins.

The trade was not widely accepted among many Giants fans, especially coming off another World Weries title, where fans were looking for a splash. However, as many who have been following the Giants already know, signing or trading for a big name player is simply not the way the Giants front office operates post Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand era. The Giants have been consistent in paying their homegrown players instead i.e. Buster Posey (8 yers/$167 million), Matt Cain (5 years, $112.5 million), and Madison Bumgarner (5 years, $35 million). They even made a strong effort to resign Sandoval, who felt disrespected by the Giants efforts to retain him and spurned them for the Redsox, all while doing a solid job at burning his bridges in San Francisco with some strong criticism towards the organization that developed and maintained their patience with him.

Acquiring the Santa Cruz native Casey McGehee to fill Sandoval’s shoes was the perfect example of how the Giants front office operates; fill their holes with a short-term, cheap option who is a strong clubhouse presence and has some mileage left. The Giants felt bringing McGehee back home would give him and the team a boost, especially going into his contract year.

McGehee has had a strong track record since he joined the league, practically breaking out of nowhere with the Milwaukee Brewers by finishing 5th for NL Rookie of the Year in 2009, and following up that campaign with a 23-home run season in 2010. 

At the same time, he has been extremely inconsistent, to the point where he could not land a major league job and had to rejuvenate his career in Japan during the 2013 campaign. Upon coming back to the United States and having a productive season in Miami during the 2014 season, in which he produced a .287/.355/.357 line with 4 home runs and 76 runs driven in, but also hit into a league leading 31 double plays. That line was passable, enough for the Giants to make the trade and bring McGehee home.

It could be the pressure of replacing a fan favorite in Sandoval, or it could be pressure to produce for a team he grew up watching and has family and friends close by, but McGehee’s start to his Giants career has not been a good one. Through 18 games, he has only played in 13 games due to a bone bruise in his knee, and has hit to a .163/.217/.256 line with one home run and two runs driven in, and as of April 24th, has as many hits (7) as he does double plays (seven) – a far cry from the line he produced in Miami last season.

The slow start, along with the fact that the acquisition was not met with much enthusiasm among fans, has led to many Giants fans already calling for McGehee to be replaced. While I will agree McGehee doesn’t look comfortable at the plate or on the field ( already has committed 3 errors in just 95 innings) Bruce Bochy and the entire Giants front office is notoriously know for having a long leash on veterans who have a strong track record of producing quality seasons.

Bochy spoke with the media following the Giants loss to the Colorado Rockies on April 24th, a game in which McGehee hit into two more double plays, that he would speak with McGehee but would not speak to the media about the possibility of benching him in favor of Matt Duffy. Duffy has looked a lot better in a short sample size, hitting .270/.318/.405 with 1 home run and 7 driven in 42 at bats. Any young prospect who has played for Bochy knows they have to remain patient and absolutely earn playing time over a veteran.

That remains true for Matt Duffy, who will eventually get his chance later this season, if not sooner if McGehee continues to struggle. The Giants also have Adam Duvall, who had a taste of the big leagues during the 2014 season, and is off to a red hot start in Sacramento, hitting a ridiculous .424/.451/.758 with 4 home runs and 16 driven in just 71 plate appearances, including hitting for the first cycle in Sacramento history on April 19th. However, as fans witnessed last year, Duvall has not shown the ability to hitting breaking balls, and his defense at third base is nothing spectacular. Nonetheless, the Giants have something here, but with a logjam on the bench with the big league club, expect Duvall to remain in Sacramento for the foreseeable future. 

Remain patient, Giants fans, McGehee will come out of this slump soon, and if he does not, expect to see a combination of Matt Duffy/ Joaquin Arias/ and perhaps Adam Duvall sometime this summer. With 18 games into the season, there are simply not many trade options to replace McGehee, nor should the Giants go that route.

The Giants need to wait until Hunter Pence is healthy again, which will allow for Bochy to drop McGehee towards the bottom third of the lineup and reduce some of the  pressure McGehee is facing to produce.  McGehee has a long leash at third, even in a Giants lineup that has struggled to score runs.

If all else, at $4.8 million, McGehee makes for a nice bench bat who can adequately cover 3b and 1b. He’s a guy worth rooting for, trust me, just remain patient and please stop hoping the guy breaks his leg or “dies in a fire,” as many are crying for on sports talk radio shows and Twitter.  Giants fans, you are better than that. It’s only April and there is a ton of baseball left. 

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Kunaal Madhavan

Kunaal loves talking baseball. In his spare time, he is an active volunteer assisting in youth camps for some of the top athletes in the Bay Area.


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