Early Grades for All of the San Francisco Giants' Offseason Acquisitions
The 2015 season is in full swing, and the month of April has been a tumultuous on for the San Francisco Giants. The Giants have a record of 9-13 and are in last place in the NL West. They trail the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers by 4.5 games.
Much has been made of the Giants losing Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse in the free-agent market. In addition, general manager Brian Sabean was unsuccessful in landing a big-name player to bolster the pitching staff or add power to the offense.
The Giants struck out on Jon Lester and James Shields, two of their primary pitching targets this winter. In addition, as players like Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Michael Cuddyer and Hanley Ramirez all switched teams, the Giants went for a more cost-effective route.
Sabean ultimately brought in Nori Aoki and Casey McGehee to fill the spots vacated by the departures of Sandoval and Morse. In addition, non-roster invitee Justin Maxwell made the team.
The Giants also brought Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong back into the fold. Both were free agents but elected to return to San Francisco.
These five players encompass the Giants' offseason acquisitions currently playing on the 25-man roster. We will assess how each of them has done in April and provide them with a one-month grade.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
Contract data courtesy of Baseball Prospectus.
Casey McGehee is off to an abysmal start with the Giants. He is hitting just .169, with an OBP of .222 and OPS of .493.
What has made matters worse is that McGehee has been a rally killer for the Giants, having grounded into eight double plays in only 59 at-bats. Perhaps this should not come as any surprise to the Giants, as McGehee grounded into 31 double plays to lead all of baseball in 2014.
Last year, however, even with the double plays, McGehee hit .287, with an OBP of .355 and OPS of .712. His 76 RBI actually were three more than the man he replaced, Pablo Sandoval.
It is clear when watching him at the plate that McGehee is pressing. A move back to his home area, with his favorite team growing up and also the world champions has gotten McGehee over-anxious at the plate.
McGehee is a good hitter, and once he calms down, he will settle in and do a lot better. Manager Bruce Bochy has stuck with the veteran, and ultimately we should see that patience pay off.
However, in this first month, McGehee has neither hit well or played that well in the field. In 2014, McGehee made only seven errors at third base all season. He has already made three errors in his first 15 games.
McGehee is destined to improve, but for now, his play has been downright poor.
Casey McGehee Grade: F
Justin Maxwell came to the Giants as a non-roster invitee, after spending the 2014 season between Kansas City and its minor league affiliate in Omaha.
While with the Royals, Maxwell appeared in only 20 games and had just 40 at-bats. He hit only .150, with an OBP of .222 and OPS of .397.
Maxwell's best year was in 2012 with Houston. In 315 at-bats, he hit 18 home runs and had 53 RBI.
At the start of spring training, nobody expected Maxwell to make the team. However, he played well, and the injury to Hunter Pence opened up a spot for an extra outfielder. Maxwell seized the opportunity and is off to a good start in April.
Maxwell is hitting .255, with an OBP of .333 and OPS of .843. He has three home runs and nine RBI in only 51 at-bats. In addition to his offensive productivity, Maxwell has also played well in the outfield, making several outstanding plays already this season.
Even when Pence returns, if Maxwell continues to hit, he will get playing time in left field. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy can spell either Nori Aoki or Angel Pagan, keeping them fresher.
Justin Maxwell Grade: A-
When the San Francisco Giants acquired Jake Peavy at the trade deadline last year, he had a record of 1-9, an ERA of 4.72 and WHIP of 1.427.
One had to wonder, what was Brian Sabean thinking?
However, Sabean was right∑—and once Peavy was back in the National League and reunited with Giants manager Bruce Bochy, Peavy flourished. Peavy stepped in for the injured Matt Cain and helped to lead the Giants to the playoffs.
In 12 regular-season starts for the Giants, Peavy threw 78.2 innings, allowed 65 hits and 17 walks while striking out 58. He compiled a record of 6-4, with an ERA of 2.17 and WHIP of 1.042.
After the Giants missed out on Jon Lester and James Shields, Sabean moved quickly to sign Peavy, who agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal.
Peavy has had a rough start to the 2015 season. He has made only two starts, both losses. In 7.2 innings of work, Peavy has allowed 12 hits and four walks while striking out seven. His ERA and WHIP have ballooned up to 9.39 and 2.087, respectively.
Peavy is currently on the DL, as back problems have limited his effectiveness and caused him a lot of pain.
Jake Peavy Grade: INC
Ryan Vogelsong was an instrumental member of the Giants' World Series-winning teams in 2012 and 2014.
His contract expired at the end of the 2014 season, but Vogelsong was brought back to provide depth on the pitching staff. The Giants originally planned that Vogelsong would be a long reliever, but injuries to Matt Cain and Jake Peavy have forced him back into the starting rotation.
Vogelsong has had one decent start out of three and has also not done well out of the bullpen. In 19.1 innings pitched, Vogelsong has allowed 28 hits and 11 walks while striking out 17. His ERA is a horrendous 9.31, and his WHIP of 2.017 is equally bad.
When either Cain or Peavy returns, Vogelsong could be on his way out, especially if he continues to struggle. One must wonder if Vogelsong, who will be 38 years of age in July, can still be effective on a consistent basis.
Vogelsong may get one or two more chances, but if there is not marked improvement, his tenure as a Giant could be over.
Ryan Vogelsong Grade: F
Nori Aoki has given the Giants everything they could have asked for and more. He has prospered at the top of the Giants batting order, hitting .303 with an OBP of .392 and OPS of .763. Aoki leads the league with 102 plate appearances, and he also has six stolen bases to lead the Giants.
Aoki has been remarkably consistent in his prior three years in the majors. He came to the United States from Japan in 2012 and has hit between .285 to .288 in each of his three previous seasons. His OBP has been between .349 to .355.
It is likely that Aoki's production will dip a little and he will finish the year closer to his career track record. Nevertheless, Aoki has gotten on base and provided a spark for the Giants.
Although Aoki can be somewhat of an adventure defensively and on the bases, he has been a breath of fresh air for the Giants.
Nori Aoki Grade: A