Sunday, March 30, 2014

Meet the New Giants!

This year's Giants 25 man active roster at the start of the season has 5 players who are completely new to the organization:  Tim Hudson, Michael Morse, David Huff, JC Gutierrez and Brandon Hicks.  I thought it would be fun to take closer look at who these guys are and where they came from.

Tim Hudson, RHP

Tim Hudson is new to the Giants organization, but is well known to Bay Area baseball fans from his days as an Oakland Athletic.  He pitched for Oakland from his MLB debut in 1999 through 2004 and was part of the terrific trio of SP's for the A's that included Barry Zito and Mark Mulder.  He won 20 games for the A's in 2000 and compiled a W-L record of 92-39 during his A's tenure.  He was traded to Atlanta for the 2005 season and pitched 9 seasons with Atlanta including parts of the 2008 and 2009 seasons due to TJ surgery.  Late in 2013, he suffered an ankle fracture in a collision while covering 1B which appears to be fully healed.  He is a groundball pitcher with a career GO/AO= approximatel 1.5.  He is one of just 2 active pitchers to accumulate more than 200 career wins with a 205-111 record.  Part of what enabled him to get all those W's is an ability to conserve his pitch counts and get deep into games.  He signed a 2 year FA contract this offseason and takes over the rotation spot vacated by Barry Zito who had his option declined by the Giants at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

Michael Morse, OF/1B.

Michael Morse has had an enigmatic career up to this point, and that is probably putting it mildly.  He is an amazing physical specimen who has shown flashes of superstar potential when fully healthy, while his value has been sapped by poor defensive play and frequent injuries.  He is coming off another poor season caused by yet another injury, hoping for a bounceback season.  He was drafted in the 3'rd round of the 2000 draft by the White Sox out of high school as a SS.  Despite his 6'5" 195 lb frame, he continued to develop as a SS and eventually landed in the Mariners organization making his MLB debut at SS in 2004.  He hit a respectable .278/.349/.370 but committed 12 errors in 72 games.  Over the next several years, he bounced around the Mariners organization playing sparingly at the MLB level as a utilityman.  He was traded to the Washington Nationals in 2009.  By this time he had grown into a 6'5", 245 lb monster and the Nationals put him in LF and 1B.  He opened a lot of eyes in 2010 by slashing .289/.352/.519 with 15 HR in 266 AB.  A breakout in 2011 was widely predicted and he made good with a .303/.360/.550, 31 HR campaign.  He continued to hit well when healthy, but missed a lot of PT in 2012 and 2013.  The two big questions with Morse are 1.  Can he stay healthy?   2.  Can he play LF well enough to not be a net liability on the field?  If the answer to both questions is yes, he could give the Giants offense a huge boost in 2014.

David Huff, LHP

David Huff was a member of the 2006 Pac 10 pitching class that included Tim Lincecum, Greg Reynolds, Brandon Morrow and Ian Kennedy.  Huff pitched for UCLA and more than held his own in   those legendary Friday night pitching wars.  I saw him pitch on TV that year.  He had a low 90's FB with excellent command, but his out pitch was a very good changeup.  He was drafted in the supplemental first round, #39 overall but Cleveland.  Huff has never had eye popping stuff and has had trouble gaining traction on his professional career.  Since his MLB debut in 2009, he has compiled a record of 21-27 with a 5.31 ERA  with time spent in the minors every one of those seasons.  Last year, he recorded a decent 4.76 ERA in a very tough pitching environment with the Yankees, but was dropped from their roster in the offseason.  The Giants were looking for long relief/spot starter options and gave him a spring training invitation.  He has pitched extremely well this spring showing a 92 MPH FB with some zip to it along with the very good changeup and curveball.  The Giants wore out their bullpen several times over last year overusing guys for 1 inning at a time.  I have long advocated for carrying more pitchers in the bullpen who can go multiple innings, so I get to see my theory tested this year as Huff joins Yusmeiro Petit who can also go long relief and spot start.

JC Gutierrez, RHP

JC Gutierrez is a 6'3" 200 lb reliever who joins the Giants Venezuelan contingent of players.   Giants fans may remember JC as a former closer for the division rival D'Backs.  He came up through the Houston Astros organization but made his MLB mark with the D'Backs winning and eventually losing the closer role from 2009-2011.  He recorded a total of 24 saves in that span but also had an ERA over 5 in 2010 and 2011.  He spent 2012 in the minors with the KC Royals organization and pitched with the Royals and Angels at the MLB level last year with similar numbers to his D'Backs days.  JC's stuff looks good on TV featuring a mid-90's FB.  My impression is that the FB is not dominant enough to be a stand-alone pitch and he does not have much in the way of secondary stuff.  He pitched well in the spring, but it remains to be seen if he can consistently get outs at the MLB level.  He makes the 25 man roster because Jeremy Affeldt is on the DL and will be on the bubble when Affeldt comes back, probably within a couple of weeks.

Brandon Hicks, IF

Hicks was drafted Texas A&M in 2007 by the Atlanta Braves.  He hit well with double digit HR power in the minors and got a couple of cups of coffee with the Braves before being cut loose.  His longest MLB stint was with the Oakland A's where he hit 3 dingers in 22 games in 2012.  He spent last year in the minors.  The main thing holding him back seems to be a K rate of around 30% which is too high for a guy with middling power.  You just can't get a viable BA with that kind of K rate!  Hicks came to camp with the Giants this season as a longshot to make the 25 man roster.  He had a sensational spring and squeaked in when Marco Scutaro could not answer the opening bell.  How he does and how long he'll stay at the MLB level remains to be seen.  I could see him doing a Mike Ivie and hitting a walk off, pinch hit HR against the Dodgers or something like that.  I think he actually did that with the A's in 2012!

Let's all give a big welcoming cheer to the New Giants!


  1. yay new guys! I did not know Huff was a Bruin. Sweet. They are well represented in Giants org.
    I, too, agree with the multiple inning relievers approach. Especially early in the season and moreso when the back end of the rotation features a couple of potential 5 and divers.

    If Hicks can get the K rate down to an earthly level of 25 % and get some BABIP lovin' with some duck snorts and seeing eye grounders to go with a few long balls here and there, he's going to be a super addition to the bench. Is that asking too much?

  2. I have a feeling Gutierrez won't stick around long, unless he's somehow reinvented himself. I understand their reasoning for putting him on the roster, but I think I'd still have liked Hembree a little better. I do like the idea of David Huff and Yusmeiro Petit both in the bullpen though. I think one (or both) of those guys is going to get some starts a little sooner than we'd like, but at least the Giants won't lose their long man if that need does arise.

    I'm excited to watch Hudson this year, but he showed us the other night how important it'll be for him to keep the ball down. If he doesn't, I don't think he'll be fooling many hitters. The A's weren't fooled, at least.

    If Morse can stay on the field, I'm excited to see if he can get hot at the plate. It'll only take a few of those monster shots to leave the yard, and I imagine people will stop calling for his head.

  3. We also extend a warming welcome to other new minor league-bound (for now) Giants - Cordier, De Paula, Lisson, Colvin, among others.

  4. I admit, Hudson is the only one I'm optimistic about, and that's mostly because he's replacing Zito. Maybe Morse can surprise me with some key power, but I don't expect it. It's good that we've added Huff, but the long man coming into the game usually means things are going badly. Gutierrez and Hicks look like roster fillers; if there still on the roster in May, that's a bad sign.
    On the other hand, this could be a year where good things happen, "if"...

    1. I think Morse's contribution is heavily dependent on his health. If he can stay healthy, he'll definitely hit some dingerz. I see Huff as having a dual role: Long man and an additional lefty specialist who can stay in the game against RH batters. His ERA last year may not look like much, but Yankee Stadium in particular and the AL East in general are a helluva tough place to pitch. I think you can easily take a full run off that ERA with him pitching in AT&T and the NL West.

  5. Dr. B, Was looking at the four minor league roster and was wondering if you know what is going on with Jose DePaula? He doesn't appear on any of the four rosters. Is he injured and at extended spring training?

    1. I think De Paula is listed under Extended ST. I'm sure he'll be assigned somewhere or else he's there specifically to work on a new pitch. I am sure those lists are real, but minor league placements have been known to change at the last minute so I wouldn't necessarily see them as being set in stone.

    2. Got the listings from McCovey Chronicles, alleged to be accurate.

    3. I think the are accurate, subject to change.

  6. the 2014 season has officially begun

    and the bums lost, cuz bweez and their defense blew

    so all is good with the world and the friars



    1. That was pretty sweet last night. I took a break from the game to take the dog for a walk and got back just in time to see the meltdown. ESPN announcers were even trying to say BWeez didn't hustle over to get the ball that caromed off AGone, but the replay clearly showed he was correctly moving to 1B to cover the bag and it all happened so fast he couldn't change course in time and the ball just ended up in no man's land. Weezy was throwing about 91 with no command, though.

      Padres fans have picked up the Beat LA chant.

      Puig looks like a pretty easy out if you pitch him right- hard stuff up and in with breaking stuff down and away.

      I cannot figure out why batters have so much trouble with Paco Rodriguez. He shows the ball early and throws 89 MPH FB's.

    2. doc, you know how it goes

      sometimes it takes a bit longer to get the book on a player

      interesting study being done at ucr re training the mind to recognice pitches

      only 2 years old, but it has grabbed the interest of other universities and some mlb clubs

  7. Wilson did not look right. that looked like a 2 time TJ arm last night. He was afraid to go with the fastball until he realized his cutter was even less effective.

    On the other hand, Ryu looked great. That guy knows how to pitch backwards. Excellent command of the soft stuff and knows how to elevate the fastball. He's going to be tough to hit when he has his pitches working. Mattingly went to Wilson when Ryu had only thrown 88 pitches.