Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Giants Re-Sign Gordon Beckham

Hey team!  I'm back from my journey.


The Giants have signed infielder Gordon Beckham to a minor league contract with a provision that he will be paid $1.5 M for the season if he makes the 25 man roster out of spring training.  As I am sure all of you know, Beckham was once considered an elite draft prospect.  In fact, prior to the 2008 draft, some analysts were speculating that the Giants might like Beckham better than Buster Posey.  Happily in the end, the Giants took Buster at #5 overall and Beckham went to the White Sox at #8.  Buster went on to win a MVP and 3 Rings while Beckham's career sputtered and ultimately never took off.  He was released last year by the Atlanta Braves and signed by the Giants who had run out of infield options.  Beckham went 0 for 5 with the Giants but was credited with bringing some life to a very stale atmosphere in the clubhouse.  In particular, it was reported that Beckham was able to bring Buster Posey out of his shell and loosen him up a bit.  Alex Pavlovic of CSNBA also reports that at least one player took the trouble of contacting Giants management in the offseason to point out the contribution Beckham made to the clubhouse is such a short period of time.

Someone asked Keith Law in his last Klawchat why he thought Beckham's career never took off.  Law's reply was interesting.  He said that when he scouted Beckham as a sophomore in college, he noted a significant hitch in his swing that slowed his bat's path the the ball.  His junior season was so great, though, that Law decided that he must have enough fast-twitch natural ability that the hitch did not matter and went ahead and raised his ranking to match the consensus.  Law went on to say that Beckham was never able to remove the hitch from his swing and it slowed his bat down enough that he was never able to consistently handle MLB pitching.  Just for the record, here is Gordon Beckham's stat line from last season for the Braves and Giants(again, only 5 of the PA's were with the Giants):

.212/.294/.347, 16 SB, 3B, 5 HR, 9.3 BB%, 18.6 K%, 279 PA.

The BB and K percents are excellent and there is a bit of pop there.


Beckham's signing adds to an already enormous logjam of competitors for a relatively small number of roster spots in 2017.  Just for review, there are 25 Active Roster spots.  8 Starting Postion Players, 5 SP's, 6-8 bullpen slots and 4-6 reserve position players.  The most common distribution is 7 relief pitchers and 5 positional reserves.  In the past 2 seasons, the Giants have often rostered 8 relief pitchers and just 4 positional reserves.  One positional reserve slot has to be a backup catcher, who usually does not play any other position leaving just 3-4 non-catcher slots available.  With that in mind, let's take a look at will be competing for those precious roster spots.

Barring injury, it appears the Giants have 7 of 8 starting position spots in place:

C  Posey, 1B, Belt, 2B Panik, 3B Nunez, SS Crawford, CF Denard Span, RF Hunter Pence.

Left Field is open with Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker identified by Giants management as the frontrunners, but you have to believe the job is open for other to challenge.  Nick Hundley is the backup catcher so you can add that to the "taken" list.  The bench has to include someone who can play CF and someone else who can play SS, unless one person is capable of playing both, an unusual circumstance.

In summary, the Giants appear to have 4 open non-pitching roster spots:  LF and 4 bench players split between IF and OF, unless they carry 8 relief pitchers and it's just 3 positional bench players.

Now, let's finally take a look at who all will be competing for these 4-5 roster spots and what positions they are capable of playing:

Players on the 40 Man Roster:

Mac Williamson- RF, LF.
Jarrett Parker- RF, LF, CF?
Gorkys Hernandez- CF, LF, RF?
Conor Gillaspie- 3B, 1B, 2B?
Kelby Tomlinson- 2B, SS, 3B?, OF?
Orlando Calixte- SS, OF, 2B, 3B?

Minor League Contracts with Spring Training Invitations:

Jimmy Rollins- SS, 2B?, 3B?
Jae-Gyun Hwang- 3B, 1B?, LF?, SS?
Kyle Blanks- 1B.
Wynton Bernard- CF, RF, LF.
Michael Morse- 1B, LF?
Justin Ruggiano- RF, LF, CF?
Gordon Beckham- 2B, 3B, 1B, SS?

I did not include prospects who will almost certainly end up in the minor leagues, at at least to start the season including Christian Arroyo and Austin Slater.  That leaves 13 players vying for 4-5 positional roster spots, and the Hot Stove has not been extinguished yet.  How do you see it shaking out?


  1. Thoughts...

    Mac Williamson- RF, LF. Has more consistent upside talent than Parker, if he and his employers let him show it. Option left, so if he doesn't establish in ST, then it's back to AAA.
    Jarrett Parker- RF, LF, CF? Either/or ST for Parker. No options, so it's show big or go somewhere else. My guess, somewhere else.
    Gorkys Hernandez- CF, LF, RF? Blanco 2.0. Span works only if given rest days and Gorkys fills those days and late defensive innings in CF or LF. Keeper.
    Conor Gillaspie- 3B, 1B, 2B? Well, past results are not predictive of future returns, but if they are Conner is a lock to stay. How many guys can pinch hit barehanded a 103mph FB? Mr. Happy is a Giant in 2017.
    Kelby Tomlinson- 2B, SS, 3B?, OF? Five years ago, Specs is your starting 2B or SS. Now, with a loaded homegrown Giants IF, he barley sniffs the diamond. I really like Kelby, he has produced every time he has been asked to step in and adds speed as well. But options will send him to AAA and only major injuries will get him back.
    Orlando Calixte- SS, OF, 2B, 3B? ???, only the Giants know who this guy is and why he is on the 40.
    Jimmy Rollins- SS, 2B?, 3B? Outside of Bochy, who wants to see this guy on the field? Retires.
    Jae-Gyun Hwang- 3B, 1B?, LF?, SS? Could be a sleeper, but MLB is a big step up. Minors until he proves out or busts.
    Kyle Blanks- 1B. What are the odds? Hint they're looooong.
    Wynton Bernard- CF, RF, LF. Nope.
    Michael Morse- 1B, LF? If Parker doesn't show up and Morse's bat does, then welcome back Mr. Morse PH.
    Justin Ruggiano- RF, LF, CF? Backup/alternative to Morse.
    Gordon Beckham- 2B, 3B, 1B, SS? Giants will keep four backups, and a happy clubhouse doesn't equal a productive bat. Gone.

    Keep 4 = Williamson, Gorky, Conner and Kelby

    1. It's Mac, Gorkys, Connor, and Kelby for me too. But I'd add that Blanks has played 1300 MLB innings in the OF, competently, so that he seems to me much preferable to Morse, as younger, better able to hit and field the same positions as MM, and with a v strong record against LH pitching. IF he can stay healthy, a mammoth IF. Hwang needs to show that he can hit American pitching, presumably in the minors; he has to get used to a shifting diet of American pitching, coming at him in a great variety of ABs, I'd think, so that a now-and-again bench role would be a bad use of him, I should think, bad for the team and bad for him.

  2. PARKER unless Mac overwhelms the field like Belt in 2011 and Blanco 2012-- both of them had lousy years but played out well in the long run. Seems that Giants would trade Parker if someone would give them a upside prospect in their top 10 or 20. Mac can be optioned but Parker can't. ST is such a non-test: the players don't see much of the pitchers they're going to face in the regular season.
    HERNANDEZ because Span needs some rest and Giants need someone to cover CF, face lefties, and make a throw back to the IF.
    GILLASPIE because, in Giants tradition, he gets a reward for last year, unless one of the guys the Giants think have something to give that no one knows about (Calixte, Jae-Gyun Hwang, Beckham) wins the job going away.
    Sleeper: Ruggiano if he makes it completely through ST without an injury and treats all opposing pitchers like their name is Bumgarner.
    TOMLINSON unless poor Kelby has to take his 106-game .299 BA back to Sacramento because mangement want someone else.
    MATTCAIN -- yeah I know this is supposed to be position players, but if he doesn't win the #5 SP, he won't be cut and he'll eat up a slot for a position player. Matt Cain: be Matt Cain, maybe not 2012 Matt Cain but something like 2013 Matt Cain. Giants didn't cut Zito when he still had a contract in 2013 when he was completely out of gas and still got 25 starts. Cain will be the #5 or be the game-is-lost reliever and end up with a double digit ERA.

  3. On Calixte it might worth noting he played over a couple hundred inning in CF last year in Omaha ( AAA in PCL). I can't say how well but that is recent enough and a high enough level that he might be viewed as a viable fill in there if only on a short term.

    - Daveinexile

  4. Two of these three:

    Williamson -- Has shown a good pop in his bat. Played solid defense last year. I think he has a rock-solid chance to make it this year.
    Parker -- He's out of options and pretty much make-or-break at this point. I'm thinking 'break' unless he really puts on a show.
    Hernandez -- Weak-bat, back up CF. Probably makes the roster because of his range.

    Two of these three:

    Kelby Tomlinson - I think Speck's isn't going anywhere. He's got a light bat, but has gotten better defensively. And he's proven.
    Conor Gillaspie - I think he'll be back. He's more marginal to the roster (less positional flexibility) than Tomlinson I think. However, on the flip side I wouldn't be surprised (terribly surprised) to see him take the 3B spot from Nunez as he has better defense.
    Orlando Calixte - From what I read he's sort of a Tomlinson light-bat type, but can also play CF. Could be a surprise addition to the roster and push someone off because of his flexibility.

    Minor League Deals that are Interesting:

    Gordon Beckham - Many thought the Giants would draft him instead of Posey. Big fall from AL Rookie of the Year to minor league contract. He's very intriguing, unlike the most of the rest on this list. Probably starts in AAA until the Giants get a good handle on him. Could bring him up if he regains his mojo and/or one of the utility IFers falters.
    Jae-Gyun Hwang - Intriguing player. Probably starts in AAA. I don't know much about him but some people were all agog over the signing.

    Don't think much of these:

    Kyle Blanks - He'll probably break his leg getting off the bus the first day of Spring Training.
    Wynton Bernard - I read up on him. He needs a complete swing re-build from what I gather.
    Michael Morse - He was terrible in LF in 2014. His only value, to me, is 1B. But can he still hit? Didn't for Pirates or Marlins.
    Justin Ruggiano - 34 year old back-up (at best) OFer. I think we can just move on from him.
    Jimmy Rollins - Empty gas tank. Here for a cup of coffee I guess. I can't imagine he could beat out anyone on the team.

  5. If things are more or less equal, another reason for Parker over Williamson uses Mac's option: how is Hunter Pence going to do?
    2 injury years in a row, with a total season lost between them, and he's coming to camp with another side problem (the other side), the Giants shouldn't lose Parker unless some team wants to pay well for him.
    Pence being Pence is likely to break down again -- 34 in April -- and the answer will not be Williamson OR Parker, but Williamson AND Parker. jP

  6. Those with options will go to Sacramento, those who can't be kept or traded will stay.
    Until there are 25, then it's hasta la vista.