Sunday, February 8, 2015

Where does Travis Ishikawa fit on the 2015 roster?

     Travis Ishikawa's role moving into 2015 is very unclear, given the signing of Norichika Aoki. The Giants, including Ishikawa, have 7 MLB ready outfielders (Aoki, Pagan, Pence, Blanco, Perez, Brown, Ishikawa) moving into spring training. Gary Brown is a bit of a wildcard, but he will most likely be making an MLB level impact by midseason, though he does have a months worth of experience in the show. Dismissing Brown for the time being, Aoki, Pagan, and Pence will be the starters on opening day, Blanco is penciled in as the 4th outfielder. Juan Perez is likely the giants 5th option because of his defensive prowess and speed. Ishikawa is 6th. Last. Last doesn't make the opening day roster, and he is certainly no longer needed to back up Brandon Belt at first on an everyday level, given that Posey can play 1st and Susac can suit up behind the dish, given Belt needs a day off.
     Despite all of this, the Giants seem pretty committed to Ishikawa, having resigned him to rather large deal for a player of his caliber earlier this offseason. He hasn't been known to have much prowess as a pinch hitter, platoonman, or everyday player. But Brian Sabean hasn't completely forgotten how to do his job. Ishikawa has one advantage over other players that just can't be measured in statistics or sabermetrics. 
     Clutch. He is brilliant when the situation calls. The ability to keep calm and do what is necessary to help your team win. That is why the Giants like Travis Ishikawa. That is why I like him too. He is the ultimate in the Giants philosophy of chemistry, teamwork, and coming up big when it counts. He has no everyday position, and for that matter, no everyday role in particular, but he certainly has a role any day he is needed. Like Ryan Vogelsong. Like Jeremy Affeldt. That is why Travis Ishikawa is a necessity on the Giants 2015 roster.

Is Dayan Viciedo a good fit for the Orange & Black?

     The Chicago White Sox released Dayan Viciedo into free agency last week, following his DFA earlier in January. He hit a lowly .231 in 2014 and provided below average defense mostly in left field. That being said, he crushed 21 homers and has always had above-average power with multiple 20 home run seasons so far at age 25. He is also available in the cheap following a rough 2014 season. Viciedo has below below average to average defensive numbers playing 3B, 1B, LF, and RF.
     That's about all Viciedo has to his resume while playing at Chicago's hitter friendly park in his few major league year. So why would San Francisco have an interest in a made-for-DH type slugger? The answer is the same as it was when the Giants signed Aubrey Huff back in 2010. Power. The Giants have none. They are projected to hit less than 100 homers in 2015, and even in a small-ball dominated game, that doesn't fly. To be frank, it doesn't make sense for the Giants not to sign Dayan Viciedo. He has 15-25 homers in his bat, crushes lefties (.291 AVG vs LHP in 2014), plays 4 positions, and provides some insurance off the bench that Arias, Duffy, and Ishikawa can't. Along with that, he is in the same price range as the three aforementioned players. 
     Maybe the Giants could get lucky and strike gold with Viciedo, like they did with Aubrey Huff or Cody Ross in '10. Viciedo certainly has the offensive ability of either one of those players, and has an age advantage on both. Brian Sabean could have Viciedo for one or two million for a year or two, so the risk is low and the potential reward is substantial. Another free agent consideration for the Giants quiet offseason, we'll see how it plays out.