Hexed. Jinxed. Snake bit. F***ed.
The world is crumbling around us, it’s time to load up that magic bullet. It’s 2010 all over again, and the second coming of Posey and Bumgarner is waiting in the wings, eager to wretch the San Francisco Giants from the depths of oblivion and once again deliver them to the promised land.
Ah, sounds wonderful, right? Well, so was that dream I had where my buddy was in a real bind and needed to unload his Corvette Z06, and my 500 bucks would cover it.
Christian Arroyo‘s start to the Triple-A season at Sacramento has Giants fans standing at attention, thanks to a forgettable (to say the least) April where seemingly everything has gone wrong. As the bad news and losses at the big league level continue to mount with each passing day, so does Arroyo’s hit total.
So, exactly what are we waiting for? Get him up, NOW!
Unfortunately, what could be the most frustrating aspect of this first month of the season is that the team really doesn’t have a magic bullet, or a better option to immediately fix everything. This fan base has become accustomed to winning, and had every expectation of contending this season. Well placed expectations, might I add.
But Bobby Evans made it very clear in a recent KNBR interview with Kevin Frandsen and Larry Krueger that Arroyo will not be called up until he has an every day opportunity at third base open, and the team is just fine with Eduardo Nunez remaining at the position for now:
“If we come to a point where we feel like we want to make a position change for Nunez, that would be a different issue, but right now we don’t see that happening, and our focal point for Arroyo is just getting time in Triple-A”.
Now, I can already hear the newly minted Evans-detractors “He’s wasting time! We need him now! He didn’t get a closer last year, and he’s sabotaging us again!”
Sorry folks, but Evans is right, and he went on into further specifics as to why now is not the time to bring up Arroyo. For one, it’s been two weeks. Literally two weeks, where Arroyo is hitting at a clip he’s never even come close to throughout his relatively brief minor league career.
Call me daffy, but I have a hard time believing Arroyo is going to hit 35 homers and drive in 120 runs this season, after hitting three home runs and driving in 49 in 119 games at AA last season. I also think it’s unlikely he’ll maintain a .425 average and a 1.138 OPS, when he finished last year at .274 and .689 in those categories, respectively.
KNBR’s Brian Murphy wrote an Arroyo-centric call to arms earlier this week, and presented the laundry list of maladies that have befallen the Giants this April, with the crux of his argument being the team’s need for a “mojo change”. Now, baseball features the element of random chance far more than any other major sport, and it can’t be denied that mojo, or momentum, or “vibes” plays a role in a team’s success.
There’s also no doubt that the “vibes” surrounding the Giants right now are decidedly bad. They just got absolutely smoked in Colorado, and were awful both offensively and on the pitcher’s mound. So much is wrong, I don’t have enough fingers to point.
For that very reason, now is NOT the time to call up Arroyo. Arroyo is already well aware of the expectations surrounding him, and to call him up at a time when fans would look to him to put the team on his back, after fewer than 100 at-bats in Triple-A, is a perfect recipe for a youngster to press. This was the most important point Evans made in his interview with Frandsen and Krueger:
“…and you’ve got to make sure the rest of the club is in a good position to support him when he struggles. We don’t want him to feel like he’s bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders when he comes up.”
Circle it. Underline it. Highlight it. Print this page, cut it out, and clip it to your fridge. Murphy compared Arroyo’s similar minor league service time to that of Corey Seager and Nolan Arenado as part of his argument that the time has come for the 22 year-old to rise to the big leagues. I’ll just nip this in the bud now, Arroyo simply does not have the same tools as either of those game-changing, MVP-caliber talents.
With him, the Giants are looking at a player much more in the Joe Panik mold: A solid defender with the potential to be a consistent contact hitter who will add some power. Arroyo’s ceiling is most likely as an every day #2 hitter–perhaps All-Star caliber–but it’s impossible to say at this point if he will ever be truly elite.
“But they didn’t wait with Bumgarner! They didn’t wait with Posey! And look how that turned out!” Again, no. Just no. Both Bumgarner and Posey received their first big league call-ups in September of 2009; with Bumgarner performing quite well in his brief stint, and Posey not so well.
Both began 2010 in Triple-A, with Posey not receiving his call-up until late May, after 47 games and over 200 at-bats with Fresno. Bumgarner did not make it to the big leagues for good until late June, after making 14 starts for the Grizzlies. Both players were tearing it up, and the team still waited 2-3 months before promoting them.
Don’t expect the approach with Arroyo to be any different, even with the team scuffling in such a complete manner. If he was a left fielder, yes, he would have been in the big leagues a week ago. But he isn’t, and the Giants don’t want to risk harming the development of one of their few top prospects by forcing him into an unnatural position on a team that currently has no answers.
Eduardo Nunez is one of the most exciting players on this club, and the front office recognizes that, whether the frustrated fan base does or not. He also plays third base far better than he would play left field.
Buster Posey was hitting .350 in Triple-A when the Giants called him up just under 50 games in to the 2010 season. If Arroyo tears up the 916 for another month, then we could be talking. Another point Evans acknowledged in a separate interview with beat writer Henry Schulman:
“We want him to push himself up here rather than us pulling him up here, and have him make the decision for us. It’s hard to do that in two weeks.”
Remember that scene in Braveheart, when William Wallace commanded his nervous Scottish rebels to hold, while the stampeding English army charged ever closer? This is sort of like that. Except with less pikes, I guess.