SAN FRANCISCO – No matter how choppy the seas have gotten for the Giants, they still have two months of the schedule to navigate.
No, they probably won’t reach the glittering shores and play baseball in October. But it would be nice if they reached the end without cannibalizing the roster.
With their extreme lack of depth an issue, particularly when it comes to soaking up innings, the Giants on Friday acquired Triple-A right-hander Guillermo Moscoso from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named or cash.
The Giants are expected to add Moscoso to the big league roster sometime this weekend. They’re operating with an 11-man staff at the moment after optioning right-hander Jake Dunning to clear space for infielder Joaquin Arias (appendectomy), who was activated from the 15-day disabled list.
Moscoso has been waived three times within the last year and was 7-5 with a 3.93 ERA in 17 starts for Triple-A Iowa. He had his best season in the big leagues with the A’s in 2011, when he had a 3.38 ERA in 21 starts. He’s also pitched for the Rangers and Rockies.
Moscoso is not a name like Carlos Beltran or Hunter Pence, the Giants’ signature moves at the trade deadline the previous two deadlines. Then again, the Giants are not in the same position this time.
They have the worst record in the major leagues since May 14 and their 4.75 rotation ERA is the highest in the National League. The pitchers might be paying the toll for the heavy workload the previous couple years, and figuratively, the bridge is out between Fresno and San Francisco.
Brian Sabean was concerned about the Giants’ lack of depth, when the season began, the longtime GM told KNBR on Friday.
“I knew going into the season that our depth was perhaps questionable,” Sabean said. “I knew most of our prospects were at the lower level and the guys at Double-A and Triple-A needed development time. When things started going haywire we just literally ran out of players and we’ve been scrambling with each subsequent move.”
Their lack of depth has been most acute in the rotation. Mike Kickham, Chris Heston and Eric Surkamp haven’t been ready to compete in the big leagues, and the one successful six-year minor league free agent the Giants signed before spring training, Chad Gaudin, already is in the rotation because of Ryan Vogelsong’s broken pinky.
“We thought Kickham would be more able to start in the big leagues and he was not,” Sabean told KNBR. “We thought Surkamp would come faster than he did after Tommy John and he did not. Therein, we were exposed. We tried to sign some six-year free agents and a lot of the guys have gone to the big leagues with other teams and are pitching with other teams.”
It’s really hurt the Giants that some of their better prospects, such as Gary Brown and Heath Hembree, have stalled out. Angel Pagan is on the DL, Santiago Casilla missed two months following surgery, and ideally, that’s when you plug in your most talented players from the minors. The Giants haven’t had those options because they didn't feel either player was ready to compete in the big leagues.
All you have to do is glance at the standings to understand the importance of organizational depth. Look at the Cardinals. They’ve used just as many players as the Giants as they dealt with injuries. But their minor leaguers have been capable at minimum, and often much more than that. (And like the Giants, the Cardinals haven’t exactly been drafting at the top of the board in recent years.)
Regardless of where Giants sit in the standings, they still have to be concerned about self-preservation over these next two months. At minimum, they want to remain competitive and avoid a total collapse down the stretch.
Once they’re undoubtedly out of it, they’d certainly have to think about reducing the workload on Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, or shut them down entirely. Right now, that’s not an option for them because they literally do not have anyone else to hand the baseball. So the Moscoso trade could help them along those lines.
Marco Scutaro is out of the lineup because manager Bruce Bochy likes to give his veterans a solid, 48-hour rest. That’s what Scutaro will get, in conjunction with Thursday’s day off.