San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean is known for his spectacular midseason moves that have yielded two championships in the last four years.
He obtained two lower-profile players in Cody Ross in 2010 and Marco Scutaro in 2012 to make significant contributions toward becoming World Series champions.
Could Jake Peavy be the 2014 version?
“He’s been a godsend to us,” said Sabean. “Very timely.”
Peavy, of course, was once a big name, as a young starting pitcher in San Diego, where he won the National League Cy Young Award. That was 2007. It’s been a long time. It’s also been a long time since Peavy was an impact pitcher. Time has worn him down, diminished some of his once-dominating stuff.
When he left Boston in a deal for pitchers Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree on July 26, Peavy brought to San Francisco a 1-9 record and 4.72 ERA. He had allowed 20 home runs. But while he left his heart in Boston, he brought his veteran know-how to San Francisco, where he’s 5-4 with a 2.29 ERA in nine starts, including 5-1 with a 1.12 ERA in his last six starts.
But the Giants should beware of Peavy’s postseason record. It’s been one aspect of his career that’s trended downward.
Though he helped the Red Sox after he was obtained on July 30, 2013, with a 4-1 record in 10 regular-season starts, overall he’s 0-3 with a 9.27 ERA in the postseason. It just hasn’t been his thing.
Peavy, however, has stabilized a rotation that includes Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson. Yusmeiro Petit, a reliever most of the season, has made nine good starts and recently had an 84-pitch complete game. He also had a stretch of retiring 46 straight batters. Those four pitchers should provide a formidable rotation down the stretch.
It’s too bad Peavy wasn’t scheduled to pitch this weekend because he’s been a Dodger killer. Over his career, he’s 14-3 against them with a 2.28 ERA over 26 starts.
Peavy has brought energy to the team and he’s kept the Giants in many games they’ve been able to pull out.
“He brings a lot of intensity, he brings a lot of energy, he brings a lot of veteran leadership, he brings a lot of guts,” MVP candidate Hunter Pence said last week. “He’s been a big charge to this run we’ve made. That energy is exciting to be around. It’s a different dugout when he’s in it.”
Said Buster Posey, “He’s a vocal guy. We don’t have a ton of vocal guys on the team. When he gets to saying things, people will listen.”
Peavy was a positive influence in Boston, as well. It’s just that the results weren’t there. Peavy pitched better than 1-9, and when he first got to the Giants he had the same buzzard’s luck, but that has turned.
Peavy never clicked with catcher A.J. Pierzynski in Boston, after they had their troubles in Chicago. There was always a lot of friction. Peavy has struck up a good relationship with Posey, who seems to handle him well. There have been few shakeoffs.
While there were a few teams that were interested in Peavy, only the Angels and Giants really stepped up. The Angels had some interest for depth purposes, and they probably could have used him with ace Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs out for the season. But the Giants scouted Peavy and understood his issues in Boston, and they felt that with his familiarity with Bruce Bochy, who had managed him in his glory days in San Diego, that the Giants would get more out of him.
And that has been the case.
“He seems more comfortable in the National League,” said a rival GM. “There’s no DH. Facing the pitcher all helps. It can’t hurt. But he probably made a few adjustments. He hasn’t made a lot of mistakes with pitches like he did in Boston. Another great Sabean move. Right guy. Right time.”
Peavy, a free agent at the end of the season, wants to pitch beyond this year. He was hoping that would be with the Red Sox, but it appears he has a chance to stick with the Giants if things continue to go well.
Peavy is making $14.5 million this season. Overpaid? You bet. But at least he’s living up to some of the contract. Most baseball people feel that Peavy is best served staying in the National League and being that six-inning pitcher at the middle to end of a rotation. In that role, Peavy could still be effective since he’s only 33 years old.
The feeling is he would garner a two-year deal at best, and that likely would be fine with Peavy.
Most baseball people thought the guy who was in Boston was just about washed up, but the Giants, who kept sending scouts to watch his outings, saw something left in him. Now the Giants are drawing praise for a scouting job well done.
Peavy was always one of those guys who was good for a good team but in the way for a lousy team. Now he’s back with a good team and the adrenaline is flowing a tick more than it was in Boston.
Another Sabean gem?
Red Sox in the market
for some wise decisions
for some wise decisions
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner has been saying for weeks that the team will spend very aggressively in free agency, and he repeated those sentiments to this reporter late last week.
Here’s what we’re all hung up on: principal owner John Henry’s stance against giving long-term contracts to players over 30. Henry has plenty of data to back him up.
Couple that with the team’s opening four-year, $70 million offer to Jon Lester and you can see where there would be a perception that the Red Sox are out of the business of long-term contracts.
But Werner said the team has never issued an edict on the subject. Does that mean that despite Henry’s preference, the Sox will go ahead and issue long-term deals anyway?
Werner said they just want to be smart about it. In other words, no contracts like the ones given to Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Albert Pujols, and Robinson Cano.
The last three years have showed that the team needs more big stars to make the product exciting. The eye-opener is that the young players that Red Sox have don’t add to the buzz and don’t drive TV ratings, attendance, etc.
The Red Sox need more than David Ortiz to do that.
The public clamoring is to get Lester back in a Red Sox uniform. That would create good will, but it would also be counter to the sound business philosophy of not spending exorbitant money on a player who might break down or not be as good because he’s on the other side of 30. But at some point, the cost of doing business has to be considered.
Ace pitchers command this type of financial outlay, and then it’s a roll of the dice as to which ones make it and which ones don’t. That’s just the way it is.
Best thing is to develop your own, but while the Red Sox have a few pitching prospects who have been successful in the minors, getting them to produce at the major league level has been an issue.
The other fan-pleaser would be the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, which is now complicated by the facial fractures suffered when he was hit with a pitch on Thursday night.
There was never any guarantee the Marlins would deal him since he won’t become a free agent until after the 2016 season, but that possibility is less likely at the moment.
Apropos of nothing
1. Buck Showalter is a realist when it comes to the Orioles not being able to spend a lot on payroll, but he feels he can still come up with good players going the six-year (minor league) free agent route. The Orioles did it with journeyman first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce, who has had an excellent season. Pearce, 31, had never had more than 188 plate appearances in parts of seven major league seasons with the Pirates, Yankees, Astros, and Orioles, but is hitting .284 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs with an .879 OPS. Showalter feels he can pick off a similar player this offseason, believing hitters 28-32 years old sometimes start to figure it out. He’s just not telling us who that might be.
2. Indians PR man Bart Swain has convinced me that Corey Kluber needs to be in the Cy Young conversation. His 15 wins, 2.45 ERA, 212⅔ innings, 23 quality starts, and 5.9 WAR are all in the top three in the American League.
3. From everything doctors have told me, Adderall is a very addictive drug. And that was the case with Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who is now serving a 25-game suspension. His production dropped considerably from last season, when he hit 53 homers. Davis, like many players around the league, had a therapeutic use exemption, but for reasons that are unclear he didn’t have it this season. Davis, who had been playing third base because of Manny Machado’s season-ending knee surgery, won’t be eligible to return until the World Series.
4. Bargain department: Righthander Hisashi Iwakuma will play for $7 million next season after the Mariners pick up his option. He’s 14-7 with a 3.11 ERA after going 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA last season. Clay Buchholz’s salary, meanwhile, goes from $7.7 million to $12 million.
5. John Boggs, the agent for Cole Hamels, said he will sit down with the lefthander and put together a new 20-team no-trade list by Nov. 1. According to Boggs, the Red Sox were on Hamels’s 2014 no-trade list and the Phillies would have to have asked permission to deal him to Boston. “It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have accepted it,” Boggs said. “We are still deliberating on what teams will be on that list for 2015.”
6. Montreal will host a two-game exhibition series between the Blue Jays and Reds April 3-4. The Red Sox were in the mix but couldn’t make it work.
Updates on nine
1. J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles — Manager Buck Showalter has talked with Hardy about how much the Orioles want him to re-sign, but they may not offer the most money. Showalter said the team would make him a fair offer, but he tried to appeal to how much Hardy has enjoyed playing and hitting in Baltimore. We’ll see.
2. Nelson Cruz, LF/DH, Orioles — Cruz did his one-year pillow contract and now riches seem to await. The Orioles will make him the $15 million-plus qualifying offer, but Cruz, as one of the few righthanded power hitters on the market, will be in demand. The Yankees will bid. Cruz also loved playing in Texas, and the Rangers need righthanded power.
3. Andrew Miller, LHP, Orioles — The theory on the Orioles’ side is that Miller will get in the vicinity of $21 million over three years when he becomes a free agent. It appears the Red Sox are willing to pay that, but so are other teams. Don’t forget, Miller had more than a dozen trade inquiries at the deadline. He came close to going to the Tigers, but they didn’t have the caliber of pitching prospect the Orioles were willing to give up.
4. Stephen Drew, SS/2B, Yankees — There’s a big sample size detailing Drew’s demise as a hitter, from the playoffs last season to his woeful start with the Red Sox after a long layoff as a free agent. In his last 278 at-bats dating to the 2013 postseason, Drew is 41 for 278 for a .147 average. He’s gone from possibly being Derek Jeter’s replacement at shortstop to being a platoon player. There’s no doubting his defense, but you have to hit. It appears Drew won’t be earning the $10 million-plus he got this year, and it could be the Yankees will move on to someone like Hardy or Asdrubal Cabrera.
5. Yasmani Tomas, OF, Cuba — According to one team’s international scout, the latest Cuban slugger could command as much as $100 million. The scout said Tomas has gotten himself in shape and if he performs well at his showcase later in the month, the money will get “really high.” Tomas is susceptible to breaking stuff. His legal documentation has just about cleared. The Phillies could go hard on him, but several teams, including the Red Sox, have interest as well.
6. T.J. House, LHP, Indians — To the Indians’ credit, they have found dependable pitching in their system. They are not as ballyhooed as the Red Sox’ pitchers, but the results appear better. House hasn’t walked a batter since Aug. 26, that’s 21 innings with 20 strikeouts and no walks. Since Aug. 9, the Indians have led the major leagues in ERA and are 19-11. “It’s exciting to watch the development of this kid,” manager Terry Francona said. “Finding pitching is one of the best feelings in this game.”
7. Russell Martin, C, Pirates — Martin picked a good time to have a good offensive season on top of his already very good defense. He’s a free agent. Will the Pirates spend the money to re-sign him? The answer is likely no. A team such as Texas may dabble in the Martin market as it begins to rebuild its pitching staff. While Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison get a lot of mention for Pirates MVP, one American League executive said, “For my money, Martin has been the MVP of that team.”
8. Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies — One American League evaluator thinks it’s possible for the Phillies to move Howard to the AL, where he could be a full-time DH. “He’s not a lost cause,” said the evaluator. “He’s knocked in 92 runs for a bad team, so there’s obviously something still there. He could help an American League team as a DH.” It would require the Phillies eating a good portion of the $60 million remaining on his contract. Howard is actually better against lefties — a .236 average and .788 OPS, as opposed to .218, .651 against righties.
9. Brandon McCarthy, RHP, Yankees — McCarthy’s tremendous half-season is going to thrust him into the top five of free agent pitchers. The Yankees will try to re-sign him, but McCarthy, who struggled in the first half with Arizona, is a great example of a pitcher who is better in the AL. McCarthy is 43-43 with a 3.90 ERA in the AL and 8-21, 4.75 in the NL.
From the Bill Chuck files — “Felix Hernandez leads the majors with 700 pitches out of the strike zone that ended up as strikes.” . . . Also, “Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman lead the majors with seven saves in which they struck out every batter they faced.” . . . And, “We constantly hear about all of the foul territory in Oakland’s home ballpark, but the staff that has produced the most foul outs is the Rays’ with 140. The A’s are seventh at 114.” . . . Happy birthday this weekend to Bob Heffner (76), Rick Wise (69), Steve Curry (49), Wade Miller (38), Matt Thornton (38), and Daisuke Matsuzaka (34).Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.