That’s right. The Giants now have two sharks in their menagerie. “The White Shark” Gregor Blanco has been joined by his deep-sea partner, “The Shark” Jeff Samardzija. The right-handed starting pitcher was given a $90 million, 5 year contract the day after Greinke decided to surprise everyone and sign with the Diamondbacks. Guess the Giants were serious about having that plan B ready. When I first heard about the acquisition, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed, especially after the possibility of having The Greinke around dissolved. I looked at Samardzija’s numbers, and to put it lightly, they stunk, especially that 4.96 ERA. He allowed 118 earned runs, 29 homers, and 228 hits last season, setting bottom-of-the-barrel records on all three accounts in the American League. The previous 3 years he did hover around a 3 ERA which is awesome, but why would the Giants be interested in taking a chance on this guy? Then I started delving into things (and asking my brothers questions), and the pieces started to fit together. Samardzija played for the White Sox last season, one of the worst defensive teams in baseball in one of the most hitter friendly ballparks. Even though he had a high ERA, he was able to go deep into games, pitching in 214 innings overall. And then the icing on the cake – Samardzija revealed that he had been tipping his pitches. This means that batters could tell what pitch he was going to make by some clue in his delivery. So guys knew exactly what was coming their way. He wasn’t able to figure this out until late in the season, but the last two games he pitched in after his revelation were stellar. One of these was a complete, almost perfect game against the Tigers where he allowed only one hit. The pitching staff definitely must see potential there, and I definitely trust them.
I watched the press conference when Samardzija was introduced, and I quickly warmed up to the guy. Here’s a link to the video in case you missed it. He’s so freakin’ excited about being a Giant! How can you not love that? And he’s really excited about pitching to Buster and having Righetti and Gardner as coaches. And he’s already calling Matt Cain “Cainer”. He seems like he’ll fit right in. Plus he’s a cutie pie. He does need some schooling about not calling San Francisco “San Fran”, though. I’m sure he’ll learn quickly. I wonder if on his first day in the clubhouse he’ll share hair tips with Brandon and Madison.
The Samardzija acquisition prompted the next installment of “Angel’s Question”. Angel noticed that along with the $90 million given to Jeff, there was also some wording about a “qualifying offer” and a “compensatory selection” which she didn’t understand. She was concerned that we may be giving up an awful lot for this guy and asked if I could explain this. I did some research, and indeed we gave up more than just the $90 million. Since Jeff came from the White Sox, they could make him a qualifying offer so he would possibly stay with the team. That offer had to be at least $15.8 million (this is set at the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball). Teams have until 5 days after the World Series to make the qualifying offer, and then players have 7 days to reject it. Samardzija was made a qualifying offer by the White Sox, and he rejected it, becoming a free agent. In that case, any team that signs him loses their 1st round draft pick, so this indeed does happen to the Giants. Their pick would have been 19th overall based on how well they did last season (the draft pick order is opposite the overall standings order, so the first draft pick goes to the worst team last season). The White Sox in return get a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of the draft. If you think that’s complicated, it’s even more convoluted than that, but that’s basically what you need to know. And Angel, I know it doesn’t sound good that we lost that pick, but with the way the market for pitchers is this season and with our definite need, I think we had no choice but to go there. Hoping that Samardzija makes it all worth it. Got all that? Thanks again for another great question, Angel!
So at present on the pitching side, that gives us Madison, Samardzija, Cain, and Peavy for sure. Will they go after another pitcher, or will they use Heston or maybe even Timmy? And what about my boy, Ryan Vogelsong? Haven’t heard anything at all about him. I’ll keep you posted. Kind of hoping they get one more pitcher. In the outfield, it looks like they may be the front runner going after left fielder Alex Gordon who played for the Royals last season. Gordon could definitely add some power and defense in the outfield. Will keep you posted on this. It does appear that the Giants are willing to spend more money this season than in the past.
As we acquire new guys, some of the old guys are leaving us. Nori Aoki was signed by the Mariners. I was really hoping he could somehow stay on the team, but I guess they weren’t willing to take the chance with his injuries. I will definitely miss watching him bat. Good luck, Seaweed. Also Yusmeiro Petit was signed by the Nationals after he was released by the Giants. He’s another guy I will definitely miss. Guess they have enough young kids to take his place, plus he wasn’t as impressive last year as he was in previous years. Good luck, Yusmeiro. Hector Sanchez was also not offered a contract, but he has not been picked up by any team as of yet. I hate to say it, but that guy just had a habit of taking pitches to the head – I wonder if it’s due to his inability to block the ball correctly. Hope someone picks him up, though. He’s still one of my boys and he seems like a really good guy. Sigh. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Where the Padres seemed to beef up their team the most in the NL West last offseason, it appears the Diamondbacks are planning on spending a ton of cash this season. They’ve already acquired two of the top pitchers that the Giants were eying, Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. I was speaking with my coworker who’s a Dodgers fan about this, and he said they might be spending the money now because they have a huge TV contract (like $1.5 billion huge) starting this year, so they may have some extra dough to work with. I know neither one of those pitchers came cheap. We’ll have to see if this spending works better for the Diamondbacks this season than it did for the Padres last season (the Pads ended up with a losing season and in 4th place in the NL West). Just goes to show you that money can’t buy everything! You can’t buy chemistry, and that’s sure one of the things my boys have a lot of. One happy thing about the Greinke acquisition – at least the Dodgers don’t have him anymore! HA HA!
If you didn’t happen to see it plastered all over Facebook, Hunter Pence and his girlfriend Lexi Cozombolidis became engaged earlier this month. Those two are so stinkin’ adorable! Here’s the video of the proposal. It took place at Disneyworld under the ruse that Hunter was supposed to do an interview for them. They had dinner first, and he had the ring in his back pocket and was worried it was going to fall out. When he got called to do the interview, the woman asked if Lexi could come with them, but Lexi said she would just wait until it was over. NOOOOOOO! Luckily the woman convinced her to come along. And the timing of the fireworks was not a coincidence – they were set to go off after he proposed. Just makes me want to give both of them a huge, gut-busting hug! So happy for those two. Here’s another video that Lexi put together about their entire relationship. I love how she said no to him a couple of times in the beginning. Not all storybook! Hope to see her hanging around at FanFest this year like she did last year. This year I’ll definitely get up the courage to go over and speak with her.
Still lots of things need to be ironed out for my boys. Will they get another pitcher? Will they land Gordon or another outfielder? Will they make some other insane move that we weren’t expecting? Will Cain and Timmy be OK next season? Will they come out with a new shark hat for Samardzija? Will I ever learn how to spell that name? Actually it’s gotten easier once I realized that the end of his name is “zija” which means “aunt” in Maltese. They’ll definitely have to curve that one to get it to fit on his jersey. And maybe I’ll just start calling him “Auntie” to make it easier on myself. Will keep you posted. Started working out the Spit Analysis for last season with some definite surprises, so hopefully I’ll have that for you within the next few weeks. Until next time, GO GIANTS! MAKE SOME MORE MOVES!