That’s it. The Giants simply should sign a closer on the free agent market.
It does not end well.
Develop them from within the organization, trade for them. Just don’t sign them as free agents.
The Giants developed Rod Beck (1992-1997), they traded for Robb Nen (1998-2002), promoted Tim Worrell (2003) and Matt Herges (2004) from within the organization.
Then they signed Armando Benitez for the 2005 season. He was a disaster.
They promoted Brian Wilson (2008-2011), Sergio Romo (2012-13) and Santiago Casilla (2014-2016) from within the organization and won three world titles.
But after they finished 2016 with everybody as the closer (and no one doing the job well, they went back to the free-agent market and signed Mark Melancon before the 2017 season. And it appears once again that it will be a disaster.
In the first year of his four-year contract, Melancon had a 4.50 ERA with only 11 saves in 16 chances mixed in with two stints on the DL before his season ended in September with an unusual surgery to relieve compression in his forearm.
And that’s not even the worst part of it. It’s what the doctors found during the surgery.
I’ll let Melancon tell it, as he told it to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Well,” Melancon said, “my pronator muscle was basically getting pinched off or squeezed off where there was a lack of blood flow and oxygen getting to the muscle. And in turn, it was dying.
“When they went in there, that muscle had turned gray. It wasn’t completely dead but over time, it was dying. The doctor was shocked when he saw the grayness. His hope is that it turns back to the normal reddish color.
“He doesn’t know how long it’ll take. He’s optimistic about it. (Surgery was) to decompress and cut that fascia and allow that muscle to expose itself and have more oxygen and blood flow.”
That’s right. Dying muscle tissue. Gray muscle tissue. Doctor shocked. A hope that “it turns back to the normal reddish color.”
When I read that earlier this spring, I was like “Oh my God. That’s not good.”
Melancon had a quiet Spring Training as he worked himself by into shape. He was 5.79 ERA (he gave up three earned runs in just 4.2 innings).
So when we found out Tuesday that Melancon might not be ready to open the season and that he’s felt “mild discomfort” in his forearm since midway through Spring Training, there is significant reason for alarm.
The Giants were trying to play it down on Tuesday. General manager Bobby Evans said Melancon did not suffer a physical setback, and that the Giants are playing it safe with their closer. “Obviously, he’s post-surgery, so I think they’ll continue to make sure he’s in good shape.”
They are making it sound like Melancon hasn’t pitched since Friday so that if he’s not ready to start the season, they can backdate his DL stint and perhaps only miss the Dodgers series to open the season.
The Giants said Melancon played catch Tuesday and will repeat the exercise Wednesday to see where he’s at.
“We’re hoping he’s all good to go Thursday,” manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday. “We don’t know at this point right now if that will be the case.”
So he’s going to go from playing catch to being ready to take the mound in a game on Thursday?
Seems highly unlikely to me.
Again … dying muscle … gray muscle …. hope it turns reddish again.
Anyway, the Melancon news, along with the news that flamethrowing reliever and Rule 5 player Julian Fernandez will open the season with a sprained elbow ligament is just the news you want to hear to open the season, to go along with the news that Madison Bumgarner might not be ready until June and Jeff Samardzija will miss the first three or four weeks of the season.
The news is also the reason the Giants have not set their Opening Day 25-man roster. And they may not until the deadline early Thursday morning.
Every team opens the season at 0-0. And it already feels like the Giants are 10 games back.