May 25, 2024

Which San Francisco Giants’ stock is up/down after first month of the MLB season


BOSTON — If Blake Snell’s spot in the San Francisco Giants rotation were a publicly traded commodity, its price would be crashing so hard that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission would have to halt trading.

With Snell on the injured list because of a groin injury, the Giants filled his spot Wednesday night at Fenway Park by using left-hander Erik Miller as an opener for right-hander Daulton Jefferies. It did not go well. Miller stranded a pair of walks but Jefferies wasn’t so fortunate when he had to play catch-up in counts. The Red Sox treated the Green Monster like a squash court and the Giants lost 6-2 to fall to 14-17 this season.

Astoundingly, Wednesday’s loss was their most competitive in six games from the “Snell or should’ve been Snell” turn in the rotation.  The Giants are 0-6 in those games, three of which Snell started. They’ve been outscored 61-14. Their minus-47 run differential in those six games is worse than the season ledger for all but three major league teams (Rockies, White Sox, Marlins).

Sure, the Giants offense is no great shakes — a frustrated Jorge Soler gave a perfectly good bat the Bo Jackson treatment Wednesday, snapping it in two over his quadriceps — but the team is a respectable 14-11 with a plus-22 run differential in games started by Logan Webb, Kyle Harrison, Jordan Hicks and Keaton Winn.

So, yeah. The Snell turn is the Enron in the Giants’ portfolio.


Stock down

Blake Snell, LHP

It’s too early to pile on or make grand pronouncements. But thus far, the Snell contract has been nothing short of disastrous.

The Giants paid $32 million to get 30-odd starts out of him. But the actual cost was higher than that. That’s because the contract also pushed them past the first luxury tax threshold for the first time since 2017. The consequences? It’s not so much the penalty they’d incur (roughly $4 million at present). The bigger impact is that it likely will limit their ability to add salary when (if?) they seek to bolster the roster at the trade deadline.

On top of that, the Giants assumed the downside risk of another $32 million to Snell in 2025, which could become dead money if the left-hander has a significant injury and opts back in. Oh, and did we mention the draft pick penalty they’ll incur? (They will sacrifice a third-round pick, which knocks 10 percent or so from their all-important bonus pool. And that’s after they sacrificed their second-round pick for signing Matt Chapman.)

They also paid a price by beginning the season with Snell on the active roster, playing short-handed on the pitching side even though they knew he wouldn’t be ready for at least the first turn through the rotation. Turns out, he didn’t debut until the 11th game of the season. And if his performance in three starts has been any indication (0-3, 11.57 ERA), he wasn’t truly ready to compete then, either.

The Giants expected that Snell would struggle at the outset. They knew they were paying him for what he’d do after May 1. Except, oops, he was back in San Francisco when the month began, throwing a 20-pitch session off a mound Wednesday. Even if the Giants get him back in 10 days, he’d still be in ramp-up mode. So when does he hit his stride now? June?

Obviously, this stock still has massive growth potential. But there’s more reason to be bearish about the final impact that Snell will make on the Giants this season.

Jorge Soler, DH

Maybe it’s not in your nature to sympathize with a professional athlete who will be paid $42 million over three years and whose only job is to hit three to five times a game. But spare some kindness for Soler after the night he had Wednesday in Boston. He hit baseballs that left the bat at 110.7, 107.6 and 101.2 mph. He didn’t have a hit to show for it. At least his quadriceps appears to have solid muscle tone.

 

This is one of those stats that you really should read while sitting down: Soler has stepped to the plate with 88 runners on base this season. He’s driven in three of them. Yet he hasn’t appeared overmatched or lost at the plate. An analyst might view Soler as an undervalued stock with a solid P/E ratio. Past performance is not indicative of future results and all that jazz, etc. Either way, he belongs on this side of the analysis right now.

Stock up

Mason Black, RHP

Hicks, Harrison and Winn are obvious candidates here. But what would be the fun of being obvious? So, let’s go with Black, the right-handed pitching prospect who tossed four scoreless innings Wednesday night. Of course, those innings came against Tacoma at Triple-A Sacramento, not at Fenway Park, as many Giants fans undoubtedly would have preferred. It’s a good bet that Black would’ve made his big-league debut on Wednesday if he were already on the 40-man roster. Regardless, his time is coming soon. Black lowered his ERA to 1.01 in five starts for the River Cats, which leads the notoriously lively Pacific Coast League. Black competed well in the spring, too.

“He was definitely considered,” Giants manager Bob Melvin said before the game. “We’ll see where that goes. I think right now they like what he’s doing.”

Perhaps the Giants don’t want to break the 40-man glass on Black if they think they’ll only need to cover one or two more starts before Snell returns. But they just began a three-city, 10-day road trip that won’t involve any days off. They can’t wear out their bullpen, nor can they continue to be totally non-competitive on Snell’s turn. And the next two stops are in lively ballparks (Philadelphia and Colorado). It would line up perfectly if Black, who grew up a Phillies fan near Scranton, Pa., got a chance to debut close to home on Monday.

Hold

Nick Ahmed, SS

Ahmed is playing a solid shortstop and has contributed a surprising amount of production in RBI situations from the No. 9 spot. But full disclosure, he’s just a placeholder here. He represents the Giants’ lineup continuity under Melvin, which so many fans craved after years of roster churn, platoons aplenty, and pinch hitting before the sixth inning. Maybe this escaped your notice: the Giants haven’t made any roster alterations to their position player core since the season-opening road trip when Luis Matos replaced Mike Yastrzemski (paternity list) for a couple of games and Joey Bart was designated for assignment to add a 13th pitcher.

The Giants are running the same guys out there. It’s what many fans wanted to see. Now, naturally, the complaint is that the Giants need to shake up the roster to spark more offense. But guess what? This is what you sign up for when you have a stable core of position players. When they aren’t hitting, you have to be patient.

As they say on Wall Street, you seldom get rich by panic selling. (I don’t know if they really say that. I’m not a broker. But it sounds good.)

(Photo of Blake Snell: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)





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