With the announcement that the San Francisco Giants’ Michael Morse has been placed on the 25-man roster for the National League Championship Series, beginning Saturday in St. Louis, Bruce Bochy must decide which player is to be left off the roster in order to make room for Morse. It would seem that the choice will come down to either Juan Perez or Gary Brown, both defensive specialists, with varying degrees of big-league experience.
Gary Brown, a first-round draft pick out of Fullerton State in 2010, may not be the logical choice, but he is the right one. Whereas Juan Perez is precisely what a defensive specialist ought to be, he has not proven himself to be a big-play guy with the bat. What with the lack of run production up to this point in the postseason, the Giants must decide if they would benefit from yet another late-season call-up from Fresno, and see if Gary Brown can add some offensive magic to the lineup.
Conventional baseball wisdom dictates that the NLCS is not the place to try something quite so radical, and that impetuous decisions can lead to disaster. But conventional wisdom would also dictate that if a team scores only nine runs in four games, it will not win three of four, and you can see how that relates to the just-completed series against the Washington Nationals.
Brown has the defensive part of the game secured and that is the most important component. A player can harm his team far greater by misjudging a ball with the bases loaded, than he can by striking out at the plate. The knock on Perez since his arrival in the bigs, is his lack of offensive punch, and that is the same issue with the rest of the team as well. More of Perez makes for more of the same.
Mar 14, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Juan Perez (2) slides at home plate and scores a run in the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Brown, on the other hand, hit .271 this season, at Fresno, with ten home runs, 24 doubles and six triples in the Pacific Coast League. In 136 games, he had 145 hits, which projects out to 173 hits over a 162-game schedule, in the hard-hitting PCL. On the big-league level, in the month of September, though only a minute sampling, Brown had three hits in seven at-bats, with one RBI. Could this translate into an upgrade?
The bulk of Brown’s minor league experience has been in center field, with only a smattering of starts in left, so that would suggest that Gregor Blanco would resume his position in left field, while Brown took control in center.
Brown is not the perfect choice; unfortunately, Angel Pagan is not available.
He’s not the perfect choice, but Angel Pagan is on the shelf, so Bruce Bochy has to decide if he has seen enough of Brown to evaluate his level of preparedness.
It would work because Hunter Pence in right field is the consummate professional, and he covers an immense amount of ground, swiftly. If there were anyone else playing right field, particularly at AT&T Park, replacing Perez with Brown would not be quite so appealing.
Besides, if Michael Morse is indeed back to full strength, and can wield a potent bat, the entire discussion is moot. One potent Morse bat in the lineup, would be the ideal scenario, and it may be that the Giants get their wish. Morse has been taking live batting swings down in the desert, apparently with great success, which is why he has been placed on the 25-man roster.
Bruce Bochy has never been afraid to make the bold move; his insertion of Hunter Strickland to close the marathon eighteen-inning game in Washington, was epic and he has not hesitated to rely on either Matt Duffy or Andrew Susac, in crucial situations.
Bochy should consider the current lack of production a crucial situation, build on his recent track record of using rookies to better the team, and make the brazen move of replacing Juan Perez on the NLCS roster with Gary Brown.
Jul 30, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) looks on during the fourth inning of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports