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San Francisco Giants’ Casey McGehee: hard-nosed, hustling addition

By Mark ONeill
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The acquisition of Casey McGehee by the San Francisco Giants has produced quite a mixed reaction from Giants fans, many of those who feel the former Milwaukee Brewer mainstay is best described at either flotsam (from the Marlins’ perspective) or jetsam (from the Giants’ point of view).

Yes, the acquisition by the Miami Marlins of Martin Prado Friday made McGehee expendable, but to label Casey as a player who is essentially treading water, is as short-sided as assuming that not retaining Pablo Sandoval will prove a disaster.

Statistics are often either the most relevant or the most useless, but if fans maintain an open mind and examine McGehee’s numbers and background, they will find that there are numerous indications that Brian Sabean has done his homework.

First, the net effects of allowing Pablo Sandoval to escape to Boston will not be known until several seasons down the line, so rather than bestow more than passing note on the subject, best to let it go. Sabean made a sincere effort to retain the Panda, and it didn’t take. No harm-no foul.

Casey McGehee put up numbers in 2010 for the Brewers (23 home runs, 104 RBIs), that sometimes come back to haunt a guy because he’s never going to attain that plateau again. This doesn’t make him a bust-it makes him pretty much like every other player to ever hit the diamond. There is only one “career” year per customer and McGehee done had his. Let it go.

Apr 13, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee (9) hits an RBI single during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

What Giants fans can expect from Casey is good old-fashioned, Hunter Penceque-like hustle, and a willingness to pitch in and get his uniform dirty. I focused on this guy last year when the Giants faced the Marlins, and he scared me every time he came to the plate.

In my piece Tuesday morning, I pointed out that McGehee had led the National League in hitting into double plays (31), but I failed to mention that he also led the NL in starting double plays with 34. By contrast Pablo Sandoval initiated 27 double plays. For Casey McGehee to have led the league in this stat is a clear indication of a powerful arm.

A valued reader pointed out that Baseball Ref projects a 162-game average for McGehee in 2015 that looks like this: 15 HRs and 82 RBIs, 61 Rs and 29 2Bs. OK, granted I am an optimist; take me out and have me shot.

McGehee had 177 hits in 2014 for the Marlins, with 4 HRs and 76 RBIs, three more than the Panda, earning him comeback player of the year in the National League.

Stats tell us that McGehee stacks up well with the Panda: Fans just need to give him a chance.

Interestingly enough, Panda’s slugging percentage (.415) was only fifteen points higher than McGehee’s (.400).

There was that dismal trade to the New York Yankees in 2012, with McGehee obviously struggling to adapt to American League pitching, and the demotion to the minors in August of that year, when Steve Pearce was called up to the Yankees.

Then came 2013 and the year in Japan which resulted in the first-ever title for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, as McGehee played alongside Masahiro Tanaka and Andruw Jones. This is the kind of background information that is critical for an accurate assessment of a player. Performing under the pressure of a successful championship run, must be taken into consideration when looking at the complete profile.

Sabean obviously sees moxie in a player who will jump to Japan if he feels it offers the best opportunity to extend his career. Ryan Vogelsong went that route and he exuded intestinal fortitude. To Sabean it indicates a determination to succeed that he seeks out in players; the Giants are comprised of performers who show no fear and it is reflected in the postseason success enjoyed by the San Francisco Giants.

McGehee even has solid credentials in the nickname department, having been dubbed “Hits McGehee,” an obvious take-off from the film, “Anchorman.” The Panda is gone but his third base spot will still retain the aura of a well-turned moniker.

Despite the gloom infusing those of a negative bent, I am both excited and relieved: I am enthusiastic that the Giants pursued a hard-nosed, no-nonsense individual who knows how to hit the dirt, and I am relieved that there is still money to possibly pursue either a James Shields-type starting pitcher, or a left fielder of some substance.

Again, if you view the glass as half-empty as a matter of course in your life, then nothing short of the resurrection of Brooks Robinson would have sufficed anyway.

If you are like me and you tend to look at the bright side of life, especially in all matters baseball, then you will trust in Brian Sabean and take a big swig off of that glass, because you just don’t give a heck about how much water is there, as long as there are 24 other guys to help keep that glass filling up over and over again.

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