The 2018 season was a make or break season for Bobby Evans. Bobby Evans broke.
People were wondering if the Giants were going to start to rebuild and sell off their tradable commodities for young prospects to help replenish their minor league system. It seemed like that was what they might do when they ended up trading Eduardo Nunez to the Red Sox for Shaun Anderson (Giants current number 3 prospect) before the 2017 trade deadline. Instead, Bobby Evans decided to push all of his chips on the table. This was not a good idea.
The Giants needed a third baseman after trading Nunez and Christian Arroyo didn’t seem ready to step in and take on the everyday duties. Although Longoria was coming off one of the worst seasons of his career in a lot of respects (3rd lowest BA., 2nd worst ISO slugging of career, career low wRC+, career low OBP, career high GB%), he was still an upgrade at third, but was not the offensive force he once was.
This was another upgrade in a position of need, but McCutchen was yet another aging veteran who seemed to be on the wrong side of his prime. McCutchen was coming off of a great season by all metrics, but two questions loomed large over that offseason. 1) Were McCutchen and Longoria going to be good enough to make the Giants a World Series team? 2) Were these players worth the prospect capital?
I just want to say this; I love Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds. Kyle Crick was great in his debut in 2017 and was excellent in 2018. He’s turning out to be a great late inning option and might even be the Pittsburgh Pirates closer if it weren’t for Felipe Rivero. Bryan Reynolds, much like Luis Castillo is a guy who has performed well at every level. His hit tool is undervalued and I think he’s going to be a solid big leaguer soon.
Finally, they signed Austin Jackson to “solidify” their outfield and the Giants were set for the 2018 season.
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The fans were split on the Giants offseason. Many fans liked the moves and thought these moves put them back in contention for a title or at least an NL West crown. Then there were people like me, who weren’t convinced that these players put the Giants back into the National League’s elite.
Personally, I thought the Giants would be better suited to hang on to their young players and let them play. If they weren’t going to have a good 2018, I wanted them to have a productive 2018. Instead the Giants went all in. I didn’t like it, but I accepted it.
To me, the Giants 2017/2018 offseason was a lot like the Fyre Fest. There were some big names attached to it and it seemed like it was the real deal, but as things started to play out, you quickly saw that there was no way this would work out as advertised.
Did I just watch both Fyre Fest documentaries consecutively? Maybe.
The 2018 season was weird. Madison Bumgarner broke the pinkie on his throwing hand in spring training, but the Giants treaded water without their ace. The Giants were 26-30 entering June and were playing as “okay” as their record would indicate. Then in June Madison Bumgarner returned and for the first time all year the Giants had all of their roster at full strength. Then Evan Longoria broke his hand the next day. Then their closer Hunter Strickland also broke his hand by punching a door after blowing a save against the Marlins.
Despite the new injuries they went 18-10 in June, pushing their record to 44-40 and went into July just 3.5 games out of first place in the NL West. The Giants were at a crossroads. They were in no position to be buyers at the trade deadline because they had very little prospect capital remaining and the prospects that garnered the most trade value were kept off-limits. They also weren’t in a position to sell either, as they were still in the playoff picture.
Although the Giants were still in the hunt, most people (me) thought they had a nice run, but they should probably just pack it in and get rid of any assets they had and focus on getting young players more reps. But they kept going for it. The finished July at 55-54 and hadn’t traded anyone. What were they doing?
Then August rolled around and the injuries started to pile up as the Giants slipped further out of the playoff picture. The Giants couldn’t keep up with the pack and their playoff window started to close.
Evan Longoria went on to have the worst season of his career (Lowest BA., 4th worst ISO slugging, lowest wRC+, lowest OBP, lowest walk %, 2nd highest GB%, 0.4 fWAR). McCutchen like Longoria, also had the worst season of his career (career low slash line, lowest ISO slugging, second lowest wRC+, lowest fWAR, 2nd worst DRS), but McCutchen still played well above replacement level. He did not return to greatness. They waited until the very end, but finally traded Andrew McCutchen to the Yankees for Abiatal Avelino and Juan De Paula.
They were throwing in the towel and then they plummeted going 5-21 in September to close out the season. The same issues that hampered the 2017 season rang true again in 2018. The lack of organizational depth couldn’t keep them competitive and they were exposed once again. The 2018 Giants were not for real. They were sheep in wolves clothing.