If you already didn’t know, the San Francisco Giants picked up another depth piece this week. This seems to be the norm these days under Farhan Zaidi’s regime.
This week, not only did the San Francisco Giants pick up more outfield depth in Gerardo Parra, but they went and got Craig Gentry as well. Gentry is a 35 year old outfield journeyman, with good defense and speed.
I get it, he’s not Bryce Harper, in fact he’s the complete opposite of him. That’s not meant to be an insult to the type of game he brings to the table, but rather a testament to what the Giants are attempting to do. Depth is the name of the game right now as the Giants endure a revamp of their entire system, and this fits right in with another low-risk minor league signing. The hope here is that Gentry will provide a solid backup to the younger core of outfielders that the Giants have.
Returning to the West Coast
Gentry is no stranger to the West Coast, he played two seasons with the Athletics and one season with the Angels. In those three seasons he experienced a couple injury setbacks and a huge slump, bringing down his career numbers. He turned his luck around in Baltimore, bringing his numbers back up to his expected average slash line. The good thing is that his defense remained consistent even throughout his slump.
In 18 appearances at (the now) Oracle Park, Gentry posted a slash line of .500/.611/.571, his best line at any park in his career. Of course, five of his seven hits came in one game, and three of those were against Barry Zito. That is par for the course with Gentry, as his numbers are slightly better against lefties. The Giants mightily struggled against lefty pitchers all last season, so Gentry should fit in pretty well as a corner platoon.
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Role Player at its Finest
Because of his versatility in the outfield and his decent clutch numbers, he fits perfectly within Zaidi’s mold. His best career defensive numbers come from left and center field, which bodes well as a platoon player or even as a fifth outfielder.
However, it’s his clutch numbers on offense that caught my attention. With runners in scoring position, he hoists up a career line of .275/.371/.355 with 93 RBI. With two outs and RISP his career line is .280/.368/.378 with 48 RBI.
Make no mistake, Gentry is not an everyday starting outfielder, but he doesn’t need to be. Platoon him with somebody like Chris Shaw, who doesn’t hit lefties well, and that could be a good recipe for success.
Although he has spent time batting at the top of the lineup, his best offensive numbers come when he’s been the 7th or 8th batter in the lineup. Gentry’s speed ranks up there with Steven Duggar, and the 80% average steal rate proves it.
He could even spend time as a pinch runner/late-inning defensive replacement. There are so many roles I see him playing in for this team, that is if he gets a shot to play.
Where does he fit?
It’s pretty obvious, Spring Training will tell the tale of where Craig Gentry ends up. With the signing of veteran outfielders, it is pretty clear that this organization has its reservations with the young outfielders. The health issues and inconsistencies hampered the Giants outfield last season, so it was clear that they needed a core of experienced backup outfielders ready to fill in. You cannot deny that Zaidi has found just that with some of his signings this season, and Gentry is no exception. I look forward to seeing what he can bring to this team in Spring Training.