Four days ago, I made myself a note that said simply, “Time to bench McGehee?” I put it on my list of future blog posts. Then other more important things kept crowding it off my ToDo list so I never got around to writing it.
Here’s how Comcast SportsNet Bay Area announced this morning’s shocker:
The Giants made a surprise move on Sunday morning, designating the 32-year-old McGehee for assignment and installing 24-year-old Matt Duffy as their everyday third baseman. The move was made in part because the Giants wanted to keep 13 pitchers during this stretch, and that meant adding Hunter Strickland to the roster.
“Designated for assignment” is a baseball euphemism for “cut”. He’d have been sent straight to the AAA Sacramento River Cats but his status as a contract veteran made that impossible. He may choose to report there or he may try to catch on with some other MLB team. He said he’s going to talk to his family before making a final decision. Given his age, his pitiful performance at the plate, in the field and on the bases in the first 35 games of the season, he’s not likely to be an attractive candidate anywhere else in baseball but his age and status make a AAA assignment distasteful.
McGehee was picked up from the Marlins during the offseason as a potential replacement for last year’s third-sacker Pablo Sandoval. When they signed him, they knew he wouldn’t approach Panda’s power, but nobody expected this sputtering start. He was barely hitting .200, had struck out 24 times and knocked in a meager 9 runs. And he was leading the National League in one statistical category: GIDP. Which means “grounded into double plays.” Ouch.
The G-Men will go with Matt Duffy as their regular third basemen, which I think is clearly their best move and what I’d have suggested in my almost-written column. The swap marks a noticeable improvement for the team overall.
A lot of folks are probably asking themselves why Bruce Bochy didn’t make the move sooner. One reason is McGehee’s veteran status; you figure a guy with his playing time would find his way out of the terrible slump and inattentiveness. Another is that Duffy was still a bit of an unknown at the start of the season; that’s no longer the case. He’s hitting .299 with two homers and 19 RBIs. And he’s been solid, at times brilliant, with his glove. At the ripe old age of 24, I think it’s safe to say he’s our third baseman for some years to come.