Bench depth has been a predictable problem for the San Francisco Giants throughout the 2014 MLB season. As injuries have piled up, the Giants have been forced to bare the brunt of blatant inattention to a key segment of their roster. The Giants are an all-around solid ball club, but they don’t flaunt the depth necessary to excel in October. General manager Brian Sabean must make bolstering the bench, as opposed to the bullpen, a top priority at the trade deadline.
The Giants are holding out hope that guys like Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt can come back healthy enough to reclaim their starting roles for the stretch run, but recent reports haven’t been encouraging. According to multiple sources, the Giants have grown increasingly concerned with Belt’s concussion status. There currently isn’t a time table for either player’s return.
For the Giants to stave off the Los Angeles Dodgers and win the NL West, it’s paramount that they shore up their bench. Entering Thursday, backup infielder Ehire Adrianza owned the best batting average (.234) of any Giants reserve player. Fourth outfielder Gregor Blanco checks in with an equally subpar .233 average. Both players have engaged extensive playing time due to injuries.
The short list of “pinch hitters” on the Giants’ 25-man roster is mostly non-existent. Utility man Joaquin Arias has been abysmal all season, registering 23 hits in 129 plate appearances over 69 games. Scrap heap pickup Tyler Colvin owns the best OPS among Giants bench players (.659) but boasts an inefficient .270 on-base percentage.
The Giants have been gritty in staying atop the division standings despite showcasing a relatively thin talent pool on the bench. It’s an ongoing problem that needs to be fixed.
San Francisco has been linked to several players presumed to be available on the trade front this week, like Ben Zobrist and Chase Utley, although acquiring either player before the non-waiver deadline would require the Giants to part with top prospects, such as Kyle Crick and Andrew Susac.
Sabean ultimately faces a few difficult decisions over the next week. The Giants could improve their ball club for the stretch run by acquiring the likes of Zobrist, but the team would be forced to sacrifice a chunk of its future in order to do that. In all likelihood, Sabean will do what he seemingly does best: test the trade front after the initial deadline and attempt to improve the club through waivers.