A few weeks back, I wrote about potential trade targets for the San Francisco Giants. James Shields, Jeff Samardzija, and Jed Lowrie. One of them was more obvious than the others, and that same one has recently had a number of articles and news pieces surface regarding him and the San Francisco Giants. Yes, we’re talking about Samardzija. I was a supporter of bring Samardzija to the Giants in my last article.
And I take back everything I said.
Samardzija is having a great year, there’s no denying that. Over his first 15 games in 2014 he’s thrown 97 innings and sports a 2.60 ERA and 1.206 WHIP with an 8.4 K/9. Those ERA and WHIP are on pace to be the best of his career, and not just by a little. Samardzija’s holds a career 3.96 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.
So maybe, you might think, he’s really taken steps forward, and this is going to be a career year for him. This improvement is legit, you say. Maybe you buy it.
But you know what? I don’t.
Samardzija has a history of starting strong and then falling off as the season goes on. And it really isn’t hard to see. In April and May of 2013, Samardzija started 11 games. He totaled 72.2 innings with a 2.86 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and an awesome 9.95 K/9. But his numbers from June till the end of the year (22 starts)? 141 innings, 5.10 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and a (still good, but not as good) 8.55 K/9.
He’s already on pace for that again this year. Let’s take a look at the numbers side-by-side.
April/May (11 starts) of 2014: 1.68 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 7.68 K/9
June – Sept (4 starts) of 2014: 5.73 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 10.6 K/9
Samardzija is not as good as his number say they are. Everyone wanted to talk about trading him prior to the deadline in 2013 because of his outstanding numbers. Right around the start of July he became, at best, average.
Still not so sure? 2012, side-by-side again.
April/May (10 starts) of 2012: 3.09 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 9.14 K/9
June – Sept (18 starts) of 2012: 4.48 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 9.35 K/9
Sure, he started to strike out more guys. But there’s a trend here – and it seems to be trending in the wrong direction. The gap is widening between how Samardzija starts the year and how he ends it. He could very easily post a 4.5+ ERA with a 1.40 WHIP and a 9.0 K/9 for the rest of 2014.
Do you know what a 4.50 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 9.0 K/9 pitcher looks like?
It looks like Tim Lincecum.
Okay, okay, fine. Samardzija will probably be better than Lincecum, but are you sure? His numbers don’t say he will be, and even if he is, it very likely won’t be by much. And is this the guy you all want to trade for as the savior in 2014.
Listen, I’m all for the Giants making a move to bring someone in. I’m mostly happy to sell the farm and future for the here and now, but Samardzija is not the guy. His history shows it. He’s 29. He’s a right-hander. He starts seasons stronger than he finishes. These are all facts, and it’s beyond me that no one else seems to notice! Either that or no one cares – I don’t know which would be worse.
I predicted early on that the Giants would not make the playoffs this year. I noted that the Tim Hudson signing was a “bridge signing” – he’s here to help bring in the new wave of Giants pitchers. Crick, Escobar, Chris Stratton, this new kid Tyler Beede – they are the future and they’re almost here. We just have to be patient.
The Giants are off to a great start, but we’re already seeing them come back down to earth. They’re not a “best team in baseball” kind of team. Samardzija? Sure, he might help. Or he might just be another Lincecum. In any case, but he’s still not going to make them a “best team in baseball” kind of team.
And giving up two top prospects would be a rough way to find out.
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