October 4, 2023

How Giants could fill the Estrada void with rookies, potential trade

How Giants Could Fill Estrada’s Void With Rookies Potential Trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO — When Casey Schmitt was called up from Triple-A on May 9, manager Gabe Kapler insisted that the young infielder be given a real chance to show what he could do.

“Casey is here to play for us,” Kapler said that day. “He’s here to help the Giants win and continue his development.”

As far as being in a pack and leaning on older hitters for the last four years, the Giants really stuck to that plan initially. Schmitt began his big league career by starting 13 straight games, joining Thairo Estrada and Mike Yastrzemski as the only Giants to start the season in double digits.

With Schmitt’s playing time dwindling due to his performance and Yastrzemski dealing with two hamstring strains, Estrada remained a constant presence until he was hit by a pitch in New York last weekend and caused a fracture that sent him onto the IL. He still leads the team in at bats and played as an All-Star for most of the first half.

The injury, which will sideline Estrada for four to six weeks, leaves a huge gap for the lineup and the infield, and for now, it’s one the Giants will try to fill internally. However, during his Thursday appearance at the KNBR, President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi left the door open to add field help ahead of the trade deadline.

“Getting a bit more offensive stability from midfield will be something we’re going to look at,” he said.

“(Brandon Crawford) is definitely swinging the bat better after a bit of a slow start in April, so that was good to see. Some of the younger guys in the second place mix – Casey, Brett Wisely – we think those guys have a chance to be good attacking players.

“You always hope the solution comes internally, but we’re going to have to see that as a potential area to go out there and get help.”

Given some of their needs elsewhere, particularly in the rotation, the Giants would be in much better shape if they could fill the gap with their prospects, and Schmitt figures to get the first shot. With two left-handers on the mound for the Colorado Rockies this weekend, he should have a chance to build some momentum heading into the break.

At first, it appeared that Schmitt would largely cut Crawford’s playing time. He turned the game around in May, but since early June he has hit .114 with no home runs and 23 strikeouts against four walks. Schmitt started second twice and short once against the Seattle Mariners as Estrada went on the IL and made a big defensive play behind Alex Cobb on Wednesday, but was hitless in the series, dropping his OPS below .600 for the first time traps. .

Earlier this week, Kapler said it would be “much more of a read-and-react situation” at second base. “It would be nice to see Casey get some playing time,” Kapler said. “He’ll have to earn it.”

While the adjustment of big league pitchers came quickly, the Giants still believe Schmitt will help them at the plate this season.

At least he gave them a solid defense, and when Wilmer Flores came off the IL last week, they kept Schmitt and picked the more experienced Isan Diaz back to Triple-A. Schmitt had started just two of seven games on the previous homestand, but Kapler said he wasn’t concerned about the lack of reps for a young player.

“The reason I think this is a good development opportunity for Casey is because I don’t think (this role) is forever,” he said last week. “I don’t think Casey will be a once-a-week player coming in for defensive purposes or pinch hits for the next three months. It could happen, but I don’t expect it to.”

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A few days later, Estrada’s injury opened the door for both Schmitt and Wisely, who has a .528 OPS in the major leagues this season but has dominated during his stints in Triple-A. For now, the Giants are hoping one of them can get the job done.

“At this level, those opportunities are earned,” Kapler said. “But those guys both have a chance to get reps there.”

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