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Inbox: Rodriguez-mania, Pablo, Pence, Posey

Beat reporter Chris Haft fields questions from Giants fans
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

Dereck Rodriguez-mania, if you will, is approaching epidemic proportions among Giants fans. The first portion of this Inbox represents a sampling of the rookie right-hander's growing popularity -- which is keeping pace with his outstanding performance -- in Giants Nation.

Will the Giants be able to hang onto Dereck Rodriguez after 2018?
-- Nancy M., San Mateo, Calif.

Dereck Rodriguez-mania, if you will, is approaching epidemic proportions among Giants fans. The first portion of this Inbox represents a sampling of the rookie right-hander's growing popularity -- which is keeping pace with his outstanding performance -- in Giants Nation.

Will the Giants be able to hang onto Dereck Rodriguez after 2018?
-- Nancy M., San Mateo, Calif.

Relax. Rodriguez remains under control of the Giants for six more years. He won't be eligible for free agency until after that period.

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Will Dereck Rodriguez deservedly win the National League Rookie of the Year Award?
-- Buford B., San Francisco

We addressed this subject in the last Inbox, but it's certainly worth revisiting, particularly since I have a few observations. For Rodriguez to take home the Jackie Robinson Award, as the Rookie of the Year Award is officially known, he would have to significantly outperform the leading position-player candidates. It makes sense that position players would have an edge, since they play every day.

Video: SF@SD: Rodriguez tosses 7 innings of 1-run ball

Miami right fielder/third baseman Brian Anderson (.286/.357/.422, nine HR, 51 RBIs entering Wednesday) is widely considered a leading candidate. So is Washington outfielder Juan Soto (.313/.418/.567, 13 HR, 36 RBIs). San Diego third baseman Christian Villanueva (19 HR) could also receive some support based on his power alone.

It'll simply come down to how much the voters (two members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America from each team's city) weigh each candidate's contributions. Jacob deGrom of the Mets won the 2014 award with statistics (9-6 record, 2.69 ERA in 22 starts) that might approximate Rodriguez's eventual totals. Rodriguez is currently 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 12 appearances, including 10 starts.

Have Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez shown enough to conclude they have a good chance of locking down at least the back end of the rotation for the next couple or few years? And what are the odds that Mark Melancon opts out next year? If he does, where do you see that money being applied?
-- Eric P., Berkeley, Calif.

The back end of the rotation? Johnny Cueto needs Tommy John surgery, and if Jeff Samardzija's return to form remains a painstaking process, the Giants will need Rodriguez and Suarez to help Madison Bumgarner anchor the rotation's front end.

Video: MIL@SF: Suarez knocks down liner, flips to first

Regarding Melancon, there's virtually no chance he'll opt out of his four-year contract, which will pay him $14 million in each of the next two seasons. Unless some unknown factors are compelling him to leave the Giants, it's inconceivable that he would walk from that kind of money.

Please continue for non-Rodriguez material:

Pablo Sandoval has shown that not only can he switch-hit but can throw equally well with each hand. Why doesn't he switch his glove hand when he plays first base?
-- Jeff O., Elk Grove, Calif.

Remember, Sandoval originally was a catcher. He's more proficient manipulating his glove with his left hand than his right.

Could this be Hunter Pence's last year with the Giants?
-- Phil R., Sonora, Calif.

Unfortunately for Pence and his many fans, he definitely appears to be in his final weeks as a Giant. Plenty of younger, less-experienced outfielders must be given a chance. Moreover, Pence's contract expires after this season.

Video: SF@SEA: Pence gives Giants lead with 1st HR of 2018

What's wrong with Buster Posey? He went from 20 homers and around 100 RBIs a season to 10 and 50. He's on pace for about those numbers this year. This has been going on for the past couple of seasons. Posey went from feared power hitter to a singles hitter who hits in the gap once in a while. Not to mention he's striking out a lot for him.
-- Marc D., Sun City West, Ariz.

My take on it is as follows: Posey never was a power hitter. He always has been an especially accomplished hitter whose line drives occasionally carried out of the ballpark. But to describe him as a true power hitter always was and always will be inaccurate.

Video: MIL@SF: Posey collects 4 hits, 3 RBIs vs. Brewers

I also believe Posey plays with injuries he doesn't publicly disclose. He doesn't want to appear as if he's making excuses. He finally had to acknowledge the hip injury before the All-Star break because one, it was so darned uncomfortable, and two, he had to provide some sort of explanation for skipping the All-Star Game.

Again, this is just my opinion. Posey remains an above-average hitter who opponents respect. That's just my opinion, too.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Dereck Rodriguez