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Murph: On Joe Panik and the first break of the World Series core

© Kelley L Cox | 2019 May 21

One week, you’re celebrating a historic July, the retention of Madison Bumgarner and the magical vanishing act of Mark Melancon’s contract.

The next week, you’re wondering if it all was an illusion, if Alex Dickerson will ever return to your hearts and minds and saying a sudden and abrupt goodbye to Joe Panik.

Some weeks, sports fans, you’re the hammer.

Some weeks, sports fans, you’re the nail.

Can the Giants turn around this 4-7 skid (1-4 in August) and climb back into wild card contention? Can they fulfill Farhan Zaidi’s goal of “meaningful baseball” into late September?

Well, sure, they *can*. As Will Clark told us on the show this morning, the wild card means you’re one hot week away from contention — as I was just saying to my good friend, Mr. Met.

But will they?

Right now, the bats are icy.

The rotation is dicey.

And the reconstructed bullpen is a revolving door of Coonrods, Gustaves, Jerezes and Selmans.

Meanwhile, Farhan’s decision to DFA Joe Panik today marks his first break with the World Series core, and speaks to several things, among them Donovan Solano and Scooter Gennett’s immediate future, Mauricio Dubon’s long-term future and Joe Panik’s declining recent past.

To think that in six short seasons, Panik went from starting the greatest double play in World Series history, to an All-Star bid, to a Gold Glove to . . . well, a combined .245 batting average since 2017 Opening Day and the current status as the least productive starting NL second baseman among nine qualifiers, is a stark reminder of the unsentimental nature of sport. Also a reminder that injuries — Panik has had back issues and a damaging concussion — can change the arc of a career.

Some fans think Panik’s fellow Series winners, like Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford — and even the declining Buster Posey — should be viewed in similarly unsentimental terms by the front office.

Difference is, Panik had no long-term contract to tend to. Belt and Crawford have big money deals though 2021, despite their downturns in production.

Truth is, the Panik move opens the door in 2020 for the prospect Dubon, of whom talent evaluators speak highly. And Panik’s production, or lack thereof, spoke for itself. That said, it was tough to read Panik say “in my heart, I will always be a Giant” in his statement today, with thoughts of home runs off Clayton Kershaw and a playoff bomb off Adam Wainwright and, of course, this:

It’s also a reminder that, even though the Giants hit a nice cruising altitude through that July in which they became the first team in MLB history to go from more than ten games under .500 to over .500 in July, Zaidi is forever tinkering with the roster he inherited, and will continue to as long as he runs the shop.

So far, 49 different players have worn the uniform this year — remember Nick Vincent? Erik Kratz? Mike Gerber? Pat Venditte? — and that number will surely grow, as they search for definition and production in this, the transition days of Giants baseball down at Third and King.


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