As I write this, it’s been 24 hours since Matt Duffy and all that he represents — homegrown talent, Willie Mac Award qualities, an everyman’s appeal that reaffirms America’s greatness — was traded to Tampa Bay.
That means the mourning period for Duffy — for his vacuum cleaner glove at third, for the memory of his sprint home from second base in St. Louis in October, 2014; hell, even for Skeeter the cat — is finished.
It’s time to get over it.
The 2016 San Francisco Giants are a better team than they were before the trade deadline, and for all Giants fans, that’s something to celebrate, not grieve.
What, you thought you could improve the starting rotation by waving a wand?
Baseball trades are big boy business. Rarely do you fleece another Major League Baseball club, raid their coffers, drink their whiskey, and pay no toll.
Like, you can’t just get Marco Scutaro for Charlie Culberson and expect to win a World Series.
(Wait. Bad example.)
Or, you can’t just get Hunter Pence for Nate Schierholtz, Seth Rosin and Tommy Joseph and expect to win a World Series.
(Wait. Another bad example.)
OK, sometimes you can fleece another Major League Baseball club.
But Trade Deadline 2016 was like shopping at Whole Foods. You weren’t getting out of the marketplace without absorbing a sting. Especially if you want a quality starting arm, one that you have under club control through 2019 at the low, low contractual price of $9 million per.
So, to procure the services of Matt Moore, a 27-year-old left handed starter with a career ERA in the 3s, a guy whose last 10 starts have produced an ERA of 2.81, a guy who just beat the Dodgers in L.A., you had to pay a tariff.
That tariff was Matt Duffy.
Cue the heartache for Giants fans.
A byproduct of this wildly successful Giants era in the 2010s is an emotional tie-in to players heretofore unseen. It started with Brian Wilson’s beard, segued into Panda hats, flowed into giraffe heads, and saw a dash of Melk Men come through, too. By the time Matt Duffy locked down post-Panda third base in 2015 with the added bonus of a hilariously overweight cat, Giants fans had another connection.
But there comes a time to grow up and improve the club.
The Giants’ starting rotation was bleeding runs, and failing to chew innings. Bobby Evans had to make a move, lest the best record in the first half of baseball turn into October tee times.
And when they traded for Minnesota’s Eduardo Nunez, rumblings began: Now that they acquired an every day infielder, would an infielder be moved for an arm? Would it be Joe Panik to the Yankees for a bullpen ace? Would it be fan favorite Matt Duffy leaving town, at the tender age of 25?
Yup. Duff Man, gone.
And Giants fans have to occupy the real world: Duffy became, as difficult as it sounds, expendable. Nunez can play third the rest of 2016. Duffy, quietly, was toting an unhealthy OPS of .671 when he strained his Achilles. That made for a double worry — a sophomore slump and a problem-area injury.
Plus, there was the elephant in the room named Christian Arroyo.
Ever since the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2013 lit up the Arizona Fall League with a .326 rookie campaign, Giants’ brass has salivated. He’s a career .298 minor league hitter, and maybe even more important, showed with a .556 Cactus League in the spring that he can hang in the same dugout with Buster Posey and the boys and hit the cover off the ball.
He’s 21 years old, and it’s quite likely at some point in 2017, he’ll be your everyday third baseman.
So, a move had to be made. A starting pitcher was almost mandatory. The Rays demanded a price. The Giants surely tried to bargain the price down. The Rays offered the Giants a world without a new starting pitcher. The Giants dug into their pockets and paid the price of Matt Duffy.
Everything in life is a tradeoff, sports fans. One fan’s lament for Matt Duffy’s general Matt Duffy-ness is another fan’s rejoicing that the Bumgarner-Cueto-Moore starting pitchers in an October series looks better than the alternative.
We will miss Matt Duffy, yes. But the Giants are a better team now. Last we checked, that’s the goal, kids.