Surkamp, Pill on the Outs?

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that professional baseball is a business. However, that’s what it is, first and foremost, and there are a handful of players who are finding out they aren’t a part of the Giants’ business plan going forward. And most of these announcements haven’t exactly been well-timed. I have no idea how much earlier players find out about their fate before the public does. It was the night before Thanksgiving when we found out Johnny Monell and Francisco Peguero were being DFA. Now, just days before Christmas, we’ve been told that Eric Surkamp is off the 40-man, while Brett Pill is likely headed to play in Korea.

While the Surkamp DFA did take me by surprise this morning, none of these moves are earth-shattering. All of these guys have grinded through, and all are deserving of a shot, but none really fit into the Giants’ future. I have to think someone will give Surkamp a look. Really, Surkamp isn’t all that much different from Pill. Both guys have had exceptional minor league careers, but their MLB potential is very questionable. The big difference for Surkamp was the arm injury, which certainly looks like it cost him his chance of ever having a job in San Francisco. He’s 26, and it’s not unreasonable to think he could find his way into the bigs as a 5th starter or long-man in the next couple years. But with Petit, Kickham and Escobar all on the 40-man, and the addition of lefty Jose De Paula, it became pretty obvious that Surkamp had been passed on the Giants’ depth chart. Really, a move to another organization could turn out to be a blessing for the guy.

In the case of Pill, I don’t know how great a feeling it is to find out you’re being sold to a Korean club the week before Christmas. At least he’ll be an everyday player over there, and may be able to build some value and come back to the majors in a year or two. There was a time when I felt Pill deserved a chance to start at first for the Giants. But that was when Aubrey Huff was still around, and Brandon Belt was a struggling rookie. Those days have long passed for me… but there are still a ton of fans out there who think the guy is a .280, 25-HR hitter who hasn’t gotten a fair shot. Maybe those people are getting hung up on the AAA stats, because the Pill I’ve watched take 240 AB over the past 3 years seems to be the exact player his MLB stats indicate. .233/.279/.376 with 9 HR and semi-adequate defense. He’s a class act, but that doesn’t mean he’s a starting 1B. Still, I wouldn’t think he’s thrilled about the news of his departure from the organization. I don’t know that I’d be able to handle playing baseball in Korea full-time, but maybe he’s excited about a new opportunity?

Ok, one last thought here. If you’re scoring at home, you knew Giants needed to open up a 40-man spot to make room for Mike Morse. Apparently there was a deal in the works (Pill?). But then we heard that Ryan Vogelsong hadn’t been officially placed on the 40-man, so there was some wiggle room. Well, now we see that all 3 of Vogelsong, Morse and Pill are on the 40, with Surkamp removed. When the Pill to Korea situation is finalized, there should be one spot open on the 40-man. Although I feel like it would be beneficial to enter spring with a couple of spots open, the Giants generally don’t do that. I only mention this because there was a pretty overlooked tweet this week from former Oakland reliever Andrew Carignan, who indicated that he’s moving out west to join the Giants. I retweeted it on my Twitter page, but haven’t seen any response from the Giants or the beats. Carignan spent small parts of 2011 and 2012 in the A’s bullpen, but missed all of 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery. When he’s healthy, he averages 95 mph with his fastball. If in fact the Giants did sign Carignan to a small deal, I’d be willing to bet we’ll see his name on the 40-man, with a chance to win a bullpen job in spring training.

This was supposed to be a quick take, but I got a little long-winded again. What do you know? The moral of the story is that two previous “prospect-non-prospect” guys in Surkamp and Pill are on their way out. Of course, we’ll be rooting for them to succeed wherever they end up. Will there be a corresponding roster move? Maybe we’ll find out in the next couple weeks. It’s getting a little quiet on the hot stove front, so we’ll continue to churn out Cove Chatter 100 pieces during the slow period. Happy holidays everyone.

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Eric  Surkamp throws to the Houston Astros during the first inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Photo: Tony Avelar, AP