Monday, May 20, 2013

Game Wrap 5/20/2013: Giants 8 Nationals 0

The Giants dominated the Nationals at AT&T Park, but lost their starter, Ryan Vogelsong, for at least 6 weeks with fractures in his right hand.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .260.  Pagan drove in 3 runs and scored 1 with a strong effort at leadoff.

Marco Scutaro- 2 fo4 5.  BA= .333.  Scutaro now has 19 two-hit games on the season, one less than league leader Jean Segura.

Brandon Belt- 4 for 5, HR(6).  BA= .261.  Yeah, I'd say Belt bought himself a much longer leash with this game.  Gotta be a huge confidence builder.  The lone out was a drive to the warning track in left-center.  Belt is 12 for 30, an even .400 over his last 10 games with 3 dingers and 4 walks.  He looks like he's having fun out there for maybe the first time in his MLB career.  He looks like he's eager to come to the plate.

Andres Torres- 3 for 5. 2B.  BA= .247.  Nice night for Torres who needed a confidence booster.

Ryan Vogelsong- 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 7.19.  Vogey was pitching a fine game when he came to the plate in the 5'th inning and swung at a pitch that bored in on him and caught the 5'th finger and metacarpal on his right hand. You knew it was broken the instant you saw the impact.  Dave Groeschner took one look and escorted him to the clubhouse.  The report is his hand is fractured in 2 places with a dislocated joint.  Owieeee!  He is reportedly scheduled for surgery tomorrow and will likely miss at least 6 weeks.  I think that is quite optimistic for this type of injury on his throwing hand.

Javier Lopez- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 2.31.  Tremendous outing by Lopez.  He got a standing O when he walked off field after striking out Adam LaRoche.

With the Win, the Giants remained 1 game behind the D'Backs, who topped the Rockies 5-1, in the NL West.  The Rockies slipped to 3'rd place 2 games off the pace.  The Pesky Padres beat the Cards 4-2 to rmain 4.5 games back in 4'th place.  The last place Dodgers defeated the BrewCrew 3-1 behind Clayton Kershaw to remain 7 games behind the leaders.

Matt Cain takes the mound tomorrow night facing Stephen Strasburg.

I suppose the speculation about Vogie's replacement can shift into high gear.  One possibility is to make Chad Gaudin a starter and bring up a reliever like Sandy Rosario, who has been going 2 and 3 innings at a time in Fresno.  Chris Heston is the only starter at Fresno currently on the 40 man roster.  Heston has an inflated ERA, but has nice looking peripheral numbers.  Of non-roster pitchers, LHP Mike Kickham has better numbers than Heston and ultimately has a higher ceiling, but might not be quite ready for the show.  Boof Bonser is coming off his best start since signing with the Giants and could be a consideration.  The Giants have some time before Vogies spot in the rotation comes up again.  They could pursue a trade.  Other teams will try to extract a premium return if they sense the Giants are desperate, though.


  1. Doc,

    Any feeling from you at all that perhaps this is a blessing in disguise? The Giants are at this point even with a struggling Vogelsong. Maybe 6-8 weeks resting his arm can be a good thing come crunch time. He's an older guy with a lot of innings on that arm, my feeling is if he's only logged 120 or so IPs come playoff time (assuming they get there), his steely focus and ability to dig deep might just be a great boost when the time comes. Thoughts?

    1. I was thinking about that and I am not sure.

      Even though Vogie pitched great, his velocity readings were sitting in the 88-89 range. I saw 1 pitch that was 92, 1 that was 91 and a couple of 90s', but the vast majority of FB's were 88-89 which is 3-5 MPH off where he's been the last couple of years.

      The problem is, how does he keep the arm in shape and/or build arm strength with this type of injury. Also, what type of function does he end up with in the pinkie finger. He needs that pinky working to be able to pitch!

      If Vogie needed time off, I don't think this is the way you'd want it to happen.

  2. Is Fitzgerald an option? After a couple years in Richmond, he recently made the jump to Fresno.

    As for Kickham, how would you rate him as a prospect? I tend to think of Crick and Blackburn, followed by Stratton, Agosta and Escobar when thinking of pitching prospects. In other words, I've overlooked Kickham. What's his projection?


    1. I would put Kickham at the top of the Giants second tier of pitching prospects, but that may be underrating him. He's a big LHP who throws hard and puts up great peripheral numbers. They showed some video clips of him pitching last night on Postgame Live. I think it was from last year at Richmond. He had a very sharp breaking, diving breaking ball to go with the velocity. The only things he's needed to work on is command and possibly a changeup.

      I'll say his ceiling is #3 MLB starter possibly #2.

    2. I think it is quite possible that Kickham is currently the Giants 3'rd best pitching prospect behind Crick and Stratton.

    3. Kickham's ceiling isn't as high as Crick's, to be sure. Yet Kickham is doing well (ignoring the W-L record, as we should) in triple A, and Crick is still a gleam in Tidrow's eye. My personal estimation is that Kickham would slot in as a #3-4 starter on a good team. Going forward, Bumgarner and Cain are our top two guys. If Vogelsong is back and useful next season, Kickham is #4 at best (depending on Zito).

      In the far future (2016), Cain, Bum, and Crick could be our top 3, along with any one of Kickham, Blackburn, Stratton, Escobar, and Agosta (with Mejia and Mella perhaps looking towards 2017).

    4. Honey Fitz is definitely an option. He hasn't pitched since the 10th though. I think he's seriously underrated as a pitch to contact guy.

      I think it might come down to who pitched when. Heston pitched the 16th, Kickham the 18th, and dark horse Boof Bonser the 19th. Petit is on the 7 day DL (with former pinch starter hero the Big Sadowski) so at least we don't have to worry about that speculation.

      Kickham is our best option, its just a question of do they want to expose him to MLB hitters at this point in time?

    5. Say, what happened to Crick? he only has 3 starts, what did I miss?

      Also, calling up Kickham would require opening up a 40 man spot for him. Who to cut, Adrianza? Every one else looks like someone the Giants want to keep.

    6. Crick pulled an oblique the night I saw him pitch in San Bernardino. Hasn't pitched since.

  3. trade is out of the question, as teams will be looking to replace an older, more expensive arm with 2 if not 3 of the giants best prospects

    its vogey's pinkie, per the xray....will know more come morning and the surgery

    way i see it, its a good 8 weeks

    giants have been lucky, this is the first legit starter to go down in what....5 seasons?

    so offense and d gotta pick it up, cuz as you pointed out, june is gonna be a biyatch

    in other news....look for donnie baseball to get the heave either before june 1 or at the latest, the as break...he got a vote of confidence from agent ned today...."donnie is doing a fine job" the man is done and a very large chair is being put on layaway for fat mike

    i think gaudin gets the nod for vogey's next start, with a reliever brought up....thing about kikham, you really dont want 3 lefties in the rotation....but heston may be just too hittable, especially with this season's wacky k-zone


    1. Zito was out for much of 2011, which opened the door for Vogie. Hopefully this will open the door for someone else.

      I guess this is a good argument for the DH in the NL. I still prefer pitchers hitting.

      Nobody has to pick up anything. Vogie has been horrible yet the team was still doing well. They just need to keep on doing what they have been doing, with his replacement being passable fifth starter. I would give Heston the shot first, we know what we got with Gaudin. Kickham is not on the forty so give Ben Hur the opportunity and see if he can be the next Sadowski, Heston could surprise.

    2. Good points, Bacci.


      Well, Vogie and the rest of the SP's were going to have to pick it up for June anyway. And the D has been pretty bad recently. Yeah, the hitters have been pulling their load, but the SP's and the D does have to pick it up or the Giants are not going to survive June with 2/3 of their games on the road.

    3. What a bizarre little schedule. 2 games at home against the blue jays sandwiched between a trip to St. Louis (after 2 home/2 away Oak), and then the test... 9 game road trip to AZ, PIT and ATL. Pretty important swing, they had better play a whole lot better than this 1-5 jobby. If they come back OK, they have the Pads and Marlins at home. Then its Bums, Rockies Reds road trip, which is just as important.

      Didn't notice this before, but the Gints have September games against the NY teams - yep, at almost the end of the season 3 at Citi and 3 at Yankee stadium. Bizarre to look at. Close against the Bums and Pads.

      It is never good to lose a SP, but the Giants have been very fortunate with injuries except for Zito in 2011. If they're saying 6 I have to think with rehab starts what not its more like 10. 8 takes us to the all-star break. If he comes back post-break that would be maybe a tad optimistic, but like the man said, its not like TJ surgery, he can still maintain his conditioning.

    4. Well, to my view, the pitchers have actually been pitching well, just not well situtationally, because their PQS scores have actually been well, but just not reflected in their ERA. So to Bacci's point, OK, I now see what he meant, picking it up per their ERAs, but to my view, they have been doing well enough and thus there is nothing to pick up.

      And the defense does have to be better, but I was taking the bigger picture view, they had been OK up to then and was OK last season, so I view the recent problems as a temporary problem and thus nothing to "pick up from".

      And while they have a lot of road games in June, then it inverses in July, with 15 games at home vs. 10 on the road. So that is why I don't see why the extra emphasis about June, it should all even out. And prior to that poor road trip, they were 8-8 previously, and you have to admit that the games in Toronto was just weird, and Colorado games are always weird, and not the norm to me. So it seems like the extra emphasis is all due to how poorly they played in that one road trip, to which I would say, they have played well previously, it's small samples of one bad trip (and bad parks), which does not have any lingering effects on the road games in June.

    5. Official statements is 4-6 weeks, his wife tweeted 6 weeks. But yeah, rehab will take time, and if you read the Giants report, Duke noted that his broken hand took longer than expected.

      Offical moves: Vogie and Casilla on DL, Pill and Rosario called up.

    6. ogc,

      I don't necessarily view June and July as exact mirror images, although it is probably a bit better to take a swing back east in June than July. It's just that it can be very tough for a team to dig out of a hole and if the Giants play in June like they did on this last road trip, I could easily envision a 10 game deficit by the time July rolls around. A 10 game deficit is generally my over/under for potential comebacks.

    7. I like the Dusty Baker rule: one game deficit per week of season left. Or the way he put it, break down reaching the lead by gaining one game per week, which does not seem as daunting a task, as doable, than facing the reality of whatever it is your team is facing. That is a great way of breaking down that larger task into manageable short term goals.

      Yeah, 10 games would be bad in almost any circumstances. As I noted, they were really bad in just that one series, playing in two weird parks, making them outliers in my mind, and not the trend that they need to stop. Of course, if any team continued playing 1-5, they would be in a huge hole pretty quickly.

  4. Who else should I say that they should give up on so that that player can then go out and have a career day?

    1. That's the positive I took from the game - a struggling pitcher, with reduced velocities, could still make a comeback, even if he will miss at least 6 weeks.

      Lincecum, Cain, Zito and Bumgarner are all capable of doing much better than they have shown recently.

  5. First, how about Belt??!!! I know some like to rag on the kid, but a day like that. Wow! Many just think that that there is only one road--Posey's--to the pros. Sometimes, you gotta be patient. And, yes, while one could argue "seen it before", the fact is he's hitting pretty well and he's almost hit the same number of home runs as all of last year. He had a great spring, I think got overwhelmed and then when back to what was working right, and voila! I'm personally hoping for much more and we can put to bed the Pill v. Belt platoon discussions (not that I don't like Pill, but Belt is a great defensive first baseman and if he can hit .280+ with decent power we are in great shape).

    Second, atta boy to Bochy for putting Belt back on track. Now, if he can just work miracles for the pitching staff.

    Third, on replacement for Vogey. While I love Vogey, I was a tad concerned about a 3 year deal and figured he'd melt down in the end. We really are really in a cross roads now, because Vogey is probably not with the team next year, I can't imagine Timmy is and Zito is Zito. Even assuming Zito does a repeat year, and we pick up his option, that still leaves us two starters down. With the younger talent 1-2 years away, I can't imagine a big FA signing although maybe you manage that when Zito comes off the following year. But, bottom line is we need to start infusing the staff. Kickham at a 3/4 is a great start, as he'd be looked upon as the 5 now and grow into the position. Teamed with Bumgarner, he could make a nice pair. We'd be throwing 3 lefties for a while (not sure if that is good or bad), and the pressure is somewhat off given how poorly Vogey has preformed. I would love to see him get the call and get entrenched, giving Heston, Fitz and some of the kids a chance to work through the system for the Sept call up and see what happens.


    1. I have always thought the key to Belt is learning how to deal with him emotionally (and yes, Belt needs to do his part as well and he will, though older, wiser people in leadership positions should make allowance for a young man with his ceiling).

      No one is perfect but Bochy has learned from his mistakes and done a good job.

    2. Need to remember that Belt had a horrible flu just before the season started and lost a lot of weight in the process. His early season dealt with him regaining his strength, weight, and stamina.

      Also need to remember that he hit a lot of homers in 2011, at a good rate, but 2012 was about him figuring out how to hit at the major league level, and once he got that down, then he could work on incorporating the power into his game.

      Also need to remember that this staff has been up and down, up and down, since Bumgarner joined the rotation, and really, since it became so good with Lincecum coming up. They have always had their ups and downs. It is just that they are having it at the beginning of the season in 2013.

      I still have not given up on Vogie, and his good start yesterday before the injury was a good sign that he was coming out of whatever it was he was fighting before. His PQS was OK for most of the season, and even his last few bad starts, he was actually pitching OK sabermetrically, just giving up too many hits.

      Plus, his 2013 season was only an option, so I don't see how that was a bad contract, at that low a salary, while huge for him, pitchers paid that low are really only 5th starters at best with a lot of risk factors. His contract was a bargain.

      So I think we are only one starter down, most likely Lincecum, and the Giants will open up competition for that last rotation spot among the prospects, plus sign a $1-3M starter to compete for the spot too, someone good before but had a bad 2013, and on the older side.

      That would bring down the pitching, but if Belt continues to develop and the Giants decide to keep Pence, the offense could make up that difference in performance lost on the pitching side.

      I would not say that Bochy made a mistake, Belt has been very stubborn and not listening to coaches up here. Management has made allowances for Belt's ceiling, that is why he was on the roster all last season, instead of shuttling back and forth (like, for example Belt's 2011 or Matt William's early career).

    3. I agree that the Giants have handled Belt just about right, contrary to popular belief. The thing I noticed the most about last night is he finally looks like he is relaxed and having fun out there. Maybe that's the key or not, but if it is, man, the sky is the limit for that kid!

    4. Thanks for the observation DrB, yeah, if he is relaxed and having fun, the sky is the limit for him!

      And that's sky as in Joey Votto. :^)

    5. I would agree the Giants have handled just about Belt right, which, I read as, not always right, and not just often right, but more than often, though not always, right.

      They might have been a mistake here or there.

      But no one is perfect.

      Not only that, they have been better, as far as not making tons of mistakes, relative to other baseball people.

    6. I would also agree that getting him relaxed is the key.

      How to do that - how does that human psyche work - that's up here with other mysteries of life and a field that offers plenty of opportunities for mistakes.

    7. dont jump the gun about vogey not being with the team next season

      he may not be a starter, but he has xp coming from the pen, and maybe the giants could renegotiate the option year

      who wouldnt want someone with that intensity coming out of the pen for long relief and spot starts


    8. Agreed. Don't write Vogey off.

      This guy is a Giant. Refused to be a Dodger. World Series winner.

      Until he proves out otherwise, the man is a Giant in 2014.

  6. Bacci, I am not saying he won't be with the team. More an issue of we are likely already down one starter in Timmy and very well could be two. Given the production at the farm system, and the Giants largely staying away with splachy free agents, I don't think we'd sign someone for more than a couple of years and that typically means a Tier 2/3 guy. Kickham, Fitz and Heston might be that guy too (better to save money when we can too) and since I don't relish the idea of having two rookies in the lineup next year, we might as well use the opportunity to see what one of them can do now (I think Kickham notwithstanding the 40 issue--there has to be someone there to cut). Interesting they called up Pill though (unless they're starting to get tired of Torres, you'd have to think Gaudin moves into the rotation).


  7. BLSL,

    I do not concede that the Giants have made significant mistakes in their handling of Brandon Belt.