Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/31/2015: Giants 4 Rockies 3

The Giants rallied for 2 runs in the bottom of the 8'th inning to top the Rockies in Scottsdale amidst several roster developments.  Key Lines:

Buster Posey(Catcher)- 1 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .282.  Buster seems to be about where you would expect him to be at the end of spring training.  He has played sparingly enough to not be worn down from the verrry long Cactus League season.

Brandon Belt(1B)- 2 for 4.  BA= .362.  One of Belt's hits was a bunt single against the shift.  Stay hot!

Casey McGehee(3B)- 0 for 2, 2 BB.  BA= .291.  The 2 BB's doubled  his total on the spring.  He has 6 K's in 59 PA's.

Justin Maxwell(PH-RF)- 3 for 3, SF.  BA= .349.  Blanco started the game in RF, but Maxwell pinch-hit for him in his first turn to bat.  Bochy wanted Maxwell to get the feel for PH against a LHP.  He delivered and went on to get 2 more hits plus the SF.  Maxwell was rewarded with a MLB contract for $1 M.  I did not know this before, but Maxwell grew up a Giants fan.  His dad, like me, goes all the way back to the Giants of the 60's, Mays, McCovey, Marichal.  I wonder if the Giants knew that when they signed Maxwell to a minor league deal with a spring training invite?  Maxwell now has an opportunity to live a dream like Andres Torres, Gregor Blanco, Juan Uribe and Ryan Vogelsong, other players who have come in on similar deals and made the most of the opportunities.  Maxwell credits Hitting Coach Hensley Meulens for helping him find consistency in his hitting mechanics this spring.

Matt Duffy(2B)- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .385.  Duffy gets the start at 2B after Joe Panik was a late scratch for what sounds like a mild ankle sprain.  Wouldn't you know, The Duffman gets the Game Winning Hit.  Duffy was also presented with the Best Newcomer award even though he was on the 25 man active roster last season including the postseason.  It has become clear that the Giants, at least Bruce Bochy wants Duffy to make the team.  Brian Sabean may be more focused on asset conservation and Duffy has options, unlike Arias or Adrianza.  Baggs is reporting that the Giants may be working on a trade to make room for him.  The only problem I see with that is other GM's are going to ask for Duffy!

Tim Lincecum(RHP)-  5.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K.  ERA= 6.27.  A 3 run dinger to Arenado was the only scoring off Timmy in this one.  Bochy officially named Timmy the 5'th starter.  Timmy pointed out that this was actually one of his better and more consistent spring trainings of his career.

George Kontos(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 4.91.  A clean inning for Kontos after getting lit up in his last appearance.

Jeremy Affeldt(LHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 6.35.  Time to get serious here.  Affeldt needs some clean innings going into the season.

Santiago Casilla(RHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Save(1).  ERA= 6.55.  Talk about needing a clean inning!

Gary Brown was DFA'd to make room on the 40 man roster for Justin Maxwell.  Brown started the spring hot, but then, as he has done so often, hit a wall and just went ice cold for the rest of the spring.  The Giants apparently have seen enough.  I am not at all sure Brown will be claimed off waivers.  Another question is if he does clear waivers, do the Giants even still want him in the organization?

The Cactus League comes to a merciful end after tomorrow's game in which Madison Bumgarner starts against Indians ace Corey Kluber.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/30/2015: Cubs 8 Giants 5

The pitching was lackluster, the fielding was sloppy and a 5 run 6'th inning was not enough for the Giants today.  Key Lines:

Joe Panik(2B)- 2 for 4, HR(3), SB(2).  BA= .220.  Panik now has 5 hits in his last 2 games and seems like the guy who came in and saved last season.  The dinger put him in a tie with Brando Belt for the team lead in spring HR's.  As Vin Scully would say, go figure!

Hector Sanchez(Catcher)- 1 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .289.  Did anyone read the piece on MCC about Susac and Juan Perez getting sent down?  I just don't get the hate for Hector Sanchez!  Yeah, I get the love for Andrew Susac, but not the hate for Hector Sanchez, who I honestly think gives the Giants the best chance to win right now.

Daniel Carbonell(LF)- 1 for 4, 2B.  BA= .316.  Carbonell split the right-CF gap with a long drive that drove in 2 of the 5 runs the Giants scored in the 5'th inning and the game.

Ehire Adrianza(SS)- 1 for 3.  BA= .244.  The hit was a rare RBI bunt single.  Ishikawa's back injury may open the door to keep Arias, Adrianza and Duffy.

Matt Duffy(PH-SS)- 1 for 2.  BA= .388.  Energizer Bunny.

Tim Hudson(RHP)- 4.2 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 4.32.  Huddy did not seem particularly concerned or even interested.  Gotta be brutal that these guys are still out there pitching in the Arizona heat in the middle of the afternoon.  Regular season should have started today.

Steven Okert(LHP)- 0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 3.68.  Okert finally got roughed up a bit.  Gives him something to work on in the minors.

Tim Lincecum gets the start against the Rockies in Scottsdale tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3.29/2015: Giants 11 Dodgers 9

The Giants mounted a 21, that's right, a 21 hit attack to outscore the Dodgers 11-9.  Key Lines:

Joe Panik(2B)- 3 for 3, 2 2B, BB.  BA= .200.  That's more like it!  Hopefully this signals a turn in his BABIP luck just as the season is about to start.  Do we really have another full week of spring training?  Ugh!

Ehire Adrianza(SS)- 1 for 2, GIDP, Error(5).  The pressure from Duffy may be getting to Adrianza a bit.  5 errors in spring training is a lot, even for a SS.  More on the roster battle later.

Angel Pagan(CF)- 2 for 4.  BA= .185.  Pagan missed quite a bit of time early.  Hopefully he is getting his timing down for the start of the season.

Buster Posey(Catcher)- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .278.  Posey also threw a perfect strike to Panik to nail Joc Pederson on an attempted steal.

Brandon Belt(1B)- 2 for 2, 2 BB.  BA= .352.  I hope we see a bit more power from Belt but at least the shifts aren't killing his BA.  Oh, and if he keeps hitting .352, that's OK too!

Brandon Crawford(SS)- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .234.  Crawford started a DP that I am not sure any other SS makes just because his combination of release time, arm strength and accuracy is as good as it gets.  The ball was scorched to his right and took a big hop, but he read it perfectly and made the backhand grab.  He then transferred the ball to his throwing hand, pivoted and threw all in one motion from a long distance to 2B all while his momentum was carrying him toward the OF.  It was an absolute seed that Panik did not have to move for enabling him to easily complete the relay to 1B.  Absolute magic and Crawford made it look effortless.  Please look up the video on sfgiants.com!

Matt Duffy(3B)- 3 for 4, 2B, BB.  BA= .383.  A huge day, and the fact that he played 3B may be telling us something.  Is it just me or has Joaquin Arias pretty much disappeared from the lineups lately?  This is going to be verrry interesting.  The big thing working against Duffy here is he has options while Arias and Adrianza don't.  Another thought:  I'd be tempted to say this is a Randy Elliott spring for Duffy, except that he has been absolutely raking it since his first full pro season starting in Augusta in 2013, so he has been red hot now for over 2 full years!

Justin Maxwell(PH-LF)- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .316.  Don't be surprised to see Maxwell's name in the Opening Day starting lineup.  They need his HR potential in the lineup, at least until Pence gets back.

Matt Cain(RHP)- 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K.  ERA= 8.22.  Obviously not great pitching conditions today so I'm not going to worry…..yet.

Ryan Vogelsong(RHP)- 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 7.45.  Again, the conditions may well mean this was a pretty good line.

George Kontos(RHP)- 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 5.40.  This may have sealed Kontos' fate given that Machi followed him with a Save, albeit not a clean one.

Jean Machi(RHP)- 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, Save(2).  ERA= 3.75.  I've thought Machi had the edge in this battle all along and this may be the clincher.

Travis Ishikawa came out of the game with back tightness which raises the spector of the DL coming into play in the roster battles.

Giants hit the road to face the D'Backs tomorrow.  No word on who is pitching.  Huddy?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/28/2015: Giants 9 Mariners 8; Giants 2 Giants Future Stars 2

The Giants stormed from behind to nip the Mariners in an away game while a team of Giants prospects battled a squad of mostly big leaguers to a standstill in Scottsdale.  Key Lines:

Away Game:

Gregor Blanco(CF)- 2 for 3, 3B(3).  BA= .326.  Very impressive spring for Blanco.  Stay hot!

Kelby Tomlinson(2B)- 1 for 1, 2B.  BA= .167.  Not all the prospects were in Scottsdale.  Tomlinson's double drove in 2 of the Giants 9 runs in this game.

Justin Maxwell(RF)- 2 for 4, HR(2).  BA= .302.  The dinger drove in 3 runs.  The Giants have a deadline of March 31 to put him on the 40 man roster or he can opt out of his contract.  Gotta think this performance all but guarantees him a roster spot, not only for the 40 man but the Opening Day 25 man.

Jake Peavy(RHP)- 3.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 8.22.  Let's hope Peaves was just getting his work in.  You'd sure like to see more by this time in spring training.

Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Hunter Strickland all pitched scoreless frames.  Romo and Strickland had 2 K's each and Strickland got the Save.  I'm starting to wonder if Strickland just might ace out both Kontos and Machi for that final bullpen spot.  I don't think the Giants would want to erode their bullpen depth that much as both Machi and Kontos are out of options while Strickland is not.

"Futures" game:

Austin Slater(2B)- 2 for 2, HR.  Verrry interesting that Slater got the start at 2B here.  As if the Giants don't already have a ton of 2B in the organization!  Slater drove a Yusmeiro Petit cutter the opposite way for a HR over the RF fence down in the RF corner.  Slater said he knew Petit threw a lot of cutters and was looking to take it the opposite way.

Kelvin Beltre played and got a hit in 2 AB's.

Yusmeiro Petit(RHP)- 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.  Petit gave up both of the runs the Futures scored. He as followed by scoreless frames from Chris Stratton, Keury Mella, Chase Johnson and Luis Ysla.

The Futures got scoreless innings from Ty Blach, Tyler Beede, Kyle Crick, Michael Santos, Sam Coonrod, Donald Snelton and Tyler Rogers.  Matthew Gage and Rodolfo Martinez combined to give up both runs the Giants scored although Gage was charged with both runs and Martinez pitched 1.1 innings with 2 K's.

Tyler Beede made some noise by unveiling 2 new pitches:  A 2-seam FB and a cutter/slider.  He gave u up a loud out to Belt then a single to Crawford and a walk, then got out of it with 2 pop-ups.

Can't wait for the minor league seasons to start.  I have a feeling that several prospects are going to make big moves this year!

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/27/2015: Giants 8 Dodgers 4

Chris Heston pitched a Quality Start against what could well be the Dodgers' Opening Day lineup while the Giants hitters were roughing up Zack Greinke and several other Dodger pitchers.  Key Lines:

Justin Maxwell(RF)- 1 for 2.  BA= .286.  Maxwell has an opt out clause for 3/30 which is coming right up.  At this point the odds would seem to favor him making the team and opting in.  So far his K rate is a manageable 22.6% in 63 PA.

Joe Panik(2B)- 0 for 2.  BA= .154.  Panik's bat continues to be quiet, but he also made a spectacular diving stop and throw on a ball hit up the middle to nail Yasiel Puig, a very fast runner, at 1B.

Matt Duffy(PH-2B)- 1 for 3, 3B(2).  BA= .385.  Duffy continues to rake.  He has been on a continuous hot streak for over 2 full seasons now.

Andrew Susac(Catcher)- 1 for 3, HR(1), BB.  BA= .222.  Susac's HR was a monster shot that bounced into the trees up on the berm in CF, just to the left of the batting eye which is a long way from home plate.  Man, is this some kind of battle for reserve catcher between Susac and Sanchez or what?  And do the Giants have some kind of depth at the position or what?

Gregor Blanco(CF)- 2 for 3, 3B(2).  BA= .302.  When Blanco is in one of his hot streaks, he is one of the better OF's in all of baseball.  If he could just stay away from the slumps!

Chris Heston(RHP)- 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, GO/AO= 11/4.  ERA= 2.40.  Wow!  Hesto Presto went up against the Dodgers "A" lineup and had them killing worms all night out pitching Zack Greinke in the process!  No K's but that must have been quite a sinker he was serving up there tonight!  With his spring performance, Heston positioned himself to be first in line for a callup if a SP is needed in season.

Javier Lopez and George Kontos had a scoreless inning each while Jean Machi gave up a late run to round out the pitching lines.

The Giants play a game against the minor leaguers tomorrow in Scottsdale with Yusmeiro Petit pitching for the Giants.  Tyler Beede will reportedly get the start for the "Futures".  Jake Peavy pitches for the road squad agains the Mariners.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/26/2015: A's 6 Giants 4

Watched this one on MLB TV.  Tim Lincecum had an uneven start while the Giants offense had some nice hits here and there.  It wasn't enough against the A's, but at least it wasn't the usual blowout.  Key Lines:

Nori Aoki(LF)- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .214.  Aoki looked confident at the plate and put some good swings on the ball.  He is fast too.  Between him, Pagan, Panik and Crawford, the Giants may set an all time record for team triples this season!

Joe Panik(2B)- 0 for 4.  BA= .160.  Panik made contact, but looked off balance on several of the batted balls and just did not look comfortable at the plate.  It was weak contact.  His starting 2B job is not in jeopardy and there is still time to for him to get comfortable.

Brandon Belt(1B)- 2 for 4.  BA= .354.  Belt continued to pepper the field, shift and all.

Hector Sanchez(Catcher)- 1 for 2, SF.  BA= .250.  Sanchez left early after taking a foul tip right at the top of the chest protector.  The fact he got the start with Timmy pitching and did well at the plate tells you he is, by far, in the lead to be the backup catcher over Andrew Susac.

Tim Lincecum(RHP)- 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K's.  ERA= 6.92.  Early on, Timmy had nothing. FB 86-88.  Threw a few good splitters but hung as many.  Everything up in the zone.  He seemed to settle down over the last 2 innings and got his pitches lower in the zone.  The velocity still has to be a concern, though.

Steven Okert(LHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 2.70.  Okert throws from an odd angle. He sets up with his back foot on the extreme right side of the rubber then adds an extreme crossover step.  It's effective against RH batters, at least those who have not seen it before.  It must be a nightmare for LH batters!

Hunter Strickland(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 6.75.  FB was hitting 96 MPH.  Seemed to have better command of his pitches than I've seen before.  Pitched more to contact.

Sergio Romo(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 1.93.  I think Romo faced 3 LH batters.  I don't  recall seeing him throw the slider, but it didn't matter.  Unlike last year when he was working on his 2-seamer and changeup and got hit around, he dominated batters with those pitches this time getting both called strikes and swings and misses.  As long as he can stay healthy, I expect a big season out of Romo, possibly reclaiming his closer role.

Madison Bumgarner will pitch in a minor league game today with Chris Heston traveling to Glendale, AZ to face the fearsome Dodgers.  Should be a nice challenge for Hesto Presto.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/25/2015: Rockies 5 Giants 2

Tim Hudson pitched a Quality Start, but it wasn't enough as the Giants offense continued to sputter.  Key Lines:

Nori Aoki(LF)- 1 for 4, 3B.  BA= .204.  Aoki has what?  6 hits in his last 4 games?

Buster Posey(Catcher)- 1 for 2, BB.  BA= .231.  Posey left the game after 5 innings due to pain in the right scapular area.  It is not believed to be a serious injury. Posey will play 1B tomorrow.

Brandon Belt(1B)- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .341.  Belt continues to Belt.

Justin Maxwell(PH-RF)- 1 for 2, 2B.  BA= .277.  I would say Mazwell is winning the race for the final(temporary) OF job.  After that it will depend on who hits better, Maxwell or Travis.

Tim Hudson(RHP)- 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  Very Huddy-like performance.  It's the offense's job to score more than 3 runs in a game.

Around the League:

Carlos Rodon struck out 9 batters in 4 IP, for the ChiSox.  I have him targeted for a bench stash for my fantasy draft.

Remember Keon Barnum, draft prospect I really liked from a couple of years ago?  Well, I watched him put a charge into a ball pitched by veteran lefty Franklin Morales.  The ball went out on a line drive and landed beyond the RF bullpen.

Another rookie pitcher to watch out for his Anthony DeSclafini who was traded to the Reds over the offseaon.  He is having a sensational spring and pitched a gem tonight with 9 K's.

Forbes magazine says the Giants are worth $2 B, just $400 M less than the Dodgers.  The Giants were also the 4'th most profitable team last year clearing a cool $70 M +/-.

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/24/2015: Indians 9 Giants 5

Ryan Vogelsong had a dishearteningly terrible start and the Giants were never able to catch up.  Key Lines:

Nori Aoki(LF)- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .200.  Aoki is now 5 for 11 with 2 BB's in his last 3 games.

Daniel Carbonell(LF)- 1 for 1.  BA= .333.  Carbonell is quietly having himself a nice little spring training.  A good season in AA would put him in the conversation for top Giants prospect.

Justin Maxwell(RF)- 3 for 5, 2B.  BA= .267.  Maxwell is coming on strong as spring training starts to wind down.

Ryan Vogelsong(RHP)- 4.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 7.41.  Brandon Moss hit a 3-run dinger in the first inning and it all went downhill from there.  Jerry Sands capped things off with a blast over the batter's eye in CF 410 ft away on a 3-0 pitch with 2 outs and a base open.  Bochy was just a bit steamed.  Odd on Vogey finishing the season with the Giants?

Adalberto Mejia(LHP)_ 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 1.42.  Another kid who has had a nice little spring training.  Too bad he has to start the season with a 50 game suspension.  That should be done by early June, so we should get to see him pitch in the minors this year.

Sergio Romo(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 2.45.  Romo has really settled down to gave a good spring training.  Is he the closer?

Matt Cain pitched 5 innings and threw 75 pitches in a minor league game, then admitted to having some soreness in his arm which is probably to be expected.  He reportedly sat 90-91 MPH on the FB and threw sliders for the first time this spring.

Angel Pagan played 5 innings batted 4 times.  He reportedly felt fine afterwards and is slated to play tomorrow against the Rockies.

Around the League:  The Dodgers signed Cuban 2B Hector Olivera to a 6 year/$62 M MLB contract.  The Dodgers already have Howie Kendrick, Justin Turner and another Cuban named Alex Guerrero.  They can only play 1 player at each position at a time.  I think this might have been more about keeping him away from the Padres than the Dodgers really wanting him themselves.   Was it Grant Brisbee at MCC who likened this to lighting a cigar with a $100 bill?  Yeah, pretty much.  Olivera is an impressive looking athlete with a nice offensive resume out of Cuba, but is already cresting the 30 divide, has an extensive injury history, reportedly currently has a slight UCL tear in his elbow and is also reportedly not great on defense at any position.  Of course, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, who is on the Dodgers bandwagon because he's already written about their unbeatable combination of statistical analysis and monetary muscle, proclaims this a great move even while admitting that it does not help them this year.

Remember Yoan Lopez, the Cuban prospect who hits triple digits?  He kind of had a rough start going 3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 2 K.  He now has a spring ERA of 8.38.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Jose Vizcaino, Jr

Jose Vizcaino Jr. is a junior at Santa Clara U.  He is the son of former MLB SS and Giant Jose Vizcaino.  Pops played just 1 season for the Giants but put up the best slash line of his career that season.  Junior plays SS, but at 6'3", 220 lbs, probably moves to 3B as a pro.  He's gotten progressivey better at the plate since hitting .244 as a freshman in 2013.  He improved to .323 in 2014.  This year he is slashing .386/.486/.702 with 4 HR, 4 SB, 11 BB and 12 K's in 57 AB.  I have not seen his name on any draft prospect lists, but he looks like a great pick for somewhere in rounds 3-10.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/23/2015: Giants 8 Royals 3

The Giants offense got untracked to today and the pitching was not bad either.  Key Lines:

Joe Panik(2B)- 2 for 4.  BA= .190.  Panik needs a string of multi-hit games.

Daniel Carbonell(PH-LF)- 2 for 2, HR(2).  BA= .286.  Carbonell doubled his hits as well as HR's for the spring and raised his BA by almost .100.  Counting his spring training stats, he has now hit 7 HR's in 214 American professional PA's.  That's about 20 per 600 PA's, pretty good for a guy whose swing is "stiff, weak wristed and without good bat speed or any semblance of weight transfer."

Brandon Crawford(SS)- 2 for 3, SB(1).  BA= .211.  Crawford's bat seems to be heating up.

Adam Duvall(3B)- 1 for 4, 3B.  BA= .159.  When he connects, he connects.

Juan Perez(RF)- 1 for 2, BB, Assist(2B)- .286.  Lil' Juan P is trying so hard to make the team!

Andrew Susac(Catcher)- 2 for 2, 3B.  BA= .231.   Susac may be playing his way back into the reserve catcher picture with a hot bat.

Jake Peavy(RHP)- 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 6.75.  One inning short of a QS.  Progress!

Jean Machi, Hunter Strickland and Jose Casilla pitched 1 scoreless inning each.

Angel Pagan is scheduled to play in a minor league game tomorrow.

Ryan Vogelsong will start the MLB game while Matt Cain stretches it out in a minor league contest.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/22/2015: Angels 3 Giants 2; Royals 4 Giants 2

The Giants pitching continued it's improved performance in a split squad DH, but the offense continued to struggle to score runs.  Key Lines:

Home Game  Angels 3  Giants 2

Gregor Blanco(CF)- 2 for 3, 2B, BB, SB(1).  BA= .323.  Blanco is having a stellar spring.  If Pagan can't answer the bell on Opening Day, Blanco should be the CF.  Otherwise he should be in RF in Pence's place.

Matt Duffy(SS)- 1 for 3, HR(2), BB.  BA= .387.  Adrianza is out of options and plays stellar D.  Duffy has options, but the Giants are checking him out at SS.  Heckuva tough decision coming up!  As Baggs pointed out, conservation of organizational talent is a big factor in these decisions, not just the 25 best players at the moment.

Justin Maxwell(RF)- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(1).  BA= .250.  Maxwell is hitting .346 over his last 8 games.  The Giants are interested in his RH power potential, so don't count him out of a roster spot on Opening Day.

Madison Bumgarner(LHP)- 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 5.65.  Bummy gave up a first inning dinger then was perfect the rest of the way.

Away Game  Royals 4  Giants 2

Nori Aoki(LF)- 2 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .190.  Aoki is hitting .259 over his last 8 games and is 4 for 7 in his last 2.

Hector Sanchez(Catcher)- 1 for 3.  BA= .265.  Susac had a nice game defensively today.  Baggs seems to think whoever catches Timmy's next start has the inside track for the backup catcher job.  I gotta think it's Sanchez's to lose at this point.

Brandon Crawford(DH)- 2 for 4.  BA= .171.  About time for Crawford's bat to start coming around.

Chris Heston(RHP)- 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 2.00.  Hesto Presto!  Very nice performance in front of the Skipper who managed the travel squad today.  Boch will file that one away in that big noggin for when a callup is needed during the Dog Days.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/21/2015: Angels 3 Giants 2

The Giants lost a game in the 9'th inning for the second day in a row.  The pitching was pretty good.  The bats, not so much.  Key Lines:

Nori Aoki(DH)- 2 for 5, 3B.  BA= .154.  The triple looked a bit windblown, and it wasn't Mike Trout playing CF.

Hector Sanchez(Catcher)- 2 for 3, 2B, BB.   BA= .258.  I think it's fairly safe to say by now, barring injury, Hector Sanchez is going to be on the Opening Day roster as the reserve catcher.

Tim Lincecum(RHP)- 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 7.88.  Timmy looked much better today after a layoff for a stiff neck.  No K's but he retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced.

Yusmeiro Petit(RHP)- 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 5.19.

Jean Machi and Santiago Casilla pitched a scoreless inning apiece.

Angel Pagan particpated in the workout today.  Baggs is still taking veiled shots over at Extra Baggs or whatever it's called now.

Split squad game tomorrow with Chris Heston and Madison Bumgarner drawing the starting assignments.  No, neither Brandon Belt nor Matt Duffy are starting in the OF.

Around the League:

Turns out Zack Wheeler's medicals were so bad going into the offseason, the Mets considered him untradeable simply because they assumed any trade would be voided after the receiving team saw them.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: David Thompson

David Thompson plays 3B for Univ. of Miami who is starting to get some notice as a budding power hitter.  He's got great size at 6'2", 225 lbs, B-R, T-R.  He got off to a great start to his college career in 2013 hitting .286 with 6 HR's in his freshman campaign.  He was hampered by Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in 2014 which required mid-season surgery, but has come roaring back in 2015.  He made headlines last night with a 2 HR game to give him 8 on the season so far.  His full batting line:

.375/.477/.750, 8 HR, 16 BB, 7 K in 88 AB.

He is the kind of college hitter the Giants like to draft in rounds 2-10.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/20/2015: Reds 6 Giants 5

The Giants played another nice, crisp game….for 8 innings.  Things got sloppy then fell apart in the top of the 9'th with an evil wind blowing in from centerfield.  Key Lines:

Joe Panik(2B)- 2 for 3, BB.  BA= .171.  Panik's bat is finally starting to come around at just about the right time.

Brandon Belt(1B)- 1 for 2, 2 BB.  BA= .364.  Belt keeps belting'.

Travis Ishikawa(LF)- 1 for 4.  BA= .267.  Travis drove in a run with an RBI single then went a long way to make a running catch of a drive by Jay Bruce at the warning track.  Remember this the next time you get the feeling the Giants are about to move Brandon Belt to LF.

Juan Perez(CF)- 1 for 1, 2B, BB.  BA= .333.  Lil' Juan P continues to state his case for a roster spot.  He continues a hot streak that started in the 2014 postseason.

Matt Duffy(PH-2B)- 1 for 2.  BA= .393.  It was Duffy's throwing error after he had ranged far to his left for a ball in the hole that opened the door for a rough inning for the Giants and Hunter Strickland, but oh my!  The kid can sure hit!

Ehire Adrianza(SS)- 0 for 3, 2 BB, SB(1).  BA= .231.  Adrianza made the last out of the game on a line drive right into the glove of the Reds' 2B.

Tim Hudson(RHP)- 3.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K, GO/AO= 5/2.  ERA= 1.50.  Strong start for Huddy and the Giants SP's are indeed looking better.

Steven Okert(LHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 1.59.  Okert has had a great spring.  Positioning himself to possibly be Affeldt's replacement in the bullpen next year.

Hunter Strickland(RHP)- 0.1 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 8.59.  Strickland pitched better than the line looks.  When the leadoff batter reaches on an error, you know it's going to be a tough inning.  He also gave up a broken bat single over the 3B head and a squibber/bloop/infield single added to the bad luck here.  Definitely a BABIP job on poor Strickland.

Should mention that Casey McGehee made a sensational pick and throw on a bunt attempt by Billy Hamilton.  Not sure Pablo, even when he was in his best shape, makes that play.  Oh, and McGehee got himself another hit.

Tim Lincecum is scheduled to pitch tomorrow for the first time since coming down with a bad case of stiff neck syndrome.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Cam Gibson

Cam Gibson is the son of Kirk Gibson who has his pop's size and speed, but so far has not shown the same power.  Cam plays for Michigan St.  He stands 6'2", 195 lbs and B-L, T-L.  He has plus-plus speed and most scouts think he will stick in CF.  He hits out of a pronounced crouch.  He tends to pull the ball, but hits mostly GB's and line drives which could be a fatal combination in today's world of defensive shifts.  Not surprisingly, some of the common adjectives you see in write-ups about him include "gritty" and "scrappy."  Here are his college numbers so far:

2013:  .325/.387/.393, 0 HR, 12 SB, 18 BB, 14 K, 163 AB.
2014:  .315/.405/.414, 2 HR, 16 SB, 17 BB, 27 K, 222 AB.
2015:  .262/.338/.400, 1 HR, 6 SB, 6 BB, 8 K, 65 AB.

Cam has the size and strength to hit for a lot more power.  He probably needs to ditch the crouch and try to get a bit more loft into his swing.  The well of stubbornness runs pretty deep in the bloodlines, though.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/19/2015: Giants 3 Brewers 2

Maybe the Giants just needed a day off to clear out the cobwebs.  They came back today to play a crisp game with Ryan Vogelsong leading the way on the mound.  Key Lines:

Joe Panik(2B)- 1 for 3, HR(2).  BA= .125.  Not sure a HR is the best way for Panik to break out of a spring slump, but it sure helped win this game and get the Giants an early lead.

Brandon Belt(1B)- 1 for 3, HR(3).  BA= .355.  Belt belts another one and seems primed for a big season.  Please stay healthy!

Ryan Vogelsong(RHP)- 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 5.84.  I'm pretty sure this is the best start of the spring for the Giants.  Vogelstrong!

Sergio Romo(RHP)- 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Save(1).  ERA= 4.50.  It wasn't a clean inning, but Romo got the Save.  The way Casilla is going, Romo could have the closer job back by Opening Day.

Angel Pagan got an injection in his ailing back, not exactly the news we wanted to hear about him.

Matt Cain pitched 4.1 innings in a minor league game and reportedly looked short with a FB that sat 90-92 MPH.

Tim Hudson gets the start today facing the Cincinnati Red in Scottsdale.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Harrison Bader

Harrison Bader is a name that is starting to get noticed by draftniks following college baseball.  He's a 6'0", 190 lbs CF out of Univ. of Florida.  He B-R, T-R.  Hit .312 his freshman season, then .337 last year.  This year he found another gear and has put up this line so far:

.419/.548/.903, 7 HR, 4 SB, 17 BB, 11 K in 62 AB.

Small sample size here, but he's kicked up the power with the juiced college ball.  He's been ranked outside the top 50 draft prospects lists, but if he continues this torrid pace, he could become a solid second round selection or even sneak into the supplemental round.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/17/2015: D'Backs 10 Giants 0

Well, I am not sure there is much to say about this one.  Matt Duffy, Juan P and Joaquin Arias got 3 of the Giants 5 hits between them, but that is about all the positives I can find here.  Bummy went just 2 innings then went to work on some things in the pen.  Angel Pagan apparently has a stiff back which is really not a good thing coming off back surgery.  I think we've all suspected he still is not right for awhile now.  Just glad there is still a couple of weeks to go before the season starts, because they are not ready right now.

A bunch of kids got sent out to minor league camp as expected.  No real surprises.

Strange transaction:  The Giants obtained Jackson Williams, a former farmhand, for cash considerations from the Angels.  I would say this is AAA insurance in case Andrew Susac is slow coming back from the wrist problem.

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/16/2015: Reds 10 Giants 4

When I saw that Chris Stratton and Kyle Crick were being sent out to face the Reds home lineup on the road, I said to myself, "this might not go well."  It didn't as the Reds pounded the Giants with 4 HR's in a game that was not as close as the score looks.  Key Lines:

Justin Maxwell(CF)- 0 for 4, 3 K's.  BA= .200.  Maxwell did not bring his Silver Hammer down in this game.

Carlos Triunfel(PH-DH)- 1 for 1, HR(1).  BA= .300.  Triunfel was once one of the hottest prospects in the Mariners system, mainly due to a misunderstanding of the age vs level metric.  He's auditioning for a AAA berth here.

Mac Williamson(LF)- 1 for 2, 2B, BB, HBP.  BA= .333.  Williamson is having a fine spring.  OK to keep in in big league camp as long as Boch can find AB's for him.

Joaquin Arias(SS)- 1 for 3, HR(1).  BA= .176.  Don't count out Arias for a roster spot.  In fact, do it at your peril! He's been an important part of the Giants success over the past several years.

Chris Stratton(RHP)- 2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 5.40.  Remarkably little damage out of 7 hits.  That is probably not a repeatable skill.

Tyler Rogers(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 0.00. Sidearming RHP brought over from minor league camp for an extra arm.  He should be going to Richmond this year.

Kyle Crick(RHP)- 2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 6.75.  2 dingers in the 5 hits.  Kid's had a nice spring, but still needs some salt.

One of those dingers by the Reds was by former Giants farmhand Chris Dominguez.

The Giants take on the D'Backs today for the 3'rd time in 4 games with Madison Bumgarner looking to stretch out a bit on the mound.  Wednesday will be on off day.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/15/2015: Giants 5 D'Backs 0

Well, THAT is a bit more like it!  Yeah, it was the D'Backs and they did not bring their A lineup to the game, but you have to start somewhere.  The Giants had a pretty good game both at the plate and on the mound as well as on D to blank the D'Backs in Scottsdale.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco(LF)- 1 for 3.  BA= .316.  Blanco just keeps going and when was the last time Pagan played?

Matt Duffy(SS)- 1 for 1, 3B.  BA= .375.  Man!  Even I am starting to wonder if Matt Duffy just might force a late spring trade to make room for him on the roster?

Casey "Hits" McGehee(3B)- 1 for 2.  BA= .500.  Stay hot, McGehee!

Gary Brown(CF)- 0 for 3, 2 Assists(home, 2B).  BA= .174.  Odd game for Brown, but he's always had a great throwing game from the OF, so I guess it's just him playing his game.  Gotta hit better, though.  And where is Angel Pagan in all this?

Juan Perez(RF)- 2 for 3, 2B.  BA= .286.  Lil Juan P just keeps doing good things too.

Mac Williamson(RF)- 1 for 1, 3B.  BA= .308.  This is great to see from Mac.  Probably about time to head down to minor league camp and get more PA's.

Ehire Adrianza(2B-3B)- 2 for 4.  BA= .273.  The move to 3B did not happen until the 9'th inning so it probably does not mean anything.

Tim Hudson(RHP)- 1.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Huddy had a clean first inning, but ran into trouble in the second and had to be bailed out by Partch.

Curtis Partch(RHP)- 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 5.06.  I think Partch's last outing was pretty good too.  He might be earning himself a AAA gig if he wants that.

Yusmeiro Petit(RHP)- 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 5.40.  This is what the Giants hired him to do.

Cody Hall, Javier Lopez and Jean Machi all worked scoreless frames.

The Giants travel to Goodyear tomorrow to take on the Reds with Chris Stratton listed as the starting pitcher.  Kyle Crick is also slated to see action and Sergio Romo's first spring appearance was pushed back from today to tomorrow.

Thoughts on Matt Duffy, The Mental Side of the Game, Scouting and Statistics

Chris Haft wrote a great article about Matt Duffy and his remarkable emergence as a top prospect on the sfgiants.com linked to the left.  Several of you have commented on how impressed you are with Matt Duffy's baseball IQ.  Turns out there is a reason why it is so high and it's not hereditary or accidental, although I am sure you have to have some native talent to take advantage of the knowledge. As most of you know, Matt Duffy's college career was not much to write home about, but his Cape Cod League coach game him a book entitled "The Mental Keys to Hitting."

In a nutshell, reading the book taught Duffy to concentrate on the parts of hitting he can control.  For example, he can control whether he swings at a good pitch to hit or not.  He can't control whether a line drive that he hits gets caught by a fielder.  The practical application comes when he goes to the plate as a PH in a key situation in the postseason.  Instead of thinking "I have to get a hit here" or "I have to hit a home run."  He trained himself to go up there thinking, "I have to take a good swing at a good pitch to hit."  The rest of it is out of his control.

I was interested in Duffy's comments that he keeps the book handy and makes it a point to read a chapter every day just to keep reminding himself of the principles he learned from it.  It struck me how similar that sounds to religious people who read the Bible or an inspirational text every day to re-center their lives.  I'm not saying Duffy doesn't also do that himself, but the similarity is striking, at least to me.


There is in interesting report in BA on Day 3 of the annual SABR Analytics Conference held in Arizona this week.  BTW, I know Larry Baer was one of the speakers.  I have not found a report of what he had to say, but am dying to know.  One key presentation was about something I have believed for a long time which is the more we know about electronic pitch and batted ball measurements, we find there are reasons behind the statistics we see and it is bringing us full circle back to old school scouting.  Turns out, success at the plate is highly dependent on measurables such as exit velocity off the bat, batted ball distance and hang time.  Also turns out those measures stabilize very quickly as in sample sizes of 50 or less.  Also turns out that those measures are better at predicting future performance than statistical results.  What scouts measured by the sound off the bat(like a gunshot) and descriptions like "the ball jumps off his bat" are simply eyeball measurements of things we can measure more precisely with electronics now.  I still don't think this is going to make traditional scouting obsolete.  It will just make the scouting of "tools" more precise and objective.  They will be a big part of the scouting report and the human eye will help validate the measurements and vice-versa.  What it also means is that getting an edge in scouting may mean paying more attention to what are currently thought of as intangibles such as intelligence, work ethic and emotional stability.  It seems to me the Giants already are ahead of the curve on this front, but maybe I'm just a homer.

The other hot topic these days is pitch framing.  Turns out there are at least 4 factors that probably go into borderline pitches being called strikes and as I have also been saying, the catcher is just one of them.  The others are the individual umpire, the pitcher and the batter.  Just one example:  it is much harder to "frame" a pitch from a pitcher with poor command than one with good command.  If the catcher calls for a pitch on the outside corner and the pitcher throws it on the inside corner, the catcher has to move his glove and is much less likely to get the call than if he had called for the pitch there and could keep the glove motionless.  Batter stances such as crouch vs upright intuitively make a difference.  You also do not have to watch many games with Kruk and Kuip describing the action before you see clearly the differences between how umpires call balls and strikes.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/14/2015: D'Backs 5 Giants 2

As in the afternoon game, the Giants jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a 2 run blast by Brandon Belt, but then lost the lead and failed to score again in the game.  Key Lines:

Brandon Belt(1B)- 2 for 3, 3B(2), HR(2), SB(1).  BA= .435.  Another huge game for Belt.  Please don't get hurt this year!

Justin Maxwell(LF)- 2 for 4, 3B.  BA= .238.  Maxwell is pulling ahead in the race for the temporary roster spot to replace Hunter Pence.

Ryan Vogelsong(RHP)- 2.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 9.39.  Them's some ugly ERA's behind the Giants starters' names right now.

Joan Gregorio(RHP)- 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Gregorio has not been striking people out, but  he has been getting outs.  Hopefully a confidence builder.

Chris Heston(RHP)- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K.  ERA= 3.00.  Heston has really settled down since a bad first outing of the spring.

George Kontos(RHP)- 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 5.06.  Sliders don't bite in the desert.

Hunter Strickland(RHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 6.00.  No runs allowed, but loaded the bases.

I would expect some cuts now that this split squad day is over.  I believe it is Tim Hudson's turn to start tomorrow against the D'Backs.

Al Rosin RIP

Al Rosin, the most successful GM in San Francisco Giants history prior to the Brian Sabean era, has died at the age of 91.  Rosin started his baseball career as a star player for the Cleveland Indians in the 1940's and 1950's winning an AL MVP during that time.  He went on to become a successful executive with several organizations.  He took over as GM of the Giants from Tom Haller at the end of the 1985 season as the Giants finished up a 100 loss season and a perceived low point in the history of the organization.

Rosen's first act as GM was to hire Roger Craig as manager.  Craig had gained some fame as a pitching coach with the Detroit Tigers, reviving several pitching careers by teaching all of his pitchers to throw the split-fingered fastball or splitter.  He brought the splitter with him to San Francisco as well as a no-nonsense approach buoyed by an endless well of optimism.  It was Rosen, though, who took out the TV's and stereos in the Giants clubhouse so the players could concentrate on baseball.  Rosen also insisted that the players take batting practice in full uniform and even got Jeffrey Leonard to wear his cap forward.

In fairness to Tom Haller, several of the players who formed the core of the successful teams on Rosen's watch were already in the organization when Rosen arrived on the scene including Will Clark, Robby Thompson, Chili Davis, Leonard and Mike Krukow.  Rosen kick-started the turnaround by fast-tracking Clark and Thompson to the majors.  I attended a spring training game in 1986, Will Clark's rookie season, and recall the sense of optimism and excitement seeing those guys on the field and the sense of purpose you could see even in the warmup drills.

Probably Rosen's biggest contribution to the team's success came with several trades, the biggest of which brought Dave Dravecky, Kevin Mitchell and Craig Lefferts to the Giants from the Padres in one of the most lopsided trades on the favorable side in the history of the team.  Rosen was aggressive in making midseason trades to help get the team to the postseason with the acquisition of players like Don Robinson and Rick Reuschel.  The team made it to the postseason in 1987 and 1989 getting to the World Series in 1989 only to lose to the A's in 4 games in the "earthquake" series.

Rosen remained as GM of the Giants through the 1992 season, then was let go by the incoming ownership group headed by Peter Magowan.

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/14/2015: A's 5 Giants 2

The Giants jumped on top 2-0 in the first inning, but the bats then fell silent for the rest of the game while Matt Cain got roughed up for 4 runs in under 2 innings of work.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco(CF)- 1 for 2, 2 BB.  BA= .313.  Blanco led off the game with a hit and scored the first run on McGehee's double.

Matt Duffy(SS)- 2 for 4.  BA= .348.  Just…..Matt Duffy!

Casey McGehee(3B)- 2 for 3, 2 2B.  BA= .500.  Let's hope he still has some hits left in that bat after the season starts!

Matt Cain(RHP)- 1.2 IP, 6 H,  4 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 9.82.  A letdown start after a strong spring debut last outing.

Ryan Vogelsong faces the D'Backs in the nightcap.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/13/2015: Rangers 3 Giants 0

Jake Peavy gave up a 3 run blast to uber power prospect Joey Gallo in the 3'rd inning to account for the only scoring in the game.  The Giants offense mustered 6 scattered hits from 6 different batters.  Key Lines:

2B:  Joe Panik(2), Matt Duffy(3).

3B:  Brandon Belt(1).

Jake Peavy(RHP)- 4 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 7.71.  Pretty good outing except for the 2 out bomb by Gallo.  We'll chalk it up to the environment.

Cody Hall(RHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 4.50.  Always nice to see the kids do well.

Javier Lopez(LHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 5.40.  Much better than his first appearance.

Ty Blach(LHP)- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 12.86.  That's more like it.  We'll chalk up the first two appearances to rookie nerves.

Split squad tomorrow with Matt Cain facing the A's in the afternoon and Ryan Vogelsong facing the D'backs in the evening.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Luken Baker

Luken Baker is a classic big, strong Texas(is he from Luckenbach?) HS power pitcher at 6'4", 240 lbs, but is also a hitting prospect who has won at least one showcase HR derby.  On the mound, he is a drop and drive pitcher with somewhat abrupt arm acceleration and deceleration.  His FB hits 95 MPH.  He has a nice tight slider to go with it and a change that he rarely uses.  At the plate, he is a huge presence with a surprisingly short, quick swing that generates tremendous power.  He has a very bad body for a position player.  I do not see him as being able to field anything but 1B in the pros.  My comp would be a RH hitting version of Adam Dunn.  To me, he looks like a pitcher and that is how I think he will be drafted, but scouts are split about evenly. I could see an AL team like the Angels liking him better as a hitter.  BA does not rank him in their early Top 50 2015 draft prospects.  Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #40.

"Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas with Waylon and Willie and the Boys….."

Chips Moman and Buddy Emmons recorded by Waylon Jennings

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/12/2015: Giants 7 White Sox 4

I"m going to just ignore the Will Ferrell silliness and focus on the game here.  A few position battles started to take shape as the Giants topped the ChiSox in Glendale, AZ.  Key Lines:

Brandon Hicks(PH-DH)- 1 for 1, HR(1), BB, SB(1).  BA= .231.  Hicks is not competing for a MLB position, but may be auditioning for another organization or for a minor league gig with the Giants.

Travis Ishikawa(1B)- 1 for 2, HR(1), 3 BB.  BA= .500.   At this point, Travis would have to go 0 for the rest of the spring or get injured to lose a roster spot.

Hector Sanchez(Catcher)- 2 for 3, 2B.  BA= .333.  Don't look now, but The Hector is winning the backup catcher job and it's not real close at this point.

Justin Maxwell(RF)- 2 for 4.  BA= .188.  Maxwell started the spring ice cold, but the last roster spot is his to lose.  Now that his bat has awakened, if he continues to hit, I think he will be starting in the OF for the Giants on Opening Day and will hang around at least until Pence gets off the DL.

Gary Brown(CF)- 0 for 2.  BA= .235.  As Maxwell's bat heats up, Brown's is fading.

Matt Duffy(2B)- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .294.  Man, do I ever wish there was a roster spot for The Duffman!  Alas, he will likely start the season in AAA barring a late spring training trade.

Ehire Adrianza(SS)- 1 for 3, HBP, CS.  BA= .235.  And Adrianza is a lock for a roster spot barring a trade.  He would never clear waivers.

Madison Bumgarner(LHP)- 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 9.95.  Rocky first inning, then settled down.

Joan Gregorio(RHP)- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Gregorio's stock is on the rise.  He will likely start the season in San Jose with an outside shot at AA if he continues to impress in camp.

Chris Stratton(RHP)- 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 6.00.  Another frustrating appearance for Stratton.  Probably ticketed for AA.

Hunter Strickland(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 7.20.  I don't see a roster spot for Strickland unless somebody starts the season on the DL or somebody gets traded.

Steven Okert(LHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 2.70.  Okert has been impressive in camp.  He is auditioning for a AAA gig and a shot at replacing whichever one of Lopez or Affeldt's contracts is up next year or maybe eventually being a 3'rd lefty in the pen this year.

Jean Machi(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 4.50.  The 5'th an final non-reserve-starter bullpen slot is Machi's to lose.  He tightened his grip on it today.

The Giants play the Rangers tomorrow afternoon.  Not sure who is pitching.  Peavy?

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Joe DeMers

Joe DeMers is a 6'2", 235 lbs HS RHP out of Pleasant Hill, CA.  He had been on draft radar screens for some time, but made headlines yesterday by firing a perfect game against a strong opponent.  His arsenal includes both a 4 seam and 2 seam FB with average curve that sit 91-93.  He has hit 97 MPH while pitching in relief. He has an average curve, slider and change.  He is known for his command.  No projection in the body.  He was not listed in BA's early top 50 draft prospects, but Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs had him at #43.  His college commit is to Washington.  He is probably singable for second round money.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/11/2015: Brewers 6 Giants 3

The Giants continued to get hurt by spotty pitching and a lack of pop in the offense.  Key Lines:

Brandon Belt(1B)- 2 for 2, HR(1), BB.  BA= .412.  No lack of pop in Brandon Belt's bat today.  If he can just stay healthy all season……

Casey McGehee(3B)- 2 for 3, 2B.  BA= .467.  The Hits McGehee show rolls on.  Yeah, I don't think you need to look at his BABIP to know he can't sustain this!

Joe Panik(2B)- 1 for 3, 2B.  BA= .125.  2 hits in 2 games, both XBH's.  Panik is warming up!

Daniel Carbonell()- 0 for 1, BB, SB(1).  BA= .200.  Carbonell seems to be able to do a lot of things well.  The hit tool continues to be the question mark, but some signs of hope for that too.

Tim Hudson(RHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Good spring training debut for Huddy who says he is in better shape than this time last year.

Tim Lincecum(RHP)- 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 13.50.  Timmy had a stiff neck.  Thought he could pitch through it.  He couldn't.

George Kontos(RHP)- 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 1.93.  Kontos continues to make a case for a roster spot. Roster math continues to work against him.

Adalberto Mejia(LHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  3'rd spring appearance for Mejia.  Spring line is 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K.  Mejia and Crick's performances huge shots in the arm for the farm system, to say nothing of Arroyo and to a lesser extent Mitch Delfino and Daniel Carbonell.

Madison Bumgarner gets the start tomorrow facing the White Sox.  Will Farrell is performing a stunt where he plays 10 positions for 10 teams in 5 games tomorrow.  He will play catcher in the 5'th inning for the Giants.  Bummy asked if Farrell was going to catch him.  Bochy said no, it would be the 5'th inning.  Bummy came back with "who says I won't  still be out there?"  LOL!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/10/2015: Padres 10 Giants 4

Let's see.  Yusmeiro Petit is a pitcher who sometimes gives up a lot of HR's pitching in a HR friendly environment to a HR hitting team.  I think we could have suspected the outcome of this one.  Key Lines:

Joe Panik(2B)- 1 for 3, HR(1).  BA= .077.  This was Panik's first hit of the spring after going 0 for 10 with 1 BB and 1 K.

Casey McGehee(3B)- 2 for 3.  BA= .417.  Still living up to his Marlins nickname.

Travis Ishikawa(1B)- 1 for 2, BB.  BA= .500.  Travis continues to state his case for a roster spot.

Gregor Blanco(CF)- 1 for 2, 2B.  BA= .364.  Blanco continues to outplay Aoki in an extremely small sample size.  Pssst!  Blanco is a better player!

Justin Maxwell(LF)- 1 for 2, 2 BB, SB(2).  BA= .083.  Maxwell gets a BA.

Ehire Adrianza(SS)- 1 for 3, 3B.  BA= .214.

Yusmeiro Petit(RHP)- 2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 9.00.  See opening paragraph.

Kyle Crick(RHP)- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  Biggest news of the day for the Giants!  Second solid appearance by Cricky of the spring in two tries.

Tim Hudson makes his spring debut after rehabbing ankle surgery against the BrewCrew tomorrow.  Brandon Crawford will play SS after rehabbing a sore shoulder.

Around the League:  The Nationals might be a bit thin in the OF to start the season after Denard Span underwent core muscle surgery.  Official line is 4-6 weeks, but this seems like something that might take a lot longer to fully heal than that.  Didn't Justin Verlander have this surgery last offseason?  He wasn't quite the same last year.  Rookie Michael Taylor and veteran Nate McLouth slated to fill in for Span and Jayson Werth with Tony Gwynn, Jr getting an opportunity to make the team.  Nate?

RHP Marcus Stroman of Toronto, who many fantasy baseball sources considered a major undervalued fantasy baseball commodity, tore the ACL in his knee and will be out for the entire 2015 season.  Tough blow!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap: Giants 5 Dodgers 5

Matt Cain pitched a perfect 2 innings and the kids kept hitting as the Giants and Dodgers battled to a tie in the desert.  Key Lines:

Mac Williamson(PH-RF)- 1 for 2.  BA= .375.  Mac is having a nice spring in limited action.  Just having him healthy and playing is big plus to the organization.

Adam Duvall(3B)- 1 for 2, BB.  BA= .235.  It should be noted that Duvall also made a very nice diving stop of a ball Juan Uribe scalded down the 3B line, then jumped to his feet and threw him out from behind 3B.  Very nifty play from a much maligned(at least on defense) third baseman.

Daniel Carbonell(PR-CF)- 1 for 1, BB, CS.  BA= .222.  The single was of the infield variety on a ball hit to SS, but Carbonell is holding his own in the early spring.  Not ready for the majors, but I'm eager to see what he can do in AA.

Jarrett Parker(RF-LF)- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .385.  More goodness from Jarrett Parker.

Matt Cain- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 0.00.  No K's but it's great to just to see Cainer pitching effectively.  His health is a huge key to the season, IMO.

Ryan Vogelsong- 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 10.80.  Peripherals were good, but Vogey sometimes gets BABIP'd for some reason.  This time it was a mistake to Yasiel Puig.  My impression of  Puig is that good pitches will get him out, but you do not want to ever make a mistake to him.

Chris Heston- 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 4.50.  Fringy numbers from a fringy pitcher, I guess.

Hunter Strickland- 1 IP,  0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 9.00.  Second appearance in a row without allowing a HR or a run.  Let's hope this is the start of something good.  Nowhere to go but up after those two dingers in his first two appearances.

Yusmeiro Petit will get the start tomorrow facing Padres with Kyle Crick to follow.

Around the League:  Mark Appel, former first round draft pick of the Houston Astros, will miss some time with the proverbial "forearm tightness."

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/8/2015: D'Backs 12 Giants 2; D'Backs 10 Giants 5

The Giants split their squad today to face a split squad of D'Backs both teams home and away.  The D'Backs hammered the Giants in both games.  The silver lining is that most of the damage was given up by pitchers who likely do not figure into the team's 2015 plans.  Key Lines:

Home Game(D'Backs 12  Giants 2):

Travis Ishikawa(1B)- 2 for 4.  BA= .500.  Travis is making a statement that he wants a roster spot in the early spring.

Mitch Delfino(3B)- 1 for 2.  BA= .500.  Delfino won't make the final 25 man roster, but he is putting his dibs in for the title 3B of the Future.

Jarrett Parker(LF)- 1 for 2.  BA= .500.  The numbers are severely against Parker, but an outside chance to be 4'th OF while Pence is out.

Christian Arroyo(SS)- 1 for 1.  BA= .800.  Another kid who won't be on the final 25 man roster, but his prospect stock is catching serious helium here.

Jake Peavy- 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 9.00.  Another veteran starter getting his work in.  We'll start worrying if his spring ERA is still 9 after the Bay Bridge Series.

Erik Cordier- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  The numbers are working against Cordier too. He is out of options, so a trade might be in the offing.  Am I the only one who likes him better than Strickland?

All in all, the team gave up 5 unearned runs.  6 of the 12 runs were given up by non-roster invitee Curtis Partch who gave up 6 runs total with 3 ER.

Away Game(D'Backs 10  Giants 5):

Gary Brown(CF)- 1 for 3, SB(2).  BA= .308.  Brownie is making a big push for a roster spot.  The numbers are against him too.  He needs to sustain this success through the end of spring training and Juan Perez or Travis Ishikawa have to face plant, which they aren't doing so far.

Gregor Blanco(LF)- 1 for 2, 3B, BB.  BA= .375.  So far, Blanco is outplaying Aoki.  Is anybody still surprised by that?

Brandon Belt(1B)- 2 for 4.  BA= .455.  Belt is just belting out the basehits.  Pivotal season coming up for him.  Giants desperately need his bat with Pence out to start the season.

Juan Perez(RF)- 2 for 4, 2B, SB(2).  BA= .364.  Lil Juan P is not conceding anything in his fight for a roster spot.  Has incumbency over Gary Brown so if it comes down to those two, it's Juan's to lose.

Guillermo Quiroz(Catcher)- 1 for 3, HR(1).  BA= .286.   Two out of Posey, Susac and Sanchez would have to be hurt for Quiroz to make the 25 man.  He is strictly an insurance policy.

Ty Blach- 3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K, GO/AO= 4/1.  ERA= 22.50.  Blach is the type of pitcher who often has trouble in Cactus League conditions.  Might have similar trouble in the PCL, though.

Josh Osich and Dan Slania pitched 1 scoreless inning each.

Hector Sanchez has a thumb sprain and is expected to miss 2-4 games.  Must be pretty mild, because that would be mighty quick healing of a sprain.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Kep Brown

OK, I think I might have just found my favorite hitter in the draft!  Kep Brown is a B-R, T-R, 6'5", 195 lb HS OF from South Carolina who looks pretty darn good right now and has mind boggling projectability.  Here are the comments from his Perfect Game scouting page:

"Crushed balls at PG National."

"Very good hitting tools now that really project well."

"Showed huge power at NUC Main."

So, how old is Jayson Werth now?  37?  On video, when Kep Brown takes his stance and swing, he doesn't just look like Jayson Werth 20 years ago.  He IS Jayson Werth 20 years ago!  Same angular, athletic build, same batting stance, same swing.  Brown uses his height and the length of his arms to stand off the plate, yet maintain good coverage of the outer half.  One scouting report described how he likes to drive balls on the outer half to right-center and how he thinks he hits balls harder and farther out to right-center than to left-center.  He holds the bat up and away from his body, so he is already preloaded.  There is no pre-swing hand and arm movement.  He does have a fairly large weight shift back with a small, quick leg kick and about an 8 inch stride with his front foot.  The swing is still long because he is long and he likes those arms extended, but he has definitely found ways to maximize the hit and power tools.  He runs a 6.84 60 and has a decent throwing arm, but probably projects as a LF, which is probably why he is not higher in early draft rankings.  BA has him at #48 and Kiley McDaniel has him off his board in the "others" category.  There is enough risk here that I can see why you might not want to spend a first round pick on him or maybe even a supplemental rounder, but the success rates of second round picks is small enough, it seems to me you should be jumping all over kids like this if they are there in round 2.  Oh, and he is one of the youngest players in the draft to boot!  He is committed to Miami which is not quite the same as a Stanford or Vandy commitment, so I think he would be singable in round 2.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/7/2015: Padres 7 Giants 6

The Giants regulars fell behind early and a comeback led by the minor leaguers fell short.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan(CF)- 1 for 1, BB.  BA= .400.  Again, good to see Pagan on the field and doing good things.

Gary Brown(CF)- 1 for 2, 2B, BB.  BA= .300.  In addition to the good stuff in his boxscore line, Brownie also got to show off his blazing speed taking the extra base on what would have been a single for most players and going from first to home on Belt's double.  Brownie definitely looks bigger and stronger than I remember from past years.

Brandon Belt(1B)- 2 for 3, 2B.  BA= .429.  Is this Belt's breakout year?

Daniel Carbonell had a sac fly.
Christian Arroyo had a hit.
Mitch Delfino drew a couple of walks.

Madison Bumgarner- 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 14.73.  Bummy said he felt better today than in his first game.

Tim Lincecum- 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 9.00.  Very nice looking K and BB numbers.  Gave up a longball to Wil Myers.  Timmy has 7 K's against 1 BB in 3 IP in his first two spring appearances.

Hunter Strickland- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K.  ERA= 12.00.  Avoiding dingers is a good place to start for Strickland.

Jean Machi- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Machi seeems to be ready to start the season.

Cody Hall- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 9.00.  Hall strikes out the side but gives up a dinger to Rymer Liriano.

The Giants signed troubled RHP Alfredo Aceves to a minor league deal.  Broken pitchers seek out the Giants.  Some of them get fixed.

Around the League:  Yu Darvish unsurprisingly has a partial tear of his UCL.  Is debating whether to undergo TJ surgery, but after a full offseason of rest and rehab, this would seem to be his best option.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Kyle Molnar

Kyle Molnar is a RHP out of Aliso Viejo, CA.  A high schooler who goes 6'3", 205 lbs.  He has an easy delivery with excellent command of a low 90's FB that tops out at 94.  PG says he has projection.  He also has a MLB average breaking ball and a plus changeup.  BA has him ranked #47 in their early draft ranking while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #51.  McDaniel comments that he has a 3 pitch mix and keeps improving but questions his projectability.  He is a UCLA commit.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/6/2015: Giants 12 Rangers 3

The Giants jumped all over Rangers starter Nick Tepesch to build a 7-0 lead after 2 innings then coasted to an easy win while giving some of the minor league prospects a chance to shine.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan(CF)- 1 for 3.  BA= .250.  Great to see Pagan apparently healthy and playing.  Don't care about spring stat lines.

Gary Brown(CF)- 1 for 2, HR(1).  BA= .250.  Brownie put a charge into one that cleared the Giants bullpen behind the LF fence.  He looks to me like he might have added some muscle over the winter.

Travis Ishikawa(1B)- 3 for 4, 3B.  BA= .500.  Is Travis Ishikawa on a mission or what?  This is starting to feel like another Ryan Vogelsong type story if it wasn't one already.

Brandon Crawford(DH)- 1 for 4, 3B.  BA= .143.  The Triples Man does it again.  Crawford's shoulder is reportedly feeling better and he is expected to return to playing in the field next week.

Matt Duffy(SS)- 1 for 2, HR(1), BB.  BA= .333.  Matt Duffy!  Looks like he has added some muscle to that frame and what a frame!  Very impressive leverage on his swings.  I think there may be some serious power in there!

Juan Perez(RF)- 2 for 3, SB(1).  BA= .286.  You sure get the feeling that the bubble guys are getting after it, huh?

Jarrett Parker(RF)- 1 for 2, 2B.  BA= .429.  Parker's double hit just about 6 inches below the top of the CF wall.

Ehire Adrianza(2B)- 0 for 2, 2 BB.  BA= .167.  Adrianza is just 1 for 6 in the early spring, but has 3 BB's to go with it for a .444 OBP.

Yusmeiro Petit- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Petit is the first Giants pitcher to get a start who seemed to be in command.  Said he wasn't throwing full speed but was concentrating on command  of his pitches.  Petit said he watched video of his postseason appearances with family several times over the winter.  Good for him!  No point in doing it if you can't enjoy it.

Adalberto Mejia- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  This is now 3 very impressive innings for Mejia.  Alex P of CSN Bay Area reports he was sitting at an easy 91-93 MPH.  Maybe this will be his breakout year after he serves the 50 gamer?

Kyle Crick- 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Nobody in the organization needed this kind of outing as much as Cricky.  He threw just 24 pitches in his first 2 innings.  Gotta be a big shot in the arm for the kid's confidence.

Steven Okert- 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Okert gave up 2 runs but they were unearned.  No word on what his stuff looked like.

Joan Gregorio- 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Gregorio blew a FB by Joey Gallo for the K.

Clayton Blackburn, Nik Turley and Ray Black were sent to minor league camp.  Black is nursing an oblique strain.  Blackburn has a sore shoulder but tests reportedly showed no structural damage.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/5/2015: Giants 8 Cubs 6

The Odd Year Curse struck early and with a vengeance taking out Hunter Pence for 6-8 weeks with a fractured ulna in his left forearm after being hit by a pitch.  The bad news about Pence overshadowed some nice performances by some of the Giants young prospects in camp.  Key Lines:

Hunter Pence(DH)- 0 for 2.  BA= .250.  Pence tried to get out of the way of an inside pitch from a Cubs minor league pitcher, but took it on he left forearm just above the wrist.  Of all the places he could have suffered a fracture, that was probably the least damaging.  The fracture was non-displaced.  Pence should be out no more than 8 weeks which would put him back around the first of May at the latest.

Daniel Carbonell(LF)- 1 for 2, HR(1).  BA= .200.  Carbonell put a nice swing on the ball and put quite a charge into it.  I am going to dissect this a bit more here.  Carbonell swing was harshly criticized someone named Eric Longenhagen in Fangraphs after the Arizona Fall League.  Longenhagen referred to Carbonell's swing as "stiff, weak wristed and without good bat speed or any semblance of weight transfer."  He posted video of Carbonell's swing from he AFL, I suppose to illustrate his point.  Problem is that is not what I saw in that video back then and that is not what Carbonell showed today when he hit the dinger.  Here's the thing.  It is true that Carbonell does not really move his front foot except for a very small heel lift.  He has very little load, simply bringing his hand straight back and up to begin his swing.  He does, in fact transfer his weigh and gives a quick hip turn.  With his natural strength and the leverage his gets with his long arms, he generates plenty of power.  He does not NEED the load, leg kick or weight transfer.  Since all of those components added split seconds to the swing time, Carbonell is able to get his bat quickly to the ball and thus start his swing later.  Advantage Carbonell.  At least that is how I saw it then and that is what I saw today in the video of his HR swing.

Adam Duvall(3B)- 1 for 2, E(throw).  BA= .375.  Rough day for Duvall as he misplayed a ball down the line in addition to the throwing error.  He did get a hit, but was nailed on the basepaths trying to stretch it into a double.

Mitch Delfino(3B)- 1 for 1, BB.  BA= .667.   I believe Mitch Delfino is the Giants 3B of the future.  Terrific spring, what little of it we have seen so far.

Jarrett Parker(RF)- 1 for 2, Assist(1B).  BA= .400.  Parker has an arm, I tell you!

Christian Arroyo(SS)- 2 for 2, 2B.  BA= 1.000.  Arroyo's job here is to win a spot on the San Jose Roster.  He took a big step toward that with this 2-hit performance.

Ryan Vogelsong(RHP)- 2 IP 3 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 18.00.  After a 1,2,3 first inning, Vogey gave up a grand slam to uber-hitting prospect Kyle Schwarber.  Vogey was hampered by the 2 miscues at 3B by Adam Duvall, but you gotta get out of those situations.

Chris Heston- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  Very nice outing by Hesto Presto.  He may be moving up the Giants SP depth chart, maybe 8'th after Vogey and Petit?

Jean Machi- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Machi has kind of been forgotten because he did not do much in the postseason, but I'm pretty sure the Giants don't make it that far without his heroics in innings 6 and 7 throughout the season.

Hunter Strickland- 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K, HR.  OK, this is getting just a bit ridiculous.  Maybe he is working on his breaking stuff, but both dingers this spring have come off the fastball.  Forget about the triple digit stuff.  The FB is hittable!

Erik Cordier- 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Not a pretty line, but it is important for Cordier to show he can pitch his way out of trouble.

The Giants travel to Surprise, AZ tomorrow to take on the Texas Rangers with Yusmeiro Petit getting the start.

Who plays RF for the Giants for 2-4 weeks in Hunter Pence's absence after the season starts?  Gregor Blanco?  Justin Maxwell?  Daniel Carbonell?  Gary Brown?  Juan Perez?  Mac Williamson?  Trade?  Oh, and thank God it is not for longer than 1 month barring any unexpected setbacks.

Sounds like the Houston Astros are being run by a bunch of used car salesmen(sorry if any of you readers are used car salesmen.  Nothing personal).  Jon Heyman is reporting that after agreeing to a 1 year/$4M contract, the Astros came back with a lower offer after viewing Vogey's physical report.  Sound familiar?  That's exactly the same stunt they pulled on first round draft pick Brady Aiken that ended up blowing up in their faces, costing them the signing of not just Aiken but 2 other draft picks they had apparently made promises to contingent upon signing Aiken for the lower amount.  If this report on Vogey's situation is true, the Commish needs to get involved and come down on those scam artists down there.

Around the League:

Yu Darvish left his start for the Texas Rangers after 1 inning with "triceps tightness."  Darvish insisted that the injury is not serious and his exit was more precautionary than necessary, but he did miss the last 7 weeks of the 2014 season with elbow inflammation.

Mike Minor of the Atlanta Braves has shoulder pain and is going to get an opinion from Dr. Andrews.

Rumors surfaced that Cuban 2B Hector Olivera is a TJ surgery waiting to happen.  This was vehemently denied by Olivera's camp.

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/4/2015: A's 9 Giants 2

Things did not go any better for the Giants in their Spring Training home opener in Scottsdale.   The A's teed off on several Giants pitcher and the hitters were listless for the second game in a row.  Key Lines:

Buster Posey- 1 for 1, 2B, BB.  BA= 1.000.  Buster seemed to be in midseason form.  The double drove in Pagan and Adrianza for the Giants only 2 runs of the game.

Casey McGehee- 2 for 2.  BA= .667.  So far McGehee is living up to his nickname from Miami, Hits, with 3 in the first 2 games.

Ehire Adrianza- 1 for 2.  BA= .250.  Adrianza got another start at SS with Brandon Crawford DH'ing due to a sore shoulder.  This is why Adrianza needs to be on the Opening Day roster.  Crawford has been very durable, but if he were to miss an extended number of games, Adrianza is the one guy in the organization who could take over the position defensively.

Jake Peavy- 1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  A veteran getting his work in.

Ty Blach- 1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 0 K.  A non-veteran trying to make an impression.  Rough outing!

Joan Gregorio- 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  Breakout candidate.

Adalberto Mejia- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K.  Very nice outing for a kid who will serve a 50 game suspension to start the season.  Nice to see the Giants give him a vote of confidence on the suspension front.

The Giants get away from the A's for awhile and send Ryan Vogelsong to the mound to face the Cubs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Fantasy Prospects- Jose Peraza

Jose Peraza, 2B/SS.  DOB:  4/30/1994.  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 178 lbs.

2013 Low A:  .288/.341/.371, 64 SB, 6.7 BB%, 12.7 K%, 504 PA.
2014 High A:  .342/.365/.454, 35 SB, 3.3 BB%, 10.5 K%, 304 PA.
2014 AA:        .335/.363/.422, 25 SB, 3.6 BB%, 7.7 K%, 195 PA.
2015 ZiPs:       .259/.289/.330, 43 SB, 3.5 BB%, 15.1 K%, 538 PA.

SB is one of 5 standard offensive categories in fantasy baseball.  Like HR's, SB's have declined over the past several seasons.  Dee Gordon led MLB last year with 64.  There were just 11 players with 30 or more and 26 with 20 or more.  There were just 5 20/20 guys, so it has become extremely difficult to get both HR's and SB's out of the same player.  Obviously a prospect with 60 SB's in each of the last 2 seasons is of fantasy interest if he has a chance to play at the MLB level.  The Atlanta Braves are rebuilding from the ground up.  Peraza has a chance to break camp with the big club despite not having played above AA.  That's what can happen when your team is rebuilding and the competition at 2B is Tyler Pastornicky and Phil Gosselin.  Peraza's 2015 projections are better than both of those dudes. It's more likely that Peraza will go to AAA for the first 6 weeks of the season for the obligatory arbitration clock re-set, but once he comes up, it is probably for good and he will be worth a roster spot in most fantasy leagues on the strength of his SB potential.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spring Training Game Wrap 3/3/2015: A's 9 Giants 4

The Giants understandably seemed a big flat in their first game after winning Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, and Marcus Semien made a terrific first impression on his new employers going 3 for 3 with 2 dingers.  Key Lines:

Adam Duvall- 2 for 4, HR.  Duvall certainly has the toonder in his bat.  It's just hard to see where he fits on the active roster.  He DH'd in this game.

Madison Bumgarner- 1.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  A big Mulligan for Bummy as the last thing in the world you want him doing in his first spring training start is getting out of bed throwing his postseason stuff.  That is a great way to end up on the DL for a big part of the season or more.  Just get your work in and don't get hurt!  You can ramp up next start.  If he's putting up lines like this in his last spring training start, I'll start to get a wee bit worried.

Tim Lincecum- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.   Timmy reportedly looked sharp.  I like the 0 BB's and 2 K's.  Don't care about the rest.  FB was 88-92, sat 89, but with good command.

Erik Cordier- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  Anybody else think Cordier may be moving ahead of Hunter Strickland on the depth chart?  Cordier is out of options.

Hunter Strickland- 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 0 K.  Strickland pitched in a bit of bad luck and should have been out of the inning by the time Jason Pridie took him deep to RF, but giving up a dinger was hardly the way Strickland wanted to start spring training after giving up 6 in postseason play.

Marcus Semien(A's)-  3 for 3, 2 HR.  Hello Marcus Semien!  Semien is a guy who I think could be a  smart, sneaky play in your fantasy baseball draft.  He already had eligibility at 3B and 2B, but probably won't be drafted for those positions.  He is the guy the A's want to win the starting SS position.  I mean, they traded Jeff Samardzija for him and also traded their two top SS prospects, so he BETTER win the position.  It will take about 10 games to gain SS eligibility, but then he not only can play SS on your fantasy team, he will retain his 3B and 2B eligibility.  Steamer projects him to have the 9'th best SLG% of all starting SS's and 2B in MLB yet is going completely undrafted in early Yahoo league drafting.  Pick him up at the end of your draft, stash him until he gains SS eligibility then trade the SS you started with and move Semien into the position.  You not only have a solid SS who will help you in 5 categories, you have some position flexibility to go with him.  On the other hand, if he keeps hitting like this, he may not remain a fantasy secret much longer and start to take on helium in drafts.

The Giants and A's meet again tomorrow for the spring home opener in Scottsdale with Jake Peavy starting off on the mound for the Giants.  Buster Posey, Angel Pagan, Brandon Crawford and Hunter Pence are scheduled to make their spring debuts.

Spring Training Update: Play Ball!

The Giants start playing games against real opponents, even if they don't count toward another championship.  This is an away game against the Oakland A's in HoHoKam Stadium(the Cubs aren't playing there anymore?  What is the world coming to?)  At any rate, here is the lineup for the first exhibition game of 2015:

Nori Aoki, CF
Joe Panik, 2B
Casey McGehee, 3B
Justin Maxwell, LF
Brandon Belt, 1B
Andrew Susac, C
Adam Duvall, DH
Juan Perez, RF
Joaquin Arias, SS

Madison Bumgarner takes the mound for 1-2 IP with Tim Lincecum expected to also pitch.

Discuss.  Game Wraps start up again tonight!

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Fantasy Prospects- Peter O'Brien

Peter O'Brien, C.  DOB:  7/15/1990.  B-R, T-R.  6'4", 225 lbs.

2014 High A:  .321/.353/.688, 10 HR, 3.4 BB%, 24.4 K%, 119 PA.
2014 AA:        .245/.296/.555, 23 HR, 5.4 BB%, 26.2 K%, 294 PA.
2014 AFL:      .256/.393/.512, 5 HR, 15.9 BB%, 27.4 K%, 107 PA.
2015 Steamer: .231/.265/.458, 3 HR, 4.9 BB%, 27.2 K%, 54 PA.
2015 ZiPs:      .241/.281/.487, 26 HR, 4.7 BB%, 31.6 K%, 469 PA.

The catcher situation in Arizona is one of the more intriguing stories of the spring.  Over the winter, the D'Backs traded Miguel Montero to the Cubs leaving them with Tuffy Gosewich and a Rule 5 draft pick as their #1 and #2 catchers on their depth chart.  Everybody expected another move to add a catcher like Dioner Navarro, but when the added catcher turned out to be Gerald Laird, everybody knew Dave Stewart had something else in mind.  That something else turns out to be catching prospect Peter O'Brien who Stewart says is the reason he is not bringing in another catcher.  Peter O'Brien has not played above AA in the minors, but look at those power numbers!  Steamer came out before Big Stew made that pronouncement, so isn't buying the playing time, but look at those ZiPs projections!  I mean, I don't care what his BA is going to be, 26 HR's out of a catcher is a very good think in fantasy baseball.  Here's the think about O'Brien:  Nobody but apparently Dave Stewart and the D'Backs coaching staff think he can actually play catcher in the major leagues, but the D'Backs opinion is what counts here, because fantasy baseball does not care if he is a terrible defensive catcher, unless it costs him the position.  So, imagine a D'Backs lineup with Paul Goldschmidt, Mark Trumbo and Peter O'Brien hitting back-to-back-to-back.  Get those righty specialists cranked up!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Austin Smith

Here's another good sized, high ceiling HS RHP for you.  Austin Smith goes 6'4", 215 lbs out of HS in Florida.  He has long arms and high hips but already has some bulk to him and looks like he weighs more than 215 on the videos I saw.  His FB sits in the low 90's but has hit 96. He is already working on a 4 pitch mix with a slider, curve and change that are all projectable.  PG's scouting report says he has a "easy, low effort delivery", "very physical, athletic build", "projectable."  BA has him ranked as the #44 draft prospect in their early ranking while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs likes him a bit better at #31, which just happens to be where the Giants draft in the supplemental first round.  Kiley's comment was "smoothest arm action in the draft."  Add him to Ashe Russell, Beau Burrows, Donny Everett, Mike Nikorak and Cole McKay in the list of big, hard throwing, high ceiling HS RHP's in this draft.  Love it!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Fantasy Prospects- Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard, RHP.  DOB:  8/29/1992.  6'5", 200 lbs.

2013 High A:  3-3, 3.11, 63.2 IP, 2.26 BB/9, 9.05 K/9.
2013 AA:        6-1, 3.00, 54 IP, 2.00 BB/9, 11.5 K/9.
2014 AAA:     9-7, 4.60, 133 IP, 2.91 BB/9, 9.81 K/9.
2015 Steamer: 2-2, 3.61, 38 IP, 2.81 BB/9, 8.80 K/9.

Noah Syndergaard might be a better pitcher right now than Carlos Rodon and definitely has more upside.  The big difference, at least for 2015 is MLB opportunity.  Whereas Rodon has just 2 very weak #4 and #5 starters ahead of him on the White Sox roster, Syndergaard is facing a Mets rotation that already has 6 fairly solid MLB pitchers.  Don't let the 4.60 ERA last year fool you.  Las Vegas is an extreme hitter friendly environment and the peripheral numbers were still excellent.  He has excellent stuff with a heavy sinking FB that goes 93-97 MPH, a plus curveball and a changeup that is at least average.  I suppose there are always some things you can work on and there's the obligatory arbitration clock, but there is no reason for the Mets to delay Syndergaard's MLB debut past the first of June.  Given the numbers at the MLB level, he may have to wait until after the trade deadline.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Cole McKay

Cole McKay is a classic Texas HS power RHP who I don't understand why he is not ranked higher.  He stands 6'5", 225 lbs with a FB that goes 93-95 MPH.  He has a classic power delivery from a 3/4 arm slot.  The FB has sink and run.  On video, I thought I could see some of that "second stage" that Kruk talks about.  The curve is 11-5 and has late bite making it a put-away pitch.  The change up has "big fading action" according to the PG scouting report.  PG also said he "pounded zone with all 3 pitches."  I mean, what's not to like here?  For some reason, BA has him at #43 in their early 2015 draft rankings and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him in the "others to watch" section which he says represents 3'rd and 4'th round talent.  Personally, he's no worse than supplemental first round to my eye.    LSU commit, so could be a bit of a challenge to sign.  Wasn't the the Giants last supplemental first round pick Kyle Crick?  McKay would perfectly fit the precedent!

So, we now have a "big 4" of HS RHP's I really like a lot:  Nikorak, Burrows, Everett and now McKay.  I will be happy to see any of those 4 names on the Giants 2015 draft list in either the first or supplemental rounds and it goes without saying any of the later rounds, although they may be tough to sign beyond the supplemental first.

Thoughts on Spring Training(So Far)

You know things are slow in spring training when the postponement of an intrasquad game is a huge disappointment.  Not a lot of hard news out of the Giants spring camp so far, which is a good thing, because this time of year, almost all hard news is bad!

I think Angel Pagan finally took batting practice yesterday, but I'm not sure.  His lower back seems to be fine, but he's had a stiff neck.  If you want something to worry about, the cervical spine supports the neck and head and is part of the spine.  We'll see.  Hopefully this is just a garden variety stiff neck from sleeping crooked on the plane flight and will resolve with rest and therapy.

Matt Cain's first spring start was pushed back by 10-14 days.  Apparently there has been no physical setback, just a recommendation from the training staff.  It is a bit disturbing that it's being announced now instead of from day one of camp or before.  We'll keep the faith, though.  Spring Training is too long anyway!

The pitchers are ahead of the hitters, except Buster Posey who smoked Madison Bumgarner in live batting practice yesterday, a rope down the LF line, a line drive up the alley in left-center and a drive that bounced off the base of the CF wall 430 feet away from home plate.  When Posey found out Bumgarner was pitching live BP, he changed his grouping so he could hit off him instead of catching him.  Posey seemed awfully confident about this, so you have to wonder what was up with that?  Maybe the reporters need to ask Romo what's up?  I will say if Buster Posey is smart, he will never bat against Madison Bumgarner again, in batting practice or a real game.  Remember, Bummy is the dude who once hit a batter in the minors because "he swung too hard."

Steven Okert was singled out by Bruce Bochy as having good looking stuff.  Bochy commented that his arm angle is particularly tough on LH hitters.

Apparently truck shaming is part of what still passes for rookie hazing.  I think it was Erik Cordier who came to camp last year with a Ram 1500 truck.  He took a lot of ribbing from the vets about how small his truck was so came in this year with a Ford 450 with dual wheels or something like that.  As Jeremy Affeldt said, "good luck parking THAT in San Francisco!"

Around the League:

BJ Upton announced he wants to be known by his real name, Melvin, from now on, then promptly got injured.  Sesamoiditis.  Now, what is that?  Man, that Braves lineup is going to be BAD, but not necessarily worse if Upton can't play.

Early reports on Yasmany Tomas' attempts to play 3B in the D'Backs camp are not good.  Now he's going to play both 3B and OF in spring training games.

Seems like we have at least one of these every year.  Michael Saunders, acquired in an offseason trade by the Toronto Blue Jays, stepped in a sprinkler hole and tore the meniscus in his knee.  Had to have 60% of it removed.  Man, that just stinks!  Now he has to play the rest of his career to say nothing of living the rest of his life with over half of the meniscus gone in one knee just because of a below ground sprinkler hole.  There has to be a better way of watering the grass!  Didn't Lance Niekro miss most of a season a long time ago after stepping in one of those?

ChiSox LHP Chris Sale suffered an avulsion fracture in his foot when he dropped something he was taking off a truck.  The word avulsion sounds terrible, but I'm pretty sure this is what we used to call a chip fracture.  He is expected to miss just 3 weeks.  Hey!  Spring training is too long anyway!  Again, ballplayers should not be driving and loading trucks anyway.  Also, the ChiSox might want to investigate and make sure he was not popping wheelies on his motorcycle!

Of course, I am sure you have all heard about Josh Hamilton's situation.  Hamilton reportedly had a relapse of his drug addiction, not really a hot news flash there.  The warning signals have been blaring for at least a couple of years now.  You had to be suspicious that the huge contract and move to southern California was not going to go well for someone with that history.  The situation has revived the disease vs moral failing arguments surrounding drug addiction, and whether "punishment" is a proper response.  I tend to lean toward the disease model myself, but I don't pretend to have the answers.  There is a fine line between not enabling and punishment.  I do know that Hamilton's first priority bas to be sobriety even if that means being out of baseball temporarily or even permanently, but he has to come to that decision himself.  Having it imposed by someone else probably only delays him taking responsibility for the decision and his own sobriety himself.  On the other hand, he is a member of an organization that negotiated those rules on his behalf and the last thing Josh Hamilton needs right now is to have an exception made just for him because his situation is somehow different or special.

There is a segment by David Laurilia in his Sunday Notes on Fangraphs with some interesting comments by Ellis Valentine, a former MLB player and a recovering addict.  Valentine talks about entourages and their role in enabling.  I wish he had talked about that in more general terms than in Hamilton's specific situation.  As is, it came out sounding more than just a bit self-serving on Valentine's part, almost like he wants to be part of the entourage himself!