Monday, October 15, 2018

Scouting the Free Agent Market: Garrett Richards

Just when you were starting to think DrB is a hopeless curmudgeon who hates all free agents and doesn't think the Giants should sign anyone, here comes my White Whale for this offseason.  Garrett Richards!  After years of nursing along a torn UCL with rehab and plasma-rich platelet(or is it the other way around?) injections he finally gave in to Tommy John surgery late in the season.  That means he is probably not going to pitch at all in 2019, or if he does, in September at the earliest.  That's a bummer for him because this development just happened to come along in his walk year and now he's a free agent who is not going to play in the season following his free agency.

OK, remember I promised more on Johhny Cueto and HIS Tommy John surgery?  Well, it turns out he has 3 things in common with Garrett Richards that should interest the Giants a lot:  1.  They are both ace pitchers when they are healthy.  2.  They are both going to miss all, or at least most, of the 2019 season.  3.  They should both be healthy again in 2020!  Now, I'm not necessarily ready to give up on the 2019 season just yet, but I also am looking ahead to to 2020, 2021 and beyond.  What if, for a modest additional investment, both Johnny Cueto and Garrett Richards were both healthy for 2020.....in Giants uniforms!  Here's the breakdown on Richards:

Performance:  Richards has performed like an ace when he's been healthy which has not been often over the past 3 seasons.  He seemed to be finally healthy to start 2018 and went 5-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 16 Starts with a 10.26 K/9 and a GB/FB of 1.57.  His walk rate was up, but that may have been due to the loose UCL that finally snapped.

Stuff:  Richards has always had premium velocity.  His FB averaged 96 MPH in 2018 and he threw it about 50% of the time.  He also mixed in a slider(39%) and a curveball(11%).

Intangibles:  Full recovery from Tommy John surgery is not a given, but the odds are good enough that if you have a chance to stash an ace like Garrett Richards for a season on thee chance he will be healthy the next, you have to go for it if the price is right.  Which brings us to.....

Price:  The only precedent for this I can think of is last year when Michael Pineda signed with the Twins for 2 years/$10M.  Hey!  It only counts for $5 M against the CBT threshold!  Pineda gets a nice paycheck for the year he is on the DL and the Twins have a pretty good shot at an ace pitcher for 2019.  In a recent MLBTR Chat, the host opined that Richards would probably sign with some team for the same deal Pineda got.  I'm not so sure he won't get a bit more, but even if the Giants had to go 2/$15 with an option/buyout for 2021, man, that's a gamble I'm taking in a heartbeat!

Summary:  The Giants probably should not try to win a bidding war for Garrett Richards, but if the rest of the league is sleeping on him, they need to grab him!  Selling Point:  AT&T Park is a great place for pitchers to rebuild their value.

Come on, Kim!  Get it done!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Giants Depth Charts: Left Field

Left Field was a black hole for the Giants again in 2018.  A total of 6 players manned the position. While some of them played other positions and their numbers are not exclusive to LF, those 6 players combined for an fWAR of -1.5 on the season.  Last year's Opening Day starter, Hunter Pence, is a FA as is Gregor Blanco.  Both are probably done as Giants. At this point there is no clear cut #1 on the Depth Chart(although players who play mainly CF and RF can generally be moved to LF, I will keep the Depth Chart to only those who mainly play LF or are likely to play LF).  

MLB:  1.  Gorkys Hernandez/Mac Williamson/Austin Slater/Chris Shaw.  At this point, LF is essentially an open position. I would say the Giants will definitely make upgrading it priority, but they are in the same boat with CF and RF which may come first on their offseason to-do list.  Of the currently rostered players, I still think Mac is the most likely to have a breakout season and hit 30+ HR's at some point.  He's out of options, so he's going to have to grab the position in spring training or have his breakout with another organization.

AAA:  Dylan Davis has "light-tower" power but it comes with severe contact issues.  Jacob Heyward spent most of 2018 with A+ San Jose and got a brief late season promo to Sacramento.  

AA:  Empty.

A+:  Heath Quinn bounced back from a terrible 2917 with nice numbers in his second stint with San Jose.  He's a big guy with plenty of power potential who also seems to be able to hit for average. Should take the Richmond Challenge in 2019.

Low A:  Ismael Munguia is a scrapper who profiles as more of a 5'th OF type.  Malique Ziegler is more of a CF type but seems to have serious stamina issues and is unlikely to hit for enough power for LF.

Short Season:  Diego Rincones had a tremendous season for Salem-Keizer.  He'll have to prove it tougher hitting environment like probably Augusta next year, but he looks like he may have enough bat for LF.

Rookie AZL:  Kwan Adkins and Randy Norris were college draftees who made their pro debut in rookie ball with mixed results.  They both seem like leadoff/speed types which is not necessarily what you want in a LF.  Undrafted FA Tyler Flores seemed to have some pop in his bat and Zander Clarke has intriguing size at 6'5", 225 lbs.  All 4 mentioned players are major projects at best.

DSL:  Neither Luigi Pichardo nor Jose Hernandez showed much stick in their DSL debuts.  I doubt we'll be seeing either in Arizona in 2019.

Free Agents:  Michael Brantley the oft-injured LF for the Indians and Carlos Gonzalez who is a bit of a Coors Field marvel and appears to be seriously into the downside of his career head a very mediocre LF FA crop.  If the Giants want to upgrade the position, it will likely have to be by trade

Summary:  LF has been a mess for the Giants for several years now.  The future of the position did not gain any clarity in 2018 and remains in desperate need of an upgrade either from in internal player stepping up, or by trade.

Scouting the Free Agent Market: Patrick Corbin

LHP Patrick Corbin is widely regarded as the top FA pitcher in this year's class, and he's coming off a great season for the D'Backs.  He's also relatively young for a FA at age 29.  The Yankees are reportedly hot on his trail and they have money to spend.  He gonna get paid!  Let's break it down:

Performance:  Corbin made 33 starts for the D'Backs totaling 200 IP with a 3.15 ERA, the best of his MLB career by a fairly wide margin.  His career ERA is 3.91.  His K/9 took a huge jump from 8.45 to 11.07 while his BB/9 has dropped over the past 3 seasons from 3.82 to 2.89 to 2.16.  The numbers do not look flukey as the ERA comes with a FIP of 2.47 and an xFIP of 2.61.  It should be noted, however, that his numbers in prior years do not come anywhere near his 2018 performance.

Stuff:  When Corbin entered the league in 2012, he had a standard 3-pitch mix throwing his FB 70% with 15% slider and 15% changeup.  Over the years, the FB use has trended down while the slider use has trended up.  In 2018, he threw the FB 49% and the slider 41%.  He also ditched his changeup for a curveball defying the notion that a LHP has to have a changeup to keep LH hitters honest.  He remains a groundball heavy pitcher with a GB/FB of 1.79.  Red Flag:  Avg. FB velocity dropped from 92.4 to 90.8 in 2018.

Intangibles:  I don't know of any personality or clubhouse issues with Corbin.  He seemed to be particularly tough on the Giants(who wasn't, I guess) with a 2.27 ERA.  The Yankees have a particularly need for LH SP's to protect that short porch in RF.  Think about it.  All great Yankee teams have had great LH SP's from Whitey Ford to Ron Guidry to Andy Pettite.

Summary:  Someone is going to overpay for Patrick Corbin and his career year.  That someone is likely to be the Yankees.  He has several "Red Flags" which would make me stay away:  1.  Coming off a career year.  2.  Drop in FB velocity.  3.  Dependence on the slider.  I say you live by the slider, you die by the slider.  The Giants should just stay away.

Prediction:  Signs with the Yankees for 5 years/$90 M, maybe more.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Armchair GM: Madison Bumgarner Trade/No Trade Smackdown

I have been openly intrigued by the idea of trading Madison Bumgarner since last offseason when I first proposed the idea.  I don't know if I was the first blogger to propose it, but I think I was at least riding shotgun on that bandwagon.  Since then, I have spent way too much of my time thinking about it from every angle.  I've put together numerous hypothetical trades(BTW, it's way hard to make those realistic.  You almost always end up either undervaluing your guy to get the other team to agree or you end up overvaluing to the point where the other team would hang up).  I've scripted the outcome if the Giants don't trade him.  Out of all that, I just know one thing for sure:  The Giants should not, SHOULD NOT, give Madison Bumgarner the kind of large, longterm extension it will take to keep him in a Giants uniform for his career!  So before we get to the smackdown, we'll stipulate that there is no 9 figure contract with the Giants in Bummy's future.

Resolved:  The Giants should trade Madison Bumgarner this offseason.

This side of the argument rests on two pillars:  1.  The Giants will not be competitive for postseason baseball in 2019.  2.  The Giants will lose Madison Bumgarner after the 2019 season for close to nothing in return.  If you believe in both of those two pillars, the decision is easy.  Bummy gets traded.   There are enough teams out there who are likely to think they are 1 ace pitcher away from a ring to start a bidding war and bring back MLB ready prospects who will not only jumpstart the rebuild, but might be enough of an immediate talent upgrade to make them competitive in 2019!  Here are just 2 possible trade scenarios I have thought of.   They aren't perfect, so don't start throwing the rotten tomatoes, but I think they are close enough to realistic to give us an idea of what is possible:

Trade #1:  Madison Bumgarner to the Brewers for 2B Keston Hiura, OF Domingo Santana, RHP Aaron Brooks and C Jacob Nottingham.  Brewers window of contention is obviously now.  They desperately need an ace pitcher but don't want to pay a lot.  Giants immediately upgrade the bat at 2B(though probably not the glove), a starting OF with power and speed an MLB ready SP and depth at C.

Trade #2:  Madison Bumgarner to the Phillies for OF Odubel Herrera, RHP Enyel De Los Santos, RHP Adonis Medina, LHP David Parkinson.  Phillies think their time is now and are making noise about signing Bryce Harper.  Rotation was a weak spot after Aaron Nola and Bumgarner would make a nice LHP bookend the top of their rotation.  Herrera's production has slipped but is on a very team-friendly contract through 2021 with 2 option years.  The Giants also get a big upgrade on a nearly barren pitching side of their bullpen.  De Los Santos could step into the rotation immediately or be a nice multi-inning reliever.

Other teams who might be in the market for a cheap ace pitcher for 1 year and have multiple good prospects to trade are the Yankees, Braves and Oakland A's.

*********************************************************************************

Resolved:  The Giants should not trade Madison Bumgarner this offseason:

This side of the argument also rests on 2 pillars:  1.  The Giants can put together a contending team for 2019.  2.  An Ace pitcher on a cheap 1 year contract is not a bad thing.

Look, there is a reason why Madison Bumgarner has serious trade value.   Think about it this way:  Would you rather have an ace pitcher on a 6 year/$150 M contract or a 1 year $12 M contract?  I think about 30/30 GM's would pick door #2 there.  Besides, there is no guarantee that any of the your players you might get in return in a trade will pan out.  If the Giants think they can contend in 2019, you are not going to find a better SP on a more favorable contract than Madison Bumgarner.  You upgrade the OF and rest of the rotation through FA and/or trades, hope for good health from a few players and Voila!  You're a contender!  At the end of the season, you make a QO.  If Bummy accepts, you have him for another year without a longterm commitment.  If not, you re-allocate the money and are a year closer to being out from under CBT hell. Plus, you have Johnny Cueto back from TJ surgery(more on that in future posts).

Conclusion:  If the Giants are serious about building a contending team in 2019, they should keep Madison Bumgarner.  If they don't think they can contend in 2019, they should trade him.  That's a big decision!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Giants Depth Charts: Shortstop

Brandon Crawford has 3 years left on his 5 yr/$60 M contract.  He can still pick it at SS so he isn't going anywhere soon.  The bat is worrisome as he finished the season with almost identical marks as 2017 after being close to the hottest hitter in baseball in May and June.  Whether that was due to nagging injuries or his swing is notoriously dependent on timing and just got out of synch we may not know for sure.  I guess the hot streak is encouraging but the collapse afterward is just the opposite.  We should probably expect future seasons to be more like 2017 and 2018 than 2015 and 2016.  On to the Depth Chart:

MLB:  1.  Brandon Crawford- See above.  2.  Alen Hanson- Hanson is OK to fill in occasionally, but if he had to play the position for long stretches, would probably be a defensive disaster.  3. Abiatal Avelino- recent acquisition from the Yankees for Andrew McCutchen.  Has some defensive chops but the bat needs more salt.  Will probably start the season in AAA.

AAA:  Orlando Calixte is on the River Cats roster, but I believe he is a minor league FA.

AA:  Ryan Howard and CJ Hinojosa are interchangeable middle infielders who should both move up to AAA unless the Giants sign some MLB depth to stash there.  One of them could move to 3B so they and Avelino can all play at the same time.

A+:  Brandon Van Horn has a nice glove but the bat has a long way to go.  May not be ready for AA.  Kelvin Beltre has played SS, 3B and 2B.  His big need is to stay healthy.

Low A:  Manuel Geraldo finally conquered the SAL and seems ready for the challenge of higher levels.  I've been high on his potential for a long time, but he has been a slow developer.  Abdiel Layer got a late callup but may start next season back in camp.

Rookie AZL:  Nico Giarratano is a defensive SS from USF who put up decent offensive numbers for S-K.  I expect to see his name in the Greenjackets boxscores next season.  Jett Manning is a defensive SS from Alabama who did not show much stick in his pro debut.

Rookie AZL:  Not much to get excited about at this level.  Marcos Campos, Francisco Medina, Enoc Watts and Edison Mora failed to distinguish themselves.

DSL:  Ghordy Santos has had two seasons in which he couldn't hit his way out of a paper bag for 2 months then got hot in August.  Is that enough to get him a ticket to Arizona?  He has a high-ceiling vibe about him.  Jean Pena was hot early then cooled off but hit 6 dingers, which is a lot for a DSL player.

Marco Luciano was signed on July 2 as a SS.  He is already the #3 prospect in the Giants system on my list.  I expect him to skip the DSL and start next season in Arizona. Augusta would be an extremely aggressive placement and probably not best for his development.

Free Agents:  Manny Machado(26) obviously heads the list.  Freddy Galvis is probably the most interesting other name.  Other's include Alcides Escobar(30), Adeiny Hechiaverria(30), Jose Iglesias(29), Jordy Mercer(32), Eduardo Escobar(30).

Summary:  It's hard to imagine anyone but Brandon Crawford playing SS for the Giants over the next 3 seasons.  It might be time for him to think about changing his hairstyle, though.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Scouting the Free Agent Market: AJ Pollock

The Giants almost certainly need to add at least one veteran OF to roster this offseason.  While you can make a case for bounceback seasons from each of the incumbent infielders, and thus Stay the Course, I don't think any reasonable analyst would recommend starting the season with Mac Williamson, Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar and Austin Slater competing for 3 OF spots if the Giants wish to compete for a postseason berth in 2019.  Bryce Harper is obviously the dominant presence in the free agent market, and I am sure the Giants are going to do more than kick the tires on him, there are many reasons on both sides why Harper may not come to SF, not the least of which is there will be at least 10 other teams doing more than kicking tires on him.

The other clear upgrade on the market is AJ Pollock, long time Arizona D'Back.  Pollock is 31 yo.  He plays a league average CF.  He bats RH and hits for both power and speed.  Pollock had a big breakout season in 2015 in which he hit 20 HR's and stole 39 bases and ran up a fWAR of 6.8.  Since then he has been beset by a string of injuries:  A fractured elbow, a groin strain, and last year an avulsion fracture in his wrist or hand while trying to make a diving catch. The elbow fracture limited him to just 12 games in 2015.  He played 112 and 113 games in 2017 and 2018 respectively with fWAR's of 2.2 and 2.5. He was leading the NL in fWAR when he went down with the injury in mid-May of 2018.  Let's break it down further:

Hitting:  Pollock is part of the Launch Angle Revolution as his GB/FB has dropped from 1.74 in 2015 to 1.10 last year.  At the same time, his IsoP has climbed from .182 to .228.  This, in spite of the humidor in Chase Field which has suppressed overall HR's by about 1/3.  At the same time, Pollock sacrificed BA, OBP and BABIP falling from .302 to .257, .353 to .316 and .338 to .284 respectively.  Pollock is a pull hitter with the majority of his HR's coming to LF, which may play well in AT&T Park.

Defense:  Pollock was once a plus defensive CF.  That has slipped to about league average with age.  He hits well enough to play a corner if needed.

Baserunning:  Pollock's SB's have fallen dramatically from a high of 39 in 2015 to 13 last year which may project to about 20 with 600 PA's.  He's still as asset on the basepaths and would help the Giants move away from station-to-station baseball.

Intangibles:  I am not aware of any red flags or off-field issues with Pollock.  The injury history gives pause, but each injury seems like an isolated event which he should be fully recovered from.  Of course, there is always the issue of whether top FA hitters will come to SF because of the park.

Cost:  Pollock will not cost anything close to what Bryce Harper or Manny Machado will command.  First, he is 5 years older and is coming off 3 consecutive years of missed time due to injury.  On the other hand, he is the only OF on the market other than Harper and possibly Andrew McCutchen who is not a member of the Usual Suspects club. which means there will be at least 1 team willing to overpay.  I'll project a 5 yr/$75 M contract.

Summary:  The Giants should, and likely will, do more than just kick tires on AJ Pollock.  Although I am not thrilled with the idea of adding another longterm 8 digit contract to a player over 30 yo, the Giants might have to if they want to compete in 2019.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Giants Depth Charts: Third Base

For better or worse, Evan Longoria seems entrenched as the Giants 3'rd baseman for the next 4 seasons.  That's right, 4 seasons!  Then the Giants owe him a buyout if they want to make a change for the 2023 season.  Yep, I said 2023!  On the other hand, the Giants don't have any 3B prospects to speak of at a higher level than Low A, so maybe it's just as well.  Here's the 3B Depth Chart:

MLB:  1.  Evan Longoria- The starting 3B unless injured or traded.... for the next 4 seasons.  I actually think after a year of acclimation to NL pitchers and a full season of health, he could be pretty good next year.  2.  Alen Hanson- He's versatile.  3. Ryder Jones- He'll probably start the season in Sacramento for more seasoning.  Pablo Sandoval is listed as a FA although I think the Giants may have some sort of option on him.  Red Sox are on the hook for all but MLB minimum of his salary.

AAA:  Empty.

AA:  Jonah Arenado-  tremendous power potential, but has yet to show it's usable in games.  Bigger than his older bro and may end up at 1B, IF the bat ever comes around.  Ryan Howard and CJ Hinojosa likely could play 3B defensively, but don't have ideal power for the position.

A+:  Wander Franco was the starter all season but I believe he is a minor league FA.  Kelvin Beltre is listed on the roster as a SS, but has played 3B in the past.

Low A:  Jacob Gonzalez had a terrible first full pro season in Augusta.  Too early to give up on him though.  Manuel Geraldo was the starting SS  but has played 3B in the past.  He probably does not have enough bat for the position a the MLB level.  40'th round draft pick Abdiel Layer had a fine debut in Arizona but went 0 for 11 after late promo to Augusta. He also played SS in Arizona.

Short Season:  David Villar- Here's where we start getting into some serious 3B prospects.  Villar showed as much bat as Joey Bart in his pro debut.  I project him to start next season in San Jose.

Rookie AZL:  Sean Roby- Strong pro debut, out of JC ball.  Probably ticketed for Augusta next season.  Yorlis Rodriguez- 18 yo from Cuba had a terrific pro debut for Giants Orange.  There is a bit of a logjam for Giants 3B prospects here but it probably layers out with Vilar in SJ, Roby in Augusta and YRod in Salem-Keizer.

DSL:  Luis Toribio- Toribio started of red hot for the DSL Giants then tailed off a bit.  He probably bought himself a ticket to Arizona next season, especially now that the Giants have two teams there.

Free Agents:  Manny Machado(see last post), Mike Moustakas?, Josh Donaldson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Adrian Beltre.

Summary:  Short of signing Manny Machado and finding some creative way to jettison Longoria, I'd say it's going to be Longoria next season, with a decent chance for a modest bounceback.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Scouting the Free Agent Market: Manny Machado

Manny Machado is the other elite free agent in this year's class.  Like Bryce Harper, he is 26 years old and has accumulated an fWAR of 30.2 to Harper's 30.7.  Machado has played more 3B in his career than SS, but has played mostly SS this year.  While Harper had that one season of 9.3 fWAR, Machado's peak season was 6.6 in 2015 but has put up 2 others of more than 6.0 and another of 5.0.  Given is age and WAR record, you have to think that Machado can expect to receive every bit as much in free agency as Harper, which will likely be much more than any free agent has received in the past.  So, let's break it down:

Hitting:  Machado bats RH.  He has averaged 35 HR's over the past 4 seasons, 3 more than Harper.  His BA has ranged from .259 to .297.  If you look at his spray chart, he's a pull hitter with the vast majority of his HR's coming between the LF foul pole and the middle of the L-CF power alley, which could play quite well in AT&T Park.

Fielding:  Machado is a better defensive 3B than SS, but he's not a disaster at SS and he gets extra WAR points for playing the tougher position.  How much longer he is passable at SS is questionable and he will almost certainly move to 3B before his contract is up.(He grades out significantly better at SS by UZR and fWAR then dWAR).

Baserunning:  Machado stole 20 bases in 2015, 0 in 2016, 9 in 2017 and 14 in 2018.  Stealing is not likely to be a significant part of his game going forward, but he should still be an asset on the basepaths.

Intangibles:  I don't know much about Machado's reputation in the clubhouse.  He did demand to play SS this season even though he is a better defender at 3B, which may indicate he is more interested in himself than the team.  On the other hand, it was the Orioles he demanded it of.  Machado has his own injury history with identical ligament tears repaired by surgery in each knee early in his career.  He has been mostly healthy for the past 4 seasons.

Price:  By the numbers, Manny Machado should be right there with Bryce Harper who is rumored to be seeking over $500 M.  For some reason, there has not been quite as much buzz about Machado's free agency as Harper's.  If Machado signs for significantly less than Harper, that would make him a relative bargain.  He also profiles as a much better fit for AT&T Park than Harper.  The Giants may not be as inclined to go after Machado because they already have players signed longterm for SS and 3B.  On the other hand, if you really think Machado is enough of a game-changer and franchise player to invest a half-billion dollars in, you should not let Brandon Crawford or Evan Longoria get in the way of a deal.  Machado would be a better fit at 3B for the Giants because they would want to keep Crawfords's defense at SS.  I believe Machado is a long shot to sign with the Giants for all the same reasons as Harper is, but I think he would be a better signing for the Giants than Harper, much as I am a Bryce fan.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Giants Dept Charts: Second Base

It feels like the Giants are at a crossroads at 2B as their starter since 2014, Joe Panik, had a very rough year marred once again by injuries.  Alen Hanson filled in during 2 DL stints and added an element of enthusiasm and speed to the lineup.  Panik is arbitration eligible and made $3.4 M last year and figures to make more in 2019.  2018 was the first season he has brought back less than $10 M in value, so do the Giants want to see if he can bounce back or do they cut bait and go in a different direction?  Here's the current Depth Chart:

MLB:  1.  Joe Panik- Hit dingers in the first two games which resulted in 1-0 wins over the Dodgers.  A sprained thumb required surgery.  After spending May on the DL, he struggled to find his groove again.  He had another DL stint for a groin strain in July.  His BA rebounded over the last 2 months but with zero power.  He had just 7 XBH's, all doubles, over the last 3 months of the season.  2.  Alen Hanson- Hanson was terrific in May, June and July, but slumped badly over the last 2 months.  Do the Giants give up on Panik and turn 2B over to Hanson after that?  3. Chase d'Arnaud- Much travelled AAAA player who put up good numbers for Sacramento.  He got off to a nice start after his callup to the Giants, then slumped badly.  4. Abiatal Avelino- acquired in the Andrew McCutchen trade.  Has an arm that can play at SS and has some speed.  The bat is iffy and likely not MLB ready.  5.  Kelby Tomlinson- a rough season for Kelby who may be nearing the end of his Giants tenure.

AAA:  Empty(I believe Orlando Calixte is a minor league FA).

AA:  Ryan Howard- has played mostly SS but many scouts project him as a 2B at the MLB level.  CJ Hinojosa- Similar player to Howard and both have played both MI positions.  Both should probably move up to AAA in 2019.

A+:  Jalen Miller- Solid 2'nd season in San Jose for Miller at age 21. Should move up to AA in 2019.

Low A:  Orlando Garcia- Augusta is a tough place to hit even for college draftees.  Garcia did show some pop with 8 dingers and some speed with 9 SB's.  Shane Matheny- Very disappointing season at the plate for Matheny.  I thought his bat was better than that.

Short Season:  Kyle McPherson- .312 BA with 7 HR's for McPherson for S-K.  Most likely moves up to Augusta next season where life is much tougher for hitters.

Rookie AZL:  Jose Rivero- 4'th pro season.  No pop.   Hit .271 but SLG% was .289.  2 XBH's out of 31 H.  Anyesber Sivira- 18 yo DSL graduate.  Has shown nice OBP skills at both levels with some gap power.

DSL:  Andrew Caraballo and Martin Doria were holdovers from 2017.   17 yo Jose Peralta hit just .211 in 38 AB's.

Potential Free Agent Signees(Age):  Brian Dozier(32), Marwin Gonzalez(30), DJ LeMahieu(30), Daniel Murphy(34), Jed Lowrie(35).  Dozier will be expensive and is probably already on the downside of his career.  LeMahieu has brutal home/road splits out of Coors Field.  Gonzalez is versatile and is probably more of a utility player.  Murphy is probably not a good fit for the community.  If the Giants want to replace Panik, they'll probably have to do it by trade.

It sure feels like Joe Panik is on the hot seat, but the Giants best bet is probably to hold him and hope for a bouncback which is not unreasonable to hope for given how important thumbs are to hitting.  The Giants have to hope for a full season of health, which has been a challenge for Panik who has suffered a variety of injuries ranging from a stress reaction in his spine to a concussion to the thumb injury.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Scouting the Free Agent Market: Bryce Harper

I've been battling a bit of writer's block since the end of the season.  Since we have a break between the end of the season and the beginning of the "offseason" with the Giants shut out of the postseason, I thought I would post some thoughts on some of the free agents who will be available this offseason. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the cream of this year's crop and are both as good as you are ever going to find on the free agent market....ever!  The similarities are striking: They are both 26 years old, about as young as you are going to get for a free agent and both have put up just over 30 fWAR so far in their career.  There are differences too as one is an OF, the other an IF.  One hit LH, the other RH. We'll start with Bryce Harper:

Bryce Harper's free agency has been long anticipated and widely expected to set records for payout.  He's still young enough for GM's to believe his best years are still ahead of him and he has enough talent to carry a team for a full season as his 9.3 fWAR from 2015 testifies.  On the other hand, he has been slowed by nagging injuries and inexplicable slumps with 4.8 being the second highest fWAR of his MLB career.  Let's break it down a bit further:

Hitting;  He's averaged 32 HR's over his last 4 seasons.  His career slash line is .279/.388/.512.  while his overall BA was down in 2018, he rebounded with a .300 in the second half after a near-disastrous .214 in the first half.  Going forward, he should remain a top power hitter for 8-10 years.  One word of caution:  On top of AT&T Park's general hostility to HR's and LH batters in general, a look at Bryce Harper's Spray Chart shows a large cluster around R-CF, which also happens to be Triples Alley in AT&T AKA Death Valley for HR's.

Baserunning:  Harper's SB's rebounded to 13 in 2018, but SB's do not figure to be a significant part of his game going forward.

Fielding:  Harper's UZR/150 slumped to -16.7 in 2018.  It is unclear if this was due to an injury of some sort or just the normal SSS variation of UZR or if this represents an inflection point in his career.  If it is the latter, you would worry about his ability to cover RF in AT&T Park.

Intangibles:  Harper has clashed with both teammates and opponents at times, but he plays the game with passion and intensity and there is no evidence that he is considered a bad teammate or a disruptive force in the clubhouse.  He has expressed admiration for the Giants organization and for the city of San Francisco in the past.  I don't think he would be scared off by the park, although the park's configuration is essentially 180 degrees opposite of what would enhance his value.  In fact, he might regard it as a challenge!  A bigger factor may be that after a lot of near-misses in Washington, he may not want to try to pick up an aging core in San Francisco then be the elder statesman after the current core moves on. In other words, he will likely choose a situation where he is more likely to get a ring.

Price:  Harper has a good chance to become the highest paid free agent in baseball history.  Recent speculation has put his asking price above $500 M.  Once upon a time, the Giants signed Barry Bonds to the largest FA contract in baseball history.  That worked out well for them.  Recent mega-deals for A-Rod, Albert Pujols and Giancarlo Stanton have not worked out so well for the signing teams.  While I absolutely love Bryce Harper as a player, there are already hints that his career may have peaked.  A contract the size he will almost certainly receive is likely to end up with a maldistribution of the signing team's financial resources, although the Giants indicated a willingness to take on just such a contract when they made a serious attempt to trade for Giancarlo Stanton last winter. Given their serious and seemingly intractable needs in the OF, I expect the Giants to do more than just kick the tires on Bryce Harper.

Giants Dept Chart: First Base

Brandon Belt is another core Giant signed to a large longterm contract who is coming off an injury marred season which ended in surgery.  In Belt's case. one of the injuries was not really in injury, but appendicitis which required emergency surgery.  Later he hyperextended his knee which ultimately required season ending surgery.  Belt actually got off to a great start to the season hitting .316 in April and .314 in May with 11 HR's in the 2 months.  He went out with appendicitis on June 2.  His numbers plunged after that and never recovered.  After his season ended, the Giants tried Austin Slater and Aramis Garcia at 1B with mixed results.  Here is the Depth Chart:

MLB:  1.  Brandon Belt- Belt remains the most polarizing Giants player among the fanbase.  He drives me crazy watching him bat too, but when he is healthy, he puts up numbers that cannot be argued with.  While it is true this was his second injury-marred campaign in a row, both situations are ones he should fully recover from with no reason to suspect they will seriously hamper him in the future.  2.  Buster Posey- The plan seems to be for Buster to catch again next season coming off his own season-ending surgery.  A potential dilemma for the Giants is a scenario where Buster can't catch anymore.  His only other position is 1B which is occupied by Belt.  3.  Austin Slater- Slater struggled on defense when he played 1B and does not have enough power for the position.  4. Aramis Garcia- Garcia has the power and he could play both C and 1B, but his bat probably needs a bit more salt in AAA.  5.  Ryder Jones- Jones has an intriguing bat and can give plus D at 3B and 1B. He still has not quite put it all together at the plate.  Needs more seasoning.

AAA:  Empty

AA:  Jonah Arenado- intriguing bat and pedigree but still has long way to go.  John Riley- Very slow developing prospect who started his pro career as a catcher.  Light tower power, but struggles to make contact.

A+:  Gio Brusa- Lots of power, but contact is an issue and his career seems to have stalled in San Jose.

Low A:  Ryan Kirby- just completed his 3'rd season for Augusta.  Is he the Mayor of Augusta yet? The bat just isn't quite there.

Short Season:  Wander Franco(The Younger)- Nice numbers in a hitter's league but is Rule 5 draft eligible.  Robinson Medrano- Has some power but development has been way too slow.  I think he is eligible for minor league free agency.

Rookie AZL:  Frankie Tostado- Love the bat.   Let's see what he can do at higher levels.  Angeddy Almanzar- Had a nice pro debut in the DSL in 2016, but has struggled in Arizona the last 2 seasons. Candidate for release.  Beicker Mendoza- Bat came alive in his 3'rd Arizona season.

DSL:  Ismael Alcantara- $300 K bonus baby.  First pro season ended after 6 AB due to injury.  He probably played well enough in 2018 for a promotion to Arizona.  Samuel Jorge- Improved his numbers from 2017 at age 19.

Free Agents:  Matt Adams, Luca Duda, Marwin Gonzalez, Mark Reynolds, Hanley Ramirez.

Summary:  Not a lot of great options besides Belt.  Giants best bet is probably to sit tight with Brandon Belt and hope he can stay healthy for a full season.  Potential for drama if Buster Posey can no longer catch.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Giants Depth Chart: Catcher

We'll start off the offseason discussion by doing our annual Giants Depth Chart series which helps focus on talent the Giants currently have in the organization and how far away prospects are at given positions.

Despite all the happy talk coming out of the Giants organization about what to expect from Buster Posey post hip surgery, they are suddenly facing uncertainties at the position they have not had to deal with since Buster took over the position.  Maybe he will be ready for Opening Day, be as good as new and catch for another 4 seasons, but the Giants would be foolish to not have a backup plan.  So with that happy thought behind us, let's look at the Giants current depth chart.

MLB:  1. Buster Posey(coming off surgery).  2.   Aramis Garcia- Showed impressive power and hit tool in a September callup, but also 48% K rate(30% in AAA).  Probably needs at least another half-season in AAA.

AAA:  Empty

AA:  Matt Winn- I've seen high marks for leadership.  Flashes power, but bat is inconsistent.

A+:  Chris Corbett-  Seems to fit a defensive C profile.  Probably an organizational player.  2.  Tanner Murphy- Ditto Chris Corbett.

Low A:  1.  Rob Calabrese- Bat has been disappointing so far.  2.  Tim Dal Porto- Don't know much about him.  Seems to have been signed as an undrafted FA.  3.  Jeffry Parra- a longterm project.  Unclear if the bat will develop.  Showed occasional pop.  Expect him to repeat Augusta.

Short Season:  1. Joey Bart- Bart got off to a nice start to his pro career in Salem-Keizer, but S-K is a hitter friendly environment.  I expect him to start 2019 in San Jose and could be in AA by the end of the season if the bat plays.  Development timetable might have to be speeded up depending on the outcome of Buster's surgery.  2.  Ricardo Genoves- Another longterm project.  Hit .243 for S-K at age 19.  Should move up to full season ball in Augusta in 2019.

Rookie AZL:  1.  Fabian Pena- 25'th round draft pick out of Manhattan college.  Hit an impressive .309 with 5 dingers in his pro debut, but....college player in rookie ball.  2.  Andres Angulo- spent 2 seasons in the DSL and hit .346 in his second AZL season.  3.  Angel Guzman- 18 yo drafted in round  21 out of PR HS.  Hit a nice .289 with .418 OBP in his pro debut.  4.  Braden Frankfort- 32'nd round draft pick out of Fresno Pacific.  Hit .250 in his pro debut, but in rookie ball.  5. Cody Brickhouse- HS draftee from 2015.  This was his 4'th season in the AZL.

DSL:  1.  Rodolfo Bone- From Nicaragua.  Hit .317 in his pro debut.  He's got the name, he's got the scouting reports.  He's got the bat.  Yes, yes and yes!  Get him to Arizona ASAP!  2. Keyberth Mejias- BA improved from .190 to .256 with 4 dingers from 2017 to 2018.  3.  Cesar Gonzalez- 17 yo. Hit .270 in just 37 AB's.  4.  Omar Medina- BA improved from .213 to .235 in 2'nd DSL season.

Available Free Agents:  Yasmani Grandal(30), Nick Hundley(35), Jonathan Lucroy(33), Martin Maldanado(32), Devin Mesoraco(31), Wilson Ramos(31), Rene Rivera(35), Kurt Suzuki(35), Matt Wieters(33).

Most likely bet is the Giants just re-sign Nick Hundley and try to find a minor league sign as a back up plan should Buster Posey not be ready to start the season.  Yasmani Grandal would be an upgrade even on Buster Posey, but will be expensive and he probably does not want to compete with Buster for catching time. Grandal will likely re-sign with the Dodgers.  Maldanado, Rivera and Suzuki are all affordable options who might be better than Hundley.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Fantasy Focus: 2018 Savvy Vets Recap

In the Q/A, someone asked about fantasy baseball recaps.  I finally posted an answer last night, but in the process thought it deserved a post of it's own, so here it is.  Our league switched to a Keeper system in which we were allowed to keep 4 players, 2 hitters and 2 pitchers.  My Keepers were OF Bryce Harper, 3B Nolan Arenado, SP Madison Bumgarner and RP Edwin Diaz.  I traded Mookie Betts late last year for Bumgarner.  Oof!  Harper and Arenado were good this year, but Mookie was fantastic!  Here is my Auction list:

Freddie Freeman 1B, 3B- $54.
Dee Gordon 2B, SS, OF- $38.
Jose Berrios SP- $5.
Welington Castillo C- $6.
Kyle Hendricks SP- $20.
Jon Lester SP- $12.
Domingo Santana OF- $7.
Zack Godley SP- $17.
Blake Snell SP- $3.
Kendrys Morales 1B- $2.
Carlos Santana 1B, 3B, OF- $10.
Kelvin Herrera RP- $16.
Gregory Polanco OF- $4.
Garrett Richards SP- $7.
Addison Russell SS- $12.
Cam Bedrosian RP- $4.
Archie Bradley RP- $6.
Justin Bour 1B- $2.
Hunter Strickland RP- $1.
Josh Bell 1B- $10.
AJ Minter RP- $1.
Jakob Junis SP- $1.

I was way too conservative early in the draft and ended up leaving $22 on the table.

Savvy Vets was a great team at the start of the season and led the league around midseason.  Then injuries and poor performances especially on the pitching side started to take their toll.  Finished regular season in 3'rd place.  Got bumped from the playoffs in the first round and ended up 6'th.

Final Roster:

C Wilson Ramos
1B Mitch Moreland
2B Dee Gordon
3B  Freddie Freeman
SS Tim Anderson
IF  Ben Zobrist
OF Bryce Harper
OF Carlos Santana
OF  Kyle Schwarber
UT  Nolan Arenado
UT  Jurickson Profar
NA Eloy Jimenez
SP  Kyle Hendricks
SP  Matt Harvey
SP  Steven Matz
SP  Miles Mikolas
SP  Tyler Skaggs
RP Seranthony Dominguez
RP Hector Rondon
RP  Edwin Diaz
P    Will Smith
P    Blake Snell
BN Derek Holland
BN  Jhoulys Chacin
BN  Dereck Rodriguez
BN  Madison Bumgarner
BN  Joe Musgrove

I use my bench as an extended SP rotation.

Monday, October 1, 2018

End of Season Q/A

We don't do these too often but since we're at the end of the season, ask any baseball-related question:  The season, minor league season, state of the Giants, fantasy baseball, draft.  Go for it!

I will post questions during the day and answer tonight. Feel free to give your own answers in the meantime.

Go Rockies!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Game Wrap 9/30/2018: Dodgers 15 Giants 0

The Dodgers crushed what was left of the Giants, which obviously was not much, in the final game of the 2018 regular season.  Folks, there is truly NOTHING TO SEE HERE!

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The Giants finish the season tied for the 9'th worst record in MLB after an epic September collapse.  Due to Tiebreakers and a compensatory 9'th pick to the Braves, the Giants will draft #10 which is a protected pick in case they have designs on signing a FA with a QO.

As for the Dodgers, they will finish the season tied with the Rockies for first place in the NL West.  Those two teams now play a 1 game playoff to determine which has to play a 1 game Wild Card showdown and we will definitely be rooting for the Rockies in this one!

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Thanks to those readers and commenters who hung around to the bitter end.  I may take a day or two to rest up but stay tuned for offseason coverage and commentary starting very soon.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Game Wrap 9/29/2019: Dodgers 10 Giants 6

The Giants had one of their better offensive games ever against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, but the pitching did not take advantage.  Key Lines:

Hunter Pence RF- 2 for 4, 2 2B.  BA= .229.  A strong finish to the season for Hunter Pence.  Can't say I would mind seeing the Giants re-sign him to a low base salary with incentives for next season.

Joe Panik 2B- 1 for 3, SF.  BA= .254.  Panik has had just 1 XBH in September just 19 out of 90 hits on the season.  Giants have to figure out how his gap power can rebound or an upgrade at 2B is in order.

Gregor Blanco LF/CF- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .220.  Overall, not a good season for Blanco.  Giants need an upgrade on his roster spot.

Dereck Rodriguez RHP- 3 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 2.81.  A bit of a letdown in his final start of a terrific rookie season, but must have been a thrill to go up against Clayton Kershaw.

Ty Blach LHP- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 4.25.  Blach is actually pretty good in 1-3 inning stints, although he allowed 2 inherited runners score on a Clayton Kershaw single.  Giants need to keep him around as long man out of the pen next season.

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The Dodgers clinched a playoff berth and will be tied with the Rockies for first place in the NL West going into tomorrow.   The Giants remain tied with Toronto for 9'th place in the Tank Derby.  I guess the Giants have the tiebreaker since they had the worse record last year.

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Andrew Suarez faces TBD in the season finale tomorrow afternoon.

Game Wrap 9/28/2018: Dodgers 3 Giants 1

The Giants did not put up much of a fight in the first game of the final series against the Dodgers.  Key Lines:

Nick Hundley C- 1 for 4, HR(10).  BA= .244.  Hundley reached double digits in dingers to give the Giants a short-lived 1-0 lead in the 2'nd inning.

Aramis Garcia 1B- 2 for 3, BB.  BA= .321.  Garcia is showing he can hit for both power and average.  SSS, of course.

Madison Bumgarner LHP- 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 3.26.  Bummy's average FB velocity over the past 4 seasons:  93.0, 91.7, 91.3, 90.8.  I am not sure if that can rebound.  I thought he looked to be in the Best Shape of His Life in spring training and seemed to be throwing harder, but has not looked completely healthy since returning from the hand injury.  Whether to trade Bumgarner this offseason might be the biggest decision the new GM will make.  The fact that it will be a new GM makes it more likely, IMO.

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The Giants are now tied for 9'th place in the Tank Derby with Toronto.  They need to be top 10 to keep the draft pick if they want to sign a FA with a QO.  As for the Dodgers, they trail the Rockies by 1 game for the division lead and lead the race for the 2'nd WC spot by 2 games over the Cardinals, so it's unlikely the last two games of the season will have any impact on the final standings.

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Dereck Rodriguez makes the final start of is wonderful rookie season facing Clayton Kershaw, which has to be a thrill for DRod.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Thoughts on the Willie Mac Award

The Willie Mac Award for 2018 is coming up.  It is given annually to the most inspirational player on the team.  While is it is definitely not an MVP award, it is generally given to a player who performed well.  It goes beyond playing well, though and is generally a sign of perceived leadership and an ability to make others around the player better.  It is voted on by players, coaches, training staff and in recent years by fans.   Last year's winner was reserve catcher Nick Hundley.  Since the first winner, Jack Clark, in 1980, there have been only 2 multi-year winners:  Mike Krukow in 1985 and 1986 and Bengie Molina in 2007 and 2008.

I have 3 nominations for the 2018 award:

Alen Hanson- Hanson was signed as a minor league FA in the offseason and started the season in AAA.  He as called up on April 28 when Joe Panik went down with a hand injury and stayed up for the remainder of the season.  Although he played more 2B than any other position, he played every position except Pitcher, 1B and C.  Hanson brought a clear extra dimension to the team with his speed and always seemed to be having fun out there.  He was a fun guy to watch play on a team that wasn't that much fun to watch in general.

Derek Holland- Holland was also signed to a minor league contract in the offseason.  He made the Opening Day starting rotation due to injuries to Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija.  Though he mostly started, he also pitched out of the bullpen without complaint when the Giants projected SP's were briefly active.  Not only did he do whatever was asked of him by the team and did it well, he also seemed to be a bit of a cutup in the clubhouse.  At one point, he took that just a bit too far on an MLB TV show when he acted out an ill-considered impersonation of an Asian character.  After taking well-deserved criticism, he issued what seemed to be a heartfelt apology.  Holland also started the 60 feet 6 Foundation in 2014 to raise awareness and fund research for Leukemia, particularly the childhood form.

Dereck Rodriguez- Young Dereck or DRod is Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez' son.  He also was signed to a minor league FA contract.  He started his career in the Twins organization as an OF and only switched to pitching a couple of years ago.  The Giants pursued him aggressively giving him a call within minutes of him officially becoming a minor league FA.  He had some rough appearances in spring training and his first AAA start was also pretty bad, but then he put together a string of dominant starts for the Sacramento River Cats.  He was called somewhere in the wave of injuries to hit the starting rotation and pitched well.  His pedigree, long flowing hair and bulldog determination on the mound captured the fancy of many fans, including me!

I am torn between these 3 players as to who deserves the award most.  There is precedence for more that one player to win as Mark Leiter and Mark Carreon were co-winners in 1995.  Mark Gardner and Benito Santiago co-won in 2001, and Javier Lopez and Brandon Crawford shared it in 2016.  Maybe we can have our first 3-way winners in 2018?

Who is your nominee for the Wllie Mac Award?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Game Wrap 9/26/2018: Padres 3 Giants 2

Aramis Garcia hit his 4'th HR of the month to drive in 2 runs, but the rest of the Giants offense was quiet and could not overcome the 3-0 Padres lead.  Key Lines:

Aramis Garcia C- 1 for 3, HR(4), BB.  BA= .302.  Garcia has toonder in his bat and has had quite a month of September.  Is he ready for a full season of MLB AB's?

Abiatal Avelino SS- 2 for 3. BA= .250.  Avelino gets his first 2 MLB hits.  Does not commit any errors.

Casey Kelly RHP- 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 3.04.  Kelly decent 5 innings for Kelly.  The first run scored on a Freddy Galvis triple and Sac Fly  by Wil Myers.  The second scored when Travis Jankowski hit a dribbler that was scored as a hit but advanced to 2B on Kelly's wild throw.  Jankowski then advanced to 3B on a groundout and scored on a balk.  Kelly is someone the Giants should keep on the 40 man roster and bring to spring training next year.  Can he be another Giants dumpster dive success story?

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The Giants are in sole possession of 10'th place in the Tank Derby.  Q:  Is that pick protected even though a compensation pick pushes it down to #11? That could have big implications for signing FA's with QO's.

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The Giants get their last day off at home before starting the final series of the season against the Dodgers who come in trailing the Rockies by 0.5 games.  Tank Derby vs knocking off the Bad Guys?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Game Wrap 9/25/2018: Giants 5 Padres 4

The Giants and Padres played a see-saw game which went into extra innings.  Madison Bumgarner's PH single in the 12'th was the walk-off game winner.  Key Lines:

Hunter Pence RF- 2 for 5, HR(4).  BA= .228.  If you squinted real hard, you could see Hunter Pence from 2012, forcing errors with his speed, scoring easily from 1B on a double into the LF corner, hitting a HR.  He is hitting .375 with 2 HR's over his last 7 games.  .279 over his last 15 and is slugging .435 over his last 30 games.  For the right price, do you bring him back next season?

Gregor Blanco PH/LF- 1 for 2, 2B.  BA= .220.  Blanco gave the Giants the lead in the 7'th inning with a PH double to drive in 2.  He is hitting just .167 over his last 7 games, .178 over his last 15 and .159 over his last 30.  Probably won't and shouldn't be back next year.  I could see him coaching somewhere in the organization next season.

Madison Bumgarner PH- 1 for 1.  BA= .167.  Gorkys Hernandez led off the 12'th inning with a triple and scored on Bummy PH single.  It was the first walk-off hit of Bummy's career.  Well, yeah.  He's not usually going to be batting in the 9'th or extra innings, right?

Chris Stratton RHP- 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 5 K's GO/AO= 7/0.  ERA= 4.85.  Stratton huffed and puffed and struggle through 102 pitches in the 4.2 IP.  Left his team with a chance to win.  Do you pencil Stratton into the 2019 rotation?

Steven Okert- LHP- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Okert got out of Stratton's jam in the 5'th with a K then got the first 2 outs in the 6'th around a double by Freddy Galvis.  Reyes Moronta came in to end the threat on a groundout by Uber-rook Franmil Reyes.  Both Tony Watson and Will Smith likely have significant trade value.  The Giants could afford to part with one of them and still have the other plus Okert and Ty Blach as LH arms out of the pen.  Okert looks like he's upped his game significantly this season.

 Mark Melancon RHP- 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 3.08.  It wasn't pretty, but it was 6 outs without allowing a run.   Melancon had some pretty serious luck, though when he got an out from Franmil Reyes getting hit with a batted ball between 2'nd and 3'rd in the top of the 12'th, although Crawford almost certainly would have started a GIDP had the ball not deflected off Reyes' foot, so maybe it was actually bad luck!

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The Giants are tied with the Twins for 10'th place in the Tank Derby.

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Casey Kelly gets a chance to showcase himself for next season with a start tonight against Luis Perdomo in the final game of the series and Giants last game agains the Padres this season.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

State of the Giants: Bobby Evans Fired!

Yesterday, what had been rumored for several days became official:  GM Bobby Evans became the main scapegoat for a team that collapsed for the second straight year.  Other shoes may drop in coming days, but Evans was apparently the guy most responsible for the Giants current roster which is expensive, bad and mostly locked in place.

Gotta say I have mixed feelings about Evans tenure.  Since taking over the role at the start of the 2015 season, I thought his processes were mostly good, though admittedly on the risky side.  Those risks turned up snake-eyes time after time and ultimately cost him his job.

Evans first offseason and chance to put his stamp on the team came after the 2015 season.  The Giants had a relatively young core of Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt along with Hunter Pence.  Tim Lincecum's Giants career was ending and Matt Cain's was in a steep decline.  The Giants needed to bolster their starting pitching and needed a CF who could also lead off.  All eyes were on Evans at the winter meetings when he addressed these needs with big signings of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija followed by Denard Span.  There were questions about the bullpen but Bruce Bochy had always been able to build a bullpen on the fly.

The plan got off to a tremendous start as the Giants went into the All-Star break with the best record in baseball.  Then the bullpen collapsed!  Evans traded Matt Duffy and a prospect to the Rays for lefty Matt Moore who was inconsistent but pitched some great games down the stretch, but the bullpen continued to struggle.  The Giants 2016 season fittingly ended with a bullpen collapse in the Wild Card playoff game.

Evans again aggressively addressed the bullpen by handing out a 4 year/$60 M contract to Mark Melancon in the offseason, which might be the move that ultimately sealed his fate as GM.  Melancon showed up hurt out of the gate in 2017 and the wheels came off when Madison Bumgarner injured his shoulder in an ill-considered mountain bike accident while Hunter Pence and Denard Span's legs turned to rubber and series of injuries ended the seasons of several young players just as they seemed to be getting some traction.  Matt Moore's pitching career collapsed.

Evans now faced a seemingly impossible task of addressing multiple holes in the roster while staying under the CBT threshold so the Giants could reset on their CBT penalty.  His response was again aggressive but risky.  He sent a couple of prospects to Texas to get them to take on Matt Moore's contract.  He traded for Andrew McCutchen who had one year left on a reasonable contract to play RF.  He shipped Denard Span to the Rays along with another couple of prospects for Evan Longoria, whose contract still fit into the CBT limit but also had another 4 years on it.

It didn't look terrible on paper, but the risk bit back hard as injuries poured down like a rain in a winter storm in an El Nino year.  Bumgarner broke his hand in his final pre-season start, Jeff Samardzija started the season on the DL with a shoulder strain which never got better and Johnny Cueto, who pitched great for a few starts, went out with TJ surgery.  Melancon's arm was still not right.  Add in injuries to Longoria, Mac Williamson, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Buster Posey.  The Giants hung onto the edges of the postseason race until near the end of July and even mid-August but they finally threw in the towel on August 31 by trading McCutchen to the Yankees for a couple of aging prospects.

The Giants now face an aging roster, a bloated payroll and fixed obligations that severely restrict roster options for at least the next 3 seasons when the core contracts start coming off the books.  The Giants farm system under Evans got younger and more athletic but that left a "donut hole" of talent in the mid-upper minors, so help does not appear to be on the way from the farm system within the next year or two.

In the end, Bobby Evans takes the blame for this mess even though the longterm obligations had to have been decided as a group.  If they weren't, and he was the sole decision-maker, that is an organizational flaw that goes back to Larry Baer and Brian Sabean, which reminds me of the line in Neil Young's Powderfinger:  "....so the powers that be left me here to do the thinkin'........".  I thought his process was about as good as it could be given the organizational business model of competing every year and the homegrown core that was already in place.  He took risks and those risks all broke in the wrong direction.

The new GM, whoever that is, now faces a daunting task.  Almost any analytics minded person will take one look and tell ownership that the only way out is a teardown and rebuild with an aim to compete again in the next decade.  Baer and Sabean have said over and over that is not an option.  Personally, I am not convinced that an "analytics" person who thinks like every other GM in  MLB is necessarily the answer here, but I will admit that the organization seems to be very ossified in its thinking and it's time for a new perspective.

Game Wrap 9/24/2018: Padres 5 Giants 0

The Giants did not put up much of a fight in this one as they were dominated in all phases of the game by one of a few teams behind them in the standings.  Key Lines:

Lineup:  7 hits scattered among 6 hitters.  1 2B by Brandon Crawford.  No pop.

Derek Holland LHP- 5 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 3.63.  Not one of his best Starts, but remember when we said early in the season that if Holland put up a line like this every start, the Giants would be happy?  He still had a shot at a QS when he was lifted for a PH in the bottom of the 5'th.

Ty Blach LHP- 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 4.32.  The 3 hits were consecutive and the last 2 were soft liners to CF.  Classic BABIPing.  Blach is a valuable long man out of the pen/spot starter for next season.

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The Giants passed the Twins for 10'th place in the Tank Derby.

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Chris Stratton faces Robbie Erlin in game 2 of the series tonight.

Monday, September 24, 2018

GM Job Interview

There is noise coming out of the Giants camp about hiring a "high level" baseball executive from outside the organization which would kick Brian Sabean back upstairs and leave Bobby Evans.....somewhere.  You have a great plan for rebuilding the Giants and think you would be perfect for the position.  In the Comments, lay out what you would tell Larry Baer and Brian Sabean in your interview about your plan for the Giants in 2019 and beyond.  Be as specific as possible.  If you want to fire Bruce Bochy, who would you hire to replace him?  If you want to trade Madison Bumgarner, where would you trade him to and for whom?  If you want to keep Bummy, how much are you going to pay him and how does that fit into the budget for the next 5-6 years?

Here's your big chance.  Run with it!

Down on the Farm: DSL Giants 2018 Season Review

The DSL Giants seemed younger than in recent memory with mostly 17 yo prospects leading the way to a 37-35 record, good for 3'rd place in the Northeast Division.  Top Performers:

BA:  Samuel Jorge- .274.  Luis Toribio- .270.  Ismael Alcantara- .262.

Runs:  Ghordy Santos- 49.  Luis Toribio- 44.  Richgelon Juliana- 39.

HR:  Luis Toribio- 10.  Jean Pena- 6.  Keyberth Mejias- 4.

RBI:  Luis Toribio- 39.  Richgelon Juliana- 35.  Jean Pena- 33.

SB:  Ghordy Santos- 18.  Robinson Batista- 11.  Richgelon Juliana- 9.

Wins:  Cristian Acosta- 5.  Jesus Gomez- 5.  Juan Sanchez- 4.

Saves:  Jose Cruz- 5.  Jesus Gomez- 3.  Josdeiker Marcano- 3.

K's:  Juan Sanchez- 63.  Jesus Gomez- 60.  Sonny Vargas- 48.

ERA:  Sonny Vargas- 3.12.  Jesus Sanchez- 3.39.

WHIP:  Sonny Vargas- 1.04.  Jesus Sanchez- 1.25.

Special Name Award:  C Rodolfo Bone.(Put up some impressive numbers too, but in too small a sample to be ranked as a statistical leader).

Burning Question:  Is Ghordy Santos the guy who has hit under .200 for the first 2 months in both 2017 and 2018 or the guy who tore it up in August both seasons?  Is that enough to get him to Arizona in 2019?

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Game Wrap 9/23/2018: Cardinals 9 Giants 2

The Giants have never been a great Getaway Day team and they showed up to this one flatter than a pancake, so to speak.  Well, Andrew Suarez was a gamer, but came out after 5 innings for a PH because the Giants were trailing 2-0, so missed out an a chance for a QS.  After that it was blowout time.  Key Lines:

Brandon Crawford SS- 1 for 4, HR(14).  BA= .256.  Crawford has put up pretty much the same season as last year, which is disappointing but probably about what we should expect in future seasons.  His 14'th HR came in garbage time long after the outcome of the game was in doubt.

Andrew Suarez LHP- 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 4.22.  Suarez was just 2 pitches over the 5-inning target of 75, but with the Giants trailing and possibly wanting to limit Andrew's innings just a bit, Bochy brought in PH to lead off the top of the 6'th. Suarez continues to state his case for inclusion in the Giants projected starting rotation for 2019.

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The Mets topped the Nationals so the Giants move into 11'th place in the Tank Derby, a percentage point behind the Twins.

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The Giants fly home to start the penultimate series of 2018 against the Padres with Derek Holland facing Bryan Mitchell tomorrow evening at AT&T Park.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Game Wrap 9/22/2018: Cardinals 5 Giants 4

Dereck Rodriguez had a Quality Start through 6 innings but lost it on a 2-run homer by Yadier Molina before recording an out in the 7'th.  The Cardinals went on to win on a walkoff HR off Mark Melancon with, you guessed it, 2 outs in the 10'th inning.  Key Lines:

Joe Panik 1B- 3 for  4, BB.  BA= .254.  Panik put on a 1B glove for this one with Aramis Garcia moving behind the plate and Austin Slater and Nick Hundley on the bench.

Aramis Garcia C- 4 for 4, 2B.  BA= .368.  Aramis contributed to all 4 Giants runs with 2 RBI's and 2 Runs scored. Very nice bounceback from his 4 K game in the opener!  He probably needs at least another half season of salt in AAA next year, but he is giving us something to dream on here in September.

Dereck Rodriguez RHP- 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.50.  This is why QS's mean something. DRod had one in the bag through 6 innings.  2 batters into the 7'th and poof!  It was gone!  And without getting any credit for getting into the 7'th inning to boot.

Mark Melancon RHP- 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 3.25.  I was starting to feel a little optimistic about the final 2 years of Melancon's contract until the last couple of games.  Oof!  Not good.  The man still does not look right, although he does not seem to have trouble getting the first 2 outs.  Ugh!

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The Giants remain tied with the Mets for 11'th place in the Tank Derby.

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Andrew Suarez tries to salvage a W in the series finale tomorrow facing Miles Mikolas.

Down on the Farm: AZL Giants Orange 2018 Season Review

The Giants other AZL team, Giants Orange, played 1 more game on the season and lost it to finish 30-26, 0.5 games behind Giants Black in the AZL East.  Top Performers:

BA:  Yorlis Rodriguez- .323.  Beicker Mendoza- .301. Tyler Flores- .296.

Runs:  Yorlis Rodriguez- 30.  Anyesber Sivira- 30.  Patrick Hilson- 25.

HR:  Fabian Pena- 5.  Patrick Hilson- 4.  Beicker Mendoza- 4.

RBI:  Beicker Mendoza- 35.  Tyler Flores- 28.  Yorlis Rodriguez- 26.

SB:  George Bell- 9.  Yorlis Rodriguez- 6.  Patrick Hilson- 5.

Wins:  Seth Corry- 3.  Marco Gonzalez- 3.  Jorge Labrador- 3.

Saves:  Chris Roberts- 4.  Yoel Veras- 2.  Logan Harasta- 1.

K's:  Marco Gonzalez- 55.  Javier Herrera- 49.  Seth Corry- 42.

ERA:  Francis Pena- 3.17.  Jasier Herrera- 3.88.  Marco Gonzalez- 6.28.

WHIP:  Jasier Herrera- 1.28.  Francis Pena- 1.48.  Marco Gonzalez- 1.67.

Burning Question:  Is Seth Corry read for full season ball?

Down on the Farm: AZL Giants Black 2018 Season Review

This was the first season for the Giants to have 2 teams in the AZL.  Rather than designate them as teams 1 and 2 like most other organizations with 2 teams in a league, they went with Giants Black and Giants Orange.  I like it!  Anyway, they Giants Black finished with a winning record of 30-25 to finish in 3'rd place, 7.5 games behind the Cubs 1 team.  Here are the AZL Black top performers:

BA:  Abdiel Layer- .289.  Sean Roby- .281.  Frankie Tostado- .281.

Runs:  Alexander Canario- 36.  Frankie Tostado- 34.  Sean Roby- 29.

HR:  Alexander Canario- 6.  Sean Roby- 5.  Abdiel Layer- 3.

RBI:  Frankie Tostado- 35.  Abdiel Layer- 25.  Sean Roby- 23.

SB:  Randy Norris- 10.  Abdiel Layer- 9.  Alexander Canario- 8.

Wins:  Israel Cruz- 5.  Luis Moreno- 4.  Oliver Pinto- 4.

Saves:  Cooper Casad- 4.  Trevor Horn- 4.  Travis Perry- 2.

K's:  Israel Cruz- 66.  Luis Moreno- 58.  Conner Nurse- 56.

ERA:  Luis Moreno- 2.91.  Conner Nurse- 3.23.  Israel Cruz- 3.97.

WHIP:  Luis Moreno- 1.26.  Conner Nurse- 1.40.  Israel Cruz- 1.44.

Burning Question:  Is Alexander Canario ready for full season ball?

Game Wrap 9/21/2018: Cardinals 5 Giants 3

A squibbed, broken bat liner down the 3B line in the 8'th inning by Matt Adams was the difference in this ballgame.  Of course, a team that strikes out 8 times is going to get more chances for hits like that than a team that strikes out 16 times.  Key Lines:

Evan Longoria 3B- 3 for 5, 2B.  BA= .250.  Longo was just 2 for 17 coming into this game.  Fun Fact:  His hard hit percentage is the highest of his career.

Chris Shaw LF- 1 for 3, BB.  BA= .237.  Shaw singled in his first AB then drew a bases-loaded walk in the 3'rd to drive in the Giants first run of the game and chase SP John Gant.

Alen Hanson PH/2B- 2 for 2, 2B.  BA= .264.  Based solely on this year's performances, Hanson should be the starting 2B heading into the offseason.

Madison Bumgarner LHP- 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 3.20.  Although the Giants loss may have been a bit BABIPy, Bummy got some outs on hard-hit balls too, so it cuts both ways.  He did leave the game tied after the Giants 2-run 7'th inning.

Mark Melancon RHP- 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 3.06.  We've seen this from Melancon time and again:  2 quick outs then hit a wall.  Tony Watson came in to face the LH batting Adams and made the pitch he wanted, but Adams would not have had the opportunity to put the ball in play had not those 2 runners reached.  The 2-out walk hurts the most.  Not the type of performance to get himself penciled in as the closer in the offseason.

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The Loss left the Giants tied with the Mets for 11'th place in the Tank Derby.

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Young Dereck Rodriguez faces Adam Wainwright in a Fox Game of the Week at 10:05 AM PDT.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Down on the Farm: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 2018 Season Review

The Northwest League has always been hitter-friendly.   The 2018 Salem-Keizer Volcanoes took that to an extreme with a mashing offense and gas can pitching to a 36-40 record, good for 2'nd place in the South Division but 15 games behind the Hillsboro Hops who were the class of the league.  Top Performers:

BA(100+ AB's):  Mikey Edie- .328.  Dalton Combs- .318.  Diego Rincones- .315.

Hits:  Kyle McPherson- 88.  Diego Rincones- 81.  Wander Franco(The Younger)- 66.

2B:  Wander Alexander Franco- 24.  Kyle McPherson- 23.  David Villar- 22.

3B:  Aaron Bond- 5.  Kyle McPherson- 3.

HR:  Aaron Bond- 14.  Joey Bart- 13.  David Villar- 13.

SB:  Aaron Bond- 8.  Mikey Edie- 8.  Jose Layer- 4.

Runs:  Kyle McPherson- 49.  Aaron Bond- 38.  David Villar- 36.

RBI:  David Villar- 48.  Aaron Bond- 39.  Joey Bart- 39.

IP:  Greg Jacknewitz- 53.2.  Gregory Santos- 49.2.  Norwith Gudino- 45.1.

SP ERA(30+ IP):  Gregory Santos- 4.53.  Norwith Gudino- 5.36.  Greg Jacknewitz- 6.88.

RF ERA(15+ IP):  Jesus Tona- 0.87.  Trent Toplikar- 1.23.  Doug Still- 2.84.

K's:  Gregory Santos- 46.  Solomon Bates- 45.  Greg Jacknewitz- 45.

Saves:  Jesus Tona- 12.

K/9(15+ IP):  Solomon Bates- 14.64.  Jesus Tona- 11.90.  Matt Frisbee- 11.85.

BB/9(15+ IP):  Ryan Walker- 0.90.  Norwith Gudino- 1.19.  Stetson Woods- 1.69.

K/BB(15+ IP):  Ryan Walker- 9.50.  Norwith Gudino- 6.83.  Sean Hjelle- 5.50.

Burning Question:  Is Sean Hjelle already a bust?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Down on the Farm: Augusta Greenjackets 2018 Season Review

The 2018 Augusta Greenjackets featured an brand new ballpark and the top prospect in the Giants system, Heliot Ramos.  The GJ's got off to a strong start due to strong pitching from several older college draft picks finishing the first half in 2'nd place in the Southern Division at 37-31.  After many of those pitchers moved up or on, the second half did not go as well with the GJ's finishing last at 30-39 for an overall record of 67-70 good for 3'rd place in the division.  Top Performers:

BA(200+ AB):  Manuel Geraldo- .294.  Logan Baldwin- .249.  Heliot Ramos- .245.

Hits: Manuel Geraldo- 143.  Heliot Ramos- 119.  Logan Baldwin- 107.

2B:  Ryan Kirby- 32.  Heliot Ramos- 24.  Logan Baldwin- 22.

3B:  Logan Baldwin- 10.  Heliot Ramos- 8.  Ismael Munguia- 3.

HR:  Ryan Kirby- 14.  Heliot Ramos- 11.  Manuel Geraldo- 9.

SB:  Logan Baldwin- 26.  Manuel Geraldo- 24.  Nick Hill- 13.

Runs:  Manuel Geraldo- 71.  Ryan Kirby- 62.  Heliot Ramos- 61.

RBI:  Ryan Kirby- 61.  Manuel Geraldo- 52.  Heliot Ramos- 52.

IP:  Jose Marte- 118.2.  Garrett Cave- 116.  Aaron Phillips- 101.2.

SP ERA(50+ IP):  John Gavin 2.08.  Joey Marciano- 2.58.  Jason Bahr- 2.75.

RP ERA(25+ IP):  Frank Rubio 1.55.  Franklin Van Gurp- 1.77.  Olbis Parra- 2.24.

K's:  Aaron Phillips- 120.  Garrett Cave- 118.  Jose Marte- 112.

Saves:  Camilo Doval- 11.  Frank Rubio- 10.  John Russell- 7.

K/9(25+ IP):  Camilo Doval- 13.25.  Jason Bahr- 11.53.  John Timmins- 11.33.

BB/9(25+ IP):  Olbis Parra- 1.19.  Aaron Phillips- 1.42.  Caleb Baragar- 1.75.

K/BB(25+ IP):  Aaron Phillips- 7.50.  John Timmins- 5.67.  Caleb Baragar- 5.62.

Promotions to Higher Levels:  John Gavin, Joey Marciano, Jason Bahr(later traded), Franklin Van Gurp, Frank Rubio, Peter Lannoo.

Promotions From Lower Levels:  Norwith Gudino, Stetson Woods, JJ Santa Cruz.

Possible 2019 Roster:  Alexander Canario, Diego Rincones, Kyle McPherson, Wander Franco, Jose Layer, Aaron Bond, Ricardo Genoves, Dalton Combs, Gregory Santos, Keaton Winn, Solomon Bates, Stetson Woods, Seth Corry, Norwith Gudino, Abdiel Layer, Frankie Tostado, Victor Concepcion, Conner Nurse, Jacob Lopez, Julio Rodriguez, Chris Roberts.

Burning Question:  Is Heliot Ramos ready for the California League?

Game Wrap 9/19/2018: Padres 8 Giants 4

Chris Stratton went from batting hero to pitching goat in less than 1 inning.  Key Lines:

Nick Hundley C- 2 for 4.  BA= .246.  Hundley started the rallying the 2'nd inning with a single.  He is hitting .391 over his last 7 games.

Brandon Crawford SS- 3 for 4.  BA= .259.  Crawford is 5 for 8 in his last 2 starts after a long severe slump.

Aramis Garcia 1B- 1 for 4, HR(3).  BA= .333.  Garcia has alway had toonder in this bat.  He showed it in the 8'th inning when Craig Stammen was pounding the low-outside corner with hard sinkers.  Instead of trying to pull them, like a lot of young hitters would do, Garcia drove the ball the other way for a rare dinger by a RH batter to RF in Petco Park.  Man!  Kruk and Kuip could not, would not, stop raving about that!

Chris Stratton RHP- 1 for 1, 2B.  BA= .143.  Stratton's double in the 2'nd inning came with 2 outs and drove in 3 runs to give the Giants a short-lived 3-0 lead.

Chris Stratton RHP- 3 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 4.88.  Stratton may have been still thinking about that double when he took the mound on the bottom of the 2'nd inning and promptly face-planted, giving up a walk, single, single, single, SF, Sac, HR, Single before recording an unproductive out to end the inning.  He came back out to pitch a scoreless 3'rd inning before ironically being lifted for a PH in the top of the 4'th.

Ty Blach LHP- 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 4.28.  This was a better outing than it looks from the line.  Blach retired the first 6 batters he faced then gave up a leadoff single in the 8'th to Eric Hosmer who beat the shift with a ground ball past 3B.  That brought in Ray Black to face the fearsome Franmil Reyes who drew a walk.  Black got Cory Spangenberg to strike out, but then Freddy Galvis sat on a 99 MPH and turned it around for a 3 run dinger that put the game away and turned that single Blach gave up into an ER.

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The Giants remain in 12'th place in the Tank Derby.

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The Giants get a travel day to go to St Louis where Madison Bumgarner is scheduled to start Game 1 of the series Friday night against RHP John Gant.  Remember Bummy left his last start early with tightness in his side.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Game Wrap 9/18/2018: Giants 5 Padres 4

Chris Shaw's 2-run single in the 8'th inning gave the Giants the lead and the bullpen hung on for the W.  Key Lines:

Hunter Pence RF- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(3), SB(5).  BA= .215.  Pence has had a terrible season, possibly the last of his career, almost certainly his last as a Giant, but this game brought back old memories as he drove in the Giants first 3 runs with 2-run homer in the 2'nd inning and run-scoring double in the 4'th.

Chris Shaw LF- 1 for 3, BB, SB(1).  BA= .219.  Shaw hit a flyball single to LF with the bases loaded in the 8'th inning to drive in the tying and winning runs.  After going 1 for his first 22, he is now 6 for 10 in his last 3 games.  Stay hot, kid!  Do the Giants have the stones to put their faith in a starting OF of Shaw, Duggar and Slater for 2019?

Derek Holland LHP- 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 3.57.  I have a feeling Franmil Reyes is going to hit a ton of HR's in his career for the Padres.  His 16'th was a 2-run bomb that ruined Holland's chances at a QS.

Bullpen- 4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K's.  Shaky outings for Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon, but Will Smith recorded his 14'th Save and struck out the side on the 9'th.

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The Giants remain in 12'th place in the Tank Derby.  They have now won 4 of their last 5 games.  As long as kids like Chris Shaw are doing the winning, I don't mind them tanking the Tank Derby.

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Chris Stratton tries for the series swwweeeep tonight facing Robbie Erlin.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Game Wrap 9/17/2018: Giants 4 Padres 2

The Giants broke out the long ball and got another Quality Start from a young pitcher.  Key Lines:

Joe Panik 2B- 2 for 5.  BA= .256.  Although he did not figure in the scoring, Panik continued his late drive to convince the Giants he is their 2B of the future.  He is 9 for 20 over his last 7 games, all singles.

Evan Longoria 3B- 1 for 4, HR(16).  BA= .249.  Add in the time he missed from the hand injury and Longoria would be looking at 20+ HR's. Couple that with getting used to the new ballpark and league and I'll say there's a good chance for a better 2019.  He's slashing .286/.339/.482 for the month of August.

Brandon Crawford SS- 2 for 4, HR(13).  BA= .255.  Crawford has scuffled in the second half hitting just 185 over his last 7 games, .189 over his last 15 and .170 over his last 30.  His dinger in the 4'th inning got the Giants first run on the board.

Chris Shaw LF- 3 for 3. 2 2B. BA- .207.  After going 1 for 22 to start his career, Shaw has gone 5 for 7 in his last 2 games.

Austin Slater RF- 0 for 4.  BA= .262.  Rough day at the plate, but Slater uncorked a big league right-fielder's throw to nab Franmil Reyes trying for a double in the 6'th inning.  Slater and Brandon Crawford had fun discussing the throw in the dugout in the Giants half of the 7'th inning.

Andrew Suarez LHP- 7. 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K's, GO/AO= 10/2.  ERA= 4.24.  Suarez allowed just 1 run through 7.2 IP.  Then Bochy curiously took Suarez out of the game with a runner on 1B despite a pitch count of just 87.  Mark Melancon came in and allowed the inherited runner to score after a walk to Franmil Reyes and a Hunter Renfroe single.  Tony Watson had to come in and retire Eric Hosmer to end the threat.  It looked like Suarez approached Bochy in the dugout and asked him why he was taken out.  It looked like Boch gave him an explanation and they were both good with it.

Fun with numbers:  Suarez' monthly ERA's are 6.75 in April, 5.46 in May, 2.62 in June, 3.94 in July, 4.41 in August and 4.58 in September.  BUT, his ERA is also 3.19 over his last 7 Starts, 4.09 over his last 15 and 4.7 over his full 27 on the season.

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The Giants remain in 12'th place in the Tank Derby.

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Derek Holland goes against lefty Joey Lucchesi in Game 2 of the series tonight.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Game Wrap 9/16/2018: Rockies 3 Giants 2

The Giants scored 2 earned runs to the Rockies 1, but an error by 1B Austin Slater led to 2 unearned runs to avoided the Giants sweep.  Key Lines:

Joe Panik 2B- 2 for 3, BB, SB(4).  BA= .254.  The first 2 hitters in the Giants lineup, Gregor Blanco and Joe Panik, reached base 5 times in 8 PA's and they each stole a base.  Can't set the table much better than that!  Panik is 8 for 19(.421) over his last 7 games, all singles.

Austin Slater 1B- 1 for 4.  BA= .268.  Slater drove in one of the Giants runs, but made the error that led to 2 by the Rockies.  If you believe in UZR, Slater has struggled on D at 1B but is a solid defensive OF.

Chris Shaw LF- 2 for 4.  BA= .115.  Shaw was 1 for 22 with a HR coming in.  He got 2 singles to raise his BA by .070.

Dereck Rodriguez RHP- 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 2.30.  3 Starts in September, 1.47 ERA as Young Dereck continues to impress.

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The Giants remained in 12'th place in the Tank Derby.

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The Giants go on the road with Andrew Suarez facing Bryan Mitchell in San Diego tomorrow night.

Game Wrap 9/15/2018: Giants 3 Rockies 0

Madison Bumgarner pitched 6 shutout innings and combined with 3 relievers to give the Giants their 2'nd shutout in a row.  Key Lines:

Evan Longoria 3B- 2 for 3, HBP.  BA= .251.  Longoria has put on a bit of a surge her in September hitting .346 over his last 7 games and .299 over his last 15.  He also made a nice play on a hot smash to rob Matt Holliday of a likely double to get the first out of the 9'th inning.

Nick Hundley C- 1 for 4, 2B.  BA= .243.  Hundley followed Brandon Crawford's leadoff single in the 2'nd inning with a double.  Those runners were cashed in with a groundout by Austin Slater and a flyball single by Hunter Pence to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.

Madison Bumgarner LHP- 1 for 2, 2B.  BA= .154.  Bumgarner led off the 3'rd inning with a double and eventually scored on a Wild Pitch.

Madison Bumgarner LHP- 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's, GO/AO= 10/2.  ERA= 3.14.  Bummy left the game after just 64 pitches due to "tightness" in his side.  You know, I was thinking to myself earlier today, "why is Madison Bumgarner still pitching?  There are 3 things that can come of it:  1.  He can pitch good, which does not really help the Giants.  2.  He can pitch badly, which hurts any potential trade value.  3.  He can get injured."  Shut Bummy down!  Giants are better off in the long run seeing what Casey Kelly or Tyler Herb or someone else can do with a few late season Starts.

Tony Watson LHP- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 2.74.  This was Tony Watson's 3'rd consecutive hitless, scoreless appearance.  As you can see from the 3 K's, his stuff looked nasty!  He is under contract next year for $3.5 M with a $2.5 M player option for 2020($500 K buyout).  That looks about right.  Giants can either keep him at a nice price or he could have trade value.

Mark Melancon RHP- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 2.67.  Melancon is finally looking like the pitcher the Giants thought they signed to be their Closer for 4 years.  He's been steadily chipping away at his ERA:  1.42 over his last 7 appearances, 1.80 over his last 15 and 2.51 over his last 30.  He has 2 years left on the contract. I expect to see him closing games again before it's done.

Will Smith LHP- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K. Save(12).  ERA= 1.84.  Smith seems to be back on track after a few rough appearances with a 1.35 ERA over his last 7 appearances.  He's been the Giants Closer since June 29.   The Giants just have not given him many Save opportunities.

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With the Win, the Giants lost ground in the Tank Derby falling back into 12'th place in next year's draft.

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Young Dereck Rodriguez had a tough subpar Start in Coors Field.  AT&T Park can be hitter-friendly in the daytime, especially in September.  He'll try for another QS today facing Antonio Senzatela.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Game Wrap 9/14/2018: Giants 2 Rockies 0

Chris Stratton pitched the first Complete Game Shutout of his career to break the Giants 11 game losing streak.  Key Lines:

Nick Hundley C- 2 for 3, 2B.  BA= .243.   Hundley's single in the second inning started the Giants 2 run rally.  He got picked off 2B after his 1-out double in the 6'th inning.  Not sure what he was thinking out there.

Joe Panik 2B- 2 for 3.  BA= .243.  Panik is 5 for 8 over his last 2 games, all singles, and is hitting .333 over his last 7.  Here's the interesting one:  He's hitting .288 over his last 30 games, but it's a bit of an empty .288 as his OPS for that span is only .668.

Austin Slater RF/1B- 1 for 3.  BA= .271.  After Hundley and Panik singled in the 2'nd inning, they moved up on a wild pitch by Tyler Anderson.  Slater then came up and bounced a single up the middle to drive in both runners which capped the Giants scoring for the evening.  Slater has been scuffling, hitting just .174 over his last 7 games and .245 over his last 30.

Chris Stratton RHP- 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K's, GO/AO= 10/3.  ERA= 4.66.  This was Stratton's first CG shutout of his career.  He allowed 2 baserunners in the 2'nd inning, otherwise was in complete command.  Although he got a few hard-hit outs, he retired the last 12 batters he faced.  His previous longest start came when he threw 8 innings of shutout ball in a Win over the D'Backs on 8/27.  His ERA is 2.10 over his last 5 Starts.  Stratton's ERA was 2.32 over his first 6 Starts of the season.  In between it was 6.93.  So, was the middle part of this season just a blip where he got thrown off stride by being a new dad and getting his mechanics out of whack?  Can he pitch like his first 6 Starts and last 5 for a full season?  Because that's an ace pitcher!

Ryan Vogelsong is a roving pitching instructor for the Giants now.  He is credited with helping Stratton iron out a wrinkle in his mechanics and getting him back on track.  I wonder if Vogey also had some talks with him about attitude?  Even when he was going good, Stratton has not always had the most confident demeanor on the mound.  Last night was different.  Although he did not quite have  Vogey's glare in his eyes or the flaring nostrils, there were times when I could swear it was Vogey out there on the mound, especially the way he walked toward the plate after each pitch to receive the throwback from the catcher then turn and march back up the mound.  Yeah, the body language was pure Vogey!

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The Giants apparently passed the Mets for 11'th place in the Tank Derby on the Giants off day.  Despite the Win, they held onto 11'th place by percentage points.

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Madison Bumgarner tries to refocus after his meltdown in Colorado facing German Marquez in a 6:00 PM game today.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Down on the Farm: San Jose Giants 2018 Season Review

The San Jose Giants suffered through their worst season in recent memory and tell me if this sounds familiar.  They were a respectable 34-36 in the first half but collapsed to a 25-45 record in the second half to finish with the worst overall record in the California League at 59-81.  Here are your 2018 Team Leaders:

BA(200+ AB):  Heath Quinn- .300.  Johneshwy Fargas- .288.  Wander Franco(The Elder)- .277.  Jalen Miller- .276.

Hits:  Wander Franco- 143.  Jalen Miller- 141.  Bryce Johnson- 110.  Heath Quinn- 107.  Jacob Heyward- 105.

2B:  Wander Franco- 39.  Jalen Miller- 35.  Jacob Heyward- 26.

3B:  Bryce Johnson- 6.  Gio Brusa- 5.  Matt Winn- 3.  Frandy De La Rosa- 3.

HR:  Gio Brusa- 19.  Jalen Miller- 14.  Heath Quinn- 14.

SB:  Johneshwy Fargas- 47.  Bryce Johnson- 31.  Jacob Heyward- 14.

Runs:  Jalen Miller- 73.  Gio Brusa- 62.  Bryce Johnson- 62. Jacob Heyward- 61.

RBI's:  Gio Brusa- 70.  Wander Franco- 3B.  Jalen Miller- 62.

IP:  Sandro Cabrera- 101.1.  DJ Myers- 96. 1.  Carlos Sano- 87.1.

K's:  DJ Myers- 94.  Sandro Cabrera- 85.  Carlos Sano-85.  Raffi Vizcaino- 85.

Starter ERA(50+ IP):  Logan Webb- 1.82.  Carlos Sano- 3.81.  Dominic Mazza- 4.52.

Reliever ERA(25+ IP):  Dylan Rheault- 2.43.  Nolan Riggs- 4.08.  Peter Lannoo- 4.19.

K/9(25+ IP):  Conner Menez- 12.52.  Logan Webb- 9.00.  DJ Myers- 8.78.

BB/9(25+ IP):  DJ Myers- 2.06.  Frank Rubio- 2.32.  Connor Overton- 2.52.

K/BB(25+ IP):  DJ Myers- 4.27.  Conner Menez- 3.33.  Connor Overton- 3.29.

Saves:  Frank Rubio- 9.  Patrick Ruotolo- 6. Nolan Riggs- 6.

Promotions(to higher levels):  Logan Webb, Matt Winn, Conner Menez, Patrick Ruotolo, Jacob Heyward(late to AAA).

Promotions(from lower levels):  Frank Rubio, John Gavin.

2019?  Sandro Fabian(hit just .200 in his first shot at the Cal League at age 20 but hit 19 2B and 10 HR), Johneswhy Fargas? Melvin Adon?  Sandro Cabrera? Norwith Gudino?  Joey Bart, Sean Hjelle, Jacob Wong, Manuel Geraldo, Heliot Ramos? Camilo Doval, Juan De Paula? Orlando Garcia? Logan Baldwin? David Villar.

Burning Question:  Can Melvin Adon ever gain enough command/control of his elite stuff to fulfill his potential?