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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Nunez dealt as trade deadline nears

Breaking News: Eduardo Nunez was traded to Boston for a couple lower level RHP prospects Tuesday. Starter Ryan Anderson (20 years old) and reliever Gergory Santos (17 YO) will each be headed San Francisco's way. The deal, which was reported earlier Tuesday afternoon became official before the end of the day. I know absolutely nothing about the guys the Giants got in return so can't tell you much outside their numbers. I really had hoped Nunez could have netted another squads top-10 prospect (probably wishful thinking on my end) although Anderson ended up being the cornerstone of the deal at #18 in the BoSox system.

Over the better part of the last decade, as mid-late July arrives, Giants fans have usually been busy speculating on which player(s) this ball club could add and acquire as they make their stretch run and attempt at another World Series tittle. Instead, the 2017 trade deadline will pose a much different goal for Bobby Evans, Brian Sabean and the Giants brass and we saw it in action Tuesday.

With the Giants well out of it, they certainly won't be trading away any prospects this summer, but instead, they may try and re-stock their farm system with some other teams bring young players as they enter the trade season as firm sellers. The Giants are in rebuild mode right now and with the deadline approaching quickly (only a week out), we're entering crunch time. We talked here before about some of the targets on the Giants roster that other teams may have interest in and, indeed, most of the guys you'd imagine as being targets for other teams are indeed that. At the top of seemingly everyone's list though is someone who the Giants may have the most difficult decision on, and that's Jeff Samardzija. With MadBum missing most of the year so far and just now returning, Samardzija has easily been the Giants best, most consistent starter during the 2017 season. His record certainly doesn't reflect that but his low WHIP, high strikeout rate and low walk rate have contenders believing he could be a legit 2 or 3 on a team that will give him some run support and actually close down his wins.

The conundrum the Giants are in with Samardzija is whether or not they think they'll be competing in the next year or two. If they think this is going to be a 2+ year rebuild then they should definitely be open to dealing "Shark". His contract isn't outrageous and he's locked up for 3 more years after this one so that makes him more than just a rental and increases his appeal to potential suitors. Because he's not just a 2-month rental and isn't making crazy money in this climate, the Giants should be able to obtain a nice little haul in return should they so choose to deal him. I'm sure they're taking calls with that in mind and if they get offered what they're looking for, then Samardzija could be on his way out.

The other two Giants that seem most likely to be dealt are infielder Eduardo Nunez and set-up man Hunter Strickland. Relief pitching is at a premium this summer, so I would be surprised if the Giants can't find a nice little package for Strick. I mean, David Phelps, who is nowhere near the caliber reliever Strick is, just brought in a haul for the Marlins on his own. For a slightly above average mid-relief guy the Marlins received two prospects within the Mariners top-10, including their #2 in 19 year-old outfielder Brayan Hernandez. That kind of tells you what relief pitchers can get in this market and Strickland is one of the best late-relievers out there on the market. He should yield a nice little return should the Giants choose to part ways. Even George Kontos and Corey Gearin may get some inquiries but neither of those guys are going to bring in anything to write home about. But it seems that just about every arm in that Giants' pen could be had.

Now, again, the issue with dealing a Samardzija, Strickland or possibly even Matt Moore is that it would signify the Giants entering a long-term rebuilding stage. I mean, I know this team is within distance of losing 100 game this year, but they're 1 season out of the playoffs and 3 seasons removed from a championship, so I just can't see them going with complete rebuild from scratch. Factor in that you have Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Mark Melancon and Brandon Belt all under contract for multiple years to come and those guys are all just entering their prime for the most part. You'd hate to put your core through a rebuilding process during their peak years.

So, all this being said, my prediction is the Giant stay pretty quiet during the deadline. They just pulled the trigger on Eduardo Nunez, although I feel they could have gotten much better (more on that later), and it wouldn't break my heart to see Gearin or George Kontos go, but I really hope 'Strick sticks around. He's the best reliever the team has and by a longshot (although we haven't see Melancon healthy yet). If they let Strick and Shark go then it all but guarantees their direction of heading towards another 2-3 years of losing baseball, at least, and coming off 3 tittles in 7 seasons, I'm just not ready for that.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The return of Pablo

Well Giants fans, it's time to pull those Panda hats out of storage and dust them off, because the former fan favorite and club cornerstone is returning to the organization.

In a season where the Giants may very well lose 100 games after entering the year with legit playoff aspirations, you can bet that with the trade deadline just about a week out that changes should be on the horizon. On Saturday, the Giants made a move, but instead of dealing away one of their veterans, as many expect them to do, they brought back one of their former ones, finalizing a one-year deal with Pablo Sandoval on Saturday.

It's been a strange year for the San Francisco Giants, to say the least. They've fallen so far out of contention so early on in the season that it's now leaving them with months to experiment and try different things out for next year and beyond. Over the last few days, the bay area has been buzzing about the possible return of a former Giants' staple, Pablo Sandoval, who flamed out in Boston and was released by the Red Sox earlier in the week. With that being said, one may wonder how in the heck bringing back Pablo Sandoval fits any of that "rebuilding" philosophy, and that's a justified concern. However, if you take a look up and down this roster and see who the Giants are currently trotting out there on a daily basis, there aren't a whole bunch of prospects with potential big league futures being trotted out there, simply because most of them are banged up. Ideally, the Giants would like to give Ryder Jones and Christian Arroyo third base to fight over for these last 10+ weeks of the season, but neither players is healthy. In those guys' absence, and Eduardo Nunez being moved around the diamond, Connor Gillaspie has sort of taken over third for the time being and he certainly isn't a guy who the Giants are looking at long term there.

That doesn't mean that the Giants are banking on Pablo regaining his San Francisco magic and working his way back to big league club by August and solidifying his spot in the lineup again, but stranger things have happened, and in a lost season, why in the hell not roll the dice on a guy who's still just 30 years old and wanted to come back here? There has been a lot said about some of the harsh things Pablo had to say about some of his fellow teammates after he left the Giants for the Red Sox, but he didn't disrespect anybody and if Pablo comes back and hits .300 with power (I know, a huge, unlikely if), those hard feelings should disappear pretty quickly.

All in all, I don't expect anything to materialize from this deal. I think Pablo will eventually return to the big league club, whether in August or September, and be given a few shots to see if he sticks and could be in the plans for 2018, but I think Pablo's best days are long behind him. It's a good, fun story in a season that's been void of positives, so all will be watching, but I definitely would not bet for him to be part of the Giants future plans. But, again, numbers cannot be denied and if he earns himself another shot and cashes in, he very well could factor back into the teams outline for the future, especially if Arroyo and Jones cannot get on the field to make their case down the stretch. Sandoval won't be blocking any younger player from getting major league playing time (because there all hurt right now) and worst case scenario is he flames out and moves on by the end of year. And again, who knows, maybe they catch lightening in a bottle and Pablo's career rebounds after a return home?

I just see the "potential" positive outweighing the negatives with this signing and would like to see Pablo back on the roster sooner than later. Eduardo Nunez is likely going to be dealt in the next few days (hopefully) and that will open yet another spot on the Giants roster in which Pablo could be ticketed for. However, once Jones and/or Arroyo are ready to roll, Pablo's gotta take a back seat. The only way this works is if he's not taking at-bats away from younger, potential future players.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Time for Giants to shift gears

After getting swept by the Royals, the lowly Atlanta Braves and now losing the first two games to the Mets (in their own yard), the Giants are on an 0-7 run and now find themselves over 20 games below .500 as the mid-way point quickly approaches.

I think it's quite clear at this point that, even with a miracle of a second half turnaround, Madison Bumgarner coming back and Hunter Pence getting healthy, this team's playoff aspirations have long past and we're not even to July yet. I know, what a sad fall from a team that's been a perennial contender for the last 7 years and who brought home 3 championships during that span. However, at this point, the team has to start looking at 2018 and beyond, because whether we like to believe it or not, this isn't going to be an easy fix by any means. The second half is going to be a huge showcase for two Giants' veterans that likely don't have a trade market and the team will be returning to starting positions again in 2018 and those two guys are Denard Span and Hunter Pence. Both have vastly underachieved this season and neither stood out in '16 either as both seem to spend as much time on the field than off. Since they aren't going anywhere until after next season, the Giants have to find a way to ensure these guys stay healthy entering next season. Whether that's start cutting down on both players playing time, something I've seen Boch do with Pence a lot more this season (I'm sure his hamstring has a lot to do with that though).

As for the pitchers, the only guys outside of MadBum you plan on having around next season are Matt Moore and Jeff Samrdzija, the ladder of which has been considered by many the Giants best pitcher in MadBum's absence, despite is abysmal W/L record. In the bullpen, it's Mark Melancon and Hunter Strickland guaranteed to return. Cody Gearin is finally putting together a nice season, and could be a potential long-relief candidate next year and Josh Osich seems to get opportunity after opportunity so he may be in the mix too. Possibly Derrick Law if he gets his stuff together in AAA and returns back in his '16 form. But outside of Law, Melancon and George Kontos, I don't see anyone really guaranteed a spot in the Giants '18 bullpen as that's an are they failed to fully address over the winter and they better make sure not to repeat the mistake.

So, there you have the key players who we know will likely be around for next year, aside from the group listed above though, the Giants should start shopping every single player they can get a return for. I'd even add Span into that mix. I still am holding out hope that Pence will get healthy and come back big in second half and go strong into his contract year next season. He's the type I'd hardly expect to retire after next season and will work his tail off to make it as good a season as possible so I definitely don't wanna write him off just yet. As far as Johnny Cueto, Eduardo Nunez, Aaron Hill, Matt Cain (though highly doubt anyone would bite on him), even Law, Kontos and Moore, I would be seeing what you could possibly get in return for these guys. I mean, I know guys like Hill, Cain and Kontos wouldn't garner any notable package, the Giants have no need for them at this point. Nunez, Cueto and if they decieded to let him go, Matt Moore, would be the big fish in the Giants' trade pool. More so, your looking at teams that would look to land Nunez, and certainly Cueto.

Both make since for a lot of reason for a contending team. Both's deals are done after the season (well, Cueto has an opt-out that Jon Heyman now expects he'll exercise), and both can be impact type players for a team needing a shot in the arm. Nunez has shown the ability to be a prolific base stealing artist who also hits for decent pop and a nice average. Not  to mention, the guy can play all over the infield, as well as left field, and I'd imagine right field, in a pinch. He's the definition of a super utility guy, but can give a contender in a need a starting caliber player at all the aforementioned positions, including being a plus offensive shortstop and second basemen. Cueto, while not having his best half thus far, is coming off an ace-like season and would have all the incentive in the world to finish strong with a contender and he's someone who could net the Giants an opposing team's top prospect so I'd definitely keep an eye on that and keep rooting for Cueto just a little extra right now cause each time he throws well, his stock rises.

Also, by dealing some of these guys, it would give them an opportunity to move to give some of the young players who are beating down the door in AAA a chance to get some real big league time rather than just the last few weeks of the season. It would allow them to bring up Christian Arroyo and/or Ryder Jones to see if one of those two are ready to take over third base in '18 or if the Giants are going to have to go shopping. We've started to see Austin Slater really shine after being given the key's to left field and both Jones and, as we've seen at times, Arroyo have the type of talent to follow in his footsteps and possibly be even better. Then on the pitching half, Kyle Crick is another intriguing kid I'd like to see take the ball every fifth day in what is becoming an experimental season. While Tyler Beede hasn't had the season the Giants were hoping for in Sacramento thus far, I wouldn't mind seeing him being given more than a handful of starts before this season is over to see how far off he is from becoming a contributing factor on the Giants' staff.

Not only would getting rid of some of the players who don't fit into the Giants' long-term plans and save some money at the same time, more importantly, it would give the Giants younger players a prolonged tryout to show whether or not they have a spot with this team in the near future and, as I mentioned, the Giants have a few different players in their system that fit that category.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Thursday, June 01, 2017

SF in unfamiliar spot, but not surprisingly

We've officially hit June, which means that the "it's still early" talk and optimism that most Giants fans and players are still holding out for this 2017 season, are waning, and doing so quickly.

In fact, there have been recent articles in bay area newspapers, as well as plenty of banter on the "sports talk" airways both in the Bay Area and throughout the league have begun discussing what the Giants plan of attack will be as we inch closer to July and the trade deadline at the end of that month. It's the first time since 2009 that the Giants are approaching mid-season with the thought of being "sellers" looking more and more likely. Now, nobody has come out and said this of course, and we're still just 1/3 of the way through the season but with the way the rest of the teams in the NL West are playing (minus the Padres), and the Giants already sitting 12 games back of the next closest team in their division, saying they have an uphill journey ahead is an understatement. As a matter of fact, as epic as their collapse was in the second half of 2016, they're going to need a second half streak and some other teams to really go into slides themselves. So, as the calendar has officially flipped to June, the Giants certainly are far from technically being out of it, but if they're still sitting in the cellar of the division and 10+ games out of any potential playoff spot then one would only draw the conclusion that this could be the year the Giants finally do some selling of their own at or before the trade deadline.

Now, of course I hope on wrong, the team goes on a 10-game win streak this month and gets right back into the mix, but with the AAA-level lineups they've been trotting out there lately, that appears like wishful thinking at this point. This holds especially true in the outfield where we here at the Giants Baseball Blog pleaded for Evans to solidify the outfield by getting a legit left fielder in the offseason but of course that didn't happen so I think we could all see this coming, I know I could, I just hoped for full health. I mean, the Tuesday night outfield of Orlando Calixte, Gorkys Hernandez and Justin Ruggiano was about as imposing as having three semi-skilled hitting pitchers (offensively) as your starting outfield. The team's outfield combined WAR is the worst in baseball, and again, this should be no surprise. The Giants outfield depth was thin last year, this winter and into spring, to say the least. They had no proven left fielder, and they had two guys coming off injury-ridden years on two 30-something outfielders who seems to really have hit a wall, health wise, the last couple of seasons.

I guess they expected one of Chris Marrero, Mac Williamson or Jarrett Parker to really step up and take the reigns but I never liked that plan. There was nothing in their past that showed they were ready to be handed important big league roles. Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Joey Panik and Brandon Crawford all forced their way onto the roster and into regular jobs. Mac and Parker (who's now on the 60-day DL), while showing signs at times of being capable, have not come close to proving they're ready to handle playing everyday and were chosen not because the Giants had the utmost confidence in one taking the reigns, but because they had no other options and were hoping one of these guys would become the Adam Duvall who they gave up on and who's now become an all-star and a legit 30+ HR/year guy in Cinci. Even still, to this day, I don't know why the Giants didn't go get a decent plan B for left field. Rajai Davis would have been a perfect fit. Coming off postseason experience, well versed at all 3 OF positions and coming off nice year with the bat. But no, Giants were content with what they had and it's biting them now. 

You don't wind up 15-20 games below .500 at this point in the year because of one faulty aspect of your team though. Although plenty of the blame can be placed on the outfield's lack of both offense and defensive consistency throughout the first couple months of the season, they are part of the problem haunting the 2017 Giants. The starting pitching has been sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, having their ups and downs early on but they've now hit a funk where they just aren't getting the job done either. As crazy as this sounds, especially with all the problems last year, the bullpen may be the one area on the team that's closest to being competitive but they've had their hiccups too, especially Mark Melancon. So because there is no one area to blame, which is why it seems so tough to go out and make and addition or two because, say they added a Matt Kemp and some solid left-handed, proven set-up man came aboard, I still don't think this team would be a playoff team. Now if they got back to .500 and made some additions like that then yeah, maybe, but they still have what seems like miles to climb up hill and although the season is long, each passing day starts to matter more and more as it goes on.

Extras: I wanted to discuss more about who the Giants may make available via trade if they do so decide to become sellers but ran out of time as it's been fun really breaking down areas of this team and just how badly they went wrong as well as the little amounts of bad luck that have been sprinkled in throughout... Anyway, we'll try and be back tomorrow maybe after the game to discuss some of those bubble players, although there aren't a ton of guys the Giants have that would be highly appealing to other teams. At least not many they'd part with.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Giants look bad, but is there hope?

Last week, the Giants took two out of three from the LA Dodgers and looked like they were primed to start shaking off the rust that caused them to fall 9-10 games below .500 in the matter of a month. However, they hit the road, leaving California and head to the mid-west where they endured one of the toughest to watch 4-game series' I've seen in recent memory.

They looked solid in LA, taking 2 of 3 from the Dodgers and the starting pitching was on point. The bright spot, in my opinion, was Jeff Samardzija's brilliant outing, his best since he's dawned a Giants uniform here early on in year number two of his five-year deal (unfortunately he got rocked in his follow up outing). What was disturbing though about that Dodgers series is that the Dodgers outscored them 17-13 in the three game (despite the Giants winning two of three). The reason I mention that is because it carried over into what I think was the worst series so far on the young '17 season for the Giants in Cincinnati. After regaining some momentum heading into the series, the Giants were absolutely hammered by Cinci at Great American Ballpark. Matt Cain got raked in game one, Ty Blach essentially mirrored Cain's abysmal outing in game two, then Johnny Cueto gave the team a chance with a solid 7 inning, 2 ER, 10 K performance on getaway day but of course the Giants didn't even supply a single run of support for the magnificent outing by Cueto.

It's a tad disturbing when your team rolls into one of the most offensively live ballparks in all of baseball and gets outscored to the tune of 31-5 in a three game set. Now I know that Denard Span and Brandon Crawford, two of the teams most important bats, where still on the shelf for this series, but the lack of run scoring seems to be getting even worse. I mean, they got shut out by Scott Feldman, a 35 year-old righty who's, at best, a 5-starter at this point of his career.

Things didn't get much better in New York either as the Giants lost 2 of 3 in this set. However, they played a little bit better baseball and each of these games were actual ballgames whereas the contests in Cinci were just laughable really. They lost two games by a run and each of those games could have gone in the Giants favor with a lucky break here or there but New York got all the home field advantage and had the luck on their side as well.

So, now we find ourselves in a sort of "early season panic mode" as a Giants fans. As I type this the Giants and Reds are in extra innings in game two of their set at AT&T Park (^15th to be exact). Of course, the Giants could not complete their comeback at the end of game one, continuing their bad luck against the Reds in 2017, but they have a chance to comeback in tonight's ballgame, then take the next two to take the series . They're in the midst of perhaps one of the tougher part of their schedules right now dealing with the highly improved Reds, then hosting the Dodgers before heading to the mid-west to play the Cardinals and Cubbies then returning home to play the best team in the league, Washington Nationals. They do have a three-game set with Atlanta sprinkled in there somewhere but I think this is going to be the stretch that determines what the Giants' strategy in terms of mid-season trading.

This stretch of games will take them into June and that's about the time when you have a pretty good grip on your squad's weaknesses and needs, and most importantly, are there enough attainable upgrades out there that can legitimately help this team. If they go through that stretch and find themselves in the same situations they currently are in, over 10 games below .500, then it could be the first time since before 2010 that the Giants won't be looking for deals to upgrade in July. I'm still holding out hope that they won't let things get too far out of hand. The scary part about this team though and the thing that makes me worry about their chances to rebound from this abysmal stretch of play to start the year is the fact that they just can't seem to string together any wins. I'm not pulling up the schedule or researching this part, but I know it's been a minute since the Giants put together any sort of winning streak, even a measly little 2-game winning streak. The fact that they're struggling to do that makes me wonder how the heck they'll string together enough victories to make it back to .500. That's the good thing about baseball. It's a long season, the Giants will string together more than one win again at some point and we're hardly a 1/5th of the way through the season.

As far as Friday night's game, that just entered the 14th. I was hoping to hang around long enough to post a little about the finish to this one. The Reds have two runners on and nobody out and things aren't looking too great now so I'm gonna end it here. If they do pull it out in the next few innings I may check back for quick thoughts at the end of this post, otherwise we'll be back tomorrow with more Giants talk and maybe a look down at the minor leagues check on the intriguing players who are next up on the Giants call-up list should the seasons really get away from them or some injuries keep hurting this club to the point where they're going to need some in-house help. It doesn't look like they'll be making any deals anytime soon, and it's getting pretty boring repeatedly saying how the Giants aren't getting the big hit, aren't pitching consistently or even fielding consistently and their mishaps all seem to be biting them in the rear-end during this down period.

So, at this point, all Bochy, Evans and Giants fans across the universe have got to cross their fingers and hope the return of BCraw and Denard Span will give the offense a huge shot in the arm they need. Craw is steady and I don't think anyone is worrying about him (aside from him staying on the field). Span, however, is a wild card for the Giants. He hadn't done a whole lot so far this year battling injury, but showed up in a big way in his first game back, with a 4-hit night including a big fly. We've yet to see Span really healthy and 100% since he came over to the Giants but they're hoping he's getting there. I can certainly see the difference in the guys swing (he's getting his lower body into it, creating more power than he was showing) and the way the balls are coming off his bat. For a while there it was weak ground balls to second or first with the occasional pop-outs or strike outs. Span, as the leadoff hitter and with his track record, still obviously has the talent, the question with him remains his health, whether it's his hip (hampered him last season) or shoulder (slowed him in '17 so far), the Giants are a different team when he's out there and playing at close to 100%.

Because this team doesn't homer regularly so they have to manufacture runs, and that's Spans ballgame. I'm telling you, a 100% Span in the leadoff spot is a different animal, with extra-base pop, plenty of speed, great defense, .300 BA and his clutch abilities are needed. In his absence, the Giants have used anyone from Gorkys Hernandez, Joey Panik, Hunter Pence and Eduardo Nunez in the leadoff spot and none are even close to your prototypical leadoff guys. Panik is probably the best suited of that bunch but doesn't have the top of the order speed you really look for. The top of the order sets the tone for the game and the rest of the batting order, so if the Giants can get that on track it should do plenty in terms of helping them get some runs early and consistently.

Posey Walk-off Jack Friday night!
Just as I was about to hit post and call it a night, Buster Posey ends it off with a night-cap, walkoff home run to finally end the Giants horrendous losing streak vs. the Reds. The Giants had lost their previous 4 games to the Reds early on here, so Friday's win has to feel pretty good. Well, folks, that was a much needed victory, and Buster Posey, the teams cornerstone, made it happen with a huge walkoff in the bottom of the 17th inning to send Giants' fans home happy Friday night. I originally started this post anticipating being able to talk much more about today's game but it kept going on and I didn't think I'd be able to do so tonight. Anyhow, I won't write too much more, just that my oh my was it refreshing to finally see a victory and the offense come up with that elusive clutch hit.... And of course let's not forget Cueto and the bullpen. Cueto went 8 strong allowing 2 runs and struck out 6 then the bullpen didn't allow a run for nearly 10 innings and that's the was the most impressive part of this win, in my opinion. The pen certainly got it done in all aspects tonight!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Should SF be agressive or wait things out?

Needless to say, the San Francisco Giants have gotten off to a pretty bad start. Especially coming off a year where they were a few breaks away from making another NLCS appearance then who knows what would have happened.

However, they failed to make it out of that divisional round because of multiple reasons, the most important being that bullpen, but we all know that story and I'm not here to re-hash the same old stuff. My question for Bobby Evans, Brian Sabean and Co. at this point would be are you guys seriously planning on turning this ship around or you more in a "hey we made the playoffs last year, the fans won't go too crazy if we miss it this time around". Of which, I'm sure they're more on the side of the former, and if that's the case, this team is going to have to act sooner than later. They may not be able to wait until mid-summer to pull the trigger on an upgrade(s) to this roster. I'd say give this unit maybe until mid-May and if this still haven't climbed back up around .500 then I don't really see things getting much better.

The rotation has been on point, as the only guy in the rotation who isn't pulling his weight, and sure a lot of it has to do with "bad luck" is Jeff Samrdziaja. "The Shark" sports an 0-4 record and a 6.32 ERA but he's also struck out 32 in 31 IP so the stuff is there and hopefully the results start showing up in May. Everyone else has been pretty nails, although Matty Moore's outing Tuesday night in LA was his worst as a Giant (I believe). They're even getting strong starts out of Matt Cain and Ty Blach, in replacement of Madison Bumgarner until at least mid-season, has thrown well himself a couple of gems his first two starts of the season. The thing is, the movement from Blach from the Giants bullpen into the rotation has prompted Stephen Okert into the primary left-handed reliever out of the pen. Okert has the stuff and has had a little bit of success in his brief amount of big league time, and although he's thrown a lot better than his 5.14 ERA shows, he does have a 0.857 WHIP. He also doesn't give up the long ball or walk guys (two great traits for RP's).

Speaking of that bullpen, as a hole they seem to slowly be getting things together. They still have those games where if one gets roped then it's typically gonna cause a domino effect. I still would consider the bullpen a work in progress, but at least roles seem to be getting a little more defined. The one dagger the other afternoon was Mark Melancon blowing that 2-0 lead in Blach's start, which ended up costing the Giants the game, series, Blach a W and Melancon his 2nd BS in 7 opportunities. Now I'm hardly worried about the new closer, but it's just an example of what's happening that's causing the team to consistently be 5-8 games below .500.

So why is the team 8 game below .500 at the time of this post? Well, the defense has left a lot to be desired, no doubt on that, as they've cost the team a handful of games. The main reason why the Giants enter play on Wednesday night with a troubling 10-18 record, as we all know,  is largely in-part to the lack of offense this team is getting and the inability to put runs on the board. I know, surprise, surprise. right? Now Boch has tried just about everything. They've called up guys left and right, they've completely overhauled the batting and aside from Denard Span's shoulder, the starting lineup is pretty darn healthy. Unfortunately there is no clear timetable for Span's return after he sprained his right shoulder slamming into the wall in Colorado April 22nd. He was expected to be ready to rock when first eligible to come off the 10-day DL, but suffered a set-back last Thursday. So while Bochy is hoping he could be ready to go in the next week or so, it's Span we're talking about so even if he does return in a week, who knows how long it will be before he strains his hammy next or has the recurring hip problem pop back up?

With all this going on, the major question I want the answer to is if: A. They're going to keep trotting out this unit for another month or so and go from there: or B: They're actively searching right now for possible help in the outfield already and will upgrade before they fall to far out of things. If the answer is the ladder like most of us are hoping, the name that keeps coming to mind because he is one my fantasy team but I'm not quite sure how I feel about him is Andrew McCutchen. He's still  right in the middle of his prime at 30 and I highly doubt he's going to turn in another sub-par season like he did in '16, if you wanna call it that. By his standards then yes, but still, he slashed .256/24/79/.766 last season. He isn't hitting for his usual high average to start the year, but the power is there as he's amassed 4 jacks with 13, both would lead the Giants.

The especially intriguing things about McCutchen is he's a free agent after the season, so he should hit the block as long as the Pirates don't surprise everyone and go 30-12 over the next 6 weeks. Ryan Braun is a lot another name we've talked about here before, but I still think McCutchen would be the guy to get. They  wouldn't need to be tied to him long-term (maybe he loves SF like Pence did and signs a team-friendly deal), and he's a gold glove center fielder which would be a welcome sight in the Giants' circus of an outfield this season (aside from Pence). Braun is in his age 33 season and although he's still producing like a $20M player, he's under contract through 2020 and who knows if he'll be producing like this in 3 years? My guess is yes, Braun will continue to hit, as long as he stays healthy, and the end of that deal will take him through his age-36 season which isn't too bad at all. There are plenty players still thriving on the back half of 35 these days and Braun is one of the most talented players of the last decade.

The one thing we didn't mention, but obviously we all know, is that these guys would cost a massive return in prospects. We're talking probably Beede, Arroyo and maybe even Ty Blach. The Giants seem to have been spot on on picking who to trade and who not to trade in recent seasons so lets hope they keep that trend going this year as well.

There are going to be trade options, more than the ones I just named, much more, I just find McCutchen and Braun the two most intriguing (bug again, also likely the most costly). One reason why they'd both be attractive options for the Giants is because play outfield and both are above average defensive outfielders (in McCutchen's case he's got a couple gold gloves in center). Secondly both are right-handed hitters of which power plays a big role in their effectiveness. Both are 25 HR a year guys, and because they're right-handed, a move to AT&T wouldn't drastically diminish their numbers. Heck, McCutchen hasn't been hitting in a hitters paradise by any stretch playing half his games at PNC Park, the AT&T Park of the NL Central. Finally, both these players are true, tested middle of the order guys and could slot right in there ahead of or behind Buster Posey and alleviate a lot of pressure off of Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford. Also maybe not make Chris Arroyo feel like he has to be "the guy" to sort of turn this ship around.

Decisions aplenty await the Giants, and it really shouldn't come to many people's surprise. I didn't expect them to be this bad and still trying to find their sea legs in May still, but I also didn't expect them to be more than a .500 team or slightly above until they figured out LF and their bullpen roles. I'm also sick of hearing about how it's early. Yes, of course 20 games into a 162 game season is just a fraction, but the worrying thing, in my opinion, is that they don't seem to be showing signs of improvement. Boch's massive lineup overhaul and their numerous call-ups and send downs they've done over the last two weeks have been sort of hit and miss, but I'm willing to give this group another 3-4 weeks to get things turned around. Once June approaches and they're still losing games on the regular by scores like 4-1, 3-2 and so on, then somethings gotta be done, or they'll essentially be waiving the white flag on the season.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Is Christian Arroyo Buster Posey 2.0?

The Giants brought up top prospect Christian Arroyo this week, as they needed a spark in their lineup, and so far the kid has looked mighty impressive. In fact, after seeing his output Wednesday night vs. the Dodgers, not only him as a player, but the situation he's being brought into really reminds me of the situation Buster Posey was thrust into back in 2010.

Let's just look at it for a second here. The Giants had some talent on their 2010 roster, especially that strong rotation with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum in their primes while Jonathan Sanchez (remember him?) had himself a career year and it was Ryan Vogelsong's reclamation year. However, they ran into early offensive problems and their answer wasn't to go out and swing a deal to bring in a hitter, but rather thrust one of their own highly touted prospects into the fire and see how things went. That prospect was a 23 year-old Buster Posey and all the Giants have done since making that decision including winning 3 tittles in 7 years and become one of the better teams and top MLB dynasty's of the new millennium (all thanks in large part to Buster).

Fast forward 7 years later, and the Giants find themselves in somewhat similar circumstances. Expectations are higher than ever, they have a lot of money tied up into this roster but things just haven't come together or even shown signs of coming together for most of April. So what do the Bruce Bochy, Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean do? They made that similar call-up to the one that turned their season around 7 years ago and ultimately led them to a ring, this time bringing up top prospect Christian Arroyo, who was tearing the cover off the ball in AAA Sacramento and certainly appeared ready. Couple that with the fact the Giants have gotten zero production from left field and have the option of moving Eduardo Nunez out there to open up third base for the 21 year-old phenom. Nunez is well versed enough to take on left field regularly and be more than serviceable out there. He's got great speed and good instincts but sometimes takes risks that can come back and bite him. Still, he's good enough in left to warrant playing him there most nights to allow Arroyo into the linuep. The kid just has "it:" and I think he's going to be the real deal. Maybe not quite a perennial all-star like Posey, but definitely as good as Belt and Crawford, if not better.

So, how will that leave the rest of the Giants lineup moving forward (especially when Span gets back next week like expected and another roster move will be preceding that) you ask? Well, I certainly have my ideas and guys I would like to see stick around. First off, Drew Stubbs should absolutely stick on this team over Gorkys Hernandez, at least in my opinion. Stubbs has had multiple successful seasons at the big league level and has gained a certain baseball IQ in the process. Gorkys hasn't spent near the time Stubbs has in the bigs and has never made much of an impact. Hernandez is younger though and may have a step on Stubbs right now, but Stubbs is a former 40-SB guy and stole 20 as recent as 2014, the last year he received over 400 plate appearances. Not to mention Stubbs is a more than capable center fielder and I know Gorkys has a reputation for being a defensive stud, I've see him both multiple balls already this year which have resulted in runs. Now, in no way and I saying Drew Stubbs is the next coming and is going to be a starting outfielder for the Giants moving forward, hit 20 jacks and steal 20 bases. He does, however, have experience that Hernandez doesn't have and can do pretty much everything Gorkys can do, better in many cases.

All in all, I'm very excited to see the Giants being proactive in their attempt to turn things around sooner rather than later. Why wait until June when your seeing the same things hurt your team over and over in April? Aside from their bringing up of Arroyo and Stubbs, the Giants activated Michael Morse from the DL Wednesday afternoon and all he did was go out as a pinch hitter and tie the game in the 8th with a huge home run. Morse is a guy I'm sure Boch would love to take over left field on a daily basis but I just don't think his health is there at this point and may not be again this season. He can still swing a bat, as evident by his shot on Wednesday, but I don't think the guy can move around enough to cover the spacious left field dimensions at AT&T Park. And I highly doubt the Giants would move Brandon Belt out from first to left on a daily basis, though its definitely a move we could see happen on occasion as we see Bochy throw some random lineups out there sometimes in effort to wake up the bats. I think everyone is happy to see Morse back in the Giants dugout though, from the players who won with him in '14 to the fans that grew accustomed to his clutch ways in that memorable season!

Extras: Denard Span and Bruce Bochy both expressed optimism regarding the center fielder's banged up shoulder that he roughed up running into the wall in Colorado. Span is eligible to come off the 10-day DL on May 2nd and that is the plan barring any set-backs. Although Pence has filled into the leadoff spot minus Span, I expect to see him reclaim that spot, at least to start with. Span was hitting .200 before the injury and if that doesn't pick up ASAP, he's going to find himself down in the 8th spot or even on the bench... Unfortunately the guy I was really stoked for after the signing, Melvin Upton, hurt his thumb in one of his first games with AAA Sacramento and required surgery which may keep him out the rest of year. Needless to say, Upton is an option no longer for the Giants.

We'll talk more about Madison Bumgarner and Denard Span updates, as well as take a look down on the farm and check out who could be the next wave of players to arrive in San Francisco. The Giants and Dodgers also finish up their series Thursday, a game in which I'll be in attendance for so look for some thoughts on that game as well... Plenty on deck here at The Giants Baseball Blog the next couple of days, so stay tuned, and most importantly, hopefully the Giants can start stringing together some victories!
The Giants Baseball Blog