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Friday, June 19, 2015

Time to shake up lineup?

Prior to Thursday night's nice little offensive output of 7 runs in Seattle, clutch hits and runs were about as tough to come by as they've been at any point this season. My suggestion, and frankly something I'm surprised Bochy hasn't tried to do more of is mix up the lineup a bit.

One of the big moves I have been pondering over in my mind is possibly swapping Matt Duffy and Angel Pagan in the batting order, at least while Hunter Pence is out. Matty D seems to be putting it together right now and is one of the Giants' better clutch hitters with runners on base and in scoring position. Mix that in with his respectable .293 average and .789 OPS to go along with 6 HR and 31 RBI and you'll see why I like the kid as a 3-hole option in Pence's stead. Not to mention he didn't start playing regularly until roughly a month into the season, and it makes the 24 year-old's numbers pop out even more, especially those RBI. Pagan has had a pretty decent year at the plate up until the last couple of weeks as he's taken a bit of a fall (slashing just .167/.227/.183 in June). He's hit for no power whatsoever, so unless he's at or above .280 and his OBP is at least .330, then he's really not much of an offensive threat. I understood starting the year with him in that spot as the Giants had limited options and Pagan had shown the ability to hit for at least a little pop in prior years. This year, it hasn't been there, at least not yet, and his pedestrian .266 average with a dreadful .303 on base average and weak .330 slugging percentage and whopping 16 RBI's must be moved from that three-spot, and quick.

I mean, I don't wanna turn this into a Pagan bashing, because I still like the player a lot and I know he's just in a slump and is going to get hot again at some point. He's another guy that's gotten clutch hits in big situations so he's earned some leeway, but there's no reason to be hitting him third right now with Matt Duffy just raking to all fields with pop. A lineup (sans Pence of course) of Aoki-Panik-Duffy-Posey-Belt-Crawford-Pagan-Maxwell (swap Pagan and Maxwell vs lefties) would look a lot better, in my opinion at least.

Anyway, that's really been heavy on my mind the last couple of days and I just haven't gotten around to writing it until now. The offense has been the the team's main concern of late and with Hunter Pence sidelined again, and this time for something that may nag him and effect his swing significantly the rest of the way when he eventually does return. I mean, unless he tears something and absolutely cannot go, I have a hard time seeing Hunter go under the knife with baseball still to be played, especially if given an option to play through. However, the fact that the Giants and Pence are being so hush hush about this as well as the fact that he was due back today (June 18th) and he still hasn't made enough progress to be given a firm timetable makes me wonder. They did say he'll be shut down another two weeks but who knows what will happen at that point. Tendons can be tricky, especially ones in the forearm for a guy with a violent hack like Pence's. Also, there has been a lot of talk on Marty Laurie's KNBR show, with credible guests such as Hank Schulman, that would suggest the Giants may be heavy in the market for outfield help.

Their pitching staff has seemed to right itself a bit, and they're getting nothing but positive feedback from Cain and his rehab assignment thus far. You can never use too much pitching, and I'm sure Sabes and Bobby Evans will be monitoring that market too, but with Pence's nagging injuries, along with Pagan's history of running into injury himself as the season wears down, the outfield would certainly make sense as a main area for upgrade. Plus we're starting to hit the part of the year where losing teams are going to start entering selling mode. I'd be all for an upgrade at the utility infield spot over Joaquin Arias if they could find one but that's not a priority. So, as far as outfield targets, I'm not sure who's going to be out there and available. I do like Cameron Maybin from Atlanta, or a couple of guys they just faced with Seattle in Seth Smith and Mark Trumbo. The ladder, Trumbo, is really intriguing actually, because if the Mariners continue to tank, they;re likely going to re-deal him before the deadline and he's just the type of Pat Burrell-esque type of bat they could use, only Trumbo is heaps and bounds better than Burrell, younger and more versatile. He could step into right field and take over for Justin Maxwell while Pence eases back and would allow Boch the ability to actually give guys like Pence, Belt and Aoki nights off and still having a solidified offense.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Monday, June 08, 2015

Giants select RHP Phil Bickford at 18

Well, as the Giants pick at 18 in the MLB's annual June Amateur Draft approached, one huge name stayed available that I was hoping would end up falling to the Giants, but alas, Brady Aiken was taken one selection before the Giants pick at 18. Instead, the Giants went with another young arm, and one that many had going in the top-15 in Southern Nevada's right-hander, Phil Bickford.

SF takes RHP Phil Bickford 18th
I don't know a whole lot about Bickford other than what I've read and watched in recent draft coverage and player previews. Bickford has bounced between the pen and rotation in his early baseball life, but the Giants' will most likely develop him as a starter and go from there. He's not as polished as Tyler Beede (the Giants top pick a year ago), but appears to have explosive stuff and a solid frame at 6'5" and 210 pounds. He's already been a top-10 pick, by the Blue Jays in 2013, but chose not to sign and instead attend CSU Fullerton. From the sound and looks of his stuff, a mid-90's explosive fastball and a hard-biting hook, it would appear he could be destined to possibly close at some point down the line in the Majors, although the Giants may want to start him out as a starter just in case. The thing is, I don't know if he has enough plus pitches to fool big league hitters more than one-time through, so again, all signs point towards possible future closer. Once I checked in the ticker though at pick 12 and didn't see Aiken selected yet, I was starting to get giddy. I know he has some health concerns but that guy could be one of the best lefties in the game in 3-4 years if he stays right. Here's a cool video about the newest Giants' first-round pick, talking about pitching and showing some off his stuff!

Take Chris Shaw w/31st pick
With the 31st pick in the round one and the Giants 2nd pick in the round, they went from a pitcher with power stuff to a third basemen with big time power with the bat, and I liked this selection because the Giants took a chance on a guy with raw power. BC OF Chris Shaw is a guy who's got plus power and the ability to play either corner outfield spot or first base, depending on team needs (although lack of range makes him best suited for first). He's shown the ability to hit and hit for power with the wood bat already in the Cape Cod League. From the looks and sounds of things, he reminds me a lot of Brandon Belt in a way. Big time power, and the ability to get hot and hit for average, but he's still got to get a handle on the strike zone, I'll tell you one thing though, he sure does have a pretty left-handed stroke and it's easy to see why the Giants liked him. Here's a video of him taking BP then going yard in-game the very same night... Just take a look at that swing!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Duffy/Aoki outplaying Sandoval/Morse

Remember when everybody was worried about how the Giants would replace the offensive production they got from The Panda and Michael Morse when both departed as free agents over the winter? Well, a third of the way through the first year post-Sandoval, and without Morse's presence from 2014, the incumbents have outperformed their predecessors.

First off we'll take a look out in left field, where Nori Aoki took over for Michael Morse and allowed Bruce Bochy the flexibility to drop Angel Pagan (who, let's face it, isn't the world's best leadoff hitter) down in the order and it's worked out for both. Although Pagan's power has yet to show up, he's been at or above .300 for most all the season and has adapted well in his move down the order. I'd like to see a little more pop and a few more free passes but I do like the average. Also, Nori Aoki has taken the leadoff spot by the reigns and hasn't looked back. Although he's had a few small down periods, he's been pretty solid throughout, sporting a solid .314/.385/.401 slash with 12 swipes and 24 runs scored. He's been a rock at the top of the lineup and sure-handed (and footed) in left field as well, so much so that I mentioned here in our last post that the Giants seriously ought to approach him about a possible extension for 2016. It's nice when your leadoff guy has a OBP north of .350 (no offense Angel)... Oh by the way, if you were wondering how 'ol Michael Morse was doing in his new digs over in South Beach, you'll feel even better as the big 1B/OF'er is slashing a petty .211/.268/.289 with just 2 long balls and 10 RBI in 50 games. So far, major win for Aoki and the Giants in this one.

Now onto the hot corner where nobody expected that Casey McGehee, who played a season in Japan because he had very little Major League interest just two seasons ago in 2013, would be able to replace postseason hero and long-time Giants' fan favorite, Pablo Sandoval. Well, McGehee didn't, but in stepped Matt Duffy, who has indeed outperformed the former Giants' third basemen through the first 1/3 of 2015, and he's done so with 3/4 the playing time. While Pablo Sandoval carries a pedestrian .239./.306/.352 line with 5 homers and 17 RBI in 198 plate appearances (playing in a hitters haven and a top lineup mind you), young Duffy has put up a respectable rookie slasher of .277/.318/.404 coupled with 4 HR and 23 batted in less than 150 plate appearances. Not only is he outhitting Sandoval, he's driven in more runs, gotten on base at a higher clip and probably would be out-homering the Panda as well with another couple dozen at-bats. Again, I'd say advantage Matt Duffy, and by a long-shot thus far. When you throw in the fact that Pablo's raking in roughly $19 million this year while Duffy's under team control till 2020, just puts icing on the cake.

EXTRAS: Losing Streak Snapped: The Giants finally snapped that 5-game skid, as getting out East and playing in front of literally handful of Phillies fans may have allowed them to loosen up a bit. Tim Lincecum was decent, although he made a couple of mistakes and they each accounted in long balls, which accounted for 3 of the 4 runs charged to the Giants' right-hander, yet he still escapes with a 6-3 record and a decent 3.29 ERA. I'd really like to see him get that WHIP down around 1.20 rather than in the 1.3's but so long as he keeps the ERA sub-4 that's all that really matters... As far as the bats, Matt Duffy and Justin Maxwell each had big flies and multi-hit games while Buster Posey hit number 9. The Giants just recalled Casey McGehee with Duffy sliding a bit the past week, but he immediately showed he's nowhere near ready to reliquish third base to McGehee. I like having Casey up there as a bat of the bench though with the ability to play both 2nd and 1st as well as 3rd, in a pinch, but eventually he's going to have to start hitting... Also, with Hunter Pence suffering from tendinitis in his left wrist and Nori Aoki battling the flu, Gregor Blanco and Maxwell could see themselves back in there for Saturday's game and possibly even Sunday's finale, although if I were to bet, I'd assume Pence will do his best to work himself into one of those games, whether it's pinch-hitting or starting in right, I think Boch wants to give him an at-bat back in Philly.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Belt's success, Pence's return difference makers

For the first month or so of the season, the Giants had some roller coaster moments. They had a few upswings, then a few downswings with some injuries, but as we inch towards the end of May, they've really have seemed to have gotten things on track.

Duffy Makin' Pablo Loss Easier
First off all, the big news over the last week or so has been the reassignment of new third basemen Casey McGehee to Triple-A Sacramento, a role in which he didn't have to accept and could have collected his paycheck regardless. Instead he chose to continue to be a part of this organization and go work on his game over in Sacramento where he's just a 90 minute drive from AT&T Park should the Giants need him at any given moment. That move officially opened the door for Matt Duffy to become the team's full-time third basemen and the Giants couldn't have asked for better results out of their 23 year-old infielder thus far. He himself has been a big part of this team's May resurgence, as the kid has hit .343 with 2 jacks and 15 RBI since sort of taking over at third earlier this month and it's no wonder the offense has picked up since the move. Casey, while great in the clubhouse, just simply wasn't getting it done on the diamond and his rally-killing double-plays ended up really being his downfall. For a team that doesn't hit a ton of big three-run home runs, they can't give up extra outs with double plays and McGehee had become a DP machine. So, if you couldn't tell, I'm a huge supporter of the move. Give Duffy a couple of months to see if he can take this position down the stretch or figure out if they'll need to go out and get someone else. So far though, he not only looks up to the challenge, but heaps and bounds better than his predecessor.

Now, I know the insertion of Duffy into the lineup has been key, but that didn't become official until last week, and before that move the whole lineup had been starting to pick it up. Pence, coming back and coming back strong and ready to go was a huge, huge shot in the arm, and the fact that Brandon Belt may have finally figured out how to hit some home runs without changing his approach and keeping his average respectable has sort of been the difference. Posey's been healthy and in the zone and Brandon Crawford's continued growth at the plate has also helped things. Another guy I wanted to mention and a guy who I think has been overlooked quite a bit during this huge turnaround of late and that's the guy that gets it all started, leadoff man Nori Aoki. Sabean seems to strikeout consistently with multi-year deals for free agent positional guys, but it seems like all his one-year deals tend to work out OK. Aoki is the latest case as he's been one of the more effective leadoff men in baseball, slashing .326/.357/.439 with 11 swipes and 21 runs scored. Now that we're at the quarter point of the season, you can multiply that production by 4 and your looking at a 44-steal, 84-run pace for Aoki right now with that +.300 average. Needless to say, he's pretty much locked the leadoff spot down and unless he tanks for a month while Pagan skyrockets, he's staying right where he is.

Extras: With the open spot left by McGehee, the Giants decided to give right handed reliever Hunter Strickland another look-see at the big league level. So far up here, it's been a case of the "Jekyll and Hydes" for Strickland but he's hoping this time around with postseason experience under his belt, things will go differently... Larry Baer said on KNBR Wednesday that the Giants are indeed expecting Cain to produce for them this season and although there has been no official timetable, sometime in July is the the Giants' Boss' best guess. That's some good news I guess. I'm still not really counting on much out of Cainer and with the way the staff is throwing right now, and Peavy hopefully on his way back, they don't necessarily need him at the moment. So unless Cain is 110% and ready to rock like he was back in 2010-12, then OK, but if not, let the guys they have take care of things and if need be, use the resources saved this winter to go out and land a Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto. Just cause things are fine now on the pitching front doesn't mean the Giants should be settling. Lincecum could always go into a funk again at anytime, Huddy could eventually start to look his age (as he has for much of 2015 anyway) and Ryan Vogelsong is about as unpredictable as they come...

Also, as you've noticed, Bruce Bochy's A-lineup has indeed changed with Hunter Pence settling in, but not quite in the way most had expected. Angel Pagan has been moved into the 7th spot for the time being, with Hunter Pence sliding into the 3-spot, Brandon Belt 5th behind Posey, Crawford 6th and new third basemen Matt Duffy hitting 8th. Things could change but right now that seems to be a pretty solid set-up, especially with the way each guy is currently swinging, I could see Duffy and Pagan at some point swapping if Duffy continues to rake up RBI's, then if Aoki ever hits a cold streak or needs a day off, Boch can swap Pagan into the leadoff spot and Blanco/Maxwell into the 8th spot.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Return of Pence has Giants clicking

Now that Hunter Pence has made his highly anticipated return, doing so with a bang I must add; more on that later), Brian Sabean and co. can start to really plan their course of action as we move toward trade season (at least in terms of positional needs). It's taken 6 weeks of the regular season but the Giants A-Lineup has arrived and it's looked pretty darn solid!

Hunter Pence wasted no time making his presence felt in that batting order, as he went 4-8 with a whopping 5 runs scored to go along with a home run and two RBI. Talk about an explosive couple of welcome back games! Pence's return doesn't just add another premier bat to the lineup, but it also alleviates some of the pressure off some of the other bats, such as Brandon Belt, and it causes a ripple effect all throughout the lineup. Speaking of Belt, he was the only Giant to out-do Hunter Pence at the plate in the Reds' series. The big first baseman finally found that power stroke that he'd been searching for since the season begin, homering three times in the series, which happened to be just his first three home runs of the 2015 season so far. He came into Cinci with a .287/.368/.394 with no homers and just 7 RBI and he left with a .321/.392/.509 line to go with those 3 homers and now 14 RBI. Belt has that ability to get hot and hit home runs in bunches and it looks like he's right in the middle of one of those streaks and I don't think it's any coincidence that his burst over the weekend coincided with the return of the Hunter Pence.

Many wondered how the lineup would shape up when Pence returned and whether or not Angel Pagan would be ousted from the 3-hole. However, although Pagan doesn't hit for as much power as your prototypical 3-hole guy, he's been hovering right around .330 all season long and is one of the more clutch hitters on the team. Now, if Nori Aoki runs into any trouble (May hasn't been as easy on left fielder after a big April) then Pagan could find himself back atop the Giants order at some point, but I think Bochy is really hoping he can continue to solidify that spot. It stretches the Giants order out much more that way and allows for a little more pop at the bottom of the lineup.

So, with Pence now back in the mix, the lineup has rounded into shape a bit the last couple of nights, and seems to be on the upswing. There's still a little bit of concern at the hot corner with Casey Mcgehee still struggling and hitting into double plays like they're going out of style, but they still have another couple of months to figure out how they'll approach the stretch-run at that position. Every other spot on the diamond seems pretty much locked down at the moment though, so outside of a possible upgrade at third base, Brian Sabean's primary focus heading into the summer will likely be on the starting pitching market. They're still waiting on the returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, which could end up negating the need for another starting pitcher, but with Cain's health and the amount of time he's missed, I'm not sure they're expecting much from him, at least for the first half of the season. Peavy, on the other hand, just can't seem to get his back to heal up and keeps having to push back scheduled work, although the hope now is that he'll be ready for a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend and could rejoin the Giants rotation in a couple weeks.

In the meantime, Ryan Vogelsong has been throwing the ball better of late, and Tim Hudson is coming off a dominant outing vs. the Dodgers Tuesday night at AT&T. It hasn't just been the Madison Bumgarner show over the last couple weeks as the Giants have finally started to string together some solid outings and it's no coincidence it has them a season-high three games over .500 and just a couple back of LA in the West. I like the team's momentum right now as they're starting to win games much like they did in the postseason last fall. They aren't necessarily relying on the home run ball as much and seem to have more guys contributing throughout the lineup rather than just the middle and top four or five guys which seemed to be the case at the start of the season.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Pitching leading Giants back to relevancy

Well for the first couple weeks of the season, the Giants starting pitching was all over the place and it contributed greatly to their 4-10 start. However, over the last two weeks, the Giants have righted the ship in a big way.

MadBum Shuts Down SD
The orange and black are a cool 8-3 over their last 11 contests, bringing them back to .500 for the first time since the first week of the season. A big reason for that record has been the performance they've received from their starting rotation the last couple of weeks, most recently with Madison Bumgarner's gem on Monday night. The Giants ace, who was right in the center of the teams starting pitching deficiencies during his first few starts himself, took a no-no into the seventh inning vs. a tough Padres lineup, finishing the night allowing just 2 hits over 7 1/3 innings of work. MadBum improved to 3-1 and lowered his ERA to 3.03 with the effort, and the Giants pulled off their fourth straight victory. After the game, the talk was all about MadBum as his turnaround has sort of had a ripple effect on the whole starting staff. The one guy who really hasn't pulled his weight all season long has been Ryan Vogelsong, as he seems to be pitching for his career each time he takes the ball. Jake Peavy could be back in a couple of weeks, and Matt Cain, hopefully, will follow him shortly after, so it's very possible that if Vogey doesn't get on track over the next few weeks, his days in a Giants uni may be numbered.

Lincecum 2.40 ERA in April
As for the guys who have been pulling their weight, first and foremost has to be the guy who's surprised everyone a little bit I think with his strong start, and that guy is Tim Lincecum. Through his first five starts, Lincecum has looked as close to the pre-2012 version of himself than ever. He's  just 2-2, but is pacing the Giants' rotation with a 2.40 ERA and is carrying a 1.23 WHIP. He hasn't had a WHIP below 1.32 since 2011 and has a combined 1.39 WHIP over the last 3 seasons. His secret to success has been pretty simple, he's been much more economical with his pitches and seems to have a much better command of what he's doing out there. He almost looked like a rookie with that "dear caught in headlights" look a lot the last couple of seasons, but now he seems to have that swagger about him back. I don't know if it's the impending free-agency that has him in super focus mode right now, or if he's just turned some sort of corner but he really has looked like a much different pitcher in 2015 and I don't think this start has been a fluke. Now, I don't expect him to carry a 2.40 ERA throughout the summer, and he's probably gonna still have a hiccup here and there, but he really hasn't had one yet and that's just such a positive sign.

With Chris Heston throwing the ball well and Tim Hudson rounding into form after a slow start himself, the Giants rotation sure looks to be coming around and it's going to pose Bruce Bochy with some tough decisions on the horizon. Jake Peavy threw a bullpen session over the weekend and came out extremely optimistic and Matt Cain has begun to throw off flat ground with a bullpen session this week, although Cain is going to be brought along a bit more cautiously. Peavy could be ready for a rehab start, assuming all things go well with his next bullpen session and he avoids all set-backs, sometime next week and could rejoin the staff by the mid-to-late May. If Vogelsong doesn't get it together in his next two starts, then he very well could be looking at the end of his Giants' career. I don't think they'll move him  back to the bullpen if his ERA is in the 8's and 9's. He's just hurting the team much more than he's helping at the moment and has to show some sort of value this month for Boch and Sabean to deem reason to keep him on the roster.

Injury Updates: Back to Matt Cain, the Giants are expected to take it extremely slow with the big right-hander who they still owe about $64 million between now and the time his deal expires after the 2017 season (assuming they buyout the option for 2018 at a whopping $7.5M). So, with them on the hook for all that money, you can see why they'd rather take it slowly and have him miss the first few months of the season to ensure he's 100% and ready to really contribute in the second half and throughout the remainder of his contract.... Hunter Pence, who's coming along a little slower than originally hoped with the fractured wrist, is still a few weeks out himself, although he has started increasing baseball activities. The thing with Hunter is he really didn't have any spring training, and may need a rehab assignment of at least a week to ten days, if not two weeks. Needless to say, he's not going to make the 6-8 week timetable like originally hoped. At this point, I'd just like to see him in a lineup before the calendar flips to June. 
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Monday, April 27, 2015

Giants could make big statement in LA

Obviously it's been a bit of an up-and-down first few weeks of the 2015 season for the San Francisco Giants, but they were able to get back on track last week vs. the Dodgers at AT&T Park with a much needed 3-game sweep. They now get LA for another three, this time in Southern California, and their hoping for similar results as they climb their way back towards .500.

Another Big Start for 55
With the rain-out in Sunday's rubber match in Colorado, it pushed Tim Lincecum's start back a night, which I think is a big deal. Not only did Timmy avoid throwing in the light air in Denver where he's been lit up in recent seasons, but this now allows Madison Bumgarner's start to be pushed back from Monday night to Tuesday when he'll be opposed by Clayton Kershaw, a much more reasonable matchup on the Giants end than having Kershaw go up against Vogey. Still, Vogey won't get an easy matchup in the finale as he takes on Zach Greinke, but I think the Giants will take the matchups they've gotten now rather than the ones they were scheduled to have. That being said, it's another big start for number 55, as he opposes Brian Anderson, a guy the Giants were able to rough up last week at AT&T (4 IP, 9 hits, 4 ER). So, with the Giants sitting at 8-11 and the Dodgers at 11-7, another 3-game sweep could bring the Giants to within a game of the their SoCal rivals, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Hopefully Timmy carries over the good vibes from his last outing vs. these very Dodgers, when he threw 6 strong, allowing just a run and 5 hits with 5 punch-outs.

On the other side of things, although they still don't have Hunter Pence back and Casey McGehee grounding into double plays on the regular and hitting just .175, the offense has been holding their own the last few games. One guy who can take a lot of the credit for the teams offense showing some signs of life is new outfielder Justin Maxwell. We mentioned J-Max a few times during spring as a potential right-handed power bat off the bench, but so far in the early going, he's providing much more than that. He's ousted Gregor Blanco from the starting lineup and has entrenched himself into the middle of the Giants order with a .303/.400/.615 slash line through his first 40 at-bats. Now, 40 ab's is hardly a fraction of a seasons worth, but he's come up with some clutch hits and is showing no signs of slowing down. He's big and powerful and can drive the ball out of the ballpark, plus he also plays the heck out of right field. He's making so much noise in fact, that the Giants may be forced with the task of possibly platooning he and Nori Aoki a bit once Hunter Pence does return from the DL.

Maxwell Carrying Offense
Pence's return is still roughly 2 weeks away, but eventually some decisions are going to have to be made, and Justin Maxwell has been about as valuable as any other bat in the lineup thus far. Boch said Sunday in Colorado after the rain-out that Pence's return will not push Maxwell back to a full-time bench role, but opened the possibility of doing sort of a three man rotation in left and center between Maxwell, Aoki and Angel Pagan. I mean, we're three weeks into the season only but between he and Aoki, I'd say the Giants hit on their two bargain outfield free agent pick-ups this winter and together those guys aren't even making $7M. In any event, having a jam-packed outfield is hardly a problem Bochy is fretting about. It's been a while since the Giants had the kind of depth they seem to have put together this season as Maxwell has filled in for Pence with flying colors and Matt Duffy has eased some of the pain of Casey McGehee's struggles.

Extras: On a medical note, Matt Cain, who hasn't thrown in a big league regular season game since last July, will give it another go as he'll begin to throw again over the next week. At this point, I'm not sure what the Giants are expecting out of Cainer, but I do fear that Tommy John may be inevitable and if that's the case and they want him back for any of hte 2016 season than that decision has to be made sooner than later. I just have a bad feeling with Matty right now and fear that we may not see him on the field for quite some time. Boy how I hope I'm wrong and he's back in the rotation by the end of May, but something still feels off with the former horse of this staff.

On the other end of the spectrum, Hunter Pence is on his way back, and should most certainly be back with the big league squad within two weeks, if all goes as planned. He's been able to stay in shape and on his feet, but his biggest obstacle will be getting his timing down at the plate. He didn't have but a handful of at-bats in March and will likely need at least a weeks worth of rehab games in Sacremento, I'm guessing... Jake Peavy, out with back spasms will hopefully be back, healthy and ready to go when he's eligible to come off next week.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________