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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Giants second-half skid getting worse

This series the Giants just finished up with the Pirates was one of the toughest I've seen all year. In all three games, the Giants coughed up comfortable leads and have now fallen 1.5 games back of LA in the West for the first time since early May.

Whats been especially rough is the way they're losing these games though. It seems like each day it's a particular area of the team that isn't pulling their weight. For example, Matt Moore, a guy the Giants paid heavily to get, wasn't able to give them a quality start on Monday and that, coupled with some bullpen deficiencies caused the Giants to lose a game they should have won. Then on Wednesday, Jeff Samardizja was solid, allowing 3 runs over 6 innings, but the Giants offense just couldn't quite figure out rookie Jameson Taillon and lost the game 4-3. Then, perhaps the toughest of all three losses came Wednesday, when the Giants staked Matt Cain a 4-run lead early and Matty looked like he was on his game through 4 innings, shutting down the Pirates. However, he not only coughed up the lead but allowed 6 runs in that brutal fifth, and the Giants only scored one the rest of the way, losing 6-5.

So yes, it was one of the more painful 3-game series I've seen them play all season and it's just now resonating with me that the Giants were vastly overachieving in the first half and that this team may not be a playoff team. They're not a good comeback team, and they have trouble scoring throughout the game. Most there damage usually comes in one or two innings. A big reason for that is there really isn't one guy in their lineup who's having a standout year (aside from Crawford and the RBI output) and after MadBum and Cueto, their rotation hasn't given any sort of consistency the last 6 weeks. Then of course there's the bullpen, which has been one of the worst in the league since the All-Star break as well. No lead seems to be safe right now and that's a scary thing.

None of the three trades they made at the deadline have paid off as of yet. Will Smith has been downright terrible, sporting a 12.26 ERA in his 7 games in the orange and black. Eduardo Nunez, who was a dynamic offensive player during an all-star first half in Minnesota hitting for average, power and stealing bases regularly, has come over to the NL and seemingly forgotten how to hit. He did finally connect  for his first home run as a Giant on Monday, but otherwise has been dreadful since the deal, hitting just .200 with that 1 HR and 3 RBI in 18 games. Granted, he spent his career in the AL, so an adjustment period was certainly expected, though it's carried on longer and has been worse then everyone was anticipating.

At this point, they have no choice but to ride it out and hope things turn back around for this final 6-week stretch run. We all knew the Giants were over-achieving in May and June, especially offensively, as they seemed to always find ways to scrap together enough runs to win but I didn't expect them to hit a wall like this (especially with everyone healthy). Pitching wise, they haven't been anywhere near as good as they were during that May/June run so it makes you wonder, which is the real 2016 San Francisco Giants? This team hasn't looked at all like a playoff-caliber squad for a considerable amount of time now and even if they got lucky and landed another reliable starter to take Cain's spot, or another bat or relief arm via waivers wouldn't make that much of a difference. In May/June they just kept figuring out ways to beat you like a good team does but now it's the complete opposite as they're finding different ways to lose ballgames. 

What they can do, and something I would like to see is them shake something up though. Whether it's dropping Cain from the rotation and giving a youngster like Tyler Beede or Ty Blach a shot or maybe doing something different with the top of the lineup, they have to make some attempt to get this team going. Usually Bochy's pretty good at knowing what strings to pull in this situation and I'm a bit surprised he hasn't made some switches by now. The only positive about losing their hold of first place over LA right now is that they'd have first priority on the waiver-wire and maybe they'll get lucky and find someone to come in and give them a shot in the arm like Cody Ross did in 2010, but they certainly cannot bank on that. They have to figure this out with what they have and while what they have may not be the best team in the league like they were heading into the All-Star break, they're better then what they've showed since.

Extra: As I'm sure you all know by now, the Giants brought back and old friend this week, signing Joe Nathan to a minor league deal. I think they did this more so with September in mind when rosters expand and they can use another veteran arm out in that bullpen, however, the 41 year-old did appear in a couple games with the Cubs earlier in the year and threw very well and may arrive sooner than that.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Giants need more from big hitters

Much of the Giants struggles in the second half have been because of a major offensive drought the team has been going through the last month. Before the break, the Giants were figuring out ways to scrap together runs despite missing a couple of key contributors like Pence and Pagan.

Now fast-forward to mid-August, entering the stretch drive and the final 6+ weeks of the season, and the Giants lack of offense has become a trend that's lasted much longer than any of us were anticipating/hoping. Over the last 10 games the Giants have scored four-plus runs just four times, have been shut out twice and put up just a run in two of those contests. There pitching is good enough to where they're going to win most games in which they score more than 4 runs but that just hasn't been happening with any consistency. One of the reasons has been Hunter Pence. Hunter is a guy they were expecting a ton of run production from this year, yet he was knocked out for a couple months and has really struggled to get back on track since his return. Even before the injury he wasn't quite producing runs at a rate he's accustomed too though his average was up around .300 all year. Since his return however, neither the average or power has been there, as he's gone just 9-48 with 0 HR's and just one RBI while sporting a anemic .464 OPS! Before the injury, Pence was on pace for his typical .290'ish 20+ home run, 90+ RBI season, but he's not performing anywhere near that level right now and it's really hurting.


Pence's struggles have forced Bochy to drop him down in the lineup to the 7th slot recently. I personally would like to see him maybe shifted up into the two-hole with Belt or Crawford third then Posey fourth and maybe that will get him some more fastballs and get him back on track a little. Speaking of Posey, he's another guy who's not performing up to his career norm either. He's had such an odd season to say the least. He's gone through short mini bursts in which you think he's about to break out and turn back into that .320 hitting Buster who's hitting balls all over the yard and in the gaps, driving in runs. However, as the Giants enter play Saturday, Posey's sporting extremely pedestrian numbers for his standards with a line of .288/12/54/.818. Again, not bad at all for a catcher, but I'm sure the former MVP would like to be closer to 20 HR, and around 75 RBI at this point in the season than he is. To his credit, he is on pace to score the most runs of his career, which is more of a testament to Belt, Crawford and the guys behind him, but I'd like to see him step it up himself down the stretch.

If the Giants continue to get lackluster games from Pence at the plate and Buster stays on his current, very mediocre pace and can't hit another hot streak that can carry on for a few weeks and give this team some offensive life, the Giants are going to be in trouble. The Dodgers are right on their heels, just a game back, and they still have big reinforcements on the way in Rich Hill (back next week) and Clayton Kershaw (who is expected back by September). A month ago it was looking as if the Giants were going to just run away with this division. They were thriving despite rough back-end rotation performances and not having Pence and Pagan out there. Now, everyone is healthy, and they've even strengthened their rotation big time and found themselves a sorely lacking, top left-handed reliever, but they just can't find that rhythm they had going strong in May/June.

This is going to be a telling home stand in my opinion. After the Orioles the Giants get the Pirates and then the Mets. All these teams are beatable teams and the Giants should be able to take each of these series'. After this stand they have a tough stretch heading out on the road to face the Dodgers, Cubs, Rockies and D-Backs. The Rockies and D-Backs have given the Giants trouble in 2016 and the Cubs are the best team in baseball right now. Needless to say, some momentum going into that rough road stretch would be crucial.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Giants ultra aggressive as deadline dust settles

Th Giants parted with a lot of well known names in the organization over the last week, culminating with two big deals before Monday's 1 PM trade deadline. While I don't think they got away with any steals this summer, I'm leaning toward liking two of the three deals, but only time will tell how they really play out.

First the one I thought was a little too much for a little, well, too little. The Giants gave up Andrew Susac, an aging, albeit still valuable catching prospect, but also their top pick from 2015 and a guy who's looked it in his brief stint in pro ball in Phil Bickford for a middle reliever. Now, granted, that middle reliever has been one of the best in the game the last few seasons and should give the Giants exactly what they needed most in that bullpen, the price was a little too steep for my liking. I would have preferred more of a 2nd rate pitching prospect with Susac, someone along the lines of a Chris Stratton or Kyle Crick (who still has upside but has fallen in prospect ranks a bit recently). Instead the Giants parted with a guy some (including myself) believe to be their very best pitching prospect (yes over Beede because of age) for a middle reliever and that's a bit crazy when you really think about it. However, the Giants have a window they see of about 3-5 more seasons where they'll have this core group in-tact and in their relative primes and with that championship window open so it was clearly a go-for-it-now move and it did meet a need. Also, it gives the Giants get a top of the line LH reliever who will stick around for cheap through 2019 which I think was the selling point for Bobby Evans. He figures with the money saved in this move the Giants may be able to sign an international prospect who can come in and take right over for Bickford, but again, only time will tell.

As for the Matt-for-Matt trade, in which the Giants sent infielder, fan favorite and reigning ROY runner-up Matt Duffy along with top-10 pitching prospect Lucious Fox to Tampa for a guy who just two seasons ago was looking like he was becoming a premiere left-handed starter in this league, Matt Moore. At first, I was extremely bummed they had to give up Duffy, and I still am. I like him, I think he's a good player and does have the capability to be a solid major league regular like we saw in 2015, for years to come. However, we didn't see that this year, as he's been one of the worst offensive 3rd basemen all year long. Not too mention, the Giants just added a guy who needs to be in the starting lineup daily and really didn't have a spot with Pence and Panik both making returns. Nunez brings more pop and speed than Duffy but the ladder is the better defender (although Nunez hasn't looked too shabby in his brief stint here thus far) and had the knack for the clutch hit, especially in '15. I like that the Giants had a back-up plan in place for Duffy and probably will upgrade now at third base for the stretch run and have Nunez under contract for 2017 as well. Duffy, however, would have been under team control through 2019.

As for Matt Moore, as I said above, this guy was considered a rising star back in 2012/13 before getting injured. In fact, he went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA with the Rays in 2013 (despite missing all of August), earning himself an All-Star appearance. However, he had to undergo the dreaded Tommy John Surgery in 2014 which essentially took away much of his last two seasons. He's looked liked he's rebounding nicely this year though and he's been respectable, although not the 2013-type successful. A move to the NL West and AT&T Park will be a huge positive for him and I'd be surprised if he didn't emerge as the Giants #3 starter down the stretch. He has that kind of potential. Also, he too is under team control with team options through 2019 that will pay him significantly less than others in his class would get. I mean if this guy were to become a FA after this year and finishes say, 13-13 with a 4.05 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, like he's basically on pace for, he'd easily get a deal similar to what Jeff Samardzija just signed, if not more because he's only 27. And the Giants will have him for 8,9 and $10M over the next three seasons as long as he doesn't blow his arm out or something like that. So when you combine Moore's potential not only this year but into the future and at that cheap price along with the fact the Giants upgraded from Duffy with Nunez at third before hand made Duffy expendable this trade looking better than I originally thought upon first hearing it.

So in summation of the three deals, I do like the Nunez deal, although it took me a second to come around, sort of like the Moore deal, I give that deal a B- for the Giants. I like that they got Will Smith and certainly needed a competent left handed reliever but I hate that they gave up Bickford for him so that deal I give a straight C for. Finally, the big one, the Duffy for Moore deal, it too took a moment to digest but when taking all things we've mentioned into account, I'm leaning more in favor of it than I originally was. I give that one a B-/C+. If Moore goes on to be Barry Zito while Duffy becomes an all-star in Tampa, it's gonna suck. But Duffy, while always hitting for a nice average, was never a dominant minor leaguer and was really a surprise last year on an average team but this year the league seemed to catch up to him at the plate. Plus, with Cain and Peavy each a couple bad starts from being relieved of their starting duties down the stretch and Samardzija struggling, you can see why they wanted someone with Moore's capabilities.

Anyway, Let me know what you guys think down in the comment box! Did the Giants do enough to keep fending off the Dodgers, who themselves got a lot better on Monday, or could they have done better, different moves, or done nothing at all? I think this deadline was slim pickings so prices where high. Considering that, the Giants got themselves guys who aren't just rentals and should be around to help them win ballgames for the foreseeable future!

Extra: Here's a cool video on Matt Moore showing in-depth highlights in a recent start back in June. As you can see by evident of the 94 mph heater, the big hook and fall-off-the-table change-up, the guy can be really good and appears fully recovered from Tommy John. And again, coming from an AL East that features predominantly hitter-friendly yards to the NL West which offers quite the opposite.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Friday, July 29, 2016

What Eduardo Nunez trade means

As we've been discussing over much of the last month-plus, the Giants primary focus heading into the trade deadline would be pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Whether it be another capable starter as insurance to the bipolar production from Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, or a couple of late relievers to help a bullpen in need. Alas, it was neither, at least of yet, as the Giants dealt for breakout infielder Eduardo Nunez on Thursday night.

We'll first talk about the guy coming to the Giants, and that is Nunez, a career utility infielder up until this season where he's really broken out at the plate and earned himself an everyday job in Minnesota. Now, Target Field is no hitters paradise so for the 29 year-old Nunez to take off with his best offensive year playing half his games in that yard tells you how hot he's been. With the Twins in 86 games, he slashed a respectable .296/12/46/.764 with 27 stolen bases. Transfer those numbers over to the Giants and he'd be leading the team in hitting and big flies (tied with Posey) and by far leading in stolen bases. So yes, it's easy to see why the Giants viewed Nunez as a guy who can potentially come in and fill in all over the infield and even left field in a pinch. I see the logic with both Joe Panik (who made his return Thursday) and Matt Duffy battling nagging injuries and both uncertain on how much playing time and how much production they'll be able to provide these final two months of the regular season and into October. So yes, this deal does make a ton of sense because both Nunez's production and versatility as well as the question marks (health wise) the Giants have at third, second and even left field with the fragile Angel Pagan.

That being said, Matt Duffy is starting his rehab assignment next week, and Joe Panik/Angel Pagan seemingly hit the DL every other month with some sort of injury, so the depth will be nice. As I said at the top of the post, Nunez's numbers are equal or better than any other guy on the Giants current roster so it's hard to sideline him even if Duffy does come back strong. I mean, Duffy, while I have full confidence in him eventually figuring out his swing and approach at the plate again, is having an underwhelming season at the plate this year (terrible by third basemen standards), to say the least, and Nunez, based on numbers alone, should have the job over him. Panik has put up some better stats when he's been on the field but he too has been missing a lot of games these last couple of seasons due to random injury. So again, it's not a bad idea to have a guy like Nunez around especially considering the current circumstances and the Giants rough offensive showing since the All-Star break.

Now, all that said, there are some negatives to this deal as well. The Giants had to part with their top left-handed pitching prospect in the deal, giving away Adalberto Mejia, who just may well go on to become the next Francisco Liriano for the Twins (I'm sure that was in the back of their minds when they decided to pull the trigger) for a guy who before this year would have to battle to make a 25-man roster. Also, Nunez's defense leaves a lot to be desired. He's not going to be Brandon Crawford when he plays short, not even close, and he's not as steady as Duffy is at the hot corner either, so you are sacrificing some defense for some offense in this case. It's really going to come down to the health of three players. If Duffy, Panik or Pagan get hurt again and/or miss significant time down the stretch then this deal should pan out well for the Giants. If those guys come back strong, and Nunez ends up on the bench more than he's on the field then the Giants will have parted with a valuable trade chip for a guy who may become a very expensive utility outfielder for them in 2016. He's arbitration eligible and after this year and because of he's a middle infielder, he could get over $5M in arbitration next winter. However, the other way to look at it is, if he is indeed capable in left and the Giants feel confident in him as an everyday guy there, he could take over that spot in 2017 as Pagan is in the last year of his deal.

So there are a lot of different angles to this one. As long as Mejia doesn't turn out to be a solid number three or four starter in a couple years then no sweat off the Giants back. However, if Nunez continues to slump (he's been having a rough month in Minny) and becomes a middling utility guy in SF and Mejia continues growing and is a key cog in the Twins rotation in 2018 then the Giants will look pretty silly for this one.

All in all, I like it in the sense of "go for it this year and next year mode" (especially with so many injuries biting the Giants infield right now), but I feel like Mejia probably could have been packaged with another player or two to get someone to come in and really make in impact in that bullpen or starting rotation. Like with all deals, only time will tell, but with this one I'm pretty indifferent on this one right now. I don't love absolutely it but I certainly don't hate it and I definitely see the logic in Bobby Evans' thinking when pulling the trigger on this one.

It also means that, with Pagan a free-agent to be, the Giants realistically fill out an everyday lineup card without having to make a move for a starting positional player. They may wanna upgrade LF over by letting Pagan walk, then have Nunez as a back-up plan if they can't add anyone. Or, if they do get someone (Jay Bruce for example) then Nunez becomes one of the best utility options in the league for them, albeit a potential pricey one.

Extras: As I said earlier, Joe Panik finally made his long-awaited return Thursday and went 0-4 while hitting out of the third spot in the lineup... Also, the Giants aren't nearly done on the trade front as they've been closely linked to Pirates closer Mark Melancon and I'd be very surprised if they didint bring in another left-handed reliever at some point, though that may come through waivers if Javy Lopez doesn't figure it out in the next few weeks. I do think the Giants are absolutely out on adding another starting pitching though now, and will really be relying heavily on Matt Cain being serviceable as a fifth man and Jake Peavy continuing his improvement over his horrendous first two months of the season.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Giants looking for 'relief' before Aug. 1st deadline

We're almost there guys, and although the Giants have stayed quiet on the trade front up till now, I believe strongly they will get involved at some point in the next week as they try and upgrade at least their bullpen before the new August 1st trade deadline.

First off, the Giants have been a bit of a mess since resuming play after the All-Star break, still seeking their first victory after being swept in San Diego by the Padres, which hopefully is not a foresight of things to come in the second half because that was a brutal three-game set. They then took it on the chin in Boston for two and lost the first couple at Yankee Stadium this weekend. All those injuries before the break, of which the Giants were doing a miraculous job finding in-house options to step up, are starting to catch up with team. They're hoping Hunter Pence and Joe Panik aren't too far off, as Pence has started his rehab in Sacramento with the River Cats, but still doesn't have a set return date (my guess would be next weekend assuming he doesn't suffer any set-back). Panik's situation is a bit more tricky as he really has been expected to appear in a River Cats game by now and still just hasn't fully shaken the concussion symptoms quite yet. He's the one you worry about just because that can be an issue that can come back later too and bite him. Just remember all the problems it gave Belt back in 2014. Finally, the third injured Giants' starting position player, Matt Duffy, who's been out since mid-June with an Achilles tendon injury is scheduled to get his rehab started within the next week.

Position players haven't really been on the Giants' radar because they are expecting those three key missing cogs back in the next couple weeks. Also, quite frankly, guys who've stepped in for them have done an awesome job and have not only kept the team afloat but gave it some more energy and kept it as strong a powerhouse as it's been all season. However, things have definitely changed since the All-Star break as the bats have really cooled off. They've scored 21 runs in 7 games since the break, but 13 of those runs came in two games. So essentially they had six games since the break where they've scored a total of 8 runs. I don't care if you have MadBum and Cueto going for you, if your scoring a run a game your not gonna win a lot of ballgames.

The replacements have been admirable, especially Ramiro Pena, Mac Williamson (for his D and his timely big fly's), Jarrett Parker and even getting a few big hits from Conor Gillaspie. However, the Giants need their A-players back and they need Duffy in particular to come back in 2015 form. It makes me wonder though whether the Giants should be looking at 3rd/2nd basemen. I mean, Pena has been nice, but do you really want him at third base if Matt Duffy is hitting .245 and slugging .300 come September? Or if Panik's concussion symptoms pop up again down the stretch? I don't think they need to look into dealing for an infielder before August 1st, but if they end up needing one for one of the reasons stated above, then I think that's some thing we could see happen through waivers.


With the positional players and bench seemingly worked out and hopefully will be coming together and at full strength in the next couple of weeks, the pitching staff in a whole other issue. I think everyone is pretty comfortable with the front-3, even though Jeff Samrdzija goes a little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on occasion, but come a 7-game playoff series, ideally you'd like to have 4 startable arms and I'm not sure the Giants have that reliable 4th option. Right now it would be Jake Peavy and the guy has an ERA over 5 and has been one of the most hittable starters in 2016. However, Peavy has been better the last couple months too. Take away his terrible April and his numbers wouldn't be nearly as bad: 4-6, 4.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP 61:23 K/BB ratio in  76 innings. Plus his ERA has been sub-4 the last two months. So he is getting slightly better and I think his improvement has allowed them to ease off a little on the SP hunt, however, they do view adding another starter higher up than adding a third basemen or utility infielder/outfielder.


So, that brings us to the bullpen, which is obviously far and away priority 1 and 1A. They need a good late reliever, at least. They really could use two, one lefty and one right-hander who can shut the door in the 9th if Casilla loses it down the stretch. There are a ton of names being thrown around out there from closers/set-up guys like Milwaukee's Jeremy Jeffres. NY's Aroldis Chapman, Oakland's Ryan Madson, AZ's Tyler Clippard and Tampa's Alex Colome. There are also late-lefties like Will Smith, Boone Logan and the perhaps the arm most linked to them over the last several weeks, Andrew Miller. I mean, of that group, the only closer I see as a clear upgrade over Casilla would be Chapman and Miller. Colome is also right there but this is his first year as a full-time closer and I don't know if he's ready to take the ball in a game 7 with it on the line. His numbers are even better than Chapman's though with that 1.59 ERA and 21/23 in save opps. Those both are better than Casilla and Colome is a guy who could be someone who could take on that role for years to come at age 28. However, Tampa knows this too and he's going to cost a pretty penny to obtain.

It's gonna be interesting to see what transpires in the next few days though. I'm still waiting for that one big move which will kind of get the dominoes rolling. If I had to bet on the Giants obtaining one of the guys linked to them, my  money would be on someone along the lines of a Will Smith and/or Tyler Clippard. I think they'd be OK with using Romo in closing situations if Casilla losses it down the stretch and I think they really just want some more quality depth in that pen anyway they can get it and Smith/Clippard will come cheaper than Miller/Colome.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Giants a darkhorse in SP market?

I'm sure you take a look at the Giants front-three in their rotation alone and think they're set. Two all-stars in Bum in Cueto then a strong #3 in "The Shark". With those three setting the tone for a deep lineup and strong defense, you'd almost think the Giants are ready for the stretch drive as is. Well, think again!

While the Giants' front-three starters are solid, they still don't have the most ideal pitching staff come postseason where they'll really need four reliable starters (I know we're getting ahead of ourselves here but anyway...). Now, they do have three startable arms in Cueto, Bumgarner and Samardzija, but after that it's a little unclear what Bochy would do in the fourth spot. Matt Cain is currently rehabbing with the River Cats and is coming off an extremely tough outing numbers-wise, but his velocity was there and he says he' feels like he's ready to rejoin the Giants rotation. He's the real question mark at this point as Jake Peavy has really turned things around on his end and has completely locked down that fifth spot, If he continues to improve like he has since early May down the stretch then he very well may be that fourth starter in the playoffs, but I still think the Giants will keep their options open. They're really gonna want to see Cainer throw at the big league level before the deadline if possible which, again, should be the case in the next week or so, before making any decisions regarding the staff, but I still think another starter would be a helluva smart move if they have the rescources and find a reasonable deal.

I mean, there are going to be more and more names tossed abuot over the next couple weeks but the guy I'd really like to get into the Giants rotation if at any way possible is Julio Teheran. I've mentioned the young Braves right-hander here a few different times this season as he's been one of my favorite arms in the NL and knows how to use a spacious ballpark to his advantage. Plus, he's pitching for a mediocre defensive squad and one of the worst hitting teams in all of baseball so he'd probably get an immediate boost mentally just by coming over to an elite team like the Giants. A couple other guys out there who could give that Giants that insurance starter without them having to break the bank could be Oakland's Rich Hill, Chi Sox lefty Jose Quintana, Milwaukee's Jimmy Nelson and Philly's right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, just to name a few.


Of course, their search for help won't just stop in the rotation. As a matter of fact, they're gonna also be looking into relief help which, luckily for them, tend to be the easiest to obtain this time of year due to the sheer volume of options. Still, they need quality here, so they probably have just a small handful of guys they are strongly considering. I've always been a strong Andrew Miller advocate as the Giants need that lights-out left-handed late man and also a guy who can take over for Santaigo Casilla when he runs into his occasional hiccups. Whether its Miller or someone else though, they need another proven lefty and I'd like to see them get another proven right-hander too just to take some pressure off of Romo. Strickland's close but I just don't fully trust him in the 8th inning of a 1-run game with a runner on and facing a guy like a Kris Bryant or Nolan Arrenado in some intensely crucial game down the stretch in September (due to his history of surrendering the big home run late in games).

Other than a reliable late man or two, and then possibly another capable starter who could push/replace Peavy or Cain, I think the Giants are pretty well armed for the stretch drive. I mean, with guys in their system popping up left and right and legitimately contributing, they aren't at all having their hand forced in terms of needing to make a deal. From Grant Green, Ramiro Pena and Ruben Tejada to Albert Suarez and closer-in-the-making, Derek Law. These guys are probably guys (outside of maybe Law if you follow the minor league system closely) who many fans may not have heard of and/or expected much out of but each have played roles in Giants' victories while guys like Joe Panik, Matt Duffy and Sergio Romo have been sidelined. Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker have each made the impact of Hunter Pence's DL stint tolerable and alleviated the need for outside help which has been huge. I know you hear it all the time and it's somewhat cliche, but It really has been a collective effort from guys not only on the ML roster but the minor leagues as well coming up and contributing in any possible way! It really has been fun to watch.

Injury Updates: Hunter Pence was forced from his rehab game on Saturday, which is a bit worrisome, although the Giants are playing it off as no big deal at the moment. Pence re-aggravated the right hamstring in a AAA rehab game with Sacramento and will be held out until further inspection. Hopefully it's all precautionary and Pence is back on track for a pre-August return, but hammy's can be tricky and Hunter is about as "balls-to-the-wall" as they come which means it's tough for him to turn it down a notch in recovery, but he's gotta be smart here and ensure he's 100% for the final 2 months.

As far as Joe Panik's situation, the news is a little more clear as he's been cleared to get back on field after passing the concussion protocols and the Giants expect him back with the team by next weekend. Matt Duffy's situation is a bit more cloudy though as Bochy does not have a timetable for him to resume baseball activity and in two weeks if they still don't have a timetable they could be looking to obtain a third basemen as well... Needless to say, it's going to be an interesting few weeks leading up to August 1st non waiver-deadline and I expect the Giants to pull off at least one deal for a relief pitcher.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Friday, June 10, 2016

Giants' external options should be assessed

About this time each year is when the contenders separate themselves from the "pretenders" as many teams can tell by mid-June whether or not they're a serious contender or not. Obviously, the Giants fall into the contender category, and with injuries popping up left and right all over their 25-man roster, they could be forced to look at some external trade options sooner than later.

The July 31st non-waiver deadline is still quite a ways away, 7 weeks to be exact, but it doesn't mean that the Giants will wait if they see a good opportunity to add to their roster. Over the first couple months of the season they've already lost key cogs Matt Cain, Sergio Romo, Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan to DL stints. Pagan is hopefully on his way back within the next couple weeks but Hunter Pence, arguably the team's second most important offensive piece, looks to be out until at least August with his torn hamstring ligament. Cain has resumed throwing and assuming he doesn't hit any road blocks, he could be back in the rotation within a week or two. Aside from those four who've missed, or are set to miss significant time, the Giants also have battled nagging injuries with second basemen Joe Panik as well as catcher Buster Posey recently. Panik's primary backup (Kelby Tomlinson) had been doing a solid job spelling Panik when needed but he himself just went down with sprained thumb and will be out a few weeks.

I mean, for all the injuries and the caliber of players they're seeing get sidelined, it's pretty impressive to see the Giants still standing strong in first place atop the NL West at 36-25 and it's a testament as to how strong their starting pitching has become as a unit and not just a two man show between Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. However, although they seem to be treading water with some of their key players out, with the expectations they have this year, the Giants aren't going to sit around and just wait for guys to get back and hope it all works out by the end of the season. They've always been an agressive team regarding in-season trades and I expect this season to be no different.

A big question remains however. If they are going to make a deal for one player or one area of the team to upgrade, which seems most imminent at the moment? With Pagan's injury history and Pence out until the ladder part of the season, the outfield obviously becomes a good choice. Also, with the inconsistency they've seen out of the 4th and 5th rotation spots (although they've been much better in recent weeks), they could decide to add another arm. Finally, this bullpen is far from bullet proof. Santiago Casilla, while being a guy who's gonna get the job done more than not, isn't a front-line closer and he doesn't have a whole helluva lot of depth leading up to him with Romo down.

So, yes, the team has been winning, and things are still cruising along fairly nicely, but this team has not yet reached their full potential, and with Pence down for the next two months, it's going to be a while before they will be back at full strength. Should they make a deal for an outfielder to come in and hold down Pence's spot until he returns then possibly share time with Angel Pagan in left? Should they find another mid-rotation guy like they did with Mike Leake last season, as someone else who can give them 6-7 solid innings more times then not or just ride it out with Cain and Peavy? Or, do they go out and revamp the bullpen and bring in a more legit, prime time closer and/or a few solid set-up guys to really help shorten the game, as they just don't have that lights out 7th/8th inning guy right now with Romo out? This team always tends to lean towards pitching, so my guess is they'll prioritize adding another arm or two, whether it be a late reliever or starter or both. If they do add an outfielder I don't see it being anyone of any significance as they simply won't have anywhere to play come August (assuming Pence stays on schedule with rehab).

There are plenty of names to target out there and I'm sure we'll be discussing them over the next several weeks, but I think this is the dilemma the Giants front-office is currently facing and will so up until that trade-deadline. Luckily for them they're winning and in first place, but if they were .500 and behind the Dodgers 5 games then I'm sure urgency would be higher. Right now, I expect them to wait and see with Romo before deciding on the bullpen (unless guys just start crumbling in the next couple weeks). They also will give Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson some time to see if they can be viable options in Pence's spot over the next 8 weeks. Parker showed flashes at the end of last season but consistency has always been an issue with him cause he has the talent to overtake left field from Pagan if the really put it together.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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