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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.
The Giants Baseball Blog

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.
The Giants Baseball Blog

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.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Giants hoping to have found their groove

The Giants have had some interesting stretches already through the season's first five weeks, but they're going to have to put together some form of consistency, sooner than later, if they want to keep atop the NL West. And it looks as though they may have found some!

It's just been such a strange pattern of events that this team has been going through. Generally, through much of April, scoring runs wasn't a problem for this team. Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence have anchored the middle of the order while Buster Posey, Matt Duffy (although he's been much better in May) and Co. sort of coast along looking to find their grove. Over about the last week though, it looks like they may have finally done just that. I mean, nobody in the lineup has been particularly bad to this point. None of them are hovering down near .200 or anything and everyone has had at least a handful of games in which they've helped contribute to victories, but they just haven't been able to get one the same page together as a unit, at least until lately.

All of the sudden, the offense appears to be heating up just a little bit, although still plenty of room for improvement. Joe Panik, despite currently carrying an average in the .250's, has come up with some big hits time and time again. And then there's Denard Span, who is showing the value of a true leadoff hitter, even though his average isn't quite up where he'd like it to be yet. Buster still hasn't hit his hot streak and while Pence has been steadily solid, he himself hasn't gone on a week's long tear where he hits .500 and knocks 5 balls out of the ballpark, which shows the upside of this offense. I mean, imagine if Buster and Span were up at or around .300 and Duffy wasn't invisible at the plate for much of April, we're probably looking at a team 10+ games above .500 (rather than a squad barely trying to stay afloat at that mark). Their problem has been getting all their big hitters on track at the same time. They'll have Pence and Belt heat up for a week, then cool down just as Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey find their stroke. Lately though, they've started getting more guys going at the same time and if that keeps up they should start creating separation between them and the .500 mark.

Now, I'm completely aware of the pitching situation; both what's going in the 4th and 5th rotation spots as well as they musical chairs they've been playing in the bullpen, both in mid and late relief. Jake Peavy and Matt Cain are still anchoring down the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation and while each has shown a minor glimmer of bouncing back into form from time to time, neither have been major league caliber starters since the beginning of the year, period. I mean, these two have not been struggling since spring, but Cainer's struggles really date all the way back to before he went down in 2013. Seeing how the Giants had a stretch at the end of April/early May in which they went 10-2 and were both hitting the ball and pitching successfully, shows that they can still be successful with Cain and Peavy in the mix, but they're gonna have to strengthen up and become almost perfect in every other aspect. That being said, if one or both don't shape up by the end of May, changes are going to be made. They did bring up a minor league starter Friday, re-calling RHP Clayton Blackburn from AAA Sacramento. Not surprisingly, they kept Alberto Suarez and the 13-man staff, rather optioning Jarrett Parker back to Sacramento instead.

The Giants' pitching, outside of Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija and Casilla, as well as Josh Osich and Cory Gearrin (also Derrick Law has been impressive) at times, has been extremely hit or miss. Even notoriously tough Javier Lopez has an ERA up in the north 4's here in mid-May. Obviously, the bullpen and staff has drastically missed Sergio Romo and hopefully his return isn't that far off (he's started throwing off flat-ground again but still no concrete timetable, which likely means 2nd half or later). They've also missed the veteran influence and consistency from recently retired Jeremy Affeldt. I think that's why Bobby Evans has been so adamant about the team seeking relief help at the moment, despite 2/5 of their rotation performing well below league average.

With Sunday's win, the Giants moved into sole possession of 1st plate in the West at 21-18 and are playing particularly good baseball, winning their last four in a row. I think the highlight of the last few games though has to be Jake Peavy's performance Saturday, by far his best start of the season. The veteran right-hander who's come under so much scrutiny in the early season for ineffectiveness, threw 6 strong innings Saturday, giving up just 3 base hits and a couple walks to go along with 5 strikeouts. With that quality outing, Peavy has bought himself some more time and now puts Matt Cain primarily on the hot seat heading into his start Sunday, although he is coming off a nice start last week, he's still 0-5 with an ERA north of 6. So, despite him making 20+ million dollars this season and being an untouchable in this rotation as recent as early 2014. he just hasn't been that good for a while now and the ice is getting thinner. Eventually, if things don't turn around, the Giants will have to do what they did with Zito for Cain's last couple seasons under contract. They may need to DL him with a phantom injury to give him time to work on things, or move him into the bullpen. Whatever they decide to do, we're 1/4 way through the season and somethings gonna have to give. Lets just hope he follows up Peavy's solid outing for now.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Giants should seriously consider Lincecum

As many of you know, Tim Lincecum finally threw for scouts on Friday, and apparently had an impressive session. With the Giants struggling in the back-end of their rotation and looking desperately for relief help, they should strongly consider returning one of the most popular Giants of the last decade.

There were scouts from nearly every team in the league on hand to check out the former Cy Young winner's mound session, and all reaction coming from those on hand indicate Lincecum getting a shot redemption. The bulked-up right-hander was sitting right around 90-91 with the heater, and from the few pitches I saw, his breaking ball looked to have a big snap. So, with the positive showing and the problematic hip that he's blamed his struggles the last few seasons on supposedly all healed up he could very well get his wish and be back in a big league rotation at some point in June. He's made it clear his first choice would be to return to being a starter, the Giants should be of major interest because of their need in both the bullpen and starting. I mean, could Lincecum really be any worse than Jake Peavy or Matt Cain have been over the season's first month? It would take him probably about a months worth of time in the minor leagues, basically his version of spring training, before he'd likely be ready to appear at the big league level. That would give Cain and Peavy time and incentive to improve or Timmy could come in and bounce the weaker link to the bullpen. Otherwise they use Lincecum there, where he was a key part of their 2012 postseason run.

Judging by the fact that they wouldn't need to part with any of their own talent to obtain Lincecum, as well as the fact that he'll likely sign a cheap, one-year incentive laden deal, makes him that much more appealing. Also, looking at it from his end, he has to view the Giants as one of his better options for himself. He's obviously familiar with the team, city and ballpark and knows what the expectations are for the team this season. He has to be seeing both Cain and Peavy struggling and figure he could have a shot at one of their spots and if he does come in and put up a sub-4 ERA and pitches well, he'll land himself a multi-year deal over the winter. It just seems like a good fit on both ends as the Giants are a contender that needs pitching anyway they can get it and Timmy needs opportunity anywhere he can get it. The only team that I've seen to have serious interest in Timmy are the Yankees, but that would put him, a fly-ball pitcher, in a smaller yard and one of the tougher offensive divisions in the league. It's not likely to be money that decides where Linceum goes, rather than where he feels his best opportunity to succeed individually in 2016 is, and I still think that should put the Giants right near the top of the list.

The drop-off from after Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardiza has been what's kept the Giants from being up there with the likes of the Cubs and Nationals, although the injuries to the bullpen haven't helped things too much either. This offense, as it showed in Friday night's comeback victory, is set right now. They're healthy, they're deep and they're one of the stronger units in the game. They're certainly championship-caliber there, but I think we all know that they're going to have to add pitching at some point in order to solidify their spot atop the NL West.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Giants end April in rough way

After the Giants had the bases loaded with nobody out in the top of the 8th in that 6-3 ballgame on Saturday in New York, I had one last glimmer of hope. However when Brandon Belt, then Brandon Crawford proceeded to miss giving the team the lead by a few feet for the next two outs, I knew it just wasn't gonna be their day.

What's been the theme for all of April continued on it's final day, as Jake Peavy on Friday, then Matt Cain on Saturday, just couldn't provide quality enough starts to give the Giants a chance to win. When your facing young flame-throwing strikeout artists like the Giants have the last few days you know your going to have little room for error if your pitching against them, and Peavy and Cain both were just too hittable. Now, I'm not going to turn this into a Peavy and Cain roasting, and I'm actually gonna keep it pretty short and simple because everyone who's watched this team to start the year know what they're capable of and they know where their weaknesses lie at the moment. About 1/6 through the season is hardly time to toss your proven veterans off the ship, but it's certainly not too early to start thinking of some backup plays just in case May doesn't go much better. Of course most teams aren't going to start dealing their top players this early in the year but it's never too early to dial up Atlanta and check in on Julio Teheran or maybe reach out across the bay and try to snag the rejuvenated Rich Hill.... Still plenty of time before anything needs to be done, but again, never to early to start planning.

As for everything else, the Giants seem to be pressing a little bit and it can't all be blamed on Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. Buster Posey isn't hitting like Buster Posey is used to hitting and it's showing. Matt Duffy has picked it up somewhat as of late, but still is down about 50 points lower in average than he should be. Span could be hitting better as well. Pence, Belt and Pagan all seem to be doing about as expected but just about everyone else has to step it up a notch. Not that they're doing terribly, but they certainly aren't preforming at a championship caliber level.

On a positive I wanted to point out Brandon Belt. This guy just missed giving the Giants a lead in Saturday's game by about an 1/8 of an inch on the bat, and he just keeps seeming to make loud contact. It seems like every year people say "this is the year Belt hits 30/100" and while I know Belt's streakiness enough to make any concrete predictions, April was the most consistent month, form start to finish, I've seen the big first basemen have. No concussions or little nagging injuries to keep him out of the lineup and he seems to be seeing the ball out of lefties hands well too. He and Hunter Pence have certainly helped offset Posey and Duffy's slow start but if the Giants wanna be more than a .500 team, they need more than just 2 or 3 guys hitting the baseball. Their pitching, especially in the back-end of their rotation and even their bullpen now, is nowhere near good enough to win 2-1 on most nights so this team has got to hit!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Friday, April 29, 2016

Giants arrive in New York on a roll

The Giants started out the season 6-2, at which point I think many of us felt like this team was already clicking and probably would be a +.500 team pretty much from start to finish. However, the Giants offense hit a major funk while also running into some pitching problems and it caused them to lose 8 of 11 ballgames and before you knew it, they were a few games below .500.

Well, much like that first 10 days of the season, the Giants look like they've somewhat gotten their grove back. They've finally gotten back over the .500 mark, now sitting at 12-11 (after sweeping the Pads this week), heading into Friday night's series opener with the Mets. I'm really looking forward to this weekend's series as it's the Giants first big test outside their division and they're having to go into Flushing Meadows to take on the reigning NL Champions. Luckily for the Giants, they won't have to face Mets ace Matt Harvey while getting to sport their two aces Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner in games two and three. However, they're not going to avoid Noah Syndegaard (who in my opinion is better than Harvey anyway) nor Jacob deGrom, one of the most underrated young arms in the game. Games two (MadBum/Syndegaard) and three (Cueto/deGrom) should be outstanding pitching match-ups in the spacious Citi Field and we may see a grand total of about 5 runs scored in those two ballgames.

Where the Giants have the upper hand on New York is their much deeper lineup, however, a lot of guys, including their star Buster Posey, are still looking to really get into their grooves. Pence and Belt have been helping pick up the slack, and Joe Panik looks like he's rounding into his .300 form with that sneaky extra-base power. They really just have to get Buster Posey, who, whether it  takes until May 1st of June 15th, is gonna get it going at the plate and in a big way, to start pitching in. Also, Brandon Crawford, the all-star shortstop who hit 20 jacks last year and drove in 84 runs while sporting an OPS just shy of .800, needs to show more of that BCraw rather than the .236/2/5 line he's put up the first month. Granted, his patience at the plate still has his OBP around .350 and OPS up over .700 which are still respectable for a shortstop with his defensive caliber, we've seen him grow a lot the last 2 seasons and eventually he's gonna round into shape. Denard Span is another guy who should see his average start spiking here sooner or later. He's always been a .285+ hitter  (.302 combined the last 2 seasons) and although he's driving in runs at a high rate, scoring runs and still getting on base at a decent clip, he's still got some offensive upside he's yet to fully tap into.

The Giants have a good squad people. Better than they did entering any of their Championship seasons, in my opinion. They're up there with the Mets, Cubs and Nationals, better than LA, Arizona, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, and they/'ve finally started looking it the last week. Most likely, the team that stays the healthiest out of the first four, more elite squads I mentioned will end up representing the National League in the World Series this October, barring some unforeseen fall-off, injury or something along those lines. The Giants, with the experience and depth they have, are going to have as good a shot as any, but they gotta get that consistency going. No more losing 7 of 9. If they can avoid those prolonged losing streaks, they have a good enough squad to win 95 as they're currently composed. Now if Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean go out and get another starter and/or lights out closer (or whatever need may present itself over the next two months), they the Giants could become clear favorites. Again, they have to keep up the way they've played the last week though, and not that team we saw in the middle of the month.

The Giants Baseball Blog