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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Draft Interview with The College Baseball Blog

We recently had a chance to catch-up with our draft/amateur baseball expert and webmaster of The College Baseball Blog, Brian Foley, to get a little bit better look at some of the players the Giants selected in the '10 draft. Here is the interview:

Q: With their first pick in the 2010 draft, the Giants took speedy centerfielder Gary Brown out of Cal State Fullerton. What's your take on him and how quickly do you see him moving through the Giants' system?

BF: Brown was injured late in the 2010 college season which cost him a chance to play in the NCAA Tourney. He is a speedster who I was surprised was drafted so high but on all the draft boards that I saw he was included as a number 1 pick. I saw him in the Cape Cod Baseball League where he was a decent player but I thought there was a couple of other better outfielders with five tools.

Q: Is Brown the guy you would have taken at pick 24? There were some really good hitters still on the board.

BF: Not at all, I would have taken Bryce Brentz and Zack Cox over him who both are going to be outstanding hitters at the next level.

Q: With their second pick, the Giants went after another speedy outfielder in Virginia's Jarrett Parker. Tell us a bit about him and how he compares with Gary Brown.

BF: I have personally seen Parker play at least eight different times and every time he has had a terrible game striking out multiple times. Parker had an outstanding sophomore year which made him jump up all the draft boards but had a tough 2009 Cape Cod League season batting .188 with a homer and 13 RBI in 29 games. This is a wood bat league so his power might not transfer over to the pro level.

Q4: One of my favorite picks for the Giants in this draft was the big lefty out of South Florida, Andrew Barbosa. What are your thoughts on him, and did he last longer than you thought he would in this draft?

BF: Barbosa was a true walk-on at South Florida and the coaches were awed when they found out he could throw mid-90's. He had a dominating season for the South Florida Bulls where he went 8-2 with a 2.40 ERA while striking out 95 batters in 86.1 innings. He also held batters to a .228 average.

Q: Give us an arm and a bat that were taken after round 10 that you

BF:Brett Bochy is an arm to watch as he was outstanding at the end of games for the Jayhawks before he got injured thus missing the last 3/4 of the season. Dan Burkhart could work himself into being a backup catcher for a long time in the league behind Buster Posey.

Giants Notes: Back at the Major League level, the Giants have hit a bit of a bump in the road after crusing along through most of June. They lost 2 of 3 to the Red Sox over the weekend, and fell to the Dodgers in game one of a three game set on Monday night. Tim Lineceum was knocked out of the game in the third inning on Sunday, and forced the bullpen into the game early which is significant because the Giants don't have another off-day until the all-star break. Luckily Barry Zito went a solid 6, allowing just 2 runs on 6 hits with 6 strikeouts, but didn't get a decision due to a Casey Blake game winning 2-run homer after Zito departed. Keep an eye on the Giants bullpen over the next couple of days cause the weather is heating up and so is their work load. A couple of negatives for relievers.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bumgarner Takes Loss in '10 Debut

Madison Bumgarner couldn't have asked for a tougher assignment to start his 2010 big league season. The 20 year-old lefty was opposed by the Boston Red Sox's dominant lineup and their prize young righty, Clay Buchholtz (who actually left the game after the first inning).

Bumgarner didn't throw particularly bad, as his line for the day was 7 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 5 K's and 1 BB. His only blemishes though came on two pitches, to Darnell McDonald and Mike Cameron in the 1st and 2nd innings, that both left the yard. Other than that though, he was nails, and Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti have to be pleased with how he rebounded after those rough first couple of innings. I think like with Buster Posey, Bumgarner is going to be given every opportunity to let this be his last call-up, and I think he's going to respond. The way he threw against Boston will definitely give him confidence. I'm kind of surprised the Giants couldn't get to the Red Sox's bullpen in order to give Bumgarner some support. The Giants offense only mustered up 6 hits and 2 runs, both driven in by Buster Posey, and they got to face the Red Sox bullpen for 8 innings rather than their stud young righty, Clay Buchholz. MadBum's next projected start, assuming that he's not sent down for some reason, would be against the Colorado Rockies in Denver, so it's not going to get much easier for him, but it's going to be a good solid test for him right off the bat. So far so good.

On Friday night, the Giants' bats showed up. Although they only scored 5 runs, they banged out 12 hits, including Juan Uribe's 12th homer of the year. Buster Posey had a 3-hit ballgame to get his average back up to .321, and Uribe and Sandoval each had a couple of hits apiece. The Giant who really needed to get some hits this series, Aaron Rowand, has gone 0-7 through 2 games so far. I understand that the Giants don't want to site a guy making 13 million dollars this year, but if he were making 3 million instead, he'd probably be a rare-start, defensive replacement, if he'd even manage to stick on the roster at all. I've met Rowand at Giants' events in the past and I like the way he plays the game and will always root for him, but Pat Burrell, Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff need to be in the outfield when Buster Posey's at first base. With Pablo Sandoval's sophomore slump dragging towards mid-season, the Giants can't really afford to sit their best hitters. When Sandoval was hitting .330, it would be easier to play Rowand a little more often. Here is how I'd like to see the lineup constructed more nights than not; 1. CF Andres Torres 2. 2B Freddy Sanchez 3. 1B Buster Posey 4. SS Juan Uribe 5. RF Aubrey Huff 6. LF Pat Burrell 7. 3B Pablo Sandoval 8. C Bengie Molina.

Giants Blogs Interview with NESN: For the rest of the interview done with NESN that I previewed in our last post, you can view it here, and if you do, I urge you guys to drop some Giants comments cause there was a bit of Giants/Lincecum bashing going on from the Red Sox fans. It was all in good fun though, but it definitely is making me root for the Giants and Timmy with a little extra incentive in Sunday's finale.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mark DeRosa Out for the Season

It shouldn't come as a surprise to most Giants fans, but Mark DeRosa was officially pronounced out for the season and placed on the 60-day DL on Wednesday.

DeRosa hadn't played since May 8th, and when he was playing, you could tell there was something going on with him. He was hitting just .194 with a homer and 10 RBI in 93 at-bats and was really hurting the offense more than he was helping. This has to be a disappointment to the Giants, who added DeRosa on a 2-year, 12 million dollar deal this winter. My thinking at the time was that even though I didn't necessarily like the deal, but in the worst case scenario, DeRosa would be a highly-paid utility guy if the Giants had better options. I certainly didn't envision him getting hurt and missing basically %75 of the season. The addition of Pat Burrell is looking even better now and fortunately for the Giants, I don't think they're going to miss him as badly as they were thinking. Buster Posey's emergence along with the addition of Burrell should help the Giants get by without the versatile DeRosa, even though I was really looking forward to seeing what the Giants lineup would look like when everybody was healthy. The one positive in DeRosa having his wrist worked on now is that he'll have plenty of time to recover and get back to %100 for spring training next year rather than having him repeatedly placed on the 15 day DL and playing through the season in pain.

Interview with NESN: I just completed a brief interview with Boston Red Sox flagship media outlet, NESN. The Giants will be hosting the Red Sox at AT&T Park for 3 games over the weekend and the topics discussed include the upcoming series and even getting into some Barry Bonds discussion. I'm not able to post the full interview here yet, as it will be posted on NESN.com Thursday, but I here is one question from the interview:

NESN: The Red Sox' offense currently ranks 1st overall while, on the other side of the ball, the Giants' pitching ranks 3rd. How do you think they'll match up?

GBB: Well, they'll be in San Francisco, so the Red Sox won't get to use a DH. The Giants' rotation lines up so that Jonathan Sanchez, Joe Martinez and Tim Lincecum will start the three games. With the way Lincecum (3-0, 1.67 era, 24 k's in last 3 starts) and Sanchez (2.90 era and .206 BAA) have, it's tough to bet against the, no matter who they're facing. I say the Giant take 2 of 3.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tim Lincecum Gets Back On Track

During a few of his starts towards the end of May, Tim Linceucm was not himself. He put together a 3-start stretch in which he failed to complete 6 innings, and losing 2 of those 3 games in the process. However, any concern that arouse with Lincecum's struggles in May have been pretty much wiped away as he's had a much more "Lincecum" type of month this June.

His most recent start Wednesday, clinched the series victory for the Giants over the Orioles, and Lincecum was absolutely dealing. The Giants bench got a slight scare though in the 6th inning when Migeul Tejada comeback liner nailed Lincecum right on the back-side of his throwing shoulder. The ball ricocheted right to Freddy Sanchez who threw Tejada out at first which ended the 6th inning, and Lincecum didn't come out for the 7th. His pitch count was high though the 6th inning was going to be his final inning regardless, but I'm just curious as to what would have happened with him had it occurred in the 4th inning instead? Timmy got the win though, and really was in a grove for most of the afternoon. He struck out 10 Oriole hitters, his highest total since May 4th and now is riding a modest 2-game winning streak, but he'll take it. Prior to this personal 2-game win streak, Lincecum had just 1 victory since April.

The Giants' other ace, Matt Cain, continues to do no wrong. With the arrival of Steven Strasburgh and the brilliance of Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Cain has flown under the radar, so to speak. Cain has put together a 4-game winning streak in which he's posted video game type numbers. In those 4 games, Cain had 2 complete game shutouts to go with a 7 and 8 inning start in which he allowed just one run each. His CG shutout vs. the Diamondbacks on May 29th was nearly a perfect game. The only baserunner the D-Backs put on all day was on a 2-out double by Mark Reynolds in the 2nd inning, that wasn't even hit all that well. It's amazing to think that Cain and Lincecum are still just in their mid-20's and are just about to enter their prime. They still haven't even learned 1/2 of what they'll know by the time they're 30. Even Jonathan Sanchez has really come into his own this year. I was expecting Sanchez to step up his game this year, but not quite to the 2.78 era, 1.15 WHIP and nearly 1 K per inning level that he's currently at. He's always had the potential to be this good, and at 27, he's finally realized it. The Giants will only be able to keep these guys together for so long. So enjoy this while you can.

Giants Vs. Jays: The Giants lost game one of a three game set with the Blue Jays Friday night. Barry Zito was again nails, but Edwin Encarnacion got to him a few times and single-handedly beat the Giants and Zito, 3-2. Aubrey Huff had another 2 hits to raise his average to .309 and Pablo Sandoval drove in the Giants only 2 runs. If your keeping tabs, former Giant Fred Lewis went 0-4 with a K. On Saturday, Matt Cain looks to extend his win streak as he goes against Jesse Litsch.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Giants' Lineup Finally Clicking

Bruce Bochy has used so many different lineups throughout this year, that it's been extremely rare to see the exact same bunch thrown out there for more than 1 or 2 days at a time. However, over the last week or so, Bochy has found a starting 8 that have meshed terrifically.

The Giants are 7-2 over their last 9 games, and they have done it with offense. In that 9-game stretch, the Giants have averaged about 6 runs per game. With their pitching, if they can score 5-6 runs per night, they are going to be very tough to beat. A big part of the Giants recent offensive surge has been the play of the newest Giant, Pat Burrell. The guy who most casted off as done and washed up has really shown new life here in San Francisco. The 33-year old outfielder has played in just 10 games here in San Francisco, and has only 27 at-bats, but he's contributed plenty, hitting .407 with 2 homers and 5 RBI heading into play Tuesday night and seems to have solidified his spot in the starting lineup. Bochy has been using Burrell in the fifth spot, right behind Juan Uribe and Aubrey Huff and right in front of Buster Posey and it's really working for them. Huff and Uribe have been red hot along with Burrell. In fact, the heart of the Giants order have combined for 5 homers and 12 RBI over the last 4 games, all Giant wins, and have helped move the Giants back into a 3-way tie for first place.

The only issue Bochy's going to be facing is all that money that the Giants have sitting on the bench. Aaron Rowand, who's making 13.5 million this year, has become the 4th outfielder, and 13.5 mill is a tad high to be paying a bench guy. At the same time, who's Bochy supposed to sit? Andres Torres has taken over the leadoff spot and has been playing so well that he's gaining consideration as an all-star ballot write-in. Aubrey Huff has really been the Giants most consistent hitter since day 1 this season, and Pat Burrell has provided the Giants with the legit (30 hr a year type) right-handed power hitter, something they've lacked since Jeff Kent was here. Also, Mark DeRosa and Edgar Renteria are currently on the DL, but those guys will be coming back sooner than later, and they're another 2 who are going to need their share of at-bats. Especially Renteria who was on fire (hitting .326) when he went down. It almost seems as if the Giants are going to have to make some kind of trade or maybe have to bite the bullet and release a player. Mark DeRosa would be my choice since he's hurt and may eventually miss the season anyway, but he's signed for 2011 and the Giants have to pay him whether he's on the roster or not.

Up Next: The Giants continue their interleague series with the Orioles at AT&T Park Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, before travelling north of the border up to Canada to play 3 against the Blue Jays.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Friday, June 11, 2010

Interview With Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove

We recently were approached by Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove for a quick interview talking Bengie Molina, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Madison Bumgarner. Here is one of the questions, the others can be seen right here.

"FBHS: With Bengie Molina really struggling of late, do you foresee any plan to make Buster Posey the regular catcher?

GBB: The Giants are definitely starting to ease him into the position. Posey has been on fire since his call-up and it's becoming more obvious with each day he plays that he needs and everyday spot right now. A lot will depend on how the team is doing though too. If the Giants are in the playoff hunt come August and September, then Molina will be playing, he's too valuable to the pitching staff even when he's struggling offensively. However, if they do fall out of contention, I'd be surprised if Posey's not preparing to take over the full-time catching spot in 2011."-FBHS

Giants Split W/ Reds: Unfortunately, the Giants couldn't finish off Cincinnati, losing the final two games of the series and ending up with a 4 game split with the one of the biggest surprises in the National League. There was some good to come out of those last two games though. Buster Posey hit his first bomb as a big leaguer, and continues to make multi-hit ballgames look routine. Also, Aubrey Huff has really gotten comfortable in the middle of the Giants lineup and has his average up over .300 and just hit his team high 8th home run. I'd really like to see Pablo Sandoval heat up in front of him, cause Burrell/Uribe/Posey/Sanchez/Torres are all hitting and the Giants lineup could actually be decent with the Panda playing like he should.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Giants Go For Speed In 2010 Draft

The Giants have notoriously gone after pitching at the top of their drafts in recent years, but they switched things up in 2010, taking a couple of speedy centerfielders with their top-2 picks in the 2010 draft.

The draft kind of crept up on us this year, and wasn't as highly anticipated on the Giants front, because they didn't have a top-10 pick for the first time in years. Instead, they picked 24th in the first round, and with that pick, they took Cal State Fullerton speedy centerfielder Gary Brown. The 22 year-old has improved each year at the plate, and has always been amongst the most polished baserunners and basestealers during his time at Fullerton. He's a very good hitter, with the potential to be a plus leadoff hitter in the future, but I don't think he was the best available hitter at that point and I feel the Giants could have made a better selection. Zack Cox and Kyle Parker went with the following 2 picks after the Giants took Brown, and I think a lot of fans would have been happy had the Giants gone with one of those guys with a little bit more thump in their bat. A guy I really liked who I was kind of hoping for was the centerfielder out of Georgia (HS), Chevy Clarke. That kid has legit 5-tool talent, and although he had an up-and-down senior year, he is going to be a tremendously bright ballplayer. I can't help but think of the Upton brothers when watching him. Not saying Brown is a bad ballplayer by any stretch, and I do expect him to catch the fast track to the big leagues seeing that he's had plenty of college and Cape Cod experience.

With their second pick, the Giants took a somewhat identical version of Brown, just a little taller with a little more power, in Jarrett Parker. The 6'4" smooth swinging lefty has a bit of pop, but is mostly a contact/speed type hitter. He did struggle a lot in 2010 which caused his value to drop (many had him as a top-20 pick coming into the year). He kind of reminds me a bit of Johnny Damon, but I don't think he'll project out to be half as good in the Majors. Again, the Giants didn't have a supplemental pick this year, and didn't get another pick in the top-50 like they usually have over the last couple of drafts, so the top of their class isn't as quality as we're used too. I think Parker will end up being like Connor Gillespie with a bit more speed, though I do have some expectations for him. Outside of Parker and Brown, the Giants did grab a couple of intriguing arms in the draft as well. I like the potential of fourth rounder Seth Rosin (Brad Penny Jr. with his motion and stuff) as well as Charlston rightie Richard Hembree, who can really bring it. Look for big lefty Andrew Barbosa to end up being one of the better value picks outside of the top-10 rounds as well... Much more on the draft to come!

Giants Win 3rd Straight: Meanwhile, back in Cincinnati, the Giants have gotten hot all of the sudden, winning their 3rd straight on Tuesday behind another Matt Cain gem. Juan Uribe also went yard again and Pat Burrell continued his hot start in SF with a couple more hits. Jonathan Sanchez will look to further continue his hot streak as well Wednesday as the Giants go for the series victory.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Burrell Gets Start In Pittsburgh

Within a week of signing Pat Burrell to a minor league deal, the Giants wasted no time in getting his bat onto the 25-man roster and into the starting lineup.

Burrell played just 5 games in Fresno but performed well in that brief stint, going 5-16 with a homer and 6 RBI. The Giants are hoping they will get that type of production upon his arrival, and not the Burrell that hit just .213 with 16 homers and 77 RBI in 146 games in about 1 1/3 season in Tampa. He got his first start as a Giant on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, but went just 1-4 with a strikeout. Bochy had him hitting out of the 6 hole in between Aubry Huff and Buster Posey. As expected, Burrell got the start in left field, pushing Huff into right and Andres Torres to center field. I don't think we'll see much of that outfield alignment at AT&T Park, but I do expect Bochy to use that mix on occasion during road trips. As good as Aubrey Huff has been in his stint in the outfield for the Giants, I believe asking him to handle right field at AT&T on a nightly basis would be wishful thinking. Also part of the Giants lineup change Saturday had Pablo Sandoval dropped down into the 8th spot. It's no secret that Pablo has been struggling really all year long, so Bochy is going to try and do whatever he can to maybe alleviate some of the pressure off of Sandoval.

While Sandoval has been struggling, 2 guys who have really picked up the slack have been Buster Posey and Aubrey Huff. We talked a lot about Posey in our last post here, and he's done nothing but continue to rip since. He's still got his average up around .450 and seems to be hitting the ball on a line in almost every at-bat he takes. Huff, in my opinion, has been the most consistent hitter for the Giants over the first 2 months. Huff entered play Saturday at .302 with 7 home runs and 25 RBI. His RBI numbers would probably be a bit higher had there been some more consistency at the top of the order, but right now he's projecting out to be right around .295 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI and I think any Giants fan would take that line from Huff come September. Also, Freddy Sanchez has really caught fire since his return and is finally showing Giants fans why Sabean gave away their #2 pitching prospect last summer to get him. Sanchez has hit safely in all but one of his 16 games since his return from offseason shoulder surgery and it has his average up at .389. Now I don't expect him to hit .350 plus all year, but in order for me to feel good about the Giants deal with Sanchez, he's going to have to stay healthy from here on out and hit around .310-.315 and it looks like he's indeed ready to do so.

Up Next: The Giants finish off their 3 game set with Pittsburgh on Sunday, and if they want to be in the playoff race in September, these are the types of series they have to win in June and July. Tim Lincecum will oppose Ross Ohlendorf as Timmy tries to break his personal 2-game losing streak and win his first game since May 15th.... Also, we'll be taking our monthly look down on the farm in our next post, so look out for that Monday or Tuesday!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Posey Paying Immediate Dividends

All year long, actually ever since they drafted him in 2008 really, Giants fans have been anticipating the arrival of top prospect Buster Posey. He got his feet wet in September of last year in a brief stint, but this time, it looks like he's here to stay.

Posey arrived at AT&T Park in time for Saturday's game vs. the Diamondbacks and Billy Buckner. The 23 year-old catcher turned first basemen went 3-4 in his 2010 big league debut and drove in 3 runs in the process. Coincidentally, the Giants scored a season-high 12 runs in the ballgame as well. The offense just seemed to click with Posey in their in the fifth spot behind Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff. Buster followed up his 3-hit, 3-RBI debut with another 3-hit game, including 2 doubles and an RBI vs. Ian Kennedy on Sunday. With Posey in the lineup at first base, the Giants have decided to move Huff out to left field for the time being and their lineup has improved drastically. Unfortunately they were shutout on Monday, which ended their 4-game winning streak as Ubaldo Jimenez bested Tim Lincecum in a matchup of the two best right-handers in the NL West. I can't get too down on the Giants for a loss to a guy who's far and away the NL Cy Young favorite at this point, as Jimenez is now 10-1 with a gaudy 0.78 era. They will have to get back on pace Tuesday night against Jason Hammel though, because if they lose tonight, they will fall back one spot in the division into 4th place.

Since Posey has "officially" arrived, their is going to be a ton of pressure on him to help carry the Giants offensive load. There was an article in Sunday's Chronicle that talked about how good the Giants are going to need Posey to be in order for them to be contenders as the season wears on. Then, there are some people that are wondering what is going to happen to Posey once Mark DeRosa returns from the DL. DeRosa just started his rehab assignment Monday, and if all goes well with him, the Giants will be expecting him back within a 7-10 days. It's not so much the roster spot I'm concerned about, it's going to be the division of the playing time. Posey has obviously shown his value to the Giants lineup, and I don't see how they could just remove that type of production. Granted, it's only been a few games, Posey looks like he's got the same type of magic in his bat that Pablo Sandoval had when he first came up and this lineup needs that type of production. Then there's Andres Torres, who has caught fire and solidified the top of the Giants order. He's earned a starting spot too, and the Giants are going to have some real tough personnel decisions to face over the next couple of weeks.
The Giants Baseball Blog