Home  |  Contact Us  |  GBB Twitter  |  Subscribe to GBB  |  GBB Facebook 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Giants Closing in on Pat Burrell

It's been no secret this month that the Giants offense needs some help, and apparently they are going to be bringing Pat Burrell on board for the rest of the 2010 season.

It's been reported all over the Bay Area over the last few days that the Giants were in talks with Burrell, and now it appears to be pretty much wrapped up. According to Henry Schulman, the Giants should announce the signing of Burrell by Saturday evening. Burrell won't be immediately added to the roster upon signing though, as he'll likely go through a small stint in Fresno before the Giants figure out what capacity they're planning to use him in. As far as my reaction to this move? I don't really see any harm in it, but I'm really not expecting Burrell to come in and be any kind of savior for this lineup. That said, there's always that chance he comes up, gets hot and puts together a couple of streaky months and works his way into the lineup. This situation almost reminds me of the Brad Penny deal from last year. After successful seasons in Philly, Burrell never got comfortable in the AL with Tampa and was really castoff by the organization because of it. The Giants are hoping a move back to his more familiar setting may help kick-start his bat. Again, they're adding him on the cheap and it's not costing them a roster spot, so essentially, it's a potentially low-risk, high-reward type add and you can't complain about those.

At least the Giants have been hitting better as of late and did get back on track vs. the Nationals by taking 2 of 3 games. Then started off solidly vs. the D-Backs on Friday night behind a Matt Cain 1-hit shutout. The top of the lineup, Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez, are starting to provide some consistency to that part of the lineup, and it's allowing the Giants bats in the middle of the order to relax a bit. Out of nowhere, Andres Torres is becoming a very serviceable major league outfielder, and his stats are climbing with the more pt he's getting. Torres is carrying an OPS of nearly .900 this season, and remember, he was basically obsolete in April. As a matter of fact, there were a few different games in April in which Torres played a big part in the Giants losing and I was ready to see him sent down at that point. I'm just glad Sabean and Bochy had more patience with him than I would have cause he really has been a blessing for this team. Freddy Sanchez has picked it up right along with Torres too. He's had multi-hit games in his last two starts and has 3 RBI in those two games. He and Torres need to stay right around .300 in order to keep the top of that lineup afloat.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Giants Must Right Ship At Home

I know we're not even to June yet, and the year is still very young, but the way the Giants have played over the last 7-10 days has raised some red flags. They've lost 6 of their last 7 games and have lost some ground on the rest of the division.

The tail-spin strangely coincided with the return of Freddy Sanchez, which is a surprise because so many people were hoping he would give the offense a shot in the arm. The Giants have lost all five games that they've played with Sanchez in the lineup, and have scored just 9 runs in that span (7 of those came in 1 game though). Not placing the blame on Sanchez at all, but he hasn't really done his part since his return, and, as I mentioned in the last post, he doesn't have a bunch of room for error. The Giants' second basemen collected just 1 hit over the weekend series in Oakland and has been a big part of the black hole that is the top of the Giants batting order. Aaron Rowand has been hideous since returning from the DL as well, and it's caused Bruce Bochy to finally move him out of the leadoff spot in favor of Andres Torres. It's not just Rowand and Sanchez though. Pablo Sandoval has continued to struggle and isn't playing nearly up to his capability. As a matter of fact, the only guys who can say they are doing their part offensively at the moment are Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres and it's not like those 2 are tearing the cover off the ball either. Coming into the year, the Giants were a team that would have to do the little things like move runners over, hit the sacrifice fly and get bunts down, and their struggling to do even that. I have no problem with lineup overhauls in situations like this and I hope Bruce Bochy is thinking along the same lines.

Things really hit rock bottom this weekend I think though. I mean, the A's have some decent arms and all, but there is no excuse for scoring just 1 run in a 3-game set, I don't care who the opposing team is throwing at you. Two more brilliant starting performances, one by Jonathan Sanchez and one by Matt Cain, ended up in losses because of the piss-poor fundamental baseball. Cain went 8 strong on Saturday, allowing just 6 baserunners all day and dropping his era back into the 2's, but his record fell to 2-4. Sanchez now has the same record as Cain after his 7 inning, 2-hit outing on Sunday afternoon. If they keep this up, all the Giants starters are going to have losing records despite ridiculous era's by the end of the year, and regardless of what the pitchers say, it's going to start taking a toll on them sooner or later. I mean, how many 8 inning shutouts does it take to get a win? I think now is the time to roll with Buster Posey. The Giants need an offensive boost, and Posey has the potential to be so much more than that for them right now. With Mark DeRosa still out, Posey has a spot in the lineup where he could play everyday and the situation now just seems right at the moment. There are just too many factors that support calling up Buster right now, on May 25th 2010. Now is the time for Buster Posey to come and attempt to save the day.

Up Next: Speaking of call-ups, the spotlight will be on Todd Wellemeyer tonight as he goes against the Washington Nationals and former Giant Livan Hernandez. It could be Wellemeyer's last chance to prove his value to the Giants rotation, as there has been plenty of talk of replacing him with Fresno's Eric Hacker. Something tells me that if Wellemeyer causes the Giants to continue their losing streak tonight, we won't be seeing him starting again here anytime soon! We here at the Giants Baseball Blog also would like to advise our readers to use gottapark.com to make parking at Giants games easy!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Friday, May 21, 2010

Time Is Now for Freddy Sanchez

Ever since the Giants traded for him in late July last summer, second basemen Freddy Sanchez has spent more time on the DL than on the field. Sanchez showed up in the Giants lineup for the first time in 2010 Wednesday, and hopefully he's here to stay.
Sanchez took an 0-4 in his first game back, but got his bat going in Thursday's game with a 2-3 night with a run scored and an RBI. The spotlight is really going to be on Sanchez now and he's going to have to stay healthy from here on out if he wants to remain in the good graces of Giants' fans. He showed the kind of value he can provide for this lineup on Thursday, and with the top of the Giants lineup performing inconsistently he's going to have to do his part in trying to solidify it. In order to make room for Sanchez, the Giants sent Eugenio Velez down to Fresno, choosing to keep Matt Downs and Ryan Rohlinger on the 25-man roster instead, and there may be another move here on the horrizon. The prospect of bringing Buster Posey up from Fresno has been bandied about a bit in the papers and Giants websites over the last week. Posey is hitting .340 down in Fresno with 5 homers and 27 RBI and the Giants may consider moving Aubrey Huff to left field in order to get Posey some at-bats. Andres Torres has done a respectable job in DeRosa's place, but Posey's play is really forcing the issue. I think the Giants are trying to hold off on bringing Posey up until June 1st, but with interleague play coming up, they may feel the need for another bat before then.

It wasn't the Giants offense that cost them in Thursday's game. Tim Lincecum had his worst start of the season, as it seemed like he was stuck in the stretch %80 of the time. He struggled through just 5 innings, allowing 5 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks. The bullpen wasn't very good in his relief yesterday either. All 4 relievers used after Lineceum allowed multiple baserunners and none of them had routine outings. Over the last 3 games, the Giants pitching staff has been touched up for 27 runs and they simply do not have the offense to keep up with that kind of output. There could be a change in the rotation soon though, as there has been talk of calling up Eric Hacker, who's been absolutely dealing in Fresno, to take the place of the struggling Todd Wellemeyer. Madison Bumgarner has also settled down a bit recently too, but I think the Giants plan to keep him in the minors until around mid-season.

Up Next, the Giants start interleague play with a 3-game set against the A's. I'm looking forward to seeing how Barry Zito does against the A's, as he's finally found his groove in San Francisco. Zito's been roughed up repeatedly by his former squad since he crossed the bay, but he has never faced the A's in the kind of rhythm that he's been in here early on in 2010.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Friday, May 14, 2010

Padres Give Giants Trouble at Home

The Giants were hoping to get back at the Padres for taking 2 of 3 from them earlier in April down in San Diego, but instead, the Giants struggles vs. their Southern California foes continued this week at AT&T Park.

The Giants suffered a 3-game sweep at the hands of San Diego, and it was due largely in part to some wild starting pitching and some missed opportunities at the plate. Matt Cain was wild in his start on Wednesday and gave up 5 runs in 6.2 innings, and that game probably was the one that the Giants really didn't deserve to win, but the other two games were there for the taking. Zito walked 7 guys in the series opener on Tuesday night, but did a pretty good job getting himself out of the trouble he got into and allowed just 3 runs. Unfortunately, the Giants offense could only muster up 2 runs in support of him. They didn't even score in game 3 on Thursday though, and only managed 4 runs in the full 3-game set. The discouraging part about that is that they didn't really face elite pitching. They faced some young arms in Wade LeBlanc and Mat Latos who are both good, but are rookie arms who made a veteran lineup look downright bad. Jonathan Sanchez was brilliant on Thursday to no avail. He went a season-high 8 innings, allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk. It was the second time this year that Sanchez was beaten by Latos in a close game like that. More importantly though, the 3-game sweep pushes the Giants back 3.5 games behind the first place Padres in the West.

Hopefully the Giants will be getting an offensive re-enforcement very soon. Freddy Sanchez has had a couple of games down in San Jose with the A San Jose Giants, and he's looked pretty good so far. In his first game, he had 2 doubles and a few RBI's, and if all goes well, he should be back with the Giants within the next week to 10 days. Juan Uribe, Matt Downs and Aaron Rowand have all started struggling in the last week, and the Giants' top of the order could use a shot in the arm. Speaking of struggling Giants, Pablo Sandoval's batting average continues to plummet and is now into the .270's. This is easily the longest stretch of slumping he's had to endure in his young career, so hopefully he's not taking too much of a hit to his confidence. The Giants are going to need Sandoval to return to form now more than ever with recent news on Mark DeRosa. The Giants starting free-agent acquisition from last winter has really had a rough go of it in his first 6 weeks with his new club, but apparently he's been playing at less than %100. He had offseason wrist surgery that is giving him problems and could ultimately lead to another procedure. He had his wrist worked on in November of 2009, and it took him until about late February before he was able to do all baseball activities, so if he has the same type of procedure done, it likely would keep him out for most of the rest of the season.

If DeRosa indeed needs to miss a large portion of playing time, it could prompt the Giants to bring up phenom Buster Posey. Aubrey Huff has the ability to play the outfield, and although he's been surprisingly solid with the leather at first so far, it may not be a bad idea to move him into left field and let Posey get some time in at first, where he worked extensively this spring... It's definitely going to be a situation to keep an eye on going forward though no matter what.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Giants Return After 4-2 Road-Trip

Although they did suffer a few heartbreakers in New York, and really could have had a 6-0 road-trip had a few things gone a bit differently, Bruce Bochy has to be pleased with the way his club is playing right now.

The teams only 2 losses on the trip were due to late game heroics by the New York Mets, so they playing well even in the games they aren't winning right now. It's a bit surprising too because they're doing it with two of their most important offensive pieces under-performing. Both Mark DeRosa and Pablo Sandoval had forgettable road-trips, and have really had a terrible few weeks here in May so far. So far in May, Sandoval is hitting just .081 with 1 RBI and just 3 hits in 37 at-bats. DeRosa isn't much better, sitting at .148 with 3 RBI and 4 hits in his 27 at-bats this month. The reason why the Giants have been able to weather the storm without those guys hitting has been the stand-out play of youngsters Nate Schierholtz and Matt Downs. Schierholtz has finally gotten his everyday shot, and he's making his mark. He's not hitting with an abundance of power, but he's hitting .351 which will put him amongst the NL batting average leaders as soon as he hits the minimum plate-appearance mark which will be very soon at the rate he's now playing. He's also been tremendous in right field with that glove and throwing arm. Downs, who's hitting right behind Schierholtz, is hitting .400 this month, .359 overall and will have second base to himself for the next 2 weeks with Renteria out. Also, Aaron Rowand has been on fire since his return from the DL, hitting .344 with 3 homers and 11 RBI.

Now the Giants return to AT&T Park for a 3-game showdown with the co-NL West leading San Diego Padres. Right now, with the rest of the division struggling below .500, this is time for the Giants to separate themselves not only from San Diego, but the rest of the division as well, which is why this makes this such a key series for the Giants. They'll send the hottest pitcher in baseball, Barry Zito, to the hill vs. a guy who's been a huge lift for the Pads as well, Wade Leblanc. Zito has been lights out all season long, and is off to the best start of his career. He hasn't yet had a start in which he failed to make it through at least 6 innings, and all 6 of his starts so far have been "quality starts". This has all lead to his incredible 5-0 record, 1.49 era and 0.92 WHIP. He's showing how much of a help he can be to this team when he pitches well. If Zito started this year like he had the last 3, the Giants aren't sitting in first place right now, but probably floating around .500 like the Dodgers and Rockies. You can visually see the difference in body language and confidence from this year compared to the past. I don't think this is a fluke. He's going to eventually lose, and his era will rise, but I think Zito is back to form.

It's not just Zito though, all the Giants starters, minus Todd Wellemeyer, have been brilliant. And speaking of Wellemeyer, the Giants may have to make a move in his spot due to his 9.61 road era. I know it's all hindsight now, but I never was a big fan of letting Kevin Corriea walk, as he was extremely versatile and was really improving before getting hurt in 2008 (as he's shown by going 16-13 with a sub-4 era in his 39 starts with San Diego). It's kind of got me wondering... With Madison Bumgarner struggling in Fresno, and probably not going to be counted on for much this season, the Giants may want to think about adding another starter from outside the organization. I know the fans will probably want them to add a bat if they do make a deal, but imagine what another solid starting pitcher would do for this rotation. I'm not talking about an ace, but another Brad Penny type from a year ago. I don't think another middle of the line hitter like a Mark DeRosa or Aubrey Huff would make a huge difference on this team, so unless they can get a stud hitter like a Lance Berkman, they should bulletproof their starting rotation by adding a legit fifth man in my opinion.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Giants Minor League Report

With so much going on with the Giants in April, we haven't had much of a chance to touch on the Giants Minor League system so far. Last year, we'd post at least one minor league write-up per month, and I wanted to get back on that schedule.

Most of the minor league attention surrounding the Giants early on has been on their AAA Fresno team where they have their top-2 prospects awaiting their opportunity to be moved up to the big league level. Bumgarner, who was favored to win the 5th spot in the Giants' rotation coming into spring training, didn't pitch like he was supposed to during the Cactus League, and that carried over into the regular season. In his first two starts in Fresno, Bumgarner allowed 21 hits and 11 earned runs in just 7 innings of work. However, since those first two outings, Madison has seemed to get back on track. Over his last 3 starts, he's gone 17 innings while allowing just 9 hits and 3 earned runs. His strikeout numbers have been a little bit down as well, as he's got just 16 total over 24 innings. The concern with Bumgarner once again is his drop in velocity, as he's down to about 88-90 rather than sitting at 92-95 mph like he was most of 2009. Hopefully his last 3 starts are a sign of better things to come for Bumgarner, but I'd be lying if I said that his significant drop-off isn't a big concerning for the Giants top minor league pitching prospect.

MadBum's battery mate, Buster Posey, is really making his case to be called up and if it weren't for the arbitration situation, he'd probably be up with the club right now. In 25 games, Posey's hitting .320 with 2 jacks, 13 RBI and a team leading 17 runs. He's doing a little bit of everything, and is improving behind the plate each day. Outside of Bumgarner and Posey, there aren't a bunch of notable players playing in Fresno at the moment, but they do have a few pitchers who have gained some attention. 27 year-old righty, Eric Hacker, is a perfect 5-0 in 5 starts with a 1.67 era and 31 k's in 27 innings. In the bullpen, Henry Sosa has carried his strong spring into Fresno with him, as he's allowed just 6 hits in 14 innings of work and should really get a strong look next time the Giants need an arm.

While Bumgarner, Posey and Sosa are all up in Fresno, the majority of the team's top-20 prospects reside in AA with Richmond. Roger Kieschnick, Darren Ford, Thomas Neal, Nick Noonan, Connor Gillaspie, Brandon Crawford and pitcher Clayton Tanner, a big core of the 2009 San Jose Giants, are all playing together again in AA now, but they aren't having the success they did in San Jose yet. Kieschnick is the only one hitting over .250, but he has no homers and just 3 RBI to go along with his .275 average in 91 at bats. Ford's hitting .247, with 1 hr, 5 RBI and 5 SB. Crawford's at .238, with 2 hr, 7 RBI and Neal's at .212, with 2 hr and 12 RBI. Gillaspie got off to a nice start, and hit 3 homers, had a bunch of RBI's and looked like he could be on the verge of a breakout year early on, has just 6 hits and 3 RBI over his last 10 games. Tanner has actually been solid on the mound though, even better than he was in A last year. He's gone 2-2 in 5 starts, sporting a 2.16 era and 14 k's in 25 innings spanned over 5 starts. I've made the comparison to Noah Lowry with Tanner, and I continue to see it in him. The 22 year-old could probably go up to AAA and manage pretty well as he just seems to be almost dominant at times without being a huge strikeout guy.

In San Jose, first basemen Brandon Belt has gotten off to a huge start, hitting .404 with 3 homers and 14 RBI and 7 steals. Francisco Peguero, who was on our top prospect list this winter is hitting .278 with 2 homers and 12 RBI and is amongst the minor league leaders in stolen bases with 13... In Augusta, '09 third rounder Chris Dominguez is hitting .284 with 4 hr and 19 RBI, and could be in San Jose before long. He's a guy who I was really high on after the draft because of that power. The Giants '09 first rounder, Zach Wheeler, is in Augusta as well, and has struggled so far, going 0-2 with a 6.23 era and 15 strikeouts in 13 innings. Not what Madison Bumgarner did after the Giants took him in 2007, but I'm ready to be patient with the 18 year-old Wheeler cause I do expect him to ultimately put up the minor league numbers that Bumgarner has and be a top-3 prospect sooner than later.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Giants Solid in 9-Game Homestand

Although the Giants didn't finish off their 9-game homestand with a victory Sunday, they have to feel pretty good about what they were able to accomplish throughout the last 3 series vs. arguably the leagues best teams.

Any time you take 2 of 3 from a division favorite, that's a good series, and the Giants did that to 3 different division favorites(St. Louis, Philadelphia and Colorado). Jonathan Sanchez got roughed up a little by the Rockies on Sunday, which cost the Giants a 3-game sweep of the pre-season NL West favorites, but they still won 2 of 3 from them to keep that series winning streak alive. Sanchez started out strong, but his wildness got him into trouble in the 4th and 5th innings and knocked him out of the game. His line for the day was 4 2/3 innings, 3 hits, 3 earned runs, 5 walks and strikeouts. He didn't give up too many hard hit balls, but all those walks allowed too many baserunners and the Rockies cashed in on their opportunities. Offensively, the Giants couldn't really get anything going on Sunday, a problem that they haven't really had on this homestand. They only mustered up 4 hits against the Rockies young righty, Jhoulys Chacin and 3 relievers and their only run came on Aubrey Huff's 4th big fly of the season and 3rd in the last 5 ballgames. That's a very positive sign for the Giants to get Huff's power bat going. It seemed like he was a little discouraged hitting at AT&T Park for the first part of April, but it looks like he's settling in, and surprisingly has hit all 4 of his homers at home.

The Giants also got a few important pieces to their lineup back in Aaron Rowand and Juan Uribe. Uribe only missed a handful of games, but immediately showed is value by driving in 5 runs over his first two games back in the starting lineup (Friday and Saturday vs. Colorado). Rowand was activated from the 15-day DL on Sunday as well, and everybody hoping he picks up right where he left off before he got beaned in the face by Clayton Kershaw a couple weeks back. In the 7 games prior to that one, Rowand was hitting .412 with a homer, 6 runs and 6 RBI. Getting both Uribe and Rowand back in their everyday should further boost the offense, which put together and overall solid homestand. They got a good showing out of Matt Downs, who filled in nicely for Uribe, and now for Edgar Renteria. Downs is hitting .375, albeit in just 16 at-bats, but he's showing some pop as 4 of his 6 hits have been for extra bases ( 1 hr, 3 2b). The showing by Downs, and the recent improvement by Andres Torres, allowed both guys to keep roster spots after Rowand's activation. Instead, the Giants sent down seldom used reliever Waldis Joaquin. The Giants starting pitching (outside of Sanchez on Sunday) has been so good lately, that Bochy feels the Giants can roll with just 6 relievers for the time being.

On Tap: The Giants start their brief 6-game East Coast trip with three games in Florida starting Tuesday, then 3 in New York vs. the NL East leading Mets. Both these teams are playing pretty well, so things aren't getting much easier. Then they return home for a showdown with the division leading Padres... Coming up next here at The GBB will be our Giants Minor League Report.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________