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Saturday, January 29, 2011


The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Giants Blog Interviewed By Razzball

With spring training quickly approaching, we were approached by Razzball.com to do a short Giants interview with questions about the upcoming season. The full interview will be posted in the next day or two, but I figured I'd go ahead and give a sneak peek here:

"Q1: For Tim Lincecum, last year the percentage of pitches a batter hit outside the strike zone was 56%, compared to 48.8% the year before. He also lost a mile on his fastball, threw his slider a lot more and his curveball a lot less. Are these causes for concern? Blips on the radar?

A: I would be lying if I said it wasn't a little bit alarming. Lincecum went through a real rough stretch in August last season, before really turning it on for the stretch run and the playoffs, and the big reason for that was because he was learning how to pitch without the 95 mph fastball for the first time in his career. The reason for the drop in velocity, in my opinion, has to do with his large workload over the last 3 seasons. However, he really alleviated that concern after watching his performances in October, and although Giants fans will be watching his velocity and control very closely this spring, they are all pretty confident in their ace. A big reason for the drop in curveball and slider ratio was because of his evolving change-up, which is a pitch that really helped him out of his funk.

Q2: After the struggles of 2010, if Panda starts off slow in 2011, how long will his leash be?

A: That really all depends on the health of the guys around him, mainly Miguel Tejada and Mark DeRosa...."

Again, I'll have a link to the actual interview page as well as a recap posting here once they've put it up.

Giants add Jeff Suppan: The Giants made official their signing of Jeff Suppan Monday, as he'll be reporting to camp with the rest of the pitchers and catchers in about 3 weeks from now. It's not a huge move or earth shattering news whatsoever, but I actually kinda like this move. The reason being is that the Giants are pretty thin after their starting five of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner. Prior to the Suppan signing, the next guys in line for starts if one of them were to go down were guys like Todd Wellemeyer and Henry Sosa (who has nice upside still, but hasn't had much experience as a starter above A ball). Suppan is coming off an up-and-down year with the Cardinals and Brewers last year. He started off in Milwaukee, where he never pitched up to his standards during his 3+ year run there, then moved back to St. Louis towards mid-season, and had a very Suppan-like 2nd half. He gave up some hits and baserunners, but kept his era at 3.84 in 70 innings for the Cardinals, and I think that's what the Giants are hoping to get out of him. He very well could start out in AAA Fresno, but I expect him to make the opening day roster as a long-man, or a #5 starter if one of the other guys start the year on the DL.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Giants Agree to Deals with Ross, Sanchez

The Giants avoided going to arbitration with their two most important arbitration eligible players by signing both Cody Ross and Jonathan Sanchez to one-year deals on Tuesday, but they still have a couple of important pieces still unsettled.

Leadoff man Andres Torres and key left-handed specialist Javier Lopez are still awaiting deals, but Brian Sabean is confident they'll get something done with both players before a potential court hearing to decide their salary. The Giants can't afford to lose either player, so I don't think this will drag out too much longer. As far as the guys they did sign, I think both Sanchez and Ross got right around what they deserved. Ross will reel in $6.3 million in 2011 while Sanchez takes in $3.7. Both are getting hefty raises from their '10 salary, when Sanchez made just $2.1M, and Ross made $4.5M. I was actually expecting both to receive a little bit more than that in light of the championship season and after seeing what the Giants gave Aubrey Huff (I had Cody Ross in the $7-8M range and I though Sanchez at $5+). Without Ross, I think it's safe to say the Giants don't win the World Series. Every Giants fan who watched them play in October knows how clutch Ross was for this team and I'm stoked on seeing what he does in 2011. The way he ended the year had to be a huge confidence boost for himself. In a way, I'm hoping he's sort of the second coming of Jeff Kent. He was always considered a solid player before coming to San Francisco, but hopefully, San Francisco is where he becomes a star.

Besides Ross and Sanchez, the Giants also inked Ramon Ramirez to a deal for 2011, a one-year $1.65 million deal. Ramirez was lights out for the Giants after coming over from Boston in August, but had a few rough outings in the playoffs and then wasn't used much. Another reliever acquired mid-season last year who did show up big in the playoffs was Santiago Casilla, and the Giants ensured his return in 2011 by giving him a $1.3 million. Outside of Brian Wilson and Javier Lopez, I think it's safe to say that Casilla was the most consistent reliever in October, and although his salary seems insignificant compared to other star relievers, he's getting a raise of over 3-times the amount he made in 2010 ($400K). Speaking of Lopez, the Giants currently have their offer to him at $2 million and he's countered with $2.875M. Something tells me they'll meet right in the middle someplace and Lopez ends up at roughly $2.5 million for 2011, and the Giants shouldn't object cause he really earned it. The same can be said for Torres, who is seeking $2.6 million over the Giants offer of $1.8M. Again, I don't think this will go to court, so I think they probably meet in the middle here as well and give Torres $2.2 million for 2011.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sandoval, DeRosa Looking to Rebound in '11

The Giants haven't been overly active this offseason and appear to feel pretty confident with the guys they currently have on the roster. Two of those guys, Pablo Sandoval and Mark DeRosa, will have some pretty big expectations after both failed to make the impact they wanted to in 2010.

Each player had a different issue, but both of them had one thing in common, they didn't do nearly as much for the Giants during their World Series run than they would have hoped. Sandoval was healthy all year, so he was actually on the active roster, something DeRosa hasn't been part of since June. However, Pablo was basically obsolete in the latter part of the year, and especially in the playoffs, where he lost time to Mike Fontenot, Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe. It was a big surprise too, after the year Sandoval had in 2009, but his conditioning finally caught up with him and it effected his whole game, even the mental part of it. Now, this offseason, Sandoval has been a man on a mission. I don't think this guy ever wants to be relegated to bench duty during important playoff games again, and I hope he's realizing what kind of force he can be if he can get himself into the best possible shape. I had been hearing all kinds of reports throughout the winter of Sandoval's intense offseason regimen in Arizona, but I kept telling myself, I have to see it to believe it. After all, Sandoval supposedly shed upwards to 20 pounds last winter as well, before gaining it all back before opening day. This time though, again, Sandoval looks like a more focused and determined individual, and the pictures that he posted on his twitter recently are proof.

DeRosa, on the other hand, has been rehabilitating from his wrist surgery during the season and trying to get back into baseball shape after about 9 months off. He was taking some BP with the team during the world series, and has since picked up all baseball activities. It's key for him to be on the field when the Giants start the cactus league too because they could be without Freddy Sanchez for a while. As of right now, DeRosa's supposedly around 100% health wise, and should arrive in Scottsdale next month able to take full part in all workouts. Plenty of fans still wanted Sabean and the Giants to go out and get more offense this winter, but if DeRosa is healthy, and Sandoval gets back on track, two things the 2010 Championship team never really got, then this offense will be just fine. Not to mention, they have Brandon Belt just itching for his opportunity, and apparently Bochy and Sabean will not hold this kid back. They're saying right now that if Belt earns a spot during the Spring, then he'll have a spot on the opening day, 25-man roster. Now, the Giants will not carry Belt as a bench player, and I don't even think they'd carry him as a part-timer. Wherever he ends up, he'll need to be playing everyday, but it's only a matter of time before we could be seeing a Belt-Posey-Sandoval middle-of-the-order in San Fran.

Spring Training Invitees: The Giants also announced 22 non-roster Spring Training invitees this weekend. Nobody too surprising is on that last, but a lot of the organizations better prospects will be put on display. Some of the big name youngsters who will join Brandon Belt in the big league camp are: C-1B'men Tommy Joseph and Hector Sanchez; Outfielder Gary Brown; Infielders Brandon Crawford, Charlie Culberson, Nick Noonan and former Stanford closer Jason Stoffel.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top-20 Giants Prospects for 2011: GBB Edition

Like we do at the start of the calender year here at the Giants Baseball Blog, it's time for our version of the Giants top-20 prospects heading into 2011. So without further ado, we'll get right into it:

#1 Brandon Belt, 1B:
The guy barely got a mention in our top-20 last January, but did he ever earn his spot as the Giants top prospect in 2010! Belt was the big bright spot in an otherwise very quiet year on the farm for the Giants, hitting .352 with 23 HR, 112 RBI and a 1.075 OPS in his first year as a pro. Belt succeeded on all levels he played at in 2010, but will likely find himself in Fresno to start the year, and I'd expect the Giants to use the Buster Posey approach from last season meaning there's a good chance we'll see Belt up in SF before mid-season as long as he keeps doing his part. For a team traditionally rich in pitching prospects, the Giants have developed a few offensive players (Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and now Belt) over the last 3 years that should become catalysts for this offense into the future.

#2 Zack Wheeler, SP: Wheeler wasn't overly impressive in his first year in the Giants organization in 2010, but he did show some bright spots, including a high strikeout-rate. Some are still a little concerned about the 20 year-old's control and that live arm should cruise through the system once he figures it out. Giants fans will probably want quick results after seeing how quickly other top young arms moved through the system, but Wheeler will probably take a few more years. I still see him with the potential to be a #2 or #3 starter in the big leagues down the road.

#3 Gary Brown, OF: I don't usually rank guys without any pro experience this high, cause you really don't know what your going to get until you see these guys play everyday with wood bats. However, the Giants system is in "rebuild mode" and they're counting on the speedy Brown to be a big part of the new look system. Their top pick from 2010 has a lot of Jacoby Ellsbury in him, and I'm very curious to see how he plays in 2011.

#4 Thomas Neal, OF
: Started off extremely slowly in AA ball last summer, but really came around and leveled out as the season wore on. Didn't match his huge '09 showing, but still showed power (just 12 HR, but 40 2B) solid average (.291) and good plate discipline (.360 OBP). Slated to start the 2011 season in Fresno, and after Brandon Belt, I think he's the most ML ready amongst Giants top-ranking hitting prospects and very well could find himself in San Francisco at some point in 2011.

#5 Francisco Peguero, OF: Another speedy outfielder, in a similar mold to Gary Brown, but unlike Brown, Peguero hasn't quite mastered the art of plate discipline and that's the only thing keeping him in the lower levels. He hit .330 in San Jose in 2010 and stole 40 bases and even showed a bit of run producing abilities with 77 RBI. He's got all the tools, just needs to figure out the mental part of the game, which sounds easy, but makes all the difference between a prospect and an actual player.

#6 Jarrett Parker, OF: Like with Gary Brown, it's tough to rank him cause he hasn't done anything yet. Even though he is highly regarded coming out of college, he still has big questions about his offensive ability. I like the smooth left-handed stroke, kind of Will Clark'ish, and he's got a little bit of pop, having hit 26 HR over his last 2 seasons, including 16 in his sophomore year (surprisingly regressed in the power department in his junior year in '10). Has nice intangibles, a strong arm, good defense and plenty of potential with the bat. Certainly has a ways to go, but does have the potential to get better and definitely possesses some raw talent which you cannot coach.

#7 Charlie Culberson, 2B: Culberson had a breakout year offensively with San Jose in '10 (.290, 16 hr, 71 rbi, 80 r, 25 sb in 128 games) and plenty of eyes will be on him in '11 as he takes his act to AA Richmond where his offensive abilities will really be tested. Has some learning to do on both sides of his game still, but is still very young and has plenty of time to do so. One thing you can't teach someone is natural talent, which Culberson definitely has, and he'll be another one under the microscope in 2011. Reason I have ranked a little higher than most is because of his age (22 in April), improving offensive abilities, and the fact he plays up the middle.

#8 Eric Surkamp, SP: He's not quite as young as Jorge Bucardo (John Sickel's first SP choice after Wheeler), but I'm beginning to really like what Surkamp does on the mound. He's efficient and he wins and that's all that matters, but he also has some nice intangibles. He's finesse-lefty, but still manages to strike batters out at an above-average rate and will take his act beyond A ball for the first time this summer. He probably would have made it up to AA last year if he didn't get hurt. He knows how to pitch though, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him cruise through the system from here on out.

#9 Jose Casilla, RP: Top-rated reliever in the system probably could manage just fine if they were to throw him into the fire in 2011, but they're going to ease him along. He'll probably start out in Richmond, possibly San Jose but I hope not, and he should be in Fresno before long if he keeps throwing the way he has the last 2 seasons (1.43 era/1.06 WHIP in 3 minor league seasons). Already has 3 full, successful pro seasons under his belt at age 21, which is why I think he'll fair just fine at higher levels.

#10 Ehire Adrianza, SS: The 21 year-old already has a glove that would get gold-glove consideration if he were to take over at short on a daily basis for the Giants, but his bat has not caught up yet. Very similar to Texas' Elvis Andrus, with the glove and speed surpassing the bat, but Adrus has found himself a nice role with the Rangers, and the Giants are hoping Adrianza does the same over the next few seasons in San Francisco. At the very least, he should be able to make a big league roster as a utility infielder/pinch runner, but if he can adapt with the lumber, he could be much more than that.

#11 Jorge Bucardo, SP: The sinker-baller has shown positive signs early on, and has been very effective so far. Doesn't have a great strikeout rate, but that could improve with time. Even if he never becomes a strikeout machine, his power-sinker should eventually net him at least a spot in somebody's bullpen.

#12 Tommy Joseph, C-1B: As I said last year, the Giants are really counting on Joseph to pick up the slack after the organization lost first basemen Angel Villalona. He showed some glimpses in 2010 of doing so, but still has a long way to go, including improving his plate approach and learning to play first base. On power potential alone, he may have the most in this system.

#13 Brandon Crawford, SS: Crawford looked like a prospect on the rise in early 2009, but ever since he left San Jose, he's never quite gotten his offensive game back. Still a slick defender with a ML-ready glove, but has hit below .250 during his time in Richmond over the last 2 seasons. Still though, he looks like a bit of a late bloomer, and I'm not ready to give up on him.

#14 Rafael Rodriguez, OF: Rodriguez is a true prospect, in every sense of the word. He's one of the youngest guys in professional baseball, having just turned 18 last summer, but he's already done some impressive things in his early pro career and shown glimpses of his 5-tool talent. He hasn't played enough to really warrant top-prospect status, but based on pure potential alone, he'd be a top-5'er. Just think, he's going to have nearly 2 more full seasons before he even makes it out of his teens, giving the Giants plenty of time to ease him along.

#15 Michael Main, SP:
Was the guy they really wanted in the Bengie Molina deal, not Chris Ray. He was a first rounder in 2007, and started out his pro career strongly, but has had some injury problems since, and it's set him back. Still, with a clean bill of health in 2011, he should be in AA Richmond and should have a much better showing than what we saw out of him after the trade.

#16 Chris Dominguez, 3B: Like Tommy Joseph, Dominguez has huge power potential, ranked by BA as the Giants top power prospect in 2010, but also has the same downfalls. He doesn't have the best plate discipline, like a lot of power hitters, and can be a liability with the glove right now. I still like that bat though, and as long as he's hitting 20+ HR per year, he's going to get some attention.

#17 Roger Kieshnick, OF:
Kieshnick was a prospect on the rise at this time last year, coming off a huge season with San Jose and clearly ready to move up to AA Richmond. However, his arrival in AA didn't go as planned. He battle injury and ineffectiveness all year long and finished the season after appearing in just over 60 ballgames and hit a measly 4 home runs. I think good health will bring better results, but Roger is now a little behind where he should be.

#18 Kendry Flores, SP: Arrived on the scene in style in 2010 with an impressive stint in rookie ball. Depending on how he does at higher levels in 2011, this guy has the chance to become the 2nd best pitching prospect in this system, this year.

#19 Jason Stoffel, RP: Stoffel didn't fair as well as people were hoping in San Jose in 2010, but still had some areas of his game stick out. Like his 66 k's in 50 innings, and his .71 HR-per 9 innings ratio, but a 4.80 era for a closer isn't going to get it done.

#20 Chuckie Jones, OF: Rounding out the top-20 is a project-prospect in Chuckie Jones. He has some impressive tools, and was one of the High School Baseball's top hitters in 2010 before the Giants took him in the 7th round. Didn't have a chance to do a whole lot professionally in 2010, but was a bright spot in limited duty in the AZL and something tells me he'll solidify his spot as a top-20 guy this year!

Honorable Mention
: Heath Hembree, RP; Connor Gillaspie, IF; SP; Hector Sanchez, C; Hector Correa, RP; Darren Ford, OF; Ryan Cavan, 2B

The Giants Baseball Blog

Friday, January 07, 2011

Giants Appear Content With Roster

I knew the Giants got most of their big moves out of the way early in the offseason this year, but I'm still surprised Sabean has stayed so quiet over the last 5 weeks.

The World Series trophy tour is currently taking place, so that will be getting the headlines over the next few weeks, but I still think the Giants should be focused on improving their roster anyway they can. Sabean made it no secret that he was pursuing a few different "depth" options for the Giants, in the infield, outfield and even looking at starting pitching. At the very least, I was expecting another infielder to be added to the mix, preferably someone adept at playing defense up the middle, but after Edgar Renteria's deal with the Reds, it appears as though the Giants have decided to stand pat. I was keeping tabs on Cesar Izturis, as I thought he could be a viable late-inning defensive replacement for Tejada, as well as a solid pinch-runner, but he just finalized a deal to return to Baltimore. Now that we're closing in on Spring Training, the free agent list has minimized and there just aren't many options out there for the Giants now, so at this point, I doubt they make another move to add someone from outside the organization this offseason.

It looks like it will be Mike Fontenot backing Tejada up at short, at least to start the 2011 season, and the Giants will be returning the exact same outfield and pitching staff that won the Series in '10. Manny Burris could get some consideration too depending on how well he plays this spring. Again, I said it after they signed Burrell, that they could essentially start the season right then and have a team that was identical to the one that just won the World Series a month prior, and I still feel that way, just would have liked to see them be a little more aggressive. The Giants lost Renteria and Uribe, and only gained Tejada, so unless Mark DeRosa is 100% healthy and playing effectively (something his Zips Projection doesn't support), the Giants will need another infielder in the organization to step up, or they'll have to go outside to get someone else. The same thing can be said about the starting pitching rotation if one of those guys get's banged up during the spring. After Barry Zito, the Giants have a huge fall-off before they're next major league-ready starting pitcher (Todd Wellemeyer or Henry Sosa appear to be next in line). I think they could have added another viable starting candidate who they could have used in long-relief and done so without breaking the bank. Again, this is me being greedy of course, I really like the roster right now, and I think they're easily the NL West favorites coming in. However, anytime a perennial contender can add depth to their roster, they should do it, and I think the Giants had a few options to do so over the last month and didn't act on them.

GBB's 2011 Top-20 Giants Prospect list Coming Next!!!
The Giants Baseball Blog