Well, in what will go down as quite a bizarre road trip in which the team saw it's first basemen leave the team in the middle of, just before they played a double-header, had a nice ending to it Thursday, as the Giants beat the Reds to avoid being swept and return home at 10-9.
|Pagan Had 3 HR's on Trip|
One guy who really has caught fire on this road-trip has been Angel Pagan. The Giants leadoff hitter was so slow out of the gate this year, that there was prompt talk about him possibly being moved from the leadoff spot, or out of the lineup all together in favor of Gregor Blanco, but he's put that non-sense to rest on this roadie. He hit 3 home runs, the third of which won the Giants the game in Cinci Thursday to avoid the 3-game sweep, a clutch, towering 3-run shot in the top of the 9th inning with the Giants down 2. Pagan entered this road-trip hitting down around .200 with 0 home runs and 2 RBI, but returns home with his average up to .241, and climbing, with 3 bombs and 7 RBI. That's a nice 7-game road trip right there, and he's showing something that the Giants haven't really had at the top of their lineup in long while, and that's true power. Andres Torres had a surprise 16-home run season in 2010 hitting in the leadoff spot, but came back to earth in 2011, and Pagan's bigger and stronger than Andres, and has the ability to hit 20 jacks, which Torres doesn't. The only place I'd like to see Pagan improve upon in this next home stand is getting that OBP up where it should be. He's still not getting on base like your normal leadoff hitter does, with an OBP of .269, but like his average and power numbers, everything seems to be on the up for the 31 year-old center fielder. I also have to say, the trade Sabes made to get Pagan was a steal looking back on it now. I mean, Torres as much as I like him, looks shot as he's on the DL again, and Ramirez has been ordinary in the Mets bullpen. Pagan seems to just be hitting his stride and looks like he can be a difference maker at the leadoff spot. This offense as a whole has come a long way since 2011 though. A 6-4 deficit late in a game last year was a guaranteed loss, now, the Giants have shown the ability to climb back in games and that's a sign of a winning ball club.
In other notes from Thursday, the Giants posted on their website that Bruce Bochy explained to the team Aubrey Huff's situation, and that he expects the first basemen back with the club in San Francisco this weekend. However, I saw some of the comments players made about the situation and it continues to sound fishy to me. Zito said Wednesday that Huff was the last guy you'd think would have anxiety problems, as he's always the guy keeping the players loose in the clubhouse and seems to always keep an even manner, even if he's struggling. I mean, we saw that on "The Franchise" last year, as the camera's followed him around, he
|Erick Hacker: 4-0, 2.16 ERA in AAA|
was as loose as any .230 hitting, underachieving first basemen I've ever seen. Anyway, unless something else comes of this or it becomes more serious, this is the last we'll discuss of the Aubrey Huff saga here at GBB. Hopefully the guy can get his head right and is back by early May and contributing like he can. If he doesn't come back strong though, that could spell the end of his Giants tenure... Also, the Giants, due to the double-header played Monday and no off-day since, have been left scrambling for a starting pitcher for Friday night's game at AT&T Park. Apparently, Eric Hacker is the first in line as his agent tweeted that Hacker's contract would be purchased by the Giants Thursday night or Friday morning. Hacker's an interesting choice here as he won 16 games for Fresno in 2010, then got signed by the Twins last season, only to return to the Giants this year, and he's been brilliant (4-0 with a 2.06 ERA, 16 K's and a 1.1 WHIP in 24 innings). The question then is, who's place does he take on the 25-man roster if he indeed is called up. Do the Giants turn and send Joaquin Arias back down after the way he's player up here? Doubt that, though they could just do a 24-hour move, where they call-up Hacker to pitch the one game, then re-call Arias the next day, never even sending him away from the team. That would be my best guess as to what happens, especially after the way the Giants bullpen's been taxed this week.
And of course, it seems like we can't go a day without talking about the "Freddy Sanchez Watch", which took another bad turn Thursday as Sanchez reported more stiffness in his throwing shoulder after just a few games DH'ing only in San Jose. I'm telling you, I hope like heck I'm wrong, but this just doesn't look good for Sanchez's prospects for 2012 right now. I mean, even if he does get healthy which is a big "if" right now, who knows how long he'd stay that way before popping that shoulder out of socket again? Sanchez has been a rock at the plate for the Giants since he got here, but he's spent about as much time on the DL as on the field, and it might be time the Giants start planning to be without Sanchez for the year, just in case... In some good news though, the Giants interim-closer had about as dominant outing as one will see to close out Thursday's game. Casilla struck out the side, including 2010 MVP Joey Votto, and looked almost like a young Mariano Rivera in doing so. I'm still not sure how I feel about Casilla being the closer for the rest of the year, but he sure gained my confidence with Thursday's outing.