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

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
_________________________________________________