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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Is Christian Arroyo Buster Posey 2.0?

The Giants brought up top prospect Christian Arroyo this week, as they needed a spark in their lineup, and so far the kid has looked mighty impressive. In fact, after seeing his output Wednesday night vs. the Dodgers, not only him as a player, but the situation he's being brought into really reminds me of the situation Buster Posey was thrust into back in 2010.

Let's just look at it for a second here. The Giants had some talent on their 2010 roster, especially that strong rotation with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum in their primes while Jonathan Sanchez (remember him?) had himself a career year and it was Ryan Vogelsong's reclamation year. However, they ran into early offensive problems and their answer wasn't to go out and swing a deal to bring in a hitter, but rather thrust one of their own highly touted prospects into the fire and see how things went. That prospect was a 23 year-old Buster Posey and all the Giants have done since making that decision including winning 3 tittles in 7 years and become one of the better teams and top MLB dynasty's of the new millennium (all thanks in large part to Buster).

Fast forward 7 years later, and the Giants find themselves in somewhat similar circumstances. Expectations are higher than ever, they have a lot of money tied up into this roster but things just haven't come together or even shown signs of coming together for most of April. So what do the Bruce Bochy, Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean do? They made that similar call-up to the one that turned their season around 7 years ago and ultimately led them to a ring, this time bringing up top prospect Christian Arroyo, who was tearing the cover off the ball in AAA Sacramento and certainly appeared ready. Couple that with the fact the Giants have gotten zero production from left field and have the option of moving Eduardo Nunez out there to open up third base for the 21 year-old phenom. Nunez is well versed enough to take on left field regularly and be more than serviceable out there. He's got great speed and good instincts but sometimes takes risks that can come back and bite him. Still, he's good enough in left to warrant playing him there most nights to allow Arroyo into the linuep. The kid just has "it:" and I think he's going to be the real deal. Maybe not quite a perennial all-star like Posey, but definitely as good as Belt and Crawford, if not better.

So, how will that leave the rest of the Giants lineup moving forward (especially when Span gets back next week like expected and another roster move will be preceding that) you ask? Well, I certainly have my ideas and guys I would like to see stick around. First off, Drew Stubbs should absolutely stick on this team over Gorkys Hernandez, at least in my opinion. Stubbs has had multiple successful seasons at the big league level and has gained a certain baseball IQ in the process. Gorkys hasn't spent near the time Stubbs has in the bigs and has never made much of an impact. Hernandez is younger though and may have a step on Stubbs right now, but Stubbs is a former 40-SB guy and stole 20 as recent as 2014, the last year he received over 400 plate appearances. Not to mention Stubbs is a more than capable center fielder and I know Gorkys has a reputation for being a defensive stud, I've see him both multiple balls already this year which have resulted in runs. Now, in no way and I saying Drew Stubbs is the next coming and is going to be a starting outfielder for the Giants moving forward, hit 20 jacks and steal 20 bases. He does, however, have experience that Hernandez doesn't have and can do pretty much everything Gorkys can do, better in many cases.

All in all, I'm very excited to see the Giants being proactive in their attempt to turn things around sooner rather than later. Why wait until June when your seeing the same things hurt your team over and over in April? Aside from their bringing up of Arroyo and Stubbs, the Giants activated Michael Morse from the DL Wednesday afternoon and all he did was go out as a pinch hitter and tie the game in the 8th with a huge home run. Morse is a guy I'm sure Boch would love to take over left field on a daily basis but I just don't think his health is there at this point and may not be again this season. He can still swing a bat, as evident by his shot on Wednesday, but I don't think the guy can move around enough to cover the spacious left field dimensions at AT&T Park. And I highly doubt the Giants would move Brandon Belt out from first to left on a daily basis, though its definitely a move we could see happen on occasion as we see Bochy throw some random lineups out there sometimes in effort to wake up the bats. I think everyone is happy to see Morse back in the Giants dugout though, from the players who won with him in '14 to the fans that grew accustomed to his clutch ways in that memorable season!

Extras: Denard Span and Bruce Bochy both expressed optimism regarding the center fielder's banged up shoulder that he roughed up running into the wall in Colorado. Span is eligible to come off the 10-day DL on May 2nd and that is the plan barring any set-backs. Although Pence has filled into the leadoff spot minus Span, I expect to see him reclaim that spot, at least to start with. Span was hitting .200 before the injury and if that doesn't pick up ASAP, he's going to find himself down in the 8th spot or even on the bench... Unfortunately the guy I was really stoked for after the signing, Melvin Upton, hurt his thumb in one of his first games with AAA Sacramento and required surgery which may keep him out the rest of year. Needless to say, Upton is an option no longer for the Giants.

We'll talk more about Madison Bumgarner and Denard Span updates, as well as take a look down on the farm and check out who could be the next wave of players to arrive in San Francisco. The Giants and Dodgers also finish up their series Thursday, a game in which I'll be in attendance for so look for some thoughts on that game as well... Plenty on deck here at The Giants Baseball Blog the next couple of days, so stay tuned, and most importantly, hopefully the Giants can start stringing together some victories!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Monday, April 24, 2017

Minus their ace, SF has plenty of issues

It started on opening day when the Giants lost game they had in their grasps in the 9th to the D0Backs with their new ace closer on the hill, and ever since then, things just keep popping up that don't seem to go the Giants way.

The most pressing and more recent bit of bad news to hit the Giants was ace Madison Bumgarner's left shoulder injury sustained doing non-baseball activities (riding dirt bikes in the Colorado mountains to be exact) and expected to keep him out until roughly the all-star break. I've heard time-table ranges from 8-10 weeks in the very best case scenario, up to 16-24 weeks. The rough part is that it's his pitching shoulder so my guess would be something closer to the ladder. Essentially, there's a 50/50 chance we may not see MadBum take the hill again in '17 but I'm gonna hold out hope. This, aside from maybe losing Posey for an extended period of time, was the very last guy the Giants wanted to see hit the DL, and the scary thing is, the injury involves his left shoulder. I'm not trying to be a downer or look at the glass half-empty, but I don't think the Giants can really count on much from their left moving forward, at least for the foreseeable future. He's gonna miss at least a month before he can start even tossing a ball again (if things go well), then will have to build up his strength, then face hitters, then go on an assignment in the minors until he's finally ready to rejoin the staff. I'd be very happy if he came back strong and ready to go, even if we have to wait until after the all-star break.

The Giants are not winning any tittles without MadBum (unless they strike lightening in a bottle with Ty Blach or make some miraculous trade for another ace which just doesn't seem likely), so if they need to sacrifice 12-15 weeks in order to get him back to 100% and on the field for the stretch run then so be it.

Aside from the horrible Madison Bumgarner news we received just a couple days ago, the happenings on the field aren't making that pill any easier to swallow. The team has now sunk to 6-13 and aside from MadBum's rough situation, the second most pressing issue is the left field play. I know, surprise, surprise. right. We here at this site mentioned this multiple times in the winter how there were options out there in the Giants price range who would have been upgrades to guys like Parker, Marrero, Hernandez etc... but I don't want to beat a dead horse. I was hoping Melvin Upton would come in and provide depth or at least a spark but he went down with a torn ligament in his hand this week, likely ending his brief stay in the Giants organization. The other name down in the minors who is making his way back and probably would have won a job out of spring had he not gotten hurt is big Mikey Morse. Now back and supposedly healthy, he's in Sacramento and a good week could put himself up on the big club getting regular looks in left. In fact, if he hits two big flies in a game down up in Sac, it would'nt surprise me to see him swap places with Chris Marrero the next day. That's how bad the Giants need offense.

I just don't think the Giants are ready to make a deal of any kind quite yet, whether it be another starter or someone to solidify left. I mean, if MadBum needs to end up missing 4 months, they could use this year as more of a "see what you got" season and assess some of their younger guys. It's really hard to mail in a season like that with a payroll the Giants have and the expectations the fans have grown to demand, so I don't think we'd get there unless they really run into some bad luck.

Are the Giants as bad as they've shown to start the year (6-13)? No, I don't think they are. However, I also don't think they're much better than a .500 team with the roster they have. Without MadBum, the rotation is still decent enough to win, but far from the strength they were, leaving the lineup needing to pick up the slack

Now, don't run for the hills yet, or switch over into full football mode with the NFL Draft coming up this weekend. After all, we're not even 1/9 of the way through the season, and the Giants will hit a streak and get back in the mix. They still stand just 5 games back of first in the West and there still have been some positives. Brandon Crawford is hitting, Eduardo Nunez is flying around the field, Buster Posey looks ready to break out at any time and Joe Panik is starting to get more steady back into his game. The team is just still missing that one real big bat that can change the out scape of a game with a big homer at any given time. Pence and Posey used to be those guys but they just aren't, at least not yet this season. I was hoping this was the year Belt's power would really be on display but he's looked like typical Belt so far. Some power, just enough to tease you, but then he'll strike out 3 times the next day and go into a mini slump.

The Giants team has been an enigma to say the least, but something will give and I'm guessing sooner than later. I hope like heck they don't need to become sellers this season because I just don't think they have that many shots at ring with the core of those six mainstays: Bum, Craw, Belt, Posey, Pence and Panik. Now there will be plenty of trade options out there should Bobby Evans feel he's just a player away from righting the ship, but I think this team needs multiple new bodies. Obviously a LF'er, and preferably another starter, now especially with Bum shelved for months, and I still think they could use some more experience in middle/late relief. I know it's April 23rd and we're 3 weeks into the year but the Giants need help and it's quite apparent which areas they need help in. If they don't get some sort of help and these guys in tow don't pull a 180 by June, then it could be sellers time for the first time in nearly a decade in San Francisco come mid-summer.

Extras: I wrote this articled extremely late after a long day of work, so if there are any grammatical mistakes or stupid spelling errors, please forgive me. I will proof read it Monday morning but I just wanted to get some things off my chest after they got shut out in Colorado of all places on Sunday night... Mired in a sea of bad play and losing baseball, changes will be on the horizon though. Hot prospect and the teams best hitting prospect, Christian Arroyo, has been slaying it at AAA Sacramento and there are plenty of Giants fans begging for his promotion and for him to take over at third then move Nunez to left to lengthen the lineup. I'd be all for that if things don't shape up here in the next week or so and Aaroyo keeps raking. Other than that, we'll just have to sit tight and hope things turnaround. The Bumgarner issue was just such a tough one to take in though because he's the face of this team and it's tough to see them doing much if he's sidelined for a huge amount of time.. Well, I think you guys get the point; things aren't going well, things need to improve, reinforcements may be on the way and of course, we won't be seeing their best pitcher any time soon.

Ahh, what a time to be a Giants fan (sigh)!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Friday, April 14, 2017

MadBum still winless, SF finalizes Upton deal

If you didn't think you'd ever be saying that Matt Cain would be leading Madison Bumgarner in wins again, well you'd have been wrong. The Giants enigmatic fifth starter got in the win column with a strong outing Wednesday night, but the team fell to 0-3 when their ace takes the hill as Madison Bumgarner and the Giants lost the opener vs. Colorado on Thursday.

Madison Bumgarner has gotten some pretty bad luck, as the team just isn't scoring for him when he's out there. Thursday marked the big left-hander's third start of the season, and unfortunately he fell to 0-2 after surrendering 3 runs over 6 innings to the Rockies. He definitely didn't have his type-A stuff, but pitched well enough to win most nights, but the Giants just couldn't muster anything offensively. Granted, they were without two of their better hitters, as Buster Posey is still on the 7-day concussion DL and Brandon Crawford was out of the lineup dealing with a family tragedy. Without their 4-5 hitters the Giants just couldn't sustain any sort of rally and nobody really stepped up with that big hit the team really needed. Usually MadBum helps himself out in games like these, but even he had trouble against Jon Gray and the Rockies bullpen. It really is a shame too as the Giants were primed to keep their winning ways going after Matt Cain broke through with a victory on Wednesday night, a start that probably earned Cainer another few starts in the rotation.

Speaking of Cain, he looked about as good as you'll see him these days on Wednesday and that is significant. He's been around so long that we forget he's only 32 years old, although he's pitched more like a 39 year-old the last couple seasons. That's not young in baseball terms, but 32 is certainly not ancient, and still within a players "prime years" (age 27-32). Plus with someone like Cain's track record, you have to give him a shot because you never know if and when he'll re-discover himself. Hopefully Wednesday was the start of that process, but I'm hardly ready to determine Cain as "back" like many people were anxious to do after his most recent start. It was a nice showing, yes, but he still showed is inability to get deep into a ballgame and appears to have about a 5 or 6 innin limit right now before he really loses it. That's not necessarily a bad thing though for the Giants, especially from the fifth starter and someone who's limiting the damage like Cain did Wednesday. What really reminded me of vintage Cain though was not just his outing on the mound, but his big double at the plate as well. During his best years, he was much like MadBum in the sense he could hurt you on both sides, and we saw that for the first time in recent memory Wednesday.

Giants finalize Upton signing: Speaking of offense, I have to say, I'm pretty stoked about the Giants most recent signing. On Wednesday, the Giants finalized their low-risk, potentially rewarding minor league agreement with Melvin Upton and the outfielder has reported to extended spring training in Arizona. The timing really couldn't be better for the Giants, as they've struggled to get production out of their outfield as a whole to start the year, but especially left and center field, two areas where Upton can definitely help out. The plan for the 32 year-old outfielder is to have him get some reps at extended spring training, then report to AAA Sacramento, but it wouldn't surprise me if his stay in Sac is short lived. Heck, if he tears it up in extended spring and the Giants feel like he can offer and upgrade in left then they may just bring him directly up from Arizona sometime next week.

Upton is coming off a somewhat down year at the plate last season (.238/20/61/.693 with 27 steals) but he will bring in a few things this team is in desperate need of; power, speed and defense. He won't hit for an average much higher than .250, but he's still got some explosive power in that bat, can still steal a base when needed and can still play the outfield at a gold-glove caliber level. With the Giants' struggles in left field, and Denard Span battling some recurring hip issues here early on, it's easy to see why the Giants were interested in someone like Upton. They simply haven't gotten anything, production wise, out of left and center field thus far. Between Span, Parker and Marrero, I think they're hitting in the low-.200's with a grand total of 5 RBI and zero home runs. I would definitely like to see Upton given a shot at taking the left field job sooner than later, that's for sure.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Giants trending up but Posey hits DL

The Giants have looked much more like the team we expected coming in over the last two days. They salvaged the series in San Diego with a win behind Johnny Cueto then opened up their season at home with a win over the D-Backs behind a gem from Matt Moore.

The victories over the last two days have moved the team back within a couple of games of .500 at 3-5 but now they'll face a new challenge, at least for the next week or so. If you watched the home opener Monday, then you saw that pitch that hit Posey square in the helmet in his first at-bat and you probably thought like I did immediately; please don't be one of those concussions that cause nasty recurring symptoms that impact his 2017 season. Well, we won't know it's impact on Posey for at least a week, as the Giants placed him on the 7-day DL with concussion symptoms, although they are saying he's fine and it's just a precaution. The Giants have become all too familiar with concussions in recent seasons after it ended Brandon Belt's 2015 season and then hampered Joe Panik's '16 season after causing him to miss a month of play. Needless to say, the Giants have had some bad luck with concussions over the last couple of seasons and now it's struck a player that they can least afford to lose. Also, because Posey catches everyday, it puts him at further risk to where a foul tip off the mask could cause his symptoms to return. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a couple starts at first base when he is activated for that very reason.

It really does come at a bad time for the Giants too. They seem to be getting their 2017 legs underneath them the past couple of games and look primed to take off from here. The starting pitching has been pretty solid from the get go, although a few mistakes were really magnified in Arizona, but Matt Cain looked very bad in his first start on Friday and as we talked about in our season preview, I doubt he's going to have the leash he's had the last couple seasons. He's in the final year of his deal and each time he takes the mound from here on out could be his last attempt to get right, at least here in San Francisco. In fact, I'd give him till the end of April, and if the Giants aren't seeing any positives or any sign of him turning things around, it wouldn't surprise me to see them make a move. Everyone else has been pretty solid though. Jeff Samardzija will start Tuesday night, coming off an outing which didn't look all that great in the box score, but if you saw him throw, you saw the stuff was definitely there. He got burned by a couple location mistakes and the light Arizona air, but I expect him to keep the ball in the yard at AT&T. Cueto and Bum have looked pretty solid, and Matt Moore just threw a gem on opening day Monday, so the rotation is definitely picking up steam in week two of the season.

So, the Giants have started to claw back from their 1-5 start. Brandon Crawford likes primed for a career year and I'm getting good vibes from Eduardo Nunez, but the big questions coming into the year have yet to be answered. Besides Matt Cain's instability in the fifth spot, the play in left field as well as performance from their middle relievers are still very much in question. I believe Giants left fielders went 1-15 to start the season, with a bunch of strikeouts, and the bullpen has already cost them at least one ballgame (although Mark Melancon was largely at fault in that one as well). Also, another spot to watch is center field and Denard Span. The leadoff hitter missed most of the first week of the season after his hip flared up on Opening Day. It's the same hip that caused his 2015 season to get cut way short and he got operated on the winter before last season. It's also what many believe to be the cause of Span's down '16 season as he wasn't really moving like he did in years previously. Now hopefully his hip holds up because the Giants already have one outfield spot potentially needing to be addressed.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Interview with Razzball

We've done a few pre-season interviews with the fantasy website I know the season has technically started for most teams including the Giants, we were a little late on this one and I wanted to share it with you guys anyway.

They did a hole write-up on the Giants and their fantasy prospects over at their site and I'll post a link below with the full article. I'm gonna post a couple Q and A's from out part of the article. Definitely check them out if your a fantasy baseball gamer!

M@: The Giants lineup is filled with reliability. Well, in years past it’s been that way. Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Denard Span…they’re mainstays. One name missing? Hunter Pence. In standard 5×5 leagues I’ve always been a Pence fan as he brings a high floor and a medum ceiling, perfect for drafting right outside the top 50. However, 2016 wasn’t as kind to Pence and that reliability as he tried to recover from injury. What should we expect from Pence in 2017, a rebound to his old form or another step down into his twilight?
Trevor Cole If there’s ever a guy to bet on continuing to produce well into his thirties it’s Hunter Pence. This guy keeps himself in top shape and adheres to a strict diet in order to continue being successful late in his career. Yes ’15 (freak injury getting hit by pitch and breaking his arm) and ’16 were injury-ridden for him and he hasn’t torn it up this spring like I’m sure the Giants were hoping, but entering his age-34 season, I think he still does have plenty left in the tank. As long as he avoids a freak injury, I’d guess around a .280/20/80/15 slash line with an OPS up around or above .800 would be his ceiling. Again, if he has a DL stint or two those numbers will drop but if he gets his 600 at-bats, the numbers will be there.

M@: The name not mentioned above that might carry the highest ceiling, somehow, is the trade deadline addition last year, Eduardo Nunez. Out of nowhere, at age 29, he posted a .288/73/16/67/40 slash line. The average seems repeatable based on his history, but the outburst of power/speed is less consistent. At the end of 2017 is Nunez above or below the line of .270/75/12/60/35?
Trevor ColeNunez had a great, out of nowhere first half with the Twins, however, once he arrived in San Francisco, it took him a good while to get going. When he did towards the end of the year in September, he hurt his hamstring and was out of the lineup a lot and missed most of the postseason as well. He’s a guy many are predicting to build off last season but I’m not so sure. I do think he’ll hit for a decent average (above .275) and he’ll steal his bases, but I don’t think the power will be there like it was in the first half of 2016. He only hit 4 long balls after joining SF in July, but as I said he finished strong with a .313/2/10/8 slash line in September despite missing over a weeks worth of games. Depending on where Bochy hits him in the lineup (and that could change daily) will determine his RBI/run opportunities but I expect his average to be around .300 with 10-15 big fly’s and 30 stolen bases come the end of the year.

I'm not going to re-post the whole thing, so for the rest of the article and Q and A session click the link here!

Now hopefully the Giants and Johnny Cueto can get right vs. the D-Backs and put that disappointing opening day loss behind them!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Sunday, April 02, 2017

2016 problems carry over in SF '17 opener

Well guys, that was a big letdown to say the least. Opening day 2017 came and went for the Giants Sunday afternoon, and they let one getaway, much like they did to end the 2016 season in the playoffs.

The Giants cruised through the first 5 innings, as it was the Madison Bumgarner show. He was striking out D-Back hitters with regularity and inducing weak contact to the tune of 5 perfect frames. Not to mention, he helped himself bit time at the plate by hitting 2 jacks in the game. However, with a 3-0 lead and perfect game in-tact heading to the bottom of the sixth, it was all downhill for the Giants. Madbum had a rough 6th inning as he got put into the stretch for the first time and left the ball up to a few hitters who did not miss. The D-Backs ended up tying the game in the 6th but MadBum gave the Giants the lead back in the 7th with his second home run and finished off his night with a strong 7th inning. Take away that rough sixth, and you couldn't have asked for a better outing from MadBum.

However, the Giants bullpen, as I predicted over the winter, throughout spring and in our season previews, didn't do much to improve their mid-relief and set-up corps from last years squad. Yes they did get themselves what they hope will be an ace closer but it didn't even happen for Melancon on Sunday afternoon either. Derek Law surrendered the lead in the 8th, only for the Giants to reclaim it in the 9th, only for Melancon to cough it right back up in the bottom of the inning and ultimately blow the save. It was uncharacteristic to say the least for Melancon and certainly not what you hoped for out of the Giants bullpen as a whole to start the 2017 season. It was an eerily similar feel to the way things were going at the end of 2016 and all we can hope is that it was just opening day jitters. Yes, this pen is better than last year's bunch, just because they have that clear-cut ace closer, but nobodies invincible and Melancon is human (as Krukow eluded to in the postgame show). Still, it's the bunch between the starters and Melancon that still has me worried.

There's not much else to say about the game, it was a disappointment. Besides Bumgarner being his typical awesome self, the Giants got nice outputs from Eduardo Nunez, Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford that helped them put together their runs aside from MadBum's jacks. They played good defense and scored enough runs to win most nights (5), so this one falls on the pen, which allowed 7 hits and 2 runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Anyway, I don't wanna beat a dead horse, and I'm staying optimistic that things will improve as guys settle in. Melancon probably had the juices flowing at an extra-high level being it his first regular season appearance after signing the biggest contract of his life and joining a new team. Also, it was Derek Law's first opening day in the bigs so I'm sure his adrenaline was in overdrive as well and that should mellow out in the coming days. Hopefully things get better in the coming days as the adrenaline wears down but it also wouldn't completely surprise me to see inconsistency continue to haunt the middle relief and set-up corps in this bullpen.
The Giants Baseball Blog