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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Time for Giants to shift gears

After getting swept by the Royals, the lowly Atlanta Braves and now losing the first two games to the Mets (in their own yard), the Giants are on an 0-7 run and now find themselves over 20 games below .500 as the mid-way point quickly approaches.

I think it's quite clear at this point that, even with a miracle of a second half turnaround, Madison Bumgarner coming back and Hunter Pence getting healthy, this team's playoff aspirations have long past and we're not even to July yet. I know, what a sad fall from a team that's been a perennial contender for the last 7 years and who brought home 3 championships during that span. However, at this point, the team has to start looking at 2018 and beyond, because whether we like to believe it or not, this isn't going to be an easy fix by any means. The second half is going to be a huge showcase for two Giants' veterans that likely don't have a trade market and the team will be returning to starting positions again in 2018 and those two guys are Denard Span and Hunter Pence. Both have vastly underachieved this season and neither stood out in '16 either as both seem to spend as much time on the field than off. Since they aren't going anywhere until after next season, the Giants have to find a way to ensure these guys stay healthy entering next season. Whether that's start cutting down on both players playing time, something I've seen Boch do with Pence a lot more this season (I'm sure his hamstring has a lot to do with that though).

As for the pitchers, the only guys outside of MadBum you plan on having around next season are Matt Moore and Jeff Samrdzija, the ladder of which has been considered by many the Giants best pitcher in MadBum's absence, despite is abysmal W/L record. In the bullpen, it's Mark Melancon and Hunter Strickland guaranteed to return. Cody Gearin is finally putting together a nice season, and could be a potential long-relief candidate next year and Josh Osich seems to get opportunity after opportunity so he may be in the mix too. Possibly Derrick Law if he gets his stuff together in AAA and returns back in his '16 form. But outside of Law, Melancon and George Kontos, I don't see anyone really guaranteed a spot in the Giants '18 bullpen as that's an are they failed to fully address over the winter and they better make sure not to repeat the mistake.


So, there you have the key players who we know will likely be around for next year, aside from the group listed above though, the Giants should start shopping every single player they can get a return for. I'd even add Span into that mix. I still am holding out hope that Pence will get healthy and come back big in second half and go strong into his contract year next season. He's the type I'd hardly expect to retire after next season and will work his tail off to make it as good a season as possible so I definitely don't wanna write him off just yet. As far as Johnny Cueto, Eduardo Nunez, Aaron Hill, Matt Cain (though highly doubt anyone would bite on him), even Law, Kontos and Moore, I would be seeing what you could possibly get in return for these guys. I mean, I know guys like Hill, Cain and Kontos wouldn't garner any notable package, the Giants have no need for them at this point. Nunez, Cueto and if they decieded to let him go, Matt Moore, would be the big fish in the Giants' trade pool. More so, your looking at teams that would look to land Nunez, and certainly Cueto.

Both make since for a lot of reason for a contending team. Both's deals are done after the season (well, Cueto has an opt-out that Jon Heyman now expects he'll exercise), and both can be impact type players for a team needing a shot in the arm. Nunez has shown the ability to be a prolific base stealing artist who also hits for decent pop and a nice average. Not  to mention, the guy can play all over the infield, as well as left field, and I'd imagine right field, in a pinch. He's the definition of a super utility guy, but can give a contender in a need a starting caliber player at all the aforementioned positions, including being a plus offensive shortstop and second basemen. Cueto, while not having his best half thus far, is coming off an ace-like season and would have all the incentive in the world to finish strong with a contender and he's someone who could net the Giants an opposing team's top prospect so I'd definitely keep an eye on that and keep rooting for Cueto just a little extra right now cause each time he throws well, his stock rises.

Also, by dealing some of these guys, it would give them an opportunity to move to give some of the young players who are beating down the door in AAA a chance to get some real big league time rather than just the last few weeks of the season. It would allow them to bring up Christian Arroyo and/or Ryder Jones to see if one of those two are ready to take over third base in '18 or if the Giants are going to have to go shopping. We've started to see Austin Slater really shine after being given the key's to left field and both Jones and, as we've seen at times, Arroyo have the type of talent to follow in his footsteps and possibly be even better. Then on the pitching half, Kyle Crick is another intriguing kid I'd like to see take the ball every fifth day in what is becoming an experimental season. While Tyler Beede hasn't had the season the Giants were hoping for in Sacramento thus far, I wouldn't mind seeing him being given more than a handful of starts before this season is over to see how far off he is from becoming a contributing factor on the Giants' staff.

Not only would getting rid of some of the players who don't fit into the Giants' long-term plans and save some money at the same time, more importantly, it would give the Giants younger players a prolonged tryout to show whether or not they have a spot with this team in the near future and, as I mentioned, the Giants have a few different players in their system that fit that category.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Thursday, June 01, 2017

SF in unfamiliar spot, but not surprisingly

We've officially hit June, which means that the "it's still early" talk and optimism that most Giants fans and players are still holding out for this 2017 season, are waning, and doing so quickly.

In fact, there have been recent articles in bay area newspapers, as well as plenty of banter on the "sports talk" airways both in the Bay Area and throughout the league have begun discussing what the Giants plan of attack will be as we inch closer to July and the trade deadline at the end of that month. It's the first time since 2009 that the Giants are approaching mid-season with the thought of being "sellers" looking more and more likely. Now, nobody has come out and said this of course, and we're still just 1/3 of the way through the season but with the way the rest of the teams in the NL West are playing (minus the Padres), and the Giants already sitting 12 games back of the next closest team in their division, saying they have an uphill journey ahead is an understatement. As a matter of fact, as epic as their collapse was in the second half of 2016, they're going to need a second half streak and some other teams to really go into slides themselves. So, as the calendar has officially flipped to June, the Giants certainly are far from technically being out of it, but if they're still sitting in the cellar of the division and 10+ games out of any potential playoff spot then one would only draw the conclusion that this could be the year the Giants finally do some selling of their own at or before the trade deadline.

Now, of course I hope on wrong, the team goes on a 10-game win streak this month and gets right back into the mix, but with the AAA-level lineups they've been trotting out there lately, that appears like wishful thinking at this point. This holds especially true in the outfield where we here at the Giants Baseball Blog pleaded for Evans to solidify the outfield by getting a legit left fielder in the offseason but of course that didn't happen so I think we could all see this coming, I know I could, I just hoped for full health. I mean, the Tuesday night outfield of Orlando Calixte, Gorkys Hernandez and Justin Ruggiano was about as imposing as having three semi-skilled hitting pitchers (offensively) as your starting outfield. The team's outfield combined WAR is the worst in baseball, and again, this should be no surprise. The Giants outfield depth was thin last year, this winter and into spring, to say the least. They had no proven left fielder, and they had two guys coming off injury-ridden years on two 30-something outfielders who seems to really have hit a wall, health wise, the last couple of seasons.

I guess they expected one of Chris Marrero, Mac Williamson or Jarrett Parker to really step up and take the reigns but I never liked that plan. There was nothing in their past that showed they were ready to be handed important big league roles. Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Joey Panik and Brandon Crawford all forced their way onto the roster and into regular jobs. Mac and Parker (who's now on the 60-day DL), while showing signs at times of being capable, have not come close to proving they're ready to handle playing everyday and were chosen not because the Giants had the utmost confidence in one taking the reigns, but because they had no other options and were hoping one of these guys would become the Adam Duvall who they gave up on and who's now become an all-star and a legit 30+ HR/year guy in Cinci. Even still, to this day, I don't know why the Giants didn't go get a decent plan B for left field. Rajai Davis would have been a perfect fit. Coming off postseason experience, well versed at all 3 OF positions and coming off nice year with the bat. But no, Giants were content with what they had and it's biting them now. 

You don't wind up 15-20 games below .500 at this point in the year because of one faulty aspect of your team though. Although plenty of the blame can be placed on the outfield's lack of both offense and defensive consistency throughout the first couple months of the season, they are part of the problem haunting the 2017 Giants. The starting pitching has been sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, having their ups and downs early on but they've now hit a funk where they just aren't getting the job done either. As crazy as this sounds, especially with all the problems last year, the bullpen may be the one area on the team that's closest to being competitive but they've had their hiccups too, especially Mark Melancon. So because there is no one area to blame, which is why it seems so tough to go out and make and addition or two because, say they added a Matt Kemp and some solid left-handed, proven set-up man came aboard, I still don't think this team would be a playoff team. Now if they got back to .500 and made some additions like that then yeah, maybe, but they still have what seems like miles to climb up hill and although the season is long, each passing day starts to matter more and more as it goes on.

Extras: I wanted to discuss more about who the Giants may make available via trade if they do so decide to become sellers but ran out of time as it's been fun really breaking down areas of this team and just how badly they went wrong as well as the little amounts of bad luck that have been sprinkled in throughout... Anyway, we'll try and be back tomorrow maybe after the game to discuss some of those bubble players, although there aren't a ton of guys the Giants have that would be highly appealing to other teams. At least not many they'd part with.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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