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Friday, June 29, 2018

SF trying to put injury-plagued 1st half behind them for 2nd half run

We talked a lot a couple weeks back when Evan Longoria went down, Jeff Samardzija rejoined the DL, then Brandon Belt hit the the shelf that the Giants would need more and more players to continue to step up and keep them afloat

It seems like the theme of the season for the club has been a game of musical chairs of the Disabled list variety. Just as one guy comes off the DL, it seems like another one takes his place almost immediately. After getting Mark Melancon back earlier in the month, closer Hunter Strickland promptly broke his throwing hand by punching a clubhouse wall in anger after blowing a save, taking away one of the teams most potent bullpen arm until at least sometime in August and that's really how it's been going all season long.

Madison Bumgarner missed 2 months, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija each have missed about the same amount of time and still have yet to return for good. We then started to see the positional players go down as Brandon Belt missed 3 weeks at the end of May into June and now Evan Longoria is recovering from a fractured hand which will sideline him until at least after the All-Star break at the earliest. He's shooting to return soon after the break but the more realistic timetable for him, like closer Strickland will be sometime in early to mid August.

On a positive note, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija have looked pretty good in their rehab appearances and the Giants are hoping each can make their return before the All-Star break, which would be a huge shot in the arm for the rotation. However, the rotation hasn't been all that bad in these guys' absence anyway. Derek Holland has really stepped up and exceeded expectations and Andrew Suarez has continued to grow to the point where he's on the verge of becoming a rotation mainstay. In his most recent outing coming in Arizona Friday, the 25 year-old held the D-Backs to just a run on a few hits over 6 innings, punching out 6 without any free passes. Holland and Suarez have been so solid that Bruce Bochy will have some tough decisions lying ahead when Cueto and Shark are indeed ready to make their return to the big club. Obviously Bumgarner, Stratton, Cueto and Samardzija will have their spots cemented in, so that leaves one remaining rotation spot left for Suarez, Holland and Derek Rodriguez to claim going forward. Holland has the experience and has been pitching his best ball since 2013, but Suarez is throwing just as effectively, if not more so, and at 25 years of age has upside that the 32 year-old Holland doesn't quite have.

My guess is that Holland and Rodriguez will be bumped out of the rotation when the full slate of starters are ready to go, at least that's what I would do if I were making those decisions. Holland should stay with the club though and move into long releif with Ty Blach's future uncertain. The thing is, with the way the Giants have been dropping with injuries left and right, they need to have Holland on the roster in the event somebody else gets banged up or the Giants are in need of a spot starter. It's possible Holland and/or Rodriguez could be used as trade bate as the Giants search for potentially another outfielder or another arm to help shore up the pen, but I think they'd really like to keep all these guys in the organization just in case they get bit by that injury bug in the rotation once again, which in this bizarre, injury-plagued season is not far fetched at all.


Now, I'm not going to talk too much about the bullpen because I want to finish up by talking about the lineup and what I think their best course of action should be as we approach the trade deadline, but the bullpen has been the unsung heroes of this team in my opinion. No matter what kind of injuries they're running into, or no matter who they're sliding into the closers job or asking to go multiple innings, the Giants bullpen is taking things in stride. The two lefties, Will Smith and Tony Watson have been the real mainstays down there along with Reyes Moronta. Sam Dyson had been started to be used in the closers role after Strick went down 2 weeks ago, but he's been up and down in that role and Bochy is now apparently leaning toward using his two lefties, Smith and Watson, as the closer by committee for the time being.

The wild card out of all these guys, and the guy the Giants paid over $60MM before the '17 season to be their closer, Mark Melancon, is finally healthy and is pitching pretty well but Boch is not quite ready to put him back in the ninth inning just yet. My guess is that as long as Melancon keeps improving, and gets to the point where he can go back-to-back days without losing much of his effectiveness then Boch will once again slide the veteran closer back into the role he's most comfortable. All in all though, the Giants bullpen is in pretty good shape and despite there not being a set closer at this very moment, they have options and I fully expect someone to have that role cemented by the All-Star Break.


Last but not least, we have the Giants offense, which if you look at them in comparison to many teams around the league in terms of run production, they're well below the rest of the pack of teams with playoff aspirations. I mean, their so-called biggest slugger and run producer, Buster Posey, is sitting at a modest .286 with 5 home runs and 26 RBI as we hit the official mid-way point. Instead of Posey, McCutchen and the guys you'd think would be leading this offense, it's really been the two Brandon's who've been indispensable for this team. Brandon Belt hasn't quite gotten back into the rhythm he was in the first couple months of the season in which he was hitting .316 with a 1.016 OPS to go along with 11 jacks and 31 RBI in under two full months of play. You project that out over a full 6 month season and your looking at 33+ HR, 93 RBI and of course those outstanding averages and percentages which all are career year-type numbers if he can keep it up. Even if he doesn't quite match that pace over the last three months, as long as he stays on the field, Belt should easily surpass his career high of 17 HR, 82 RBI especially if Posey and McCutchen get going ahead of him which will eventually happen.... I mean, I certainly hope that's the fcasde=p

Helping support Belt to make up for the lack of expected production to this point from Posey, Panik, Longoria and the whole outfield really, has been what's lining up to be a career year from shortstop Brandon Crawford. We've talked a bunch about BCraw in recent posts so I don't wanna keep repeating the same facts, but I don't know if all fans realize just how crucial 'Craw has been, not only because of his .313/.371/.496 slash line along with 9 jacks and 39 RBI, but the guys glove, as we all know, makes him so much more valuable than just his offensive numbers alone. Unfortunately for him, the NL is loaded at SS this year so he may not even make the All-Star team but that doesn't mean he's not deserving.

The Brandon's, as well as the stepping up of the starting pitching and the steadiness of the bullpen are reason the Giants have just moved up over 3 games above .500 and have the Giants playing their best baseball, really all season long, as they've won 8 of their last 10 ballgames heading into Saturday. The reason why they aren't in even better positioning and possibly even atop the division over Arizona, however, is due in large part to the injuries and ineffectiveness in the outfield which has been one of the worst groups, if not the worst in all of baseball. If Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean are going to add some reinforcements in the next few weeks before the trade deadline, my guess is that it will be an outfielder that can hit.

EXTRAS: These next few weeks though are very, very important as they should be getting Cueto and Shark back as well as hopefully getting a more concrete timetable for Evan Longoria's return and they'll have a better idea of who exactly will be that ninth inning guy for the stretch run. Will Melancon be deemed ready to close or will it be a closer by committee with Smith, Watson and Sam Dyson all getting looks until one maybe emerges (which is pretty much what Boch is doing right now with the ninth inning)? These are all questions the Giants have the next four weeks to assess and either act on or stand pat.

In our next post, we'll take a look at some possible trade options for the Giants if they do indeed need to go that route and add a player or two for outside in order to give them a boost for the stretch run. The goal from the beginnings of the season was to keep this team right around .500 until their core players got back from injury. What they weren't planning on is having a whole new wave of injuries keep hitting them just as they seem to be getting their guys healthy, so hopefully this is it. Ideally, Melancon takes back over the 9th inning role and is the pitcher the Giants were hoping they'd be getting when they inked him before last season and if that does happen then the bullpen will be set.
San Francisco's certainly still trying to get their foundation firmly under them, and the fact they're still winning games with all the uncertainties surrounding them is giving me reason for optimism. Do they look like they're going to cash in on their even year magic once again come October? As active roster currently stands now, probably not. However, if their key injuries iron themselves out, they avoid any other big ones in the second half and are able to add a big hitting left fielder before July 31st, then in my unbiased opinion I think they could become the top dogs in the NL West. Of course, if Arizona goes out and lands another J.D. Martinez-type bat like they did a year ago, or LA brings in some reinforcements which they have not problem doing when needed that could change the landscape.

Needless to say, it's going to be an interesting, exciting month of July and can't wait to see what Sabes and Evans have up their sleeves.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 12:33 AM, Anonymous Julio Espinoza said…

    I really want the Giants to get an outfielder that can hit some home runs. THe only guy they have with double digit HR's is Brandon Belt. Looking at the DBacks lineup and I think they had like 5-6 guys in the linuep tonight that all had double digit homers. I know HR's aren't everything, but Our guys are hitting for OK averages, but we just aren't getting any run production.

    The Pitching should be good enough like you said, if cueto and samardja and bum all stay healthy. Suarez is a beast and he's one of my favorite new players from this year. So is Gorkys. I know Cutch 22 has a bunch of all-star games and i think he was an MVP but Gorkys is doing better than him. I wonder if we could somehow pry away Kris Davis from across the bay. Or Shin Soo-CHoo is having a good power year and could be our left fielder. I'd take any of those guys but are they even available, if not who is? C'mon Sabean, we're close enough to go for it so I hope theyre agressive.

    Every even year since 2010 the G's have made the playoffs and 3 of the 4 times won it all... We gotta keep the legacy going San Fran!

  • At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is been the weirdest season that I can remember. It seems like every time they're about to fall out of it and fade away, they break off and win 8 out of 10 and are all the sudden over .500 again.... Just imagine if they didn't have all these got' dam' injuries!!!

  • At 8:17 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Julio- They'd love to be able to pry away a big hitting outfielder, or even a steady hitting center fielder. Problem is, there Luxury Tax situation is still an obstacle as they still aren't in position to take on any more payroll without giving up some, unless they want to pay the fine and have it effect them in the upcoming amateur draft, two things they would love to avoid but have gone on record as saying that won't be a detouring fact if they feel like they can get the right piece(s) that would put them over the edge for another championship.

    I want to see this team fully healthy before really making an assessment on what exactly they need and if one or two players will make enough of a difference to make them a legit contender.

    They're pretty decent right now considering their injury situation and should only get better, but they have question marks with their closer, and really have an outfield full of 4th-type outfielders, aside from McCutchen who's having one of his worst years of his career.

    So, still got a few weeks to see how things transpire before making any big personnel decisions. This could be a year in which the Giant may have to deal away a big league player if they do make a trade because of the payroll situation... Melancon was my darkhourse candidate to be traded before Hunter broke his hand as the Giants could have eaten some of his salary and still freed up plenty of room to add an arbitration-type outfielder....

    Anyway, I'm diggin the way they're scratching out victories and doing it at less than 100%.

    I'm with you on Suarez though, the guy just doesn't seem to be effected by much and seems steady. He doesn't have MadBum's stuff but very similar fearless mentality on the mound and very even keeled for the most part.

  • At 12:17 AM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    The Giants gotta go for it. They're playing really good ball right now and they have 2 of their best arms returning soon.

    The NL West is up for grabs nobodies running away with it. This is the time for the Giants to strike, they shouldn't wait until July 31st when the asking prices will be high and everyone is already traded. I'd love Khris Davis or Shin Soo CHoo...

    What do you think Trevor? DO you think they'll go over the CBT and bring in that bat they need or you think they're just gonna try and ride it out and maybe add someone through waivers after JUly 31st where they won't need to pay any trade target more than the minmum. I want them to get it done ASAP and the guy I want is Kris Davis, that dudes so uderrated and would instantly be our very best power hitter. He's got a game changer and putting him in behind Buster and in front of Belt would give them a legit 3-4-5.

    If not Davis, I'd take Choo from Texas or Nick Castellanos from Detroit.. There are power guys out there that would help this team. Get er done Sabean/Evans or whoever is running this team, cuz this team should be the best in the west!

  • At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There are enough or tiu=tationutfielders our there that the #SFGiants shoowuld be able to get one if they really want one. I;m personally more worried about the closer situation. Like why is Melancon not ready yet? He's been back for about a month now and should be abuot ready rigth?

    I was cool with Stick, but he wasn't perfect, and I can't beleive he f***** himself over by punching the wall in anger like a little child. They need him but I wouldn't surprse me if this is the last year we see him in SF. Remember last year when he threw at Bryce Haroer when the whole team management did not want that in that situation of that game... He's a 30 year-old with maturity level of like a 18 year old and it's costing them.

    Hope Double-M can take it back over and do even better, but if not, we may need a legit 9th inning man. Not sure who's out there though. Adam Jones would be my top number one target and worth going ovet the CBT for. Adam Jones with Posey Belt BCRAW AND McCutchen... Now that would be an imposing lineup for sure and push thme over the top IMO.

    I mean check it:

    Panik 2B
    Jones CF
    Posey C
    Belt 1B
    Cutch RF
    Craw SS
    Longo/Panda/Hansen 3B
    LF Gorkys/Slater/Mac

    That 2-7 when healthy and Longo is back would be a tough group. Giants need a big splash and A-Jones is just the type they neeed!

  • At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Giants guy in Carlsbad said…

    This is the most fun I've had watching the Giants games in quite sometime, probably since 2014 during the world series run, that was four years ago.

    2016 was OK for the first months but you could kind of tell they were overachieving and when they came back down to earth it was a disaster.

    Now its as if they figured out what it takes to win, and the formula they need to use to get by. They aint blowing teams out, but they're winning and winning pretty convicingly and this is a real treat to watch.

    Not sure if they have another even year magic season in em this summer but they got young guys stepping up like my main man Hansen and Derrck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez is my new favorite pitcher beside Bum.

    THe only down part of the summer so far was Hunter breaking his hand which was childish.

    Can someone explain to me why Melancon isn't closing yet? He's had plenty of outings now, seems to be healthy and he man is making like 17.5 million smackerooos and he's basically being used as a middle releif guy like Moronta and Pierce??? Put this guy in the pressure cooker situations and lets see if he's ready cuz if not we gotta get a closer who won't fold under the pressure!

  • At 7:54 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    What's up JB! Good to hear from you again as always.

    I think that if the Giants feel they have a legit chance at making a run in October and find the right piece to the puzzle without having to part with the farm, then they're going to pull the trigger. Evans and Baer have said many times that the CBT wasn't mandatory and they would go over in the right situation.

    I definitely don't see the CBT as something that will detour them from making an addition but at the same time, it would have to be the right guy who they think would make an impact on the club such as a middle of the order impact bat or lights out ace closer.

    Also keep in mind though, the Giants gave up a lot this winter in terms prospect currency by obtaining Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen so they don't have quite as much ammo to work with this year.

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