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Showing posts from April, 2008

April Minor League Report

Since the Giants are in a period of transition, I am going to start paying a little more attention to their minor league system this summer. The Giants Blog will now start giving monthly minor league reports, exploring what's going on in the Giants' system from AAA Fresno and below. So far, the talk of April as far as positional prospects go has been all about Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval is off to a ridiculous start, hitting .423 with 7 home runs, 24 rbi and 11 doubles while sporting an OPS over 1.3. Sandoval is helping lead the Giants single A affiliate, San Jose, to one of the better records in the California League. The 21-year old catcher looks like he could be the first guy to get the shot when Bengie Molina's contract runs out at the end of the '09 season. Sandoval still has some work to do defensively, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him up with Connecticut before long and then possibly Fresno before the end of the season. I know it's still way ear

Starting Pitching Shining

The San Francisco Giants' starting pitching is starting to match the D-Backs' 5 as the class of the division and quite possibly the whole National League. Jonathan Sanchez turned in another dominant performance, his second 10-strikeout game in his last 4 starts, and beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 on Friday night. In previous seasons, Sanchez has had some trouble keeping a consistent release point and arm angle, but early on this season, it looks like those troubles are behind him. If you take away his horrible season opening start in Milwaukee, he is 2-0 with a 1.50 era and 28 punch-outs in 24 innings. One of the most impressive things about his start on Thursday though was his ability to get deep into the game and he did it by keeping the ball in strike zone. He only walked 1 batter in 8+ innings and if he can keep that ratio up, starts like this will start happening more and more frequently. With the emergence of Sanchez, the Giants now feature a power-armed threesome that can

Giants Notes

Tuesday nights start in Arizona is a huge one for Barry Zito. Currently sitting at 0-4, Zito takes the mound in search of his first win of the season against one of the best pitchers in the league, Brandon Webb. While Zito has been better in his last two starts than he was in his first two, he's still walking way too many batters and getting himself behind in the count early. With Zito topping out at 84 mph on the fastball, he can't afford to get behind hitters and become predictable to a count. The Diamondbacks are always a tough team for him as well because of all the right handed thump that they have. If Zito goes win-less in April, it will start rumblings about sending him to the DL or possibly to the bullpen so tonight would be as good of time as any to get back on track. The rest of the starting rotation continues to throw the ball well enough to stick and Zito right now really is the odd man out. Who knows, maybe a win over the Leagues best team and could be just what

Roster Moves On the Horrizon

The Giants made one of their easier roster decisions on Wednesday by bringing Vinny Chulk off the Disabled list and sending down Keiechi Yabu. Chulk brings a fresh arm to a bullpen that has been used pretty heavily through the first 2 1/2 weeks of the season and showed immediate dividends by throwing 2 scoreless innings of relief in Wednesday's game. They now have two more guys on the DL who are set to return in the next couple of weeks in Omar Vizquel and Noah Lowry. Vizquel's arrival will send Brian Bocock to Fresno, but it's unclear on who's spot Lowry will be taking when he makes his '08 debut, most likely in early May. Jonathan Sanchez and Kevin Corriea are in a battle for that last rotation spot and both have had their ups and downs. Corriea has the better era and has shown more consistency in being able to get deep into ballgames. As a matter of fact, Corriea may be the most economical of all Giants' starting pitchers with his pitch count. If Matt Cain an

John Bowker Arrives

The Giants haven't had a player have the kind of debut weekend John Bowker had since Will Clark debuted with the Giants in the late 80's. Bowker homered in each of his first two games in the big leagues and after just 6 at-bats with the Giants he is second on the team in home runs (2) and RBI's (7). He worked the count well and even when he didn't hit the ball out of the park, he had good at bats and drove in runs when he had the chance. He's got a quick, compact power swing that reminds me a little bit of Travis Hafner's cut. It's hard to call anyone legit after two games in the bigs , but I think Bowker has certainly caught some eyes. I pointed out Bowker earlier in the spring as someone who could get a quick call up if someone gets hurt and with Dave Roberts likely shelved for the next 3 months, Bowker has himself a roster spot and a chance at legitimate playing time. Surprisingly to some, the Giants took called up Bowker over Nate Schierholtz w

Giants Rebound

During the home stand, the Giants have not looked like the same team that started the year 1-5 on the road. Their starting pitching, as well as their bullpen, have been almost untouchable over the last 3 nights and they are finally starting to get some hits with runners in scoring position. Bengie Molina continues to carry the team offensively and is really becoming this teams' heart and soul. I still don't like Molina in the 4 th spot in the lineup because he clogs the bases for the middle of the order, but he sure is producing like a cleanup hitter early on in the season. I also have to give a little credit to Bruce Bochy . I haven't said too many positive things about Bochy's managerial decisions since he came aboard last season, but I do like how he's starting mix up his lineup and isn't being tentative about benching the veterans. I like Rich Aurilia and Ray Durham, they seem like nice guys and would probably be fun to go out for a beer with, but these g

Giants Struggle Through Home Opener

I know it's still way early on in the season and even though the Giants weren't expected to be very good this year, the way they have opened the season has been a little worse than I was expecting. They suffered their 4th lose in as many days in their home opener Monday. The starting pitching, outside of Tim Lincecum's warrior like performance at Dodger Stadium, has been below average, and that was supposed to be the clear cut strength of the team. Matt Cain got lit up on Monday, one day after Barry Zito lost for the second straight start in Milwaukee. Cain struggled to find his command all day and got himself in trouble by getting behind early in the count against practically every batter he faced. Cain has these kinds of days once in a while and he was probably a little amped up about the opener. Zito had the same problem in LA and to a lesser extent Milwaukee. Amazingly, the bullpen has been more of a strength than the starting pitching this season. Everyone in the pen s

Pitching Shines in Series Finale

Although the Giants still have yet to get their offense going after the first series of the season, their pitching is looking as good as advertised. Tim Lincecum didn't start the game Wednesday night as the Giants were expecting the game to be called in the middle innings, but he got the win in relief. He turned in a very gutsy performance and still dealt with a rain delay right in the middle of his outing. Lincecum also went 1-1 with the bat and scored what turned out being the winning run on a Randy Winn sac fly in the 6 th . It wasn't just Lincecum who was impressed on the mound Wednesday night either. Merkin Valdez got the emergency start and kicked off the game in fashion by striking out the side with impressive 95 mph heaters and a wicked split. He ended up going 2 scoreless, hitless innings to start and Jack Taschner came in and threw well in his relief. It was also good to see Brian Wilson notch his first save of the year in harsh conditions and he did it with a

Giants Go Quietly In Opener

Barry Zito's second opening day start as a Giant looked a lot like his first on. Zito struggled through 5 innings giving up 4 runs and 8 hits as the Giants were shut out for the second consecutive opener. Zito was around 83 mph with his fastball and although his curve is a big one, it's so slow that hitters can re-adjust at the plate and still be effective against the pitch. It looks like it's going to be another long season for Zito if he's around 82-83 mph on the fastball without much command. It's not like anybody can be too surprised with the outcome of Monday's game, but I think that Giants fans were expecting a little more life out of this team. The so called "warrior spirit" and "swagger" they supposedly now carry, didn't translate to much and the Giants looked identical to last year, minus Barry Bonds. We also didn't see the youth movement that was promised, as Brian Bocock and Jose Castillo were the only players in their twen