Game On! #sfgiants #weekinreview

Holy smokes a lot happened this week with our beloved baseball club. Let’s recap:

  • After a heart warming sweep of the first place Diamondbacks, the Giants road-woes came right up and slapped them across the face. They dropped 3 games in Colorado, managing to score a grand total of 3 runs in those 3 games. That’s basically getting shut out for 3 straight games in any other park. Then, they had a somewhat frustrating split against the Cardinals, frustrating because the series marked the return of two pitchers who were supposed to help (more on this later).
  • Joe Panik got hurt and is on the DL, probably for a while. This makes us all sad, but it also forces us to face the harsh reality that Joe Panik is not having a good season, and it may be in the Giants best interest to let Alen Hanson play everyday. Hanson has been far superior with the bat, and I think he makes them a better, more dangerous team for now. Nonetheless, get well Joe!
  • The Giants welcomed back Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. My pre-season naming of Cueto as the MOST IMPORTANT player this season, still stands in many ways. If he can be good from here on out, the Giants have a puncher’s chance. He was not very good in his start on Thursday, however, and there will be a dance the rest of the season around when to pull the plug. If he continues to stink (and the Giants fall out of contention), he’ll go back on the DL and the Giants will hope he can heal up for 2019. If they stay in the race and Cueto can give them anything positive, he’ll hang in the rotation as long as they need him. Meanwhile, Samardzija showed signs of life in his return, but he still hasn’t looked better than some of the other options available to the team.
  • Speaking of that, the Giants went ahead and kept both Andrew Suarez and Derek Rodriguez in the rotation and that sure looks like a good idea. Chris Stratton was sent back to Sacramento to keep pitching every 5th day and try to get some consistency back in his curveball and location. I hate to say it, but he has not been the same since becoming a dad.
  • The Giants sent Derek Holland to the bullpen, even though he had been one of the most consistent starters recently, and they continue to carry 13 pitchers on the roster. Some of this is due to having a high number of pitchers who require baby gloves at this point. The Giants don’t want Cueto or Samardzija throwing 100+ pitches right now, so that means it is wise to have Holland and Blach in the bullpen. But also, Will Smith and Mark Melancon (and now Ray Black) need to be managed in how often they are used, since they are still building up strength coming off injuries. I can’t remember a staff that had so many issues like this.
  • Speaking of Will Smith he is finally the closer and he’s been nasty so far and DANG IT BOCHY WHY WASN’T HE THE CLOSER IN 2016.
  • And then (I told you it was quite the week) the Giants made a trade yesterday. They FINALLY got rid of Cody Gearrin (hallelujah), and shipped out the suddenly redundant and underused OF Austin Jackson. In order to do this, the Giants sweetened the pot by including pitcher Jason Bahr. Bahr is a guy who created some buzz this season, and seems like a nice prospect, but the Giants have traded away a lot of buzzy prospects who were never heard from again. This move is a win, in my mind, because it creates “cap” space, gets rid of two guys who were no longer useful and created space for the Giants to see what they have with Gorkys Hernandez, Austin Slater, Steven Duggar, Ray Black, and maybe another bullpen arm or two before this is all said and done.
  • You read that right: Steven Duggar is here! Sounds like the Giants will use him and Hernandez interchangeably in CF, but then Gorkys just pulled a muscle, so we may get a good stretch from Duggar, which is excellent news.
  • That was a lot! Somehow, in the midst of all this roster churn and losing (2-5 on the week), the Giants are still only 3.5 games out of first in the NL West.

Which brings us to the question: what does this all mean? The Giants are still very much in this thing in 2018. They are finally at “full strength” in their starting rotation, the bullpen is pretty good, and they should (in theory) be able to score enough to be competitive.

One could look at the trade as a step towards more moves to strengthen the squad for the stretch run.

Or, are the Giants coming to grips with the reality that they are a bit lucky to be 47-45 (with that ugly -27 =/-), and it’s time to get ready for next year?

It feels more like the latter. Here’s my take:

  1. The Giants brass realize this is a down year in the NL West and so are willing to give the Cueto’s of the world an opportunity to make a run. Who knows maybe they get hot and sneak into the playoffs this season. So, they are not going to blow the whole thing up, but they are going to want to see and invest time in the guys who might be around next year.
  2. They’ve made one trade to make sure they stay beneath the tax threshold (the “cap”) so that they can be sure to reset and go into the offseason with a clean slate. This will allow them to extend Bumgarner, pursue Bryce Harper, or do whatever it is they want to do with their “extra” money to get younger and better.
  3. Now, to the big rumor: there are more moves probably coming. Word is the only Giants’ who are off-limits this July are Posey and Crawford. That means Bumgarner, Belt, your favorite prospect, whoever, is on the table!
  4. I don’t think the Giants are going to trade Belt/Bum/etc, unless someone fills AT&T park with gold and prospects. What this means, though, is that Giants will listen. They want to get a good sense of what a different future could look like, and shopping will allow them to do this.

So, hang on tight Giants fans, the next 3+ weeks are going to be very interesting.

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A Couple Quick Thoughts… #weekinreview #sfgiants

The Giants are on a roll right now and for the first time this season it feels real. They are two bullpen meltdowns away from being tied for first place.

So, a couple of quick accolades:

  1. Austin Slater: starting left fielder…may be it so for as long as it needs to be.
  2. Hunter Pence: master cheerleader/pinch hitter…never thought this day would come while he was a Giant, but I kind of love it.
  3. The Brandon’s continue to mash: Amen and Amen.
  4. Madison Bumgarner is a stud: duh.
  5. Rookies in the rotation: 100!
  6. Will Smith closer: getting jiggy with that.

That last one kind of hurts to be honest. I still think the Giants force a Game 5 against the Cubs if Bochy had of stuck with Smith in that infamous 9th inning. Maybe he was already hurt. Who knows. But now, it looks like he may take the 9th and run with it. So be it.

The Giants have three games in Colorado, and then a 10 game home stand before the All Star Break. Also, we may see Samardzija and Cueto soon. Also, the trade deadline looms. There is going to be a lot to talk about this July.

After 2017, I’m all for it.

We might be on to something here… #sfgiants #weekinreview

Let’s see:

  • The Giants have won 5 straight series
  • They a wept a team for the first time in nearly a calendar year
  • Have a winning record at home AND on the road
  • Have a positive run differential again (+1!)
  • Only need to go 2-5 this week to have a .500 record on a 10 day east coast road trip
  • Are 19-15 and sit 4 games back in the NL West

Not all news this week is good news though:

Now, that is actually good news you’re seeing up there because the rumor earlier in the week was imminent Tommy John surgery which was going to mean curtains for Cueto in 2018.

IF you had of told me the Giants would lose Bumgarner and Cueto for 2 months of the season, I’d have said they would challenge the 98 loses of 2017.

Why does this feel different?

Well, the Giants actually did a good job this offseason of adding depth. Derek Holland, Gregor Blanco, Tony Watson, Alen Hanson, and of course the bigger additions of McCutchen, Longoria, and Jackson, have all paid significant dividends. None of those names has been a difference maker the way tha,t say, Giancarlo Stanton would have been, but collectively they are allowing the Giants to not only tread water, but gain momentum.

The Giants obviously have a long way to go, and they can’t really afford to lose anyone else at the moment, but it’s been amazing to watch the reinforcements arrive and, in many cases, make the team better.

Two shout outs:

  • I really liked the Giants bench (Hundley, Panda, Kelby, Blanco, and Hernandez) heading into the season, but I never imagined it would be this good. Each of those guys has contributed significantly in their own ways to the solid start. In addition, the next wave of players (Mac Williamson and Alen Hanson) have been more than solid, they’ve been spectacular at times (get well Mac!).
  • The Giants would probably like to run these 5 guys out, once everyone is healthy: Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Stratton, and Suarez. In that scenario Blach would go the bullpen and take over for Pierce Johnson. Derek Holland would be the odd man out. But right now, they need all of them, and Andrew Suarez, specifically, has been a breath of cool, fresh air. That kid is soooo relaxed. Which is exactly what you want a rookie pitcher to be. I don’t know what his ceiling is, it’s probably not an all-star, but if he can be a solid 3rd starter that would be a huge blessing to this organization.

The rough road trip continue: 3 in Philadelphia and 4 in Pittsburg (aka: Andrew McCutchen home-coming weekend). The sweep of the Braves is house money at this point. If the Giants win the series in Philly and split in Pittsburg, they’d finish the trip 7-3 which is unreal. But that’s what we’ll be looking for this week!

A Wish List

In honor Christmas, here’s my wish list for the rest of the Giants offseason:

  1. Jackie Bradley Jr. Really, #1 on my wish list is a great defensive center fielder, but there is a massive gap between Jackie Bradley and the rest of the field. Yes, Jerrod Dyson is out there as a free agent. Yes, the Giants could be foolish and sign Lorenzo Cain (giving up precious picks). Yes, there’s the Billy Hamilton rumors. But, go big or go home. It’s obvious even to Sox fans that he is the most movable asset for the Boston as they try chasing the Yankees. I have no idea if/how the Giants could get this done, but I would send them anyone except Andrew Suarez to make this happen. (What about Heliot Ramons, Chris Shaw, and an arm?) One of the quickest paths to success for the Giants in 2018 is for some rebounds from underperforming, or injured, players (see Posey, Crawford, Belt, Bumgarner, and Cueto). But the other way is to improve the three gaping holes in the roster: a 3B who can hit (check), a CF who can get to the ball, and a competent fourth starter (more in a moment). Again, while there are some other options out there at CF Bradley Jr. would be a quantum step forward.
  2. Another starting pitcher. The Giants do not have the funds to make a major improvement here. Matt Moore, who I still would love to have seen rebound in 2018, was one of the worst starting pitchers in MLB last year, and all they need to get from Chris Stratton is some league averageness to make up significant ground. That being said, the rotation, which for so long has been the backbone of this franchise, for the first time since 2008, feels full of question marks and lacks signficant depth. Stratton and Ty Blach could hold it down and be fine. Tyler Beede and/or Andrew Suarez could come up and be awesome. But, I would like to see someone brought in to at least push those guys and maybe even take the first 10-12 starts before turning to a Beede/Suarez/Blach. My short list: Trevor Cahill, Clay Bucholz, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia.
  3. One more source of power. This is what seems to be at the top of the list for the Giants at the moment. All eyes are on Jay Bruce. IF the market for Jay Bruce collapses a bit and comes down to, say, 3 years and $36-42 mil, I’d be for it. What I’m hearing rumored now is longer and higher than that (yikes). But there are other options. What about a one year deal for Jose Bautista? What about someone like Colby Rasmus or Michael Saunders? They could be Jay Bruce imitations without breaking the bank, and they could be easily moved along for the Austin Slater and Chris Shaws of the world if need be.
  4. Take a gamble on the bullpen. It seems like the market for relievers is a little out of control. The top guys are now getting what middle of the rotation starters used to get. But there are still a ton of names available and I’d be into a lot of them if the price were right. Here’s where I’d love to see the Giants be patient and then grab a few guys in February and see how they perform in the spring. On this list: John Axford, Jason Grilli (welcome back!), Bud Norris, Trevor Rosenthal, Drew Storen, Glen Perkins, Zack Duke.
  5. Strengthen the Bench. I know what you are thinking. How are the Giants going to do all these moves? They can’t get all the things I have on my list and spend big league money. They do not want to go into the tax for Zack Duke in other words. But, there are a lot of teams in the same position as the Giants and the market has moved slow and I think it will stay that way and I hope the team can be patient enough to luck into some deals. And I think one area this will happen in is with solid bench options. Right now, the Giants are looking at Pablo Sandoval, Gorkys Hernandez, Jarrett Parker, and Kelby Tomlinson as key reserves. I think they can do way better. They’ve already made some moves for guys they can take a look at this spring. These are great moves, not because these players are the answer to anything, but, you never know. Remember: Juan Uribe and Andres Torres were non-roster invitees to spring training who ended up heroes. On my list here: Howie Kendrick, Austin Jackson, Danny Espinoza, and Darwin Barney.

I’d also like to make a Do Not Wish list:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. John Lackey
  3. Jason Werth
  4. Jorge de la Rosa

Merry Christmas!

Signs of Blah #sfgiants

We’ve officially hit the doldrums. Maybe they hit you on opening day, maybe you are still, pathetically, excited about the 2017 SF Giants (I don’t know, there might be one of you). Chances are you are not even reading this because you moved on long ago.

One of the questions driving the season, since at least mid-May, has been: “who are you excited to get to see play?”

Many were excited about Christian Arroyo.
Austin Slater was a nice story.
Mac Williamson made an appearance for a minute.
A few of us got excited about Pablo Sandoval’s return.
I was looking forward to a couple of Tyler Beede starts.

But here we are, with 36 games yet to play, and what is there to look forward to?

Anyone remotely interesting is already here or not coming up (I would have loved to see Andrew Suarez, but it seems like the Giants don’t want to expose him at this point and I get that). Ryder Jones is here. Jarrett Parker is getting his shot (again). Kyle Crick is trying to make a case for future bullpener. Chris Stratton is in the conversation for future rotations.

But, there will be no Christian Arroyo show, part II.
No Tyler Beede debut.
No Austin Slater return.

What is there to look forward to?


This is not to say there is nothing worth watching or paying attention to. Madison Bumgarner is worth watching, period, but even more so because his ability to be great still is so important to the future of the franchise. So far so good.

Matt Moore has had two quality starts in a row and if he can keep it up it we will have the whole offseason to debate what it means. In the meantime, keep rooting for a Matt Moore resurgence. It’s only thing that makes sense.

Ty Blach and Matt Moore may have switched bodies, which would explain their last two starts, but what if Blach has turned into a pumpkin. He’s been one of the best stories of the season (the best?!), and a strong finish would secure him a spot in the 2018 rotation and make all of us feel just a little bit better about how this year has gone. A Ty Blach debacle to end the year would be a poetic ending to a terrible, terrible season.

We’re very likely to see a couple of Johnny Cueto starts before the end of the season and there might not be anything more important to the future of the Giants. At this point, I think we have to root for him to be really good when he comes back, good enough to tempt him to opt out. If he doesn’t I know I can make the case for why that is not the end of the world, but the fastest way to the Giants remaking their roster is through a Cueto opt out.

Beyond that I’d like to see Joe Panik and Brandon Belt come back clear of concussions and be good for a couple weeks before shutting it down. I’d like to see Brandon Crawford have one hot streak before this miserable campaign ends. I’d like to see Buster end the year with a .900 OPS.

There’s also Mark Melancon proving he’s healthy, a couple of guys in the bullpen making a case to be important to the 2018 team, and fringe players like Kelby Tomlinson establishing themselves as good role players.


We have a long dark winter to stare down, but may as well get started. I’m rooting for Cueto to go, and Justin Upton to arrive.