A New Chapter

The majority of our posts over the past two months have focused on trades the Giants might make today. Most of those scenarios were predicated on the Giants being in contention and going for it in an attempt to repeat as champions.

Welp.

By the end of the day the great Javier Lopez should be gone, and there’s a good chance Hunter Pence is too. If something crazy happens, Timmy might be in a new uniform as well.

Who knows how it all goes down, Brian Sabean doesn’t always go by the book, but the Giants are now looking ahead to 2014. This season, unfortunately, is over.

Of course it isn’t, which means that the next two months are about answering one, huge, important, complex question:

  • Was the strategy to keep the team together for 2013 a faulty plan needing a major overhaul, or did the Giants simply get caught in a perfect storm of suck?

My opinion is nuanced here. I think there were parts of the plan that were faulty:

  • The lack of depth at starting pitcher was always going to be a problem. With only 5 major league ready starters available (I’m not counting Gaudin here because no one really saw that coming), the Giants needed health and solid performances from all 5 guys to make a run. That did not happen and the lack of depth has been sorely exposed.
  • I have no way to quantify this, but it does seem like there was a bit of a hang over for the starting staff from last year. Was it the extra innings? The extra strain? The early Spring Training because of the World Baseball Classic? I don’t know, but they’ve looked tired all year.
  • It’s also not like the starting pitching problems dropped out of the sky either. Vogelsong really struggled down the stretch last year before finding new life in the post-season. We all know about Lincecum’s 2012. Matt Cain was good, but not dominant in the post-season (and many have pointed to his decreased effectiveness post-perfect game). Madison Bumgarner was essentially benched in the NLCS and we all head our breath when he started against the Tigers because he was struggling so badly. And Barry Zito is Barry Zito. Enough said. It’s alarming really that the team didn’t do more to back up the staff during the offseason.
  • I’ve said all offseason that Left Field was going to be a problem. Losing Pagan really exposed the Giants in the outfield. Somehow we now have Jeff Franceour on our roster. That’s how bad it is.

But the plan wasn’t all bad:

  • The offense has actually been better than 2012.
  • There are still plenty of good players on the squad, players who will be around for a while too.

So, here are a couple of conclusions and a couple of questions for the rest of the offseason:

  • Conclusion 1: Barry Zito is gone. He’s the odd man out here. Prediction 1: Unless something crazy happens today, I think Lincecum is back next year, probably on a one year deal. The other three pitchers are back too, and I think the Giants will make some kind of move to find an improvement over Zito. I also think they’ll look for a few Gaudin-types to create depth.
  • Conclusion 2: The Giants are not in rebuilding mode, they are going to continue to go for it. This team has too many good player (and good young players) to blow it up. Prediction 2: That said, I expect the Giants to make a big trade in the offseason. This is what Sabean loves to do, and the market these days favors trades over free agent signings. Sabean has worked some magical trades (see Kent, Jeff) and some foolish trades (see Pierzynski, AJ). Don’t be surprised to see Brandon Belt on the move this offseason.

This is an interesting moment for the Giants. Theoretically, they still have enough to be competitive (any team with Posey, Cain, Bumgarner, etc under control for several years is well set up to be competitive over the long haul). They also have some intriguing help at the lower levels of the minor leagues.

But how the Giants choose to bridge the gap between the present and future is going to be fascinating.

In many ways, it begins today.

(-SB)

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2nd Half Questions and a Prediction

The Giants get the “second half” (66 games left) tonight against the First Place Diamondbacks. The Giants continue to stand on strange ground. 6.5 games behind the D-Backs, but 8 games under .500. What the?

Here are the pertinent questions:

  1. Buy or Sell? In or Out? Two questions, I know, but essentially the same: are the Giants really in this thing, or is the 6.5 games out just a fantastical mirage meant to befuddle and entice the weak of mind and heart? If they have a good weekend and sweep, or even take 2 of 3, from Arizona, I’d expect the Giants to think they can go for it. If, the reverse happens, then I think it’s time to bite the bullet and see what they can get for various pieces. In the end I think the Giants will straddle the fence for as long as possible, make a minor move, and see if the core crew can’t find some magic.
  2. What of Tim Lincecum? He just threw a no-hitter. Other teams want to add him to their bullpen. Maybe he wants to be a Giants for life. Maybe he wants a fresh start. My gut tells me he stays through the season, but probably not beyond that. I could be wrong here in many directions. No matter what, enjoy every opportunity to see him from here on out…it might be the last time you see him in this uniform (tear).
  3. Can the Pitching Recover? Finally, a true on-the-field baseball question! This is a huge question, not just for the rest of the season, but moving forward as well. In 2009-2012 the Giants were among the best staffs in all of baseball, not just during that span, but historically. There is no doubt the team has the talent to put together an 8-10 turn run of excellence. In order for that to happen Madison Bumgarner and Timmy need to keep at their current pace. Matt Cain needs to get it together and fix his mechanical issue out of the stretch (or whatever the heck is wrong with him). Ryan Vogelsong needs to come back soon and he needs to be 2012 playoff caliber Vogey, not early 2013 Vogey. Finally, the Giants need to leave Gaudin in the rotation and send Zito to the pen. Not only does that give the team a stronger rotation it ensures that Zito won’t hit his inning mark (thus locking him in for one more expensive year), and gives the Giants a lot more flexibility heading into next year. The reality: that’s a lot of “what-ifs”…not out of the realm of possibility, but unlikely.
  4. Who Will Hit? Pablo seemed to be getting it together in San Diego before the break, but the Giants will need Pence to get hot and they will also need the Brandon’s to continue to contribute down the stretch. I never thought this team would miss Angel Pagan so much, but they do, and they need a couple of other guys to step up and take some pressure off the pitchers.
  5. What About the Future? As uncertain as the next couple of weeks and rest of the season may seem, it still doesn’t compare to what lies ahead this off-season. 3/5 of the rotation will be up in the air. Pence is likely gone, leaving 2 outfield spots open, plus lingering questions about Pagan’s ability to stay healthy as he ages at a tough position (CF). The Giants don’t have immediate help waiting on the farm, and will have to bridge the gap somewhere. Lot’s of interesting moves lie ahead.

Bold Prediction: As crazy as it sounds, I’m going to go with my heart, and not with my head, and predict that the Giants will win 87 games and the NL West. That will require them to go 44 and 22 over the final 66 games. Seems like a tall order for this club, but IF the pitching can get on a roll it is entirely possible. This is the Giants’ version of the 2000 Yankees, the final year in their great run, where they were able to sneak in despite being an inferior version of their former selves. Bring on the second half.

(-SB)

Pitching, Trades, and Cliff Lee Rumors

I promise that next Monday we will bring back the week’s in review and hopefully establish a good rhythm again.

For now though, the Giants season has been a sort of bizarro world. The starting pitching has been poor. The hitter has been good, if not great. The comebacks have been awesome. Who saw that coming?

Good vibes aside, for the Giants to have a shot at repeating they need to get better starting pitching. No way around that.

Here is my assessment thus far:

  • Matt Cain has not been good, but the amount of home runs he has allowed do line up with his career averages. Some might argue that such an extreme fly ball pitcher is finally having the law of averages catch up with him, but I don’t see it continuing at this rate. More important, Cain’s control has been lacking. I see him righting the ship and being the ace. Level of Panic: low.
  • Madison Bumgarner has had 6 great starts and one not so great start. No worries here. Madbum doesn’t have the video game stuff to dominate every time, so there will be times when it doesn’t go well. That said not worried. Level of Panic: extremely low.
  • Tim Lincecum is the most maddening player in a Giants’ uniform since Barry Zito who is still in a Giants’ uniform. He can look so good on one pitch and so bad on another. Dominate a batter than watch the pitcher. Provide a ray of hope with a clean start and then dash it with another start ruined by the big inning. What do you do? I still hold out hope that he is smart enough, talented enough, and not injured enough to figure it out. Level of Panic: moderate.
  • Barry Zito: Barry Zito is Barry Zito. I really don’t know how else to say it. Here’s what Barry Zito does: for every 5 starts, he will give 2 great turns, 2 good turns, and 1 huge turd of a turn. And that all works out to a perfectly acceptable league average 4th starter. Barry Zito. Level of Panic: low (Giants’ fans left panic a long time ago in regards to Zito).
  • Ryan Vogelsong: Ryan Vogelsong is the baseball definition of house money. In 2011 he was around to do one thing and one thing only: provide rotation depth. He started the season in AAA and only came up because of Jonathan Sanchez (remember him). Then it was because of Barry Zito. He made the All-Star team and it was a great story, but it was never part of the plan. And then it got even better. Another good season and a post-season transformation into THE ACE. But, when does the clock strike midnight and the coach turn back into a pumpkin? It might have happened, in a way, last August. It sure seems like it is happening now. The problem is that Vogey is now part of the plan. So, where do we go from here if this is the end of the line? Level of Panic: Red Alert!

So, what happens now? The hot rumor of the week is the Giants should go after Cliff Lee should the Phillies continue their downward spiral (a spiral the Giants are not helping in this current series).

The Cliff Lee idea is not unlike an idea I proposed this offseason which you can read about here. (By the way, Anibal Sanchez is off to a GREAT start).

Do the Giants pursue this?

Here’s the case against Lee:

  • He is old. 35 in August. 
  • He has an injury history. Been on the DL at least once in each of the past four seasons.
  • He is expensive. $25 mil for the next 3 years (including 2013).

Here’s the case for Lee:

  • He is very good. He is even better in the post-season.
  • The Giants could move Lincecum or Vogelsong to the bullpen.
  • The Giants will lose some combination of Lincecum, Vogelsong, and Zito after this season. Their good young arms are probably not going to be ready for opening day 2014. They will need outside help at some point to fill out the rotation, so why not Cliff Lee.

A couple of other factors. First, would the Phillies even want to do this? Maybe, they could get financial relief and some prospects. Second, would the Giants have what it takes to pull this off? Maybe…but their thin system would essentially be depleted. Third, Cliff Lee has a limited no-trade clause. The Giants could be one of the 21 teams on that list.

If the Giants could pull this off by trading only 1 decent prospect, than I say do it. They can manage the expense (especially with Lincecum, Pence, and potentially Zito coming off the books at the end of the year).

If it requires 2-3 top prospects, I say no.

It’s a long season and we are still just getting started. While the early returns have not been great from this rotation, there is plenty of time to right the ship. As bad as it’s been, the Giants are only a half game out of first place.

So, true panic should not set in until June. Let’s hope this magical group of five, who have been so good the last several years, turn it around quickly.

(-SB)

#SFGiants Week In Review (4/15-4/21)

What a weird week. Absolutely horrible in Milwaukee (a place the Giants seem to do well, and against a bad team), and then awesome at home against the Padres. The Giants are now 8-1 in the division…since losing to LA on opening day they have not lost a division game. That’s a fantastic start…let’s hope they keep it up against the Diamondbacks and the Padres again this week.

Results:

3-3 (12-7); 2nd place, 1.5 games back in NL West

10-8 L @ MIL; 4-3 L @ MIL; 7-2 L @ MIL; 3-2 W vs SD; 2-0 W vs. SD; 5-0 W vs. SD

Hitter of the Week:

Brandon Crawford is the hitter of the week and possibly even the year, given the expectations for him heading into the season. I think we all hoped for improvement, but .250 with 10+ home runs was a goal we would have all paid top dollar for. It’s early and there will be slumps and streaks but he sure passes the eye test right now. Power to the opposite field, not trying to do too much…he just looks dangerous at the plate. And that might be the best sign of all.

Pitcher of the Week:

Tim Lincecum was the enigma of the week last week and he pitched beautifully on Saturday night. Yes, he was at home (but we all know he’s been good and bad everywhere, park doesn’t really seem to matter to Timmy), and yes it was the Padres, but he looked like vintage Lincecum. Guys swung at nasty pitches out of the zone, and most importantly, he pitched with purpose and it sure seemed like he knew what he wanted to do and put the ball where he wanted it to go. The great question of Lincecum is not “will he get his velocity back” (probably not), but rather “will his crazy mechanics allow him to become a control pitcher” (a difficult task). The jury is still out, but saturday night was a huge step forward.

Enigma of the Week:

This is the enigma of the year: the Giants’ starters have all shown flashes of brilliance. I was floored by this article. But each of them seems to be too susceptible to (a) the Long Ball, and (b) the Big Inning. Cain and Zito got it big time in Milwaukee this week. Could be flukey early season stuff, but certainly it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Looking Ahead:

6 more division games: 3 against Arizona in SF, and then 3 in San Diego. Let’s hope the team keeps rolling against the NL West!

(-SB)

#SFGiants Week In Review (4/9-4/14)

It is tough to argue with, or nit-pick, a 6-1 week, which the Giants just pulled off, but it doesn’t feel like they played all that well. I think this is due to the fact that the way they won was decidedly out of character.

Perhaps the hangover from 2012 is this: the Giants don’t fear playing behind. Typically, you think of this team as one that has to get ahead early and protect leads. It’s not a team that appears designed to be able to come back.

But comeback they did, and they continue to do. Of course, some of that is due to very poor play on the part of the Cubs. Nonetheless, they swept a division rival and took 3 of 4 from a team they should take 3 of 4 from, regardless of how it is done.

Bottom line: 6-1 is a good week.

Results:

6-1 (9-4); 0.5 game lead in NL West

4-2 W vs. Col; 9-6 W vs. Col; 10-0 W vs. Col; 7-6 W @ CHC; 4-3 L @ CHC; 3-2 W @ CHC; 10-7 W @ CHC

Pitcher of the Week:

Come on down Barry Zito. Yahoo! Sports insinuated after Zito’s start against the Rockies that this is simply a contract year phenomenon, but Giants’ fans know Zito has pitched well at times, especially early in 2010 and late in 2012. It seems that he has finally make peace with his stuff, he is learning how to be a control artist, and most of all, he is comfortable with who he is as a pitcher. He will have some bad starts, he just walks too fine a line not too, but who in this rotation inspires as much confidence right now as Zito?

Hitter of the Week:

Zito! Just kidding, but the dude’s gotten just as much press this last week for his hot “hitting” as he has for his pitching.

How about that Nick Noonan. Here’s a guy a lot of us had pegged for opening day 2013 a few years back. Then he stalled out at AA and was forgotten in the wake of Gary Brown’s and Brandon Crawford’s and Joe Panik’s. But, again, a few years ago he was as legit a position prospect in the Giants’ system as anyone. He’s blocked by Scutaro for now and would probably struggle after the league gets a book on him, but he has such a nice swing, and he beat good pitches against the Cubs…that wasn’t a cheap 5 for 8!

Enigma of the Week:

Tim Lincecum had 2 bad innings. Taken together it looks like this: 2 IP, 9 ERs, 4 BB (including the opposing pitcher), 5 H (including 1 double and 2 home runs), 1 wild pitch, and 2 Ks. For those who like ratios that’s an ERA of 40.50 and a WHIP of 4.50. Not good.

The rest of those outings, though, look like this: 9 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 H (all singles), 0 WP, 9 Ks. That’s an ERA of 1.00 and a WHIP of 0.67.

So, what to make of all that? First, and this a duh observation, Lincecum needs to avoid the bad inning. Second, he is striking a lot of guys out, which means his stuff is still nasty. Third, and this is the most important, Lincecum needs to identify EARLY what is working and what is not. Yesterday both of the home runs came off poor change-ups. Lincecum can’t feel it out and ease in to what is on and what is off in a start anymore. He needs to know when the game starts what he has to work with.

To me, it seems to come down to concentration. When it’s there he is still a really good pitcher, when it is not, it is really ugly.

Looking Ahead:

The Giants head to Milwaukee for 3, and then get 12 straight against division rivals San Diego and Arizona. I’d love to seem them stay hot, but clean up the starting pitching a bit and work from ahead instead of behind.

(-SB)

Big Answers

Yesterday we posted 5 Big Questions the Giants face this offseason. Today we try to answer them.

1) What can we expect from Tim Lincecum:

  • a) He continues to suck, the Giants figure out something to do with him (bullpen?), and let him walk at the end of the year.
  • b) He bounces back fully and the Giants have a big decision to make next offseason about what to do with him.
  • c) The Giants try to sign him this offseason at a discount
  • d) The Giants trade him this offseason. His lowered value doesn’t get the same return as a few years ago, but it could a be a good return and it would resolve (a) and (b).

My opinion is that Tim Lincecum is going to bounce back in a major way next year. I think he will be in better shape, I think he will work out the kinks in his motion, and I think he will prove to be a better pitcher than ever (if not quite as dominant) in 2013.

Tim can’t just throw a 95 mph fastball at the top of the zone and come right back with an 84 mph change that drop off the table anymore. But he can be extremely effective by relearning his fastball and by getting his mechanics to a place where he has better control (if less velocity). He is too good, too competitive, and too young to be washed up as a starter.

  • What should happen: I think the Giants should try to sign Timmy this offseason and enjoy the bounce back at a discounted rate.
  • What will happen: I think the Giants will stand pat, let the season play out, and make a Lincecum decision next offseason.

2) Can the rotation back up their performance:

A huge part of the answer to this question has to do with Lincecum finding himself. The Giants had their worst ERA+ as a staff this year (95) since 2006. And this was the first year with a below average ERA+ during this run of success. A lot of that was due to Lincecum posting the worst ERA+ of any starter in the big leagues. Like I said, a Timmy bounce-back is the biggest way the whole team improves in 2013.

I also think Madison Bumgarner will have a huge year next year. I’m a huge MadBum fan, and I think the kid just ran out of gas this year. But he’s a big strong kid who will learn how to build strength as the year goes on. I think he takes another step forward which only makes the rotation that much more solid.

I’m mildly concerned about Matt Cain. He threw 250 innings this year, and while the dude is a horse I think some fatigue showed up in the post-season: too many home runs. However, there’s no reason to suggest he doesn’t do what Matt Cain always does: pitch well.

Ryan Vogelsong is also a concern. Late bloomers tend to fall and fall quickly. I expect Vogelsong to be very effective next year, but I think we will see more ups and downs.

Barry Zito is Barry Zito. He’ll have some starts that make you wish you had never turned the TV on and he’ll have some starts that make you think he could win the CY Young again. In the end he will have an ERA just north of 4.00 and win double-digit games. (One caveat here: If Zito hits 200 innings his 2014 team option vests…I would guess they manage that pretty carefully next year).

  • What should happen: the Giants staff should continue to be the strength of this team and Madison Bumgarner will be in the conversation for the CY Award at season’s end.
  • What will happen: I think the Giants will take a flier on a Vogelsong-like pitcher this offseason who will prove to be valuable because Vogelsong will miss time due to injury.

3) Can the lineup stay healthy: The real heart of this question, as I mentioned yesterday, is this…will this be the year we finally get to see Panda and Posey together, at full strength, in the middle of the lineup.

It is obviously impossible to predict health with any reasonable accuracy, but Panda and Posey will be in the 26-27 year old window the next two years, typically two of the most productive years for baseball players. If healthy I think we see a potent 1-2 combo in the middle of the lineup.

  • What should happen: Posey and Panda come to camp next year in shape and highly motivated for personal and team success.
  • What will happen: I think this is exactly what will happen with the addendum that the Giants sign Posey to a long-term deal this offseason.  

4) Will the Giants make the same mistakes from 2010: After the 2010 Championship the Giants just had to bring back Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez. Oops. Aubrey felt necessary because no one knew what to expect from Pablo and there were no other legitimate middle of the order hitters in the Giants lineup. But that was a frustrating signing as it seemed to block Brandon Belt. Freddy Sanchez was blocking no one and even though we all knew of his propensity for injury it seemed like a good idea.

The Giants are in a similar situation with Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, and Jeremy Affeldt. It is hard to imagine a Giants team in 2013 without those guys on the roster. However, they are all going to be in demand this offseason, and they are not going to be cheap. And they are not exactly young (Pagan being the youngest at 31). I’ve already heard about a Rowand (5 ys/$60 mil) type deal for Pagan, and Affeldt’s market just shot through the roof (no thanks to the Dodgers) now that Brandon League signed a 3 year/$22 mil deal.

TradeRumors has the Giants bringing back all three. I would love to see the three return, but I do wonder if the Giants will end up signing contracts that they later regret. I can’t imagine Scutaro getting more than three years (it really should be 2, with an option at most), which I think is ok, but Pagan for 5? Yikes! Affeldt at $8-10 million a year? Whoa!

Complicating matters is that the Giants have top prospects at CF and 2B. Gary Brown and Joe Panik seemed locks to make at least an appearance in 2013 (if not the opening day roster) after 2011, but they both had years that raised some questions. They cannot be expected to make an impact in 2013. But by 2014? Sure. I’d hate to see them blocked.

Affeldt is a huge weapon, but the Giants have two other lefties coming back next year (Lopez and Mijares). They also have Dan Runzler who actually could fulfill the role Affeldt plays (lefty who can get righties out too) if he can stay healthy.

All of this shapes up to be quite fascinating.

  • What should happen: The Giants should bring them all back, but at reasonable deals. I’d be ok with Scutaro on a 2-year, $18 million deal (with an option for a third), Pagan for 3 years at $36 million, and Affeldt for 2 years at $15 million.
  • What will happen: The Giants will bring them all back, but overpay severely, especially for Pagan.

5) Will the Giants make a splash in Free Agency: Assuming the above happens, the Giants will only have one significant hole and that involves Left Field. (Amazing trivia note from Baggs: did you know the Giants biggest FA signing last year was Ryan Theriot at $1.75 million. They spent a ton of money on existing guys, but that still caught me off guard).

The Giants have come up in a few Josh Hamilton rumors and there is always the possibility that another Championship could lead to (over)confident spending.

The answer to this question really lies in what happen with Scutaro, Pagan, and Affeldt, especially Pagan. If Pagan goes elsewhere the Giants might jump in on someone like Michael Bourn or BJ Upton.

The bigger question here is this: do the Giants take a flier on Melky Cabrera? Do they utilize a Blanco/Nady platoon (or some other right-handed, power hitting outfielder)? Do they have another trick up their sleeve?

  • What should happen: Assuming the “big 3” return, I think the Giants should bring back Cody Ross and use him in a platoon with Gregor Blanco in left field.
  • What will happen: This is the hardest one for me to predict and so much of it has to do with the other impending free agents. I don’t think the Giants will spend big, especially on a left fielder, so I do see them considering some kind of a platoon here, but I honestly have no idea how this one shakes out. I also wouldn’t count out a Cabrera return.

There you have it. I’m sure this will all get revised and mixed up as things progress, but that’s my very early assessment of this offseason. Good luck Sabes!

(SB)

Game 1: And Ode to the Zito and the Panda

I’m a huge Barry Zito fan. Loved him on the A’s (even bought a t-shirt). Loved the surfing and the guitar playing and the yoga weirdness and the stoner/zen proclamations. Mostly, I loved the curveball and the way he got swings and misses and that he was different. Randy Johnson was the premier left-hander of the day and the way he and Zito got batters out was very, very different.

In 2006, before hitting free-agency Zito made two playoff starts. In his first start he was masterful against the Minnesota Twins and beat another dominant lefty: Johan Santana. He fell apart against the Tigers (yep, those Tigers again), but the picture in my mind was of his triumphant defeat of the Twins.

I was excited when the Giants signed Zito (and bought another t-shirt), even if I hated the contract. Zito, Cain, Lowry. The Big Three. A new chapter of Giants’ baseball built around pitching.

And then it all went to hell. As it got worse and worse, the thing I kept hoping for, longing for, was a chance for Zito to do something important in the playoffs. If he could just contribute to a deep playoff run all would be forgiven.

Then 2010 happened and lo, it was awesome, but Zito’s big contribution was his non-contribution. So, yes, the Giants had won the long sought after Championship during the Zito era, but it was in spite of his presence.

Which makes 2012 all the more sweet. Zito, as has been noted, is not that much different of a pitcher this year than in any other year. He’s been healthy all year, he’s made all his starts, and he’s received better run support, but this could be 2008, or even 2010.

And yet, there is something different about him. A confidence that comes from long-suffering.

I was always a bit of a head case in my short baseball career and so I think that in some way I “get” Zito. I know that helpless feeling of doing everything right but still not having any idea where the ball is going. Pitching is so much between the ears, and thoughtful men don’t often make great pitchers.

And so, I honestly have never been more proud of a professional athlete in my life. Zito will never live up to, or live down, the contract but that’s pretty much irrelevant at this point. This is a man who made it to the top, who fell hard, who has suffered, and who has been resurrected.

Sounds dramatic, for sure, but it’s just true.

And here’s the crazy thing. Zito will be back next year (barring trade) to play out the last year of his ludicrous contract. There is an option for 2014, but here’s what I think will happen: if he proves to be serviceable again I can see the team working out a 3 yr/27 mil type deal to keep him around as the 4th/5th starter. At that point Lincecum and Vogelsong could be gone. There’s not much in the system to fill out the rotation. The team will need a reliable, cost-effective veteran type guy to fill out the Five.

A decade of Zito. Incredible.

—–

A lot has been/will be made about Pablo Sandoval hitting 12 home runs all year and then 6 (hopefully more) in the post-season, as if it were some kind of fluke. This is not unprecedented (see BJ Upton in 2008).

Sandoval is a really good hitter. He’s been hampered by weight issues, by hamate bones, and by hamstrings, but in 2009 if you had told me the Giants would be enjoying this kind of success, the only way it would make sense was if Pablo was at the center of it.

Before Posey, he was the great hope of the offense.

Now, I, nor anyone else, expects him to hit three home runs in Game 1, but this is not like Gregor Blanco hitting 3 home runs, or Brandon Crawford going off, this is a very, very good hitter who’s been going well since game 3 of the Reds series getting hot at the right time.

Melky gets a lot of love for “winning” the All-Star game for the NL, but it was Pablo who hit a triple off Justin Verlander to blow open the lead in the first inning. He was 10 feet from hitting a home run. In his three at-bats against Verlander in 2012 he hit a near home run triple, a home run to deep center, and an oppostite field home run. Incredible.

Which leads to this beautiful image:

—–

Game 2 thoughts: I think Madison Bumgarner will pitch well. Game 1 was great, and it sure helps the Giants keep the momentum and confidence going, but the other Tiger pitchers are also pretty good. I have a feeling this will be a more typical Giants affair, a 3-2 sort of ballgame.

Also, Posey will hit a home run tonight.

Go Giants!

(-SB)