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!


Game 2: 2 Rants

Rant #1

I understand that the national media hasn’t been following the Giants day in and day out all season. I know they need to sell magazines, or drive traffic to their sites, or get ratings. I get all that. But, please allow me this rant on the national media.

One of the things that bugs me most is the shock and awe at how good some of the Giants have performed. Fact: Barry Zito is not a great pitcher like Justin Verlander. But he had a good season, and it’s not completely unreasonable that he shut out a team like the Tigers (who have struggled against left-handed pitching) for five innings.

If you haven’t been paying much attention to the Giants Zito (despite the teams 11 straight wins in Zito starts heading into the post-season) sure seems like a “where did that come from story.”

I’ll give them a bit of a break on that one. But to act like Pablo Sandoval and Madison Bumgarner drank a magic elixir before the World Series started is just craziness. Pablo Sandoval is a really good hitter. It’s lazy to look at a stat sheet and go “OMG he only hit 12 home runs in the regular season.” And it’s true, he only hit 12 home runs, but he has the talent to hit 3 home runs in a game. The magic elixir story works for Brandon Crawford or Gregor Blanco. Not Pablo.

And then here’s the one that really fires me up: Madison Bumgarner is a really, really good pitcher. Driving around yesterday, listening to ESPN radio, you would have thought the Giants were starting me against the Tigers last night. It was ridiculousness to the nth degree.

It is borderline criminal that Bumgarner didn’t make the All-Star team this year. As of late July he was a legitimate CY Young contender. He did have a bad final month (he had a similarly bad start to 2010). But, the point here is he has the talent to pitch like he did last night (and better I might add).

Talented players will have great nights.

The Giants aren’t lucky because Pablo sold his soul to the devil to acquire a magic bat with home runs in it. The Giants are lucky because one of their very talented players had a great night in Game 1 of the World Series.

The Giants aren’t lucky because Madison Bumgarner was digging around in his backyard and found the holy grail of cut-fastball awesome. The Giants are lucky because their supremely talented young left-hander regained his form in Game 2 of the World Series.

So, let’s be clear: these are very talented guys, doing their best at just the right time.

Rant #2

While on the topic of luck…playoff baseball is weird. Weird stuff happens all the time. Giants fans have long suffered through earthquakes and flukey home runs and rally monkeys and Gold-Glove right fielders who drop balls at the wrong time and Cody Ransom and Benny Agbayani and Bobby Jones and Neifi Perez and on and on it goes.

If you want truth in baseball look at seasons and look at careers. If you want crazy and weird watch post-season baseball.

Sometimes Jose Cruz Jr drops a ball (bad luck) and sometimes an Ian Kinsler home run bounces off the top of the wall and lands back in play (good luck).

Giants’ fans have been on both sides.

Anyone who makes it through this far is the beneficiary of some good vibes.

But, as Michael Rosenburg points out, good teams help make their own luck.

2 examples from last night: if you watched Gregor Blanco closely last night it was obvious what he was trying to do…he was going to lay down a bunt to move the runners over but also try to turn it into a hit. His first attempt shot foul. Sometimes when you try to bunt the ball goes foul. And then sometimes it lands in the perfect spot.

So, did Blanco try to lay down the perfect bunt? No. But he was trying to get on, not just make an out and it happened to go in the exact perfect place. Tip your hat and get the next guy out.

Example 2: two Tiger at-bats demonstrate the point further. In the fourth inning Miguel Cabrera lined a ball right at Pablo Sandoval that the Panda will be feeling in his hamate-less hands well into his offseason workout regimen. Before that though, he swung through a 91 mph fastball on the outside corner. This is what Madbum does when he is right. He goes in and out and makes right-handed batters get so far out in front of pitches that they can only hit foul balls down the line. Cabrera happens to be a great hitter and was able to keep his fair but right at a fielder.

In the seventh, Omar Infante ripped two foul balls down the left-field line. Same principle: Bumgarner put them there on purpose…if the batter makes contact (especially non-Miguel Cabrera batters) the only place the ball will go is foul.

On the third pitch Bumgarner went up and away and the frustrated Infante went after it and missed. Joe Buck, on the first two pitches of the AB, seemed to suggest that the loud fouls were examples of Bumgarner running out of steam. I told Joe, as politely as I could, that this was exactly his intention. Then the strikeout.

My point is, there are some arguments today that Madbum’s success was the product of good fortune, but he made his good fortune happen through executing his pitches. Big difference.

Looking Ahead

Posey didn’t homer, but he was a huge factor in Game 2. Still expect him to have a big offensive game at some point in this series.

I also expect Games 3 and 4 to play out a lot more like Game 2. They will be close, tight games which favors the Giants and their bullpen.


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!


5 Things (33% of the way there)

Yes, we are at the one-third mark, give or take a few games, and here’s what the Giants need to fix in order to bridge the gap, which is now down to 5.5 games, between them and the Dodgers:

  1. Fix Timmy…you can go all over the internet and find “what’s wrong with Tim Lincecum” articles. Here’s my two cents: it’s all mental and it comes back to controlling his pitches. Timmy has never been a control artist, and most of his game has been predicated on getting hitters to swing at pitches out of the zone. Two things seem to be happening this season: Tim’s been wild both in and out of the zone and there is a definite “book” on how to face him (and that book involves being patient and doing everything you can to lay off nasty stuff out of the zone). That has resulted in a lot of walks and a lot of solid contact. How does Tim fix this? He has to adjust to a new reality and do whatever it is he needs to do to command his stuff. It’s still good stuff, he just needs to know where it’s going.
  2. Play Better Defense…they actually seem to have turned the corner here, but the fact remains: the Giants will not win consistently if they give outs away. They don’t need gold glove/web gem defense, just play clean baseball, catch the ball, and make the routine plays.
  3. Get/Stay Healthy…Pablo is priority number one here, and he should be back soon. Romo has some kind of knee thing going on as well, but overall this team is not far from being back at full strength. I cannot wait to see the offense go once Pablo returns!
  4. Find some consistency from the Right Side of the Infield…perhaps Theriot is the answer at 2B, perhaps Freddy Sanchez will make it back, but someone needs to take over! And at this point I don’t care who it is at first base, Pill, Belt, Huff, someone else with a four letter last name, let’s, please, get some production from first base! Ok, I do care. I really want Brandon Belt to lock this down, but, like I said, it’s time to stop screwing around here!
  5. Keep Pitching…I know Timmy has been a bummer, but there have been so many good things about the rest of the staff. Vogelsong, Casilla, and Zito have been outstanding so far. Keep it up!

It’s pretty simple: the Giants are not that far out and seem on the verge of busting out a nice two-week run. The Dodgers have a tougher road in June and look like they may have lost Matt Kemp again. Take advantage Giants!


Pros and Cons (From the First Week of Baseball)

I know it’s early and all lot of this is small sample size, but let’s take a look at the early happy things and early sad face things about the Giants this young baseball season.


Melkey Cabrera: I admit, I hated the trade when it happened, not because of trading Jonathan Sanchez, but because I thought the Giants could have gotten a lot more for him than a guy who I saw in Atlanta as mediocre at best, however I like what I see so far this season. He could easily slide back into mediocrity, but for now he’s one of the Giants most consistent hitters, and I approve of that.

Brandon Crawford: Huh? I know he’s not exactly setting the world on fire with his bat, but I’m really enjoying watching him play. He looks more relaxed than last season, I love his glove and I like what I see with him at the plate. Won’t be a great hitter, but I look forward to seeing his development more this year.

Homegrown talent: For too long the Giants homegrown talent has been all pitching, but a few times this year we’ve seen an infield of Pablo Sandoval, Manny Burris, Crawford and Brandon Belt, with Hector Sanchez in the game as well, all Giant draft picks. They all aren’t the hitting equivalent of Lincecum or Cain, but it’s nice to see that between these guys, and players like Gary Brown and Joe Panik in the minors, the hitting part of the Giants future is looking nice.

Pablo! Yes, he put on a little more weight, but he’s still hitting well and fielding well and is there a more fun Giant to watch? I don’t think so, and in addition to all of that, he’s our most consistent hitter! Yay!

Starting Pitching: Bad first starts, amazing second starts from Cain and Bumgarner, good two starts for Zito and a good start from Vogelsong. Now get your head in the game Timmy!


Angel Pagan: At least he’s healthy while Torres is on the DL, but the guy looks lost at the plate. Sure he’s fast and can play CF, but so can Gregor Blanco and that guy had an amazing spring.

Second Base: Freddy Sanchez on the DL, and is probably on his last legs, Manny Burris and Ryan Theriot are the other options and both don’t provide much to this club. Thankfully Joe Panik looks like our future second baseman, but he’s probably 2, more likely 3 years away, what do you do in the meantime?

Brian Wilson: Out for the season it looks like, and who knows if he’ll ever pitch for the Giants again. I love, LOVE Wilson, but his velocity is down, his strikeouts are down, he looks like he’s really struggling out there and now another arm injury. I hate to say it but his time might be coming to an end in the Black and Orange.

Tim Lincecum: I don’t think anything is wrong with him and I’m confident he’ll put it together, but he’s getting lots of money and is due for lots more in a few years. I really, REALLY hope this isn’t the beginning of a downward spiral into middle rotation status, but he needs to start showing some more velocity and control out there.


Week in Review (4/6-4/8)


0-3 (0-3; 3.0 GB in NL West)

5-4 L @ Ari; 5-4 L @ Ari; 7-6 L @ Ari

So, that was pretty much the worst way to start the season. A couple of stats…the Giants were 55-9 when they scored at least 4 runs in 2011 (they are 0-3 when scoring 4+ runs in 2012)…they went 20-0 when scoring at least 6 runs in 2011 (they are 0-1 when scoring 6+ runs in 2012). NOT GOOD.

Some thoughts (in bullets)

  • We are going to have to be patient with Buster Posey. He hit an incredible opposite field home run in game 3 and seemed pretty comfortable at the plate. He looked fine receiving the ball too. He did not look in “action” plays that a catcher has to make around home plate (his error in game 1 and his two miscues in game 3 were telling). It’s sad that it essentially cost the Giants two games, but this is going to be a process for Buster and we have to give him some grace.
  • Brandon Crawford looked nervous. Maybe his thumb sprain is still bothering him, maybe he got a bit overwhelmed with the start of the season, but the dude has one vital role: play excellent defense. He showed it a few times, but he also blew some plays that a big league shortstop HAS to make. Come on man.
  • Melky looks great (good riddance Jonathan Sanchez), Pagan does not.
  • Belt needs to get it going in Colorado or I’m afraid they will send him down again.
  • Honestly, I’m not worried about the starters. Those guys will figure it out.
  • The Diamondbacks are not this good, but they are pretty good.

Hitter of the Week

Pablo Sandoval is a treasure. I wanted to give this to Melky for his strong debut, but Pablo is first out of the gate here in 2012. Big hits in big situations, a huge home run, using all fields, getting on base. Love it.

Pitcher of the Week

Uhhhhhhh…Sergio Romo still has the magic and it was fun to watch him work out of the 8th. He is poised to have one of the greatest 3 year runs of any reliever in baseball.

Looking Ahead

3 games in Colorado, then home for the home opener (and series) against the Pirates. Colorado is not usually where you want to go to get your pitching on track and Barry Zito is not the guy you want to see on the mound to stop the bleeding, but that’s where we are at. I hope they can take 2 of 3 from the Rockies and then go home and get right against the Pirates. Get a win guys.


Week in Review (9/12-9/18)


7-0 (83-70, 5.0 GB in NL West)

8-3 W vs. SD; 3-2 W vs. SD; 3-1 W vs. SD; 8-5 W @ COL; 9-1 W @ COL; 6-5 W @ COL; 12-5 W @ COL

Wow. What a week. 7 wins, cutting the lead in half, losing Bill Neukom, more injuries (Ross and Stewart), and Brian Wilson returns. No big deal. Just another week in Crazy Giants’ Land. Hard to say what is the most surprising/important development, but I think what’s been great is the way the team has been (forced) to go with some younger guys and they’ve responded. No matter what happens with this race, you have to root for Belt/Crawford/Pill/Surkamp to do well. It is only good for the organization if  these guys can be successful. On to the awards…

Hitter of the Week:

Carlos Beltran had a GREAT week, Cody Ross was awesome, and even Aubrey Huff got in on the action. But I have to highlight Pablo Sandoval again because (a) he had a great week (.440/.481/1.120 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI), and (b) he plays the game like he realizes there are only a few weeks left and he just doesn’t want the season to end. I LOVE that. Play on Panda!

Pitcher of the Week:

Tim Lincecum had a great start this week (7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 0 ER, W) but this award is about tomorrow as much as anything. See below for why this is the game of the year, but Tim needs to repeat this performance this week. It is simplistic to pin everything on Timmy, but as your best player goes (oftentimes) so goes the rest of the team. Get it done Timmy!

Looking Ahead:

It’s an understatement to say that tomorrow night’s game is the biggest of the year. Every game since September 1 has been the biggest game of the year. The Giants still need to go 8-1 or 9-0 to have a realistic shot at pulling the playoffs out of a hat (no less than 91 wins gets them in). But it would do the Giants a world of good, both in the short-term and especially the long-term to beat Clayton Kershaw (and to have Timmy beat him head to head). Even if the Giants fall short of the playoffs, winning this game against their arch nemesis will be huge going in to 2012. If they lose tomorrow they still have a shot, but they will also head in to next year with a big old Kershaw hex hanging over their heads (so far this year in 5 starts Kershaw is 4-0 with 34.2 IP, 43 K, a 1.04 ERA, a 0.84 WHIP, and .183 BAA).

Beat LA!


Week in Review (9/5-9/11)


3-3 (76-70, 8.5 GB in NL West)

7-2 W @ SD; 6-4 W @ SD; 2-1 L vs. LAD; 3-0 L vs. LAD; 8-1 vs. LAD

Hitter of the Week:

Let’s all pause for a minute and applaud the season that Pablo Sandoval has had for the Giants. Huge offseason workout plan. Great start. Missed 6 weeks with a broken hand. Picked right back up where he left off. He has been our best hitter all year and it’s not even close (for comparison sake, and for a good-long-sad laugh, consider that Pablo’s OPS+ is what you get when add together Aaron Rowand’s and Miguel Tejada‘s). It’s beyond imagination that the Giants won a World Series without his significant involvement in the proceedings, and it’s also hard to believe he was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, question mark heading in to the season. Looking forward to watching this guy for several more years.

Pitcher of the Week:

How about Madison Bumgarner: 13.1 IP, 21 Ks!, 2 wins, 2.02 ERA, 1.05 WHIP. Nasty. On a different note, how interesting would it be if Cain, Lincecum, and MadBum all finished 12-12. That would tell you just about everything you would need to know about the 2011 Giants. Probably won’t happen but they will all be close to that. Too bad they aren’t “winners” who can figure out how “win games.” Again, I think the chance that such a thing is even possible speaks to their consistency and the utter horribleness of the offense.

Looking Ahead:

16 days left in the season. I am still looking forward to more playing time for Belt, Crawford, a couple of starts for Surkamp, and, well, that’s about it. And Pablo hitting. Most of all, I am really, really interested to see the approach this offseason. To me, this season is a fail because of the injuries, not the design. That said, there is substantial evidence that the design needs to be tweaked, and there is ample possibility for that due to all the free agents the Giants will have this winter.

Maybe the most interesting thing of all is the nearly complete benching of Torres. This leaves a huge question about the top of the order and center field (could we see jose reyes or jimmy rollins next year?). Enjoy the last days, enjoy the playoffs, but watch closely this November and December. Something interesting is on the horizon.


Week in Review (8/15-8/21)


2-5, 68-60 (1.5 GB in NL West)

5-4 L @ ATL; 2-1 L @ ATL; 7-5 W @ ATL; 1-0 L @ ATL; 6-0 L @ HOU; 7-5 L @ HOU; 5-4 W @ HOU

Well, what to make of this week, this season, this team? The Giants suffer through a miserable, 2-5 week, their worst week literally and emotionally (sans losing Posey), and yet they gain a half game on the Diamondbacks. What in the world? By all accounts this team should be buried in the standings and yet, here they are, very much alive and very much in this.

I don’t have much to add to the dichotomous existence of the 2011 Giants, but it is worth checking these two articles out: Baggs runs down the names who have unavailable in the last week due to injury, and McCovey points out that despite all that the Giants could not have a better schedule to finish out the year. Can a team be utterly decimated by injuries and still good enough to make the playoffs? We shall see…

Hitter of the Week:

The Giants have two good hitters right now (they could have three if Beltran gets better). Those two hitters are Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt. Everyone else, at this point, is in the “hope for the best” category (Cody, Aubrey, and Nate can all get hot, so please let’s do that at the same time…that same time being this week). Pablo for the week: .304, a huge home run and 6 RBI (also only 1 run scored, when he drove himself in). Brandon, since returning, is “only” 6 for 22 (.273), but he has 3 home runs 5 RBI and 4 runs scored during that week. Let the dude play.

Pitcher of the Week:

Cain was nasty in Atlanta. Timmy was great as well. Props to Mota for creating some order on Sunday. But the Pitcher of the Week is Jeremy Affeldt because he is now the defacto closer and he’s really done a great job all year, mostly under the radar. The Giants bullpen is loaded and it will now be seriously tested with Wilson and Romo out. This team plays close games which means the closer is more valuable than on most clubs. So, Jeremy, this is your time to shine. Make it happen!

Unbelievably, the Giants are in this thing, and as said earlier, they couldn’t ask for a better path to the playoffs than what lies before them. I will admit, I quit on Tuesday…I thought it was over and done for after two crushing loses and all the injuries. But there is still a chance, and quite frankly it’s a good chance. Which is mind bending, but it’s there, so go for it Giants. Seize the day!



Week in Review (8/1-8/7)


2-5 (63-52, 0.5 game lead in NL West)

5-2 L vs Ari.; 6-1 L vs. Ari.; 8-1 W vs. Ari.; 3-0 L vs. Phi; 9-2 L vs. Phi; 3-1 L vs. Phi; 3-1 W vs. Phi

All season I feel like I’ve been complaining about the Giants winning the first 2 or 3 games of a series and then losing the last game to “avoid” the sweep. Well, this week the Giants turned that trend around and had to win the last game of both series in order to avoid being swept. It has not been a good two weeks, but then again, we all knew they were heading in to one of the toughest stretches of the season. Hopefully they can finish the home stand out strong (a sweep of the Pirates would mean a 5-5 stand, which is not the end of the world).

Hitter of the Week:

Pablo’s line goes like this: 11 for 26 (.423 average), with 4 runs, 1 home run, and 4 RBIs. Keep it up Pablo! A hat tip also goes to Jeff Keppinger whose 4 hit day gave him a 10 for 17 (.370) week to go with 3 runs scored. He must keep hitting and getting on base for this offense to succeed.

Pitcher of the Week:

When a team is struggling in nearly every aspect of the game, as the Giants did this last week, the one thing that can turn the funk around is the Ace. The old baseball saying is that “a team’s momentum is only as strong as tomorrow’s starting pitcher.” Tim Lincecum gave the Giants two strong efforts and stopped the bleeding against the Phillies. He made one mistake to Paul Goldschmidt on Tuesday, but overall performed exactly the way an Ace should perform when the rest of his mates are struggling. 14 and 2/3 IP, 13 K, a 1.84 ERA, and an 0.95 WHIP in two big games makes him a no-brainer pitcher of the week.

Looking Ahead:

After an emotional and draining 7 games against big time competition the Giants get a bit of break with 3 home games against the reeling (10 straight loses) Pirates. Of course, this is no time to let up, the Giants need to win these games, but at least they aren’t looking at the Phillies any more. They get rewarded after that with a day off, followed by the brutal 10 game road trip to the muggy south. 3 in Florida, 4 in Atlanta, 3 in Houston. This will be another tough and challenging stretch, meaning the Giants really need to take 2, if not all 3, from the Pirates.

When a team is losing it is easy to look at the all the things that are going on wrong and try to pick one and blame all the struggles on that one thing. Losing and winning are much more complex than that. That said, I do think the number one priority right now is figuring out the leadoff spot. I do not worry about the pitching…and while there are plenty of holes in the lineup to get fired up about, it really seems like settling down the leadoff position will give the Giants a decent 1-5 and hopefully create some much-needed runs!

As Brian Wilson says: Pirates are cool, but no one beats a ninja. Go Giants!