Friday, March 23, 2018


I watched today's contest between the Royals and the Giants, the final game in Arizona. I got to see Madison Bumgarner take a line drive off his pitching hand. Turns out his hand is broken and he'll be undergoing surgery straight away. He probably won't pitch again until after the All-Star Break. This comes right after the news that Jeff Samardzija will miss about a month. I thought the starting rotation might be a team strength in 2018, now it looks like we won't get to find out. This is the time for someone like Derek Holland to step up and be a stud. Johnny Cueto is suddenly of supreme importance--he has to pick up the slack for the men slotted to be on either side of his starts.

There's no way to put a good spin on this one. It stinks. Just when I though the Giants would get a full season from their ace after last year's debacle the unthinkable happens. Ah, well. Now is the time to find out what the rest of the team is made of. And if the organization has a backup plan!


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Giants Infield

FanGraphs has a season-preview feature called "Postional Power Rankings" where they look at all 30 teams and rate them by position. The infield portion is complete and I thought we might look at the results. I really like the Giants infield and I believe if all goes well they could generate 18 WAR (Buster 5, Belt 4, Panik 3, BCraw 3, Longoria 3, for example). If you follow the links and read the summaries you'll see that FanGraphs rates the TEAM by position but I only looked at starters. BCraw (3.1) rates higher than Addison Russell (2.8) but the Cubs have Javier Baez (0.7) backing him up so they get the #8 spot at 3.5 because Kelby Tomlinson is only projected for 0.1 WAR and thus the team comes out at 3.2 WAR.

Catcher: Giants are rated #1 with Buster at 4.3 WAR.
First base: Giants are rated #6 with Brandon Belt at 3.3 WAR.
Second base: Giants are rated #10 with Joe Panik at 2.6 WAR.
Shortstop: Giants are rated #9 with Brandon Crawford at 3.1 WAR.
Third base: Giants are rated #17 with Evan Longoria at 2.8 WAR.

That's 16.1 WAR. I'm willing to say I may be over-projecting Buster a bit and perhaps Belt but I also think I'm under-projecting BCraw and even Longoria. Regardless, this is a core team strength and if they stay healthy I believe they will exceed FanGraph's projections. We'll take a look at the starting pitcher projections when they come out.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Roster Moves

Mac Williamson was among today's cuts to the Opening Day roster. He had a good spring but there's a logjam for the two outfield spots. Williamson apparently still has an option and Jarrett Parker does not. Mac won't like going to AAA but he may have a chance of a promotion later. It's fish-or-cut-bait time for both of those guys, if Parker fails to impress I imagine they'll trade him to free up space. Non-roster invitee Steven Duggar is still in the mix for the 5th OF spot, he'll have to get past Gorkys Hernandez. That's assuming Gregor Blanco gets the 4th spot, and the word is that he's looked good so far. But really only three OF spots are taken: Hunter Pence and the FNGs Austin Jackson and Andrew McCutchen.

Derek Law and Tyler Beede are also headed to AAA. When the Giants picked up Tony Watson that made the bullpen squeeze a little tighter. I thought Law might stick, but I knew Beede would go down. Our 2014 1st-round pick has yet to develop after 400+ professional innings (zero in the bigs). He turns 25 in May so he's still got time. Rule V pick Julian Fernandez, Josh Osich, and FNG Derek Holland survived this round of cuts. We'll see who sticks.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cactus League

Exhibition baseball is here and the Giants have started the great two-oh-one-eight roster shake-down. It's not going to feature much drama as the big spots have already been filled. The infield is set with Brandons Belt & Crawford, Joe Panik, and FNG Evan Longoria. Buster Posey and Nick Hundley will share the catching duties. The outfield trio of Hunter Pence with FNGs Austin Jackson and Andrew McCutchen is also set. That's nine guys. The rotation will have the big three of Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija. Now we are up to twelve. The bullpen will feature Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Hunter Strickland, Cory Gearrin, and FNG Tony Watson. (Will Smith will make the team but is still healing from TJS, we'll have to count his spot, too.) That bring us to seventeen, eighteen with Smith's spot. All the rest of the guys in camp will be competing for the final seven places on the 25-man roster.

There will be two more starters: Chris Stratton is the obvious pick; Ty Blach, Andrew Suarez, Derek Holland and the rest will fight for the other spot. Derek Law and Steven Okert could both make the bullpen. That's a 12-man staff already. With the nine position players listed above only four openings remain. Two will be outfielders, perhaps a non-roster invitee like Steven Duggar will surprise us, or we'll see a familiar face like Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson, or even Austin Slater. I think Pablo Sandoval has a good shot at one backup spot--he plays both corners and could probably still catch in a pinch. He's got some pop and hits from both sides, but the biggest appeal is that he costs nothing. With the team oh-so-close to the luxury tax threshold I suspect that could be important. That means we may see a rookie bump a veteran guy like Gregor Blanco so they can save a few bucks. Kelby Tomlinson probably has the inside track for chief utility man--how many guys have a  homer off Clayton Kershaw on their résumé? But I suppose even that job is open, at least Orlando Calixte hopes so.

I'm not expecting any earth-shattering news out of camp and I'm tuning out all injury reports. I had enough of injured players last season. The key to the 2018 club is to get the talented guys on the field and keep them on the field! That's up to the gods, of course, and I've had my fill of them as well. So I'll face those issues with irrepressible American optimism and psychological defense mechanisms like denial.

It's still winter here in the State of Jefferson despite Spring's best efforts to ruin everything. My ski buddy and I traveled to Wyoming and Utah to find some powder and when we got home our local mountain (just over the Oregon border) came to life. I'm getting up early tomorrow for fresh tracks, hoping the 6-10" forecast comes true. It may be baseball weather in the desert but I want to squeeze out a few more weeks of cold and snow so I can get my fill on the slopes.

I'm excited about the upcoming season. I think the club did some good work in the off-season and worked creatively with the budget and the roster to make the needed improvements. As we found out in 2017 it can all go to shit in a hurry, but I like what I see and I expect a spirited pennant race.

Let me know your thoughts about the impending fight in the NL West and be sure to straighten me out on my personnel lists. Did I overlook anyone? The first real game isn't until the 29th of March (in LA vs. Dodgers) so there is plenty of time. Any stories coming out of Spring Training that we need to talk about?

As always, GO GIANTS!


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Play Ball!

It was fourteen degrees Fahrenheit this morning according to the outdoor thermometer on my patio. I have a rule about such temperatures: I am in favor of them only if accompanied by precipitation. Alas, that's not been this winter's pattern. We've so little snow here that neither of our local ski parks are open. I don't hibernate in the winter--it's my active season. This year however I'm suffering only from grumpiness and have no nagging skiing injuries to report. Oh, how I wish my knees were aching and my quads were sore!

Perhaps when the rest of the world is flocking to Arizona and Florida for early-season baseball we'll get that snowfall we've been expecting. And I'll be a skiing fool for a few weeks and miss all the excitement. And there ought to be some excitement, don't you think? The Giants were just a hair short of being the worst team in the league last summer and all of us want to get rid of that horrid taste in our mouths. 2018 has to be better, am I right?

At least the organization did a few things to improve the odds. The everyday lineup has a new look what with veteran stalwarts like Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, and Austin Jackson donning the orange-and-black. That should help the team on both sides of the ball. Obviously pitching is the most important thing and this year it is addition-by-not-subtraction. That is, they didn't bring in anyone new, they are just hoping the guys who missed all or part of last season will be able to pitch this season. Murphy's Law was the theme for 2017. Everything that could have gone wrong obviously did, and at the worst possible times. Do the Giants get a break from that? Only the gods can know for sure and they aren't telling.

I'm excited about the 2018 Giants. Then again I'm always excited when Spring Training starts. Hoping for the best is what fans do, and this is the time for it. I'm not ready yet for analysis, projections, or roster-bation. Those will come in due time. For now just the fact that the guys will be suiting up and tossing the ball around is good enough.


Sunday, February 4, 2018


The end of the Stupor Bowl marks the beginning of Baseball Season. To be fair, that was an exciting football game. But to be entirely honest, I only started watching in the second half and only really paid attention in the fourth quarter. Regardless, football is over and baseball begins.



Monday, January 22, 2018

A: February 13th

Austin Jackson fills out the outfield and comes at a price the Giants like (2 yrs, $6M). It's not a very exciting move but it is an upgrade and that's what matters. I don't expect he'll play every day but he'll be out there a lot and let's hope he can do for the Giants what he did for the Indians (.318/.387/.482 in 318 PA) last season. It's so, so Sabean-esque to sign a guy like Jackson. And McCutchen. And Longoria. BobbyE learned at The Master's feet, and thus we have an abundance of Veteran Savvy Clutchness for 2018. We'll need it--the Giants play the Dodgers nine times** in the first month. You heard that right. They cannot have a bad start or they'll be doomed. So, stock up the quality oldsters, the seasoned pros, and they'll help steer the ship and navigate the rocky waters. That's straight out of the the Book of Boch, too.

It can work. There is certainly enough talent on the club to win. They'll have to stay healthy and deliver what's expected of them, not like last season when it all fell apart. I have to believe--Gambler's Fallacy, I know--that things will just by chance be better than last year. There will be more healthy guys and more career-normal performances. Add the upgrades and it's a good team with a chance to be really good.

Q: When do pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training?


**correction: it's TEN times (the Giants open the season with four in LA)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


I've always coveted Andrew McCutchen. Now he is on the Giants! He's an outstanding player and even in the so-called "decline phase" of his career he's better than most. Same goes for Evan Longoria, although the Giants are committed to him for five seasons (through 2022 and an option for '23) which I'm still getting used to. Cutch is here for one year and then is a free agent. Figure the Giants to give him a qualifying offer this fall and if he goes that fattens up the draft picks. So a win right now--an improved club. And a win later--QO draft compensation.

I'm not sure how the Giants will use the veteran centerfielder. As it stands the team is better with him in CF than is was last season with Denard Span and Gorkys Hernandez. Ideally Cutch would move to RF and Hunter Pence would move to LF. Jarrett Parker backs up both corners and we get a defensive specialist for center. Is Hernandez still part of that plan? Is Steven Duggar ready for the majors (probably not, he's only had a month in AAA)? Regardless, the coaches will figure that stuff out in Spring Training. Right now the Giants have a new right-handed power bat to plug into the 3-4-5 part of the lineup and that's a huge boost. In fact, I'm starting to like this lineup. Considering how anemic the offense was last season that's something. Obviously healthy lefties like Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, and Brandon Crawford will go a long way to improving things. But Buster Posey finally gets some "protection" from two other accomplished career hitters (Longo and Cutch) and that has to help.

The Giants have not acted on the bullpen and in fact they had to let go of a promising young piece in Kyle Crick. But I think they believe the return of Will Smith and a full season of their shiny bauble from last season (closer Mark Melancon) will make a big impact on roles and outcomes. Sam Dyson was a nice pickup and complements guys like Hunter Strickland and Cory Gearrin very well. With Law/Okert/Osich/Blach/Moronta you've got some depth to build from. I'm not concerned with the pitching side as long as MadBum and JohnnyC are healthy and available all season long. And I do believe Longo and Cutch improve the team's fielding (the Giants infield looks really strong) and that of course will help the pitchers.

I did not expect another big move after Longo so getting Cutch is a nice surprise. I'm starting to feel a lot better about 2018.


Monday, January 15, 2018


Andrew McCutcheon is about to become a Giant.

No word yet on whom will become Pirates.  McCutcheon is in the last year of his contract.