Thursday, July 20, 2017

San Diego...................and Another Giant Loss

Well, it's not like the Giants were facing pushover teams like last year's World Series runners-up.  No.  They were facing the tough, tough Padres, who lead the league in just about everything.   Wait, what?  They aren't even a .500 team?  I thought they were at least .850 for the season they way they manhandle the Giants with all their All Stars.  What, they have guys that were in A ball on their team?  Gosh.   Maybe the Giants aren't a really good team after all.  An unsurprising loss, at home, to team that is (unlike the Giants) intentionally crappy, 5 - 2.

We are now 3 - 7 against the Padres.  Oddly, the Giants are almost inversely successful against teams in the west.  We actually have a winning record, at this point, against the doggers.  I do not expect that to last.  We play better against the dbacks, then slightly better against the pudres than the roxies (.300 vs .285).   Weird.

Madison Bumgarner vs Jhoulys Chacin, who, as usual had the Giants flummoxed.  Bumgarner got through the first, then gave up a quick hit and a 2 run blast in the 2nd, then another 2 run shot in the 7th.  Madison gave us 6 1/3 innings, gave up 4 earned runs on 6 hits.  He walked 1 and struck out 5.  Kontos gave up the Padres 5th run, and Crick gave us 1 2/3 innings and looked pretty good.  Nunez and Span got rbi's for the Giants.  As usual, they had several chances to tie the game or take the lead, but they did not do that.  Beating San Diego?  No, we don't do that, either.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Buster!

SF 5  CLE 4
It was good work by Matt Cain today in his new spot-starter-out-of-the-bullpen role: six innings, five hits, three runs (all in one inning), two walks (both scored), five strikeouts, no homers. He even got a base hit! Alas, the lineup could not score the tying run despite having some good chances and he left with the team losing 3-2. The Indians added another run in the 8th and it looked for all the world like another Caining. But the home squad, undaunted, rallied in the bottom half, scratching out a run to make it 4-3. Then Buster Posey, pinch-hitting with two on and two outs, roped a two-run double to make it 5-4 Giants. It was one of the more exciting moments of the season, I must say. Sam Dyson scared the crap out of everyone but managed to close the door and seal the hard-earned victory. That's a series win against a talented squad. Let's see some more of that!

Denard Span continues to shine, scoring two runs and driving in another (himself!) with a double and a splash-hit homer. If he can stay healthy he solves a big outfield problem for next season, that of having a competent major-leaguer out there regularly.

I don't know if you saw this tweet from Baggs in the sidebar:
Tyler Beede threw 7 strong innings today. At 109 IP. Would make sense to promote him, maybe use in relief for a bit, then join SF rotation.
I'm very curious about Beede (rhymes with 'beady') and would love to see him sooner rather than later. He turned 24 in May and has about 400 IP in the minors after three years at Vanderbilt. He's a two-time first-round draft pick, first by the Blue Jays in 2011 (21st) and then by the Giants in 2014 (14th).

Padres come to town for four starting tomorrow night. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ty Ties Tribe - Ten!

Giants won tonight in a low scoring duel that lasted into extra inning, besting Cleveland, 2 - 1 in 10.  It was a well played game in spite of a Cleveland error by outfielder Brandon Guyer that led to the Giants first run.  Ty Blach on the mound for the Giants and an impressive youngster, Mike "Hippie" Clevinger on the mound for Cleveland.  They were a pretty good matchup.  Ty gave up a run in the 3rd on a single by USF's own Bradley Zimmer followed by a triple to Guyer.  Ty worked around his other hits, though, giving the Giants 7 innings on 106 pitches.  He gave up 7 hits, walked only 1 and struck out 3.  Meanwhile, Clevinger mostly had the Giants befuddled.  He threw 100 pitches in 6 innings, gave up only 3 hits, struck out 7 and walked 1.  In the 6th, Eduardo Nunez landed on 2nd after the error by Guyer, then was singled home by Buster Posey.  Nunez was the hero in the 10th, too, when Cleveland closer Cody Allen, pitching in his 2nd inning, gave up a double to Conor Gillaspie, who was replaced on the base paths by Kelby Tomlinson.  Denard Span bunted, and was safe to put Kelby at 3rd.  Nunez singled in the winning run.

It was, according to the tv, Nunez's first ever walk off hit.  Brandon Crawford won the ex-major league players' Heart and Hustle award, but was 0 for 4.  This game, though, was about pitching.   Ty was outstanding, as was Clevinger.  Hunter Strickland allowed no one on base in the 8th, and Sam Dyson only walked 1 in his 2 innings of work, picking up the W.   A win every now and then is nice, just for a change of pace.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Boom-Boom, out go the lights

SD 7  SF 1
Padres hit two big homers off Jeff Samardzija and take the rubber match in San Diego. No subtlety with the big righty--he blows it by you or you blast it past him. Giants start the second half in style, losing two of three. It's a trial, I tell ya. These guys are working harder and doing worse. I suppose it's all about looking at the bright side. Denard Span got three hits, he's finally hitting like a real player (.288/.337/.446). Buster Posey got two hits, he's doing that 300-400-500 thing (.328/.408/.509) that I think is really cool. I want to see more of Kyle Crick. Matt Cain pitches Wednesday at home, I'll report back then.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bum's Back

Madison Bumgarner returned for the first time since April, and he looked pretty good.  He gave the Giants 7 innings, gave up 3 runs on 4 hits in 102 pitches.  Madison got us through the 1st 2 innings setting down the Padres 1-2-3.  Then, he gave up a solo shot in the 3rd.  The Giants were up 2 - 1 at that point, because of a couple of walks, a bunch of hitting, and a 2-out 2 rbi single by Hunter Pence in the 1st.  Then a walk and another home run in the 4th, this one to put the Pads up 3 -2.  You can look up who hit these shots, the trick is remembering these guys until tomorrow.  Might as well get used to them, though, they might be the Padres of the future.  So at that point only 2 hits to Madison's record, both of them long ones.  Joe Pan helped us out in the 6th with a solo shot to tie the game at 3 all.   Madison gave up a bunt single in the 5th and a 2-out double in the 6th, and a walk in the 7th.  In all, he walked 2 and struck out 5.  He looked pretty good, too.  If he is not off, he has an easy looking, smooth delivery.  That was there, as good as ever.  He is a bit prone to the long ball this year, but then again, he gave us a quality start coming off the 69 day DL and that is all you can ask.

Hunter Strickland relieved Madison in the 8th, put 2 men on base, but held the score at 3 - 3.  Gearrin took over in the 9th, and gave up a single.  Okert took over for him, and gave up a towering shot to none other than Hector Sanchez.  Giants lose this one to San Diego, 5 - 3.   Madison does not have a 2017 win to his record.

I had a fantasy.  I mean, one I can share.  It was, what if the Giants swept the western division in the remaining 72 games?  That would be 39 wins out of 72 game, .541.  That in itself is not so impressive, but sweeping the west in the 2nd half would be.  I know, we'd still have a losing record against the Rockies.  And that alone wouldn't get us to .500.  But we could win some of those other games, too.  But that dream's over.  My bubbles are so easily popped.  We've only won 3 of 8 against the Padres.  Fer Chrissakes!  We have 11 games left against them, starting with tomorrow.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Let the Second Half of Hell Begin!

Win 5-4, @ SD 

The second "half" of the season to forget has officially begun and the Giants earned a tight win over the Padres.  I have to honestly admit that I barely watched and only checked in occasionally.  That is pretty much the plan for the rest of this crap season.  I did catch a few images:  a shaky JohnnyC continuing to flail in mediocrity ( 4 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 3 walks ),  a beaming Gorkys Hernandez collecting 4 hits for the first time ever,  and the same old Buster putting a perfect swing on a fat pitch for the difference making homer.  In general, it was a well played close game that was sickeningly insignificant.

I'm not sure if there is any significance to the rest of the season at all.  What do we root for?  Decency?  Do we want  a #1 draft pick?  Do we want JohnnyC to suck? Or to be great and want to return?  Is it all about looking at prospects now?  Or is it about figuring out which veterans to jettison?  Or all of the above?   ...I'm confused....  All I know is that I really don't want to watch it any more...  And that is after a win!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

5th inning: 8-10

1st inning: 6-12
2nd inning: 6-12
3rd inning: 10-8
4th inning: 4-14
5th inning: 8-10

That's 34-56 at the Break, .378 baseball, 27 games out of first place. Only the Phillies have a worse record. It looked like this might be a second winning inning after six wins in a row but they reverted to their 2017 ways and finished the first half losing five of six. It's an inexplicably bad team, and I don't mean we can't diagnose the weak spots (they are legion), just that it should be a better team. At least that's what most of us thought. The timing of this team-wide drop-off couldn't have been worse what with the Rockies and Diamondbacks enjoying resurgences and the Dodgers looking like a juggernaut.

The Giants don't score enough runs at 3.93 per game, that's ahead of only the Padres and the Phillies. They give up too many runs at 5.03 per game, that's better than only seven other teams, or perhaps it's best to say it's worse than 22 other teams. The league mean is 4.67 runs so you can see they pitch better than they hit which isn't saying much.

The team has to do something for next year, that's obvious, but it's not obvious what they should do. They have a lot of money already committed. Cain comes off the books, I'm sure they'll buy him out at $7.5M. They'll have to put a youngster in his spot, perhaps Ty Blach. Pence ($18.5M) and Span ($11M) are both signed for next year (and both free agents in 2019, Span gets a $4M buyout) but neither are really tradeable. They have to be replaced, but by whom? The young outfielders, other than Austin Slater, don't look ready for prime time. The Mac Williamson/Jarret Parker/Gorkys Hernandez experiment has failed, with injuries and poor performances aplenty. What they can deliver in the second half or even next season is a big question mark.

The loss of ace Madison Bumgarner, the most valuable player on the team, was a huge blow, but even a healthy and productive MadBum would not have kept this team from poor play. There are too many others performing below expectations especially his co-ace Johnny Cueto. We had the idea that Cueto would at least bring some useful return on the trade market but he is unfortunately in the midst of a mediocre season, especially by his lofty career standards. What to do about Cueto? Will he exercise his op-out? Maybe the Giants re-sign him to a shorter term but higher AAV deal if the FA market doesn't develop. I think it's increasingly likely he'll be on the team next year. Let's hope this season is an aberration. I sure like watching him pitch and having a real no. 2 starter is obviously essential.

The black hole that is the outfield has been covered enough. On the infield side only Buster Posey is playing at or above his career norms. Brandon Belt is hitting the ball hard (.227 ISO, career high) but not getting enough reward for it, his .283 BABIP is fifty points below his career mark. He's logged back-to-back 4+ fWAR seasons but will not hit that this year. At least his drop is encouraging in the sense that it's not as far a fall as some, he's maintained his excellent walk rate (13.9%, 17th-best), and he's been showing signs of improvement these last few weeks. He is signed through 2021 and I expect he'll be the first baseman and/or left fielder for the duration. Love him or hate him you'd best get used to him, although I'll admit he is perhaps the most tradeable guy on the club in terms of age, cost, and talent. Joe Panik is looking a lot better this season, but his 1.2 fWAR is strictly middle-of-the-pack as far as second basemen go. He's cheap and has three arb-years left so he's somewhat inconsequential in the big scheme. He can't get all that much in trade return but he's not breaking the bank so if this is the ceiling for him the best we can hope for is as part of a package for an impact player. I like Joe but if he can't deliver enough offense it makes his defense a lot less valuable. Brandon Crawford on the other hand can still deliver value with his glove, I'm sure he's the most valuable defender on the team by far (with Posey second), and certainly in the top two or three in baseball at his position. That kind of work can earn a limp-bat pass, but he'll have to hit better going forward, and I expect he will, though probably never again at the level of the last two years. The days of the no-hit defensive specialist are probably over. BCraw is also signed through 2021, I don't see the Giants parting with such a popular player who really is a treat to watch perform and plays such a valuable position. Third base is completely up for grabs, I'm guessing Jae-gyun Hwang is the front-runner at this point with Christian Arroyo perhaps getting another shot at the hot corner in 2018. It might take a foray into the FA market to beef up that spot. Eduardo Nunez is a free agent at the end of this season. Like Panik he's cheap but not all that desirable as a trade chip so what happens to him is not worth sweating over, I'm sorry to say.

The most disappointing performance this year has to be Matt Moore's. He's allowed the most earned runs (66) of any starter in the league! The Giants hold options ($9M and $10M) on him for the next two years with cheap ($1M and $750K) buyouts. Hold or fold on Moore? He's only 28, and a lefty, with some real positives in his track record, you have to think he's fixable. But I'm no guru, I've really no idea. The other big bust is of course closer Mark Melancon. At this point it is sunk money, all we can hope for is that he's 100% for next year, then perhaps he's part of an improved bullpen. At the least he could be a valuable trade chip. As far as the 'pen goes I'm at a loss. Obviously the standard set by the Core Four & Co. is awfully hard to replicate. Will Smith comes back next year and Sam Dyson looks like a nice find. Kontos, Gearrin, and Strickland are all serviceable, Okert is too young to give up on, and Kyle Crick may have the goods to be an impact reliever. But it's anybody's game at this point. Are there FA relievers out there worth chasing? I expect they'll have to look.

The Giants have an old team. They need youth. They need power hitting. They need reliable relief pitching. They have a lot of needs. It's easy to say "pull the team apart" but you have to put bodies in the places you take them from. So until you have replacements you have to go with what you have already. And some of the costs (like Pence and Span) are not recoverable. Study this document carefully before making proposals about what the FO should do. The LA Dodgers have set the new standard for team operations and the Giants will have to compete with the Yankees-of-the-West from now on. Not only do they have the highest payroll at a quarter-billion dollars they also have enormous sunk costs (Kazmir-Ethier-Crawford etc. $50+M) and enormous value from cheap talent like third-year players Corey Seager and Alex Wood as well as rookie Cody Bellinger. They have the best pitcher (Kershaw) and the best reliever (Jansen) in the game. That's a big wall to climb. The Giants have their work cut out for them.

Sorry for the extra-long post. Thanks for sticking it out. Going forward, I'd like to see the team crawl above .400 and finish the year without 100 losses. They are on pace for an abysmal 61-101 record. They've 72 games left, a 36-36 record would see a 70-92 (.432) final. That might not be do-able. Regardless, let's see some improved play especially from the youngsters. That's what I'm looking for and that will get me through the dog days. I bleed orange-and-black win or lose. It's a lot less fun when they stink, but I'm not going anywhere. This is our 10th full and 11th total season here at RMC. That's a lot of posts!

Enjoy the respite. Next game is Friday night in San Diego with JohnnyC getting the ball. Bumgarner gets the call on Saturday--I'm looking forward to that.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. Baggs interviews Sabes.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Giants Suck

There, I said it.  I expect Mark (we're at the end of 6 innings) or Jon to post, but neither hasn't done it yet, so here is a rant.

The Giants have not played .400 baseball in 1 year.  They went into the All Star Break last year with the best record in baseball.  Coming out, they sucked.  Their post ASB record was 30 - 42.  They had a pretty good spring training, going 20 - 16, but then sucked again once the season started, going 34 - 56 up to now.  Today's game was a good example.  The Giants did some good things.  They came back from a 7 - 3 deficit by scoring 2 in the 8th and 2 in the 9th.  But then blew chow in the 11th and lost, just like so many times before. 

This is the same fucking team that compiled the best record in baseball up to 1 year ago.  Here is a list of the guys who have not been a disappointment:

Buster Posey.

That's it. Maybe Blach, only because the expectations were so low.   I don't have a solution.  No one does.  If there was one, it would have been implemented by now.  Maybe it is a little bit of every damn thing every lazy sportswriter has copied from somebody else.   Whatever.  It is clearly not one thing.  So here is a list, in order, of the things that suck from most to somewhat less, in my opinion, without stats to back them up:

1. Relief pitching
2. Batting
3. Starting pitching
4. Fielding

And you know what makes it worse?  Up to a couple days ago, trading Johnny Cueto (and then maybe signing him next year) seemed like a good idea.  Today, what could we get for him?  Who would want him?  Some contending team with a MIDDLE OF THE ROTATION AT BEST pitcher who just got hurt - maybe.  What would we get?  Maybe a prospect.  Johnny might be good next year, but here's the thing.  If he picks it up and pitches great - he opts out.  If he doesn't, he doesn't opt out and the Giants are stuck with his contract.  Great deal, huh?  Trading Nunez?  He's hurt - he's worth nada.

So if management decides to blow this team up, and I mean BLOW THIS TEAM UP, I'm OK with that.   Well, not Buster, that would be baseball suicide.  But ANYONE and EVERYONE ELSE.  I have a totally irrational hope.  Last year, the Giants were winning like crazy up to the ASB.  There was 1 blip, when they dropped 3 of 4 to the A's at the end of June.  This year, they had a blip - it was their 6 game winning streak.  So my irrational hope is that they come out of the break and inexplicably win just like they inexplicably lost for the past year.  Wacky, right?  Totally.  That just shows what kind of voodoo this fucking team has wrought. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tydy Win in Detroit

Especially, if by tydy, you mean that the Giants almost blew it, but didn't.  But a 5 - 4 victory is the start of a new winning streak!  The Giants scored first, in the 3rd inning off of rookie pitcher Daniel Norris, who's been having a bit of a tough time lately.  Kelby Tomlinson singled, followed by a  Gorkys Hernandez bunt for 2 runners on.  Tomlinson went to 3rd on a wild pitch, and Tomlinson stole 2nd.  Pence got the first rbi on a line out, and Hwang got the second.  In the 4th, Nick Hundley doubled, Tomlinson walked and then Belt drove in Hundley.  Pence tripled into the left field power alley and that made the score 5 - 0.  The Giants could not add to that.

Ty Blach cruised through 6 innings, giving up 3 hits but no runs.  Then, in the 7th, a single, a double and a single scored the first 2 of Detroit's runs.  A parade of bullpen appearances in the persons of Kontos (gave up a single), Okert (K), and Gearrin (wild pitch, walk, single and sac fly) gave Detroit 4 runs, although they managed to scrape through the 7th still in the lead.  Hunter Strickland gave up a double but held the Tigers scoreless in the 8th, and Sam Dyson pitched a very crisp 9th for the save.  The Giants got some good contributions from a bunch of guys who don't normally start: Hundley, Gorkys and Kelby.  Buster Posey, at DH, got intentionally walked twice, and hit by a pitch.  He was 0 for 2 but on base 3 times.  Pence picked up 3 rbi, and Hwang and Belt had 1 each.

I was looking at the schedule, and the Giants can win a lot this month.  They come home to play Miami, then they play San Diego twice, and Cleveland (who is a good team) and Pittsburgh at home.  Then LA at the end of the month.  Of course, the Giants could have played a lot better earlier in the year, too, but they didn't.  But fuck that - let's do it!  Let's amaze the baseball world with the turnaround.  We'll worry about standings and races later.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day

DET 5  SF 3
Matt Cain's 6-1/3 IP was his longest since he went seven on May 26th, a 2-0 loss against the Braves. Alas, the five runs were too much today. Giants hit some balls hard and got denied but really couldn't solve Tigers starter Michael Fulmer. Matt Cain could have had a better outcome, what with a play or a bounce or a call here and there. But the flip side is that he's now gone 90-1/3 innings and allowed 116 hits as well as 36 walks. That's a lot of baserunners and you do that enough you will give up runs. But I'm not complaining, the Giants had a nice run of wins. What happens now really measures the team: if they can play consistent winning baseball for a long stretch (like the rest of the season*) we can say it's a good team having a bad year. If they give it up again and play like doormats then we have to say it's a bad team. Different kind of fixes depending on the diagnosis, eh?

Happy Fourth of July to everyone!

--M.C.


*Here's a bit from Belt: "I think there's a confidence and expectation to win," said first baseman Brandon Belt, who leads the Giants with 16 homers and 42 RBIs. "I'm not sure what triggered it, but this is the way we feel we should have been playing the whole time."