Saturday, April 18, 2015

Heston Bests 'em Again

Chris Heston delivered another impressive effort, this time snapping the team's horrid eight-game losing streak with 7-2/3 innings of five-hit ball. The Giants have needed a big hit for a week, something cathartic, and Brandon Crawford obliged with a booming two-run homer to right-center that made it a 4-1 game in the 4th. Nori Aoki and Joe Panik had conjured up an early lead, and that's always a positive development, but the rookie was the key with a string of zeroes to start the game and another string after giving up a run. You have to figure the Diamondbacks are sick of the guy--that's three runs allowed vs. Arizona and a win in each park. The Giants were desperate for something positive and they finally got the result they wanted with a brisk, formulaic display that's been lacking in the early going. Pitching, solid play, and timely hitting sounds so simple but has been hard to come by for the local lads.

The ring ceremony was marked by a spectacular sky-diving entrance, something we expected on Opening Day. One if by land, two if by sea, three if by . . .? We were sure at the time it was by air but it was by horse instead. We were also sure we saw a dive plane overhead that day but it seemed conditions were a little spotty--it was windy at the top of the stadium, the flags snapped loudly all afternoon. Maybe we're nuts, it was just a scouting mission, but it sure seemed right. I guess they were saving it for this evening.

Regardless, the Giants won. I say they ought to be done with all this celebrating by now and should be on to winning some more ballgames. What do you say?




obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Actually that fits in with what I had read. There was suppose to be some sort of aerial stunt, but they had to cancel at the last moment and improvised with Bumgarner riding the horse.

I say the same, Go Giants!

JC Parsons said...

It is amazing that we continue to get away with having Matt Cain hurt. The biggest surprise of last year was doing it without Matt. And now his fill-in is completely covering his spot again. That is certainly not something we can count on going forward. We have been massively fortunate and that could end any second. Please tell me Matt returns soon.
As a big Petit fan, I definitely think this is his chance. Vogie got a shot and showed nothing. Petit has been basically fantastic and never gets the respect he has earned. I blame the unfortunate facial hair.

Zo said...

So, in spite of dropping a whole bunch of games, we can net positive against the dbacks with a win today. Then take a deep breath and get ready for the smog suckers. Maybe Madison can rise to the challenge and we can get back at the puds and roxies in a while.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Vogie has struggled but this is a guy with 144 career starts (as well as an awesome post-season run as a starter). You can't ignore that. Petit has been great but has a spotty track record as a starter. I agree, he deserves the next opening, but I don't think it is a lack of respect that keeps him where he is. Boch knows he has a killer weapon out of the 'pen and is reluctant to lose that.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

It is spotty but if you separate out just his stats as a Giant, then focus only on his starts when he is the scheduled starter in the rotation, vs a fill in for a skipped start for an actual rotation starter, that is, when he replaced Zito in 2013 and Lincecum in 2014, you wil. Find his numbers to be pretty good, mid threes.

But I agree he is a killer weapon and that is a strong reason he was the long man while Vogie was named replacement starter.

I love Vogie but in 2011, you could have said the same thing about him as you just pointed out about Petit, except he did not have the great performances that Prtit has put up the past two seasons, I mean Petit was one out away from a perfect game then set the record for longest stretch of batters faced without allowing a runner, but he was the first one to do it while mostly relieving, meaning he had to be shutdown over a numbers of appearances, not just two starts as all the other guys on the list did.

But, the weapon!

Frankly, I was wondering if they were going to DL Vogie to get him into extended spring training, he has not even had one so so appearance yet, let alone a good one, that I can remember. Given that Peavy is out indefinitely, I can see Bochy give the start to Vogie to se if he can get out of his funk by being back in familiar waters by being a starter.

But given it is LA, I think it depends on what happens in the first two games. I think we need to win the series, or at least try hard, it is too early for must win, but hopefully you see my point. If we split, I can see Bochy starting Petit for the win, but if already won or lost, go with Vogie.

Brother Bob said...

The honeymoon period for McGehee has been all "Not now, I have a headache" so far. Yesterday he followed up an ugly throwing error with hitting into a DP.
Meanwhile Adam Duvall achieved the first cycle in the River Cats' 16-year history yesterday. His numbers are still in the stratosphere after 11 games.

nomisnala said...

Having Duffy and some other players in the system that can play third, it seems like they went after McGehee only for the comfort of having a veteran. One would think with a Rookie starting and winning two games early, the team would at least be at 500. At some point soon the brass may have to re-assess the starting rotation, and it could look like, Bumgarner, Heston, Cain, Petit and Lincecum or Hudon.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

People seems to always dismiss the value of having a veteran who has proven that he can be a major leaguer, calling it disdainfully, only for comfort.

I call it risk mitigation. How many rookies have shown a lot of potential, only to fail at some point? Just from the Giants recent history, these were all players who were similarly ranked in Top Giants prospect rankings, Linden, Niekro, Bowker, Frandsen, Lewis, Ortmeier, Ishikawa, Schierholtz, Kieschnick, and I would throw in Ellison too, though I don't think he was even ranked that high. Plus before that, Minor, Lancelotti, among others.

And Panik isn't out of what I would call the nexus of failure, Lewis was pretty good for a while too, until the league figured him out.

And Duffy was never ranked on any prospect list previously. I am happy for him (and us) that he has beaten the odds, but there is nothing proven about his abilities to continue to hit a MLB pitch well for a whole season.

Plus, this is a great way to bring Duffy into the majors. Earl Weaver famously would bring in his pitchers as relievers first, just to acclimate him to the majors first, before entrusting him with a starting position. And as a super utility type, Duffy would get to show off what he can do in spots that Bochy can chose (another important reason for Weaver, putting his player into a position where he can succeed), while getting a lot of chances subbing for 2B, 3B, SS, LF, and even 1B.

Here is my question to everyone who has questioned getting a low-paid veteran who has been successful in the majors before when there is a rookie to start: what are you going to do with your playoff capable team if the rookie sucks?

That is something nobody seems to think about! Do you really want to risk sinking a season because you didn't have veterans?

Look at last season. Look at how bad 2B was. We were very lucky that Panik not only started to hit, but hit really well. Without that, we would have not made the playoffs. We had no proven veteran, we had to play Hicks because neither Arias nor Adrianza were ready. Then we had to pick up guys like Uggla (and give him a ring...). Adrianza started to hit then he was DLed, and we finally was forced to use Panik.

I see a lot of people saying that the Giants made a mistake with Panik (including Baggarly in his new book - great book, FYI, I recommend totally), but the Giants were right, he wasn't ready, he had an OPS under .500 after 25 games. Then something clicked for him. Or did it?

I've seen players who click for a few months, then regress to the mean. Larry Herndon, Dan Gladden, among others, excited a Giants fanbase desperate for a young stud hitter to come in and break the malaise, and they would do it for half a season, then become OK, at best, out of the majors, at worse. Panik is not proven yet and his sudden bout with strikeouts scared me. He struck out 8 times in 30; his worse last season was 8 in 40. He appears to have figured things out now, but his journey is not over yet. I'm hopeful, but watchful.

What people don't get is that Bochy rewards performance. It don't matter if the guy has the big contract and has been the starter. If he stinks, or more importantly, the other player is good, he will make the change, like he did with Torres replacing Rowand.

So I'm glad we have a major leaguer like McGehee around to give us some stability on production from 3B. Meanwhile, Duffy will get a lot of chances to show that his spring training was no fluke, and I guarantee you that if Duffy is hitting over 800 OPS over an extended portion of the season, Bochy will sit SOMEBODY down in order to get Duffy into the lineup.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

That is what I have loved about Bochy once he started to show, in late 2010 season, this ability to implement the tough moves necessary to win. He has done it over and over again, if someone gives him a better chance to win, he will run over anyone on the team to do that. During the season, it is more of a long-term transition, but during the playoffs, he will move so fast to switch out that your head will spin. He embodies that phrase, "Just Win Baby!"

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Oh, forgot to mention another plus with having Duffy as backup: if Panik did turn out to be a flash in the pan, we could give Duffy a chance there as well. Duffy provides protection at multiple spots in the lineup (LF is also another spot, as well), while also getting eased into the major league life-style, which is very different.

Risk mitigation is something that Sabean has been implementing with the Giants for a while now. He has not been perfect, but nobody is.

But he often has to do that because he has young prospects about ready to make the majors but not proven enough, so he gets a vet good enough to hold the spot, but not so good that the prospect can't win the spot over the vet.

This also makes it cheaper to acquire the veteran. Don't want to be giving up your A-prospects to get the vet, give up your B or C prospects, like he did to get McGehee (or Franchez or Scutaro).

He did this during the Dusty era too, but it didn't work as well because Dusty was beholden to vets and unwilling to make the tough decision, whereas Bochy has been and is.

I think he also learned the value of this with what happened with Frandsen. The Giants was going to make Frandsen the starting 3B but then literally in the last days of spring training, he busted his Achilles and the Giants had to scramble and pick up Jose Bautista from the Pirates.

That's the problem in a nutshell: when the rookie you were going to rely on can't do the job now (whether injury or lack of production), in the early parts of the season, you are stuck getting sludge on the trade market, because to get anything better would cost you one of your top prospects. Lucky we were in a rebuilding year.

And if there is one skill I truly appreciate about Sabean, it is that he will hold onto his top prospects for dear life until the prospect proves to Sabean that he is not really all that good, at which point, he is trade-able.

I mean, he could have traded Cain during those years Magowan was forcing him to rebuild constantly around Bonds, to try to win one with him. Cain would have brought in a pretty good veteran to pair with Bonds for one last try.

But he held onto Cain, even though he was not that highly rated as a prospect (it burned me every year when a Dodger prospect was rated above him, and there were a lot of them), then all through the years of fans calling Cain a loser and wanting to trade him. But without Cain, we don't win in 2010 or 2012.

And he continues to know who to trade and who to keep, there has not been any prospect traded away so far who has gone on to make Sabean look really bad, though Wheeler constantly threatens, but so far it is only Liriano, Foulke, Valderama, and Howry, if I remember them right.

So if there is anybody I trust regarding how Giants prospects are handled and evaluated, it is Sabean and gang. If there is any skill you want your GM to have, it is to know which prospects to keep, and which to trade, and Sabean has proven that with his great track record.

And we aren't even taking into consideration his pickups of Rueter, Kent, Schmidt, Nen, Livan, Burks, Snow, Winn, Pence, Scutaro.