Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cain and Giants Whip Padres

Matt Cain made a 3-2 mistake in the 2nd to Jed Gyorko and he jerked it out for a 1-0 lead. Padres starter James Shields looked like he might make that stand up for an old-fahioned Caining but the boys wore him down and he was pulled after five. Perhaps manager Pat Murphy didn't like the 96-pitch total, or had more faith in his 'pen, but it seemed weird since Shields had only allowed three hits, three walks and no runs. Regardless, it worked out well for the Giants as reliever Marcos Mateo gave up a solo shot to Brandon Belt in the 6th that tied up the game. Belt looked like he'd taken call strike three the pitch before, and Mateo had turned toward the home dugout, but the umpire said "ball three" and he had to throw another one. This one Belt belted to end his homer drought. In the 7th the Giants benefited from another friendly call that saved Matt Duffy from his fourth strikeout and he walked to set it up for Buster Posey who, naturally, delivered the game-breaking double. The margins between defeat and victory are small.

The Giants padded things with three more in the 8th off Dale Thayer to make it 7-1 and that's how it finished. Cain went six, with five hits and one walk allowed, and six strikeouts, a strong effort overall especially in a rubber match against a pesky division foe. The Giants now have a winning record against the Padres and a winning record for the month of July. They won five of six on the road trip and open a six-game homestand Friday with the first of three against Oakland.

Everyone in the lineup today had at least one hit, except Cain, and Justin Maxwell added a pinch-hit from the pitcher's spot in the 8th inning. Six different guys scored a run. Jeremy Affeldt is back, he looked a little ragged, but it's good to see him out there. Nori Aoki joins the team in San Francisco. Let's get the whole band back together for the stretch run, eh?




nomisnala said...

Cain looked OK but not great. Glad he stayed in long enough
and the team came through to get him the win. He should have
at least 25 more wins in his career. For once a few calls
went in our favor, and one can see that a call or two can change
the game. Usually they go the other way, and earlier in the game
it looked as if Shields was getting a low strike that was just
not afforded to Cain. It all worked out, and I hope Crawford
can hold on to this second wind he seems to have this year.
Sometimes I think when Aoki comes back we may be better off with
Blanco than Pagan. Pagan has turned into a singles and doubles
hitter. I think Heston and Duffy should get some serious votes
for rookie of the year. The standard guys like Pederson, Bryant,
the right fielder for Arizona and a few others have some real
competition from some less heralded Giants rookies. Perhaps our
farm system is a bit better than it is given credit for. Our infield
of Posey, Belt, Panik, Crawford, and Duffy is entirely home grown.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Yeah, Matty still looks a little rusty, not throwing with the same elan as before. Is this the new Cain or just the not-quite-100% Cain? Regardless, the result is what matters, and yesterday's result is the kind of thing we need to see.

I'm OK with the Giants getting overlooked and the farm system undervalued. After three rings you'd think the baseball cognoscenti would notice, but they don't seem to, and the Giants "sneak up" on everyone and beat the favorites.

I'd like to see Blanco in CF and Pagan take Blanco's role as the no. 4 OF.

Brother Bob said...

Blanco has been better than Pagan recently but he's never shown the consistency to be an every day player, and his baseball IQ seems a little low now and then, eg. stupid baserunning mistakes and kicking balls on the warning track in the bottom of the ninth of game 7 of the WS.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Blanco is a fine every day player when he's batting in the lower half of the lineup, i.e. not a key offensive player. For whatever reason (nerves, pressure, expectations), when he leads off, he can't stay within himself and pushes to do more, which means he does less. When he bats lower, he seems able to be himself, which is fine MLB player, just not a core player. And that's OK, we need those players too.

Yeah, he's not perfect. But with his high OBP and great defense, I don't see that as a problem. I think once Aoki returns, it would be best to DL Pagan to heal him up, and start Blanco in CF, Aoki in LF, with Maxwell as the 4th OF, his hitting has picked up recently, it seems.

Yeah, Cain is rusty, but that's to be expected. He is probably in the middle of what would be his spring training, early season, form, since his injury took away a lot of his earlier conditioning. And even then, he has been OK to good so far. As long as he's pitching like this, I don't have any worries.

Our farm system has been a LOT better than given credit for. And that's fine, the experts have been wrong a long time, for example, Cain was always seen as the lesser prospect compared to whichever Dodger prospect happens to be their #1 (they went through a number of them as Matty rose), and here he stands today, heads and shoulders above any of them.

And the national media seems to be picking up on this, as there as been a few articles talking about the Giants homegrown infield this season. And what else could they say, because at those points, 6 of the 8 players in the lineup were from the farm system, only one a "sure thing" draft pick in Posey, and 3 of 5 of the starters were home grown too (4 if you count Vogie). And with so many of them among the leaders (or leading) at their positions, hard to ignore them all, I would think.

Zo said...

Getting a healthy and effective Cain, and Peavy, and Aoki back is the best trade that the Giants could make as the deadline approaches.

nomisnala said...

We also used homegrown guys to trade for Pence.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Well if we are counting them, then in addition to Pence, there's Peavy as well as Lopez.

And if you count them, may as well count players who we picked up for free, like Torres, plus we traded prospects for Ramirez, and we packaged them for Pagan. Blanco, Maxwell, Casilla, Petit, Strickland.

Guys via FA or trade of MLB players: Aoki, Affeldt, Hudson.

And within a year or two, our bullpen looks like it will be full of homegrown pitchers: Osich, Okert, Law, maybe Black, Johnson, Ysla, Crick if they keep him there, plus Romo might still be around. And Beede, Blackburn might be joining Bumgarner, Cain, Heston as well.

Once we get there, few people will dare use the terms "luck" or "lousy player development" (last vestige of that is the "the Giants haven't developed an OF in, like, forever.") anymore.

Giants: Team of the 2010's!

Ron said...

What a surprise: Pablo Sandoval is currently experiencing career worsts in every offensive & defensive category imaginable, doing all of that in a City which isn't going to put up with this kind of thing for much longer - they're already turning on him. Think that he might wonder once-in-awhile whether he made the right decision, leaving behind a fan-base who loved him? Meanwhile, Matt Duffy is one of the 5 best Rookies in the NL.

From a Red Sox perspective, equally unsurprisingly, Hanley Ramirez has also been disappointing, & the public is turning on him, too. And, the Red Sox suck.

Who's going to be going elsewhere by July 31?

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

And what does he care? He's got 95 million friends that he did not have here in SF. I think he has zero regrets. Remember, this is the guy who said he had two years to get in shape, when he had two years left on his contract with us, he is a knucklehead and those types of people tend to not regret things. Because otherwise he would not make the same mistakes over and over again.

nomisnala said...

Hard to know what is Pablo's head. He has worked very hard before
to get into shape. One has to wonder what he was thinking. I tend
to think that if he stayed with the giants, and stayed in shape he
would be having a much better year in the N.L. Perhaps Pablo is his
own worst enemy. Not sure, he can turn around and hit 400 for the
remainder of the year. If Boston wanted Pablo for the post season,
it would behoove them to get into the post season.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Sometimes guys have to move on, and it worked out for the Giants in that it gave Duffy a chance and he's done well. You had to figure Sandoval was a FA risk even at age 28, and esp. when you look at the declining numbers since his peak in 2011. I didn't think he'd tank this badly (.678 OPS), but his on-again-off-again conditioning habits obviously don't work. He needs a trainer to run his butt every day. You don't have to look like a triathlete to play ball, but you have to be fit and always working. Big guys have a harder time but guys like Sabathia, Ortiz, and Fielder, etc. have shown it can be done.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Agree that it is hard to know what is in any athlete's head. We are on the outside and see only one side of him. However, we do get to observe his behavior.

Technically, he has worked very hard once before to get into shape, and that was after 2010. He had a lot of motivation: the Giants had already benched him and Sabean flat out said that they would send him to AAA if necessary, to get him to understand the seriousness of the situation.

And not that he didn't work hard other times, but the way I'm defining "working very hard" is him hitting like he did in 2009 and 2011 when he was motivated to be a major leaguer. By that definition, he may have worked hard - there was a lot of media coverage of him working hard exercising - but he never worked VERY hard since, as that appears to be what it takes for him to be a superstar in performance, not just by name.

And by that definition, he has been more on the side of coasting on his fame than working very hard to be a superstar. What other player has a downward trend during his mid-20's when almost every superstar-to-be player is experiencing either growth or sustained great performances? What player in a free agent year is still a plus player, but barely that, and yet received a contract that paid more for what he did in short stints (that is, super SSS) in the playoffs and especially the World Series? It's nice that he can do that in the playoffs, but most teams paying a player $19M per season also expect him to also lead them INTO the playoffs too.

Giants fans can accept his playfulness and Panda-ness, partly because he started here, partly because he did hit well before, partly because he was only being paid much less than $10M per season most seasons, partly because he did help us crush the Tigers, partly because he did deliver in the playoffs in 2012 and 2014. Boston fans expect $19M per season value, that's vintage 2011 Pandoval performance, but instead they are getting the declining regression curve that is his career since 2011. And he did hit well in April, very well, but something got to him since and he has struggled a lot. He can laugh all the way to the bank, but he can't like photos while sitting on the can.

This performance is why the Giants "insulted" Sandoval with their initial contract offer, because that is what he deserved, his delusional agent notwithstanding. Talk about easy money, Sandoval got Boston's money not because of his agent but because Ortiz helped smoothed his way there. Otherwise he would have been in the situation I thought he would be in, much like Aurilia when he wanted $40M over 4 years, sitting around, until he gets a make-it contract in Jan/Feb.

And he was lucky twice over, as SD suddenly started bidding for him, can you imagine how bad things would be there had Sandoval decided to take that challenge instead and show the Giants what they are missing? And that shows the mettle of the man right there, he had a chance to make the big money AND to stick it to the Giants by playing well for the Padres and beating the team "where he had no friends", but instead chose the "challenge" of playing for Boston.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I was OK with a market price of roughly 3 years, $40-ish million contract for him, and anything beyond that, thanks but no thanks, appreciate the six years but it's time to move on. If we didn't have Duffy or Adrianza, I might have been more willing to go to his 5 year demands, but with those two (plus we already had a good lineup in Posey, Pence, Belt, Panik, Crawford, Pagan, then added Aoki), I was more than ready to move on, but willing to give him a chance with market price contract, not a bid up price contract, which is what he got.

I take no glee (well, maybe a little, but mainly because of all the trash he said in the aftermath about the Giants and dissing them :^) in him struggling, but rather, take comfort that my (and others) analysis of where his career is headed appears to be accurate. He needs to be in great shape, which means he needs to work very hard, but he likes the trappings of major league life, but wasn't willing to put in the work to get him there.

There are fat players who could play well with their weight. He was one where he didn't need to be thin, but there was fat and there was too fat, and unfortunately for his career, he has tilted the scale too much on the too fat side.

Good luck to him in Boston (except against Giants) but I think it's clear the Giants made the right decision, first to "insult" him with the right level contract, then, when it was clear he wasn't going to sign back with us, kept on bidding to force the Red Sox to pay what the max that they were willing to pay, I think their original bid was around $80M contract size (or so).

nomisnala said...

The giants matched the Boston offer, but he rejected it. Luckily for the
giants he may have been doing us a favor, but it may be too early to tell.
Perhaps he has an undisclosed injury, ala Tim Lincecum. One skinny one
fat, both on the decline. There is a chance that Pablo may still turn it
around. On a different topic, it looks like Uribe is on the move again.

campanari said...

The Giants matched the Boston offer as to dollars and time, but seem to have couched the offer in terms that they had to suspect wouldn't be accepted. That is, they insisted on clauses having to do with PS's weight and conditioning, thereby "disrespecting" his (stop-and-go, self-absorbed) professionalism. Sure, PS is suffering from an injury, to his unjustified pride. As to whether he did the Giants a favor, or whether the Giants engineered a favor from him, we live among too many contingencies to be sure; but one can observe that right now Duffy has given the Giants nearly as much in fWAR this year as Sandoval did through a full season in 2014, 3.00, and seems likely to outproduce the 3.5 fWAR we got from Sandoval in 2013. One doesn't have to cite his miserable 2015 Bosoxery to make a good guess as to whether he did us a favor or not.

campanari said...

Let me correct my error just above: I wrote that Sandoval gave the Giants 3.5 fWAR in 2013, erroneously. He gave the Giants 4.5 fWAR in 2012 and 2013 combined; and Duffy, with 2.8 fWAR in about a half-season (83 games, 323PAs) is on track to come close to that. He of course may not do so, since in baseball extrapolations are treacherous; but the numbers do give perspective on his and PS's relative worth to the Giants without any suppositions about why Sandoval has a current minus-1.0 fWAR for Boston.

El said...

As a Giants fan, I loved Pablo leaving.
As a Sox fan since '67, I hated Pablo arriving.

The only thing a player can control is his preparation - mental & physical.
Being too fat to perform is just chronically giving the finger to the fans, the FO, and your teammates who put in the work to be in their personal best condition.

Add this move to one of many that will cost Cherington his job.

Brother Bob said...

My last image of Sandoval as a Giant will not be him catching that pop-up, it will be him at the parade, drunk as a skunk, and his female companion pissed off at him.
He was the opposite of a class act.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Yes, it was publicly reported that the Giants matched the Red Sox offer, but we don't know all the details.

What we do know is that Sandoval, while trying to put on a happy public face, has leaked out his true feelings here and there. Whether it be his two years to get fit crack (which shows how dumb he really is, as he really needed to get fit within a year) or his agent making a big public stink on his behalf in spring training about the insult of the Giants contract offer or his leaked bad feelings for the Giants during the Giants celebration parade for the third championship, clearly he had some sort of serious issue with the Giants. He also mentioned how his teammates had a talk with him about his weight and contributions, and it was clear, if you read between the lines, that he wasn't exactly happy about it. Then there is all the crap that came out AFTER he signed with the Red Sox.

So while we won't know what exactly happened, clearly he had some seriously bad issues with the Giants and his teammates, that he didn't give a F' about them, and while the Giants self reported (how often do they do that?) matching the Red Sox, given the above, how could those bids not be made for the purposes of PR? I think objectively, one can only say that he was gone and never to return (and probably long ago), and that's just from public stuff, not inside internal rumors that probably percolated up to senior management at some point.