Tuesday, December 24, 2019

'Tis the Season for Some Changes

The Giants promoted Antoan Richardson, the team's Field Coordinator, to first base coach for the major-league squad. Jose Alguacil, it seems, is let go. I always thought they were grooming Alguacil for bigger things. From a January article about Richardson:

Antoan Richardson -- Field Coordinator
Richardson starts his first season with the Giants as the Field Coordinator. The former outfielder spent the 2018 season as an Outfield Coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays. Richardson appeared in the Majors with the Atlanta Braves in 2011 and with the New York Yankees in 2014. He was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 35th round of the 2005 draft out of Vanderbilt University. The Bahamian native made his Major League debut on September 4, 2011, and recorded his first career hit off Clayton Kershaw in his first Major League at-bat. In his free time, Richardson mentors youth in the Bahamas through Project Limestone, a non-profit organization he established shortly after his retirement.

He just turned 36. Only Ron Wotus, among the coaches, is a greybeard. These whippersnappers have some big challenges ahead--I hope they're up to it!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone. And thanks for reading, as always.

--M.C.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Nicholas Castellanos, anyone?

The only free agent reliably associated (by that I mean multiple references on MLBTR) with the Giants has been Nicholas Castellanos. An OF and DH with the Tigers since 2011 he was traded to the Cubs in mid-season and performed extremely well (1.002 OPS and 37 XBH in 51 games). That raised his stock quite a bit although he was already a good player (2.7, 2.9, and 4.7 bWAR 2016-2018), if better known for his bat than his glove. He'll be 28 in March and has played in almost 900 games and amassed over 3600 PAs.

I don't know if the Giants are really in the running, after all the website is called MLBTR and the TR stands for Trade Rumors. But a tweet from Baggs sent me to an article by Sahadev Sharma who covers the Cubs for The Athletic and it had this:
Castellanos’ market is solid, but according to sources with knowledge of his priorities, he’s looking for a situation where “culture” and “environment” are more than just buzzwords.
Money matters, but all things being (nearly) equal, Castellanos is searching for a team ready to embrace him as a potential leader and one that is committed to building a winning culture. In his discussions with various organizations, Castellanos sees the Giants, Rangers and Cubs as three teams who value him for more than just his offense and that treat “clubhouse culture” as more than just T-shirts and talking points.
This counters a bit of the talk about analytics and cost-benefit analysis ruining the team! At least one player out there seems to like what's going on in San Francisco. Players choose teams for a lot of reasons. We don't always know what the reasons are.

In any event, Castellanos would be strictly a corner OF, mostly likely confined to LF. But if he could deliver 120 OPS+ and 300 TB that would be great. Supposedly he has improved his fielding every season since becoming a full-time starter--he came up as a third baseman but was quickly forced to the outfield.

This could all be nothing, but it's worth taking a look at. I think we've talked out the Bum stuff.

--M.C.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Adios, compadre

I should add an hasta luego as well.

In a move that took me by surprise the Arizona Diamondbacks signed Madison Bumgarner for five years and $85M. Forgive me if I think they got him on the cheap. The Giants supposedly offered a similar yearly salary but for only four years. And it turns out that Bum and his wife love Arizona and have property there. So he wanted to go. At least that's the way I see it. And good for him. He's a free agent after a decade in the bigs and he gets to call his own shots. That's the way it should be.

Of course he will be missed. Few players in the history of the team are equally accomplished and entertaining. Some are accomplished and some are entertaining, few can do both. Madison Bumgarner did everything you can ask from a player and did it with panache. He managed to surpass, in his Giants legacy, the two aces who came before him: Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. That's some damn fine work.

I hope he stays healthy and pitches well in Arizona. Except against the Giants, of course. I'll want to see 2-2/3 IP, 8 H, 5 R, that sort of thing. Against LA I'll be rooting for shutouts!

--M.C.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The new coaching staff

37, 35, 38, 36, 31, 29, 33, and 31. And 58, of course.

That's how old these guys are. Or, perhaps I should say, how young they are. I just turned 60, so they seem rather young to me. But that's good. Major League Baseball is a young man's endeavor.


The article is worth taking a look at even though it is a bit long.

--M.C.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

New Faces

It's the Winter Meetings so you expect some action. The Giants sign RHP Kevin Gausman to a one-year $9M deal, with incentives. He was non-tendered in Cincinnati. He's 28 and has started 150+ games in his career. The Giants also purchased 34-year old infielder Zack Cozart from the Angels for over $12M, but it seems the point was to get 21-year old shortstop Will Wilson, the #15 pick (from NC State) in last year's draft. The team certainly has money to spend, and they'd rather take a chance on a guy who has one season of rookie ball than a seasoned centerfielder. But that's what you do when you are rebuilding. If they get anything out of Cozart it will be a bonus, but he did hit 24 HR two years ago.

--M.C.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Winter Meetings Begin

Seven years and $245M for Stephen Strasburg to stay in DC. What will it cost to keep Madison Bumgarner in San Francisco? More now, I suspect. Starting pitching is always a premium product--you want some, it'll cost ya. But that matters not. The Giants have oodles of money and can spend it if they want. We don't know what they want, that's the problem.

I saw a tweet from AmyG that says the Giants will sign a starter this week. And, they are meeting with MadBum's reps this week. I have to assume the Giants want to improve their starting pitching.

She also tweets that Aramis Garcia is slotted for Buster's backup spot now that Stephen Vogt has left (he's on the D-Backs). This is a good opportunity for Garcia and I hope he makes the most of it. The big talk is about 'player development' which I assume is industry buzz for 'teaching' but at the major-league level. That stuff mostly used to happen in the minors, but things have changed. There is more emphasis on teaching at the top level and of course there is much more information available. I hope that means more young players will get chances in 2020 and that they will get the coaching they need to be their best. I don't know how that stuff works, I just hope it does work.

M.C.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Non-tendered

The Giants decided that Kevin Pillar was not worth approximately ten million dollars to play for them next season. The fact the he was a popular, entertaining, and even valuable player made no difference in the end. Value, of course, depends on the beholder. I thought the "butts in the seats" argument would knock the Villar-meter over to "sign" but I remain once again useless at prognostication. That doesn't mean Pillar won't be on the Giants, it just means he will be free to find a home somewhere else. You never know, sometimes guys come back on a lower per-year deal for their own reasons. Or the market for their skills never develops. Baseball is not a "free market" in the Econ 101 sense, it is too small and too constricted and subject to too many random inputs. But a guy like Pillar, a good ballplayer despite some scary on-base numbers (.287! overall), does not have the "value" in today's market that perhaps he should. But that's as much on the players and the skewed free agency rules that the MLBPA have gone along with; and as I like to say "it is what it is" when faced with such messes. Pillar should have a job on a major-league club, but the market right now is not ready to pay him ten million bucks.

The Giants are willing to pay Alex Dickerson ($925K) and southpaw Wandy Peralta ($805K) but not recently-claimed Tyler Anderson ($2.6M) and Rico Garcia (pre-arb), or late-season pick-up Joey Rickard ($1.1M). Donovan Solano was also offered a contract, but I can't seem to find the details. Like Pillar, he is on the wrong side of 30, but costs a lot less. And he hit better--whether he can do that next season is anyone's guess, but .330/.360/.456 is better than .264/.298/.442 (just with the Giants). To be fair, Solano was a half-timer (81 G to Pillar's 156 G), but he probably should be. Pillar would be a great player if he hit 8th, but on the 2019 Giants he hit mostly 5th, 6th, and 7th, which in my view is too high in the lineup. He would be an excellent part-time/platoon player or late-inning defensive replacement and pinch-hitter.

The Giants have plenty of money and could certainly afford Pillar, but FZ claimed the move had nothing to do with finances. If that's true, it means they don't see Pillar as part of the future. They are indeed rebuilding, even if they won't say it out loud. Pillar would be a great piece on a good club that's ready to contend. That tells you something right there. And I'm OK with it. This Giants team needs a makeover. It needs an infusion of talent. Pillar was the right guy at the right time, but they need a lot more than that going forward.

--M.C.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Bitchin' About Pitchin'

This is a bit of a post-mortem.

At the end of 2018, we though we were in pretty good shape, pitching-wise.  We had 5 regular starters, without Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, and they had collectively given us 125 starts during the season.
                        era                   war
Madbum        3.26                  2.4
Holland          3.57                  2.1
Suarez            4.49                  0.5
Stratton          5.09                - 0.8
DRod             2.81                  2.5

That's 6.7 war out of our 5 starters.  For the record, we got 9 or more starts out of Ty Blach, Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, before they became injured.  What's more, we seemed to be getting out relief staff to work the way there were intended to.   I remember feeling pretty good about the Giants going into 2019 - looking for our young pitching staff to build on 2018 and serve notice around the league that the Giants could again matter. 

In 2019, however, our starting pitching let us down.   We still managed to win more than we won in 2018 (a whopping 4 games), but not because of our starters.  Probably because we got decent offensive seasons out of Kevin Pillar and Evan Longoria.  Madbum was again pretty good, perhaps a bit better if measured by WAR, and Samardzija came back and really gave us more than we could have hoped for.  Other than that, though:
                      era                     war
Madbum       3.90                   2.5
Holland        5.90                 -  0.8
Suarez          5.79                 -  0.4
Stratton                     gone
DRod           5.64                 -  1.4
    also
Smardji        3.52                    2.9
Beede           5.08                    0.1
Anderson     5.44                 -  0.5
Pomeranz     5.68                -  0.4

Derek Holland made 7 starts and Logan Webb made 8.   The DRod, Madbum, Smardji, Beede, Anderson and Pomeranz sextet made 145 starts.  That gives us a total of 1.1 WAR, quite the let down from 2018.

So here we are.  Going into 2019, we have work to do on our starters.  At least we have some, and hopefully that will include a healthy Johnny Cueto, and a Madbum, although I have a sneaking suspicion that the Giants won't do more than give lip service to re-signing him.  That might be just my general sour mood talking,  Know what else?  Unlike this time last year, our bullpen, perhaps the envy of the league, needs a total rebuild.  Tony Watson and Reyes Montoya, both of whom ended the season on the DL.  We traded away Melancon and Dyson and Will Smith signed with the Braves (I haven't heard anything about the Giants trying to re-sign him except for a QO).  So, to sum up, before we even think about adding firepower at the plate, we have a huge amount of work to do to have a decent pitching staff.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Shadow Zone

Here's a graph from an article at MLB by Mike Petriello about the ChiSox getting Yasmani Grandal:



The idea is that Grandal's "elite pitch framing" will greatly improve the team. It turns out that the best team, Arizona, got 400 more called strikes on pitches in The Shadow Zone than the White Sox. So a good team can get about 200 more called strikes than an average team. Three strikes and your out and nine strikes and you've got a clean inning so 200 more strikes is 67 more outs or 22 clean innings. That seems like a lot. (I realize that's a crude computation but I stole it from Tangotiger.) This pitch-framing stuff seems pretty important.

Below is chart from Tangotiger Blog which always has interesting stuff, even if much of it is beyond me, that personalizes things a bit:


It shows that Buster Posey is still a top pitch-framer. I think it is interesting that the best guys are just over 50% and the rest just below that line. It's a small advantage but it helps over the long haul, like a lot of things in baseball.

Just something I came across this morning and thought you might like it because the Giants are good at it. At least it seems that way! I peruse this stuff at a fairly casual level and don't dig too deeply so I'm not sure I grasp it all the way, but I like the challenge of learning new things.

Happy Thanksgiving from RMC!!

--M.C.

p.s. click on the charts to enlarge

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Ballpark Changes

Alex Pavlovic at NBC Sports has a piece about the changes to the ballpark. The bullpens will be moved from the foul areas to right-centerfield. They'll probably add a new row of premium on-field seating past the dugouts in the new space. That will require more nimble ball dudes, don't you think? A chunk of Triples Alley will be converted to the bullpen area. No surprise, they talked about that last season. Will it change the park dynamic? Some--the current 421 feet will drop to about 410 feet, according to the article, which will certainly turn some long outs and some triples into homers. Brandon Belt might even crack 20 bombs! I suspect it will still be a pitchers' park, just not as extreme. That's OK, a little tweaking never hurt. Speaking of hurt, that will happen less. Ballplayers won't have to negotiate the mound in the foul areas, and that's a good thing. The proximity to the 'pens was a nice feature for fans--you could always wander down there to see the starter warm up before the game even if your tickets were in another section.

December 9-12 is the next big date on the MLB calendar: the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Roster Resource has a projected 26-man roster. (That's another change for 2020.) Cot's Contracts has the payroll picture. And here's the current 40-man roster. You can see that the team looks a lot like last year's team. And despite new people in charge, the club is in the same place. The current roster is not strong enough, and there isn't enough young talent to fill in the gaps. On the plus side, the Giants are a wealthy franchise and have more financial flexibility than they care to admit. Organizational changes are afoot, and that's good. The team needs new blood, new ideas, and new energy. I know they won't call it "rebuilding" because that sends season ticket holders fleeing, but they are clearly "remodeling" and I'm ready to see them pick up the pace.

Perhaps something exciting--or at least notable--will happen in the next few weeks.

--M.C.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

It's Kapler

After weeks of speculation the Giants finally picked a field manager. Gabe Kapler is a 44-year old SoCal native who most recently managed the Philadelphia Phillies. That was his first job in the hot seat and he got the boot after two seasons (161-163). He also had a stint in the LA front office where he worked with Zaidi. Kapler had a 12-year career in the majors, mostly as an outfielder, playing in over 1100 games and stepping in the box over 3300 times. He quit playing for a year to manage a minor-league club for the Red Sox, then went back to playing. He's done analysis for television as well as for Baseball Prospectus.

I'm not bothered by the fact that things did not go well in Philly. Managing is hard. It isn't easy to do it right the first time. If he survived the interview process he must be pretty committed, and that's all you can ask. I have no idea if he will be a good manager, but I'm happy the team got who they apparently wanted from the start.

The best thing? It's over. No more talk about managers and general managers. Now let's see these guys get to work and give us stuff to cheer about in 2020.

--M.C.


View image on Twitter

Sunday, November 10, 2019

GM

The Giants have a new General Manager. Chicago Cubs assistant GM Scott Harris is the new man on the job. The timing is good:
While the Giants don’t feel the need to adhere to a certain timeline in naming their next manager, the start of the GM Meetings, which will run from Monday to Thursday at the Omni Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., likely helped expedite Harris’ hire.
I don't really know any more about Harris than what's mentioned on MLBTR:
A bay area native, Harris graduated from UCLA and earned his MBA from Northwestern, breaking into the baseball industry as an intern with the Nationals and Reds, positions that he turned into a full-time gig in the MLB commissioner’s office. In his time with the Cubs, he had a hand in the club’s ascension to World Series champions in 2015, emerging as the right-hand man for top baseball ops officers Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
According to a story on The Athletic, Harris, who is from Redwood City, got help from none other than former Giants GM Al Rosen to get the internship with the Nats. But get this--he's only 32. That's right, he's younger than Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, and Brandon Crawford. Bobby Evans was 46 when he got the nod, and Brian Sabean was 41. Sabes had the job for 18 years.

Welcome aboard, Scott!

--M.C.

p.s. Monday update--I found this picture of Harris:


Monday, November 4, 2019

QO

The Giants have extended a qualifying offer to Madison Bumgarner, which I expected, and one to Will Smith as well. The current value of a QO is $17.8M for a one-year term. That's expensive for a relief pitcher so I wasn't sure if the Giants would go there with Smith, but he certainly earned the organization's respect with his performance.

Players have ten days to decide if they want to do that. They are free to explore the free agent market during that time. If they take the QO they are signing a one-year deal with their current team. The $17.8M is an average of the top 125 highest-paid players. If they reject the QO they are free agents.

Teams that sign a player who has rejected a QO have to forfeit a draft pick or two. The rules are Byzantine and I don't really care enough to fully learn them, suffice to say there is a penalty, which works out as compensation for the player's original team.

Pretty silly stuff. All holdovers from the days of the reserve clause. The owners own the franchise, not the players. I say eliminate the draft and make everyone a free agent from the start. Same rules for international players as well as homegrown ones. The system is unnecessarily complex, and it works against the players. By the time they reach free agency they are past their prime years and teams would rather have a 24-year old at the league minimum and under control than buy expensive older guys. Ah well, it gives us something to talk about.

--M.C.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The End

The Washington Nationals take the crown in the 115th World Series by winning both game six and game seven in Houston. The Astros won all three games in D.C. and the Nats won all four games in the Astrodome. That's the only time the visiting team has won all the games in World Series history. I'm reminded of the 1987 Series when the Minnesota Twins and the St. Louis Cardinals won all their home games and lost all their away games! The Twins had home field advantage and thus prevailed four games to three.

The Astros were a heavy favorite. A -200 moneyline is the same as 2:1 odds, that is, the favorite is expected to win 67% of the time. I have a hard time believing any World Series matchup is that lopsided. I think the teams are generally closer in talent. I could see giving a stronger team a 55% chance to win (-120 or 6:5) in a seven-game series, but anything over 60% (-150 or 3:2) seems like a reach. The Nats beat a 106-win team (LA Dodgers) and a 107-win team (Astros) to win the title.

The long baseball season is over and we have to suffer for several months without our favorite sport. The Giants should have an interesting off-season as they have a lot of work to do. I'll keep you posted.

--M.C.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Managers

David Ross gets the job in Chicago and Joe Girardi the one in Philadelphia. Jayce Tingler is the new manager of the San Diego Padres. His playing career topped out at AA but he has been in a variety of coaching and front office positions, most recently for the Texas Rangers. An intriguing choice, someone without Ross' name recognition or Girardi's résumé. (Joe Maddon was hired by the LA Angels in case you missed that story.)

Joe Espada is a name that keeps showing up. Apparently he is using his off-day (he's the bench coach for the Astros) to interview with the Giants.

I didn't think I'd see the Nats up 2-0, and especially not with a blowout win. Washington's 'pen was supposed to be the weak link, and Houston's starters the difference-makers. We'll see if the underdog can finish it out at home. I think the entire post-season has featured some gripping baseball, even in the lopsided contests. If there is any decline in the audience for these games, it is not because the players and teams aren't putting on a good show. I should note that the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks completed their sweep of the Yomiuri Giants to take the Japan Championship (a three-peat for them). The Doosan Bears are up 2-0 over the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korea Series.

--M.C.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The World Series

The Astros and the Nationals face off tomorrow in the 115th edition of MLB's World Series. Houston is a big favorite, the moneyline currently between -187 and -200. You would have to bet that amount to win $100. Washington lists at +162 to +180, that's the payoff for a $100 bet. So you can see that oddsmakers favor the Texas team. The Nats have some really good starters--Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, Sanchez--and if they match up with the 'Stros big three--Cole, Verlander, Greinke--it could be a close contest. The Astros are probably deeper in talent, especially on offense, but we saw the Yankees neutralize those bats for long stretches. If the Nats can keep the scoring down they could pull off a big upset.

This being a post about the World Series, I would be remiss not to mention two other baseball contests happening at the same time. The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks are up two games to none over the Yomiuri Giants in the NPB Japan Championship Series. Meanwhile the KBO League features the Doosan Bears against the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korea Championship. Both are best-of-seven affairs.

Enjoy!

--M.C.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The New Manager

Don't forget, the Giants are hiring a GM as well. That presents a chicken-and-egg problem, as FZ put it recently (from Andrew Baggarly on The Athletic):
Ordinarily, the general manager would be working hand in glove with the president of baseball operations in a managerial search. The GM is the primary quartermaster for day-to-day roster needs, so it’s imperative that they have a close and communicative relationship with the skipper.
Except the Giants are hiring a GM, too.
“You want to know how the GM is going to work with the manager, but you also want to know how the manager is going to work with the GM,” Zaidi said. "So it’s a little bit of a chicken and egg. But, you know, we will very much have that in mind that those two are going to have to have a close relationship, and we have to have confidence they’re going to be able to work together."
I suspect the lists for both jobs might have some overlap. A lot of the personal qualities are similar. Zaidi has said that managerial experience is not a prerequisite for the field job (Aaron Boone had no experience coaching at any level before the Yankees hired him), so the same might be true for the desk job.

So how do you replace Bochy? You can't. You can hire a new manager--not a replacement. Identify the things you want from a manager and find that person. Giants fans will have a hard time viewing the new guy in a new light--they'll want to subject him to a checklist of Bochy comparisons. Farhan can't do that. Obviously Boch possesses many of the personal qualities needed to succeed at the big league level, but Boch is Boch. I don't want an ersatz Boch. I want a new person with their own story.

I really think Buster Posey should be the Giants manager. I've no idea if he entertains the idea, but it seems like he has all the experience, skills, knowledge, and gravitas necessary. So the Giants should hire a guy for a few years (Bam-Bam?) until Buster quits playing and takes the reins.

But that probably won't happen. He'll go back to Georgia and run for Senator. In the real world the Giants will hire a guy no one has heard of. Don't be surprised if the guy they get is a surprise. I don't keep my nose that close to the industry buzz so I have no real insight. DrBGiantsfan, who blogs at When the Giants Come to Town, has a breakdown of names you might look at. He's always thorough and thoughtful.

Baggs made the point in another article that if you want to know what kind of guy the Giants will hire look no further than the one FZ helped hire in LA: Dave Roberts.

Managing in MLB is hard. There is a small pool of people with the skills and passion needed. Even guys with all the goods on their résumés fail at the task. FZ is known as a process-oriented person and likes to "trust the process" and go with the outcome it generates. Roberts, for example, was not considered a favorite going in, but he came out as the number-one guy.

I can live with that. I was happy when the Giants hired Farhan Zaidi and I think it will be fun and interesting to see how he goes about creating the next-gen manager and general manager for the franchise. I want to be open-minded and not have a preconceived notion of who these people "ought" or "ought-not" to be. Frankly, I don't know any of the people involved and can only get the same information all of us get who are not part of the business. So it makes no sense to form opinions based on other peoples' opinions.

A lot of other teams (Mets, Padres, Pirates, Cubs, Angels, Royals) are looking for a skipper, that could make the process take a while, and of course many people won't be available until after the post-season. The Winter Meetings are scheduled for December 8-12, so I'd like to think the Giants would have at least a GM at that point. We'll see!

--M.C.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

9th inning: 8-10

1st inning: 8-10
2nd inning: 8-10
3rd inning: 5-13
4th inning: 10-8
5th inning: 11-7 
6th inning: 13-5
7th inning: 8-10
8th inning: 6-12
9th inning: 8-10

FINAL RECORD:  77-85 

If you prefer to look at months:

Mar/Apr 12-18
May  10-16
June  14-13
July 19-6
August 11-16
September 11-16

It comes out the same: three winning innings out of nine, or two winning months out of six, that makes one-third of the season they played .500+ baseball. If you spend two-thirds of your season below .500, you aren't doing well. Note that all the good stuff happened in the middle third. If you go by innings they were 21-33 in the first third and 22-32 in the final third. Bleah. By months it is 22-34 through May and 22-32 in August and September. A poor start and a poor finish means a lot to make up in the middle. 34-20 (or 33-19) is damn good but certainly not enough. But we knew this already.

--M.C.


p.s. I felt bad for the A's (I like Bob Melvin, I think he's a good manager) as they got beat by home runs by the team that--of all ten playoff teams--hit the fewest homers! And I felt bad for that guy in right field for the Brewers who let the ball hit by Juan Soto (who's 20!) turn into the game-winner. He tried to be a hero, a classic rookie mistake, and it blew up in his face. Baseball is full of things, if you are a fan, that twist your guts into knots! Why do we do this to ourselves?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

It's Over

LA 9  SF 0
Dereck Rodriguez, bless his heart, had to play the sacrificial lamb this afternoon as the Dodgers took control of the ballgame in the 1st inning. He got burned on a few weakly-hit balls, but the boys in blue are absurdly good (106 wins) and the Giants have had no answers at any time this weekend. D-Rod was hit hard this year and mostly unable to replicate his rookie-year successes. Let's hope he can up his game before next spring and compete for a roster spot. The team needs all the young arms it can gather together. In fact, the team needs to improve everywhere. But that's another post.

Bruce Bochy talked about managing Team France in the next World Baseball Classic (2021). That sounds like a perfect fit. He is the only MLB manager born in France. Competitive guys like Boch probably never really retire, they just find less-stressful ways to keep the juices flowing. I thought it was interesting how many people, in their tributes to Boch, remarked on the same personal qualities like his patience, his tolerance, his loyalty, his genuine concern for their well-being, that sort of thing. He cultivated relationships and maintained them with grace and good humor. Boch comes across as a genuine good guy and living proof that Leo Durocher was full of shit.

Giants made history this season. They used 64 players, the most ever by an NL club. They went 35-46 at home (.432), and I think that may be their worst-ever or tied for their worst-ever home record, including the New York days. I saw that factoid on Twitter, but I am unwilling to do the research to verify it. I understand Timmy was in the house today. He's like Area 51, you are never really sure what's true and what isn't. He's alive and was photographed, that I know. Madison Bumgarner pinch-hit against Clayton Kershaw in the 5th (who was a good sport and kept pumping in fastballs) and lined out to third. Kershaw tipped his hat to Boch, and Bum tipped his helmet to the crowd. I hope that is not the last time we see no. 40 in orange-and-black, but I'm expecting a lot of changes and you just never know how things will shake out. I think I will avoid predicting what will happen as I'm usually wrong.

We'll have a lot to talk about over the ensuing months, but for now I think we all need a break!

--M.C.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Webb and Cueto

LA 9  SF 2
LA 2  SF 0
Logan Webb turns 23 in November and is hoping to earn a spot on the 2020 roster. Today he pitched well, going a full six against a very tough lineup, striking out five and giving up two runs. He threw 90 pitches to 23 batters, following up on a good start in Atlanta in which he also went six and threw 90 pitches (to 22 batters). Webb is emerging as a dark horse favorite to be the fifth starter despite the relatively brief audition (8 starts).

Johnny Cueto turns 34 in February and his starting spot is assured for both 2020 and 2021. His four outings this September were really just workouts for the veteran righty who has recovered remarkably from Tommy John surgery. It would be wonderful to see him make 30+ starts next season with something closer to his career marks (121 ERA+, 3.81 FIP), or even recapturing some of his memorable (5.5 bWAR, 5 CG, 18-5, 2.95 ERA) 2016 magic.

I'm happy the Giants honored Peter Magowan this weekend, he deserves the accolades for saving the team and building the ballpark. And I think Kevin Pillar is an excellent choice to receive the Willie Mac Award. I thought he did a nice job with his acceptance speech, too. I see Pillar on the team next year. His fielding and power hitting make up for his poor on-base percentage, especially if he hits lower in the lineup. A guy can be bad at something and still be a good ballplayer. Pillar seems to have a knack for dramatic moments and has a lot of fan appeal. If he can be a 2-WAR everyday player or even part of an outfield mix I'll be happy. You need superstars on your ballclub, but more importantly you need a heap of solid major-leaguers (i.e. 2-WAR players).

The Giants go winless in the first two games of this final home series. Perhaps they can step up and deliver a better performance for Boch's swan song. Bumgarner is sitting, not starting, although he will be suited up to play. D-Rod gets the call. It's the right move, the game itself is meaningless and development of young players for 2020 is more important. I suspect Bum will pinch-hit at some point. I hope the Giants sign him in the off-season. With Shark and JohnnyC that could be a strong foundation to build a team around.

One more time: GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

77

SF 8  COL 3
The Giants take the rubber match with the Rockies this afternoon with a team-wide effort. Tyler Beede looked good at the start, whiffing seven and walking none in his 3-1/3 IP. He did not allow a hit or a run. Unfortunately he had to come out of the game in the 4th inning with the Giants up 1-0. Apparently he injured himself but I've seen no details so far. Nice to see him throw well regardless. The Rockies tied it against Burch Smith, the Giants went ahead 2-1, Smith gave up another run, then the Giants went up 3-2, then 4-2, then the Rockies came back to make it 4-3 in the top of the 8th. The home squad then scored four in the bottom half and it finished 8-3.

Mauricio Dubon was the hitting star with two doubles and a homer. Mike Yastrzemski had pinch-hit homer plus another RBI hit later. Kevin Pillar had two hits, and clutch doubles from Alex Dickerson and Aramis Garcia added more runs to the tally. Smith had a rough time in his stint, and Enderson Franco gave up a run, but Sam Coonrod, Fernando Abad, Jandel Gustave, and Ryan Barraclough (who closed it) were unscored upon. Like I said, it was a team effort.

That's 77 wins for the season with three to play. Last year they won 73 and the year before 64. Johnny Cueto goes tomorrow night at 7:15 against the Dodgers.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Jaylin Jack

SF 2  COL 1
Jaylin Davis is in the bigs because he can hit homers. He hit a heapin' pile of 'em at AAA this season, and the expectation is that he'll hit a few in the show. It took 13 games and 33 ABs but he finally got the big fly and it won the game in the 9th for the Giants. It was another anemic offensive display by the home squad, but the pitching was very tough and that kept it close and that gave the good guys a chance. Jaylin Davis is 25 years old and is from North Carolina and has over 1800 PAs in the minor leagues, mostly in the Twins system. He killed it (1.112 OPS) at Rochester (International League, AAA) and at Sacramento (1.105 OPS) and earned his call-up. Let's hope we see more good stuff from Davis--that was only his fourth hit! He was acquired in the Sam Dyson trade. His walk-off winner tonight made history: only twice before had a first career homer decided a ballgame.

Tyler Beede goes tomorrow afternoon, 12:45 Pacific.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

A Stumble on the Last Lap

Did you know that the Giants had already won the division series with the Rockies before the game started?  I was surprised, given the way that Coors Field has been so inhospitable to the Giants in the last couple years.  The Giants are in their final home stand, 3 against Colorado and 3 against LA.  I guess fans at the park got their money's worth, if you measure by innings.  The Giants played 16, only to cough up 3 runs in the final frame and lose by a score of 8 - 5.  Derek Rodriguez got the loss.  25 pitchers threw in the game, an MLB record, and the Giants used 13 of them.  The Giants used, by my count, 33 players and the Rockies used 28.  Oh, and their chance for a .500 season was thwarted by their 82nd loss.

Buster Posey hit his 7th home run of the season.  Evan Longoria hit his 20th, giving the Giants 3 20-home run hitters for the first time since 2006.  2006!  Madison Bumgarner hit a home run, his 2nd of the year, giving me a chance to use my favorite label.  Trevor Story has homered in each of his last 6 games against SF.  The Giants and Rockies were tied, 5 - 5 after 9.

Madison Bumgarner was on the hill.  He is determined to lead the National League in innings pitched.  After the 7 he threw last night, he has, after 2 years of injuries, given us 207.2 innings, with one start remaining on the last day of the regular season.  Stephen Strasburg is second with 203 innings.  Madison is a horse.  He threw 106 pitches, struck out 9 and walked 2.  He also gave up 3 home runs for 4 total.  In fact, 12 of the 13 runs scored were as a result of a home run, including Blackmon's final, 3-run blast.  It's warm in SF.  Madison did not, of course, get the decision, just like 14 other times this year.

Yet, Madison had a 3.62 ERA at the end of August, but has given up 19 (earned) runs in 31 innings since then.  Yesterday he threw a couple of pitches, like the one to Desmond, that were very, very fat.  He seems to lack concentration sometimes, although I really have no idea if that is the case or not.  I think that, as most of us cannot experience what it is like to compete at that high a level, and as we have no good descriptors of the randomness and elements of luck that make up the game, we often hear about things like a player's concentration, or desire, or heart, or team spirit, or lack thereof.  Sometimes this is just coded racism, but it is probably often an attempt to put an explanation when the real explanation hinges on such non-predictable events, like the flight of a round ball when struck by a round bat.  In any case, some of Madison's location mistakes wound up over the center of the plate, and then in the stands.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Webb-based solution

SF 4  STL 1
The Giants close out a 3-3 road trip with a tidy win over the Braves. Rookie Logan Webb threw the best start of his very young career, yielding only two hits and fanning seven in six solid frames. The only run came on a ground out by Freddie Freeman, driving in Adeiny Hechevarria who had tripled. Even that was a bit of bad luck as Kevin Pillar had that one in his glove up against the wall in center but could not hold on. A fine effort by the 22-year old from Rocklin who had only one start at the AAA-level in his relatively brief stint in the minors (80 G, 60 GS, 320-1/3 IP over six seasons). Webb was picked right out of high school in the 4th-round of the 2014 draft and played rookie ball as a 17-year old. Other picks from that draft were Tyler Beede (1st round), Aramis Garcia (2nd round), Sam Coonrod (5th round), and Austin Slater (8th round). Stanford alum Slater leads that group with 1.3 bWAR (171 games) in the bigs.

Dallas Keuchel kept a lid on the Giants until the 6th when doubles by Evan Longoria and Joey Rickard made it 3-0, and Longo added another RBI hit in the 7th off Luke Jackson. All in all, a quality outing by the ballclub who come home for the final six games of the season. At 75-81 there is still a chance (very slim, I admit) for a .500 finish. Boch is 1050-1050 in orange-and-black, perhaps he'll walk away with a winning record if the Giants can play good ball at home, something they have not done this season.

Madison Bumgarner goes Tuesday and is also scheduled to pitch in the finale on Sunday.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Not quite enough

BOS 5  SF 4
Madison Bumgarner gave up hits to the first four batters he faced and turned a 1-0 Giants lead into a 2-1 deficit. It didn't get better. A fluky sequence of bloopers and bleeders in the 2nd made it 5-1 Sox and they held on to win. The Giants had a late comeback to cut the deficit to 5-3, then loaded the bases in the 9th with no outs but could only scratch out one run. Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out ten in his six innings and only allowed two hits. Bum whiffed seven in his five and was tagged for nine hits. The Red Sox bullpen was shaky (3 IP, 3 R), the Giants bullpen solid (3 IP, 0 R), but the deficit was too much to overcome. Obviously it was a good series--they took two of three from a good team in a tough park. An even better team is next as the Giants go to Atlanta to take on the 94-win Braves. Tyler Beede gets the ball at 4:20 (seriously) Pacific.

GO TEAM!! WIN!!

--M.C.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Giants Clobber Red Sox

SF 11  BOS 3
It's 2000 managerial wins for Bruce Bochy, certainly a great milestone. To do anything uninterrupted for 25 years is pretty impressive, to do it in the big leagues is remarkable. So few managers have been able to keep a job for multiple seasons, but Boch managed in San Diego for 12 straight years and followed that with 13 in San Francisco. To be that competitive and that accomplished and yet remain humble is a great personal quality. I also like that he never threw anyone under the bus. He didn't point fingers or blame people when things went bad. In fact, he's gone out of his way to praise others and spread the credit around. Boch always stayed calm and even-keeled in the most trying of circumstances, and maintained his relentless optimism and positive energy day after day. No wonder players loved him! We got to see him at his best in the championship years, his tactical boldness and skilled poker-playing making other talented managers look over-matched, but all the other seasons, especially the losing ones, showcased his abilities as a leader, teacher, and communicator. We were certainly lucky to have him around!

It was a laugher tonight in Fenway. The lineup jumped on Jhoulys Chacin right away and handed Jeff Samardzija the early lead. The Shark was the very definition of "effectively wild" and held the Sox hitless into the 6th inning. The fastball was lively and had a lot of movement and once he started hitting the corners it was tough for them to get anything going. Everyone in the starting lineup got at least one hit and six of the nine scored at least one run. Boston got a couple of late runs to make it feel tight but then their 'pen gave up seven runs in the final two frames and we all got to relax.

This Giants team is, well, bi-polar. You just don't know which version you are going to get on any given night! The getaway game starts at 10:05 Pacific tomorrow morning with Madison Bumgarner on the mound. Ten games left in the season.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

River Cats are AAA Champions!

SAC 4  COL 0
The Sacramento River Cats, the Giants Pacific Coast League affiliate, won the AAA national title tonight with a win over the Columbus (Ohio) Clippers. The Clippers are the International League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. So, a bit of good news for the Giants organization. It's a remarkable accomplishment when you consider the roster turnover. The B-R page lists 65 players for the River Cats this year.

Current Sacramento manager Dave Brundage led the Richmond Braves to the AAA championship game in 2007, and that team lost to the River Cats! Brundage is from Oregon and played for the OSU Beavers before turning pro. He never made the bigs but did play in nearly 800 minor league games over ten seasons. At age 54 he has 22 years of managerial experience, 14 at AAA.

The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Northwest League (A-), the Augusta Green Jackets of the South Atlantic League (A), the San Jose Giants of the California League (A+), and even the Orange Giants of the Arizona League (rookie ball) made the playoffs this season. Not bad!

In other news, the major league club played a game in Boston at Fenway Park. Mike Yastrzemski hit a homer with grandpa Carl in attendance, which was pretty cool. The game lasted 15 innings. The Giants looked good early, then they looked bad and let the Red Sox back in the game in the 6th, but hung on to scratch out a run and take a 6-5 lead in the 13th which was around midnight Eastern Time. The ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Giants pitchers, Sam Selman, Burch Smith, Wandy Peralta, and Kyle Barraclough could not get the job done and the Sox tied it up and sent it to the 14th inning. But Dereck Rodriguez, the lucky thirteenth pitcher, got the next six outs, and the Giants finally finished it off 7-6. D-Rod gets the win, but shouldn't he get the save as well? If you are going to pass out credit, I think you should go all the way!

Next year we won't likely see thirteen-pitcher games (Boston used eleven guys) as the September rosters will only be increased to 28 players instead of 40.

Jeff Samardzija tomorrow. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. Number 1999 for Boch. First SF Giants win--ever--in Fenway.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

An ugly win is still a win!

SF 2  MIA 1
The Giants put on a display of offensive ineptitude again today but they managed to prevail over the equally-pathetic Marlins. Good work from the bullpen saved the home squad from embarrassment, with Tyler Rogers getting three outs on ten pitches, and Will Smith returning to close it out. Mauricio Dubon gave the Giants early hope with a solo shot, but an Evan Longoria throwing error led to the tying run against hard-luck reliever Burch Smith. The winning rally featured singles by Yaz and Belt who both moved up on a wild pitch. After a walk to Longo and a whiff from Vogt reliever Ryan Stanek threw another wild pitch and Yaz scampered home. It's a win, I'll take it, but damn it is a discouraging thing to watch. The Giants have scored 254 runs at home in 75 games (3.39 rpg) and that's why they are 33-42 there. Johnny Cueto pitched well again (5 IP, 0 R) and that feels good.

It is a blessed travel day tomorrow and--another blessing--the boys go on the road, this time to Boston. They'll have to hit better there. Logan Webb gets the ball on Tuesday at 4:10 p.m. Pacific.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Bummer

MIA 4  SF 2
Naturally after I get excited about Shaun Anderson he gets the call tonight and gives up the ghost and the Giants lose. But that's OK. Relievers give it up some of the time. Bumgarner pitched well but his team let him down with another feeble offensive effort. They used to call that getting Cained, but now it is just a Bummer. This offense is pathetic at home. I'm glad there are only 13 games left, I don't think I can watch them flail and fail too many more times. But Bum pitched well, that's always good. Cueto tomorrow.

--M.C.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Lucky 13th

SF 1  MIA 0
The Harvest Moon of Friday the 13th brought good luck to the win-starved Giants. Tyler Beede pitched well (6-1/3, 3 H, 1 W, 5 K), and that certainly had a lot to do with it. Superb relief work from Tyler Rogers (5 batters, three whiffs) and new closer Shaun Anderson  helped a hell of a lot, too. If you like old-school get-'em-on, get-'em-over, get-'em-in baseball you were in luck. The Giants did that once. The Marlins did it zero times, and one is bigger than zero. Brandon Belt had three hits including two doubles but did not figure in the scoring. It was that kind of game. The fielders helped, turning two big double plays, and Buster Posey threw out a wannabe base-stealer. He also drove in the game-winner with a bouncer through a drawn-in infield. I'm a big fan of wins, no matter how weird they are, and this game was weird. Tyler Beede pitched well and that's something we want to see more of, and Shaun Anderson is "serving notice" that he's a genuine closer candidate. That's the team's eighth shutout.

Madison Bumgarner goes tomorrow night at 6:05 and Johnny Cueto goes Sunday afternoon at 1:05. That's Pacific Daylight Time. I like this Bum-JC two-step. I hope they sign Bum and we get to see it for a couple more years.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Johnny Joy

SF 5  PIT 4
Johnny Cueto pitched beautifully in his return to action. The flashy righty threw a first-pitch strike to 12 of the 17 batters he faced. One hit, one walk, and four strikeouts in five innings (69 pitches) made for a tidy night's work. The Giants put up three runs right away against Pirates starter Mitch Keller and added two more in the 5th. It was just enough. Kyle Barraclough started the 6th but had to be bailed out by former starter Andy Suarez. He got through the 7th as well but Sam Coonrod and FNG Wandy Peralta made a mess of the 8th, giving up four runs. Former starter Shaun Anderson stepped up and got the final four outs, an impressive effort considering last night's ugly loss.

Speaking of last night, that was Game 144, the end of the 8th seasonal inning. It was ugly. The team went 6-12, nuff said. Here's the big picture:

1st inning: 8-10
2nd inning: 8-10
3rd inning: 5-13
4th inning: 10-8
5th inning: 11-7 
6th inning: 13-5
7th inning: 8-10
8th inning: 6-12

Giants get their 70th win and are now 70-75, and more importantly 1-0 in the 9th seasonal inning. There are 17 games left!

Logan Webb goes tomorrow night, 6:45 Pacific. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Bullpen Implosion

The Giants were 55 - 0 in games in which they led after the 8th inning.  Until last night, they were the last team in the National League with a perfect record in that regard.  The Pirates, however, scored 4 in the 9th to win by a score of 6 - 4.

Madison Bumgarner started the game.  He pitched well, although I think his concentration may be a bit better when something big is on the line, like the wild card spot for the playoffs.  He threw 7 innings, gave up 2 runs (1 on a fat pitch that left the park) on 6 hits, struck out 5 and walked 2 in 99 pitches.  In the 5th, 6th and 7th innings, he gave up extra bases to the lead-off Pirate (the 5th was the home run) but then pitched through that, giving up his 2nd run in the 6th.  Tyler Rogers threw a scoreless 8th.  Then came the 9th.  The Giants were up 4 - 2, mainly thanks to Brandon Belt's 3 hits and 2 rbi.  Will Smith was unavailable due to back tightness.  Trevor Gott and Tony Watson and Reyes Moronta are all hurt.  So Boch turned to Fernando Abad and Jandel Gustave, who gave up 4 before the Pirates closer, Felipe Vasquez, shut us down.  No win number 1996 for Bochy.  Abad and Gustave were excellent against LA, but they are inexperienced in a 9th inning shut-down role.  The Pirates had a look-what-we-found looks on their faces as they routed the Giants.  That included Brian Reynolds, possible Rookie of the Year, who had the gwrbi.  He's a 4.1 WAR rookie who was drafted by the Giants.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

SF 1 LA 0

It took seven pitchers to get the shutout, but the Giants 1-0 victory over the Dodgers tonight in LA has to be one of the most satisfying wins of the season. Eking out a run in the 1st on a bases-loaded Kevin Pillar ground out, the Giants made it stand up against the best offense in the NL. The Dodgers have 253 homers in 143 games, an average of 1.77 per game or roughly seven homers every four games. Not tonight!

In the 5th inning starter Tyler Beede, who had looked great through four, loaded the bases with two outs and had to face Cody Bellinger. In a pennant race there's a good chance he gets pulled (76 pitches), especially with his youth and recent history. Bring in a LOOGY there and go after the putative MVP. But this is a rebuilding team and there is an opportunity to develop a young pitcher, so Boch left in Beede to face Bellinger. Four pitches later he got a fly out to left field and walked off with five of the best innings of his rocky rookie campaign.

With Reyes Moronta on the IL, Tony Watson recovering, and Will Smith unavailable, it took a fresh bullpen approach for the late innings. Shaun Anderson, a closer in college, threw a scoreless 6th with two strikeouts. Tyler Rogers got two outs in the 7th and Andrew Suarez closed the inning and got the first out of the 8th. There was a tense moment when Sam Coonrod hit Justin Turner with a pitch but Fernando Abad induced a double play from Bellinger to finish the 8th. In the 9th Jandel Gustave gave us tooth-gnashing moments with a walk and a scary line out but Kike Hernandez obliged with a double play grounder and the Giants had their win. You have to love the creative use of the pitching staff, and the fact that they executed--in new roles--against a very tough opponent. It was torture, of course, I would have preferred a 10-0 lead, but it all worked out. That's back-to-back one-run wins!

Bruce Bochy has the most wins (107) of any visiting manager in Dodger Stadium. That's only the fifth time this season the Dodgers have been shut out.

Dereck Rodriguez gets the start tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 PDT.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. Johnny Cueto starts Tuesday night at home against the Pirates.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Dubon Leads Giants

SF 5  LA 4
The Giants survived a three-homer game from A.J. Pollock, all solo shots, and hung on to win in Dodger Stadium. Closer Will Smith struck out LA phenom Will Smith to end it. It was an agonizing 9th, in contrast to the brisk work from Tyler Rogers in the 7th and Fernando Abad and Jandel Gustave in the 8th. Jeff Samardzija delivered a solid six (5 H, 3 R) to keep the Giants close against Clayton Kershaw. I often joke that Kershaw is the greatest pitcher in San Francisco Giants history. We have all watched his exceptional dominance against our favorite team, but they prevailed over him this time. They worked counts and ran up his pitch total in the first few innings but were unable to capitalize on some big chances. Finally after a 12-pitch walk to Kevin Pillar to open the 5th Dave Roberts came out for his super southpaw and the Giants were able to crack it open against reliever Dylan Floro. The big hits were from Yaz, pinch-hitting for Joey Rickard, and young Dubon.

Speaking of Mauricio, he doubled and homered off Kershaw, his homer tying the game in the 4th. His single in the 5th off Floro scored the final two runs that proved to be the difference. I like watching him in the field, he is very smooth and he makes everything look easy. Looks like he has a great arm as well. Big night for the rookie. Giants need infielders who can hit, let's hope he can be a fixture on the 2020 club.

That's only the 19th loss at home for the Dodgers this season. Tyler Beede goes tomorrow night at 6:10 Pacific. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

1st September Win - It Wasn't Easy

It is my good fortune to post something when Madison Bumgarner pitches.  He gets wins and that makes me post in a much better mood than when the Giants lose.  You, in turn, benefit by being spared my vitriol.  At least some of it.

Madison Bumgarner pitched for the Giants tonight and the Giants beat the Cardinals by a score of 9 - 8 in a wild game.  40 different players made appearances in this game.  The Giants went up 4 - 0, then the Cardinals caught up, then the Giants went up 7 - 4, then the Cardinals went up 8 - 7, and finally Kevin Pillar hit his 21st home run of the year with Brandon Crawford on base for the GWRBI in the 8th inning.

The Cardinals have been playing excellent ball, they had won 20 of their last 25 games.  OMG if only the Giants could put together a run like that.  Last night, if you recall, Derek Rodriguez pitched superbly but came away with the loss and the Giants gave up 1 solo home run but were held scoreless by Jack Flaherty.  They said that August was the best month of pitching for a Cardinal since Bob Gibson, one of my childhood heroes.  Madison was not nearly so good, nor anywhere near as good as he can be.  He gave up 9 hits in 5 innings, walked 1 and struck out only 2.  1 of those hits was a home run and he gave up 6 total.  The Giants were charged with 1 error, on a Corban Joseph bobbled grounder, but there were a couple of other near misses that led to runs.  Jaylin Davis had one clang off his glove at the wall and Mike Yastrzemski missed one at the fence in left.  Both of those would have been spectacular catches, but on another night, that might have prevented Cardinal runs from scoring.  The Cardinals also erred once, on a bizarre 3rd-out ground ball in the 6th.  DeJong at shortstop picked up the ball, started to throw to 1st to retire Longoria and then choked and tossed the ball to Wong at 2nd, who was totally surprised and off the bag when he snagged it to allow Posey to reach base.  That put 2 men on for Brandon Crawford who homered for 3 runs to make the score 7 - 4.  Yaz also homered, a solo shot in the 3rd.  Kevin Pillar has had 8 4-hit games in his 6-year career, 4 of them have been as a Giant.  The Giants used 6 pitchers, the Cardinals 7.  So that's Bochy win # 1993.  1 win out of their last 5, 2 out of their last 9, 4 of their last 14.  Please, please, please don't go into the final weekend needing a sweep against LA to give him 2000. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Dubon goes long

STL 3  SF 1
My dream of a .500 finish for the Giants is slipping away. There are 25 games left, if they can win a dozen I suppose I'll take that as progress. Speaking of progress, Mauricio Dubon had two hits including his first career double and his first career homer. That's pretty cool. I'm thinking a lot about 2020 these days!

--M.C.

p.s. The Giants were 11-15 in April with a minus-20 run difference (91 RS, 111 RA) and 10-16 in May with a really ugly minus-63 (112, 175). In August they were 11-15 with only a minus-10 (125, 135). They had three one-run losses and three two-run losses.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

1-5 homestand

SD 8  SF 4
I said the Giants needed a winning streak. More like a team-wide blood transfusion!

Perhaps they'll play better on the road.

Pablo Sandoval, it seems, got his final at-bat of 2019. Was it his last time in a Giants uniform? Probably. His next step is Tommy John surgery. He'll be 34 next August and has logged almost 10,000 innings (9646) in his career.

The Panda is certainly a unique, unforgettable ballplayer. He gets full-page treatment in The Big Book of Giants Lore.

No rest for the weary. Tyler Beede goes at 11:15 a.m. Pacific in St. Louis tomorrow.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Good things on a bad night

SD 4  SF 1
The Giants lost and Reyes Moronta went down--literally--with a shoulder injury. But there are usually some silver linings, and last night one of them was Logan Webb. He threw five shutout innings and didn't give up a run until there were two outs in the 6th. It was a fine effort (one walk, seven whiffs) by the youngster who hit 97 on the radar gun. He has scary-looking stuff and it is exciting to watch him emerge.Tyler Rogers also pitched well in relief (four outs on 14 pitches). Outfielder Joey Rickard had two hits. Austin Slater hit a homer.

Those things all matter. Something that matters a lot less, but is a silver lining in a way, is that Jon Miller, on the radio, mentioned The Athletic and quoted an article by Grant Brisbee. Miller, as you know, embraces modernity with the enthusiasm of an eight-year old forced to kiss his great aunt. It's nice to know that he uses the internet, maybe he'll even try Baseball-Reference or, god forbid, FanGraphs*.

The Giants could use a winning streak!

--M.C.


*Must-watch FanGraphs plug from Daniel Murphy. It's only a few seconds, so check it out. It's scary when the players are better informed than the media covering them.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Giants Win One - Late August at Home

The Giants beat the Padres tonight by a score of 8 - 3.

Don't let the score fool you.  The Giants piled the runs on a couple of Padres' relief pitchers, had those relievers been competent, the score might have been more like 4 -3.  And that means the Giants have a .250 record in their last 4 games against crappy teams.  They lost 2 thoroughly winnable games to Arizona who made it clear this year and reiterated at the trading deadline that they weren't even trying to win, and then lost in traditional Giants fashion to a nobody rookie pitcher last night.  They once had a shot at the wild card, now, that is a pipe dream.  As, probably, is a .500 record.  After their series against the Padres, they play 3 series against crappy teams; Miami, Pittsburgh and Colorado; yet 5 series against teams that are over .500 and legitimately in the playoff hunt.  That would be 2 against the team that leads our division by 20 games, Boston, St. Louis, and Atlanta.  Good luck with that.

Madison Bumgarner pitched.  He pitched well.  He threw 103 pitches in 7 full innings and allowed only 4 hits, 1 run and 2 walks.  That run was a home run by Machado.  Tony Watson and Tyler Rogers each allowed a run in the 8th and 9th.

Belt hit a 2 run shot in the 1st inning for a 2 - 0 lead.  I heard some incredible statistic from the announcers, about the Giants record when they score first.  It's something like 40 - 13.  Which indicates that they don't often score first and that they seem not to do well if they don't.  Belt was 3 for 5 tonight and Yaz had 2 hits, including a solo home run.  Posey was 3 for 4 and Longoria had 2 hits.

Anyway, it's time to expand the rosters, if you like new faces, this is the time for you.  I hope some of the guys that have done well, like Yaz (he had 18 home runs!) stick around, but I wouldn't bet on it, it's churn time and there are no sure things except for those guys with no-trade clauses.  One good thing, though, is that FZ talked to NBC sports about a potential deal for Madbum.  Not that there is one in the offing, but that there is mutual interest, he thinks.  I hope so, from the Giants standpoint, it would be insane not to be.

Dubon Debut

SD 5  SF 3
Middle infielder Mauricio Dubon made his Giants debut last night and collected his first fielding chance and first hit. (He was 0-for-2 for Milwaukee earlier this season.) He also flashed some leather taking a hit away and turning a double play pivot.  Dubon will likely get most of his work at second base but he is primarily a shortstop, having logged 4000 innings there in his minors career.

Otherwise there wasn't much to get excited about last night. Dereck Rodriguez continues to struggle and the offense continues to avoid the big, run-scoring hit.

Bumgarner tonight, 7:15 Pacific.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Home field disadvantage

AZ 6  SF 4
AZ 3  SF 2
The Diamondbacks take two from the Giants who can't seem to hit at Oracle Park. The team played poorly overall with some egregious baserunning in both games as well as some disappointing relief appearances. Day off tomorrow and then the Padres come to town for four. Let's hope the bats wake up real soon.

Roster moves of note: Scooter Gennet was cut loose and Mauricio Dubon was called up. They must think highly of him as they've churned through two accomplished major-leaguers to get to this point. Donovan Solano is covering the keystone well but I expect the youngster to get a long look. Trevor Gott, unfortunately, had to go on the IL with an elbow issue. IF Abiatal Avelino was sent back down and OF Joey Rickard was recalled. Right-handed funky delivery-guy Tyler Rogers was promoted to the bigs for the first time and pitched a 1-2-3 inning in his debut.

Johnny Cueto is getting close to a return. He makes another rehab start this weekend in Sacramento.

--M.C.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Longo Leads Giants

SF 5  OAK 4
Evan Longoria had two hits (one a homer) and three runs batted in to lead the offense in a comeback win over the Athletics in Oakland. It was an impressive weekend for the Boys in Black as they bounced back from a tough series in Wrigley and beat a very good team to get back to a .500 record (65-65). Longo tops 1000 RBI for his career--he came in to the game today with 999 and now has 1002. His next milestone will be his 300th homer, he has 293 of those so that might be next year, but he will certainly get to 3000 total bases next month as he currently sits at 2984. He's not the star player he once was, but he's playing his best baseball since 2016, and he's the team (non-pitcher) WAR leader. He's been a big contributor to the club's turnaround and subsequent level of improved play.

Speaking of improved, the bullpen work today was exceptional. Jandel Gustave relieved a beleagured Logan Webb and got a huge strikeout. He then put two on in the next frame but Sam Coonrod bailed him out (with some superb DP work from Solano and BCraw). Then we got the three-headed beast of Moronta, Watson, and Smith to close it out. Like I said, exceptional work. And like I said earlier, an impressive weekend.

Diamondbacks in San Francisco tomorrow night at 6:45 PDT. Tyler Beede gets the start.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

All Blacks Win

Of all the stupid ideas to come out of the commissioners office of late, this has to rank right up there among the dumbest.  To begin with, the "players' nicknames weekend" is foolish enough, half the players go by their regular names, so they have to make up nicknames or dredge up some from high school.  The Giants shirts didn't look too bad, but the pants looked like they were wearing black jeans if they were over the socks, and pajamas if they were tucked in.  But that was a far sight better than the white uniforms for the A's.  They looked like guys who worked in a bakery, but less cool, if their pants were out and like they were at ballet practice with hats if they were tucked in.  Plus, neither I nor the announcers could tell who the fuck they were.

Madison Bumgarner was on the hill, but he did not give the Giants a stop job in any sense of the word.  He gave the Giants 5 innings, threw 97 pitches, gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, walked 1 and struck out 5.  The Giants trotted out nearly their entire relief staff, Gott, Gustave (who gave up 2 runs), Abad, Coonrod, Anderson (who gave up 1), Moronta and Smith.  At the end of nearly 4 hours, though, the Giants came out on top, 10 - 5.

That was mainly due their best offensive inning of 2019, an 8-run 8th.  The Giants entered the 8th trailing 4 - 2.  Stephen Vogt, DHing, led off with a line out, but would hit a 3-run home run with 2 outs in the same inning to score the Giant's final 3 runs of the game.  RBI's also that inning for Longoria, Pillar and Crawford, and Dickerson (3 hits tonight) scored on a wild pitch.  Sam Coonrod got 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, he got the win.  The loser was once-Giant bullpen stalwart, Yusmiero Petit.

That nudges the Giants back in front of the dbacks, who lost to the Brewers, who in turn are in front of the Giants for a wild card position.  At least the Giants proved that their offense didn't die in Chicago.  Second start for Logan Webb tomorrow.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Wind-swept

CHC 1  SF 0
The Giants finally got the well-pitched game they needed but it was all for naught as they got shut out for the eleventh time this season. Jeff Samardzija threw seven innings and allowed only two hits but one of those was a two-out RBI and that was the ballgame. The Giants got swept right out of the Windy City and come home to play the Athletics in Oakland tomorrow and Sunday. This is their first and only Friday off-day.

FanGraphs rates Saturday's starter, Madison Bumgarner at 3.0 WAR. (There are thirty pitchers above him. Drop down twenty-five spots and there's Shark's 1.6 WAR. Max Scherzer is number one with 5.6 WAR.) Bumgarner was worth a total of 3.0 WAR for both 2017 and 2018 (240-2/3 IP, 38 starts). We can see that he is healthy and pitching better, and the numbers aren't lying either, and that's encouraging going forward. I'm assuming that holding on to him means they are going to try to sign him to a multi-year deal. If you want some comps to grasp fWAR for a pitcher, try Zack Wheeler (3.5), Clayton Kershaw (3.4), Marcus Stroman (3.1), Kyle Hendricks (3.0), Jon Gray (3.0), Aaron Nola (2.7), Masahiro Tanaka (2.6), and Tanner Roark (2.5).

The Giants need to get back on the beam and start winning some ballgames!

--M.C.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

7th inning: 8-10

CHC 5  SF 3
The Giants got beat tonight in Chicago and that dropped their record back to .500 at 63-63. You can see that we've reached Game 126 or the end of the 7th seasonal inning. Here's the story so far:

1st inning: 8-10
2nd inning: 8-10
3rd inning: 5-13
4th inning: 10-8
5th inning: 11-7 
6th inning: 13-5
7th inning: 8-10

Reversion to form? An 8-10 record is 2019's most popular choice for an 18-game seasonal inning. Tonight young Tyler Beede continued to struggle but the Giants tied it up against Cole Hamels and it was a close game, mostly. The 'pen couldn't keep the tie and the lineup had nothing over the last five frames. Mike Yastrzemski missed a two-run homer by a few feet in the 7th, a favorable gust might have given us a different outcome. Hamels, as I'm sure you recall, faced Matt Cain in Game 3 of the 2010 NLCS when he was with Philadelphia. He's 35 and still effective (3.72 FIP, 122 ERA+).

The slash line for Major League Baseball is .254/.324/.437 for a .761 OPS.

The Giants run out a .242/.307/.405 line for a .712 OPS. That puts them 26th out of the 30 teams, with the White Sox, Royals, Tigers, and Marlins below them.

On the pitching side the Giants are 12th-best overall with a 4.41 ERA. FanGraphs gives the Giants a 4.55 FIP, good for 15th, the middle of the pack. If you look at OPS-against their .752 puts them 13th-best.

It's been a tough August for the orange-and-black, but it seems this team is playing closer to its true talent level. I figure, overall, they are a +/-.500 club and by golly that's right where they are. I'd sure like to see 10-8 become the new popular 18-game seasonal inning record. I'm trying not to jinx it but I'd really like to see them win 19 more games and finish with 82 wins.

Dereck Rodriguez goes tomorrow at 5:05 p.m. PDT.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Giant Disappointment

Well then.  A sweep would have been really sweet, but the Giants, generators of 28 runs in their previous 3 games, couldn't find an offense and lost to the dbacks, 6 - 1.

The Giants have won 9 of the last 10 Madison Bumgarner starts, with Madison improving his record from 3 - 7 to 8 - 7 in that time.  His opponent was Merrill Kelly.  Arizona has won only twice the last 10 times he has been on the mound (one of those was against the Giants in June).  Yet the game was really over in the 1st inning.  Madison got 2 quick outs, then a double turned into a triple because Slater couldn't pick up the ball cleanly in right, and a walk and a two-rbi triple and a bloop hit and it was 3 - 0.  Flores homered in the 5th inning for the 4th run against Madbum.

In the 6th, the Giants pushed a run across thanks to a Yaz triple and a Gennett single.  It looked promising, after a Posey ground-out, Belt walked, Pillar struck out and Slater walked to load the bases.  But Crawford grounded out to end the inning and that was the end of the Giants offensive threats.  They were 1 for 6 with RISP. 

Madbum's line: 104 pitches in 6 innings, 6 hits, 2 walks, 4 earned runs and 9 K.  And the L.  Fernando Abad allowed a solo shot and Tony Watson allowed the 6th run.  So the Giants, who didn't play Arizona until May, are now 9 - 8 against them.  They were 2 - 4 in the first 2 series in May and 4 - 3 against them in 2 series in June before taking 3 of 4 in Arizona.  We have 2 games remaining with this team in SF in the last week in August.  No games against them in April or September.  The Giants have a day off tomorrow before playing the Cubs in Chicago and then have another day off Friday before playing the A's in Oakland.  Weird.  The Giants will have to face the Cubs and St. Louis and Boston and Atlanta in addition to Loos Angeles, twice.  It will be tough to stay in contention for a wild card.  We did get two very strong performances out of young pitchers, so that is positive (and absolutely necessary going forward).  Still, I think an off day in Chicago would be lot more fun coming off of a sweep.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Double-digits

SF 11  AZ 6
For the second straight night in Arizona the Giants rapped out double-digit hits (18) and double-digit runs (11). They scored in five different innings. Brandon Belt got the rout started with a grand slam in the 2nd inning. He added RBIs in the 3rd and the 8th to finish with six. Kevin Pillar had five hits in five at-bats and scored three runs. Scooter Gennett also scored three runs. Austin Slater had a good night with two hits and some fine work in right field. It was another nutty offensive outburst by a team that has struggled to score runs for much of the season. That's three wins in a row over the D-Backs and five wins in the last six games. The Giants are now 8-8 in August and back to two games over .500 (63-61) with 38 games to play.

Rookie Logan Webb ran into trouble in the 1st inning but then settled down and delivered four scoreless after that. He induced double-play grounders to end both the 4th and the 5th. The youngster threw 94 pitches to 21 batters, whiffing seven and walking one, allowing only two runs on five hits. He kept the ball in the yard, something that neither Andrew Suarez nor Travis Bergen could pull off in their relief stints. That can be tough to do in a homer-happy ballpark in a homer-happy season. Jandel Gustave got the final four outs. The game ended most unusually when Eduardo Escobar tried to stretch his two-out, bases-empty 9th-inning double into a triple and was gunned down at third base (Slater to Gennett to Solano). That's crazy, man.

Madison Bumgarner gets the start tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 Pacific. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Yaz Hammers Three

SF 10  AZ 9 (11)
The Giants and Diamondbacks combined for TWELVE home runs in an extra-inning slugfest that featured 28 hits and 19 runs scored. Mike Yastrzemski outdid everyone with a sensational three-homer display that included the eventual game-winner in the 11th inning. The not-so-young rookie has "served notice" that he's a power threat to be reckoned with. Currently he sports a .548 slugging percentage, the highest on the team by far, and one of only two Giants above .500 in that metric. The league slugs .437 overall, and the team .404, the fourth-worst in baseball.

Two spectacular bullpen meltdowns were featured, with Tony Watson and Sam Coonrod blowing a five-run lead in the 8th, and Will Smith blowing a two-run lead in the 10th, but the Giants kept fighting back and eventually prevailed. The D-Backs hit six homers, one in the 1st, three in the 8th, and two in the 10th. Brandon Belt hit the first of the Giants six bombs in the 3rd, then Yaz added his first, Kevin Pillar hit one in the 4th, Yaz did it again in the 7th, Pillar again in the 10th, and then Yaz finished things in the 11th with his third. It was a wild night in Arizona.

The Giants are now 7-8 in August and 62-61 overall, a game ahead of the D-Backs for second place in the NL West. 22-year old righthander Logan Webb will make his debut tonight at 5:10 Pacific. Webb is from Rocklin, CA and was signed with the team right out of high school. He has 60 starts in the minors, mostly at A and AA level. In his one start with the AAA River Cats he threw seven scoreless. Webb had to serve an 80-game suspension earlier this year because of a positive PED test. MLB Pipeline rates Webb as the team's number-five prospect.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

D-Rod Dazzles D-Backs

SF 7  AZ 0
The Giants have seen a lot of ups and downs from their young pitchers. Literally. Dereck Rodriguez has bounced back-and-forth from AAA this season, trying to find the success he had last season. He opened the season as a starter but was demoted to the bullpen. Tonight he delivered a sensational performance, stifling the Arizona lineup for seven innings, allowing only three hits, one walk, and zero runs. After rookie Tyler Beede had another meltdown yesterday it was nice to see a big effort by a young starter. The team really needs some consistency from the starters not named Madison Bumgarner (and lately Jeff Samardzija) in order to compete the rest of the way.

The lineup supported the young righty with thirteen hits and seven runs. Evan Longoria was the big stud with three hits and four batted in. Donovan Solano hit leadoff and had two hits and scored two, and Austin Slater, batting second, had three hits, two walks, and two runs scored. Kevin Pillar made another great diving catch. Two hits and an RBI from Buster, and a double and an RBI from Belt, it was a real team effort. Sam Coonrod and FNG Fernando Abad finished up.

The Shark takes on Mike Leake tomorrow at 6:40 p.m. PDT. GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Squeaker!

The Giants reached .500 again behind the pitching of Madison Bumgarner, now 8 - 7 on the year.  They beat the Oakland Athletics in a tense, exciting squeaker, 3 - 2.

Oakland, like the Giants, is also fighting for a playoff spot, and, also like the Giants, are in a division with a dominant division leader.  Oakland has a much better track record this year, 15 games over .500 even with tonight's loss.  They have 10 guys on their team with 10 or more home runs.

This was a San Francisco type game, though.  Pitching, pitching and pitching and a modicum of small ball.  Madison Bumgarner threw a fantastic game.  He threw 100 pitches to get through 7 full innings.  He gave up only 2 hits and walked none.  1 of those hits was a home run to Steven Piscotty.  That was the only run he allowed.  He struck out 9.  He has been pitching about as well as he ever has in his last 2 starts.  You remember he threw 7 and blanked Philadelphia on 1 hit last week.

The game was scoreless until the Piscotty home run in the 5th.  The Giants scored off of Brett Anderson, who was tagged for the loss, with 3 consecutive doubles in the 6th and then a Gennett sac fly to score Aramis Garcia playing first base tonight in the 7th.  That run was important because, after a hitless 8th from Reyes Moronta, Will Smith had no functional slider in the 9th.  Will gave up 3 hits, walked in the A's 2nd run, and threw 37 pitches.  But he also got 3 strikeouts for the save.  Beede tomorrow.  He gave us 5 innings last time, but really, we need a little more from our young starters.  The 1 2/3 and 3 inning starts will catch up to us.  We have a strong bullpen (and a few more days off coming up soon), but still, Madbum and Smardjy and pray for (?) doesn't cut it.  But for the moment, we are 60 - 60 and I thought .500 was a long shot not too long ago.