Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Play Ball!


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

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

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

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

--M.C.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Baseball!

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

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A: February 13th

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

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

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

--M.C.


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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cutch

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

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

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

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

--M.C.

Monday, January 15, 2018

News!

Andrew McCutcheon is about to become a Giant.

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

Sunday, January 7, 2018

No Giants News!

Well, maybe a little.  Hector Sanchez, beloved El Magneto, was signed to a minor league contract.

But I keep scouring the innertubes for news.   While doing so, I came across a tribute to Matt Cain that I wanted to share.  Anyone remember El Lefty Malo?  A fine blogster on the Giants, real name Alex Lash.  He now has a new gig, the Frisc.  This is from the Frisc.  Because if you can't read about the Giants' future, you might as well read about their glorious past.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Giants Go Longo

The Giants did exactly what I didn't want them to do--they traded for Evan Longoria. He used to be one of the best players in the game. Now he is older and not as good and he's ours for five years. And they had to give up Christian Arroyo to get him. On the plus side they moved Denard Span in the deal and that means they will have to find a centerfielder. Longoria improves the team for the coming season, and that needed to happen. Armchair owner/GMs like me are willing to let the team lose in order to get younger; real GMs in San Francisco are not. The Giants are going to rebuild by pretending they are not, and in the meantime they'll get some quality players here and there and try to stay competitive. It should be a better club in 2018 just from our core people performing closer to their career averages than they did in 2017.

Regardless, I want Longoria to thrive with the Giants. Even if he isn't what I wanted for Christmas I'm not going to complain. The best thing that can happen is that he stays healthy and plays well, so I'm rooting for that. Welcome aboard, Evan.

--M.C.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Giants Strike Out

Giancarlo Stanton goes to the Yankees and Shohei Otani goes to the Angels. The Giants get skunked. By all appearances they gave it their best shot so I can't complain. Now we'll get to see what the real upgrade path looks like. No more speculation about superstars, just the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work stuff. They've got a lot of work to do.

--M.C.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Ohstantoni Dreams

The Giants showed up to the off-season party in the loudest car wearing the dandiest threads and immediately bought the two hottest babes in the room drinks. I suppose if they go home without a date they can at least take pride in going all out. No pantywaist efforts here--the Giants have made it absolutely clear that they want the best players out there. The club was first-in with Giancarlo Stanton and now they are first-in with Shohei Otani. This is quite a show of organizational testosterone. I don't know what to make of it. But if they want those guys I'm fine with that. They'd sure help the team!

--M.C.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Angst





  
We've had it before, and we'll probably have it again.  The Giants had a horrible, horrible, awful season.  There were a lot of reasons.  But then the Giants-less post season came along, and then the Astros won it all, and it could have been so much worse, so we didn't have to stress about the Giants for awhile, and now that's over and the General Managers are meeting in The GM's are meeting in Orlando, and now we have to start worrying all over again.   Brian Sabean has said he needs a third baseman, a center fielder, and a better bullpen.  "'We do need upgrades in certain and key positions. High on the wish list is to get younger, more athletic and play better defense overall, Sabean said. "

Bullpen, bullpen, bullpen.  That's what I concluded was the Giants biggest need, and I still think so.  The Giants are not going to be a team that leads the league in home runs.  They can't move enough players who aren't going to hit high HR numbers and the ballpark doesn't lend itself to many home runs.  But the fact that MLB juiced the ball and players are swinging for the fences does not mean that a team built for pitching and getting on base can't be successful.  The Astros are a case in point.  But it does mean that the Giants have to do some things much better.  Like not strike out as much.  And strike other guys out more.  And for Willie's sake, win some of those games where your offense gives you only a small lead.

The Giants picked up the option on Pablo Sandoval.  I get it, he's just as cheap as possible.  He does not represent an upgrade over anyone in my view.  I know he's strong and can hit home runs.  He hit 5 as a Giant in 47 games.  That's 15 or so in a season.  I'd rather look to Christian Arroyo to provide some kind of spark.  I'd rather have Eduardo Nunez back, but I think he is probably staying in Boston after his success there last season.

But the Giants do need power.  None of our left field experiments really worked.  Denard Span and Hunter Pence are both pretty good players when healthy, but you know what?  .272, .427 slugging, 12 hr (Span) and .260, .385, and 13 hr just aren't enough.  Pence was barely a positive WAR and Span was negative.  And you know what would really help?  Someone on the team with presence.  The kind of guy who pitchers worry about a couple batters before he gets to the plate because they know he can change the game with one swing.  Like Barry used to be.  Someone like Giancarlo Stanton.

And here's the Chronicle talking about how nice it would be to have Giancarlo Stanton as a Giant.  You know what?  Every team wants Giancarlo Stanton.  That means that the Giants, who do not have the best farm system, would have to pay most of his salary.  If the Giants are not willing to do that, and probably even if they are, they are unlikely to be the best trading partners from the Marlins' standpoint.  Here's a weird scenario, from the New York Post: the Giants get Giancarlo Stanton and send Christian Arroyo and Seth Corry, their Round 3 draft pick, to Miami, and Johnny Cueto to the Cubs.  The Marlins also get Ben Zobrist and Ian Happ from the Cubs.   What do you all think of that?

Well, of course all that and have a bunch of guys perform better next year.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Giants will be one of the most improved teams next year.  This really shouldn't surprise anyone, and it is not because I'm an optimist.  It's because they played so far under their potential last year that even approaching the level of what they are capable of, even mediocrity, would be a big step up.