Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Blast from the Past

Here's what we are doing in lieu of real baseball:

Last night we watched "The Texas Cainsaw Massacre" which featured a very young Derek Holland having a really rough relief outing for the Rangers. Matt Cain was awesome, of course.

Two games in the set are from that epic LCS against the Phillies. Game Four was incredible--here's my game story from that night--and Game Six was the clincher.

We've got the 2012 and 2014 DVD sets as well. Good times!


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Opening Day . . . Not!

Today was supposed to be Opening Day for Major League Baseball. The Giants were to open against the Dodgers in LA this afternoon. Opening Day has been marked in my calendar since I knew the date. I remember more than once, back when I was a working stiff, calling in sick in order to attend the Home Opener. I'm sure many of you have done the same!

This extraordinary response to the COVID-19 pandemic has robbed me of my favorite pastime--following the San Francisco Giants. That's a real bummer! At the same time I am encouraged by my fellow humans. People are really trying to do the right thing and fight off this virus. I'm not often proud of the human race, but lately I've been impressed. Folks are taking this thing seriously and doing what needs doing. Look past the callous shortsightedness and the vainglorious posturing of our so-called leaders in this crisis. Look to your neighbors, friends, and families. Listen to people who actually know something about diseases**. Communities will take care of business, all we can hope is that the apparatus of government will help and not hinder those efforts. (Don't forget to give a shout out to all those folks who have to leave home every day and go to work in order to provide us with essential services. They have to risk infection so we that we can be safe. I gave my mail carrier a big thumbs up and hearty thank you yesterday. From ten feet away, naturally.)

Tonight we are firing up the DVD player and putting in the Matt Cain Perfect Game disc! That was a special night, one of the greatest moments ever for all Giants fans.

Stay safe. Stay home. Stay positive.



** WHO, CDC, HSPH, UCSF, for example

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Welcome, Javier!

The newest (and youngest) member of the Giants is Javier Alexander Francisco Estrella. He's a 16-year old shortstop from the Dominican Republic. Here's the rule governing eligibility:
Foreign-born players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and other countries are free agents. They may sign with any Major League club during the international signing period, which begins July 2 and runs through mid-June the next year. To be eligible to sign a contract, a player must be 16 years old at the time of signing and turn 17 years old by either 1) September 1 or 2) the end of his first professional season, whichever is later. Players also must register with the MLB Scouting Bureau.
That's from Cot's Contracts, a site all baseball fans should be familiar with! Note that this does not cover Japanese players, the NPB has a special arrangement ("posting system") that determines if a player can sign with MLB. Residents of the USA (and its territories like Puerto Rico) and Canada are subject to the draft. They have to be high school graduates, too.

I'm not sure why kids from foreign countries have more freedom than kids from the States, but that's our system! I think it is stupid. There should be the same rules for everyone. In fact, I would get rid of the draft entirely, and make all ballplayers free agents as soon as they stop playing amateur ball. Ideally they would not be able to sign contracts until they were legal adults, but I guess that's what agents, scouts, and parents are for. (Not to mention the notorious buscones.) Some wag called all that jockeying in foreign countries to find baseball talent a "field of schemes." Indeed.

Regardless, the Giants have a new international prospect. He's been compared to Fernando Tatis, Jr. That fellow made the majors last season with the Padres at age 20 and kicked ass.

Interestingly, MLB has considered skipping the 2020 amateur draft. After all, no one is playing ball so scouting isn't happening and if you can't scout you can't evaluate talent. What a great time to get rid of this anachronism.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020


The Giants have announced that the exhibition game scheduled against the A's for Tuesday, March 24th will not be played in San Francisco at Oracle Park. It is likely the teams will stay in Arizona and play the Bay Bridge Series games there.

San Francisco mayor London Breed has announced recommendations to halt the spread of COVID-19. They include cancelling or postponing all "non-essential" large (over 1000 people) gatherings.

The KBO has already postponed the season openers, so has the NPB. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has issued a statewide ban on large gatherings which includes the Seattle Mariners and their opening series at T-Mobile Park. So far MLB has not made any general announcements about the schedule but teams are taking steps such as limiting clubhouse access and cancelling fan events. Here's the official statement from MLB.

We'll see how this unfolds. Stay safe out there, my friends!


update: the River Cats have cancelled the exhibition against the Giants in Sacramento that was scheduled for March 22nd. I also learned that the Giants AAA team's home field is now called Sutter Health Park. It was Raley Field for its first twenty years. The River Cats became a Giants affiliate in 2015, taking over for the A's who moved their AAA affiliation to the Nashville Sounds. The A's are now back in the west with the Las Vegas Aviators.

update two: the NCAA announced that its post-season basketball tournaments (aka March Madness) will be played with only "essential staff and limited family attendance."

update three: the President suspends all travel from Europe for 30 days. I suppose this means it is not a hoax anymore but a real health threat. Anyway, the UK is exempted. And so are cargo ships and flights--just a passenger ban.

***You might want to read this post by DrBGiantsFan who blogs at "When the Giants Come to Town." He's a doctor in real life and has a detailed and thoughtful take on the COVID-19 situation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

More cuts

The Giants sent Joey Bart (and infielder Chisthian Adames) to minor-league camp. Giants fans might be disappointed but it seems like they want Bart to have a little more seasoning. Kapler was explicit about what he wanted Bart to work on and FZ said that having Bart in the bigs this year was "a reasonable goal for him and us." They don't want him to sit. They want him to play, not be a backup. It's the right call.

RHP Enderson Franco and OF Joe McCarthy were optioned to AAA Sacramento. Aramis Garcia was put on the 60-day Injured List--he had hip surgery last month.

The Giants picked up another player off waivers, this time Jose Siri, he will report to minor-league camp and start the season at AA Richmond. He's a RH center fielder from the Dominican Republic who turns 25 in July. He was signed as a 17-year old by the Reds but never cracked a big-league roster. He was picked up by the Mariners earlier in the off-season and then released.

Johnny Cueto did not have a good outing today (9 H, 5 R in 1-2/3 IP). Oh, and you must watch Yapson Gomez! He's a lefty reliever with a crazy windup. I believe he's a minor-league free agent--he's not on the NRI list. Let's hope they find a spot for him in the system.


Monday, March 9, 2020


I saw this bit and it made me think of this guy:
"I can really, legitimately see him playing center field quite a bit," Kapler said Friday. "I think earlier in camp I was saying we're going to take more of a wait-and-see approach. I think at this point he has demonstrated he can play center field, he can play shortstop for us."
I'm sure all us old-timers remember Derrel Thomas (aka "The Bug"). He was the number one pick in the draft in 1969. The only other 1st-rounder from that group that made an impact in the majors was Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky. Thomas made a career out of being versatile. In 15 seasons (almost 1600 games) he logged over 4800 innings at second base, over 2400 in center field, and over 2300 at shortstop. He played for the Giants from 1975 (arguably his best season) through 1977. He came up with the Padres but was best known as a member of the Dodgers (getting a ring with them in 1981).

Speaking of the Dodgers, the super-utility player is something they've been featuring lately with both Chris Taylor and Kike Hernandez. Even their big sluggers (Muncy and Bellinger) move around and have two or three positions they can handle. Both Gabe Kapler and Farhan Zaidi worked in LA and it should not be a surprise that they'd like to have that kind of versatility on the roster.

Mauricio Dubon was not a #1 pick and was not in the majors at age 20 like Thomas. He was a nobody, really, a 26th round pick, and he has had to climb the ladder (with three organizations) for the last seven seasons. But the team seems high on his abilities and wants him to think about a different role, something more than a traditional infielder. There is a lot more pressure on an NL roster to have positional flexibility as the DH option is limited to inter-league play. Here's more from the article:
The concept is a simple one: Dubon has a chance to impact the Giants every single day, and they would like him to do it at different spots, allowing Kapler to mix and match with his veterans. Dubon has just over 100 big league at-bats and some organizations might prefer for a player like that to settle in at one position. But the Giants feel Dubon can mentally handle it, and there's little doubt that their best chance -- perhaps their only chance -- at having a competitive lineup is to get creative. They'll look a lot better against left-handed starters, for instance, if Dubon can play center, with Donovan Solano at short and Wilmer Flores at second. It'll be much easier, too, for Kapler to make mid-game double-switches if he's confident Dubon can slide from position to position and fill the gaps.
I like it. I think ballplayers can do lots of things and I like to see them get the chance to display not only their athleticism but their growth and learning. If that makes me sound like a teacher--well, guilty! It could be really fun watching Dubon this year. Plus he has a cool name. I mean, "Mauricio" lends itself well to chants (Mahhhhh-REEEEEEEE-see-ohhhhh) and I suspect he's the only one in the bigs with that moniker. Of course, he still has to hit. That's the thing. You want to stick, then make some noise with your stick!

Trevor Oaks is "opening" against the Indians this afternoon. Also, pay attention to righty masher Darin Ruf who is making a case to be the 26th man.


Saturday, March 7, 2020


I'm assuming the Giants will have an 8-man bullpen. Obviously at least one of those guys will be long relief/spot starter. And we may see the "opener" strategy used as well so that may impact who gets picked. As always, take a look at the contract status and number of options remaining. Sometimes that's the only difference between a guy who makes the cut and one who does not.

Tony Watson is a lock. He's signed for the season at $3M. Fellow southpaw Wandy Peralta is also signed ($0.8M) for 2020 and will certainly open the season with the big club. He was claimed off waivers last September. Lefty Jarlin Garcia is another waiver claim that will likely make the team. Both guys have flashed strikeout stuff in Spring Training.

Righties Trevor Gott and Tyler Rogers (the submariner) will probably be there, too, as manager Gabe Kapler mentioned they were both important bullpen pieces. Jandel Gustave was sent down and he seemed to be in the running for one of the remaining three spots.

Roster Resource likes Shaun Anderson, Sam Coonrod, and Dany Jimenez. Anderson might be anything from an opener to a closer but is still only 25 years old. Coonrod has been hit hard so far and that might open a path for someone like Enderson Franco or Carlos Navas. Dany Jimenez is a Rule V pick from December so if he makes the roster he has to stay on it. He can't be optioned (even though he has three options) and must be waived to clear the spot. He is 26 and has 200 IP of pro ball (no ML time) experience. He is a strikeout artist (11.7 K/9) and has been used as a closer.


Friday, March 6, 2020


These guys were optioned to AAA:

RHP Melvin Adon, IF Abiatal Avelino, RHP Jandel Gustave, LHP Conner Menez, LHP Sam Selman, IF Kean Wong, and OF/1B Chris Shaw.

These guys were re-assigned to minor-league camp:

RHP Tyler Cyr, C Ricardo Genovese,  RHP Sean Hjelle, RHP Jake Jewell, RHP Luis Madero, RHP Try McNutt, LHP Sam Moll, RHP Raffi Vizcaino, OF Jamie Westbrook, and RHP Sam Wolff.

That's 17 players gone from the original 72. Of the remaining 55 there are 21 NRIs.


Wednesday, March 4, 2020


The Giants have four pieces of a five-man starting rotation: Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, and Drew Smyly. Smardj made a nice comeback last season after a lost-to-injury 2018. He is a free agent next year. Johnny Cueto lost two seasons (2018 and 2019) to injury and has not been himself since a stellar 2016 campaign. He is coming off TJS and a lot of hopes are riding on his recovery. He is signed for this year and next. FNGs Gausman and Smyly were picked up in the off-season. Gausman signed a one-year deal for $9M. Lefty Smyly signed a one-year deal for $4M.

The fifth spot was supposedly Tyler Beede's to lose. Unfortunately the young flamethrower is now out with an injury. Reports say a sprained ulnar collateral ligament as well as a flexor strain. The UCL is the Tommy John Surgery spot so it is ominous news. It's very unfortunate as it seemed like Beede was finally putting his game together right at the end of last season.

That means Andrew Suarez, Logan Webb, Conner Menez, and Dereck Rodriguez have a shot at the rotation spot. All four have two options remaining. Enderson Franco, with three options, is also in the mix. Non-roster invitees Trevor Cahill and Tyson Ross will also get a look. Tyler Anderson is recovering from knee surgery and most likely won't be available until June. The southpaw was picked up off waivers from Colorado and signed a one-year $1.8M deal with the Giants in December.

With five starters that makes an eight-man bullpen. There is a lot more uncertainty there and I will give it a few days before I attempt a roster breakdown.


Monday, March 2, 2020


With a 26-man roster for 2020 I expect the Giants to carry 13 pitchers and 13 position players. By my reckoning there are ten position players who are locks to make the team thus leaving three openings to be filled.

The old guard will man the infield: Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, and Buster Posey. FNG Wilmer Flores will surely be one of the infielders. In his seven-year ML-career he has logged at least 1,000 innings at all four non-catching spots (1B, 2B, 3B, SS). He's right-handed with a league-average bat (.742 OPS, 102 OPS+, 101 wRC+, .318 wOBA) but raked lefties (.337/.367.615) last season. Expect to see a lot of Flores and in multiple roles. Another infield spot will most likely go to Mauricio Dubon. He was primarily a SS in the minors and has played 2B as well but the word is he will see time in the outfield, too. Obviously Buster will need a backup and I've no idea (Rob Brantly? Tyler Heineman? a free agent like Russell Martin?) who that will be.

That's seven guys. In the outfield I expect to see Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson, and Hunter Pence. That's the ten spots. Steven Duggar has two options left and unfortunately has yet to hit well at the major league level, so I'm not assuming he makes the team. Pablo Sandoval would likely take one of the three remaining spots but I'm not sure if he will be healthy by Opening Day. That means Donovan Solano or Yolmer Sanchez could stick as a utility player with two OF spots (Chris Shaw? Austin Slater? Jaylin Davis? Billy Hamilton?) still up for grabs.

One relatively unknown youngster that has opened a few eyes is 3B Sean Roby. He turns 22 in July and has not yet advanced past A-ball but is 5-for-7 this spring with 2 walks, 2 doubles, 3 runs scored, and 6 RBI. The 2018 12th-round pick from Arizona Western College has never been highly regarded as a prospect but still has plenty of time to develop his game. He might crack AA this year.

I'll take a look at the 13 pitchers later.