Results tagged ‘ Hunter Pence ’
With Spring Training happening now, prospect lists are coming out, from Baseball America and MLB most notably, fans start to compare farm systems and search within themselves how much that farm system matters to how they feel about their team. If you’re the Cardinals, you take pride in knowing the club you have at the major league level is of very good quality, and your farm provides plenty of promise. If you’re the Padres, you hold out hope for the future, because your farm has been good for some time while fans in San Diego have been left with a 2010 rush but not much else recently. If you’re a fan of the Giants, you’ve been given proof in postseasons and parades that the team at the major league level is worthy of being taken seriously, while the system may not be as top-heavy as it has been in the past, so you wonder how long the current MLB club can hold on until you will need reinforcements from the farm, not just on journeymen AAAA players.
While many of the Top 10 prospects of national lists have an estimated time of arrival in 2013, the MLB should expect to see plenty of new, highly-touted arms and bats before the end of the season, we’re not sure who from the Top 10 lists (or really any list) of San Francisco Giants minor leaguers that haven’t had their shot will crack the 2013 rosters AND be a useful piece.
Sure, Francisco Peguero could be useful here and there if one of the corner outfielders find the disabled list, but I haven’t seen a recent report that suggests he has the profile for an everyday spot. Gary Brown, the former number one prospect of the Giants could be that guy, especially with his strong second half he put up in Double-A Richmond. Roger Kieschnick‘s name got whispered last year by some fans, and he’s on the 40-man.
Conor Gillaspie has 48 PA across three different seasons, and you just hope he’ll be a good backup when the time comes, and you hope the same for the featured Fanfest kid Nick Noonan. All we’ve heard about Kensuke Tanaka is from Marty and his “Japanese feet.” Brock Bond has a cool name. That’s pretty much it when it comes to Giants prospects and who makes their living on the dirt.
The big names are all years away, although Chris Heston could be of use if one of the five go down. If he’s no good, then the Giants will probably draw from the AAA well, none of the others being prospects, mmmmaybe before checking in on Michael Kickham. Eric Surkamp is the wild card in all this, who says he’ll start resuming activities in July. Keep all this in mind as you consider whose contracts and service time with the Champs could be coming to a close after 2013.
If there’s anything we’ve seen with Sabean in the last few years, it’s that he’s got this, and this year he may not have to even trade any fringe major leaguers to shore up the ‘pen. Prospect Heath Hembree, still thought by Jonathan Mayo to be a potential closer, could start the year in Fresno and then force the issue after the first month of the season if someone in the bullpen goes down or gets consistently lit up. Perhaps Bochy sees that the front office calls up son Bret Bochy. Jason Martinez of MLBDepthCharts (who also wrote a “window of opportunity” article for ESPN that you should read) also has minor leaguers Jake Dunning and Fabio Castillo as other names to watch that haven’t had a taste of the Major League coffee yet.
Whose Swan Song Might 2013 Be
The Giants have about $70MM of their nearly $140MM budget committed to their rotation this year, but this could be the last year San Francisco pays to have two guys in Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito on their roster. Unless Ryan Vogelsong magically disappears this year, his $6.5MM option will be picked up, and the Giants will still be left wondering who to fill in to the 4th and 5th spots of the rotation with Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner still leading a formidable 1-2 punch out of the gates. Do they commit the money that comes off the books to pitching? Posey? (<–the right answer. your argument is invalid.) Other offense?
The Giants got Hunter Pence for his bat, but his price tag is also very high, but one wonders how much it goes down if he continues what he did as a Giant in the regular season in 2013. If it doesn’t, though, do the Giants put out? Andres Torres, Javier Lopez, and Jose Mijares might also be tipping their caps to SF when the last game ends.
The Future is, and has been, now
Since the Giants have had a stable of young arms (plus Zito), people wondered what would happen if a team drew San Francisco in a best-of-series. 2010 was pretty much what some thought could happen, even if it did with a group of misfits. 2012 was a different set of happenings because the Giants went from three guys they could rely on with Jonathan Sanchez either walking everyone or finding his release point in ’10 to now in three guys and omg what about Lincecum and Zito? Still though, if you have a good to great rotation, and a strong top three for the playoffs, life might not be so bad for you (part of the reason why teams like the Nationals and Tigers should scare you). After this year, the questions arise: Who will be that #4? #5? Who will pick up the offense for an aging Marco Scutaro? (I’m pretty certain he isn’t going to be hitting what he did from acquisition & playoffs throughout his contract time.) Can Gary Brown be an answer?
This doesn’t mean that this is the very last year the Giants will compete in forever, but I believe if Lincecum is let go (which could be the right move in the long-term), and another offensive piece is not found/brought on, 2014 will be a difficult year with some of the top prospects starting to knock on the door for 2015. Therefore, if any big injuries happen to the rotation, or to the offense in 2013, Giants fans could find themselves grumbling for a couple of years before they can realistically start dreaming of parades again. Hopefully, health will be on their side, and everyone’s side, for that matter.
For those that have been off social media or the San Francisco Giants home website, the Giants, along with a slew of other teams, have avoided salary arbitration with some of their players, all of them one-year deals announced today, for SF at least. Every year, fans go through a period of confusion as to what all this salary arbitration means. Plenty assume that avoiding salary arbitration means that a team has kept a player from signing with another team. However, avoiding salary arbitration is not the same thing as free agency. For more extensive reading on it, I’ll direct you here. If you follow Henry Schulman on Twitter, you’ve seen he’s been pretty good about being civil in educating them on the process. What you need to know is this: the players listed are due raises from what their 2012 salary was, and guys with names like Pence and Posey are probably going to see bigger raises than Mijares and Blanco, in terms of the dollars. Also consider that since Pence has been around longer as a bigger name, his salary will be more substantial. To put it in Hank’s words, with my own added emphasis: “Player$ love thi$ proce$$.” I’ll list the players, their service time, their 2012 salary, then their 2013 salary for you.
Hunter Pence — 5.156 years, $10.4MM in ’12, $13.8MM in ’13
Buster Posey — 2.161 years, $615K in ’12, $8MM in ’13
Jose Mijares — 4.024 years, $925K in ’12, $1.8MM in ’13
Gregor Blanco — 2.164 years, $516K in ’12, $1.35MM in ’13
The remaining Giants left to deal with are:
Sergio Romo — 4.097 years, $1.575MM ’12
Update: Romo and the Giants have exchanged numbers for the other side to look at. Romo’s side has filed $4.5MM, and the Giants have filed $2.675MM.
Joaquin Arias — 3.071, ?? in ’12
This has predictably opened up a conversation about a long-term contract with Buster Posey, and there are plenty of options: year-to-year, buy out the rest of his arbitration years (through 2016), super long-term deal that buys out some of his free agent years at a high price. The Giants and Posey’s camp have expressed interest in a long-term deal, but it remains to be seen if something gets done.
As this Alden Gonzalez article mentions, the Giants and Romo+Arias have until February to get something worked out, and both sides would really rather not go to arbitration court since some not nice things can be said and feelings could get hurt. Sometimes, sides can agree on something at the last minute, like when the Giants and Tim Lincecum did right before a hearing once upon a time.
My numbers might be different than other people’s, but I have the Giants 2013 payroll commitments at $133,149,999.66 between 17 players, 16 of them active for the Giants (Huff being the odd man out). Larry Baer has said they’re looking to be closer to $140MM, and they’re on track for that.
The sun and the sky may tell you it’s just another day, but we’re in the playoffs now, baby. What’s beautiful about the postseason is you don’t have to have the best team on paper, nor have had to be the best team in the regular season to win the three sets of series. Familiar face Dusty Baker and his pretty powerful pitchers and position players will come marching in to AT&T for Game 1 on Saturday. All we know about the Giants rotation is that Cain and Bumgarner are going with the other three starters available in the pen in case one of the Game 1 and/or 2 starters have a bad outing. We could potentially see some pretty interesting managing in these Games 1 and 2 from Bochy if he decides to use his starters for more than a side session’s worth of pitches. Over the course of the season, the Reds took 4 of 7 from the Giants, and they’ll try to continue having that little bit of the edge as they work to get through the 2010 Champs for their own chance at a trophy.
Game 1: Saturday, October 6th, 6:30PM PST, TBS — RHP Johnny Cueto vs. RHP Matt Cain
One sentence summary: Cueto’s one of the year’s best, but his last two starts on that came on 5 days rest saw only 8.1 IP, 18 H, 10 ER, 8 K’s combined, while Matt Cain was just fine in his last start where he got 4 days of rest, thank you very much — this Game 1 should be a good one.
Game 2: Sunday, October 7th, 6:30PM PST, TBS — RHP Bronson Arroyo vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
One sentence summary: In the last four Arroyo starts the story is not Arroyo’s pitching, but the average of one run of run support provided by his team, and for Bumgarner the last two opponents he has shut out were the Dodgers, and the Reds when he CG SHO’d them, but that was in late June.
Game 3: Tuesday, October 9th, 2:30PM PST, TBS — I’m guessing RHP Tim Lincecum vs. RHP Mat Latos
One sentence summary: Latos in his last 3 starts (20 IP, 13 H, 14 K’s, 2 BB, 2 ER) has been pretty sharp, and that could be a problem as he goes for revenge against old division rival… who could be any one of Lincecum/Zito/Vogelsong.
Game 4 (if necessary): Wednesday, October 10th, Time TBD, TBS — I’m guessing LHP Barry Zito vs. RHP Homer Bailey
One sentence summary: If the name “Homer Bailey” sounds familiar, it should, because he just threw a no-hitter against Pittsburgh and hasn’t seen an earned run cross in one of his starts since they played LA.
Game 5 (if necessary): Thursday, October 11th, Time TBD, TBS — RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Johnny Cueto
The Playoff Bats Are Loaded
The Reds and Giants both clinched their division on September 22nd, so their pitchers and bats have had plenty of time to rest and turn it down a notch, so I beefed up my small sample size from the normal “past seven games” to “past fourteen games” to give an idea of the work that’s been put in since around the time the clinch happened.
You may have heard Joey Votto had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus on July 17th, and while he did return on September 5th, he has not homered since June 24th. But don’t be fooled by his lack of four-baggers as he’s still proving productive (.410 wOBA L14, .436 wOBA overall) in the Reds lineup, and finished 1st overall in the NL in OBP. Had he stayed healthy, I imagine he would’ve been in the MVP discussion. Xavier Paul has also proved useful of late for the Reds (.386 wOBA L14, .364 wOBA overall), but he’s typically an extra OF so you might not see him regularly tending the grass out in AT&T and GABP. Drew Stubbs (.128, .278), Ryan Hanigan (.168, .304), and ROY candidate Todd Frazier (.174, .352) have all been underperforming of late. The Reds have seven guys with double digit homer counts and they are: Jay Bruce (34), Ryan Ludwick (26), Todd Frazier (19), Brandon Phillips (18), Zack Cozart (15), Drew Stubbs (14), and Joey Votto (14). Drew Stubbs (30) and Brandon Phillips (15) are the only guys the Reds have with double digit SB.
You’ve come to know the Giants pretty well after 162 games with them, so you know where the power and the speed can come from. Of late, the most productive guy over the past two weeks has been by wOBA…. Hector Sanchez (.448) in 25 PA. I know. He probably gets a start behind the plate for Game 3 or Game 4 with Posey at 1B. Other Giants of over .400 wOBA in the last 14 are Marco Scuatro (.439, .328 wOBA overall), Buster Posey (.425, .404), Pablo Sandoval (.413, .336), and Brandon Belt (.403, .342). Nobody’s been as cold as the coldest Reds players have been for the Giants, but guys that could get a start that have been underproductive are Gregor Blanco (.239, .309), Brandon Crawford (.254, .279), and Hunter Pence (.257, .322). While the Reds are beefy with power, the Giants are not defined by the long ball. Buster Posey (24), Hunter Pence (24), and Pablo Sandoval (12) are the only guys on the active roster with double digit dingers. The Giants can run a little bit, as evidenced by four guys having double digit steals like Angel Pagan (29), Gregor Blanco (26), Ryan Theriot (13), and Brandon Belt (12).
I expect this to be a series that will really test the Giants confidence in their own abilities as this set of games with shift back and forth, ultimately with the Giants coming out on top.
Game 1: Giants win (Cain bests Cueto in pitcher’s duel that gets the nation’s attention)
Game 2: Giants win (Arroyo sees little run support still, MadBum rolls)
Game 3: Reds win (Lincecum hangs too many, gets overpowered by Reds)
Game 4: Reds win (Zito and Vogelsong can’t hold down Reds in high scoring affair)
Game 5: Giants win (Giants solve Cueto while Cain keeps the Reds in the park)
The last time the Giants played the Rockies, Colorado was but a 56-win team. Now, Colorado has graduated to 58, and has visions of a 60-win season for 2012. That’s me being a big ass, and hey, maybe the Rockies will split, or even win the series over the Giants — never know with this crazy sport! If it was easy to predict, we’d all be rich from betting on it. As far as I know, Troy Tulowitzki is with the team, but of course we haven’t seen him play since the first half of the season, which seems like forever ago. The Giants have a four-gamer with the Rockies, and could knock off as much as 7 E# from that “9″ that currently stands next to their name by the end of this series. The Dodgers have Monday off, and then begin a three-gamer in Washington D.C. This of course means that the Giants cannot clinch a playoff spot on the last day of this series, even if the Giants can actually pull off a sweep, which would be worthy of celebration in and of itself.
Monday, September 17th: RHP Jhoulys Chacin vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
One sentence summary: The rematch you’ve been waiting fo– no you haven’t, but you do want MadBum to go longer than the 4.1 IP he did last time, but wouldn’t mind Chacin only going 4.0 IP or less again.
Tuesday, September 18th: LHP Jeff Francis vs. RHP Tim Lincecum
One sentence summary: Another rematch and last time Tim Lincecum (6.0 IP, 8 K) had twice as long of an outing as Jeff Francis did (3.0 IP, 5 K), lots of thanks to that good ol’ 75-pitch ceiling!
Wednesday, September 19th: RHP Tyler Chatwood vs. RHP Matt Cain
One sentence summary: Chatwood is of the rare breed that has a higher ERA on the road than at his Coors Field home (5.33/5.96), while Matt Cain is of the Giants breed that has a lower ERA at his AT&T yard than on the road (2.26/3.56). **Remember, defense can play a role in ERA!**
Thursday, September 20th: LHP Drew Pomeranz vs. LHP Barry Zito
One sentence summary: Through 3-0 counts, Pomeranz (in 22 tries), has one strikeout and a .479 wOBA against, while Barry Zito (in 39 tries) has no strikeouts and a .759 wOBA against (moral of the story: don’t fall behind, Barry).
From the hot to the cold
It’s been less than a week since the last time these two teams faced off, so you’re likely to remember the names of the Rockies players that step up to the plate. Chris Nelson (.601 wOBA L7, .345 wOBA overall) has been on the biggest tear of late, while part-timers Charlie Blackmon (.503, .292) and Matt McBride (.452, .216) have also made positive contributions in their limited PA of late. The powerful catcher Wilin Rosario (.421, .343) and OF Carlos Gonzalez (.390 wOBA L7, 4 SB L7; .381 wOBA overall, 20 SB overall) have also been making their mark on the ball. Josh Rutledge is still the guy on the weakest tear within the past week (.168 wOBA L7, .359 wOBA overall), but due to these sample sizes being so small, they really are in no way predictive of what’s to come.
The nation is pushing its love affair for Buster Posey to another level as he makes his MVP push, and he’s kept his foot on the gas of late in the midst of his second-half destruction of the opposition (.542 wOBA L7, 2 HR; .403 wOBA overall, 22 HR overall). Angel Pagan, though silent on the steals in the past week, has been getting his hits at the top of the order to set things up for the offense (.438 wOBA L7, .340 wOBA overall), and Marco Scutaro is right behind him (.414, .317). Hunter Pence looks to be getting going (.412 wOBA L7, 2 HR L7; .327 wOBA overall, 21 HR overall), and is making some hard contact on pitches, both fair and foul. The two guys that are struggling to contribute are the two boys that have the nickname “Panda” associated with them — Pablo, of the Kung Fu (.143 wOBA L7, .317 wOBA overall), and Hector, sometimes called “the Baby Panda” (.176, .270). I get the feeling Pablo’s body would welcome the off-season if it came today, but for now, he’s going to have to continue playing in his current condition.
Someone the other day said to me, “Imagine how good the Giants would be if their pitching was as dominant as it was a couple of years ago.” Weird that we’re saying that, isn’t it? In front of the home familiars, I’m expecting dominance.
Monday: Giants win
Tuesday: Giants win
Wednesday: Rockies win
Thursday: Giants win
When we wake up on Friday, I predict the Giants magic number to be at 4. Imagine if both the Giants and Nationals sweep.
Was I the only one that felt yesterday night was the last game of the season? There was so much energy put into this past weekend’s games that by the end of it, I was exhausted, and so I can’t even imagine how the guys in the dugouts were, although the Dodgers looked pretty defeated most of Sunday’s game. Speaking of defeated, the Rockies, after getting rained out on Saturday in Philadelphia, got swept in a doubleheader on Sunday, and then after playing two games that were both 3 hours and 12 minutes long, get to come back to the comfy confines of less oxygen and a dinosaur creepin’ around your yard. By no means is this a “gimme” series for the Giants, whose starters have to prove that they’re getting back to what has made them successful in previous outings. The Rockies are still using that good ol’ 75-pitch limit on their starters.
Monday, September 10th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. RHP Alex White
One sentence summary: The popular stat from Bradley Ankrom of BP on Vogey – Ryan Vogelsong has the worst ERA (10.13) and best K/9 (13.08) in baseball since Aug. 13, but Alex White wasn’t able to strike out anybody in his last start of 4 innings against the Braves.
Tuesday, September 11th: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin
One sentence summary: Bumgarner sees a .303 wOBA against on the road, which is relatively good; Chacin has a .402 wOBA against at home, which is relatively not good.
Wednesday, September 12th: RHP Tim Lincecum vs. LHP Jeff Francis
One sentence summary: Both pitchers struck out 7 in their last start, but Timmy walked a career-high 7, while Francis only allowed 1 (Francis hasn’t allowed more than 2 in all but one start this year).
High Elevation Bats
The Rockies haven’t had a good past week, and they’re also 3-8 in their last 11 games, but their offense has really driven the point home that this is not a good team right now. Guys like Wilin Rosario (.160 wOBA L7, .337 wOBA overall), DJ LeMahieu (.177, .274), and the formerly hot Josh Rutledge (.193, .388) have been struggling bad, and that’s a third of your lineup right there. Luckily (?) a part-timer in Charlie Blackmon (.455, .237) in 12 PA has been useful of late, along with regular Dexter Fowler (.363, .386). Pretty hard to win when you have more “cold” regulars than even what would be considered the “warmer” ones. Colorado’s power sources include the well known Carlos Gonzalez (23 HR), and the aforementioned Wilin Rosario (22), and have some guys in the teens including Tyler Colvin (17) and Dexter Fowler (13). Michael Cuddyer (16) is currently out with a strained oblique, and Troy Tulowitzki could return Friday (after this series) from his groin injury.
Within the past week, some of yesterday’s heroes actually make up some of the less productive bats from that small sample size, including Angel Pagan (.244 wOBA L7, .335 wOBA overall), Hunter Pence (.264, .324), and Pablo Sandoval (.285, .327) — yes a walk can be heroic! If you’ve noticed that the facial hair has been contributing more often, then you clearly have seen Brandon Crawford do work in his platoon (.435, .278), Marco Scutaro is getting people thinking about having him around longer (.428, .313), and even in 11 PA Gregor Blanco is raising the fin again (.403, .310). Ignoring Hunter Pence’s numbers of 19 HR for the season, I’m still shocked the Giants have only one guy on the active roster with double digit HRs (Buster, 20). Panda and Pagan both have 8, Blanco and Belt both have 5. I thought for sure Panda would be in the teens by now (hasn’t homered since July 8th at PIT).
If there’s anything I have to say about this series it’s one thing: I hate that dinosaur.
Monday: Giants win (both teams score many runs, but Giants bullpen does less worse)
Tuesday: Giants win (Chacin will be throwing BP to pad Giants numbers)
Wednesday: Rockies win (Walks actually come back to haunt Lincecum this time, even if he doesn’t walk 7)
Wouldn’t put it past the Rockies to get swept, but even the bad baseball teams win 40% of the time.
Since August 14th, the Diamondbacks have had trouble reversing trends right away, as they’ve been winning/losing in consecutive games. The results: lose 2, win 4, lose 2, win 2 (more impressively it was a double-header), lose 6, win 2, lose 2. That’s an 8-12 stretch, so it’s understandable that they’ve lost ground against the Giants, who’ve gone 13-5 over that same set of dates. Interesting that on August 14th, we go back to the days of the Giants being tied for 1st place in the NL West with the Dodgers. Even though the Diamondbacks are 10.5 back, they still have 9 games left against the Giants, and while it’s extremely unlikely the DBacks make up 9 games, they can still play spoiler. The Giants return from a roadtrip that featured some NL Central cupcakes and now the San Francisco Orange & Black begin the final stretch of the season against only NL West opponents.
Monday, September 3rd: LHP Patrick Corbin vs. LHP Barry Zito
One sentence summary: The Giants’ fourth consecutive day game features Corbin, who’s given up 5 HR in his last 3 starts, and Zito, who had his shortest outing of the season against Houston, possibly playing through some upper back pain.
Tuesday, September 4th: RHP Ian Kennedy vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
One sentence summary: August wasn’t the friendliest of months to either of these two starters as Kennedy saw his second worst ERA month of the season (4.54), while Vogelsong had by far his worst month of the year (6.32), as both look to change things up with the coming of September.
Wednesday, September 5th: RHP Trevor Cahill vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
One sentence summary: Cahill also had a heightened ERA in August (5.08) but wasn’t necessarily getting dominated like Vogelsong was; meanwhile, after Madison had his worst outing of the year since the first series of the year, he faces the team that gave him that first bad outing in the Diamondbacks.
And Now, the Bats
Hard to imagine that guys like Paul Goldscmidt ever go cold, but he’s not his normal self in the past week (.223 wOBA, .368 wOBA overall — best on the team), and said unhotness also applies to names like Justin Upton (.268 wOBA L7, .327 wOBA overall), Chris Young (.232, .321), and Jason Kubel (.263, .356), despite 3 HR between Upton and Kubel in the past week, including a couple bombs against the Dodgers. Mostly-utility-infielder John McDonald (.450, .297) has been the biggest contributor recently although in only 15 PA, with Miguel Montero being the biggest regular contributor of late (.321, .362). The Diamondbacks have a total of eight guys with double-digit dingerz on their squad, led by Jason Kubel (27), and Aaron Hill (20). Three guys have 13 SB on their squad led by Lincecum-killer Paul Goldschmidt, Justin Upton, and Gerardo Parra.
The Cubs series wasn’t the sweep many fans had hoped it would be, but some guys added on to what they’d be doing in Houston. Guys like Angel Pagan (.457 wOBA L7, .340 wOBA overall), and Hunter Pence (.405, .326). Gregor Blanco (.143, .308) may see his playing time reduced as Bochy rides the X-line straight to Veteranville, and Brandon Crawford (.162, .272) may be in the midst of regressing, but I imagine he starts taking the field back over Arias since Joaquin can’t keep his August pace up forever. On a team starved for the big flies, Buster is one HR away from 20 (as is Hunter), and we’re still waiting for round-trippers from Panda and Belt. Pagan (23) and Blanco (20) both have a high number of SB, and I’m sure it’ll be watched to see if either of these rabbits can rack up 30 for the year.
Get familiar with these boys, because you’re going to see a lot of them in September, and you just hope you’re playing them at the right streaky time.
Monday: Giants win (Giants ride homer — like an actual home run — to victory)
Tuesday: DBacks win (Ian Kennedy out-pitched Kershaw, will out-pitch Vogelsong)
Wednesday: Giants win (Madison takes his revenge out on Arizona)
Thursday is a day off before the Giants and Dodgers get going for their second to last series of the year, and the last one at AT&T.
As the Giants are 3-0 since their last off day, and the Dodgers are 1-3 in their last 4, fans of both franchises have seen a separation starting to form with 30-31 games left to go. Nothing is done by any means, but the Giants now square off in a weekend series against the Cubbies who are 4-10 since their last off day, but had a nice comeback win over the Brewers in yesterday’s game, with the final score of 12-11. These are still games the Giants need to win, but beat writer Alex Pavlovic was noting on Twitter (above), the team is tired, since they got to their hotel rooms around 3:15 AM, I’m guessing local time, and they’re already in the locker room. Travel is a part of professional sports and it wouldn’t be the first time a team’s played lower on energy. They should still be able to get the job done against a rebuilding Chicago squad.
Friday, August 31st: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Chris Volstad
One sentence summary: Volstad’s last start was his first of the year where he allowed less than 4 hits, and had no ER attached to his line, and MadBum would like to put his last start behind him, but he has allowed 15/19 of his HRA on the road this year.
Saturday, September 1st: RHP Tim Lincecum vs. RHP Justin Germano
One sentence summary: Germano hasn’t had many starts with the Cubs, but he has allowed a HR in four straight starts while never walking more than two in 2012; Lincecum hasn’t struck out more than 5 since July, but has also been able to keep the walks relatively down (6 in 4 starts).
Sunday, September 2nd: RHP Matt Cain vs. LHP Travis Wood
One sentence summary: Wood’s gone 7 IP in three of his last four starts, along with only two walks allowed in the last four; Matt Cain has done what’s expected against his last four opponents of HOU, LA, SD, and COL, so look for that to continue against the ChiCubs.
Another series preview, another one where Joaquin Arias has barely over 10 PA and leads the last seven for the team in wOBA (.623, .315 wOBA overall). There’s no one contributing to that level on the Giants, but after a series in Houston, you will have some guys that have inflated numbers like Pence (.437 wOBA L7, .327 overall), Pagan (.420, .338), and Belt (.406, .337), and will have a chance to improve upon those numbers against a group of pitchers that are a couple notches below the quality of pitchers more competitive teams might throw out there. Brandon Crawford (.117, .270), and Pablo Sandoval (.195, .335) have not really had their bats heard from in the past week, although Pablo did contribute to the win last night.
Former Top 100 prospect Brett Jackson (.603 wOBA L7, .346 wOBA overall) is lighting the way for the Cubs of late, with 3 HR in the past week, and having 4 in his 88 PA overall, but I believe the book on him was about him hitting enough, as the power and speed will be there. No one else on the squad is quite as hot right now, but Starlin Castro (.366 wOBA L7, .313 wOBA overall), and Luis Valbuena (.352, .303) have been healthy contributors of late as well. The slack has come from guys like Josh Vitters (.098, .139), and Darwin Barney (.133, .289), but at least with Barney, you don’t expect that to keep happening. Guys with more than 20 SB are Starlin Castro and Tony Campana, while you can look from their power to come from guys like Alfonso Soriano (23 HR), Starlin Castro (12), and Anthony Rizzo (9 in 236 PA).
Gotta say, I’m feeling pretty good about these Giants, so that probably means these predictions will be not be 100% correct.
Friday: Giants win (Chris Volstad, pretty much)
Saturday: Giants win (The bats relieve Tim Lincecum)
Sunday: Giants win (Matt Cain toys with the lesser competition)
Not a typo. That does say 88 losses. You may have heard the Astros are bad, but may not have heard that they’ve been this bad in 2012. It’s true — the Astros are 5-17 in August, and were 3-24 in July. That’s 8-41 in those two months and all sorts of bad. For the record, the Giants went 12-12 in July and are 15-9 in August. This series also begins a run for the Giants against two notoriously bad teams in the Astros and the Cubs. The Giants must win the games they’re supposed to, since they shouldn’t expect the Dodgers to wilt against the rest of the NL West. The Giants are 5-1 against the Astros this season thus far.
Tuesday, August 28th: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Bud Norris
One sentence summary: Incredibly odd, but Bud Norris has a 2.18 ERA at home, and a 7.27 ERA away, and normally I don’t bust out ERA for talking points, but I guess his pitch execution and defense are that much better at MMP.
Wednesday, August 29th: LHP Barry Zito vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel
One sentence summary: Progress for Keuchel as he hasn’t allowed more than two walks in a game since the end of July while Barry Zito hopes he doesn’t get blown up by Houston in their park for the 3rd time in 4 career starts at Minute Maid.
Thursday, August 30th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. RHP Jordan Lyles
One sentence summary: 12/19 of Lyles’ starts he’s given up 2 or 3 BB so there’s that, and Vogelsong hopes to see fewer than 3 men cross the plate for the first time since his outing in St. Louis.
When Joaquin Arias is still your hottest hitter in the last week by the numbers (.607 wOBA L7, .303 wOBA overall) I’m pretty sure that’s “LOL” quality, but if you’ve watched him, he is making it look pretty easy out there. Angel Pagan’s return to the role of leadoff has been well spoken about and the numbers back it up as well (.463 wOBA L7, .334 wOBA overall). While you will take baserunners at any time, it is nice to start the game off putting pressure on your opponent, as we saw in the most recent LA series. Gregor Blanco, while maybe not what you’d classify as “hot,” is contributing again (.360 wOBA L7, .314 wOBA overall), which if you’re going to be a starter, is obviously pretty important. Power bats that really need to step up are Hunter Pence (.224 wOBA L7), and Pablo Sandoval (.220 wOBA L7), as it would undoubtedly be great to get some confidence in before they head back West from this Houston and Chicago excursion.
Chris Snyder has had 10 PA in the past week. He also sports a Joaquin Arias-like .624 wOBA in his past week (.287 wOBA overall), so I can’t wait to see how that continues. Jason Castro is also contributing a little bit recently (.351 wOBA in 12 PA, .305 wOBA overall), but from there it’s all below average production, which isn’t the biggest surprise for a 40-88 team, and a team that’s gone 5-17 in August. Scott Moore might embody the Astros’ season in his past week: 22 PA, .069 wOBA, -70 wRC+. Ugh. I’d guess Houston fans might be thinking some these guys can only improve… but if they can, let’s hope they wait until after the Giants leave town.
Hunter Pence’s homecoming should be a good one for the most part for the Giants, although I’m not convinced they’ll sweep. It’s baseball, ya’ll, and the Dodgers just got beat 10-0 by the Rockies of all people.
Tuesday: Giants win (Matt Cain doesn’t need to be his best)
Wednesday: Giants win (I can’t believe there’s someone that much worse than Zito statistically)
Thursday: Astros win (I think the Astros win one, just couldn’t figure out which one it’d be)
Here we go again. The Dodgers lead the season series 5-4 over their cross-state rivals and there’s nine more games between these two love birds set to happen, alternating venues per each three game series. You probably know by now the 162-game season will very likely end with the Giants visiting the Dodgers in early October (as opposed to making up a rained-out game or something). If there’s any team that’s confident right now, it’s the Dodgers. They just went to Pittsburgh and Atlanta and won a 5 of 7 from those playoff contenders, while the Giants lost a series to the Nationals (really no shame in that) and couldn’t sweep against the Padres (I blame you, Everth Cabrera), so it’s no wonder these two teams are still within a game of the top. The Dodgers know they swept the Giants back into contention with their full squad and now the Giants are missing Melky due to his suspension which really has been getting stupider by the day. Nevertheless, both teams know it’s time to put their full focus on each other in a series that is sweepable for both teams, but at the same time, if you called each game a “pick ‘em,” I wouldn’t blame you.
Monday, August 20th: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw
One sentence summary: ESPN has the pleasure of picking this game up, and there is probably no better way to start it off as both of these lefties are straight up dominant at what they do, especially Bumgarner in “high leverage” situations.
Tuesday, August 21st: RHP Tim Lincecum vs. RHP Joe Blanton
One sentence summary: As much of a low-scoring game as the first game could be, this one has the potential to be the exact opposite as Timmy still looks for his groove while Blanton has allowed 26 HR this year.
Wednesday, August 22nd: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Chris Capuano
One sentence summary: Don’t let Capuano’s name fool you as he’s pitched to a level any team would want to feature in a division series, while Matty Cain hopes for the same kind of run support he got in San Diego.
Your Bats May Not Do Much This Series, But Bring ‘Em Anyway
File this under the “things you never thought you’d hear” article for 2012, but the two “hottest” guys in the past week have been that infield duo of Joaquin Arias (.475 wOBA, .290 wOBA overall) and Brandon Crawford (.441 wOBA, .277 wOBA overall). Hunter Pence has turned it up lately since his slow start (.420 wOBA L7, .328 wOBA overall). What isn’t necessarily surprising is that there have only been three HR in the last seven days by the Giants (Arias, Crawford, Scutaro), and there has only been one stolen base (Scutaro). Chances are if the Giants want to score more and increase that chance of winning, both those numbers will need to get turned up a notch. Notably cold is Ryan Theriot (.176 wOBA L7, .281 wOBA overall), but I’ve talked about it on Twitter before, he and Scutaro are better bench players than regulars, so to rely on them for consistent production is — while understandable — a little silly.
How time flies, as Hanley Ramirez already has 100 PA with his new team, and it looks like he’s settling in just fine (.489 wOBA L7, 3 HR L7, .339 wOBA overall). The guy who’s lighting it up is Luis Cruz, who after plenty of Minor League action did not even have a ML HR before having 4 this year (.557 wOBA L7, 2 HR L7, .344 wOBA overall), so we’ll see if/when he regresses or he’s just doing the 2010 Andres Torres thing. James Loney is another name that has been the focal point of a lot of Dodger frustration, but every dog has their day (.399 wOBA L7, 2 HR L7, .274 wOBA overall) for a guy contributing less than Ryan Theriot is for the Giants. Someone who’s been surprisingly cold but you wouldn’t expect it to last much longer is Matt Kemp (.233 wOBA L7, .421 wOBA overall) because he just has too much talent to stay sleeping, but you know not many people outside of the Dodger organization would mind if he took a rest-of-the-season break.
I’m predicting it won’t be a sweep, and the Giants come out a 0.5 game ahead of the Think Blue crowd.
Monday: Dodgers win (MadBum gets Cain’d)
Tuesday: Giants win (Timmy finds a way to do less worse than Blanton)
Wednesday: Giants win (Matt Cain because he’s Matt Cain)
It’s easy to forget sometimes that there are other teams in the NL West besides the Dodgers, Giants, and Diamondbacks, but just because they’re at the bottom doesn’t mean they can’t derail your postseason plans. The Padres had an 8-2 stretch from Aug 3-13 before losing 3 to the Braves in Atlanta, so it’s not like they’re just lying down waiting for you to beat them. We all know the Giants will be missing their #3 hitter that’s played in 113 G this season, but with the Giants playing the Padres and the Dodgers traveling to Atlanta to play a good Braves team, there has to be a feeling that the Giants and Dodgers could still be within a game of one another when they meet up on Monday.
Friday, August 17th: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf
One sentence summary: Four straight starts have seen Matt Cain watch at least seven hits get put on his record while Ohlendorf has seen 6 ER boost his ERA in two of his last three starts.
Saturday, August 18th: LHP Barry Zito vs. LHP Eric Stults
One sentence summary: Barry Zito hasn’t faced the Padres in 2012 and hasn’t had a streak of 0 HR games since May (0 HR in last start); Stults has been solid in his last two outings since being tabbed a SP again going 13 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 2 BB and 8 K.
Sunday, August 19th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. LHP Clayton Richard
One sentence summary: The big story last start was how Ryan Vogelsong stopped being new Ryan Vogelsong while Clayton Richard hopes to improve from his last start against the Giants when he got lit up at AT&T nearly a month ago.
Offense in the Pet Box
Buster Posey is having a great 2nd half to which you have been made aware on every night Buster Posey is in the batter’s box (.403 wOBA, 19 HR overall). Brandon Belt has been hot recently (.362 OBP, .339 wOBA overall). *By the way, a friendly reminder that if you are a Giants fan and actively root against Brandon Belt or Brett Pill, you need to re-evaluate yourself as a fan of the team.* Brandon Crawford with his PH-2-R bomb and getting on base hasn’t been too bad himself (.276 wOBA, 71 wRC+ overall). However, in the smallest of sample sizes at 13 PA in the last 7, Joaquin Arias has also been productive (.431 wOBA L7, .279 wOBA overall). If Angel Pagan (.247 wOBA L7) is going to be at the top, Hunter Pence in the thick of things in the lineup (.252 wOBA L7) and want to give the boys a chance to get over the Melky hangover, they’re going to need to turn up the production.
I look at the Padres and I feel kind of bad for how many people I’m seeing on their DL list. Guys that can do damage against opposing teams like Yasmani Grandal who’s on rehab, Huston Street, who can still put down batters, and other starting pitchers that have been shelved. As for the guys who are playing, Logan Forsythe (.524 wOBA L7, .323 wOBA overall) has been doing well at the top of the order lately, what we thought was an obvious trade chip in Chase Headley (.406 wOBA L7, .360 wOBA overall) has 4 HR in his last 7 (and 19 for the season), and more importantly is still with the Padres. Those two guys are really the only ones putting up big numbers within the past week, but remember this team has Carlos Quentin (12 HR), who has hits in 4 of the 5 games he’s played against the Giants, including his unforgettable 2-HR game. Their catchers Nick Hundley and John Baker have been ice cold and rather unproductive for the Padres in Grandal’s absence, with neither having a positive wRC+.
I’m going to go predictable here only because it just seems too obvious to me. This means my predictions should be wrong.
Friday: Giants win (Cain > Ohlendorf; Giants hitters rejoice)
Saturday: Padres win (Stults > Zito; Padres hitters rejoice)
Sunday: Giants win (Vogey shows it was just a blip)
All the while only gaining one full game on the Dodgers. Should be a decent weekend.