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Preview: The Giants Baseball Blog- A San Francisco Giants Blog and Fan Website

The Giants Baseball Blog- A San Francisco Giants Blog and Fan Website





Updated: 2016-12-07T03:23:13.625-08:00

 



Giants find their closer but work remains

2016-12-06T23:50:59.232-08:00

Pretty much ever since Brian Wilson went down with his shoulder injury at the start of 2012, the Giants have used a few different guys to close out games. Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla, career set-up guys, basically shared the duties, with Casilla becoming Bochy's #1 choice the last couple seasons. But after that epic second half collapse, largely attributed to that bullpen, and the team getting knocked out in the NLDS because of the bullpen, the Giants made solidifying that 9th inning as their number one priority this winter.On Monday, the Giants finally found a guy they hope is their answer to their ninth inning woes that reared their ugly head in 2016, signing Mark Melancon to the richest contract in relief pitcher history (although both Kenly Jansen and Aroldis Chapman will most likely set new records after they sign). The Giants will pay the soon to be 32 year-old $62M over four years, which is right around what I thought he'd get. Chapman and Jansen are most likely looking at deals in the triple figures, so the $15.5M annually should be a bargain compared to the other two elite closing options. Not to mention, if you look at all three of their numbers over the last few seasons, aside from strikeout rate, Melancon has been neck-and-neck with those two. I would have loved to see the Giants pry Jansen away from LA, but I knew that would be a long-shot, so this move is the next best thing in my opinion. Chapman is flashy and hurls that 103-mph heater, but we saw him walk the tight-rope quite a bit in the postseason and blow a couple big saves, including one to the Giants in the NLDS that resulted in the Giants one and only win of the series.Now, Melancon's numbers over the last four seasons are what got him this very lucrative deal, as they have been about as good as any relief pitcher in the game during that span. His highest ERA posted since the 2012 season has been 2.23 (2015) and in the other three seasons he's gone 1.39, 1.90 and 1.64 last season between Pittsburgh and Washington. During that span, he also posted a sub-1 WHIP in each season as he doesn't walk hitters and very rarely gives up the big fly. Since becoming a full-time closer in 2014, he's posted save totals of 33, 51 and 47 while blowing just 10. I don't have the exact number that the Giants blew last season but I'm pretty sure they blew 9 or 10 in September alone. All these reasons, along with him being a fine clubhouse personality and he being a good bet to age well over the course of the deal because he doesn't rely on a 100 MPH heater, are why many baseball people felt like he was the ideal fit for the Giants. Instead of the high-90's fastball/cutter like with Jansen or a 100-MPH laser beam and hard slider Chapman throws at you, Melancon can get you out in a number of different ways. For the most part, we'll be seeing a hard cutter in the low-90's as well as a big sweeping curveball though. He's got a change and a 4-seemer as well.It's definitely a big sigh of relief for the Giants club and Giants fan alike. Their ninth inning problem is fixed and they did it without dueling out 100 million bucks or parting with half of their farm system. However, they still have question marks pertaining to that bullpen. I'd imagine that the plan is to roll with Derek Law as the primary set-up man with Hunter Strickland also getting an opportunity, but the Giants problem in the pen wasn't just with the closing situation. They struggled all over the place in the second half and although Melancon does change that landscape majorly, I think this pen could still use another sure fire arm or two. The need 2 guys like Romo and Casilla were back at the beginning of the Giants championship run, and strong left-handed presences like Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt (let's cross-our fingers that Will Smith's rough 2016 was just a down year and he's back to norm in 2017 cause that would help a ton).There's still a long way to go in the offseason, and I expect the Giants to keep all options open regarding both left field and the bullpen, but it sure is a relieving feeling [...]



Giants exploring all closing options

2016-11-12T15:23:03.146-08:00

The World Series is over, with the Cubs ending their 108-year drought, and the 2016 awards are in the midst of being passed out which means that coming next is the kick off to free agency and it should be a busy one for the Giants. First off, after seeing the Cubs win it, I'm sure we all immediately wondered what would have happened had the Giants landed Andrew Miller or Mark Melancon at the deadline themselves. They likely aren't even facing the Cubs in round one but if they still did, they likely win game 4 and who knows what happens game 5 with Cueto in Chicago? Anyway, that's all done and over with and no use bantering on about the past and what could have been when such an important offseason awaits for the Giants. They wasted no time at all getting things going and kicking the tires on the free agents they intend on pursuing over the next 6+ weeks. They inquired with all three of the big closers (Melancon, Kenly Jansen and Aroldis Chapman) and apparently have even reached out to outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who opted out of his final 2 years and $50+ million from the Mets. And I'm pretty sure they came away with one general consensus, and that it won't be cheap at all to upgrade their current roster. There are whispers that Chapman is seeking something in the 5 year/$100M range, and with Kenley Jansen being not only younger but I'm sure most would agree, more effective than Chapman, you can only imagine what his asking price will be. I've heard 6 years/$140M wouldn't be too far fetched of an asking price for the 27 year-old which leaves Mark Melancon as the the cheapest and most attainable. That being said, hes 31 and doesn't necessarily posses that dominant stuff that Jansen does or the 103 MPH heater that Chapman does, but is pretty damn nasty in his own right. Melancon has posted sub-2 ERA's in 3 of the last 4 seasons and a 2.28 in the other, combining for a 0.90 WHIP. All he did in 2016, split between Pittsburgh and Washington was post 51 saves to go along with a 1.64 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 65:12 K/BB ratio and only 3 long balls allowed in 77 innings of work. That last part would be such a re-assurance after Santiago Casilla seemed to be giving up a jack every other time out. That being said, he doesn't strike out a batter an inning, which is something you really want out of your closer- someone that can get an out when they really need it by throwing the ball by hitters. However, he posses a four-pitch repertoire which many closers do not, un-hittable at times bit curveball.So after preliminary talks with all three of the elite closing options, Melancon emerges as the most logical and plausible fit for the Giants, according to MLB's website. Unlike Jansen and Chapman, I haven't really heard a number that Melancon is supposedly reporting, but after seeing what the two under-30's are seeking, a 3/4 year deal at $15M may be what it's gonna take to get Melancon. I mean, after him we're talking a huge drop-off, down to Francisco Rodriguez and the Tommy John reconstructed Greg Holland. I mean, Holland could be good, but these Giants need a sure fire bet and aren't really in position to roll the dice on a Holland unless they're 110% sure he's not only physically sound, but also going to be as sharp as before the injury.As far as the outfielders, the only name so far to be mentioned, and likely the only free agent outfielder the Giants may seriously pursue this winter has been Cespedes. Mark Trumbo won't be coming here. Jose Bautista, unless for some reason sees the Giants as his best road to a tittle and wants to come here for a short-term deal before going back to the AL to DH for good, isn't coming here. Ian Desmond could be a back-up plan but isn't that big time power hitting bat the Giants are seeking and hasn't been great in his move to the outfield, leading all of MLB in errors among outfielders in 2016. Angel Pagan isn't coming back and there aren't really any other options that jump out at you in the free agent market. One interesting scenario mentioned on ESPN would be the Giants going[...]



Giants' needs for 2017 quite apparent

2016-10-15T23:37:49.779-07:00

I didn't really have the heart (or the time) to muster up a reaction post to Tuesday's heartbreaking loss to the Cubs, but I'm sure we all had the same sort of reaction and thoughts. It was a sadly poetic ending to what was an epic second-half collapse by a team that, outside that starting pitching, had no business being in the postseason. Most importantly though, it leaves the Giants and Bobby Evans with a clear "to-do list" for the winter.A lot has been said about how Bruce Bochy handled that ninth inning Tuesday. Many people, including myself, would have liked to see Matty Moore go out there and at least start the ninth inning. I know the pitch count was way up, but he was pitching on 10 days rest and threw north of 130 pitches just 2 months prior while chasing a no-hitter with the Giants. Plus Moore mowed through the 8th inning and was looking as strong as he was all night. Once the move was made though, I wish he would have had the guts to go with one guy and ride him out. Whether it was Sergio Romo to start the ninth, Derick Law or Will Smith, I would have liked to see Boch go with a reliever and stick with him rather than go into that inning with the idea of playing the match-up game the whole time. In a sense, you can't really blame him, the Giants don't have a true closer, but I can't help but think that had he just left Law out there, maybe the next guy grounds into a double play. As soon as I saw the musical chairs being played with the bullpen I knew it was bad news, and that's all I can say about that game really. Now, the game is done, the series is over, we've had a few days to mourn and it's time to move on. First off, Matt Moore was awesome in that game. He looked like MadBum 2.0 and in my mind justified the Matt Duffy trade with that outing and showed us that the 2017 starting rotation is going to have an extremely strong front-3, probably as good as any team's in the game. My guess is the 2017 rotation is pretty much set in stone with MadBum your ace, Johnny Cueto the two, Moore the three, Jeff Samardzija the four and Ty Blach the five. Matt Cain is still under contract and may be given a shot at the fifth spot but Blach not only finished the season with some strong outings, he threw very well in two NLDS outings as well which should cement his 2017 status on the roster. So, unless the Giants find some amazing bargain and get a quality starter to take a discount to come pitch for a contender. Maybe they add a lower level third wheel to the fifth starter competition (C.J. Wilson or Jaime Garcia would be interesting on one-year type prove yourself deals) but my guess is they won't even look at the starting pitching market. It's a good thing too cause the only FA starter that's maybe better than current Giants' fourth starter Samardzija is Jeremy Hellickson.Instead, all of their attention will lay in the relief market as well as the outfield market. The Giants will be losing Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez and will need to replace those three with upgrades. They certainly need a closer and there are going to be some intriguing ones out there this winter. They also need to look at ways to upgrade their offense. Despite their starting rotation being a strong one, they can't bank on winning games 2-1 and 3-2 every night and they need to lengthen that lineup.Luckily for them, they have upwards of $50M coming off the books and probably won't be retaining any of their own free agents. I could possibly see Romo returning if he takes a discount on a one-year deal but it won't be as a closer and probably not even as an 8th inning guy. He'd be a situational right-handed reliever to face predominantly right-handed batters and I don't know if the Giants will have a strong enough pen to carry one of those. As of now, the only people I'd say guaranteed spots in the 2017 bullpen would be Derick Law, Will Smith and Hunter Strickland. Everyone else will probably have to earn their way on, and that includes Matt Cain (despite his $20M price tag). As far [...]



The Legend of Bumgarner grows in New York

2016-10-05T23:23:38.974-07:00

This isn't the first time we've seen Madison Bumgarner pull out all stops in an elimination game, and hopefully it won't be the last. The Giants rode a MadBum complete game shutout and a Connor Gillaspie 3-run jack in the top of the 9th inning to victory and an NLDS match-up with MLB's favorite to win it all this season, the Chicago Cubs.First off, let's talk about the game that transpired tonight. As I suspected, it was a well pitched game, but both pitchers lasted a little longer than I was expecting. I was hoping Bum would at least get through 7, but he went 9, and I was thinking the patient Giants' bats would have Sydergaard's pitch count up and out after the 6th, but he wound up carrying them through the 7th. Fortunately, the Giants didn't have to delve into their bullpen as MadBum was so economical with his pitches for the games first three innings (21 pitches total) and that, in the end, made all the difference in the World. Not that things would have been as tight for Sergio Romo had he went out in the 9th after they just took the three-run lead, but at least we didn't need to go there this time. MadBum did it all, including almost putting the Giants on the board in the 3rd with a jack himself, knocking it to the warning track in left center only to be ran down by Yeonis Cespedes. As far as his mound work though, he was his typical "Big Game" self, allowing just 6 base runners and using 119 pitches to send the Mets home for 2016!As amazing as he was, Bumgarner doesn't get all the spotlight for Wednesday's victory though, as perhaps the most unlikely guy in the Giants lineup came up with the biggest hit of their season. Connor Gillaspie's a guy who wasn't even on the big league roster for much of the 2016 season, but he took over for an injured Eduardo Nunez the last week of the regular season and ended up finishing the season strong at the plate and it carried over into this Wild Card game as he not only came up with the deciding big fly, but was the only Giant to collect multiple hits in Wednesday's showdown. Brandon Belt was robbed on a great play by Curtis Granderson on a ball that would have knocked in a run and put Belt in scoring position for Buster Posey and at that point I have to admit, I felt like the luck may be leaning toward the home team. Also that non-reverse on that steal by Denard Span in which it was clear he was safe and there was no hard evidence of him coming off the bag. So the Giants had to keep their heads up through a few tough breaks, but they stayed in it and Gillaspie made all the hard work pay off in the ninth. It was eerily similar to the Travis Ishikawa jack back in the 2014 postseason in the NLDS game clincher.So, before we talk about the Cubs and what great series' both NLDS match-ups have in store, the Giants will have a couple days to figure out how they want to configure their roster for said series. The big wild card will be Eduardo Nunez. He was not well enough to make this roster, and my guess is that not much will change over the next 48 hours with his hammy to the point where Bochy and co. feel comfortable trotting him back out there. So, it wouldn't surprise me to see Gillaspie as the third basemen for the upcoming NLDS as well and Nunez once again excluded from the roster. Gillaspie may get the starting nod there (at least vs. right-handers) anyway if Nunez does make the roster as I think he's playing better than Nunez right now and is certainly more healthy.Anyhow, I do expect there to be changes to the NLDS roster. Obviously Matt Moore will be back on there and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Giants roll with another right-handed bat off the bench like Mac Williamson, just to be ready for any potential Aroldis Chapman appearances. Other than that, I expect much of the same as we got today. One thing Boch will have to figure out is the order of his rotation. It's pretty clear Cueto will get game one and MadBum game three but it's not clear whether Samardzija or Matt Moore get that game [...]



NL Wild Card Game Preview

2016-10-05T03:12:39.236-07:00

Well, the day that most Giants fans have been anticipating since late August when we pretty much knew the NL West was out of the picture has arrived. And sure, it's a team sport and there will be numerous factors at play, it really all comes down to two people: Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard.First off, both pitchers going have had very strong seasons, as we know by watching MadBum all year what he's been up to, but young Noah Syndergaard has matched him nearly number for number despite the amount of innings pitched. Sydergaard strikes out a ton of batters, doesn't walk many and doesn't give up the long ball, mostly because he brings a nasty sinker that can hit the upper-90's when he's on along with an array of other above average pitches. The Giants, however, are no strangers to facing big pitchers in big games and certainly won't be intimidated by any stretch traveling into New York and what will be a rowdy Citi Field. In fact, I think the Giants thrive on these underdog type scenarios. Not saying they're the underdogs necessarily, most people over at Yahoo Sports have the Giants walking away from this one victorious but they're gonna have to figure out a way to get to the young Mets' righty early, or else their in for trouble.One area in which the Mets have the clear upper hand is in the bullpen. The Giants' pen have been dreadful in the second half and although multiple factors have been at play, the bullpen has been the epicenter of their second half meltdown. They just couldn't manage to keep leads after the 7th inning of ballgames or else we're not even talking about this game and talking about an upcoming NLDS vs. the Washington Nationals.For MadBum it's not going to be anything new, and we all know he thrives on the big stage like this, but Bumgarner hasn't quite been the dominant MadBum we're used to recently. Not that he's been bad but he's carried an ERA around 4 for the last two months of the regular season and gave up 8 runs over his two starts to end the season. Nevertheless, I expect Bum on his game tomorrow, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him help himself at the plate. In fact, I could see it being a 0-0 game into the middle innings and having an unlikely person from either side put the first run(s) on the board like a big hit from one of the starters or a big defensive mishap that opens the door for the opposing team. I can definitely see a game where runs are scored late in the game and that's when it could be decided, which would be bad news for the Giants. They're best case scenario is to have MadBum get it at least to the 8th inning with a lead, therefore Boch won't be forced to go to the pen often at all. If we're seeing the bullpen in the 6th inning (even if it's happening with the Mets as well), the odds sway heavily in New York's favor.The Giants have the experience and the big game pitcher, however their bullpen is a crap-shoot and they could be without their starting third basemen. The Mets have the home field advantage, which is big in a one-game playoff like this, and are coming in on a roll, having won four of their last five ballgames to close things out (and pitching terrifically in the process). Lets not forgot that this is pretty much the same team that represented the NL in the World Series last season too, so their bunch is far from timid in the October spotlight. One positive for MadBum and the Giants though is that most of the Mets' big "thumpers" (Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda) are left-handed, but two of their other top hitters, Jose Reyes and Yeonis Cespedes, both feast on lefties and have been hot. All that said, this is such a tough one to predict, and I don't know that I can make a guess as to who will win this ballgame, I think it's that even. The Mets are hungry and finished strong, they also came within three victories of a World Championship last fall. These Giants sort of just wound up in the postseason based on their inc[...]



Giants righting the ship just in time?

2016-09-17T18:03:12.311-07:00

We all know how forgettable the second half of July through most of August was for these San Francisco Giants. They lost their stranglehold on the NL West lead and went from one of the top teams in all of baseball in the first half to a team that's going to have to kick and fight their way into a postseason spot down the stretch.None of the deals they made at the deadline seemed to give the team the shot in the arm they were hoping for that first month or so after the deals (aside from a few decent starts from Matt Moore). The beautiful thing about baseball, however, is that you can go through prolonged rough patches, but as long as you figure things out by September and are still in the hunt, your never really out of it. We're seeing something like this go on with these San Francisco Giants. I mean, they've been one of the worst teams in baseball after the break and it's not like they've had a bunch of injuries or anything to blame that on. However, Since the calendar flipped over the September, the urgency in the Giants' play has picked up a bit, and although that recent three-game sweep suffered at the hands of the Padres earlier this week, it came on the heels of a three-game sweep of Arizona and they've no taken the first two of a four game set with the wild card hopeful Cardinals. As things stand on September 17th, the Giants are still 4 games out of the West, but they'll have ample opportunity to make up ground on the Dodgers there even though there's less than 15 games left in the season. The Giants have 6 of their remaining 16 games left with their SoCal rivals so the West isn't quite as done of a deal as many believe.As far as the wild card situation, unless the Giants have a complete meltdown, which is entirely possible with the way their unpredictable second half has transpired, but their starters are throwing very well right now and I just don't see them relinquishing their top Wild Card spot. The Giants and Mets hold the two spots right now, and the next closest team to them is the very team the Giants are facing this weekend and have already taken the first two games of the series against in St. Louis. If the Giants can finish them off and sweep the Cards these next two games, I think that will pretty much lock them into a postseason birth. They currently sit 3 games back of the Giants who hold the first WC spot and 2 back of the Mets who hold the 2nd. Two more wins vs. the Cards would put the Giants 5 games up on them with 13 games left at that point so these next two are big for the Giants if they want to ensure their spot in the postsesaon.So, it can shake out plenty of different ways, but as of now, with the Giants' play looking much more fundamentally sound and consistent, they should have themselves a spot in the playoffs, most likely via the Wild Card though and probably vs. the New York Mets. And, as we've said all along, this Giants team is built for playoff series with the strong starting pitching and a lineup full of hitters who've excelled on the big stage often more so than they do during the regular season. In other words, if they get in, they have as good a shot as any, including the Cubbies and Dodgers, at keeping that even year magic alive.Now, you ask, what has changed between the Giants team we've seen the last couple weeks from the one we saw stinking it up for 6 weeks after the break? First and foremost, that starting pitching, which did run into a bit of a hiccup in August, looks like they've fallen right back in line as to where they expect to be. Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner have been there all year, but Matt Moore has started to string together some pretty nice outings himself. He's gone 4-1 over his last 5 starts, allowing just 11 earned runs and a 30:9 K/BB ratio over 28 innings of work. It's been his best 5-game stretch as a Giant by far. So yes, the objective of that widely unpopular deal to trade Matt Duffy away for Matt Moore is starti[...]



Giants second-half skid getting worse

2016-08-18T13:15:25.659-07:00

This series the Giants just finished up with the Pirates was one of the toughest I've seen all year. In all three games, the Giants coughed up comfortable leads and have now fallen 1.5 games back of LA in the West for the first time since early May.Whats been especially rough is the way they're losing these games though. It seems like each day it's a particular area of the team that isn't pulling their weight. For example, Matt Moore, a guy the Giants paid heavily to get, wasn't able to give them a quality start on Monday and that, coupled with some bullpen deficiencies caused the Giants to lose a game they should have won. Then on Wednesday, Jeff Samardizja was solid, allowing 3 runs over 6 innings, but the Giants offense just couldn't quite figure out rookie Jameson Taillon and lost the game 4-3. Then, perhaps the toughest of all three losses came Wednesday, when the Giants staked Matt Cain a 4-run lead early and Matty looked like he was on his game through 4 innings, shutting down the Pirates. However, he not only coughed up the lead but allowed 6 runs in that brutal fifth, and the Giants only scored one the rest of the way, losing 6-5.So yes, it was one of the more painful 3-game series I've seen them play all season and it's just now resonating with me that the Giants were vastly overachieving in the first half and that this team may not be a playoff team. They're not a good comeback team, and they have trouble scoring throughout the game. Most there damage usually comes in one or two innings. A big reason for that is there really isn't one guy in their lineup who's having a standout year (aside from Crawford and the RBI output) and after MadBum and Cueto, their rotation hasn't given any sort of consistency the last 6 weeks. Then of course there's the bullpen, which has been one of the worst in the league since the All-Star break as well. No lead seems to be safe right now and that's a scary thing.None of the three trades they made at the deadline have paid off as of yet. Will Smith has been downright terrible, sporting a 12.26 ERA in his 7 games in the orange and black. Eduardo Nunez, who was a dynamic offensive player during an all-star first half in Minnesota hitting for average, power and stealing bases regularly, has come over to the NL and seemingly forgotten how to hit. He did finally connect  for his first home run as a Giant on Monday, but otherwise has been dreadful since the deal, hitting just .200 with that 1 HR and 3 RBI in 18 games. Granted, he spent his career in the AL, so an adjustment period was certainly expected, though it's carried on longer and has been worse then everyone was anticipating.At this point, they have no choice but to ride it out and hope things turn back around for this final 6-week stretch run. We all knew the Giants were over-achieving in May and June, especially offensively, as they seemed to always find ways to scrap together enough runs to win but I didn't expect them to hit a wall like this (especially with everyone healthy). Pitching wise, they haven't been anywhere near as good as they were during that May/June run so it makes you wonder, which is the real 2016 San Francisco Giants? This team hasn't looked at all like a playoff-caliber squad for a considerable amount of time now and even if they got lucky and landed another reliable starter to take Cain's spot, or another bat or relief arm via waivers wouldn't make that much of a difference. In May/June they just kept figuring out ways to beat you like a good team does but now it's the complete opposite as they're finding different ways to lose ballgames. What they can do, and something I would like to see is them shake something up though. Whether it's dropping Cain from the rotation and giving a youngster like Tyler Beede or Ty Blach a shot or maybe doing something different with the top of the lineup, they have to make some attempt to get this team [...]



Giants need more from big hitters

2016-08-15T21:33:53.758-07:00

Much of the Giants struggles in the second half have been because of a major offensive drought the team has been going through the last month. Before the break, the Giants were figuring out ways to scrap together runs despite missing a couple of key contributors like Pence and Pagan.Now fast-forward to mid-August, entering the stretch drive and the final 6+ weeks of the season, and the Giants lack of offense has become a trend that's lasted much longer than any of us were anticipating/hoping. Over the last 10 games the Giants have scored four-plus runs just four times, have been shut out twice and put up just a run in two of those contests. There pitching is good enough to where they're going to win most games in which they score more than 4 runs but that just hasn't been happening with any consistency. One of the reasons has been Hunter Pence. Hunter is a guy they were expecting a ton of run production from this year, yet he was knocked out for a couple months and has really struggled to get back on track since his return. Even before the injury he wasn't quite producing runs at a rate he's accustomed too though his average was up around .300 all year. Since his return however, neither the average or power has been there, as he's gone just 9-48 with 0 HR's and just one RBI while sporting a anemic .464 OPS! Before the injury, Pence was on pace for his typical .290'ish 20+ home run, 90+ RBI season, but he's not performing anywhere near that level right now and it's really hurting.Pence's struggles have forced Bochy to drop him down in the lineup to the 7th slot recently. I personally would like to see him maybe shifted up into the two-hole with Belt or Crawford third then Posey fourth and maybe that will get him some more fastballs and get him back on track a little. Speaking of Posey, he's another guy who's not performing up to his career norm either. He's had such an odd season to say the least. He's gone through short mini bursts in which you think he's about to break out and turn back into that .320 hitting Buster who's hitting balls all over the yard and in the gaps, driving in runs. However, as the Giants enter play Saturday, Posey's sporting extremely pedestrian numbers for his standards with a line of .288/12/54/.818. Again, not bad at all for a catcher, but I'm sure the former MVP would like to be closer to 20 HR, and around 75 RBI at this point in the season than he is. To his credit, he is on pace to score the most runs of his career, which is more of a testament to Belt, Crawford and the guys behind him, but I'd like to see him step it up himself down the stretch.If the Giants continue to get lackluster games from Pence at the plate and Buster stays on his current, very mediocre pace and can't hit another hot streak that can carry on for a few weeks and give this team some offensive life, the Giants are going to be in trouble. The Dodgers are right on their heels, just a game back, and they still have big reinforcements on the way in Rich Hill (back next week) and Clayton Kershaw (who is expected back by September). A month ago it was looking as if the Giants were going to just run away with this division. They were thriving despite rough back-end rotation performances and not having Pence and Pagan out there. Now, everyone is healthy, and they've even strengthened their rotation big time and found themselves a sorely lacking, top left-handed reliever, but they just can't find that rhythm they had going strong in May/June.This is going to be a telling home stand in my opinion. After the Orioles the Giants get the Pirates and then the Mets. All these teams are beatable teams and the Giants should be able to take each of these series'. After this stand they have a tough stretch heading out on the road to face the Dodgers, Cubs, Rockies and D-Backs. The Rockies and D-Backs have given the Giants trouble in 2016 and the Cubs a[...]



Giants ultra aggressive as deadline dust settles

2016-10-05T03:13:42.275-07:00

The Giants parted with a lot of well known names in the organization over the last week, culminating with two big deals before Monday's 1 PM trade deadline. While I don't think they got away with any steals this summer, I'm leaning toward liking two of the three deals, but only time will tell how they really play out.First the one I thought was a little too much for a little, well, too little. The Giants gave up Andrew Susac, an aging, albeit still valuable catching prospect, but also their top pick from 2015 and a guy who's looked it in his brief stint in pro ball in Phil Bickford for a middle reliever. Now, granted, that middle reliever has been one of the best in the game the last few seasons and should give the Giants exactly what they needed most in that bullpen, the price was a little too steep for my liking. I would have preferred more of a 2nd rate pitching prospect with Susac, someone along the lines of a Chris Stratton or Kyle Crick (who still has upside but has fallen in prospect ranks a bit recently). Instead the Giants parted with a guy some (including myself) believe to be their very best pitching prospect (yes over Beede because of age) for a middle reliever and that's a bit crazy when you really think about it. However, the Giants have a window they see of about 3-5 more seasons where they'll have this core group in-tact and in their relative primes and with that championship window open so it was clearly a go-for-it-now move and it did meet a need. Also, it gives the Giants get a top of the line LH reliever who will stick around for cheap through 2019 which I think was the selling point for Bobby Evans. He figures with the money saved in this move the Giants may be able to sign an international prospect who can come in and take right over for Bickford, but again, only time will tell.As for the Matt-for-Matt trade, in which the Giants sent infielder, fan favorite and reigning ROY runner-up Matt Duffy along with top-10 pitching prospect Lucious Fox to Tampa for a guy who just two seasons ago was looking like he was becoming a premiere left-handed starter in this league, Matt Moore. At first, I was extremely bummed they had to give up Duffy, and I still am. I like him, I think he's a good player and does have the capability to be a solid major league regular like we saw in 2015, for years to come. However, we didn't see that this year, as he's been one of the worst offensive 3rd basemen all year long. Not too mention, the Giants just added a guy who needs to be in the starting lineup daily and really didn't have a spot with Pence and Panik both making returns. Nunez brings more pop and speed than Duffy but the ladder is the better defender (although Nunez hasn't looked too shabby in his brief stint here thus far) and had the knack for the clutch hit, especially in '15. I like that the Giants had a back-up plan in place for Duffy and probably will upgrade now at third base for the stretch run and have Nunez under contract for 2017 as well. Duffy, however, would have been under team control through 2019.As for Matt Moore, as I said above, this guy was considered a rising star back in 2012/13 before getting injured. In fact, he went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA with the Rays in 2013 (despite missing all of August), earning himself an All-Star appearance. However, he had to undergo the dreaded Tommy John Surgery in 2014 which essentially took away much of his last two seasons. He's looked liked he's rebounding nicely this year though and he's been respectable, although not the 2013-type successful. A move to the NL West and AT&T Park will be a huge positive for him and I'd be surprised if he didn't emerge as the Giants #3 starter down the stretch. He has that kind of potential. Also, he too is under team control with team options through 2019 that will pay him significantly less than others in his cl[...]



What Eduardo Nunez trade means

2016-07-30T16:03:13.006-07:00

As we've been discussing over much of the last month-plus, the Giants primary focus heading into the trade deadline would be pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Whether it be another capable starter as insurance to the bipolar production from Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, or a couple of late relievers to help a bullpen in need. Alas, it was neither, at least of yet, as the Giants dealt for breakout infielder Eduardo Nunez on Thursday night.We'll first talk about the guy coming to the Giants, and that is Nunez, a career utility infielder up until this season where he's really broken out at the plate and earned himself an everyday job in Minnesota. Now, Target Field is no hitters paradise so for the 29 year-old Nunez to take off with his best offensive year playing half his games in that yard tells you how hot he's been. With the Twins in 86 games, he slashed a respectable .296/12/46/.764 with 27 stolen bases. Transfer those numbers over to the Giants and he'd be leading the team in hitting and big flies (tied with Posey) and by far leading in stolen bases. So yes, it's easy to see why the Giants viewed Nunez as a guy who can potentially come in and fill in all over the infield and even left field in a pinch. I see the logic with both Joe Panik (who made his return Thursday) and Matt Duffy battling nagging injuries and both uncertain on how much playing time and how much production they'll be able to provide these final two months of the regular season and into October. So yes, this deal does make a ton of sense because both Nunez's production and versatility as well as the question marks (health wise) the Giants have at third, second and even left field with the fragile Angel Pagan.That being said, Matt Duffy is starting his rehab assignment next week, and Joe Panik/Angel Pagan seemingly hit the DL every other month with some sort of injury, so the depth will be nice. As I said at the top of the post, Nunez's numbers are equal or better than any other guy on the Giants current roster so it's hard to sideline him even if Duffy does come back strong. I mean, Duffy, while I have full confidence in him eventually figuring out his swing and approach at the plate again, is having an underwhelming season at the plate this year (terrible by third basemen standards), to say the least, and Nunez, based on numbers alone, should have the job over him. Panik has put up some better stats when he's been on the field but he too has been missing a lot of games these last couple of seasons due to random injury. So again, it's not a bad idea to have a guy like Nunez around especially considering the current circumstances and the Giants rough offensive showing since the All-Star break.Now, all that said, there are some negatives to this deal as well. The Giants had to part with their top left-handed pitching prospect in the deal, giving away Adalberto Mejia, who just may well go on to become the next Francisco Liriano for the Twins (I'm sure that was in the back of their minds when they decided to pull the trigger) for a guy who before this year would have to battle to make a 25-man roster. Also, Nunez's defense leaves a lot to be desired. He's not going to be Brandon Crawford when he plays short, not even close, and he's not as steady as Duffy is at the hot corner either, so you are sacrificing some defense for some offense in this case. It's really going to come down to the health of three players. If Duffy, Panik or Pagan get hurt again and/or miss significant time down the stretch then this deal should pan out well for the Giants. If those guys come back strong, and Nunez ends up on the bench more than he's on the field then the Giants will have parted with a valuable trade chip for a guy who may become a very expensive utility outfielder for them in 2016. He's arbitration eligible and after this [...]



Giants looking for 'relief' before Aug. 1st deadline

2016-07-24T23:55:10.888-07:00

We're almost there guys, and although the Giants have stayed quiet on the trade front up till now, I believe strongly they will get involved at some point in the next week as they try and upgrade at least their bullpen before the new August 1st trade deadline.First off, the Giants have been a bit of a mess since resuming play after the All-Star break, still seeking their first victory after being swept in San Diego by the Padres, which hopefully is not a foresight of things to come in the second half because that was a brutal three-game set. They then took it on the chin in Boston for two and lost the first couple at Yankee Stadium this weekend. All those injuries before the break, of which the Giants were doing a miraculous job finding in-house options to step up, are starting to catch up with team. They're hoping Hunter Pence and Joe Panik aren't too far off, as Pence has started his rehab in Sacramento with the River Cats, but still doesn't have a set return date (my guess would be next weekend assuming he doesn't suffer any set-back). Panik's situation is a bit more tricky as he really has been expected to appear in a River Cats game by now and still just hasn't fully shaken the concussion symptoms quite yet. He's the one you worry about just because that can be an issue that can come back later too and bite him. Just remember all the problems it gave Belt back in 2014. Finally, the third injured Giants' starting position player, Matt Duffy, who's been out since mid-June with an Achilles tendon injury is scheduled to get his rehab started within the next week.Position players haven't really been on the Giants' radar because they are expecting those three key missing cogs back in the next couple weeks. Also, quite frankly, guys who've stepped in for them have done an awesome job and have not only kept the team afloat but gave it some more energy and kept it as strong a powerhouse as it's been all season. However, things have definitely changed since the All-Star break as the bats have really cooled off. They've scored 21 runs in 7 games since the break, but 13 of those runs came in two games. So essentially they had six games since the break where they've scored a total of 8 runs. I don't care if you have MadBum and Cueto going for you, if your scoring a run a game your not gonna win a lot of ballgames.The replacements have been admirable, especially Ramiro Pena, Mac Williamson (for his D and his timely big fly's), Jarrett Parker and even getting a few big hits from Conor Gillaspie. However, the Giants need their A-players back and they need Duffy in particular to come back in 2015 form. It makes me wonder though whether the Giants should be looking at 3rd/2nd basemen. I mean, Pena has been nice, but do you really want him at third base if Matt Duffy is hitting .245 and slugging .300 come September? Or if Panik's concussion symptoms pop up again down the stretch? I don't think they need to look into dealing for an infielder before August 1st, but if they end up needing one for one of the reasons stated above, then I think that's some thing we could see happen through waivers.With the positional players and bench seemingly worked out and hopefully will be coming together and at full strength in the next couple of weeks, the pitching staff in a whole other issue. I think everyone is pretty comfortable with the front-3, even though Jeff Samrdzija goes a little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on occasion, but come a 7-game playoff series, ideally you'd like to have 4 startable arms and I'm not sure the Giants have that reliable 4th option. Right now it would be Jake Peavy and the guy has an ERA over 5 and has been one of the most hittable starters in 2016. However, Peavy has been better the last couple months too. Take away his terrible April and his [...]



Giants a darkhorse in SP market?

2016-07-20T22:46:27.748-07:00

I'm sure you take a look at the Giants front-three in their rotation alone and think they're set. Two all-stars in Bum in Cueto then a strong #3 in "The Shark". With those three setting the tone for a deep lineup and strong defense, you'd almost think the Giants are ready for the stretch drive as is. Well, think again!While the Giants' front-three starters are solid, they still don't have the most ideal pitching staff come postseason where they'll really need four reliable starters (I know we're getting ahead of ourselves here but anyway...). Now, they do have three startable arms in Cueto, Bumgarner and Samardzija, but after that it's a little unclear what Bochy would do in the fourth spot. Matt Cain is currently rehabbing with the River Cats and is coming off an extremely tough outing numbers-wise, but his velocity was there and he says he' feels like he's ready to rejoin the Giants rotation. He's the real question mark at this point as Jake Peavy has really turned things around on his end and has completely locked down that fifth spot, If he continues to improve like he has since early May down the stretch then he very well may be that fourth starter in the playoffs, but I still think the Giants will keep their options open. They're really gonna want to see Cainer throw at the big league level before the deadline if possible which, again, should be the case in the next week or so, before making any decisions regarding the staff, but I still think another starter would be a helluva smart move if they have the rescources and find a reasonable deal.I mean, there are going to be more and more names tossed abuot over the next couple weeks but the guy I'd really like to get into the Giants rotation if at any way possible is Julio Teheran. I've mentioned the young Braves right-hander here a few different times this season as he's been one of my favorite arms in the NL and knows how to use a spacious ballpark to his advantage. Plus, he's pitching for a mediocre defensive squad and one of the worst hitting teams in all of baseball so he'd probably get an immediate boost mentally just by coming over to an elite team like the Giants. A couple other guys out there who could give that Giants that insurance starter without them having to break the bank could be Oakland's Rich Hill, Chi Sox lefty Jose Quintana, Milwaukee's Jimmy Nelson and Philly's right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, just to name a few.Of course, their search for help won't just stop in the rotation. As a matter of fact, they're gonna also be looking into relief help which, luckily for them, tend to be the easiest to obtain this time of year due to the sheer volume of options. Still, they need quality here, so they probably have just a small handful of guys they are strongly considering. I've always been a strong Andrew Miller advocate as the Giants need that lights-out left-handed late man and also a guy who can take over for Santaigo Casilla when he runs into his occasional hiccups. Whether its Miller or someone else though, they need another proven lefty and I'd like to see them get another proven right-hander too just to take some pressure off of Romo. Strickland's close but I just don't fully trust him in the 8th inning of a 1-run game with a runner on and facing a guy like a Kris Bryant or Nolan Arrenado in some intensely crucial game down the stretch in September (due to his history of surrendering the big home run late in games).Other than a reliable late man or two, and then possibly another capable starter who could push/replace Peavy or Cain, I think the Giants are pretty well armed for the stretch drive. I mean, with guys in their system popping up left and right and legitimately contributing, they aren't at all having their hand forced in terms of needing to mak[...]



Giants' external options should be assessed

2016-06-10T19:35:18.195-07:00

About this time each year is when the contenders separate themselves from the "pretenders" as many teams can tell by mid-June whether or not they're a serious contender or not. Obviously, the Giants fall into the contender category, and with injuries popping up left and right all over their 25-man roster, they could be forced to look at some external trade options sooner than later.The July 31st non-waiver deadline is still quite a ways away, 7 weeks to be exact, but it doesn't mean that the Giants will wait if they see a good opportunity to add to their roster. Over the first couple months of the season they've already lost key cogs Matt Cain, Sergio Romo, Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan to DL stints. Pagan is hopefully on his way back within the next couple weeks but Hunter Pence, arguably the team's second most important offensive piece, looks to be out until at least August with his torn hamstring ligament. Cain has resumed throwing and assuming he doesn't hit any road blocks, he could be back in the rotation within a week or two. Aside from those four who've missed, or are set to miss significant time, the Giants also have battled nagging injuries with second basemen Joe Panik as well as catcher Buster Posey recently. Panik's primary backup (Kelby Tomlinson) had been doing a solid job spelling Panik when needed but he himself just went down with sprained thumb and will be out a few weeks.I mean, for all the injuries and the caliber of players they're seeing get sidelined, it's pretty impressive to see the Giants still standing strong in first place atop the NL West at 36-25 and it's a testament as to how strong their starting pitching has become as a unit and not just a two man show between Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. However, although they seem to be treading water with some of their key players out, with the expectations they have this year, the Giants aren't going to sit around and just wait for guys to get back and hope it all works out by the end of the season. They've always been an agressive team regarding in-season trades and I expect this season to be no different.A big question remains however. If they are going to make a deal for one player or one area of the team to upgrade, which seems most imminent at the moment? With Pagan's injury history and Pence out until the ladder part of the season, the outfield obviously becomes a good choice. Also, with the inconsistency they've seen out of the 4th and 5th rotation spots (although they've been much better in recent weeks), they could decide to add another arm. Finally, this bullpen is far from bullet proof. Santiago Casilla, while being a guy who's gonna get the job done more than not, isn't a front-line closer and he doesn't have a whole helluva lot of depth leading up to him with Romo down.So, yes, the team has been winning, and things are still cruising along fairly nicely, but this team has not yet reached their full potential, and with Pence down for the next two months, it's going to be a while before they will be back at full strength. Should they make a deal for an outfielder to come in and hold down Pence's spot until he returns then possibly share time with Angel Pagan in left? Should they find another mid-rotation guy like they did with Mike Leake last season, as someone else who can give them 6-7 solid innings more times then not or just ride it out with Cain and Peavy? Or, do they go out and revamp the bullpen and bring in a more legit, prime time closer and/or a few solid set-up guys to really help shorten the game, as they just don't have that lights out 7th/8th inning guy right now with Romo out? This team always tends to lean towards pitching, so my guess is they'll prioritize adding another arm or two, whether it b[...]



Giants hoping to have found their groove

2016-05-18T03:36:44.361-07:00

The Giants have had some interesting stretches already through the season's first five weeks, but they're going to have to put together some form of consistency, sooner than later, if they want to keep atop the NL West. And it looks as though they may have found some!It's just been such a strange pattern of events that this team has been going through. Generally, through much of April, scoring runs wasn't a problem for this team. Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence have anchored the middle of the order while Buster Posey, Matt Duffy (although he's been much better in May) and Co. sort of coast along looking to find their grove. Over about the last week though, it looks like they may have finally done just that. I mean, nobody in the lineup has been particularly bad to this point. None of them are hovering down near .200 or anything and everyone has had at least a handful of games in which they've helped contribute to victories, but they just haven't been able to get one the same page together as a unit, at least until lately.All of the sudden, the offense appears to be heating up just a little bit, although still plenty of room for improvement. Joe Panik, despite currently carrying an average in the .250's, has come up with some big hits time and time again. And then there's Denard Span, who is showing the value of a true leadoff hitter, even though his average isn't quite up where he'd like it to be yet. Buster still hasn't hit his hot streak and while Pence has been steadily solid, he himself hasn't gone on a week's long tear where he hits .500 and knocks 5 balls out of the ballpark, which shows the upside of this offense. I mean, imagine if Buster and Span were up at or around .300 and Duffy wasn't invisible at the plate for much of April, we're probably looking at a team 10+ games above .500 (rather than a squad barely trying to stay afloat at that mark). Their problem has been getting all their big hitters on track at the same time. They'll have Pence and Belt heat up for a week, then cool down just as Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey find their stroke. Lately though, they've started getting more guys going at the same time and if that keeps up they should start creating separation between them and the .500 mark.Now, I'm completely aware of the pitching situation; both what's going in the 4th and 5th rotation spots as well as they musical chairs they've been playing in the bullpen, both in mid and late relief. Jake Peavy and Matt Cain are still anchoring down the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation and while each has shown a minor glimmer of bouncing back into form from time to time, neither have been major league caliber starters since the beginning of the year, period. I mean, these two have not been struggling since spring, but Cainer's struggles really date all the way back to before he went down in 2013. Seeing how the Giants had a stretch at the end of April/early May in which they went 10-2 and were both hitting the ball and pitching successfully, shows that they can still be successful with Cain and Peavy in the mix, but they're gonna have to strengthen up and become almost perfect in every other aspect. That being said, if one or both don't shape up by the end of May, changes are going to be made. They did bring up a minor league starter Friday, re-calling RHP Clayton Blackburn from AAA Sacramento. Not surprisingly, they kept Alberto Suarez and the 13-man staff, rather optioning Jarrett Parker back to Sacramento instead.The Giants' pitching, outside of Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija and Casilla, as well as Josh Osich and Cory Gearrin (also Derrick Law has been impressive) at times, has been extremely hit or miss. Even notoriously tough Javier Lopez has [...]



Giants should seriously consider Lincecum

2016-05-07T00:53:57.484-07:00

As many of you know, Tim Lincecum finally threw for scouts on Friday, and apparently had an impressive session. With the Giants struggling in the back-end of their rotation and looking desperately for relief help, they should strongly consider returning one of the most popular Giants of the last decade.There were scouts from nearly every team in the league on hand to check out the former Cy Young winner's mound session, and all reaction coming from those on hand indicate Lincecum getting a shot redemption. The bulked-up right-hander was sitting right around 90-91 with the heater, and from the few pitches I saw, his breaking ball looked to have a big snap. So, with the positive showing and the problematic hip that he's blamed his struggles the last few seasons on supposedly all healed up he could very well get his wish and be back in a big league rotation at some point in June. He's made it clear his first choice would be to return to being a starter, the Giants should be of major interest because of their need in both the bullpen and starting. I mean, could Lincecum really be any worse than Jake Peavy or Matt Cain have been over the season's first month? It would take him probably about a months worth of time in the minor leagues, basically his version of spring training, before he'd likely be ready to appear at the big league level. That would give Cain and Peavy time and incentive to improve or Timmy could come in and bounce the weaker link to the bullpen. Otherwise they use Lincecum there, where he was a key part of their 2012 postseason run.Judging by the fact that they wouldn't need to part with any of their own talent to obtain Lincecum, as well as the fact that he'll likely sign a cheap, one-year incentive laden deal, makes him that much more appealing. Also, looking at it from his end, he has to view the Giants as one of his better options for himself. He's obviously familiar with the team, city and ballpark and knows what the expectations are for the team this season. He has to be seeing both Cain and Peavy struggling and figure he could have a shot at one of their spots and if he does come in and put up a sub-4 ERA and pitches well, he'll land himself a multi-year deal over the winter. It just seems like a good fit on both ends as the Giants are a contender that needs pitching anyway they can get it and Timmy needs opportunity anywhere he can get it. The only team that I've seen to have serious interest in Timmy are the Yankees, but that would put him, a fly-ball pitcher, in a smaller yard and one of the tougher offensive divisions in the league. It's not likely to be money that decides where Linceum goes, rather than where he feels his best opportunity to succeed individually in 2016 is, and I still think that should put the Giants right near the top of the list.The drop-off from after Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardiza has been what's kept the Giants from being up there with the likes of the Cubs and Nationals, although the injuries to the bullpen haven't helped things too much either. This offense, as it showed in Friday night's comeback victory, is set right now. They're healthy, they're deep and they're one of the stronger units in the game. They're certainly championship-caliber there, but I think we all know that they're going to have to add pitching at some point in order to solidify their spot atop the NL West.[...]



Giants end April in rough way

2016-04-30T21:19:42.062-07:00

After the Giants had the bases loaded with nobody out in the top of the 8th in that 6-3 ballgame on Saturday in New York, I had one last glimmer of hope. However when Brandon Belt, then Brandon Crawford proceeded to miss giving the team the lead by a few feet for the next two outs, I knew it just wasn't gonna be their day.What's been the theme for all of April continued on it's final day, as Jake Peavy on Friday, then Matt Cain on Saturday, just couldn't provide quality enough starts to give the Giants a chance to win. When your facing young flame-throwing strikeout artists like the Giants have the last few days you know your going to have little room for error if your pitching against them, and Peavy and Cain both were just too hittable. Now, I'm not going to turn this into a Peavy and Cain roasting, and I'm actually gonna keep it pretty short and simple because everyone who's watched this team to start the year know what they're capable of and they know where their weaknesses lie at the moment. About 1/6 through the season is hardly time to toss your proven veterans off the ship, but it's certainly not too early to start thinking of some backup plays just in case May doesn't go much better. Of course most teams aren't going to start dealing their top players this early in the year but it's never too early to dial up Atlanta and check in on Julio Teheran or maybe reach out across the bay and try to snag the rejuvenated Rich Hill.... Still plenty of time before anything needs to be done, but again, never to early to start planning.As for everything else, the Giants seem to be pressing a little bit and it can't all be blamed on Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. Buster Posey isn't hitting like Buster Posey is used to hitting and it's showing. Matt Duffy has picked it up somewhat as of late, but still is down about 50 points lower in average than he should be. Span could be hitting better as well. Pence, Belt and Pagan all seem to be doing about as expected but just about everyone else has to step it up a notch. Not that they're doing terribly, but they certainly aren't preforming at a championship caliber level.On a positive I wanted to point out Brandon Belt. This guy just missed giving the Giants a lead in Saturday's game by about an 1/8 of an inch on the bat, and he just keeps seeming to make loud contact. It seems like every year people say "this is the year Belt hits 30/100" and while I know Belt's streakiness enough to make any concrete predictions, April was the most consistent month, form start to finish, I've seen the big first basemen have. No concussions or little nagging injuries to keep him out of the lineup and he seems to be seeing the ball out of lefties hands well too. He and Hunter Pence have certainly helped offset Posey and Duffy's slow start but if the Giants wanna be more than a .500 team, they need more than just 2 or 3 guys hitting the baseball. Their pitching, especially in the back-end of their rotation and even their bullpen now, is nowhere near good enough to win 2-1 on most nights so this team has got to hit![...]



Giants arrive in New York on a roll

2016-04-29T12:58:29.318-07:00

The Giants started out the season 6-2, at which point I think many of us felt like this team was already clicking and probably would be a +.500 team pretty much from start to finish. However, the Giants offense hit a major funk while also running into some pitching problems and it caused them to lose 8 of 11 ballgames and before you knew it, they were a few games below .500.Well, much like that first 10 days of the season, the Giants look like they've somewhat gotten their grove back. They've finally gotten back over the .500 mark, now sitting at 12-11 (after sweeping the Pads this week), heading into Friday night's series opener with the Mets. I'm really looking forward to this weekend's series as it's the Giants first big test outside their division and they're having to go into Flushing Meadows to take on the reigning NL Champions. Luckily for the Giants, they won't have to face Mets ace Matt Harvey while getting to sport their two aces Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner in games two and three. However, they're not going to avoid Noah Syndegaard (who in my opinion is better than Harvey anyway) nor Jacob deGrom, one of the most underrated young arms in the game. Games two (MadBum/Syndegaard) and three (Cueto/deGrom) should be outstanding pitching match-ups in the spacious Citi Field and we may see a grand total of about 5 runs scored in those two ballgames.Where the Giants have the upper hand on New York is their much deeper lineup, however, a lot of guys, including their star Buster Posey, are still looking to really get into their grooves. Pence and Belt have been helping pick up the slack, and Joe Panik looks like he's rounding into his .300 form with that sneaky extra-base power. They really just have to get Buster Posey, who, whether it  takes until May 1st of June 15th, is gonna get it going at the plate and in a big way, to start pitching in. Also, Brandon Crawford, the all-star shortstop who hit 20 jacks last year and drove in 84 runs while sporting an OPS just shy of .800, needs to show more of that BCraw rather than the .236/2/5 line he's put up the first month. Granted, his patience at the plate still has his OBP around .350 and OPS up over .700 which are still respectable for a shortstop with his defensive caliber, we've seen him grow a lot the last 2 seasons and eventually he's gonna round into shape. Denard Span is another guy who should see his average start spiking here sooner or later. He's always been a .285+ hitter  (.302 combined the last 2 seasons) and although he's driving in runs at a high rate, scoring runs and still getting on base at a decent clip, he's still got some offensive upside he's yet to fully tap into.The Giants have a good squad people. Better than they did entering any of their Championship seasons, in my opinion. They're up there with the Mets, Cubs and Nationals, better than LA, Arizona, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, and they/'ve finally started looking it the last week. Most likely, the team that stays the healthiest out of the first four, more elite squads I mentioned will end up representing the National League in the World Series this October, barring some unforeseen fall-off, injury or something along those lines. The Giants, with the experience and depth they have, are going to have as good a shot as any, but they gotta get that consistency going. No more losing 7 of 9. If they can avoid those prolonged losing streaks, they have a good enough squad to win 95 as they're currently composed. Now if Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean go out and get another starter and/or lights out closer (or whatever need may present itself over the next two m[...]



Johnny Cueto.. The Savior!

2016-05-07T01:08:20.785-07:00

After a red hot first week-plus to start out April, the Giants hit about a 2-week rough stretch, but it looks like they're finally breaking out of it. Oh yeah, that Johnny Cueto guy looks like he's going to be pretty good too!San Francisco has won four of their last five ballgames to get back to the .500 mark at 11-11, and they did it behind the best pitching performance we've seen to start the 2016 season, hands down! Johnny Cueto dazzled the San Diego Padres Tuesday night at AT&T Park, and while the Pads don't exactly supply the most imposing offensive lineup, it was impressive nonetheless. The Giants' 30 year-old prized off-season signing threw the team's first complete game of 2016, allowing 7 hits and a walk while using 11 K's to help get him out of any trouble he ran into, which wasn't much at all. This was the exactly what the Giants had in mind when they gave Cueto that big deal in December, and this is exactly why I was all for his 2-year opt-out. This guy looks motivated and focused here in the early season. Look no further than his 4-1, 2.65 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 33 K's to just 5 walks in 37 innings of work thus far as a testament to that. Some players hit that comfort zone after they get a really large deal like Cueto's as they know they're set for the next 5+ years, but Johnny knows that two big seasons in San Francisco could land him a Zach Grienke-type deal.So yes, a lot of people worried about that two-year opt-out but not I and it's being shown why early on here. Dude looks focused! It was a good thing Cueto had his A-stuff on this night too because the Giants just couldn't get anything going against Padres ace James Shields. The tall right-hander held the Giants to just 3 hits in his 7 innings of work, but luckily one of those hits was a double off the bat of Denard Span with a runner on to provide the only run of the game and Johnny made it stand. The hitting, after that slow start and then horrible couple weeks in mid-April, looks like it's slowly but surely coming around (sans Tuesday obviously), as we all knew it would. As the weather heats up, so do the bats usually and I really expect this team to start clicking at the plate sooner than later on a consistent level.MadBum, Cueto, Samardzija have all been just about as advertised and Jake Peavy's coming off his best start of the year, so right now, that staff really just needs to get Matt Cain going and then they'll start clicking on all cylinders as well. With the shuffling going on in the bullpen right now, the starters are going to be pushed a little harder to try and get into that 7th inning and so far, Matt Cain is the only one yet to do so. Cainer had that solid outing to start the year in LA, but has had three rough outings since and the theme for him seems to be struggling in the middle innings, which tells me it may be time to explore using him in relief where he can go hard for an inning or two.I wouldn't expect to see any drastic changes like that anytime soon though and Cain is the fifth man after all so the Giants don't need him to be great, but he's hardly appeared Major League-caliber over his last three starts. Problem is, the closest guy the Giants have in-house to taking that fifth spot should Cain need a replacement is Clayton Blackburn and a lot of scouts don't see his stuff transpiring as well at the Major League Level and they certainly aren't making a trade of any kind this early.... Anyway, as I said in my last post, I have complete faith the offense is going to be just fine and we're already seeing signs of it. I'm not as sure about their 4th and 5th starters althoug[...]



Back-end of rotation raising concern?

2016-04-14T20:09:28.959-07:00

Sure it's just halfway through April, but each Giants' starter has had a chance to take the hill a couple of times now and thus far the main concern lies in the back-end of the rotation. Two rough starts by Jake Peavy and Matt Cain cost the Giants a chance at winning a series they really should have and those two have to be better going forward, especially Peavy.We all kinda know what to expect from the front-three guys (Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija), however, the two that follow those three horses have been far less than spectacular their first two times out. Now, to his credit, Matt Cain looked very good in his first outing vs. the Dodgers at AT&T last week throwing 6 innings of 2-run ball and I think that was a breath of fresh air for all of us. However, his second start of the year, granted it came in Coors Field, was a rough one. He cruised through the first four innings of the game looking like the Matt Cain of 2010, but all the sudden, like he did so many times in '15, seemed to just hit a wall in the fifth inning. Although he didn't allow all 6 runs to cross the plate while he was on the mound, he went just 4 2/3 and was charged with 6 runs on 6 hits. He did strike out 7 though and had he gotten a few lucky breaks maybe he mirrors his first start and things don't get as bad, but that wasn't the case. Now Kruk and Kuip made it sound like Cain was brilliant regardless, but when you can't make it through 5 innings, it's not a good start, period. All in all though, I'm not too worried about him, yet, not the case for Jake Peavy though.After a rough spring, Peavy has started the year off with two rough outings which has his ERA at an even 10.00 while allowing an eye-popping 21 hits in just 9 innings, and that's the really scary part. He's getting roped and his stuff has not looked very good at all. With him being in the final year of his contract, it seems like he'd be the guy to have the shorter leash between he and Cain should the Giants feel they do need to upgrade that back-end of the rotation eventually. I mean, nothing will happen anytime soon, but if Peavy's still got his ERA up over 5 or 6 come June then the Giants are going to have to start exploring some options. A couple guys that come to mind if they do decide to venture outside the organization is Philly's Jeremy Hellickson and San Diego's Andrew Cashner (along with plenty more as he season wears on), but again, trade talk in mid-April is a tad premature. Just thinking longer term over next couple months as possible options should they be needed.Other than these last two rough outings from Peavy and Cainer the last two games, things have gone about as good as you could ask for as a Giants fan these first couple 10+ days of the '16 season. Big money signings Samardzija, Cueto and Denard Span have all looked good and primed to contribute plenty to the Giants run this year. It's been the offense, as a whole, that has really been the treat to watch thus far. We all knew this offense was deep and could get to you in a variety of ways but what's impressed me is their ability to just never be out of a game. After Cueto had that rough first vs. the Dodgers Sunday, it looked like it was gonna be a long day, however, Cueto buckled down and showed why he's a top starter in this game after that 1st inning and the offense did picked him up in a big way to give him the W. The starting eight have all been contributing but the guy who's been the biggest surprise with the bat isn't even a regular. Rookie back-up catcher, Trevor Brown, leads the tea[...]



Series win proves Giants top dogs in West

2016-04-11T02:34:03.767-07:00

Through much of this first week of the season, the Giants have been in control, heading into Sunday's series' finale with Los Angeles at 5-2, and looking every bit the team many were expecting in December when they added to an already sturdy bunch. That being said, the Brewers were hardly the test the Giants will be facing with the likes of Los Angeles, Arizona, New York and Washington all the NL, so the Dodgers were their first big test. After taking care of business in Milwaukee as hoped, they came home to face the Dodger's, the National Leagues best regular season team from a year ago. Most every one's radar was on Saturday's matchup of Madison Bumgarner and Dodger Ace and MVP Clayton Kershaw. The Giants wasted no time getting to Kershaw as his counter part, MadBum, took him deep for the games first run. Kershaw settled down after that allowing just a Ehire Adrianza jack as his only other blemish, but on this day the Giants were too strong. At the end, the pitching lines looked nearly identical with MadBum did out-dueling his Dodger counter-part in most areas; 6 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 R compared to Kershaws 8 IP, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR and in the end, that's all that matters. They both gave their team chances to win and although Kershaw may have been flashier and allowed just the two hits, but the Giants scored the three runs to LA's 2 and won the ballgame. You get what I'm saying here? This game is played in between the lines, and even when you think the highest odds are stacked against you, you just never know what will happen. That, my friends, is what makes baseball so great.Enough of this philosophical stuff though (though I'm as superstitious come when it comes to sports). We're all here to talk baseball not out outlooks on the world. Save that for the political blogs and talk shows. Strictly baseball and sports on this site please, although a good political joke or relevant topic would be welcome... Anyhow, back to the subject at hand, and that is the way the Giants are playing to star the year, and the way they've started the year has been about as good as one could have hoped for, granted they could be at 6-1 had the late relievers done their job vs. LA on Saturday, but 5-2 after taking 3 of 4 from LA to start the season isn't a bad way to kick start things in the least and there are a multiple reasons why they're doing it.First and foremost has been the offensive onslaught this team has been laying on opponents. We talked about it all spring a lot during that first series in Arizona, this team is just too deep from 1-9 in the batting order and never really out of a ballgame. It looks like manager Bruce Bochy is indeed going to roll with the pitcher in the 8th slot for the time being and I do like the move just because of the Giants' personnel. I mean, Brandon Crawford won a Silver Slugger award for SS's last season hitting in the 8th spot ahead of the pitcher so he's comfortable there. Then with the addition of Denard Span, it allowed Angel Pagan to be dropped into the 9th spot, aka the 2nd leadoff, and we've already seen it pay dividends early on. Now pitchers are facing to Denard Span with runners on and he's responding by driving in runs. Pagan still has some learning to do out in left field everyday but I really do like the new Giants' lineup set-up, Another reason why they're able to do that besides having the two leadoff hitters, is the great balance they have throughout. I mean, they have 2 or 3 guys who could hit 2nd and a few guys who could hit 3rd and so on, they just really could s[...]



SF carry's momentum into home opener

2016-04-08T15:49:38.849-07:00

The home opener didn't start all that promising behind the arm of Jake Peavy as the Giants took on their arch rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Peavy was tagged for four runs throughout his five innings, and it took the Giants' offense a minute to get going but they indeed did just that.Now, before I delve into the home opener Thursday, two of the Giants biggest acquisitions of the winter made their debuts in Milwaukee and while Jeff Samardzija would probably like a do over, Johnny Cueto threw how I think a lot of us were expecting the premiere right-hander to throw. I wasn't able to give my thoughts on Johnny Cueto here after his outstanding start Tuesday and wanted to just briefly. Cueto showed his value in terms of just all the different quirks he has out there and how he can mix stuff up without losing his release point or running into mechanical issue. He went 6 strong, didn't walk a batter, allowed 6 hits and also struck out 6 Brewers' hitters and never really ran into trouble at all throughout the day. He's got that quiet confidence and swag about him that exudes confidence and you can see exactly why. Samardzija,, on the other hand did not look as comfortable or in control as Cueto. Granted, he wasn't terrible, but he was way too hittable, allowing 8 knocks over 5+ innings (a problem that haunted him last season) and also allowed 3 free passes, so he's lucky that he got out of that start of 5+ innings only charged the 3 run. Over two base-runners allowed per inning is way to high for a pitcher, especially a guy who has expectations like Samardzija coming in. Needless to say, he's going to be under a bit of a microscope his next time out and it won't be easy in another hitters paradise, Coors Field.So, the Giants headed into the home opener at a comfortable 2-1 and although they had the edge in the pitching match up in this one, you wouldn't have known it by watching the first few innings. Jake Peavy just didn't have his crisp stuff early, as he was leaving balls up in the "hit me" zone and his sliders and sinkers weren't dipping and cutting as much as they were towards the end of spring (according to Krukow). Unlike the walks that killed Madison Bumgarner and really hurt Jeff Samardzija though, Peavy put up a goose egg in that column and thankfully he did or else who knows what kind of numbers LA puts up those first couple innings.Luckily for Peavy, as was the case for Samardzija on getaway day in Millwauke yesterday, the Giants offense showed why they're one of the deepest, most dynamic bunches in baseball and treated that 4-0 deficit as if it were non-existent. Denard Span got the Giants on the bored with an RBI ground out, but then Joe Panik tripled and Buster Posey doubled to bring the Giants to within 1 in the 5th. That shows you the versatility of this lineuep. They can put up quick numbers without necessarily needed to hit the 3-run jack just because they have gap power throughout and pretty good speed as well (minus Posey only, really). At that point, although they still ended the inning down 4-3, I think most Giants fans had a pretty good feeling about the team coming back in this one, and come back they did. Angel Pagan, Panik and Posey all contributed RBI hits in the 6th to give the Giants a 2-run lead for the first time on the afternoon then the Hunter Pence grand slam was pretty much the nail in the Dodgers' coffin on this day. This is what's been so damn special about this unit and if they're showing this unity and comrodority this early then imagine what things will be[...]



Giants have big Opening Day, smash Brewers

2016-04-04T15:42:44.098-07:00

Well, any minor concern there was over the rough spring training the Giants had pretty much got alleviated on Opening Day in Milwaukee on Monday. The Giants showed why they're one of the favorites to represent the NL in the World Series this year with an all-around team victory in MLB's biggest regular season game.Things were a little up and down early in the game, as Madison Bumgarner (who was battling illness in the start) was tagged for 3 runs, including two big flies, over a trying first three innings. However, he settled down a bit and managed to make it through the required 5 innings to secure the victory. MadBum certainly wasn't as sharp as we're used to seeing the big left-hander, walking 5 hitters which is uncharacteristically high for the Giants' ace. He gets hit sometimes, but he usually doesn't beat himself and after watching him walk in that run in the first and give up two homers on 1-2 counts, I think we wall knew it was going to be a struggle. Despite the 5 free-passes, Bum did induce a big double play off the bat of Aaron Hill, which helped limit major damage, and also struck out 6 over his 5 frames and those two factors probably were the reason why he was able to hang in there and earn the victory in the end. I mean, just seeing how bad it was for Bum by the end of the third, I think we all would have gladly taken this line, which speaks volumes to his ability to buckle down as the game goes on, no matter what happens early on. Unfortunately pitch count and this being the first game of the season forced him out after just five, I'm sure had the count been 15-20 pitches lower and this been a game in June, he may have gone on to pitch 7 strong and turned this into a strong start.Fortunately for Bumgarner though, the Giants offense came to play today, and I think that's going to be a theme we see a lot of all season long. I mean, this Giants lineup is so deep and so dynamic now with the 'two-leadoff hitter' look and all that power and strong contact throughout the middle. Although pretty much every hitter in the Giants lineup pitched in in some way, the day was really all about Denard Span and Matt Duffy. Span, making his Giants' debut after signing that 3-year deal this winter, ended up going 2-4 but drove in 5 and scored 2 runs, including the big 3-run jack that put the game out of reach in the 8th and was the first end of a back-to-back-to-back. Duffy also had a 2-hit game, while also homering and driving in 4 runs. Brandon Belt had 3 hits and Buster Posey and Joe Panik each left the yard as well. There was so much said about the depth of this Giants' lineup coming into this season and they lived up to all the hype, and some, on Opening Day.I mean, there really isn't much more you could ask for as a Giants' fan on opening day. As it snowed in the frigid outdoors in Milwaukee, the Giants offense lit it up on the inside. But we can't forget about the awesome, four scoreless innings the bullpen combined to throw after taking over for Madison in the 6th inning. Sure, they had a comfortable lead, but a lot of times that's when bullpen's can get lazy and in an offensive yard like Miller Park, no game is ever quite out of reach, especially in the 6th/7th innings. It would have been nice to see MadBum make it a quality start and go another inning, but all else considered, I think it was a near perfect opener for the Giants, and hopefully a glimpse of whats to come in the Summer 2016! I can't wait to see Cueto and Samardzija's debuts the next t[...]



The three stages of Spring Training

2016-03-26T22:28:30.316-07:00

Ah, the three stages to spring, at least the way I see it. First is, you get everyone here, healthy and and in shape (man has that third part gotten easier without the Panda bumbling into Scottsdale) the for those first few weeks, the majority of teams actually think they have a shot, and this year, they do. So for the first week or 2 of games it's slow process getting back into the swing of things and it's a time for the young guys to shine. And most importantly, keep everyone healthy. But then things pick up...Then all the sudden before you know it it's the time that first cuts come and guys who make the cut and are actually performing, are getting their chance to shine. For the younger guys, it's crunch time in terms of putting up or shutting up in the Cactus League because at the end of spring the vets will all be getting 7+ inning tune-up. This group contains guys like IF Kelby Tomlinson, OF Jarrett Parker, IF Ehire Adrianza, OF Mac Williamson, catchers Trevor Brown and Miguel Olivo and reliever Mike Broadway. Of course star young prospect, Christian Arroyo (the best all-around talent level since Buster Posey) and one of the top young SP's Kyle Crick, were optioned to minor league camp early but were very impressive during their brief stay (especially Arroyo).Of the group remaining though, I think Jarrett Parker and Ehire Adrianza seem to have grabbed a stranglehold on the final bench sports now, but Mac Williamson is doing his best to be that right-handed power bat off the bench. Usually you get a big slugger like that and he's anchored to one position. To me though, Arroyo didn't make the cut but was obviously the most intriguing of any prospect, and not necessarily a guy to rule out in 2016, especially with Panik's back issues. Brandon Crawford doesn't really have to worry this year about the 21 year-old "could be phenom" but this kid should be more than ready by 2017 which means someones getting dealt. (I know it's all purely speculation and Aroyo's yet to even face a big league arm, and BCraw has been crucial in 2 of them). Arroyo won't make the squad outta spring of course as the team will want him playing everyday, but he should just keep working his way up the prospect charts.Now, of course, we've hit third and final phase, it's really put up or shut up for the fence guys when they do get their chances and turn up time for the 20 odd players guaranteed a spot for April 4th. So far things have been pretty good in terms of health and even production from the Giants' on and offensives standpoint, especially offensively. Most of the starters are hitting around .300 or north of it and everyone appears on target for opening day.On a pitching standpoint, however, especially on the starting end, it's the complete opposite, as everyone has an ERA north of Jake Peavy's 8.31. Let's hope it's just the thin air fellas cause these guys have got to be a strength and a key start is huge (see 2014), even though the lineup is a top one (this is a team with championship aspirations afterall). They also had that little scare with Cueto's shot off the head but he came out just fine and entrenched his spot as the man behind MadBum in the Giants official starting rotation, announced Friday. The big focus down the stretch and into the preaseason Bay Bridge Series, will be that final spot. Which again, at the moment should belong to Adrianza or Parker. I love the idea of the right-handed Williamson, but Parker showed a lot last year and I[...]



Giants monitoring veteran's health closely

2016-03-12T18:51:54.847-08:00

The Cactus League is well underway, and so far the theme of things for the Giants and Bruce Bochy is to bring some of the veterans, especially those coming off injury or large work-loads in 2015, nice and slowly.It's been a couple weeks since our last post here as I've been on vacation for the last 10 days, but I've been keeping an eye on the happenings in Arizona and finally got to tune into my first game of the spring today (Saturday vs. Arizona). First and foremost, the goal for every club's spring training is to break north (east or west) with your full projected 25-man roster in-tact, because it doesn't get a whole lot tougher than losing a key player for any extended period of regular season time caused by a spring injury. So far on the Giants' side, there's been a few guys batting a few small-scale injuries and guys returning form injury last season who Bruce Bochy and Co. will continue to bring along slowly over the new few weeks as Opening Day approaches. Some of the more key players on that "caution" list are Matt Cain, Hunter Pence, Joe Panik as well newcomers Johnny Cueto and Denard Span. The concern levels for Panik (back),  Pence (Achilles), and Span (hip) aren't really all that significant (at the moment at least), but certainly worth monitoring. Bruce Bochy will likely use the first few weeks of spring to bring those guys along slowly to ensure all are a go and avoid any set-backs.Johnny Cueto and Matt Cain pose a bit of a different obstacle. Cueto passed the physical and has come in healthy and ready to go, but he's had so many little health issues over his career and then tailed down the stretch in '15 for his worst stretch of his career. The issue he ran into last summer and one of the main reason he didn't get that big contract upwards of $200M (a la Zach Grienke and David Price) was some elbow issues, obviously a major red flag pitchers, and the fear that the elbow contributed to his sub-par second half. On the positive side, the injury was never considered serious, didn't cause him any DL time and he proved that he can still dominate deep into the playoffs with that outstanding Game 2 of the 2015 Fall Classic in which he 2-hit/shutout  the Mets.The Giants' prized signee from this winter had his spring debut pushed back a few days but did take the mound Friday and didn't quite put forth the performance he was likely hoping to for his new squad.It was the plan all along to bring the Giants prized free-agent signee, Johnny Cueto, along slower than the rest because of that huge work load last season, pitching deep into the fall with the World Champion Kansas City Royals. So, the dread-locked ace did make his Giants spring debut Friday afternoon vs. the Rockies and it was a rough one for the right-hander. Cueto wasn't fooling Rockie' hitters, giving up 4 hits (including a CarGo 2-run jack), 5 runs and a couple of walks in just an 1.1 innings. After the game some of the Rockies hitters even mentioned how Cueto didn't have his A-stuff out there and it was no secret as he was giving up some loud contact. With that being said, it was his first start of the spring and I'm taking it with a complete grain of salt. Something tells me he's gonna work on some stuff over the next  few days and I'd expect a much better outing next week.As for the man who will follow MadBum and Cueto in the rotation in that three spot, Jeff Samardzija, "The Shark" had a decent first two outings for his[...]



Giants' Fanfest kicks off 2016

2016-02-19T02:32:35.009-08:00

The annual KNBR San Francisco Giants Fanfest transpired this Saturday at AT&T Park, which sort of marks the unofficial transfer of focus from the 49ers to the Giants in the bay area sports hierarchy. As for the for the orange and black could not be higher.FanFest 2016After what many considered one of the best offseasons in baseball this winter, bringing in Johnny Cueto Jeff Samardzija and Denard Span, while losing nobody of any real significance besides Mike Leake. They did lose some favorites like Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum as well as lost Jeremy Affeldt to retirement, but those losses hardly shook up the roster and the Giants feel like they have adequate replacements in tow. We'll certainly see, anyway, as pitchers and catchers set to report to camp in Scottsdale on Tuesday with the rest of the squad arriving Wednesday. There's a lot of anticipation to see how guys like Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are going to mesh in with the core group but I expect to see all these guys all click immediately and push each other to be better. That's one thing the Giants do so well and better than most other teams in the league is really play for each other and push to get the best out of each other.The difference now? They have as much or more talent as they've had in their last 6-year run, so you put that combo together and you have a recipe for potential greatness. And that was pretty much the theme of the 2016 Giants' 'Fest, essentially a "Get ready for '16 cause it's going to be a good one", with a real feel-good atmosphere. The excitement has certainly struck the city as well up to 35,000 fans showed up. Unfortunately Samardzija and Cueto couldn't make it but I don't care if they're in the Bahamas chilling on the beach so long as they're ready to turn in 7-8 strong innings their first time out.The only actual baseball news to surface from the even was something that surprised absolutely nobody, and that is that Madison Bumgarner will get the ball for April 4th's opener in Milwaukee vs. the Brewers. A few other random funny pieces of info, via the Mercury News, are that new presumed leadoff hitter and center fielder Denard Span has a slight fear of birds. As long as that fear doesn't cause him to pull a hammy or strain his back and miss 75 games this season, then it shouldn't be an issue... Also, it was really fun to take a look back to a year ago when we were all a little concerned about the future of third base after Pablo Sandoval left the Giants high and dry for Boston. My oh my how times change as not only is Matt Duffy better and more valuable now, but he's younger and barring any major injury or major resurgence on Pablo's behalf, is in set up nicely to have a better career than Pablo. Not to toss any hate on Panda at all, but remember, he started it when he said he could care less about San Francisco after he left and wouldn't miss it at all. I'll always have a special spot for Panda, he helped the Giants win their three tittles, but he's hardly the impact player he thinks he is and his departing comments will never be forgotten to me.Pagan key to '16 successSo yes, the Giants did have a successful offseason, but it didn't come cheaply, costing them $336M in contracts among the three new deals (although Cueto's does offer an opt-out which could drop that total significantly). You have to spend money to get quality and the Giants felt able to do so after Lincecu[...]