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Where we tend to talk about the recent past a lot



Updated: 2017-01-20T10:25:29-08:00

 



Giants’ farm system ranked 20th by Keith Law, ESPN

2017-01-20T10:25:29-08:00

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Although our homes will be swept away in a river of bile and pus before these prospects make an impact, the depth is still encouraging.

The Giants haven’t had a top farm system since the days of wee Buster Posey and teenaged Madison Bumgarner, and that won’t change for 2017 according to Keith Law. According to ESPN’s prospect expert, the Giants’ farm ranks 20th out of 30 teams. However, that’s also their highest ranking in years, which would be somewhat encouraging if we weren’t all going to die before some of these prospects are scheduled to debut, which we are.

While the Giants still don’t have that A+, top-level prospect that helps the teams in the top-third of the rankings, this marks the first time the organization has squeaked into the middle-third, even if just barely. The thin group at the top is buttressed by a deeper pool of potential contributors, especially when it comes to possible back-end rotation and outfield help. As the flesh peels from our skin and the seas of blood swell, swell, swell, washing over and purifying us as we choke and slip under, it will be worth taking a moment to imagine just how fun it would have been to watch some of these players.

The blurb under the ranking was actually more positive than one might expect, with Law writing:

The system does seem primed to continue to pump out extra pieces for the major league roster -- fifth starters, quality relievers, extra outfielders -- to avoid the need for future trades for extra guys like the one that sent Adalberto Mejia to the Twins for Eduardo Nunez.

Law didn’t explicitly reference the coming water wars or the widespread pestilence that would also allow the Giants to avoid the need for future trades, thought it was likely implied.

Here some past Giants organizational rankings from Law:

2016 - 21
2015 - 29
2014 - 25
2013 - 26
2012 - 26
2011 - 23
2010 - 20
2009 - 9
2008 - 9

And some future organizational rankings:

2021 - [n/a: all prospects harvested for their flesh]
2020 - 666
2019 - 259
2018 - 30

So enjoy this 2017 ranking, as it could be the peak of a slow but unmistakable trend. The good news is that several of these prospects are close to the majors, which means we could see Tyler Beede, Christian Arroyo, Steven Duggar, Andrew Suarez, Austin Slater, and Joan Gregorio this season, providing us with some final memories before we are all encased in ash, trapped in an eternal, frozen shriek that will never be heard, as millipedes scuttle in and out of our eye sockets.

The 2017 MLB Draft will begin on June 12, and the Giants will pick 19th, so hopefully the resulting selection will help the Giants in next year’s ranking.




Gregor Blanco’s five best games with the Giants

2017-01-19T13:34:00-08:00

In five years, the outfielder won two World Series rings and saved one perfect game. Not bad! Gregor Blanco signed with the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, and while your first reaction might well have been, “Ew, the Diamondbacks,” I don’t really have a way to end this sentence because that was also probably your next several reactions. But he’s gone now, and so it’s a good time to remember some great games from Gregor Blanco, Very Good Giant. Before we get started, let’s just get this out of the way because it was the first thing everyone thought of and therefore should come first: id="72848" data-src="https://securea.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=22275319&topic_id=11493214&property=mlb&" data-aspect="1.7857" style="width:100%" frameborder="0"> All right, good work everyone. Especially Gregor, but also everyone. May 14, 2012, versus San Diego Padres Blanco’s first year with the Giants was 2012, and the general attitude about him around here was, “Nice risk to take. Now let’s see if he pays off.” He wasn’t anything special in April, rocking a .569 OPS coming off the bench, but in May he started to shine. In this game, he accounted for the first Giants run by hitting a game-tying homer in the sixth, and then in a tie game in the bottom of the eighth, Blanco singled and came around to score the lead run. This game alone raised his OPS 100 points. Turns out that going 3 for 4 with a homer will have some positive effects on your stat line. May 21, 2013, versus Washington Nationals Down one run in the bottom of the ninth, Buster Posey hit a leadoff infield single against Rafael Soriano. I know what you’re thinking: “This is an article about Gregor Blanco, and he and Buster Posey are different people, so I don’t understand why you are talking about Buster Posey.” Now don’t worry, just hold on, we’ll get there. Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt followed Posey’s single by flying out, leaving the game in the hands of one Mr. Gregor Blanco. Blanco immediately went down 0-2 against Soriano, then took a ball, and on the fourth pitch, smacked a triple into right-center field, scoring Andres Torres, who had come in to pinch run for Posey. By WPA, this was the biggest hit of Blanco’s Giants career, and the fact that he was stranded at third that inning (!) by Brett Pill (!!!!) just makes it that much Giantsier. The Giants went on to win the next inning on a Pablo Sandoval home run, but the game never would have gotten there without a miracle Gregor Blanco two strike, two out game-tying triple. Also he had two other hits that night against Nationals starter Steven Strasburg and scored the first Giants run. Pretty dang good night for Gregor, especially considering that it was the first time that his brother Gregsman had ever seen him play in the majors. Here’s the triple in video form! I like baseball and want it back. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ija1PcYKCag?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> June 19, 2013, versus San Diego Padres Blanco came into this game as a pinch hitter and only had one plate appearance, but he sure made it count. Down 2-1 to the Padres in the bottom of the seventh, he took the first pitch from extremely Padre pitcher Greg Lukerson and crushed it into Triples alley, driving in two runs. The next hitter, Marco Scutaro, then drove Blanco in, and that was the margin of victory in a 4-2 Giants win. This should already be cued up to the triple, but if not, it’s at 1:24: src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fgDxiXaKG74?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=1&start=84" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> June 22, 2013, versus Miami Marlins And the 2013 march continues! Statistically, it wasn’t that great of a year for Blanco, but he sure ha[...]



You can finally stream Giants games without blackout restrictions

2017-01-19T09:42:27-08:00

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Welcome to 2009! CSN and MLB have finally reached a deal to allow in-market streaming.

There’s a chance, a strong chance, that your baseball-watching routine consists of turning on your TV, sitting down, and watching the danged game. This news is not for you. You may go about your business.

For people like me, though? This is a big, big deal. NBC Regional Sports Networks, which includes CSN Bay Area, has reached a deal with Major League Baseball Advanced Media to allow for in-market streaming. You’ll be able to watch as long as you subscribe to a cable package that includes the channel, much like the Olympics, through CSN Bay Area’s website or app.

This affects me because my baseball-watching routine occasionally includes the following:

  • Watching in the kitchen while I cook
  • Watching in my backyard while I enjoy the strange yellow light that emanates from that glowing orb in the sky
  • Watching at my kid’s soccer practice
  • Watching when I’m in line somewhere
  • Watching in my garage while I do garage crap
  • That last one, but without the words “in,” “my,” “garage,” and “do.”

I know this because for the last couple years, I’ve been illegally using a proxy to convince MLB.com that I live in Seattle. But their robots figured it out in August of last year, and that ruined everything. No more cooking and watching. No more watching when in a doctor’s lobby. Because even though I pay $100+ every month to watch baseball games on a glowing electronic rectangle, it was the wrong kind of glowing electronic rectangle. The right kind needed to be plugged into a wall and have wires jutting out all over the place. This stopped making sense about a decade ago.

MLBAM has ended glowing-electronic-rectangle discrimination. Again, just how much you care is based on your viewing habits. But this is the future. Sure, MLBAM had to be sued for this to happen, but the net results are more options when it comes to watching baseball.

8-YEAR-OLD: Daddy, watch this kick!

ME: Mmmm-hmmmmmhnmm okay sweetie that’s great

DUANE KUIPER: And that’s the fourth balk of the inning!

It’s a beautiful dream come true. I’m so very excited about this.




Barry Bonds gains in 2017 Hall of Fame vote; Jeff Kent holding steady

2017-01-18T15:10:25-08:00

Barry Bonds is still more than 20 percent short of induction, but he’s making gains. Jeff Kent moved up .1 percent. For the fifth consecutive year, there was an election for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Barry Bonds was eligible. For the fifth consecutive year, Bonds was not elected. This reflects poorly on the National Baseball Hall of Fame, not Bonds. The wrinkle in 2017, however, is that there is hope! While there weren’t any former San Francisco Giants elected to the Hall of Fame this year, there is increasing hope for Bonds. After losing votes between his first and second appearances on the ballot, Bonds improved from his 44.3 percent in 2016 to 53.8 percent this year. The bad news for Giants fans is that Jeff Kent didn’t make any gains in the voting, likely due to the crowded ballot. He was at 16.6 percent last year, and he moved up to 16.7 percent in this vote. The 2019 ballot will provide a better test for Kent, but the odds are longer right now than they should be. We’ve known that Bonds’ numbers are improving because of Ryan Thibodaux’s tireless work, but there are only theories as to why it’s happening in his fifth year. Maybe it’s because Bud Selig is in the Hall now. Maybe it’s because people are sick of pretending that Bonds doesn’t belong in a museum that honors the best baseball players of all time. But it’s happening, and Hallologist Jay Jaffe thought last year that the numbers pointed to an eventual induction. Let’s just get all of this out of our system before moving on. A museum of the best baseball players without Barry Bonds is like a ... Golden Girls museum without Rue McClanahan Playstation museum without Crash Bandicoot Cat museum without a display featuring a dead bird left on a doormat Cooking museum without yeast Grant Brisbee Museum of Middle School Horrors without a single mention of wedgies It makes zero sense. It’s not the Good Timey Museum of Players Who Embody the Christmas Spirit. It’s a museum with the best players in baseball history. Put the BALCO stuff on the plaque, but don’t pretend the best player of the ‘90s was Paul O’Neill. Kent is more of a borderline case, with his raw numbers looking less impressive in the context of the high-offense ‘90s and ‘00s, but he’s still one of the best offensive-minded second baseman in history, and his defense has always been unfairly maligned. My guess is that he mirrors the creeping gains of Tim Raines and Jack Morris until the final year of his ballot, when he’ll either go the way of Raines ... or Morris. Giants fans will have to wait for their next Hall of Famer, but we knew that. The good news is that Bonds is gaining, and the ballot is clearing. There’s still a chance that Bonds and/or Kent will get voted in before they fall off the ballot (2023). It’s not a certainty. But the Hall of Fame is telling me there’s a chance, especially for Bonds. [...]



Baseball America releases top-10 Giants prospects list for 2017

2017-01-18T09:35:01-08:00

Tyler Beede is at the top, and there are a couple of surprises in the top 10. Between the dead of the hot stove and the pulse of spring training, we have prospect lists. Sweet, sweet prospect lists. The Giants don’t have an ultra-impressive cache of super-prospects, but they definitely have depth. It’s almost as helpful to look at the Baseball America top-10 prospects list and think about the players who didn’t make it to get an idea of the State of the Giants’ Farm. This is going to be a system that makes consensus hard. For example, Baseball America just became the first major prospect ranker to put Tyler Beede over Christian Arroyo: Baseball America’s 2017 Giants Top-10 Prospects Tyler Beede Christian Arroyo Chris Shaw Bryan Reynolds Andrew Suarez Ty Blach Joan Gregorio Sandro Fabian Aramis Garcia Steven Duggar The top six or seven are going to worm their way into just about every top-10 list, while the rest of the list is almost like a prospect litmus test for what you’re really focused on. Ceiling? Likelihood of contributing to the majors at all? A secret sauce that combines the two? There’s no wrong answer, really, except for the ones I disagree with. Here are the most salient sentences for all the scouting reports. You’ll need to subscribe to get the whole thing, and you probably should. Please note that Sandro Fabian was not alive when Brian Johnson hit his home run, if only because you don’t like being happy. Tyler Beede He will head to Triple-A Sacramento in 2017 for further refinement, but the Giants believe he has come far enough that he would be able to handle the big leagues in 2017. Christian Arroyo It’s easy to find scouts who project him as a plus hitter capable of hitting .280 or higher, but they see 10-home run potential to go with 35 doubles. Chris Shaw Shaw’s power potential gives him a chance to be a first-division first baseman, but he’ll need to improve his defense and hit tool to reach his ceiling. Bryan Reynolds Still, he uses a controlled swing, understands pitch sequencing and works counts to the point he is beginning to tap into his average power. Andrew Suarez All Suarez’s pitches play up because of his plus control (strikes with 70 percent of pitches, according to the Giants) and above-average command, though he would benefit by making hitters chase a pitch more often. Ty Blach Blach has also gained strength to the point where his fastball is now an average 91-92 mph. He tightened his curveball in 2016, making the formerly loopy pitch sharper, albeit still fringe-average. Joan Gregorio His age, wavering control and the Giants’ crowded Triple-A rotation all hint at a move to the bullpen, but he’s shown flashes of starter potential as well. Sandro Fabian Fabian is an advanced hitter for his age, and he loves the challenge of catching up to quality fastballs. Aramis Garcia Garcia has focused his attention on his defense in pro ball as a result of being labeled a bat-first catcher in high school and college. Steven Duggar The flatter path led to more consistent hard contact, which helped him spray the ball to all fields, particularly at Richmond, where he hit .321. Duggar’s strike-zone discipline enhances his above-average hit tool and drives his high on-base percentage. Let’s combine some of the top-10 lists from around the prospect world and see what shakes out. We still have Baseball Prospectus and ESPN’s Keith Law to come, as well as others that I’m probably forgetting, but you can see a pattern. Get Arroyo and Beede at the top, maybe with Reynolds mixed in. Plunk down the control-fueled lefties. Add in the power guy and the sinker guy. And then CHAOS for the bottom of the list. As an irrational Austin Slater fan, I take umbrage with all these lists, but it’s important to remember that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Baseball America probably does, though, and they’re seeing the same things we are. The Giants do[...]



Willie McCovey pardoned by President Obama

2017-01-17T13:57:50-08:00

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The Giants’ Hall of Famer received probation for tax evasion in 1995, but now his record is clear.

President Barack Obama, just days before the United States is sucked into a Terry Gilliam movie, has pardoned Willie McCovey for pleading guilty to tax evasion in 1995. While paying taxes is probably a good idea, it is the official stance of this site that McCovey is above the law and always will be, so this is a piece of good news.

The offenses occurred in the late ‘80s, with McCovey and fellow Giants great Duke Snider failing to report income earned while signing autographs at sports memorabilia shows. They were each sentenced to two years of probation and hit with a $5,000 fine.

If the probation is over and the fine isn’t coming back, what’s the point of a presidential pardon? We’ll let the government answer that one themselves:

A pardon is an expression of the President’s forgiveness and ordinarily is granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime and established good conduct for a significant period of time after conviction or completion of sentence. It does not signify innocence. It does, however, remove civil disabilities – e.g., restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury – imposed because of the conviction for which pardon is sought, and should lessen the stigma arising from the conviction.

Obama was the 44th president, and Willie McCovey wore 44. Coincidence? Well ... yeah, but that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a welcome gesture for one of baseball’s all-time greats. Thanks, Obama!

No, seriously, thanks.

Next up: a pardon for Bruce Bochy for using Eli Whiteside to pinch-run for Buster Posey on July 4, 2010. Feels like we’ve all learned a lot since then.




The Giants completely missed out on all those 2016 home runs

2017-01-16T13:32:08-08:00

You knew the Giants didn’t hit a lot of homers last year, but the numbers are still a little stunning. Last season, 111 different players hit 20 home runs or more. If that seems like a lot, it’s because that’s the most 20-homer players in any season in baseball history. Not even in the steroid-fueled ‘90s, when everyone was supposed to be getting fat against expansion pitching, did more players get to 20 homers or more. In just 2014, there were only 57 players who passed that mark, so you can appreciate how special this last rabbit-ball season was. It boggles the mind. One hundred and eleven players hit 20 homers or more. That’s 45 percent of all players who got more than 300 at-bats. Man. The San Francisco Giants had exactly zero of them. There are some good reasons for this, of course. The ballpark, for one. Also, the Giants play in AT&T Park, which suppresses home runs. Then there’s the part where it’s hard to hit home runs in the ballpark where the Giants play 81 games every season. This is called “context,” and it matters. Don’t forget about the time missed by Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt, too. Also, the ballpark. It’s still stunning, though, that in what might have been the homer-happiest season in baseball history, the Giants had just one player who hit more than 15 homers. But it’s not as if the numbers for the pitchers spiked up as well. Side note: Barry Bonds was good. While it’s tempting to suggest that Johnny Cueto fixed everything, he was a de facto package deal with Jeff Samardzija, who ... didn’t fix everything, at least when it came to home runs. For whatever reason, AT&T Park wasn’t affected by the home run spike at all. But the Giants didn’t benefit from the homer-happy league on the road, either. The Giants were unaffected on both ends by the new dinger-happy league. They allowed about as many homers as before at home and on the road. They hit about as many homers at home and on the road. They spent the entire season pretending like the home run spike didn’t exist. This is a very weird team. This is the part where I’m supposed to come up with a conclusion that makes this an opinion piece instead of a “Look what I found” article, think, dammit, think. Uh, let’s see, uh ... Oh! I have a thesis! It goes like this: The further we get from Game 4 and the radioactive bullpen, the more I’m regretting the Giants’ decision to make a very expensive closer their only move of the offseason. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much into Mark Melancon as a pitcher. He should make for a lot of mellow ninth innings, and that is what we’re alllllll craving these days. But I was fairly sure that move was going to be accompanied by another move. A trade for an outfielder. A signing of a free agent whose price dropped in a crowded market. Something. Instead, that really was the offseason. The Giants had x amount of money to spend, and it all went to a closer. That’s understandable, considering how last season went. At the same time, it feels so final. And considering that they could have had Brad Ziegler and Jose Bautista (for one or two years!) for a similar price, I’m wondering just how much the Giants should regret their single-issue voting. Maybe the goal of the offseason should have been to get a player equipped to take advantage of the new homer-happy league, or at least get some power to allow the Giants to keep up with the Trumbos. For perspective: If the Dodgers trade for Brian Dozier, their infield will have hit more homers last season than the entire Giants roster. Seems like that’s a disparity that’s worth addressing. As is, the Giants are still a strong team with a strong roster, and they should contend next year. They’re replacing Angel Pagan with some combination of Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson, which means their power will increase substantially at on[...]



Will the Giants ever go to arbitration again?

2017-01-13T13:33:40-08:00

The Giants haven’t had an arbitration hearing in more than a decade. Good. The Giants have signed all six of their arbitration-eligible players, according to the official SF Giants Twitter account. This is not a surprise. The Giants have signed all of their arb-eligible players for 13 years now. And it doesn’t look like that organizational philosophy is going to change any time soon. Back in 2004, the Giants and their representatives sat down with A.J. Pierzynski and his representatives. A panel of impartial arbitrators were in the room, and they listened to both sides explain why Pierzynski was more or less valuable than the other side thought. He wanted $3.5 million. The Giants were offering $2.25 million — a huge gap. Pierzynski won. ARBITRATORS: It is our conclusion, then, that Pierzynski is one of the best players ever to play with a butt for a face, and should be paid accordingly. GIANTS: Wait, the question was if he was one of the better catchers, not ... the other part. ARBITRATORS: Oh. Oh, dear. This is awkward. But we used a gavel after announcing that, so, uh, we’ll see you later. In that hearing, the Giants almost certainly used statistics to present a thorough case of why Pierzynski just wasn’t very good. He had to listen to it. This was his first introduction to the team, more or less. It was the start of an ugly, combative year that ended with the Giants declining to offer him arbitration the next year. They either couldn’t trade him, or they didn’t bother to try. He played 13 more seasons, of course. The White Sox didn’t have the same problems with his cheekiness, and they kept bringing him back. Whatever bothered the Giants about Pierzynski wasn’t something that bothered his other teams, considering they generally liked him, he begrudgingly admits with great shame. Since then, the Giants have not made it to arbitration with any other player. This is an impressive record. What’s notable is that the Giants don’t appear to be paying more to settle their cases than one would expect. MLB Trade Rumors has been providing arbitration estimates for years, and they’re extraordinarily accurate with them. Here’s what they predicted for the Giants’ arb-eligible players: Eduardo Nuñez – $4.4M Conor Gillaspie – $900K George Kontos – $1.7M Will Smith – $2.3M Cory Gearrin – $1.1M Ehire Adrianza – $508K And here’s what those players got: Nuñez – $4.2M Gillaspie – $1.4M Kontos – $1.75M Smith – $2.5M Gearrin – $1.05M Adrianza – $600K So it’s not like agents are using the Giants’ own reluctance to go to arbitration against them. Some get a little more, some get a little less, just like every team every offseason. Even if they were paying a little more, the team would probably be right to prefer the extra salary to the hard feelings of arbitration, not to mention the extra resources that have to go into a hearing, research and analysis that could be applied toward building a better roster and winning baseball games. The question now is when we’ll see another Giants arbitration case. Remember that the Giants had a historically tough player to gauge, a young player who had already won two Cy Young Awards, which was unprecedented. They ended up settling in the lobby of where they were having the hearings, just before arbitration was about to begin. That’s a remarkable commitment to avoiding arbitration, even in the toughest case. My guess? It’s not going to happen with this front office. Not unless there’s some young goofball with a wildly inflated sense of self-worth and an agent who pushes the Giants’ philosophy too far. The second coming of A.J. Pierzynski, then. Just as the Book of Revelations foretold. Until then, the Giants will keep settling with their players and finding the middle ground. As far as organizational philosophies go, thi[...]