Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 38-30: Aceing the Astros

The Giants are back in second place despite losing two of three to the Blue Jays, as the Red Sox put the hurt on the D-gers and swept them.  They have lost four straight and seven of nine now.  The rumor mill have them searching for pitching.

Speaking of rumor mill, the Giants are reportedly interested in KC's OF David DeJesus.  Where he would play, I have no idea, but a Giants official was reported by Yahoo to say that there is "nothing happening" involving a deal for him.  I suspect the Giants are just looking at all the available players and checking to see how much the other team wants for him.  KC probably said "Bumgarner" and the Giants said "Thanks but no thanks."

Game 1:  Roy Oswalt vs. Lincecum

MLB Notes:
Giants: With two off-days in five days, the Giants were given the chance to skip a turn in their rotation. With the two off-days, Lincecum will already be pitching on one extra day's rest, so why hold back a two-time National League Cy Young Award winner? In his last start, Lincecum mixed his historical dominance (10 strikeouts) with his recent struggles (four walks, eight hits) in six innings of work, earning his seventh win of the season. He exited after six innings after being grazed on the back of his right shoulder by a ball hit by Miguel Tejada. Bochy said Lincecum would have left after the inning regardless, having thrown 111 pitches, and Lincecum expects nothing to come from the hit.
Astros: As the Astros kick off a three-game home series against the Giants, they will send their ace to the mound in search of his sixth victory of the season. Coming off a stellar performance in which Oswalt tossed seven innings, allowing only two earned runs on six hits with one walk and a strikeout, the hard-throwing right-hander will look to pick up right we he left off. With his last victory against the Royals, Oswalt now has 142 career victories, just two shy of tying Joe Niekro's franchise record.
Going to be a tough game, particularly on the road against Oswalt, but Lincecum has beaten Oswalt in every matchup they have had so far.  Have to lean towards Lincecum, but Oswalt can be tough too, though the Giants handled him well enough this season.

Game 2: Brett Myers vs. Zito

MLB Notes:

Giants: Despite taking only his third loss of the season, Zito was fantastic Friday night against the Blue Jays, throwing his first complete game of the season. If not for a first-pitch changeup to Alex Gonzalez that was belted for an eighth-inning solo home run, Zito may have come away with the win. What is worrisome for the left-hander is that six of the seven home runs he has allowed this season have come over his past five starts. Zito will look to continue his success against the Astros, whom he is 3-1 with a 3.69 ERA against over five career starts.
Astros: In his last start, Myers was done in by one inning. The right-hander coasted through 6 2/3 innings before the Royals lit him up for a four-run seventh inning, thanks in part to a three-run home run from Scott Podsednik. Myers ended the day hurling 6 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and four earned runs, with two walks and three strikeouts. Four of those seven hits came in the seventh inning. Myers will look to get back on track and climb back to .500 as he takes on the Giants at Minute Maid Park. In his career, Myers is 1-4 against the Giants with a 6.30 ERA in nine games.

Can never write off Myers but his history of futility against the Giants, tied with Zito's mastery of the Astros, suggest that the Giants have the edge in this start.  Still, Myers is good enough that I would call it even with a lean towards the Giants.

Game 3: Wandy Rodriguez vs. Cain

MLB Notes:
Astros: Rodriguez got roughed up in his last start against the Rangers, where he gave up six runs in just three innings. He was sailing along through the first two until Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman hit a double off him with one out. From there, walks and hits led to a long inning, which would be his last in a 9-3 loss. Rodriguez will look to end his three-game losing streak against the Giants, who beat him 3-0 on April 6 in his first start of the season.
Don't have to say much about Cain, he wasn't up to recent standards in his last start but he still pitched well enough to win but was let down by the offense once again.  He has given up more than 3 runs in a start one in his last 10 starts, which for most pitchers would result in a 9-1 record, but he's only 6-4.  Meanwhile, Wandy has been struggling lately (as well as struggling all season), so it looks like it should be a Giants win.

Giants Thoughts

Looks like the Giants should win this series, with a possibility of sweeping again.  But the Giants already swept them in two previous series, meaning that they would have swept the entire season 9-0 against the Astros if they were to repeat.  Odds of that happening for any team is pretty low, so I would be happy with a series win, 2-1, which would leave the Giants with a 3-3 road trip, which is what you hope for on most road trips, coming out even, then winning at home.

The Giants struggles offensively in recent games is related to a short humdinger of a slump for Buster Posey:  3 for 31, .097/.125/.161/.286 in 8 games.  He is getting a rest today, Bochy probably thought it best to do that against Oswalt, against whom many hitters either take a rest or continue a slump.

I'm sure there were plenty of fans who thought that they knew how to manage better than Sabean and Bochy after Posey broke out and hit well for many games, but his struggles now underscore what I've been saying all along about Posey and Molina:  Posey is a wildcard as to what you get in a performance while Molina is more  reliable.  Molina hasn't been as good this season, but that is mainly related to his injury in May from a foul tip that eventually required a cortisone shot.  He had a great April and I think if they would have rested him more after his injury (or better, DLed him and brought up Posey), he would not have hit so poorly.  And in his last 8 games, he has hit .296/.296/.444/.741.

That is the thing with prospects, even top prospects, none of them are ever sure things, and many of them will struggle in their initial run in the majors before righting themselves.  Some never do and fade away, another cautionary tale for prospect hounds who count their eggs before they are hatched.  That is why it was a great move by the Giants to sign Molina and keep Posey in the minors so that he could continue learning to hit and handle catching.

People don't realize it but there is a huge difference in the talent level between AAA and the majors, so just because Posey was killing the ball in April, his MLE (a methodology which converts minor league stats into equivalent major league stats) had Posey only hitting in the low 700 OPS in April.  He only started hitting in May, then went on a mini-slump like the one he is currently in, in mid-May, before hitting again and getting the call.   That's a huge amount of small sampling problem, as that is his most MLB worthy stats, as his 2009 stats, as nice as it was, wasn't really that good in equivalent MLB stats term.

Hopefully Posey will figure things out soon.  Houston is a good place because it is a nice hitter's park.  But we don't know what will happen, which has been my point all along, that none of us knew what was going to happen with Posey, he could hit like crazy or he could be cold as ice.  Who knew that he would do both in the space of about a month?

The Giants seem to give their position players about one month of stink-a-tude before they give them a kick in the rear and try other options more frequently (contrary to popular misconception, Fred Lewis got two months to get his butt into gear in 2009).  Today's rest is just the first he's getting until he starts hitting again because our lineup cannot handle an automatic out like that (that is worse than the average Giants pitcher, I think) for very long.

The good news is that Renteria is back from the DL, and as much as fans seem to hate him, when healthy and in the lineup, he has been one of our better hitters.  He is batting .337/.392/.424/.816 for the season.  In today's lineup, despite his better hitting, it appears that Bochy is trying to keep the lineup as regular as possible giving all the moving parts, so he's batting Renteria 7th while the top of the lineup is Torres, Sanchez, Huff, Uribe, Burrell, and Sandoval.  Molina will bat 8th, which is great because him hitting his regular self is a plus in the 8th position.  And Renteria 7th is great, because his numbers are good at almost every position in the lineup except for cleanup and maybe batting third.

I am assuming that Bochy will be moving Uribe between SS, 3B, and 2B to give Renteria some regular starts, plus start giving Uribe a game of rest as well.  That should get Renteria 2-4 starts per week for a while.  And if Posey does falter and need to be sent down, then Renteria at SS, Uribe at 3B and Sandoval at 1B would be the regular configuration until the next cold spell on the part of someone.

Torres, however, appears to have cemented a starting role, as well as Sanchez, Huff, and Uribe.  Molina and Renteria would probably start as long as they are healthy.  Burrell has been great so far, but he was horrible with Tampa Bay, so we will have to wait and see what happens with him.  Look at Posey, he was hot then now ice cold.  Until Burrell does cool off, neither Rowand or Schierholtz will be seeing playing time, let alone regular playing time.

I would also note that Bumgarner had a masterful start in his last game, striking out 11.  He has had a rough season up to now.  But that is a combination of not having enough to handle professional hitters like those in the majors and AAA this season and him still young and learning.

I had forgotten, but one of his weaknesses as a prospect was that he only used his fastball in high school (father's orders) and only played with breaking ball pitches.  So his dominance in the minors was related to how great his fastball is but he needed to add other pitches to his repertoire so that he could start in the majors.  Most starters need at least three pitches, and he has been adding them to his fastball.  Hopefully, the cutter he added this season is the last piece in the puzzle.  His 11 strikeouts suggest that he is near and he could get the next #5 starter spot, which is the upcoming Saturday game against Boston.

I'm still pushing for the Giants to go to a 6 man rotation after the All Star Break.  Bumgarner would be the 5th starter and either Joe Martinez or a free agent pitcher (Pedro Martinez?) would be the 6th starter.  It would keep them on the 6 day schedule that they had at the start of the season with 5 starters and many off days early in the season.  That would also take a couple of starts away from the other starters, giving their arms extra rest during the tough part of the season.  It gives Bumgarner an opportunity to start regularly in the majors.  It takes away starts from the #5 starter, assuming he is someone like Joe Martinez, Todd Wellemeyer, or Kevin Pucetas.  And there is little letdown, hopefully, in taking starts away from Lincecum, Zito, Cain, and Sanchez and giving them to Bumgarner.

If we didn't have Bumgarner to put in the rotation and soak up starts, I don't think that would work as you would be taking starts away from your best starters and giving it to your 6th best starter, typically.  But hopefully Bumgarner is not your 6th starter, hopefully he is good enough to have his name up there with Lincecum, Cain, and Sanchez.

Other Giants News:  DeRosa Out; Draft Signings

As tweeted by @JohnSheaHey and @extrabaggs earlier today, Mark DeRosa is officially out for the season.  Baggerly notes that the surgery is not yet scheduled but that the tendon sheath will be fixed and carpal tunnel will be released to free nerve.  It appears that this nerve to be freed is the one causing the numbness in DeRosa's hand that has been delaying the other sheath surgery that the leading expert who looked at DeRosa's condition said, "I can fix you."

The Giants have their draft signings posted here.  Round 3 pick SS Carter Jurica and Round 4 pick RHP Seth Rosin has already signed.  Another notable signing is Round 7 pick CF Charles Jones, high schooler, very raw but lot of potential power, very athletic, good defensively but, like most prospects, working on his hitting. They also reportedly signed Brett Bochy, which I saw tweeted during the day, but that is not on the site yet.  But that was pretty much a foregone conclusion.  Another name to watch, LHP Andrew Barbosa, whom the Giants had drafted two times before, who is 6' 8" and now a senior, has not signed yet.

Of course, Gary Brown is the main unsigned player, not surprising since he is handled by Scott Boras.  The experts think that he will almost certainly sign with the Giants but that because it is Boras, he might hold out until the last minute to wring every dollar out of the team's hands.  I have seen no pronouncement on slots, but it sounds like most of the early signers are basically around the slot for last season.  The #24 pick last season was slotted for $1,242,000 (and that is what he signed for too).

I suspect that they probably want something in the $2M range (or around 10th pick), but frankly, none of the mock drafts had him selected that high, the highest I think was around 20th or 21st and none of the experts drafts had him in the teens, I'm sure of that.  I'll write more on him soon, but I think he'll (that is, Boras) probably stalls until the last minute, which for someone late in the first round would be within a week of the signing deadline (only his top picks get to wait until the last minute) and he would sign from something in the $1.5M range.

Haven't heard anything on Jarrett Parker yet.  His name never showed up on any first round draft mock draft and he barely made BA's Top 50 ranked by talent list.  I suspect that he was selected partly because he fell but also because he'll be a backup should the Giants fail to sign Brown for whatever reason (not that I'm expecting that, I think that only happens if Brown has unrealistic expectations about the bonus he is going to get, and he might since he hit so well in his Junior season).

Here are all the draft picks and all the signings up to now:

NamePosB/THtWtDOBRoundPick #Signed
Gary BrownCFR / R6' 0"17009/28/1988124Unsigned
Jarrett ParkerCFL / L6' 4"21001/01/1989274Unsigned
Carter JuricaSSR / R5' 11"18509/23/1988310506/17/2010
Seth RosinRHPR / R6' 5"23511/02/1988413806/17/2010
Richard HembreeRHPR / R6' 4"21001/13/19895168Unsigned
Michael KickhamLHPR / R6' 4"20512/12/19886198Unsigned
Charles JonesCFR / R6' 3"23507/28/1992722806/21/2010
Joseph StaleyCS / R6' 1"23505/08/1989825806/21/2010
Chris LoftonCFL / R6' 1"17505/20/1990928806/17/2010
Daniel BurkhartCL / R5' 11"21503/06/198910318Unsigned
Adam Duvall2BR / R6' 1"20509/04/19881134806/18/2010
Stephen HarroldRHPR / R6' 1"20003/12/19891237806/16/2010
Mark ChristmanRHPR / R6' 2"18008/26/19891340806/21/2010
Raynor CampbellIFR / R5' 10"17507/15/19871443806/17/2010
Andrew BarbosaLHPR / L6' 8"20511/18/198715468Unsigned
Austin FleetRHPR / R6' 1"17504/17/19871649806/16/2010
Ryan BeanRHPR / R6' 4"22503/09/19901752806/21/2010
Brandon AllenRHPR / R6' 6"19008/15/199118558Unsigned
Austin SouthallCFL / R6' 2"20805/01/199219588Unsigned
Brett BochyRHPR / R6' 2"18208/27/198720618Unsigned
Zachary ArnesonRHPR / R6' 2"19011/17/198821648Unsigned
Robert HaneySSL / R6' 0"14708/16/198822678Unsigned
Alec AsherRHPR / R6' 4"21510/04/199123708Unsigned
Kyle Wilson3BS / R6' 0"19502/04/198724738Unsigned
Brett KrillRFR / R6' 4"19501/24/198925768Unsigned
Jeff ArnoldCR / R6' 2"20501/13/19882679806/17/2010
Eric SimCR / R6' 2"21501/03/19892782806/21/2010
Gaspar SantiagoLHPL / L6' 0"20009/23/19892885806/21/2010
Jose CuevasSSR / R6' 2"19004/05/19882988806/14/2010
Ryan BradleyLHPS / L6' 1"18007/15/19883091806/14/2010
Kyle Hardy1BR / R6' 3"22007/29/198931948Unsigned
Kevin CoutureRHPR / R6' 0"17004/20/19883297806/17/2010
James BirminghamLHPL / L6' 5"18008/02/1988331008Unsigned
Johnathan DeBerryCFR / R5' 9"21007/22/198834103806/15/2010
Stephen ShacklefordRHPR / R6' 1"18505/05/198935106806/14/2010
John LeonardRHPR / R6' 0"19005/17/1989361098Unsigned
Eric SiscoRHPR / R6' 3"20012/09/1991371128Unsigned
Jacob McCaslandRHPR / R6' 2"21509/13/1991381158Unsigned
Tommy TremblayCL / R6' 3"19005/11/1991391188Unsigned
Wes Hobson2BL / R6' 0"18711/12/198740121806/15/2010
Ryan HoneycuttLFL / R6' 0"19509/06/198841124806/15/2010
James RobertsRHPR / R6' 2"18012/11/1991421278Unsigned
Raymond RugglesRHPR / R6' 2"20008/17/1986431308Unsigned
Jake ShadleRHPR / R6' 2"17504/25/199044133806/21/2010
Gregory GreveRHPR / R6' 3"20001/05/1992451368Unsigned
Caleb Hougesen3BR / R6' 1"21511/17/1991461398Unsigned
Ray HansonRHPR / R6' 7"23502/27/1990471428Unsigned
Devin HarrisRFR / R6' 3"22504/23/198848145806/21/2010
Dan Pellegrino      C    R / R5' 11"19011/02/1988491488Unsigned
Golden TateCFL / L6' 0"18008/02/1988501518Unsigned

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