Thursday, September 09, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 78-62: Time to Man Up, Fry the Friars, Chip the Monks

The Giants did good, taking the D-backs series on the road (as bad as they have been, they were still 35-40 at home), despite one columnist complaining that the Giants didn't sweep the series.  That just fans the Giants fans' fears that "the sky is falling."  That couldn't be further from the truth.

The truth of the matter is that the Giants are only 2 games back of SD, with four now to play in their home park. True, they had not played them well earlier in the season, but the Giants didn't play LA well either and came back to win three series against them in the second half.  Still, the Giants will have to man up and take this series from SD, though a split would not be the worse thing ever, and obviously, the Giants simply cannot lose this series, that is not an option if they have any hopes for the playoffs.  They can't rely on another 10 game losing streak.

But the series should be a good, evenly matched series, the one who wants it more will win.

Game 1:  Jon Garland vs. Cain

MLB Notes:
Giants:  Cain received no decision in last Saturday's 5-4 comeback victory at Los Angeles. He allowed all of the Dodgers' runs in the fourth inning, but otherwise pitched steadily for seven innings.
'Dres:  Garland struggled putting hitters away with two outs in his last start against the Rockies on Saturday. Twice, Garland got the first two hitters out in an inning only to allow runs. He allowed 10 baserunners in 4 2/3 innings.
Garland has pitched way better at home (2.68 ERA) than on the road (4.04 ERA).  He's basically around his career numbers on the road, but Petco being a pitcher's park has boosted his performance when pitching there.  He has also raised things a notch in the second half, dropping his ERA down another run almost.  And he held the Giants to just 1 run in 7 IP in his only start against them this season in SD (but only 1 K and 2 BB, so that was probably flukey) and a 2.15 ERA against them in his career.

Cain has been the stalwart of the rotation throughout the second half the season, while the rest of the rotation had their problems, off and on.  Should be an relatively equal matchup, Cain has a career 2.90 ERA in SD, and in 10 career starts there, he has pitched well in all but one start, back in late 2008.  Game on!

Game 2:  Clayton Richard vs. Sanchez

Giants:  Is Sanchez really becoming Mr. Consistent? We shall see. The lefty three-hit the Dodgers for seven innings on Sunday and, previous to that, tossed one-run ball for eight against the Rockies. Lefties are hitting .177 against him.
'Dres:  Richard got the no-decision against the Rockies on Sunday, allowing two runs (one earned) on nine hits over six innings. Still, the lefty is 5-1 with a 3.04 ERA in his last eight starts and is 3-0 in four starts against the Giants this season.
Richard has took a step up and been doing well in the second half; not everyone will regress to their career mean, pitchers in particular.  But looking at his games in detail, he's been relatively lucky.  Not striking out that many, walking too many, giving up a lot of hits, but not many runs, and he was horrible just before that.  But, he has been great against the Giants and been better at home (2.85 ERA) than on the road (4.12 ERA).

Meanwhile, Sanchez has been dealing and this is the team he no-hit before.  People have been questioning his consistency, but then why not point that out for Richard too, he has horrible after the ASB then been good for the stretch they note above.  That's inconsistent too.  And Sanchez has been consistently good before over a month period before, he was pretty good for around two months in the 2008 season, just after the start.  And he has pitched relatively well in SD before.

I will have to call it even, but with a lean to Sanchez for actually pitching well in recent games, versus Richard who has been struggling lately, albeit while keeping his ERA low.  He could be a bad game looking for an opportunity to come out.  Go Giants!

Game 3:  Tim Stauffer vs. Bumgarner

Giants:  Bumgarner displayed "the best stuff" he's had since joining the Giants, said Buster Posey, who caught the lefty's 7 1/3 scoreless innings Monday. Bumgarner featured a 94-mph fastball and threw more changeups than usual. His road ERA shrank to 2.25.
'Dres:  Stauffer earned his third start of the season after allowing one run in four innings Monday in place of an ill Mat Latos. Kevin Correia and Wade LeBlanc were also candidates to take this start, but they are a combined 1-5 in thier last six outings.
Reeks of desperation:  against the team they are fending off for the division title, they decide that their best option is to throw their long relief guy at the Giants, skipping over Correia and LeBlanc, among others.  Still, Stauffer has had a great 2010 season so far, and he could be tough on the Giants bats, tougher than Correia or LeBlanc have been lately as starters.

Bumgarner has turned it up in recent starts, and has honed his mechanics where he is getting back to his mid-90's heat that he had last year but which then mysteriously disappeared until now.  When he has his fastball, he was almost unhittable, Manny was impressed with him.  Could he follow in Dirty's cleats and no-hit San Diego?  

Should be a close game, but I like Bumgarner's competitiveness, and with his heater back, the skill is the limit, I think.  Despite how well Stauffer has pitched, that was as a reliever, and at 28, he's more in the lucky journeyman reliever mode than staff stopper, so I have to lean towards Bumgarner in this start but give Stauffer his due for a fine season thus far.

Game 4:  Mat Latos vs. Lincecum

Giants:  It appears Timmy is back. Lincecum followed his five-game skid in August with wins in each of his first two September starts. Most recently, he fanned 11 D-backs in six innings. He said he had his best stuff in about four months.
'Dres:  What can you say about Latos, who won his 14th game and lowered his ERA to a scant 2.21 with a win in his last start. He became the first pitcher in Major League history to allow two or fewer runs in 15 consecutive starts (five innings minimum).
This game was brought to you by Latos' stomach ailment the other day, which, conveniently enough, gave him another day's rest between starts, and allowed San Diego to throw Latos against Lincecum, and Stauffer vs. Bumgarner, instead of the other way around, most probably.

Latos has stepped it up in the second half, but Lincecum has too in his last couple of starts.   Could be 0-0 both still pitching in the 9th.  Too close to tell, but it should be a great, well-pitched game, both are at the top of their game right now.  

Now would be a good time for Giants hitters to step up and take out another top pitcher, like they have all season long, Oswalt, Halliday, Jimenez, etc.  It will be hard given what Latos just accomplished, a first in Major League history, but the Giants took on and beat great pitchers earlier this season, so why not now?

Giants Thoughts

The Giants need to win the series, which would put them in a virtual tie for the lead (they have played two more games so far).  A sweep would be great, but not probable (but what was more improbable than the 'Dres being the division leader this late in 2010?) and a split is doable, as we still have a three game series with them to end the season.  But a series loss would severely damage any chance of winning the division, the wild card would be the only alternative (right now they are two games behind San Diego for division lead, Atlanta for wild card slot).

Given that the matchups are pretty good and with the Giants having the edge in a couple, I think a split is in the works at worse, and the Giants could pull off a series win if our starters can continue their string of well pitched games.  Posey and Pablo need to lead the way offensively, as it just seems that when the Two P's are hitting, it gets the rest of the lineup going.

Also, Atlanta has been slowly falling back, so the Giants probably have a good chance of overtaking them, so the big worry for them right now in the wild card race is the surging D-Rox.  Colorado has won 6 in a row against two good teams, SD and CIN, and swept ATL a couple of weeks ago.  They have won 13 of their last 17 games as well to pull up within 2.5 games of the Giants now.

And Colorado's schedule is relatively easy.  They got 6 more games with Arizona and 6 more with LA, as well as 3 vs. SD and 3 vs. Giants before ending with 4 vs. Cards.  They could be having a pretty easy end of the season, as LA and Cards have been fading and could be done by the time Colorado faces them again, and Arizona is still a below .500 team.  And more of Colorado's games are home games, 13 at home, 10 on the road.

Meanwhile, the 'Dres will go on a 10 game road trip after this series with the Giants, while the Giants play at home, so that is the time for the Giants to pick up more games on them, and perhaps pass them up while holding off the D-Rox during that stretch as well.  And after this 4 game set in SD, the Giants play 12 of their last 18 games at home, where they have dominated, particularly after Posey and Bumgarner joined the team.

We definitely need some hitters to step up, in particular Torres and Huff, though Huff might be waking up, with a few nice games.  Plus, the radio reports on Guillen is that he can carry a team when he is hot and he was hitting some shots in the last game in Arizona.  Plus Schulman tweeted that Guillen is 9 for 19 with 2 doubles and a homer versus Garland, so that will help.  Plus, of course, Freddy Sanchez just hit homers in consecutive games, after only hitting two all season, maybe his bat is waking up too.  And as noted above, it seems like the offense runs well when Posey and Pablo are hitting.

Burrell Bench Player?

Wow, this guy just loves the Giants:  Burrell has come out and said (and reported by Hank Schulman, he has been getting good scoops this season, great job!) that he wants to return to the Giants in 2011, even if he would not be playing every day.  That would give the Giants a lot of flexibility in how it handles roster decisions for 2011 in the off-season if they can sign Burrell up for $1-3M (and probably get plate appearance bonuses should he gain a starting position) before the free agent market opens up.

And that would make coming back to the Giants much more attractive for Aubrey Huff, not that he wasn't going to consider the team previously, he has openly said that this is his most fun season ever and he would love to return to the team.  Still, knowing that the core youth of the team will be still here and now one year older and experienced with a pennant race, Huff knows he's got a good thing going here and if Burrell is in the fold, all the better the chances for the Giants to work out something with Huff.

Not that there was a lot of doubt in my mind that Huff would sign.  The Giants typically sign their free agent players they want and I see no reason why they would not want Huff back, particularly since he can play at 3 positions decently.  The main question to me was how much they would go in terms of salary, and not that I want to stiff Huff, neither would I want to see a big $10-15M contract signed either.

But Huff "only" got $8M per season with the Orioles, so I'm thinking something in the $5-7M range should do it, a nice raise over 2010's $3M, but a slight discount to the Giants over market value, plus a nod towards his age as well.  And $6M seems to be the going rate for Giants free agents, so maybe $6M for 2011 plus a team option for $6M in 2012?

If these two moves can be done relatively quickly, that nail down two starting spots and would leave us with Burrell in LF, Huff at 1B, Torres in OF spot, and Rowand and Schierholtz (I don't see how the Giants would want Cody Ross at roughly $6M next season), Franchez at 2B, Sandoval at 3B, Posey at C, leaving only SS open.  Uribe could be that but don't know what he will want, though with his decline in production in the second half, his price should not be that high either, maybe could get him for $9-10M over two seasons.

And LF could then be the wildcard.  DeRosa, if he is healthy, probably in mix for LF and RF, plus he'll probably be the super-utility guy playing all over the field, 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF.  The Giants could also look into a free agent LF, like Carl Crawford, if Neukom can dig up the cash to pay for him, he would push the payroll up higher by a lot.  And at worse, Burrell would be the LF if nothing else works out.  Plus, if Belt continues to develop in AAA, he could come up mid-season and play LF or play 1B while Huff plays LF.  Lots of options to consider with Burrell signed as bench player but who can be potential starter.


  1. I've said this before, but if the Giants are going to stick with Panda (and his inevitable deteriorating defense) at 3rd, they are going to have to sink some serious moeny and get a real SS, not someone who can just play there. Paying a lot of money for Uribe just does not make a lot of sense. I don't know who may be available, but the need will be overwhelming to get to the next level.

    I have no issue bringing Huff & Burrell back on team friendly deals. It would be folly though to think they can match the production that we got out of them this year. It's just not likely.

  2. Giants did what they had to do and are now tied for the NL West lead. Heck, they might have even swept the series if it weren't for Jerry Crawford's horsebleep umpiring on Saturday! Giants just need to keep it going. They probably need to win all 6 series from here out to stay ahead of the surging Rockies, who I think are the main competition at this point.



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