Monday, April 18, 2011

Your 2011 Giants: Rocking D-Rox

The Giants pull off a series win in Arizona but fans are left with the bitter taste of "what if" when the Giants came within a number of outs of a sweep.  It sucks when life twists like that but these fans didn't mind it so much when the Giants nearly lost the series to the D-gers or came within an eyelash of potentially losing the series to the Cards, as those could have twisted away from us as well, but instead twisted back to us.  Can't win them all, we got a series win in a division foe's homepark.  It's all good.

Now they face the rampaging D-Rox, 12-3 and leading the Giants by 4 games.  They have benefited greatly from the rampaging Troy Tulozitski, 7 HR in 15 games, and the great offense from Jonathan Herrera (1.115 OPS vs. .695 from last season, and minors record unbesmirched by any good offensive stats) and Chris Iannetta (.992 OPS, is he finally figuring things out?), plus Jhoulys Chacin ace pitching so far, 1.64 ERA, but only 14 K's in 22.0 IP, suggesting he's also pitching above his abilities right now.  Unless they think that Tulo is going to hit 75 HRs and Herrera suddenly becomes a hitting god, and Chacin can keep up a stellar ERA without a stellar K/9 rate or K/BB ratio, this should cool down eventually.

However, that does not mean that they will necessarily cool down for the Giants quite yet.

Game 1:  Lincecum vs. Rogers
Tim Lincecum:  His last time out wasn't a premium performance, but with the help of Brian Wilson, the Giants got the win. Lincecum threw 5 1/3 innings, allowed six hits and departed with a 4-3 lead after falling behind 3-0, but didn't get the decision.
Esmil Rogers:  Rogers gave up three runs on seven hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings against the Mets on Wednesday. Rogers teetered all game, but never gave up more than one run in an inning and worked out of traffic to emerge with the win.
Clearly, the D-Rox are so afraid of Happy-Lincecum-Day that they dared not risk losing the occasion of the return of their ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, to the greatness that is Big Time Timmy Jim, so they moved Ubaldo's return back a day and throw up a sacrificial lamb, Esmil Rogers, who has a lifetime 7.07 ERA against SF, 5.40 ERA in 2 starts against SF (both in SF), and has given up 5 runs in 4.0 IP in Colorado vs. the G's.  They are clearly giving up on this game and betting that Ubaldo will have a much better chance of beating Sanchez in Game 2, splitting the series and basically try to avoid a series sweep since they face Matt Cain in Game 3.

Should be Happy Lincecum Day, anything less would be a total disappointment and upset.  He has a 3.86 ERA here, but in 8 career starts, 49.0 IP with 52 K's and only 21 BB's (2.48 K/BB is great, suggesting bad luck with his ERA so far in his park), a great 0.73 HR/9 here.  Thus far this season, 1.86 ERA (below 2.00 ERA in regular season since he figured out his new slider), 3 starts, 19.1 IP, 22 K's vs. only 4 BB's (one IBB) for a stupendous 5.50 K/BB ratio (good pitchers > 2.0 K/BB, very good pitchers > 2.4).   With his new slider plus great changeup, he has upped his K/9 back up, to 10.2, but more importantly pushed his BB/9 down to a stellar 1.9, whereas he was merely OK previously, maybe a little too wild (want BB/9 <= 3.0).

Game 2:  Sanchez vs. Jimenez
Jonathan Sanchez:  Sanchez came up big vs. the Dodgers in San Francisco, tossing six innings while allowing three earned runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out nine in a 4-3 win. The Giants have won two of his first three starts.
Ubaldo Jimenez:  Jimenez looked nothing like himself on Opening Day, but he was pitching through a cut cuticle on his right thumb. The injury forced him to the disabled list. Jimenez's fastball touched 97 mph during a rehab start.
Sanchez gets the big matchup this series, and it will be another chance to step up to the challenge and opportunity and show that he has further progressed as a major leaguer.  He took a number of big steps last season, culminating with his great start and win against the 'Dres to win the NL West Division title, showing further growth in maturity and confidence.  He has actually pushed his peripherals up this season, to 13.0 K/9 (career 9.5 K/9; high as starter 9.8 K/9), to 3.8 BB/9 (4.6 BB/9 career; best as starter 4.3 BB/9), to 3.43 K/BB (remember, very good is 2.4 K/BB), and I know it is all small samples so far, only 3 starts, and despite that progress, has only been averaging 5.5 IP so far, probably due to the increase in K's.

Sanchez has a 4.46 ERA in 4 starts in Colorado, 5.26 ERA career, and his progress against them is exemplified by the drop in ERA against them over his career, culminating in a 6.0 IP shutout with 9 K's against them last season.  He will need to do something close to that again if the Giants hope to win against Colorado on their Happy Ubaldo Day.

Ubaldo has numbers against the Giants that suggest that perhaps the rumor of the D-Rox screwing around with the humidor balls is true, as the Giants basically accused them of last season.  We all know that Coors is a hitters park like no other in the history of baseball.  Offensive numbers are skewed significantly upward, pitching numbers are skewed significantly worse too.  Ubaldo actually has a much BETTER ERA against the Giants at home than in SF.

Ubaldo vs. Giants
at home:  2.68 ERA, 47.0 IP, 14 walks, 35 strikeouts, 0.77 HR/9, 7 starts
on road:  3.60 ERA, 45.0 IP, 18 walks, 42 strikeouts, 0.40 HR/9, 7 starts
So despite a much better HR/9 at AT&T, he has a signficantly better ERA at home against the Giants in his career so far.

Assuming Jimenez is his normal self - I am wondering if his great first half of 2010 was just a fluke, his 3.80 ERA second half fits right in with his ERA in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, but his PQS was great in 2009 and 2010 (79% DOM/12% DIS in 2009, 82% DOM/6% DIS in 2010) suggesting a new plateau and rise to eliteness -  Sanchez will have quite a battle on his hands.  Sanchez's second half PQS results are almost Jimenez's equal (60%/13% and 67%/13%) but he has been horrible PQS-wise the past two first halves.  Which Sanchez will show?

The Giants clearly needs the better Sanchez to show up got them to have a chance of beating the D-Rox and Jimenez.  They need the Sanchez who shut out the D-Rox last season.  He is one third of an inning away from three straight DOM starts, just missing in the team's home opener this season, which could have amped up his adrenaline a bit, but he has been striking out a storm while keeping his walks under relative control.  So he has been pitching very well so far this season, so unless the humidor balls do funny things, this should be a tight battle between two very good pitchers who have figured out how to pitch among the very best in the league.

I have to give the lean to Ubaldo, though, because they are at home and he has had a great record so far against the Giants at home.  However, if Ubaldo is a bit rusty from his layoff, then Sanchez and the Giants would have a good chance of winning this game.

Game 3:  Cain vs. de la Rosa
Matt Cain:  Cain continued his outstanding run by working into the seventh of a win vs. the D-backs, allowing a run on four hits. So far he's given up only three runs in 19 innings, after a postseason in which he didn't allow an earned run in three starts.
Jorge de la Rosa:  De La Rosa left his first two starts relatively early because of blister issues on his left middle finger, but he pitched into the seventh Thursday, throwing 116 pitches and allowing four runs on five hits and four walks.
As great as the Giants pitchers were in 2010, the top three have actually raised things up a notch in the early season so far for the Giants.  Cain has been superb, as noted in the comment above.  Cain has a 3.38 ERA against the D-Rox in 9 starts here in his career.  This is punctuated by his 4 starts here the last two seasons, 1.86 ERA, and the step up he took in 2009-2010.

And believe it or not, he might have taken another one step upward after his magnificent run through the playoffs.  There have been a number of quotes of Cain this season talking about how he has been taking his experiences from the playoffs and applying them now during the regular season, remembering that confidence he felt back then.  That could put him into the elite status among starters, if he can attain that consistency over an entire season.  He is already ridiculously consistent - the key to consistently low ERAs is to limit Disaster starts and keep your DIS% below 10%, something he has done the past three seasons now.

One of his problems in the past was his lack of confidence in himself and his stuff.  Matt Morris touched on this before and I recall Giants batters mentioning it before, that Cain didn't really trust that his stuff is good enough to get major league hitters out, so he would rely a lot on nibbling on the corners and basically pitch afraid that the hitter will hit him.  They had to work a lot and hard at getting him to understand that.  I think that is what contributed to his high walk rates early in his career.  But that has dropped almost every season now, and he is now reaching elite status there, with a 2.5 BB/9 last season and even better 1.9 BB/9 this season, albeit in only 3 starts so far.

Not too bad for a "loser" that many Giants fans wanted to trade away for a bag of magic offensive beans (Alexis Rios, Prince Fielder, among others).  If we could take away the ability to comment on the internet from everyone who wanted to trade Matt Cain, you would probably wipe out 80-90% of the Sabean Naysayers still polluting the commentary on the Giants (I just saw someone complaining vociferously about Sabean on Extra Baggs just yesterday, so I know they are still around).  They don't even realize how bad the team would be right now if the Giants had listened to their recommendations on what to do with the team (besides all the "Let's get Pujols by giving away lousy prospects" nonsense trade ideas).

Sabean is not perfect, but he has been in terms of deciding who to keep and who to trade away among the prospects that have passed through his hands.  Signing free agents and drafting prospects are a crapshoot in terms of results, but knowing who to keep and who to get rid of is where a GM separates himself from the rest of the pack.  Sabean et al have thankfully decided that Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Wilson, Romo, Runzler, Posey, and Sandoval were keepers, barring any ludicrous overpay in trade offers (which never came).

Jorge de la Rosa has pitched very well this season so far, 3.18 ERA, but I have to think the wheels come off at some point.  His K/9 dropped while his BB/9 stayed about the same, so his K/BB has fallen below the 2-ish that he has been at during his career as a starter.  Plus, his BABIP is way too low (.200), unsustainable, and his HR/9 is way below his career norms.  And that is the idea behind small sample size, he's only had 3 starts so far.  In any case, even if he is as good as he has been, Cain has been that much better.  Giants should win this game.

Giants Thoughts

I was thinking about this over the weekend, but the Giants, while disappointing fans with their start so far, has not really been on all 8 cylinders yet.  Posey was sick with a virus early on, so he wasn't hitting.  Huff might finally be getting untracked now, having hit his first homer of the season.  Of course, both Ross and Torres have been out with injuries, and Belt has not been hitting at all.  Hank Schulman tweeted that scouts are saying that he needs more seasoning in AAA (love his new photo on Twitter).  And nobody is producing at the monster production that Colorado is getting from Tulo, Iannetta and Herrera (and CarGon has been back to his pre-2010 model so far, dampening their offense and increasing my conviction that their big contract with him will be more albatross than boon), though Rowand is doing great so far while both Torres and Ross are out, just not as great as those D-Rox.

And as well as Lincecum, Sanchez, Cain has been doing, Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner have been very disappointing.  Zito, frankly, I think he should have just been put on the DL after the car crash and told to rest up and feel better.  Bochy alluded to as much in his comments after Zito was placed on the DL for his foot sprain, his first DL stint in 12 years as a major leaguer, his first start missed due to injury coming up this Friday.

I have to wonder if the "freak" foot sprain was just something that was undetected or weakened after Zito's horrific car crash (what is it about LA drivers trying to kill major league pitchers?) and who knows what else is undetected, given his sudden drop in velocity to the low 80's during the regular season.  I know when I was blindsided by a red-light runner, I too was lucky to come out of it without anything broken, but was extremely shaken up and I had aches and pains for a while, so I took it easy physically for a while.  Not so easily said for a major league pitcher starting the regular season.

Bumgarner is the most disappointing, because there is no reason why he is not performing so far.   He is not striking out many, while walking many and giving up a lot of hits.  If he wanted to show the Giants that he was worth the money he was asking for, he's going about it the wrong way.  He is just justifying why he did not get near the money that Posey got.

Perhaps he has more hurt feelings than he let on when interviewed about that salary disagreement (not really dispute since Giants could just force a salary on him) and that has affected his play.  It was not that long ago that he chucked the ball far and into the stands after all 6' 6" of him got angry at an umpire's call.   Sometimes it is two steps forward and one step back when it comes to maturity.

Looking at his stats, his LD% is way high, hitters are just raking him, he is not fooling anyone, as suggested by his low K/9 so far and his high HR/9 and HR/FB.  His velocity for his pitches so far are about the same as last year, though oddly enough, there are a huge number of pitches so far (40.8%) that are recorded as unknown so far.  His curveball and changeup were his out pitches in 2010, but not so much in 2011, so that seems to be the biggest problems so far, plus his slider went from average to horrible.  He had one disaster start to start the season and was not that far away from having three disaster starts in a row, he barely missed accomplishing that dubious feat.

The Giants for the most part, are not performing that much better than could be expected.  Sure the Top 3 starters will probably do worse, but the offense should likely improve as Huff and Burrell return to normal career performance range and Torres and Ross returns from the DL and Belt gets returned to AAA to final seasoning.  The key to being a division title contender right now is Bumgarner returning to ace-like performances, and there is nothing to like so far in his performance so far.

Meanwhile, Colorado has benefited from great performances, particularly Tulo's 7 HR in 15 games but also stout starting pitching that is much better than prior performances indicate, though they were handicapped by Ubaldo being out.  San Diego has benefited by Nick Hundley's sudden Johnny Bench impression and Aaron Harang turning back the clock a few seasons with his 3-0 record and 1.50 ERA, plus a shutdown bullpen that can't last much longer, though handicapped by Mat Latos being out.  Arizona has benefited from Miguel Montrero and Ryan Roberts sudden Albert Pujols impersonations, with OPS over 1.000 but suffered from pitching that is totally underperforming, though they would not necessarily win had their team performed to expectations.   And LA I have not thought much of either, but they have had a number of injuries and underperformers, and so are the only team that might rebound at some point this season, assuming players return from the DL OK, plus Ted Lilly and Juan Uribe righting themselves, among others.

Which brings us to this series.  If the Giants can sweep, they would bring themselves to just 1 game behind the D-Rox.  If they can win 2 of the 3 games, they would end up 3 games behind.  So clearly it would behoove the Giants to sweep this series.

And it looks possible.  Lincecum should be able to beat Rogers.  Cain should be able to beat de la Rosa, though that is not as much a sure thing as Lincecum.  Sanchez is capable of being Jimenez, mano-a-mano, and if Jimenez is having any problems getting back into the swing of things, Sanchez should be able to beat the D-Rox.  Not a sure thing, but I would not be surprised either.

Now, it is possible the Giants could lose the series.  Their pitchers could have a game of their career while the Giants pitchers falter after a good start to the 2011 season.  That does happen sometimes.  But for once, I feel that the Giants are competitive in trying to win this series and have a pretty good chance of at least pulling 2 of 3 of the games, whereas previously, playing in Coors was like a horror maze of mirrors.  They don't usually match up so well against the D-Rox but we got our best starters against some of their not as good (we avoid Chacin, luckily) and can their hitters really continue hitting THAT well?

And I would guess not.  Besides Kershaw and Billingsley, the D-Rox have faced a long stretch of starters who are not aces:  Maholm, Ohlendorf, Morton, McDonald, Pelfrey, Niese, Dickey, Capuano, Coleman.  And Garza and Dempster have been aces in season's past, but have been horrible this season.  And they had 4 games against the Pirates and 4 games against the woebegone Mets.  Now they are facing three of the best in the majors, in a row, each having a different expertise:  Lincecum with fastball, changeup, slider deadly combo, Sanchez with pitches that batters just naturally swing at and miss, Cain with his no-hit stuff and pinpoint location.

And the Giants offense might get ignited playing in Coors hitter's haven.  Lets see if Belt can pad his stats here.  If not, he's might find himself going down when Ross returns, instead of later when Torres return.  However, the Giants have usually tended to give their young prospect hitters at least a month to show what they can do as a regular starter before they make their decision on what to do next, so he probably has at least until Torres is recovered to start worrying about going back down.

Go Giants!!!

10 comments:

  1. Great write up as usual. I feel like we have a good chance to take this series as well. Mainly because of the Big 3 pitching lineup and the hot hitting of the panda and posey. Sandoval's rebirth this season has been off the the best start imaginable. He looks like a new man.

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  2. Thanks Kevin!

    Should also add that Lincecum had a very big DOM%, roughly 80% in 2008 and 2009, his Cy Young years, so odds are that he will have a quality game here today, he had a slight hiccup in his last start, having a 3 PQS start, so on average he should have two DOM starts in his next two starts if he were to keep up that average in his first 5 starts (of course, there are variations so there is no guarantee of two).

    But as I've been saying, with his changeup and slider combination, to go with his fastball, he should dominate most games this season, he could raise his game up another level, as hard as that is to comprehend, since he's been pretty darn good before.

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  3. Well, you were certainly right about the first game!

    I think MadBum will be OK. His velocity is up to 94-96. He showed signs of dominating in his Sunday start in Arizona. One bad inning, really. The umps have not been kind to him for some reason either. He'll have to learn to control his anger when the ump starts squeezing him.

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  4. Thanks for the info, DrB, good to see him in the mid-90's, that's a great sign.

    Seems like some umps like to haze young players to test them, sometimes.

    Speaking of mid-90's, reports are that Lincecum is hitting 95 MPH regularly and getting stronger. He reportedly added 15-20 pounds between seasons in an effort to build up his strength.

    And I'm still shocked that the opposing manager of the Giants top competition for the NL West division title would so clearly and blatently push his top pitcher back one start due to Lince-flu, er, to give him more rest. To do that so openly is shocking, shows how much other teams fear Lincecum right now.

    Which fits into my thoughts that with his new slider, and now upgraded velocity, it would not be surprising if Lincecum got his ERA under 2.00 for the season.

    Also, it appears that Brandon Belt might go down when Cody Ross is taken off the DL. Many people are upset about this, and I don't understand why. Sabean made it very clear in spring training that Belt was not going to make the team, but then the Ross injury opened a spot to try out Belt.

    Worse case scenario, they kick his tires and he still has some learning to do. But the Giants get to watch him perform at the major league level and get a better gauge on what he needs to work on when he returns back to the minors so that he will be better prepared to stick next time he comes up.

    Best scenario is that he hits like Jason Heyward did and force his way into the starting lineup. That is always a good thing. Obviously, that didn't happen.

    Also, I think that Belt will end up playing RF for the most part when he goes back down to AAA. If he can re-acquaint himself with RF, that would allow the Giants to bring him up should something open up in the OF again. He used to start in RF before being moved to 1B in college, so he's familiar enough, I think.

    That would leave 1B for Pill, as Ishikawa has split time between 1B and LF so far. Plus Fresno don't have any good prospect in RF right now anyway, just a couple of organizational prospects.

    Burriss has played in the OF as well, it appears that they are preparing him for a potential DeRosa/Figgins uber-utility role, plus that gives him more opportunity to hit, as they are still starting Bond at 2B and Rohlinger at SS. If they really thought that he could still start at SS, he would be starting there full-time, instead of Rohlinger. Plus, they wouldn't have given Franchez that $6M extension for 2012.

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  5. Other news is that Zito looks like he will be out at least one month and possibly two months due to his foot sprain. Ryan Vogelsong was called up to take his spot, though the Giants got his feet wet by throwing him into yesterday's game to keep the rest of the bullpen fresh. Haven't decided whether he will still start in Zito's spot on Friday or if they will move up Bumgarner.

    I'm excited for Vogelsong. He was a top prospect during a sad period for the Giants farm period and I thought that he might be good. I was sad about giving him up, but Schmidt was doing great in his return off the DL for the Pirates so I accepted that you had to give up something good to get something good. Now I get to root for him again.

    He should get into at least 5 starts, maybe up to 10, that should be plenty to see what he got. And what he did in spring training and AAA so far suggests that he can do some good starting pitching.

    I think the Giants should still pitch him on Friday. I went through the schedule to early June, once with no skip and once with skipping just this start. For one thing, after teh rest on Apr. 25, they won't get another for 2 weeks, then another 2 weeks for the next. May as well let the starters get some rest now, they will be working harder soon.

    Now, with no skip, next series against COL is at home and Sanchez, Cain, Vogelsong is that matchup, whereas skipping makes it Cain, Vogelsong, Bumgarner (assuming they keep that order; they could also switch them too since there is an off day on the 25th, and then it would be Bumgarner, Vogelsong; but I don't see any advantage either way going to early June). At this point, I would rather have Sanchez pitch than Bumgarner, but how Sanchez does today will affect my thoughts on that. So that would be no skip.

    Next interesting series is 2 @COL and with no skip it is Lincecum, Sanchez but with skip it is Sanchez, Cain. Love Cain, but I would rather have Lincecum face them. This is no skip as well.

    Not really interesting, because I think they will be in lower division, but no skip would have Cain, Vogelsong facing LAD, with skip means Vogelsong, Bumgarner. Again, want no skip, rather have Cain face LAD than Bumgarner.

    Next I really like beating OAK, and no skip means Bumgarner, Lincecum, Sanchez; with skip, Lincecum, Sanchez, Cain. This one is skip preferred.

    Then there is the COL series at home in early June, and no skip has Cain, Vogelsong, Bumgarner vs. Vogelsong, Bumgarner, Lincecum. Skip preferred here.

    Overall, I think not skipping is the better way to go. That gives the pitchers the rest that the Giants been wanting to give them. It also has Sanchez/Cain facing COL in next series, instead of just Cain. It also has Lincecum, Sanchez facing COL in Coors in that future series. Plus, it only slightly hurts the COL series at AT&T after that, with Cain instead of Lincecum, which while a downgrade, still very good, excellent.

    But skipping takes away rest, particularly for Bumgarner and pits Bumgarner instead of Sanchez in next COL series.

    I think I would rather see Lincecum facing Colorado in Coors than Cain, he has more tricks up his sleeve that could handle the D-Rox, as shown by his dominance in yesterday's game, when he no-hit them for 6.1 innings.

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  6. And, oh yeah, wow, what a smash HR by Schierholtz. That's just another example of why I want to keep Nate around. When he is on, he is capable of a lot of nice hitting. People knock him for not walking much, but he don't strike out much either, which is actually important too.

    Plus he has understated speed, he can steal 10+ bases for you plus is an excellent baserunner, based on Bill James base running efficiency metrics.

    And he obviously has power, power that I think will come out once he is given the chance to start regularly, as well as stay healthy.

    And, of course, there is his stellar defense in RF. As much as I would love to see Belt come up and start for us sometime this season, I don't want it at the cost of losing Nate. It has to happen with a Rowand trade.

    And, again, I think that is possible (not probable, but possible) by mid-season. Teams will get desperate by then (LAD already did, they brought up a prospect to play LF for them; I warned that this would be a problem area for them in 2011).

    I think ChiSox would be a possibility. Especially now that they are struggling and Peavy is having issues again for them. I had mentioned how the Giants could pay for Rowand this season, and basically cover half the rest of his contract. He would play LF for Chicago, as Juan Pierre isn't hitting again.

    But I was thinking we could expand the deal and include Jonathan Sanchez. He has Boras as his agent and historically he does not allow his players to sign an extension with their current team, he wants them going free agent in his 20's and get a big contract. So we only have him for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

    We give them Sanchez and we start by getting Gordon Beckham from them. He played SS and most scouting reports thought that he could play SS adequately enough, particularly with his offense. He's starting cold again, so they could be tiring of his ups and downs. The Giants can tolerate that at SS.

    The problem with this deal right now is that the Giants would then need to figure out what to do with Tejada (DFA is probable; trade maybe if he starts hitting better) and the ChiSox would need to find a 2B. The Giants could just give them Tejada to play 2B, but they probably would not want that.

    Another option is that the Giants have a number of 2B prospects, who they could include. One is Brock Bond, who some Giants fans explicable love just because he can take a walk and get on base. Another is Emmanuel Burriss, or even Conor Gillaspie, we are almost out of options on him, and most scouting reports thought his future was more at 2B due to his lack of power.

    And for all that, the ChiSox should return some prospects our way as well.

    Anyway, just a thought, not sure what the answer is but assuming Vogelsong is an adequate starter for us and Bumgarner is ready to take another step up in performance in 2011, I think I can give up on Sanchez in order to get a great bat like Beckham, plus dump a salary and roster spot in Rowand, who the ChiSox still believe in, but probably just not at $12M per year. Cut that in half to $6M, and I think we might have a customer.

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  7. OGC,

    I am in awe of what the Giants did to the Rockies in the first two games of this series. They were the hottest team in baseball, especially offensively, and playing in their own crib, a house of horrors for the Giants in years past. The Giants came in and dominated in every phase of the game. Kids, this is not your father's Giants!!

    Pitch Vogelsong on Friday! Take advantage of that extra day's rest whenever you can. If he pitches well, they might even keep him around to spot start later in the year when the off-days disappear. Vogelsong looked great in his 1.1 IP Monday. His 92 MPH FB was jumping past hitters. He didn't even have to use his changeup much, a pitch he reportedly perfected in Japan.

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  8. Martin, I'm really shocked that after you quite rightly credited Sabean for keeping his pitching staff together in the face of howls from KNBR talk shows etc to move somebody for a bat, and then turn around and suggest trading Sanchez? We've already got two slots in the rotation that we're essentially hoping for league average performance from at the moment; I have no idea how they'd even attempt to fill Sanchez' slot, but it seems highly unlikely that they could come up with even a slightly below average pitcher there (Yourkin? Surkamp?) for 2011. That seems like a disastrous notion. No, Sabes has been right all along to hang onto Sanchez. Maybe going into his walk year if we have somebody coming up that looks like we can count on I can see moving Sanchez. Otherwise, we need to hold our starting rotation tight for right now.

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  9. Totally agree, DrB, it was just awesome. A sweep would be an even bigger statement, and Cainer is just the guy to deliver the coup-de-grace.

    Roger, I would love to keep Sanchez and the rotation together, but that is not realistic, even with Neukom being worth north of $500M.

    And it is not just for anybody, Gordon Beckham should be an above average SS or 2B for many years and cost-controlled for more years than Sanchez is currently.

    Plus, this would get rid of Rowand and allow the Giants to keep Schierholtz even when Belt eventually comes back up again.

    Plus, I noted mid-season, when we should have Zito back.

    And I can't believe you put Yourkin in the same sentence as Surkamp, Surkamp is having a great career so far, and great start to this season, his first in AA. He's only 23, so he could get the call up to AAA by mid-season and possibly be ready for the majors at that point.

    The way I see it, Bumgarner is already to where Sanchez was the past two seasons, if not further, so we have a pretty good top three in Lincecum, Bumgarner, Cain plus Zito and #5 starter, if we trade Sanchez and pick up a good prospect like Gordon Beckham, plus jettison Rowand without having to pay entire contract (ideally/realistically, they only pay half of remaining, like D-gers did with Juan Pierre)

    I don't suggest trading Sanchez lightly, I have thought and still think he's ace caliber talent, but Beckham could be our long-term SS who provides great offense there. Beckham-Belt-Posey-Sandoval, that would be quite a 2-3-4-5 lineup.

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  10. Just to clarify, when I put Yourkin and Surkamp together I'm talking about THIS YEAR. Who takes Sanchez' starts this year, because that's the concern. Surkamp's had a very good minor league career, but I don't know that they'd want to throw him into the majors just yet (note he's had a few bumps just adjusting to AA).

    To my mind, you're probably shutting the window on competing in 2011 if you moved Sanchez, or if any of Lincecum/Sanchez/Cain got hurt. I think just dealing with Zito's absence (and his 84 MPH FB when healthy) and Bumgarner's growing pains is going to make it hard enough as is. Losing one of the big three will make it near impossible to compete because we just don't have anyone else who can even pretend to be major league average in 2011.

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