Monday, August 31, 2015

Your 2015 Giants: Beat LA!

The game has already started but I don't think that changes much that I'll say here.

ogc thoughts

With the Giants behind 3.5 games of the Dodgers, of course, ideally the Giants sweep them in LA.  That is possible but not likely.  In game 1, Peavy has been a better pitcher than Anderson since he returned off the DL, 3.56 ERA vs. Anderson's 4.03, but not overly so.  In game 2, it's Bumgarner vs. Greinke, anything can happen.  In game 3, it's Leake vs. Kershaw, and as good as I think Leake has been, Kershaw is, well, Kershaw.  Leake has only one start against the Dodgers in LA, pretty good, 2 ER/R in 7.0 IP, but all the way back in 2012.

The chances favor the Giants if Mattingly keeps the lineup like it was today:  Rollins, Utley, A-Gon, Turner, Ethier, Carl Crawford, Grandal, Pederson, SP.  Three hitters are roughly at .210-.220:  Rollins, Utley, Pederson.  Two hitters roughly .260:  Crawford and Grandal.  And three hitters .280-.290:  A-Gon, Turner, Ethier.  OPS is better, with four hitters in the mid-800's OPS, but three hitters are in the .600's OPS range.

Meanwhile, the Giants lineup today was Aoki, Duffy, Belt, Posey, Byrd, Crawford, Tomlinson, Blanco, SP.  Crawford is the only hitter under .278 in the lineup (.265 but .806 OPS).  Everyone else is at .278 and higher, and most are in the .290-.300 range.  And most are at .800 OPS and higher.

In addition, if the game is close at the end of the game, the Dodger's bullpen has been known to blow up a lead or three before.

Hopefully all that will make a difference and the Giants will win the series with two wins, but it will be tough.


  1. Wow, the Giants made it very hard to beat the Dodgers in this series by losing game 1. As Baggerly noted in his blog post, this might be the game where the NL West was won.

    Many fans had been clamoring for Broadway to return, but he has been underwhelming in his return. And in this game, he didn't even retire one batter, loading up the bases by allowing each of the three hitters he faced to get on, WALKING the first batter, the worse sin for a reliever. He ruined a shutout going for the relievers, who pitched 8.1 innings of shutout relief until he came on (technically, the shutout ended when Petit allowed the walk-off hit, but still).

    I understand why fans are excited over young players, but there are advantages to having experienced veterans used to the pressure of playing in the major leagues. Broadway might figure this out eventually with experience, but today he was not up to the pressures of the task. Hopefully this will prepare him for the next time he is used in a high-pressure situation.

    But I don't blame Broadway or Bochy for this, in a 14 inning game, eventually you will be forced to use pitchers you might not otherwise want to pitch in that situation. Bochy had to use Petit even though Yusmeiro pitched 3 innings just a couple of days before on Saturday (unfortunately in a losing effort; we could have used those 3 innings of great performance instead in this game), so I don't blame Petit either.

    And, amazingly enough, the much maligned Dodger's bullpen won the game for them, allowing only 1 run over 9 innings themselves. And the flukes won it for LA, with Peavy cruising, leading 3-1, then gives up two homers in a row and suddenly we are behind 4-3. And though it didn't lead to a run or a loss, the double by Utley off Lopez showed how the luck of the fluke was on the Dodgers' side in this game: it was his first hit off Lopez in 20 AB's.

    And where did we lose? If you are going to point any fingers (and plenty of Giants fans love to point fingers, including me :^), I would say that Posey, in spite of his great 4 for 7 games with no strikeouts, would be the biggest goat, as he left five runners on base. If he had delivered a hit in any of those situations, the Giants undoubtedly would have won. He's our MVP, he needs to deliver in these situations.

    And the thing is, he has, in other situations, and thus why I don't blame him. That's buzzard luck, as Bochy loves to say, or sabers would say that he was BABIPed. I do wish that he was hitting better and for more power, but I recognize that the long season is wearing him down a lot.

    I can see others blame Peavy, Bochy, Broadway, Petit, some even blame Adrianza, who came in as a late game replacement and ended up going 0-for-4 (but really, he's our 25th man, and his value is playing great middle infield defense, a team has to be really lucky to have a bench MI player today who can hit well because those players generally are starters), but the way I see baseball, sometimes I don't blame my team, I congratulate the other team for a great ballgame, they were the better team in this game. They did enough to win. And LA did.

    It's a fine line, I admit. Did our players fail or did the other team's players succeed? It can go either way, but in reality, I see a lot of Giants fans often go for the jugular of our Giants players and management. And, after the fact, they rarely recognize that they were horribly wrong with what they wanted (see Broadway above), they just think they are right all the time. And contrary to popular opinion, I don't think I'm right all the time, I just want to be right all the time, a fine line, but I admit that I'm not perfect and not correct all the time, but logic is logic, and I will need to be convinced that I'm wrong before I switch positions.

    1. I hate size limits :^)

      With Greinke and Kershaw up next, the Giants will have to play their best to avoid being swept and ending up 6.5 games back. I read somewhere that Greinke had beaten the Giants in his last six starts, so that's a huge mountain to climb, but luckily we got Bumgarner up against him (and he's homered against him as well!). Still, tough way to try to win a series, but at least we have our two best starters going for us in Bumgarner and Leake. At least we are going with our best, instead of, say, Vogelsong and Heston/Cain, nothing against them, but these two guys are our best.

  2. Meanwhile, during the game, the Giants executed a trade with Boston for Alejandro De Aza, corner OF who could play all three OF positions. The Giants gave up Luis Ysla, who has had an up and down season in 2015, but still has some prospect cred.

    De Aza, 31, was batting .292 with a .347 on-base percentage and .484 slugging percentage in 60 games for the Red Sox, who acquired him from the Baltimore Orioles in June. A former center fielder with the White Sox as recently as 2013, De Aza is mostly a corner outfielder now.

    The Giants didn’t value the outfield coverage as much as his left-handed bat – a need on their bench, especially while Gregor Blanco is in the starting lineup. De Aza hit seven home runs between Baltimore and Boston in 290 at-bats this season.

    1. Oh, they finished the trade just in time to be able to place him on the playoff roster (of course, that possibility is fading at the moment, as they are far behind LA for NL West title and Cubs for Wild Card #2 spot; we are in the danger zone now, more games back than weeks left in the season).

      In addition, to open up a 40-man spot, the Giants DFAed OF Ryan Lollis. I wonder if anyone will claim him.

      And LHP Ysla was ranked #27 Giants prospects by MLB Pipeline. And here is BA's analysis of the deal, which includes Giants coverage of De Aza's salary:

      De Aza is an inexpensive addition for the Giants, as the Red Sox will reportedly pay $650,000 of the remaining $930,000 on the veteran’s contract.

    2. Also, Baseball America rated him the Giants #21 prospect in their pre-season Annual for 2015 (he was unranked in 2014 by BA).

      Lollis was not ranked in either book.

      Not that that has hurt other prospects. Looking at these two lists, and not to blame BA (prospecting is HARD! :^), I see that Duffy was not even on the list in 2014's book, and Tomlinson was not in either list. Broadway was not on 2015's list. And while Strickland was on the lists, Osich was not on 2015's list (he was on 2014's list, though, 23rd).

    3. Speaking of roster additions, it is now September 1st, so here's some rosterbation on my part.

      First off, 40-man spots are going to require painful cuts. So while Blackburn had a great AAA start yesterday, bringing him to the majors now would mean DFAing someone. Here is the list URL:

      Among regulars, Pagan and Hudson should get the call pretty soon. Panik, Affeldt, Pence (in that order) should get the call once they are healed, though Panik and Pence get pushed back constantly, to the point where I'll believe they are here once I see them in the lineup. But Pence is not expected to be ready before the minor league season ends in the next week or so, so that's not good. That probably drove the decision making regarding picking up De Aza. Cain will probably re-join the team at some point, but have no idea if he'll pitch again this season, perhaps in a losing laugher to eat up innings.

      I can see Law and Okert getting the call, at minimum to get them prepped for the future, and perhaps get some usage as well. Between the two, Law has worse ERA for the season. Plus, Okert in his last 13 appearances in AAA: 18.0 IP, 6 BB, 21 K, 1.50 ERA, 3.50 K/BB ratio, and that includes .367 BABIP, which means he had some bad luck in that stretch with hits (19 hits). The Giants could use another lefty with Affeldt out, so he'll probably get the call at some point (not sure if they are playoff bound or not; probably not though, they are at .500 for the season, though spots are based on record in halves).

      Law's numbers don't look good with his 5.16 ERA, but he has a 11.5 K/9 vs. only 2.8 BB/9 for a great 4.14 K/BB plus he gave up 0 runs in 18 of 25 appearances, 1 runs or less in 21 of 25 appearances, so the Giants might bring him up, though all of that was in AA.

      Ray Black probably won't get the call, his walk rate is way too high for too low a level: 8.6 BB/9 in Advance A San Jose.

      Joan Gregorio did OK in AA, 3.34 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 2.17 K/BB, but that walk rate is way too high, so I don't really see him getting the call.

      Cody Hall got some pre-season buzz with ZiPS projecting him as very high WAR among Giants prospects, but he only did OK in AAA: 3.46 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 2.12 K/BB. That's too low a K/9, too high a BB/9, and thus too low a K/BB (as his numbers would translate to worse ratios in the majors). He should not get the call either.

      Among position players, most of them were already up (or DLed or DFAed), except for Hector Sanchez, Jarrett Parker, and Daniel Carbonell. Hector will get the call so that either he or Susac will get PH call more often, and not worry about backing up Posey should he not be able to play during the game for some reason. Parker is probably the 40-man guy most on the line for DFA if the Giants need a spot, after Bochy noted plainly after his call-up earlier this season that Parker "wasn't ready for the MLB." But ready enough that Lollis got DFAed and not him (age probably the reason, Lollis is 28, Parker 26 YO). Carbonell did so poorly in AA that he got demoted to Advanced A, but had been in a terrible slump after a good start in his return to SJ: after 13 games of greatness, he had 31 games of badness, before 15 games of goodness again.

    4. There are some possibilities among non-40-man guys, not not really anything compelling.

      Baggerly noted a rumor that perhaps Noonan will get the call-up. Some have noted that Frandsen is available. But neither one has hit all that well in AAA, and it probably gets even worse in majors, so I don't see why the Giants would give up another player just to bring either one up.

      They could bring up Mac Williamson, who has done OK in the last two months in AAA, but not good enough where I think the Giants call him up now and risk losing a prospect via DFA, as he's been striking out way too much in AAA, let alone MLB.

      Hunter Cole probably has the most buzz among the upper level prospects, having risen from Augusta to San Jose to Richmond this season, and while he has done OK in Richmond, he has not done great, which is the usual litmus test for potential MLB goodness.

      The only pitcher who looks promising for a call-up, particularly since the Giants told Hudson that he'll be mainly relieving plus maybe a spot start, is Clayton Blackburn. After missing April due to injury, he had a rough start, leading to him being taken out of the rotation for a long while (roughly 3 weeks), and since returning to the rotation, 12 starts, 2.27 ERA (as 22 YO in AAA!), 7.1 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 3.50 K/BB, ratios/rates that probably works in the majors (though not great). But throwing him into Heston's next scheduled start in Colorado would be a harsh welcome to the majors that Bochy has not been prone to do (Baker did it all the time, Torres, Feliz, etc.). But Hudson has a 7.69 ERA there too, so he might be the better choice.

      Nobody else looks interesting. Stratton had a good middle of the season, but has been beat up in his last 10 starts, and he's not striking out enough while walking too many. Hanson has been great in his last 3 starts but he had been horrible in the prior starts. Still, 18.0 IP, 4 BB, 15 K, 3.75 K/BB, all good rates/ratios, if the Giants believe this is his new plateau after working with him so far in the minors, and not luck. But luck is huge factor here, .220 BABIP, so probably not.

      Oh, screwed up, Okert is not on the 40-man, so move his info from up there to down here. He's a very strong possible for call-up but would cost us a 40-man prospect.

      And that would be a problem if both Okert and Blackburn (both are probably due to be added to 40-man this off-season, I know for sure for Blackburn) are added. Parker seems like a natural first cut, but who next? I don't see them dropping Carbonell, and that's the position players. Adrianza? But while many cry about Adrianza, he's the only one truly capable of defending SS close to the level of Crawford. Tomlinson has been having difficulties handling 2B, let alone SS, and while Duffy is OK at SS, from what I've read, Adrianza should be better.

      I don't see any pitchers going, except for perhaps the Giants placing Lincecum on the 60-day DL in order to open a spot, but which would close down any chance of bringing Lincecum back for an encore at some point. But he just had a recent set-back, so if the Giants do make the call for Blackburn at some point, Lincecum could be the guy giving up his 40-man spot to Clayton.

    5. Speaking of 40-man this off-season, as noted above, Blackburn and Okert should be added to the 40-man roster this off-season, meaning two spots will be needed. Right now, Affeldt, Hudson, Leake, Lincecum, Vogelsong, Scutaro (though not holding 40-man spot), Aoki, Byrd, De Aza, Maxwell are all free agents after the end of the season. That opens up 9 spots.

      Aoki has a team option that probably will get picked up because it's so cheap and he's been productive enough, particularly at lead-off (who knows if Pagan will even have a healthy 2016?). That would leave 8 spots.

      Byrd has an $8M option that vests into player option if he reaches 550 PA. He is at 434 (in 106 games), which means he needs 116 PA in the Giants last 31 games. If he continues at his current seasonal pace, that's 127 PA, so he needs to start in 28 games and get a PH or two to reach that. That probably won't happen if Pence returns, but the way he's hitting, only Pence will push him out, and even if Pence returns, Byrd could end up starting in LF because Aoki has only been hitting .209/.273/.374/.646 since returning. That's odd, given he has 7 walks and only 7 K's in 91 AB, great contact rate and BB/K ratio, but horrible batting line, suggesting that his eye and discipline is fine, but he's just not making good contact, though good enough for 3 HR in 91 AB (30 AB/HR which is 20+ HR seasonal rate).

      Barring any tiredness or injury, Byrd should make his option, which would complicate the OF, as then the Giants will have four starting OF in Aoki, Pagan, Pence, Byrd. So there is the possibility that Aoki's option might not get picked up so that Byrd could start there, and have Pagan be the leadoff/CF guy again, and Blanco the backup leadoff/CF because of Gregor's improved leadoff hitting this season.

      However, for Blanco's career, out of 6 seasons with significant enough AB, 5 of them were in the 600 OPS range, only 2015 is above 700 OPS and is the least AB at 83 (previous low was 141 last season). Gregor noted that he learned from tips from Aoki and Duffy regarding hitting that helped him with leading off, and he has basically been in the high 700 OPS range to low 800 OPS range since early parts of the season, so perhaps there is some truth to that, and be part of the calculus of whether to keep Aoki or not. If both kept, that's 7 spots left, but if only one of the two, 8 spots still.

      There are also two other OF, De Aza and Maxwell. They are opposites. De Aza hits well but don't defend well (negative in last 4 seasons, or basically whole career), while Maxwell has not hit well but defended well enough to generate a positive WAR in spite of his poor hitting. De Aza hit well enough that another team will offer him big enough money that saying a Giants backup would not be appealing. Maxwell did poorly enough that the Giants should be kicking the tires with other OF veteran minimum free agents. So no change in spots for either, neither should be picked up for sure.

      The Giants have already said that they are targeting re-signing Leake, and usually they get their man, especially someone who wore the Giants uniform, so that would take another spot away, leaving 6 or 7 spots.

      Hudson is definitely retiring, I just don't see him returning after his poor season overall, plus his family is beckoning. He got his ring last season, which was his goal with signing with the Giants. No spot change here.

      That leaves three great Giants players, Affeldt, Lincecum, Vogelsong. Most likely 2015 is their last season with the Giants, as the bullpen and rotation are likely full: Bumgarner, Leake (likely), Peavy, Heston, and Cain (likely); Casilla, Romo, Lopez, Kontos, Strickland, Osich, Petit. That's the normal 12 man pitching staff. That leaves us at 6 or 7 spots open.

    6. Besides Okert and Blackburn, I think that these prospects will need spots open as well: Stratton, Agosta, Williamson, Blach, Chris Johnson, and Crick. That's 8 spots needed, and per the above, we only have 6 or 7 spots open.

      Most likely Parker will be either traded or DFAed to open up a spot this off-season. If the Giants need another spot (probably not, if it comes down to Aoki vs. Byrd and not Aoki and Byrd), it could be between Black and Broadway.

      Plus, I noted Adrianza before as a possible cut, mainly because a lot of people seem to hate him, but he's the only true defensively good SS in the system besides Crawford in the upper minors and higher. I still like his bat, I believe it still has potential that he needs experience to reach. So unless the Giants sign a vet to be that good defensive MI, I see Adrianza staying as bench MI utility guy.

      It seems like the Giants might go with Adrianza and Tomlinson as the MI backups, and perhaps train Tomlinson to play the OF (he has a lot of speed that could offset his inexperience in the OF, perhaps enough that he's passable in CF; Gary Brown shifted from 2B to CF easily in college, well enough that it was thought that he was plus defensively very quickly; plus FLew used his speed for good defensive numbers when it was clear visually that he was lost out there, so perhaps Kelby too can do well defensively in OF) so that he could be a super-utility bench player in 2016. If so, that would free the Giants to carry a short bench again (in 2016, that would mean only Blanco as true utility OF and definitely only one of Aoki/Byrd) in order to carry an emergency starting pitcher, which is the role Vogelsong had this season.

      If that role is available, then I hope the Giants consider signing Lincecum for that role. I'm not ready to say goodbye. I don't want to pay him a lot for that role, Vogelsong got $4M for it, and I would be OK with $3-4M for Lincecum to try that role for us. Between the two, Lincecum is more likely to excel in the relief role, Vogelsong had a lot of problems handling relief (and that's understandable, most pitchers who view themselves as starters only have difficulty with the transition until they accept that they are a reliever now. (I wonder if Vogie has any regrets since he could have signed with Houston and they are currently in the playoffs, if they can hold their position; I know, big IF)

      I still have hopes for Lincecum handling a super-utility relief role. He was very good at preventing runs from scoring in the early part of the season, he carried the rotation for a while, before his hips started bothering him too much. As a reliever, he won't pile on as many innings, plus as longer relief, probably won't pitch as often or as long, giving his hips more rest between usage and less wear and tear. He could keep his good pitching going all season, possibly.

      But I suspect that the Giants do not share this desire, and it is probably his last season with us, unless he catches on elsewhere, and work his way back to usefulness, before rejoining the Giants as an alumni, as many other have done.

      Sidenote: just took deeper dive into Aoki's numbers and basically his numbers took dive into 600's OPS after his concussion, mainly due to poor hitting immediately after returning, he was looking like he was coming back until that oh-fer-6 he took last night, so perhaps his bat is getting better; which we need.

    7. Wow, Giants just DFAed Maxwell in order to bring up Noonan.

    8. This just shows how connected our beat writers are, they were all talking up Noonan as someone who might be brought up by the Giants, and there you go!

  3. Nice article on the series:

    Provides further details about Greinke's dominance over Giants in his career.

  4. Pavlovic's take on September Call-ups:

    He makes the good point that Cody Hall could be called up to absorb innings. As I noted above, his AAA stats do not suggest success in the majors, and hence my reticence. But perhaps he's just unlucky this season, he is a reliever, after all, and ZiPS really liked his potential contributions this season. The key thing is that he did OK in AAA, even if his pitching peripherals aren't the best.

    So I changed my mind, he probably will be called up, as he'll be another arm to use, gives Bochy and Righetti a chance to check him out, and to prep him for 2016, in case he continues the goodness he had before that ZiPS liked so much.

    My mistake was thinking like he needed a roster spot. But he don't, he's already on the 40-man, so come on down!

    However, Gregorio and Black did not do well enough to get the call even if they are on the 40-man.

    But Law, I think he's done enough, plus he was still in the recovery period relative to his TJS, plus he's a reliever and thus affected by SSS, and he was great before. So I can see the Giants wanting him up here, learning the ropes of being a major leaguer, absorb some innings, and get evaluated by the coaches.

    1. Pavlovic tweeted:

      Giants add Hudson, Pagan, De Aza. Call up Hector Sanchez, Cody Hall. Purchase Nick Noonan’s contract from Triple-A

      Plus, later tweeted that Maxwell was DFAed to bring up Noonan (Lollis was already reported DFA for De Aza).



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