Monday, August 10, 2015

Your 2015 Giants: Cub's Sweep Aftermath

A lot of fans (and beat reporters) are up in arms after the Cub's sweep, with talk about being "brave" when Peavy notes that the team is not panicking.

ogc thoughts

Well, that didn't go well at all, did it?  Still, being out by 3 games for the division lead and 3.5 games for a wild card spot isn't the end of the world either.  Sure, it sucks to get swept by anybody.  But there is still 51 games and 8 weeks of baseball to play.  By Dusty's rule of making up one game in the standings per week, the Giants are definitely within striking distance, they just have their work cut out for them.  And as we've learned in the past five seasons, they are not cowed by that prospective, anybody who have seen the Giants play the past 6 seasons (from 2010 on) will know that the team does not have quit in them, that they will battle to the end.

Plus, it didn't help that it seemed like the umpires were conspiring against us throughout the series.  Almost every contested call went against us, and sometimes that happens, but the announcers did not agree with all of those calls.  And if you look at the called strike three on Blanco in the 9th, the plate umpire blew the call, the pitch was outside of the strike zone per PitchFX, and while close, according to the technology, the ball wasn't even partly in the strikezone, at best it was just outside.  It was almost like the new commissioner told the umpires to give every call to the Cubs because they are a great story, it was so bad.

Home Cooking (and Cool) Should Help

Now it's time for the Giants to come home and lick their wounds and get a little rest from the heat exposure in the other cities.   Plus, they are facing the Astros and Nats, two teams also on the down side of things lately.

The Astros have been stumbling lately, 13-17, though 11-9 in last 20 and 3-7 in their last 10.  Furthermore, they are 23-34 on the road, which is really bad to have if you are a pennant contender, most are around .500 generally, on the road (roughly, win around .600 at home (49-42), .500 on the road (41-40), that gets you to 90 wins).  So the Giants should have a good chance in the series, though it is tough to win a two game series.  But with a .404 winning percentage on the road for the Astros, just based on that, there's a 36% chance of them losing a two-game series.  Add in Bumgarner in the first game, Heston in the second (2.57 ERA at home in 11 starts), and the odds look even better.

The Nats have been doing just as poorly lately, 3-7, 8-12, and 13-17, and they are 26-30 on the road.   With a four game series, the goal has to be to win at least 3 games.  With Peavy and Bumgarner getting the last two starts in the series, we need one or both of Cain and Vogelsong to step up for us in the series if we are to have any hopes of winning the series.  Both Cain and Vogie have a 3.00 ERA so far this season at home.   This appears to be a good time to be meeting them.

But while we have a chance, the Nats have a great rotation, so it will still be quite a battle to try to win the series.  The only silver lining is that the Nats have been struggling now for the past 30 games, with cries about Matt Williams handling of their bullpen being one thing I noticed (and it was discussed last post-season when the Giants beat the Nats in part to due to questionable bullpen handling).   I'm hopeful but it won't be likely either.

So hopefully things get well in a hurry at home and get us to the next road trip against St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

Next Road Trip Will Be Difficult, the True Gauntlet of August

And that road trip is going to be tough.  The Pirates have been hot lately as well and kills it at home.   The Cards have been just about as hot and also kills it at home, they are 1-2 in the NL in home records.  So it is going to be very tough in that road series, this is the road trip that everyone should have been worried about heading into August, this is quite the gauntlet I realize now.

Thus it is imperative that the Giants make hay in this next home series, so that we can stay in competition for a playoff spot after the next road trip.  They need to be 4-2 in this home series, just because it is a short home series, and if they can do better, that would help take the sting out of the sweep by the Cubbies.

FYI:  Utley Rumor

Lastly, as an FYI, apparently the Giants are reportedly scouting Chase Utley.  I would be OK with picking him up to be a strong bench player, as long as it does not cost us Adrianza.  The Giants could send Tomlinson back to AAA, as he still has options, or maybe Pagan gets DLed finally (Pagan is not doing anybody any favors by playing while injured like this and performing as poorly as he has been).

People might not like Utley, but his batting peripherals is actually OK, and if he can hit anything like he has even last season, that is a good bat to have on the bench, and if he can hit like he did just two years ago, a great bat to have off the bench.   But at his age, perhaps this is the season he can't make good contact anymore.

But the Giants have been pretty good at scouting and coaching players, both prospects and veterans, so if the Giants pick him up, I think there is a good chance he might still have something.  At minimum, whatever that was ailing him that put him on the DL, he has been a changed hitter since coming back.  SSS, but he's been hitting and with power since returning, which he has not done much of all season except for about a week in the middle of May.  That would be a great bat to have off the bench if he can continue it.  Might be worth $2-3M to find out.

Thoughts on Pagan

Meanwhile, I don't begrudge the Giants or Bochy for continuing to play Pagan in spite of his poor performances.  I don't agree with it, but there are a lot of people complaining about Bochy favoring a veteran.  I would cut Bochy a break on that.  He's been statistically analyzed and been found to be a positive factor for veterans on his team offensively, adding one WAR per season he has managed.  And he has favored producing over veteranness all through his reign as the Giants skipper, so this is actually unusual behavior for him, at least to me.  Thus, with the beat writers are reporting that the Giants see Pagan swinging his bat better recently, I view it as giving Pagan a last shot at picking up his production and figuring out his swing.

If he can do it, a hot Pagan is always a good bat to have in the lineup, no matter where he is batting.  But if he can't do it, the Giants need to finally DL him then bring him back in September after the rest and see if he can finally start hitting again.

The reports have been noting his knees, but the fact is that he hasn't been hitting above .600 OPS by any cut I could do, since he injured his finger on May 5th, and frequently much worse (.462 OPS in his last 20 games/17 starts).   When Crawford injured his fingers in 2013, because he didn't get it healed properly by keeping on playing with it (and this is not my thinking, he reported this after the season ended), he didn't hit all for much the rest of the seasons, ruining a good start to the season.  So I think that Pagan is being hampered some by his fingers as well as his knees and it's near time to just shoot the horse and DL him, put him out of his misery.

Time to get serious about making up ground and especially not losing more ground, and if that means DLing Pagan until he gets his swing back, so be it, that is the reason why the Giants have kept Blanco around and played him so much the whole time that they have had him on the roster, to take over a starting position and do well enough in their stead, which Blanco does pretty well if they bat him in the lower half of the lineup.   If it was Maxwell as the alternative, I would understand, but Blanco is not only a better hitter than Pagan right now, but he's been a better defensive CF for a long time now.  

Our offense has been fine even with Pagan in it, so that is probably why Bochy has been giving him extra rope as well, but after this sweep, the Giants need to come in with every weapon at their disposal because, first, we need to win this home stand, and second, we need to stand strong in the next road trip.  Blanco would make the team that much stronger, Pagan, sadly, right now weakens the team, and both offensively and defensively, I don't know how many times I heard the announcers on this road trip note how Pagan was missing balls that he normally would have gotten, if not for his knees.   Make the call.

Go Giants!

1 comment:

  1. I saw some interesting info from an LA newspaper: the Dodgers, after a 22-10 start, has been 40-40 since. Basically, their team has been at .500 for the past 3 months.

    Looking at their stats, they have not been hit by a lot of injuries in their lineup, and the hot hitting at the start of the season has settled down (still 4th in the NL in runs though), but their starting rotation has been cycling through a variety of pitchers in the 4/5 positions, and the new guys they got to get a boost has been bad, both Wood and especially Latos, who is showing what kind of intestinal fortitude he has (apparently all talk and no action).

    And this includes having a great top 3 in Kershaw, Greinke (really 1a and 1B), and Anderson, plus good pitching by Bolsinger, a great steal of a trade over the off-season, and yet they saw fit to replace him. Plus their bullpen has been struggling, especially new acquisition Jim Johnson, former closer, but not fooling anybody right now with his 29.45 ERA after 4 games.

    The Giants after a tough April (lost the two SP, plus Pence, and McGehee wasn't hitting for anything), has been 50-39 since then. They really kicked butt in May (21-9) and July (14-10). And have struggled in April, June, August so far. I think things will perk up with this homestand, as the pitching gets good weather to pitch in, and the opponents have not been been that great on the road.

    ReplyDelete

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