Thursday, August 28, 2014

Giants Take 3 of 4 From Rocks - Rollin' Rollin'? - Series Rundown #42

Money In The Pocket Photo: ESPN

 Its getting late in the game.  Giants have been starting to heat up, they've won 3 of their past 4 series, and should have a big winning streak going but for some bad beats.  They finally solved the Rockies (worst in the majors road record) bad juju.

August 25 Rockies 3, Giants 2
August 26 Giants 3, Rockies 0
August 27 Giants 4, Rockies 2
August 28 Giants 4, Rockies 1

Shank's Keys to the series: Its put up or shut up time.  33 to go, the clock ticking big time.  Have to win 3, a sweep would be great.  Are these Giants up for it?  Every time momentum looks like it might be starting stink-bombs come around.  The Rockies are without their 3 best hitters, their pitching is never good, and the Giants bats are coming around.  Go time, pure and simple.  Bochy had best stop sleepwalking with Morse, I bet he is licking his chops for the expanded rosters, Bochy is notorious for bullpen changes the way Beyonce changes outfits.  I'm sure a couple of defensive OFs will be a coming as well.  But they have a week to go, and these games are precious.

3 of 4 is very good.  Shoulda coulda had a sweep.  Since their terrible play at KC, the Giants have lost six games, all very winnable, even the blowout in Washington.  Two were extra inning games, three were one run games.  They've won nine.  Now if they can dig a bit deeper, they might be able to pull something out.

Classic games though - a one hit almost perfecto 13 K game from Bumgarner, aided by Posey going deep.  Casilla blows a great game from Huddy, Posey again answers the bell with a walkoff.  And today Petit sets the MLB record for consecutive batters retired with 46 straight.  Pitched a mean game, that means Timmy stays in the pen for a bit.

Good hitting: Buster Posey is carrying the team on his back.  Pagan is warming up.  Blanco hitting home runs?

Bad hitting: Crawford is getting benched, he's injured.  Pablo Sandoval continues to not bat in runs.  I just don't see that guy as a classic middle of the order bat.  He's an awesome #6 hitter if you have enough coverage though.

Good pitching: All 4 starters were excellent.

Bad pitching: the defense didn't help, and Casilla got shaky.  Then the defense helped!  Duffy to Panik to Ishikawa.

Next up: the Giants get to orange Friday it up against the Brew Crew.  This is one of them competitive teams.  So compete!

Vogelsong/Peralta
Peavy/Fiers
Bumgarner/Lohse

The Brewers gave up their 1st round pick to sign Lohse, 28th overall, the Cards (division rivals) took Robert Kaminsky with their 2nd pick of the round (Marco Gonzo with the 19th pick was their first).  It is an interesting way to comp.  I think they've got a lot of stability and value out of Lohse.

Keys to the Series: limit the long ball, don't be the keystone cops out there, get the bullpen to be consistent.  Score first, hold your lead, pitch shutdown innings.  Tighten up all aspects of play, rachet up the intensity, and start a real win streak, one with a crooked number.  For the love of the Baseball Gods sub out Morse in the 6th. 

Series Rundown Recap:
Giants have 23 series wins on the year, 16 losses, 3 splits.  4 series wins have been sweeps, 5 series losses have been sweeps

Playoff Watch: 4.5 back of the Dodgers in the NL West; 0.5 back of the Cards for the Wild Card spot but in the money for the 2nd spot, Braves and Bucs 2 back.

QUICK EDIT: On the You Gotta Like These Kids Front...

Show me a catcher who is ranked in the top 100 or top 10 catchers who has done anything this year.  Andrew Susac gunned a fool today, hit a towering HR the other day, to dead center.  Just using the MLB/Mayo/Callis rankings... Susac is #3, Panik is off now (I think he was 10 or 11, can't remember), Duffy is 17.  The Giants have 4 rookies who were very unheralded playing great ball on the 25, Duvall getting shuffled here and there.

On the AFL front, its Blackburn (#7), Okert (#10), Duffy, and some unranked fun: Daniel C stands for Cubano, the 100 MPH guy Erik Cordier, Hunter TJ Strickland, and the next sleeper to look out for: Blake Miller.  The Giants have a fun sleeper system to watch and root for, one that has made a lot more contributions than much higher ranked orgs.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Posey Bochy Hudson

Bruce Bochy passes Tommy Lasorda on the all time wins list, 1600 to date, on a Buster Posey walk off.

That was a beautiful hit into the San Francisco night.

Anybody who thinks that Posey isn't a franchise player is nuts.  There, I said it.

Casilla had the yips tonight, but the KIDS bailed him out.  Duffy to Panik to Ishikawa.  Got your nuclear wasteland right here baby.

Hudson got his 2,000 strikeout.  Big ups for his career.  You know who's next?  Jake Peavy, who is quite the red ass himself.  I like having a bunch of pitchers who hate to lose.  Maybe between Vogey, Peavy and Huddy they can teach Timmy how to stop being spacey man Johnson out there. 

Or Timmy just becomes a big ass fireman the way the G's drew it up, and we go rampage.

Don't let this team reach the playoffs.  Might be 5 games back right now, but we are mighty.  We Giants. 

Great win the last two nights following the two worse losses of the season.  Getting close to September... Might have to fire up some BBQ or something.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Giants Blow Leads, Lose Winnable Series to the Nats - Series Rundown #41

Dude Where's My Sink?

Your opinion might vary, for me that was the worst loss of the season.  You score 5 off of one of the best pitchers in the game in Steven Strasburg, you expect to get a well deserved win.  Instead, it was the gas can clown show.  Doubling over was Bad Timmy's clown show on Saturday, giving up a gift wrapped early lead.  This looks like a momentum killer, something this team does again and again.

August 22 Giants 10, Nats 3
August 23 Nats 6, Giants 2
August 24 Nats 12, Giants 6

Shank's Keys to the series: The Nats are going to be heavily favored.  Fister has really come on huge, what was that trade about for the Tigers?  Lincecum has been terrible and likes to fade in the humid heat.  Hudson has not been good either.  Vogelsong has quietly been very strong.  He has also been very, very Cained this season.  The hitters need to hit, give the pitchers a chance.  Bochy might need to have a quicker hook going forward with Timmy.  We know all the signs of Spacey Timmy.  Get that pen going early and often.

Timmy needs to go to the pen.  Enough of this.  Were the Nats stealing signs?  Sure had Posey fired up.  They were tee-ing off.  It was a shame to finally get Vogey run support and then have the implosion.

The sideshow of Peavy and Hudson both getting ejected was funny.  The network broadcast didn't pick up on Huddy getting ejected, just Peavy.

Rockies come to town.  Hey!  Maybe getting back to square one, the series that really did them in... oh wait, it was the Nats then the Rockies.  So instead of being swept by the Nats, they got one (when they could have had 3 with good Timmy/good Affeldt)...  So did the pen get all the disaster out now, or is it Rockies 2, Electric Boogaloo?

Peavy/Matzek
Bumgarner/DeLaRosa
Hudson/Morales
Lincecum*/Lyles

Keys to the series: Its put up or shut up time.  33 to go, the clock ticking big time.  Have to win 3, a sweep would be great.  Are these Giants up for it?  Every time momentum looks like it might be starting stink-bombs come around.  The Rockies are without their 3 best hitters, their pitching is never good, and the Giants bats are coming around.  Go time, pure and simple.  Bochy had best stop sleepwalking with Morse, I bet he is licking his chops for the expanded rosters, Bochy is notorious for bullpen changes the way Beyonce changes outfits.  I'm sure a couple of defensive OFs will be a coming as well.  But they have a week to go, and these games are precious.

Series Rundown Recap:
Giants have 22 series wins on the year, 16 losses, 3 splits.  4 series wins have been sweeps, 5 series losses have been sweeps

Playoff Watch: 4.5 back of the Dodgers in the NL West; One back of the Cards for the Wild Card spot but in the money for the 2nd spot, Braves 1 back and charging, Bucs 1.5 back.

Giants have quietly been 6 for their last 10, but its disheartening because they should be 8-2 or even 9-1.  They have to win ballgames, other teams won't keep losing for them.  Make your own luck fellas.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Giants Take Two Of Three At Wrigley The Soggy Way - Series Rundown #40

August 19/21 Cubs 2, Giants 1
August 20 Giants 8, Cubs 3
August 21 Giants 5, Cubs 3

The Giants came a bad Vogelsong pitch or maybe a Angel Pagan bouncer away from a series sweep.  There was a tarp involved.  The Cubs did the right thing, supporting a continuation after a big time fiasco.  They ended up winning that one.  The rest, it was all about the Road Greys baby, and all about the prime time players stepping up.  Bumgarner and Posey stepped up big tonight.

Keys to the series: the Giants are at a point in the season that they have to beat up on weaker teams.  The Cubs hit every branch on that tree.  Anthony Rizzo is the big threat.  Castro usually makes 2-3 bonehead plays a series.  The Giants needs to take advantage of mistakes, a lot of rookies on the team as well.  39 games to play, make them count.

Castro had a awful family tragedy to deal with.  Best wishes.  Rizzo... got one pitch to hit and he hit it.  Vogelsong!  The Giants rookies played very well, especially for the middle game.  Jake Peavy has been very solid, a very nice pickup that has stabilized the rotation.  Bumgarner had a hickup, but then busted out his can of whupass.  Javier Baez, top prospect?  Try on the Golden Sombrero, welcome to the big leagues, son.

Good hitting: POSEY!  He's been getting some heat from fans on message boards and what not lately.  If the Giants make a move, they'll need him big time.  Joe Panik can ball.  0 for 4 in the finale, it drops his average to 297.  The top of the lineup is picking up, one can hope it continues with a bit of consistency.

Bad hitting: Brandon Crawford, what the hell is going on?  Enough of this.

Good pitching: pretty much everybody.

Bad pitching: Vogelsong gets that one pitch back...  Oh well, no crying in baseball, especially about spilled milk.  But a win there would have really tied the room together.

Next series: how about the hottest team in baseball?  Is that something you'd be interested in?  5 walkoff wins in six tries, lets go see what this is all about eh?  10 game winning streak, first 10 game in the majors this year I believe.  Looking strong... looking tough...

Hudson/Fister
Lincecum/Zimmerman
Vogelsong/Strasburg

Keys to the series: The Nats are going to be heavily favored.  Fister has really come on huge, what was that trade about for the Tigers?  Lincecum has been terrible and likes to fade in the humid heat.  Hudson has not been good either.  Vogelsong has quietly been very strong.  He has also been very, very Cained this season.  The hitters need to hit, give the pitchers a chance.  Bochy might need to have a quicker hook going forward with Timmy.  We know all the signs of Spacey Timmy.  Get that pen going early and often. 

That's two series wins in a row.  And two losses that could have easily been wins.  Are things turning, or is it just a slow bleed out?  Hmmm...

Series Rundown Recap:
Giants have 22 series wins on the year, 15 losses, 3 splits.  4 series wins have been sweeps, 5 series losses have been sweeps

Playoff Watch: 3.5 back of the Dodgers in the NL West assuming they beat the Padres; Tied with the Cards for the Wild Card spot, Braves 1 back and charging, Bucs 2.5 back.

Did Trader Billy make a couple too many moves?  The A's are 2-8, they're 2 out in the AL West.  Just like the Giants, nobody really expected them to do so well.  Now they're feeling the regression.  I would have kept Cespedes personally, he's well liked, a good glue guy, and he's one of the few I think will hit in the playoffs. 

Struggles of Top Prospects

Peter Gammons on the scene...

Oh the irony of Joe Panik and his 282 BA.  I know, I know, small sample size.  Just remember that the lad was sneered at as a utility guy from day one, and then when he didn't post up stupendous minor league numbers he got dismissed.

But as you've seen if you've read my comp series where I go at the highest rated front offices and farm systems and ruthlessly put the Giants to the test, the Giants come up a lot better than what you would read in most prospect rating watering holes.  The hyped BoSox guys keep coming, but has any made a landing yet?  The Cards guys got tons of press - where do they keep finding these guys?! - but none with the exception of Matt Carpenter have really done much in the grand scheme.

Its extremely early, and all 4 of the yoots on the 25 will face gruesome tests as the scouting reports come in looking for holes, but I'd line up Adam Duvall, Joe Panik, Matt Duffy and Andrew Susac against anything other teams have.  Joe Panik in particular will be tested this next month.  His short swing and great contact rates versus pitchers challenging him more and more to do damage.  Its going to be a fun thing to watch.  As is comping him to Wong, again and again.

Andrew Susac Gets The Call - Late Post!

Big Time Draft Calls  photo: mlb blogs


Susac got the call back on July 26, I was a bit busy at the time, and it was framed as a quick trip to fill in for Hector Sanchez going on the 7-day concussion DL.

It's turned into something more, and tonight Susac whapped his first Big Fly in the majors.  Simply awesome, an oppo field jobby (a Susac specialty I might add, big oppo field power).

So how bout Susac?  I've been yelling here and there that Susac deserves a spot in that top ten catchers in the minors list for a while.  MLB finally broke down and gave it to the lad.  He can control the zone, hit for power, should be athletic enough to do a Posey shuffle as it plays out, and just needed some more reps.  He got dinged up this year a bit, a concussion of his own and a leg injury.

Susac B/R Page.  2011 drafted 2nd round, he fell on concerns about a broken hammate bone and possibly bonus demands.  The Giants stepped up and snagged.  He was most likely a supplemental pick at the start of the year, it was a classic John Barr play: snagging a hyped guy who fell some, like Brandon Crawford.

Susac signed too late to play.  He started in SJ in 2012, he slashed 244/351/380, which was considered a big let down.  One thing to consider though is that catchers take the longest time to develop their bats (there are Posey exceptions of course) because they're learning so much about calling games, managing staffs and working on blocking and framing techniques.

Susac was expected to stay in SJ for a repeat, but he put in a ton of work in the offseason, showed up and played well, the Greybeards said go to the big bad Eastern.  He put up 256/362/458, a 820 OPS which put him on the leaderboard in the league.  Two things here - first he was over a year young for the league at age 23, and he again showed excellent plate discipline with an OBP a full 100 points above his BA.

Susac got the bump to Fresno, the worst thing he's had to battle is staying on the field from the nagging injuries.  At the moment he has a paltry 989 minor league PAs.  I think he could use more seasoning behind the plate in edition to more PAs, but he slashed 268/379/451 in the homer happy PCL.

Susac reminds big of Posey.  As a 2nd round draft pick, he is excellent, excellent value.  He has shown up to a backup role and impressed, good approach at the plate.  There will be comps to Hector Sanchez, who will most likely be shut down for the year with a 2nd concussion, and those will all favor Susac: he has more plate discipline, more usable power and he is more athletic. 

The success of Susac shows that the Giants have an excellent sleeper system.  It is hilarious to me that while all the hyped guys are toiling away with youth on their side, Panik and Susac have grinded through quickly and are contributing to a pennant drive.  You gotta like these kids.  This is what its all about, its fun as hell as a fan and a prospect nerd to see this happen before our eyes.  Oh yeah, and that age/level that everybody gets hopped up about and the Giants get slammed for?  Susac and Panik are both young for every level they've played in, and have advanced quickly through the system.  They put a big fat lie to the concept the Giants can't develop hitters and they also show that there are multiple approaches to getting prospects (The Hackers, the Three True Outcomes, The Contact Guys).

Welcome to the show (late, sorry) Andrew Susac.  I think he's going to be a great asset to the French Vanilla, and a big part of their plans.  I have no doubt he was asked for a bunch during July deadline talks in the past two years and I think he's a pretty good walk away from them trade talks candidate.  I would have been really sorry to see him go, most likely more than any other player, so he'd be at the top of my "no-trade" list.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Each Season Is Different

Since the years of suckitude of 2005-08, each year has played out slightly different...

2009, late season trades to get Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Garko fizzled.  The Giants actually got within 4.5 games of 1st place on August 19th

2010, late season trades to get Ramon Ramirez, Javy Lopez, Jose Guillen and Cody Ross jazzed handed the joint up.  After a loss (to those same Reds they had beat in 2009 to get close) they sat 6.5 games out of 1st place on August 25th

2011, late season trade to get Carlos Beltran fizzled.  Up 4 day of trade, Beltran joined to a loss on July 29th, they were still up 4.  On August 27th they beat Houston to close to within 3 games.  They proceeded to lose to the Astros and the Cubs, tumbling and stumbling.  That was a bitter pill.

2012, late season trade to get Hunter Pence looked like a bust on the stat sheet, but we know better.  Pence took the field on August 1st, a loss to the lowly Mets.  The Giants entered Doyer Stadium down 0.5 in the standings on August 20th.  In one of the most glorious series EVER, they left completely victorious, and proceeded to cruise to the NL West title and some rampaging.

2013, no late season trades.  Why?  The closest they got was on July 20th, 4.5 games out after a win. Then they stunk up the joint something fierce.

This year it was Jake Peavy because of Cain's injury and then a whole lot of nothing.  They are playing like crap, but the lead isn't insurmountable.  4.5 as of this writing, but time is dwindling.  What is this team this year?  Do they want to go rumble like 2010 and 2012, or are they content to turn turtle like 2009, 2011 and 2013?   Notice a lot of coincidence suddenly with all these 4.5 games out...

The Cubs and their lousy ground crew suck.  But the Gigantes have to play better, plate runs early and take the pressure off their pitchers.  Who shouldn't be pitching to Rizzo.

I can't escape the feeling that the Giants are sleepwalking, or coasting on previously won laurels.  Its weak sauce.  Fight!  Win!  Tick Toc.  I often say fans aren't entitled to championships, but they are entitled to entertaining baseball.  That has been severely lacking lately in the Orange and Black.

I wanted to do a quick analysis on the Giants scoring first but decided I didn't want to go through all the losing since June 9th.  You lose to teams like the Cubs, you don't deserve a chance at postseason rampages.  That's shades of 2011 right there.

But every season is different, and the future isn't written.  That's why its fun to watch and listen.  Go win some games Giants.