Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Down on the Farm: 8/26/2014

AAA  Memphis Redbirds outhit the Fresno Grizzlies 9-6:

Jarrett Parker(RF)- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .267.
Nick Noonan(2B)- 1 for 3, HR(3), BB.  BA= .237.

AA Altoona Curve edged the Richmond Flying Squirrels 3-2:

Mario Lisson(1B)- 2 for 3, HR(17), BB.  BA= .267.
Myles Schroder(3B)- 2 for 4, HR(5).  BA= .247.
Ty Blach(LHP)- 5.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K's.  ERA- 3.29.
Dan Slania(RHP)- 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.90.

High A  San Jose Giants defeated the Lake Elsinore Storm 4-1:

Daniel Carbonell(CF)- 2 for 4, BB, SB(3).  BA= .286.
Tyler Horan(RF)- 2 for 4, 3B, SB(6).  BA= .288.
Matt Lujan(LHP)- 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K's.  ERA= 3.38.
Tyler Rogers(RHP)- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 1.99.

Low A  Augusta Greenjackets beat the Savannah Sand Gnats 5-3:

Randy Ortiz(CF)- 2 for 4, BB.  BA= .269.
Will Callaway(3B)- 3 for 5, 2 SB(2).  BA= .282.
Luis Ysla(LHP)- 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 2.51.
Nick Jones(LHP)- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.
Luis Castillo(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, S(9).  ERA= 3.21.

Nick Jones second appearance for Augusta after a callup from Arizona.  Just a reminder, he is a 6'6" LHP drafted out of JC ball in round 14 last year.  This is his first experience above rookie ball.  Ysla is 22 yo which is old for an international signee, but this is just his second pro season and first full season. He's done well with 111 K's in 118.1 IP.  Randy Ortiz is hitting .361 over his last 10 games.

Short Season  Spokane Indians scored 9 runs in the 6'th, 7'th and 8'th innings to bury the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 10-5:

Seth Harrison(CF)- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .271.
Skyler Ewing(1B)- 2 for 4, HR(8).  BA= .307.
Hunter Cole(LF)- 2 for 4, 2 HR(4).  BA= .278.
Tyler Beede(RHP)- 3.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.45.

Rookie AZL  Giants were idle.

DSL  Giants downed the Tigers 4-3 in 11 innings to square up their playoff series:

Mikey Edie(CF, 17 yo)- 1 for 3.
Alejandro Flores(RHP, 20 yo)- 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K's.
Jose Morel(RHP, 20 yo)- 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.
Victor Concepcion(RHP, 17 yo)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.

As was mentioned in the comments yesterday, AFL rosters were announced.  The Giants are sending 7 players to the Scottsdale Scorpions roster, 4 pitchers and 3 hitters:  RHP Clayton Blackburn, RHP Erik Cordier, LHP Steven Okert, RHP Hunter Strickland, IF Matt Duffy, IF Blake Miller, OF Daniel Carbonell.  No big surprises here.  Both Duffy and Miller have had outstanding seasons putting themselves on the prospect map.  Carbonell is the most intriguing as a 23 yo Cuban emigre who signed late in the season and needs AB's.  Blackburn is by far the youngest representative.  He is finishing his regular AA season with a flourish.  I thought maybe Kyle Crick might go because he has not logged that many innings, but I think he went last year and there may be a no-repeat rule.  There is still one catching roster spot open.  Wonder if the Giants will fill it?

Game Wrap 8/26/2014 Giants 3 Rockies 0

Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey stood in the gap last night and led the Giants to an emphatic win that came oh so close to making baseball history.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 0 for 3.  BA= .248.  Nothing on offense here, but the second batter of the game, Drew Stubbs, hit a drive to the wall in LF that Blanco turned into an out, that I very much doubt Michael Morse would have made a play on.  That ball bounces off the wall and it's a whole different ballgame right off the bat, so to speak.

Hunter Pence- 1 for 2, 2 BB.  BA= .286.  Pence's contribution was not as dramatic as Bumgarner's or Posey's but he stood in the gap along with them getting on base 3 times out of the 2-hole.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4, 2 HR(17).  BA= .288.  In the previous game, Buster got rung up on a pitch that was not close to the strike zone, apparently as payback to Jake Peavy for an incident earlier in the game.  Tonight Buster came back and made a statement of his own, showing that umpire how his fit of anger was not harmless and may well have changed the outcome of the game.  In addition, Buster made a statement to his teammates about his leadership and accountability for the success of the team.  Just a star performance by a star of the team.

Madison Bumgarner- 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 13 K's.  ERA= 3.02.  Talk about being a stopper!  Bummy took a perfect game into the 8'th inning.  The pitch Morneau hit for a leadoff double was a good pitch that he had to reach for, but managed to drop the bathead on the ball and poke it down the RF line.  In retrospect, that was probably not the best pitch Bummy could have thrown in that situation and it did look like a location mistake with an offspeed pitch that probably should have gone to the outside corner.  On to happier topics, Bumgarner has found a new weapon, the elevated fastball and he is dominating with it!  And what a beast Bumgarner is anyway!  Not only is he not wilting in the dog days, he has found a foot or two on the FB hitting 94 on the high hard one with regularity late in the game last night.  His 13 K's came on top of 12 from his previous game.  He now has pitched 5 QS's in a row with 49 K's against just 2 BB's in 40 IP.   He's had 2 CG's in that 5 game span with double digit K's 3 times.  Right now, Madison Bumgarner deserves to be in the conversation about who is the best pitcher in baseball, and he's still getting better!

The Dodgers also won, so the Giants remain 5 games behind them in the NL West.  The Braves lost, so the Giants now have a 1.5 game lead for the second Wild Card playoff berth.

Tim Hudson tries to build on this game tonight facing LHP Franklin Morales.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Thoughts on Buster Posey's Future

Ever since the horrific collision that nearly tore Buster Posey's foot off that the ankle, Giants fans have been understandably anxious about the continued risk of injury for him playing the catcher position.  Add in a 9 year contract and the need to keep him healthy and productive for the length of the contract and you don't have a situation that reduces anyone's anxiety.

Buster has played quite a bit of first base, and played the position well, with above average UZR's in a small sample size.  Some people point to the fact that Buster played SS in college as evidence he can play just about anywhere, but that was during his freshman season.  I don't think there is any serious fan who has watched him play lately who thinks he could move to SS.

Bruce Bochy has made some intriguing comments in the past about Buster possibly moving to 3B.  With Pablo Sandoval possibly headed out of town as a free agent, those comments have been seized upon to make a case for Buster Posey to be Pablo's replacement at 3B, should the need arise.  Then, 2 days ago, Bochy threw cold water on that idea saying there is currently no discussion about Posey moving from catcher as his primary position and while Buster Posey has the tools to play 3B, it would take time for him to learn the finer points of the position.  The transition to 1B would be much easier and quicker.  If and when the time comes for him to move away from the catcher position, it will be to first base.

So what's going on here?  Did Bochy just contradict himself here?  Is he blowing a smokescreen to protect Pablo Sandoval's feelings while there is still a possibility that he may stay and sign a new contract?  I decided to look up Bochy's prior quotes and see  if they shed any light on the issue.

The first report we read about Bochy saying Buster Posey might move to 3B came on October 3, 2012.    It was reported by Andy Baggarly on CSN Bay Area who said that this was not the first time he had heard Bochy discuss the subject.  Baggarly went on to say that he had spoken to other coaches and scouts who thought Buster would make a fine third baseman someday.   Here's the exact quote, "I think he could play third.  That's how athletic I think he is."  Bochy may have expanded on the thought, but if he did , Baggs did not report it.

The subject apparently came up again during a pregame chat with reporters on August 21, 2014.  As reported by Baggs, who, by the way, seems to have had a particular interest in the subject for a long time, Bochy's exact quote this time:  "I think he'd be a really good third baseman.  We like him where he's at now.  An this is something(that would happen) if he took the time to learn it in the offseason and spring training.  But, he's an athlete and he has the hands and arm."

Again, we are not given much of the context here in terms of what questions were asked by reporters or why the subject came up.  From reading the rest of Baggarly's article it seems that it came when Buster was slumping and questions about fatigue being the cause were coming up.

Then, this weekend the subject came up once again, probably because of internet and radio talk about possible replacements for Pablo should he leave via free agency.  This time, Bochy chose to be both more expansive and more precise in his wording:

"Right now, no.  Down the road, I'm sure it's something we will talk about.  You've got to like Susac's development over this past year.  We said the same about Hector.  Unfortunately, we are dealing with some (concussion) issues with Hector.  You'd like to lighten the load on Buster.  Whether at some point down the road he will get out from behind the plate, I can't answer that, but right now, there is no plan to do that.  But I will say, it's always nice to have that option.  It's a beautiful thing having that kind of option where you have somebody you trust to  be able to handle the staff, whether it is Susac or Sanchez.  I think it would be more to first base.  I think he could go at third base, but I think it takes some work because of slow rollers, bunts and things like that.  His hands, his arm, everything would work, but it would take a lot of work."

For what it's worth, and probably quite a bit, Brian Sabean has always been adamant that Posey is the teams's starting catcher.  That is what the value of his contract was based on, and that is where he is going to play.  I found one one source, Bay Area Sports Guy, whoever that is, who says he knows that Buster himself will not discuss the subject of moving off catcher at all.

So, what's going on here?  I have a few thoughts to add:

1.  I do not see any contradiction in Bochy's earlier comments and his current ones.  He's never said that Posey was going to move to 3B, now or in the future. He's always said he has the tools, still does.  He has always said it would take extended work(offseason plus spring training) to get him ready to play 3B.

2.  There are hints of internal debate about the issue with Sabes and Buster on one side and Bochy kind of on the other.  I don't get the idea that it's something Bochy feels adamant about, though.

3.  I believe it is highly unlikely that Buster Posey is anything other than the starting catcher next year or even the year after that.

4.  I believe it is highly unlikely that Buster Posey will ever be the Giants third baseman.

My personal opinion after watching Buster Posey play first base in quite a few games over the past 3 seasons is that he would not make a very good third baseman even with a lot of practice.  I just don't see the fluidity of movement, the quickness afoot and instincts for the position.  But I'm no scout and could be wrong.

Down on the Farm: 8/25/2014

AAA  Memphis Redbirds blanked the Giants 1-0:

Jake Dunning(RHP)- 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 4.65.

The Giants have talked about Dunning's potential as a starter.  Looks like he is getting an opportunity.

AA  Richmond Flying Squirrels edged the Altoona Curve 5-4:

Kelby Tomlinson(SS)- 2 for 4, HBP, 2 SB(49).  BA= .265.
Blake Miller(2B)- 1 for 3, BB, HBP, SB(1).  BA= .333.
Devin Harris(RF)- 2 for 4, BB.  BA= .260.
Jack Snodgrass(LHP)- 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 7 K's.  ERA= 3.66.
Hunter Strickland(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's, Save(10).  ERA= 2.94.

High A  San Jose Giants were idle.

Low A  Augusta Greenjackets were idle.

Short Season  Spokane Indians topped the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 4-3:

Johneshwy Fargas(LF)- 1 for 3, 2 BB, 2 SB(15).  BA= .239.
Jason Forjet(RHP)- 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 2.94.

Rookie AZL  Giants dominated the A's 7-0:

Richard Amion(CF)- 2 for 4, 3B, BB.  BA= .262.
Byron Murray(DH)- 1 for 3, 2B.  BA= .271.
Kevin Rivera(2B)- 2 for 3, 3B, BB.  BA= .224.
Nolan Riggs(LHP)- 3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 6.43.
Dylan Brooks(RHP)- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 3.09.
Greg Brody(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.68.

DSL  Tigers downed the Giants 4-3 in Game 1 of the DSL Playoffs:

Deiyerbert Bolivar(LHP, 18 yo)- 5.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K's.

Game Wrap 8/25/2014: Rockies 3 Giants 2

The fatigue and frustration continued to impact the Giants play costing them a game they should have won.  Key Lines:

Andrew Susac- 1 for 2, HR(2), BB.  BA= .229.  Susac also made a terrific throw to 2B on a  strike 'em out, throw 'em out, and managed to get a tag on a sliding runner at home and got the out on a replay.  Very nice game by Susac.  I'm not sure why Blanco pinch hit for him in the 9'th as Susac seemed like one guy who just might catch lightning in a bottle and win the game on a walk-off HR.  I guess Bochy was going with experience and the L-R matchup?

Brandon Crawford- 0 for 4, 2 E(20).  BA= .228.  This looks worse than it was.  Both errors came in 1 inning.  The first error was on a ball that went deep into the hole on the left side.  Crawford did well to even have a play on it, but the throw was off line and the runner advanced to 2B.  It was ruled an error all the way.  It probably should have been a hit and an error and Crawford probably should have held the ball, but he has made his reputation on making plays like this, so I don't really blame him for being aggressive.  The second error was a squibber by Morneau that forced Crawford to make a long run to get to it out of the shift.  The throw bounced on the grass in front of first base and skidded, tying up Buster Posey who made an awkward looking attempt to catch it.  The throw got away enough to allow the lead runner to reach 3B.  Again, Crawford probably should have just held the ball, but has had success being aggressive on plays like this and was trying to make something happen.  I'll give Crawford a partial pass on these two errors even though they directly contributed to the loss.

Jake Peavy- 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 4.34.  Peavy pitched his heart out and pitched a fine game.  I have commented before that Peavy's emotions seem to be much more on display these days than I remember from his San Diego days and he needs to tone it down a bit.  Tonight those emotions cost him as he lost his concentration in the 3'rd inning after the 2 errors by Crawford and balked in a run after he lost track of Morneau and tried to step off that throw long after he was into his delivery.  I don't think I have ever seen a pitcher balk that late into a pitch and it was clearly a mental mistake caused by lack of concentration.

In addition, Peavy's glares and barking alienated the home plate umpire, Doug Eddings, to the point for Eddings clearly lost all objectivity and in a shameful display of payback, essentially refused to call any pitch a strike, and later pointedly rang up Posey on a similar pitch that was clearly out of the strike zone just to emphasize his anger at Peavy.  While the umpire was calling a terrible game and had lost control of his emotions, Peavy needs to tone it down himself and not alienate the umps that way.

Doug Eddings-  Eddings was already not calling a good game with a terribly inconsistent strike zone, but he clearly started making intentionally bad calls out of anger at Jake Peavy and the Giants.  In the process, he not only punished Peavy, but also Buster Posey who is about as respectful a player as you are going to find and a true star in the game of baseball.  It was a shameful, bush league performance worthy of discipline by MLB.  Just my opinion, but apparently one shared by several commentators, admittedly all on the Giants side of the broadcast booth.

The Loss left the Giants 5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and 0.5 games ahead of the Braves in the race for the second Wild Card playoff spot.

Madison Bumgarner tries to right the ship tonight facing Jorge De La Rosa who is having a strong season himself.

Oh, and Tim Lincecum was officially removed from the rotation for an indefinite period of time depending on how Yusmeiro Petit pitches as his replacement and how quickly Timmy seems to get his mechanics back together out of the bullpen.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Down on the Farm: 8/24/2014

AAA  Memphis Redbirds swarmed over the Fresno Grizzlies 8-0:

Gary Brown(CF)- 1 for 3, 2B, CS(19).  BA= .272.

AA  Bowie Baysox blanked the Richmond Flying Squirrels 1-0:

Adalberto Mejia(LHP)- 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 4.85.

Mejia has a 2.22 ERA over his last 5 starts spanning 24.1 IP.

High A  Visalia Rawhide defeated the San Jose Giants 8-0:

Ryan Lollis(DH)- 3 for 4.  BA= .241.
Ben Turner(Catcher)- 3 for 4.  BA= .289.
Nick Vander Tuig(RHP)- 4.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 4.67.
Jake Smith(RHP)- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 0.00.

Lollis and Turner had all 6 of the Giants hits between them.  Turner has not hit for much power, but he has 34 BB's and just 35 K's in 356 AB's.  In 2 pro seasons, he has just 59 K's and 54 BB's in 734 AB's.    Those kinds of ratios seem to be working out for Joe Panik.  We will continue to monitor Turner's progress.

Low A  Lexington Legends beat the Augusta Greenjackets 4-2:

Joan Gregorio(RHP)- 8 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 3.92.

Short Season  Salem-Keizer Volcanoes topped the Tri-Cities Dust Devils 6-5:

Christian Arroyo(SS)- 3 for 5.  BA= .325.

Rookie AZL  D'Backs downed the Giants 5-1:

Julio Pena(RF)- 1 for 3, HR(2).  BA= .211.
Sam Coonrod(RHP)- 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K, GO/AO= 6/2.  ERA= 3.90.
Stetson Woods(RHP)- 1.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.57.
Ryan Hernandez(RHP)- 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 1.65.
Marcus Wilson(OF, D'Backs)- 0 for 4.  BA= .208.

From the stat line, it looks like Coonrod may be working on a 2-seam FB that he can pitch to contact and get GB outs making him less dependent on the strikeout.  All good things must come to an end.  This was the first game in which Stetson Woods has allowed runs.  Maybe the Giants got a better HS OF than Marcus Wilson later in the draft in Byron Murray?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Game Wrap 8/24/2014: Nationals 12 Giants 6

It's hard to believe that the Giants held a 6-2 lead as late as the 6'th inning, but the bullpen suffered a complete breakdown allowing a flood of Nationals runs in one of the more frustrating losses in recent memory.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 2 for 5, 3B, HR(2).  BA= .252.  Blanco has struggled in the leadoff role but not today as he led off the game with a homer into the jet stream in R-CF then later tripled down the 1B line on a ball that got deadened by the ballgirl's chair.

Buster Posey- 2 for 5.  BA= .287.  Buster was as hot as I've ever seen him in the 9'th inning both during a mound conference with Rags and Gutierrez and later in the dugout after his AB in the bottom of the inning.  Not sure what it was about.  Kuip thought he knew, but did not want to say until he talked to Buster.  The general banter seemed to be that maybe the Nationals were stealing signs.  Is stealing signs cheating?  Both Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson were thrown out of the game early after yelling at the ump to call a balk on Strasburg who they thought was not coming to a complete stop out of the stretch.

Travis Ishikawa- 1 for 3, HR(2), SF.  BA= .258.  Travis has been a breath of fresh air at the 1B position this road trip.  Could he be another Giants reclamation success story a la Ryan Vogelsong?

Brandon Crawford= 3 for 4.  BA= .230.  Crawford had a nice day at the plate, but late in the game appeared to be dead on the legs as he stood and watched grounder after grounder go by.  In fairness, it's hard to tell on TV what balls an IF should get to, but it seemed like some of those were fieldable.

Ryan Vogelsong- 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 3.78.  Vogelsong battled a very good Nationals lineup and left the game with a lead he probably expected to hold up.  Alas, it was not to be.

Jeremy Affeldt- 0.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 0 K's.  ERA= 2.72.  Affeldt relieved Vogey after Desmond's HR and proceeded to get lit up. Don't know if it is fatigue, but Affeldt has now allowed runs in 6 of his last 8 appearances.  The ERA of 2.72 is a testament of just how good he was before that.

All in all, just a really bad loss by an apparently exhausted Giants team, especially the bullpen, but the fielders looked like their legs were dead too.

The Giants now come home and immediately start a 4 games midweek series against the Colorado Rockies that will hopefully go better than the last time the Rockies came to AT&T Park with Jake Peavy facing Tyler Matzek.

Amazingly, the Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves and Pirates all lost today, so the Giants remain 4.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and 1 game ahead of the Braves for the second Wild Card playoff spot.

By not announcing whether Tim Lincecum is making his next start, after saying he has discussed the issue with Rags and Brian Sabean but not Timmy yet, Bochy has made it quite clear that Timmy won't be making the start.