April 2012

2012 San Francisco Giants opening day roster is set

 

Word has just come in. The Giants made their final roster moves before the start of the 2012 season. Here it is, (with pitching or batting side)

STARTING PITCHERS

RH Tim Lincecum
RH Matt Cain
LH Madison Bumgarner
LH Barry Zito

RELIEVERS

RH Brian Wilson
RH Sergio Romo
RH Santiago Casilla
RH Dan Otero
RH Guillermo Mota
RH Clay Hensley
LH Javier Lopez
LH Jeremy Affeldt

CATCHERS

RH Buster Posey
SH Hector Sanchez

INFIELDERS

LH Brandon Belt
RH Brett Pill
SH Emmanuel Burriss
LH Brandon Crawford
RH Ryan Theriot
SH Pablo Sandoval

OUTFIELDERS

SH Melky Cabrera
SH Angel Pagan
LH Nate Schierholtz
LH Aubrey Huff
LH Gregor Blanco

ON DL: IF Freddy Sanchez, P Dan Runzler, P Ryan Vogelsong

TO MINORS: IF Joaquin Arias, C Eli Whiteside, P Steve Edlefsen, P Jean Machi.

TRADED: C Chris Stewart (to Yankees for P George Kontos)

Giants 3, A’s 2: Accentuating the positives

BOX SCORE

There was a lot to be happy about after Tuesday’s exhibition at the Oakland Coliseum, so we’ll leave the downer news for later in this post.

But first, happy thoughts.

The Giants won, taking their second straight against the cross-bay rivals, so that’s good.

Matt Cain had a solid outing in his first outing since agreeing to a five-year contract extension on Monday.

“Yeah, it’s a relief,” Cain told the Associated Press. “I definitely have a lot more time here, and that’s awesome. I’m looking forward to it. I think we have that energy. All the guys are feeling good and excited. It was a really cool to see how much (of a reaction) it got from fans and from my teammates. They’re so excited, and it pumps you up. And it makes you ready for the season.”

Cain appeared ready for the season, limiting the A’s to two runs on five hits and one walk over five innings. He struck out six.

Cain was also helped out by a nice throw from center fielder Angel Pagan, who threw out Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes trying to score from second.

And Cain capped his night with a nifty, yet somewhat unnerving, throw out of Coco Crisp.

Crisp squibbed a Cain pitch to the right of the mound. Cain charged to field it, but slipped on the grass. Still, he was able to throw Crisp out at first with a throw from the seat of his pants.

After Cain left, the bullpen again kept Oakland bats quiet with four hitless innings from Clay Hensley, Jeremy Affeldt, Guillermo Mota and Sergio Romo.

All happy, happy times.

OK, now the downer stuff.

For the second night in a row, the Giants still struggled to mount much offense against a pitcher who is battling to be Oakland’s No. 5 starter.

It was nice to see the Giants use a little small ball to score in the first inning. Gregor Blanco led off the game with a single, stole second and scored on Pablo Sandoval’s one-out single.

Yet, after the Giants took a 3-2 lead in the fifth, they had the bases loaded and one out but failed to score when Emmanuel Burriss and Eli Whiteside both failed to put the ball in play.

Oh well. It is still preseason, so even if they pounded the ball all over the year, it wouldn’t mean anything.

OTHER NOTES

  • In an interview with CSN’s Amy Gutierrez, Aubrey Huff quipped that “now that I’m an outfielder” he could give tips to the other outfielders. It was just a bit of Huff-like whimsy, but it seemed to indicate that Brandon Belt has made the club. Manager Bruce Bochy said all roster decisions have been reached, but he would not announce them until Wednesday morning prior to the Giants final preseason game.
  • Bochy said he got good reports from Barry Zito’s bullpen session Monday in Arizona (he didn’t give up any runs; of course, he didn’t face any batters either). Zito will pitch a minor-league game Wednesday before joining the team in Phoenix for Friday’s opener. Sigh, I guess that means they are going to stick with him to pitch Monday in Colorado.
  • Freddy Sanchez played four inning of a minor-league game in Arizona Tuesday. Bochy said while Sanchez showed signs of improvement that he’s still “a couple weeks away.”
  • Bochy also said that Hector Sanchez has done enough to make the squad, but whether he does or not depends on how many catchers the Giants keep. “It’s a matter of two or three,” Bochy said. Gee, thanks for clearing that up, Boch. We were thinking it could be one or four.

UP NEXT

Yusmeiro Petit will get the start as the Giants face the A’s at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday at AT&T Park.

Giants’ 25-man roster, if MoreSplashHits were making decisions

The deadline to submit opening 25-man rosters is 2 p.m. PDT Wednesday.

As the Giants have at 12:30 p.m. game against the A’s at AT&T Park, manager Bruce Bochy said he’ll announce his final decisions Wednesday morning.

But this is how the roster would look if MoreSplashHits were making the final call:

STARTING PITCHERS: RH Tim Lincecum, LH Madison Bumgarner, RH Matt Cain, LH Barry Zito (see below)

BULLPEN: RH Brian Wilson, RH Sergio Romo, RH Santiago Casilla, RH Clay Hensley, RH Guillermo Mota, LH Jeremy Affeldt, LH Javier Lopez

CATCHERS: Buster Posey, Eli Whiteside, Hector Sanchez

INFIELDERS: Brandon Belt, Emmanuel Burriss, Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Theriot, Joaquin Arias

OUTFIELDERS: Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Nate Schierholtz, Aubrey Huff, Gregor Blanco

This is not a prediction. Bochy has stated, and re-stated, that he intends to open the season with 12 pitchers, even though the team will go with a four-man rotation until Ryan Vogelsong comes off the DL on April 15.

That means one fewer spot for position players. And we think that means Sanchez will go to Fresno.

We like Whiteside over Chris Stewart. Stewart is the better defender, which is what you look for in a backup catcher. But with the limitations that will be placed on Buster Posey, the Giants need a backup catcher who can hit. Whiteside has shown better ability to do that than Stewart.

Now, onto Zito. We have zero confidence that two bullpen sessions and a minor-league start in Arizona is going to change Zito from a batting practice pitcher that we saw in his last two starts into Arizona into a serviceable starter for the Giants.

So, if we were running things, we’d find some kind of reason to put Zito on the DL to open the season. Then we’d start Yusmeiro Petit in Colorado on April 9.

It’s not a great option with Vogelsong and Eric Surkamp on the DL, but it’s the best one available.

Giants 4, A’s 2: A win after another slow start

BOX SCORE

Hooray! The Giants won another game that doesn’t count.

But a look inside reveals the Giants continued their troubling trend of struggling to mount offense early in the game.

The Giants were shut out for five innings on four hits and no walks by a guy HOPING to become the A’s No. 5 starter — Graham Godfrey.

If some Giants are unfamiliar with Godfrey, we’ve included a picture of him here.

But the game wasn’t all bad. The Giants rallied for four runs off the Oakland bullpen, while the Giants bullpen threw five perfect innings.

Melky Cabrera, who went 3 for 4, homered in the sixth. Then the Giants learned they don’t always need to get hits to mount a rally.

In the seventh, Ryan Theriot walked and Nate Schierholtz was hit by a pitch. Emmanuel Burriss dropped a sacrifice bunt attempt to third base, then used his speed to force the Oakland third baseman into an error that scored Theriot.

Angel Pagan grounded into a forceout to score Schierholtz. Just like that the Giants had two runs on zero hits.

After Pagan stole second, Cabrera then got the first hit of the inning, a single to score Pagan.

Patience and speed to score runs? A revelation.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

  • As we mentioned, the bullpen was lights out, including 1-2-3 innings by Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez — two pitchers who have had their bumps in Arizona.
  • Brian Wilson, who was a regular in minor-league games in Arizona, struck out the side for the save in the ninth. Very encouraging.
  • 1B Brandon Belt went 2 for 3 with a double, raising his spring average to .391. Just imagine how much higher it would have been if he didn’t have that hole in his swing that has led the Giants to consider sending him back to Fresno to open the season.
  • Manager Bruce Bochy said Monday’s lineup could be very similar to his lineup to open the season on Friday: CF Pagan, RF Cabrera, 3B Pablo Sandoval, C Buster Posey, LF Aubrey Huff, 1B Belt, 2B Theriot, SS Brandon Crawford. We’d be happy with that lineup on Friday, except for the Theriot thing. We’d prefer Burriss.
  • Buster Posey received a standing ovation when he was introduced to the AT&T Park at the start of the game. “It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in baseball. I feel luck to play in San Francisco.” Can we put that quote engraved onto a plaque and put it over Posey’s locker after the 2016 season, when he will be first eligible for free agency.

UP NEXT

The Giants’ new money man, Matt Cain, takes the mound as the Giants play the A’s in Oakland at 7 p.m.

Cain, Giants agree to new deal … like we told you so

I’m not one to say I told you so, but ….

Hey, here’s a quote from a blog post on MoreSplashHits from late February.

“The Giants reportedly offered Lincecum a five-year, $100 million offer (in January), which he rejected before agreeing to the two-year, $40.5 million deal.

“MoreSplashHits thinks that offer was more designed for Cain than Lincecum. The Giants offered it knowing Lincecum would turn it down. Then they could turn and make a similar offer to Cain.”

So what happened on Monday?

Cain and the Giants agreed to a five-year, $100 million deal.

Actually, with the $5 million signing bonus and the $7.5 million buyout for the 2018 option year, it brings the total guaranteed value of the deal at $112.5 million. That’s probably what Cain was holding out for.

The 2018 contract year as a vesting player option for $21 million if he reaches a certain number of innings pitched.

It means between now and 2018, the Giants could ending up paying Cain $141 million over the next years.

Some outlets were reporting the deal at $127.5 million. But that’s simple math.

Cain was due to make $15 this season. So take that $15 million, add $5 million signing bonus, five years at $100 million, plus the $7.5 buyout for 2018, it equals $127.5 million guaranteed over six years.

And let’s dispell some thoughts that have been shared in the wake of this deal.

First, there is the thought of the Giants giving so much to a pitcher who has a career losing record and has never won more than 14 games a season.

My response: Who cares.

Cain has historically received paltry run support. His career run support per 9 innings pitched of 3.6 is a full run below the league average.

To make a comparison, Cain received 3.6 runs of support last year had a 2.88 ERA and went 12-11.

Ian Kennedy of Arizona received 4.3 runs of support, had a 2.88 ERA and went 21-4.

It shows what a few more runs, and other circumstances, can do to a pitcher’s win-loss record.

Also, let’s tone down the rhetoric that the Dodgers sale sparked this deal getting done.

The Dodgers deal was going to happen. They were going to be sold this season. And once they were did, the new owners would be in a situation to spend more on the team, no matter who bought the team or what the price tag was.

The Giants knew this. Cain’s camp knew this. Everyone knew this. It really wasn’t much of a factor. It’s a cosmetic cause-and-effect thing.

The real issue was the opening day deadline that Cain and the Giants were working on. That’s why they made this deal now.

And we’re glad they did. It keeps Cain in black-and-orange through 2017, at least.

And here’s the big thing. It moves Zito down the list on the list of players the Giants will pay the most this season, behind Lincecum and now Cain.

All is not right in the world. But it’s certainly getter better.

Ten sure-fire ways the Giants can land Barry Zito on the disabled list

What are the Giants going to do with Barry Zito?

That’s the $19 million questions as the Giants prepare to break camp (it will be a $20 million question next year).

In the short term, the Giants will leave Zito in Arizona as they travel north Sunday for the Bay Bridge Series.
Zito pitched a bullpen session Sunday in which is was more upright, ditch much of the crouch that he had experimented with this spring.

He’ll pitch a minor league game Wednesday in Arizona instead of pitching against the A’s at AT&T Park.

But we have serious doubts that two bullpen sessions and one start against minor leaguers will provide enough time for Zito to convert himself from a pitcher who “was throwing BP” (as one scout put it) to a servicable No. 5 starter by April 9.

He’s clearly starting from scatch.

The best option right now is for the Giants is to find a way to put Zito on the DL to open the season to give him more time to get himself right (or as right as possible for Zito). Then find someone, like maybe Yusmeiro Petit, to fill Zito’s spot in the roster until Ryan Vogelsong and Erik Surkamp are ready to pitch.

Or they could just have a couple of bullpen games featuring Guillermo Mota and Clay Hensley. Heck, they’re carrying 12 pitchers to break camp.

In the meantime, they’ll need to find some acceptable reasons to put Zito on the DL. So we offer these suggestions:

  1. Have Jeremy Affeldt invite him over for a cookout so Affeldt can share his technique for separating frozen hamburger patties.
  2. Schedule exhibition with Tigers, have Zito throw at Prince Fielder …. one … more… time….
  3. Have the team doctor diagnose him with being a carrier of a contagious form of Tourette Syndrome. If MLB wants proof, just tell them that everytime Zito pitches, it causes 40,000 people to have uncontrollable outbursts of profanity.
  4. Have him wash Jeff Kent’s truck.
  5. Make Zito collect his next salary payment … in pennies.
  6. Have him take Joba Chamberlain’s kids trampoline jumping.
  7. Have Dan Runzler teach him proper batting technique to swing and miss and dislocate your knee.
  8. Battle fatigue. It’s reasonable after being shelled in his last two spring starts.
  9. Take Zito on a day trip over the border into Mexico and confiscate his identification papers. Then make him try to re-enter the country with falsified documents under the name of Leo Nunez.
  10. On DL for “left arm weakness.” Can anyone contest that diagnosis?
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