July 2012

Helping San Francisco Giants make stars align to re-sign Melky Cabrera

During last weekend’s Fox telecast of the Giants-Phillies game, the announcers were discussing how Melky Cabrera has been the Giants’ team MVP in 2012.

And we couldn’t agree more.

Consider through Monday, Cabrera had 45 multi-hit games this season. In those games, the Giants are 30-15.

In 17 games this season, Cabrera has failed to get a hit. In those games, the Giants are 6-11.

You could even make an argument for Cabrera for NL MVP.

And that leads to a basic conclusion: The Giants MUST re-sign Melky Cabrera.

During the All-Star break, Cabrera expressed his desire to remain in San Francisco next year and beyond, and he let his representatives know that.

Earlier this year, Giants GM Brian Sabean said the “stars would have to align” for the Giants to re-sign Cabrera.

So MoreSplashHits will help Sabean out with a little astronomy.

Or is it astrology?

The Giants have a $130 million payroll in 2012.

In 2013, they are locked into almost $80 in guaranteed contracts ($22 million for Tim Linceum, $20m each for Matt Cain and Barry Zito, $5.7m to Pablo Sandoval, $5m to Ryan Vogelsong, $4.25m for Javier Lopez, $2m buyout for Aubrey Huff and $750K to Madison Bumgarner.

They will have nine players who will be arbitration eligible. Three of those are prime candidates to be non-tendered: Brian Wilson, Eli Whiteside and Emmanuel Burriss.

That leaves six others: Buster Posey, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Clay Hensley, Nate Schierholtz and Joaquin Arias. It is reasonable to think the Giants can sign all of those players for a combined $18 million.

That puts the payroll at $98 million for 13 players.

There are four pre-arbitration players who almost certainly will be back: Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Hector Sanchez and Gregor Blanco.

That puts us at about $103 million for 17 players.

Eight more players left to fill out the roster and $27 million left to make that happen … if they hold the line on payroll. More if they decide to go a little higher.

And what type of players would these eight players need to be?

  • A starting second basemen
  • Two starting outfielders
  • A reserve infielder
  • A reserve outfielder
  • Three bullpen pitchers

If they filled five of those spots with players within the organization or non-tender free agents on the cheap, they could probably do so for another $4 million.

Now, we are at $107 million. Still another $23 million to work with.

Now how much will Cabrera cost to bring back?

There are the high water marks for outfielders, like the $16.5 million average for the deal the Dodgers gave Andre Ethier for five years. Or the $13 million average the Orioles gave Adam Jones.

I’ve seen a couple of bloggers who put Cabrera’s worth at around $12 million a season. If the Giants could sign Cabrera for five years, $60 million, they should do so in a heartbeat.

However, we believe Cabrera will go a bit higher.

So even if we look on the high end and put Melky’s deal at $15 million, it would still leave $8 million to add another outfielder and starting second baseman.

A little tight, especially if the Giants have any hopes of bringing Angel Pagan back as well.

With a little creativity, the Giants front office could find a few extra bucks in the budget. And, as we mentioned, this budget is based on the high end of potential deals.

Also, there are two seasons of sellouts bringing in a bucket full of cash. So the front office could afford to spend a few extra bucks on players.

Because we know the Dodgers will.

San Francisco Giants 6, Philadelphia Phillies 5: Giants squeeze out a win

San Francisco Giants’ Gregor Blanco bunts for an RBI-single against the Philadelphia Phillies in the 10th inning of a baseball game Saturday July 21, 2012, in Philadelphia. The Giants won 6-5 in 10 innings. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)

BOX SCORE

In the top of the eighth inning with Buster Posey on third and one out, Gregor Blanco looked down at third-base coach Tim Flannery.

After watching Flannery’s gyrations, Blanco must have thought: “Either Flan wants me to put down a suicide squeeze or he has an itch on his face.”

Given manager Bruce Bochy’s disdain for putting on the suicide squeeze play this season, it’s no wonder that Blanco decided on the latter.

It wasn’t until Buster Posey came charging down the line that Blanco was corrected.

Blanco didn’t bunt and Posey was hung out to dry.

Bochy said: “We weren’t trying a kamikaze play with Buster.”

Posey explained it this way: “A sense of dismay is a good way to put it, I guess. I know Blanco feels worse about it than anybody and I’m sure it won’t happen again.”

It won’t, because Bochy won’t put the suicide squeeze on again.

Luckily for Blanco and the Giants, the Phillies weren’t able to score and the game went into the 10th tied at 5-5.

And Blanco found himself again at the plate with the go-ahead run (this time in the person of Melky Cabrera) at third base and one out.

Bochy did not put on the suicide squeeze this time. But Blanco had the good sense to take matters into his own hands.

“I said to myself, ‘I’m going to have another opportunity to win this game,’ ” Blanco said. “When the count got to 3-1, I thought that was the right moment to bunt it. I did, and it worked.”

It did indeed, and the Giants find themselves with another series win on the road.

The Giants are assured of — at worst — a 4-2 road trip, with a chance to make it 5-1 when Barry Zito takes the mound Sunday against Joe Blanton.

Like Thursday’s game in Atlanta, a win Sunday would be gravy as the Giants return home Monday for a 10-game homestead against the Padres, Dodgers and Mets.

They did it with the longball early Saturday with homers by Matt Cain (yes! Matt Cain), Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera. And small ball late.

Even if it did take two tries.

Even without Aubrey Huff, San Francisco Giants situation at first base is aggravating

There’s good news on Aubrey Huff — he hurt his knee again

OK, that may seem a bit harsh. But as it pertains to Giants fans, it’s the truth.

Aubrey Huff has been out since June 10 with a sprained knee sustained when he very ungracefully failed to leap out of the dugout to celebrate Matt Cain’s perfect game.

He was apparently set to be activated when the Giants return home from their East Coast road trip on Monday.

But those plans are on hold for now. Huff returned to San Francisco Friday to have an MRI on his knee after pulling himself out of a game with the Fresno Grizzlies because of knee pain.

With the Grizzlies set to open a weekend series in Salt Lake City, Huff was supposed to join the San Jose Giants for the weekend before being activated Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy viewed Huff was a potential alternate to the struggling Brandon Belt at first base.

But we’re not sure Huff would have had much of anything to offer.

Huff opened his 20-day minor-league rehab stint on July 4 with the Class A San Jose Giants. He went 4 for 16 (.250) with one home run, three RBI, a double, four strikeouts and three walks in five games with San Jose. Not exactly stellar numbers against Class A competition.

On Monday, he joined the Grizzlies. In four games at Triple-A, he went 2 for 13. Both hits were singles on soft loopers to center.

His 11 outs were recorded in this fashion:

  • One strikeout
  • Two groundouts to shortstop
  • One groundout to first base
  • Seven groundouts to second base

He drove in one run — on a groundout to second on Thursday — and he capped his stint with Fresno with his lone walk, before pulling himself out of the game in the third inning.

If Huff is doing THAT at Triple-A, I don’t know how the Giants think he’ll doing anything that would be an improvement on the .155 average he was hitting in 32 games with them this season.

I would rather see Belt, mired in his 3-for-30 slump, take his hacks as the Giants first baseman than Huff. With Belt, there’s at least a CHANCE he can turn things around.

But the Giants are clearly getting frustrated with Belt, as he becomes more frustrated with himself. So they must consider options, and they are not good:

  • Start Buster Posey at first base with Eli Whiteside catching. They did this Friday against the Phillies, and may do it again with the lefty Cole Hamels pitching Saturday.
  • They could start Joaquin Arias at third and Pablo Sandoval at first. Sandoval saw his first action at first base the other day in Atlanta. They could do this Saturday, but Arias has been getting starts at shortstop against lefties. But with Brandon Crawford swinging a hot bet, why not leave him in there.
  • There’s always Brett Pill at Fresno. Pill is hitting . .283 with 4 HR and 27 RBI in 35 games at Fresno. Not bad, but over the past 10 games, Pill is hitting .195.
  • They could give Conor Gillaspie another shot at third base, playing the Panda at first. Gillaspie is hitting .306 with 9 HR and 35 RBI for Fresno. But like Pill, Gillaspie is hitting .195 over his past 10 games.
  • They can look to the trade market for help. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot enticing options out there.

San Francisco Giants 7, Philadelphia Phillies 2: Tim Lincecum is all smiles after Freaky Friday

San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum pitches in the second inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, July 20, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

BOX SCORE

Tim Lincecum talked about some funny things that were going on out on the mound Friday.

But unlike the funny things in his many of his previous starts this season, the Freak was able to laugh of Friday’s freaky stuff.

The first funny thing came in the third inning when Lincecum fielded a comebacker, threw to Buster Posey at first, then started to walk toward the dugout.

One problem: there were only two outs, and the Philadelphia fans let him know it.

“They all together were like ‘What the hell is this guy doing,’ ” Lincecum told the San Jose Mercury News. “I was like ‘All right, I’m an idiot for a minute. Now let’s go back to the mound.”

The second incident, which Lincecum admitted was less funny than the first, came when his foot slipped off the rubber while starting to deliver a pitch to Ryan Howard. The resulting fall led to a balk, which allowed Shane Victorino to score the game’s first run in the fourth inning.

But unlike earlier this season, Lincecum was able to pitch around the mishap and limit the damage to one run.

His Giants’ teammates would reward him with a five-run sixth inning that included a grand slam by Brandon Crawford, and Lincecum had his first road win since April 23.

It’s his second quality start of the season on the road (the first coming in that near disaster in Oakland).

It was his second consecutive quality start — only the second time he’s done that this season. Since the All-Star break, he’s allowed two earned runs in 15 innings with 17 strikeouts and three walks.

“I’ve got two outings that are good behind me, and now it’s about working on that next one,” he said. “I’m not saying by any means that this is: ‘I’m back.’ I’m just trying to get back to that consistency.

“I can use this as my springboard.”

Friday’s outing was the one Giants fans were worried about. After wilting in the East Coast swelter in starts in Washington and Pittsburgh earlier this week, Lincecum was glad to see temps in the 70s in Philadelphia on Friday.

Now his next two starts will come next Wednesday at home against the Padres, then July 31 at home vs. the Mets.

Friday’s start figures to be Lincecum’s last in a potential hot and humid location. If the rotation holds to form, Lincecum would start Aug. 5 at Colorado then miss a four-game set in St. Louis. Then his starts are scheduled to fall like this

  • Aug. 10 vs. Colorado (at home)
  • Aug. 15 vs. Washington (at home)
  • Aug. 21 at L.A. Dodgers
  • Aug. 26 vs. Atlanta (at home)
  • Sept. 1 at Chicago Cubs
  • Sept. 7 vs. L.A. Dodgers (at home)
  • Sept. 12  at Colorado
  • Sept. 18 vs. Colorado (at home)
  • Sept. 23 vs. San Diego (at home)
  • Sept. 29 at San Diego

In total from here out, that’s eight home starts and five road starts. A good recipe for the Freak the rest of the way.

San Francisco Giants 9, Atlanta Braves 4, 11 innings: Wild, wacky night in Atlanta

BOX SCORE

By the time Wednesday’s wild game in Atlanta ended, I needed to be reminded that the Giants have a five-game winning streak, their longest winning streak of the 2012 season.

That’s because the Giants seem to lose, then win, then lose, then win this game so many times on Wednesday that it was hard to remember they are still riding a hot streak.

Here is a rundown of Wednesday’s weirdness:

MINOR SETBACK: Tim Lincecum opened the night with the second-worst ERA by a starting pitcher in the NL with qualifying innings. He finished the night with the worst. That’s because the Giants could only manage one run in six innings off Mike Minor, who entered the game with 5.97 ERA and finished the game with 5.69 ERA.

GOT MELK? The Braves don’t anymore. But the Giants do. His solo home run in the sixth tied the game at 1-1. He finished 2 for 5 for his 42nd multi-hit game of the season.

RUNS FOR RYAN? Ryan Vogelsong pitched his ninth quality start of the season in which he either took a no-decision or was saddled with a loss. He’s 7-4, but really should have 11 or 12 wins by now.

RUNNING FOR BUSTER: Manager Bruce Bochy decided to pinch-run for Buster Posey after Posey had a lead-off single in the top of the ninth. Gregor Blanco almost got picked off several times by Craig Kimbrel before Pablo Sandoval hit into double play. Pulling Posey in a 1-1 game in the ninth makes sense only if Bochy plans to start Posey in Thursday’s day game. If Posey sits, the move made little sense.

ESCAPE ACT IN NINTH: Two balls that clanked of Giants gloves in the ninth almost allowed the Braves to win without the benefit of a hit. Sergio Romo hit Dan Uggla with one out. Chipper Jones hit a slow roller to Ryan Theriot, who flubbed the ball. Both Uggla and Jones moved up 90 feet when a Romo pitch clanked off Eli Whiteside’s glove. It was ruled a wild pitch, but could have easily been a passed ball. After Romo fanned Paul Janish, Javier Lopez intentionally walked Tyler Pastornicky to load the bases, then struck out Michael Bourn in a nine-pitch battle to end the inning.

BOCHY’S MOVE-A-RAMA: By this point in the game, Bochy had thinned out his bench. He had Nate Schierholtz bat for Vogelsong in the seventh; Blanco stayed in the game and played center when he ran for Posey, so then Posey and Angel Pagan were out of the game, with Whiteside replacing Posey at catcher. Brandon Crawford entered the game in a double switch when Lopez relieved Romo in the ninth, and Sandoval was out of the game. In the 10th, when the Giants sent eight batters to the plate, Emmanuel Burriss hit for Lopez, exhausting the last of the available position players. Bochy ended up using 20 of 24 available players (Thursday’s starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner was sent back to the team hotel to prepare for his mid-day start) and the skipper was even contemplating having Matt Cain play right field if the game lingered on.

TWO-RUN RALLY IN TENTH: Joaquin Arias got things going with a one-out triple. After Brandon Crawford was intentionally walked — setting up a potential inning-ending double play, Justin Christian hit a swinging bunt that scored Arias. When Chipper Jones’ lob home to get Arias was errant, Crawford went to third. After a Ryan Theriot walk, Cabrera blooped a single to score Crawford. With a chance to add on, Blanco struck out and Burriss hit a liner to Jones.

WOE IS SANTIAGO: Given a two-run lead, Santiago Casilla appeared headed to an easy save after quickly erasing Martin Prado and Jason Heyward. But then he gave up a double to Freddie Freeman, then a two-run home run to Brian McCann. Bochy said he would talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about replacing Casilla as the team’s closer. Bochy suggested that when he gets two outs, Casilla often stops pitching and just tries to throw balls past hitters. This time, the Braves were ready.

WELCOME BACK WHITEY: Eli Whiteside had an interesting day. It started with him flying from Las Vegas to Atlanta as he was called up from Triple-A to replace Hector Sanchez on the active roster. He arrived at the stadium before game time only because the game was delay almost 90 minutes by rain. Whiteside looked like he might be the goat when a pitch clanked off his glove in the ninth. But then he helped start a six-run rally in the 11th when he hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and alertly advanced to second on a wild pitch.

BLASTS BY BENCH PLAYERS: We’ve mentioned how the Giants’ bench is a weak spot. But two players not in the starting lineup had two BIG hits. First with two one and one out, Brandon Crawford fouled a ball off his foot. He hobbled around as the team trainer came out to look at him. Coming out of the game was not an option as their were no position players left on the bench. On the next pitch, Crawford belted a three-run home run into right for a 6-3 lead. Christian then reached on an error. After Theriot grounded out, advancing Christian, the Braves intentionally walked Cabrera. Blanco came up with two on and two out and Matt Cain on deck to hit for Casilla. Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow were talking how the Braves would walk Blanco to pitch to Cain. But then they didn’t and Blanco spanked another three-run shot into the right-field bleachers for a 9-3 lead.

Other notes:

  • The win clinched the Giants’ first series win in Atlanta since 2008. It’s only their second series win at Turner Field since it opened 16 years ago.
  • If the Giants win Thursday, it will be their first series sweep in Atlanta since 1988.
  • The victory allowed the Giants to maintain their three-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West.
    The Giants are now 6-1 in extra-inning games.

Hector Sanchez out; Eli Whiteside in for San Francisco Giants

OK, pop quiz time.

How many members of the San Francisco Giants’ active roster for the 2010 World Series are on the team’s current 25-man active roster?

(Play Jeopardy music here).

Did you say 11? If so, you’re right.

Here’s the championship eleven

  • Tim Lincecum
  • Matt Cain
  • Madison Bumgarner
  • Sergio Romo
  • Jeremy Affeldt
  • Javier Lopez
  • Santiago Casilla
  • Buster Posey
  • Pablo Sandoval
  • Nate Schierholtz

… and ….

  • Eli Whiteside.

Whiteside took the number from 10 to 11 on Wednesday when he was called up from Triple-A Fresno to replace Hector Sanchez on the roster.

San Francisco Giants’ Hector Sanchez, right, is looked at by a trainer after getting injured in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, July 17, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Sanchez was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a sprained knee.

Even with the Giants assertions Tuesday that Sanchez’s injury was not serious, it did not come as a big surprise that Sanchez is headed to the DL.

It was reported that Sanchez was examined for mild discomfort in the knee on Friday. So Tuesday’s incident was clearly an aggravation of a previous condition for Sanchez.

The Giants clearly decided he needed more time to get healthy, and they didn’t want to use Pablo Sandoval as anything more than an emergency catcher.

Sanchez will remain with the Giants on the road trip, expects to resume baseball activities in a week at the latest and should be ready to go when his 15 days are up. That would set his activation for Aug. 2, when the Giants play the Mets to finish a 10-game homestand.

If that’s the case, we can expect Whiteside to make two, maybe three starts, during Sanchez’s stint on the DL. That’s fewer than the number of starts Sanchez would be expected to make over the same time if he were healthy. The Giants play 14 games over the next 15 days, with the lone day off coming July 26 during that 10-game homestand.

The beneficiary of playing time over the next two weeks is Brandon Belt. Belt has been sitting a couple of days each week when Sanchez has been starting, with Posey playing at first base.

It would seem that manager Bruce Bochy is less likely to use the same alignment with Whiteside, choosing instead to play Posey more behind the plate and giving him full days off when Whiteside catches.

However, Bochy could decide against lefties to start Joaquin Arias at 3B and Sandoval at 1B. But that would mean starting Brandon Crawford at SS.

Belt gets the start at 1B Wednesday against lefty Mike Minor.

Hopefully, this will provide Belt a chance to get hot again.

And maybe, just maybe, someone will take the opportunity to point out to Bochy that Belt has a slash line of .300/.379/.660 against lefties this season compared to .228/.348/.315 against righties.

The sad demise and uncertain future of Jonathan Sanchez

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez (57) delivers to Seattle Mariners’ Dustin Ackley during the first inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, July 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

There was a time when Jonathan Sanchez was the pitcher with the most promise on the San Francisco Giants’ staff.

That time ended long ago, and now we’re left to wonder if Sanchez will be pitching in the majors for anyone anytime soon.

On Tuesday, the Kansas City Royals designated pitcher Jonathan Sanchez for assignment, in a move they probably thought was the rock-bottom moment from their offseason trade with the Giants.

They were wrong.

Sanchez and pitcher Ryan Verdugo were acquired in a trade with the Giants for outfielder Melky Cabrera.

On Monday, Sanchez was tagged for seven runs in 1 1/3 innings against the weak-hitting Mariners. That bumped his season ERA to 7.76 in 12 starts. He had not won since April 8.

On Tuesday, Sanchez was designated for assignment, making room on the roster for Verdugo, who was 6-2 with a 3.58 ERA with Triple-A Omaha this season. Verdugo made his MLB debut Tuesday against the Mariners.

Against the Mariners, Verdugo was tagged for six runs on eight hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings.

All of this came exactly one week after Cabrera started in the outfield for the National League All-Star team, eventually being named MVP of the game, which was ironically played in Kansas City.

Ouch.

“You want them all to work out, but most of the time they don’t, unfortunately,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Tuesday about the trade. “It’s part of the business, you move on and you accept it. You continue to look for solutions.

“There’s no need to spend a lot of time rehearsing what went wrong. You certainly analyze it, but don’t beat yourself about it because this game moves on. You can’t dwell on it. You can’t get stuck on it. You’ve got to move forward.”

OK, let’s move forward. On Tuesday, Cabrera went 2 for 5 with a hustle double, two runs and an RBI as the Giants beat the Braves 9-0. It was Cabrera’s NL-leading 41st multi-hit game of the season. He’s hitting .353 on the season.

As for Sanchez, it’s another fall along what has been become a steady decline since the 2010 season when it looked as if Sanchez had reached that potential the Giants fans had heard about for years.

Sanchez was outstanding in 2010, especially down the stretch. He pitched the Giants to victory in the regular-season finale when they clinched the NL West Division title.

He had another solid outing against the Braves in the NL Division Series. Then things started to turn.

He lost Game 2 of the NLCS vs. the Phillies and appeared to be headed another loss in Game 6 when he was pulled early and the bullpen came to the rescue.

He suffered the Giants’ lone loss in the World Series vs. the Rangers.

In 2011, things became steadily worse for Sanchez, who eventually landed on the DL with “bicep tendinitis” in June. When he returned from the DL, he was no better and a foot injury in August ended his season.

The Royals acquired Sanchez in the offseason, hoping a change of scenery would help him recapture the magic of 2010. Instead, things went the opposite direction.

His ERA jumped from 4.26 in 2011 to 7.76 in 2012. His WHIP went from 1.44 to 2.04.

Royal manager Ned Yost still believes Sanchez can be a quality pitcher, but the Royals could not continue to suffer from his struggles.

“It’s still there with Jonathan,” Yost said. “He’s still got the stuff to be successful. For whatever reason, he just wasn’t successful here. It just got to a point we needed to regroup for us and for him.”

So then what’s next for Dirty Sanchez?

It’s doubtful that another contender would want to risk throwing Sanchez into its starting rotation or even bullpen. If he latches on with a contender, it would involve him heading to Triple-A to figure things out.

The Royals are hoping he clears waivers and accepts a minor-league assignment with them. Sanchez had a 6.75 ERA in three rehab starts with Triple-A Omaha this season.

“We designated him and that gives us 10 days to trade him, but he also has an option and, if he agrees, he can go to Triple-A with us, which I’d personally like to see him do,” Yost said. “Because it’s still there, his stuff’s still there.”

Sanchez will clear waivers because no team will want to be on the hook for the remainder of the $5.6 million he’s earning this season.

If he wants to stay in the majors, it will have to be with a non-contender. A non-contender that is starved for starting pitching and preferably plays in a pitcher-friendly park.

And that leads to only one team … the San Diego Padres.

We’ll find out in 10 days.

Catching up on the sweep of Astros

It was time for MoreSplashHits to enjoy a little R&R over the weekend. When we return, the Giants find themselves in the middle of a four-game winning streak and three games ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West.

It almost made us want to NOT blog anymore until this winning streak ends.

But we can’t do that. So here’s what we missed over the weekend sweep of the Astros.

GIANTS 5, ASTROS 1: BOX SCORE

GIANTS 3, ASTROS 2 (12): BOX SCORE

GIANTS 3, ASTROS 2: BOX SCORE

San Francisco Giants 9, Atlanta Braves 0: Catchers dominate the headlines (good and bad)

San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey, left, doubles to score teammate Gregor Blanco in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Tuesday, July 17, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

BOX SCORE

Buster Posey wanted to put his first big-league regular-season series in his home state of Georgia behind him.

That came in 2010, when he went 1 for 11 against the Atlanta Braves.

Two years later, Buster was back in Georgia (having missed the 2011 visit because of his ankle injury), and he was bustin’ out.

Posey went 3 for 5 with a double and five RBI as the Giants opened a six-game road trip to with a rout of the Braves.

Posey’s three-run double was the big blow in a six-run fourth inning for the Giants.

Posey started the game at first base, even after earlier in the day expressing confidence in his ability to catch Barry Zito or anyone on the Giants staff.

“Listen,” he said, “I’ve got the utmost confidence in myself that I can catch anybody. I’ve never questioned that. I’ve caught (Tim Lincecum) plenty and had a lot of success with him. I haven’t caught Barry as much as Timmy, but I’m definitely comfortable with him as well.”

Posey got his chance to catch Zito when Sanchez left the game in the fourth inning with a strained left knee.

Zito, who threw seven shutout innings Tuesday, quipped: “Me and Buster were joking around. I said ‘You probably sniggered him because you wanted to work with me.’ “

Posey will be working with all Giants pitchers for the near future as Sanchez is sidelined, although early reports are that the injury is not considered serious.

Sanchez will get an MRI Wednesday morning, so the Giants will know more then. But for now, they are not planning any roster moves.

“We’re hoping for the best,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We think it’s just a couple games. We’re hopeful it’s what we think it is.”

In the meantime, Pablo Sandoval, who has not caught a big-league game since 2009, becomes the No. 2 catcher on the roster, followed by Emmanuel Burriss.

If the Giants eventually find a need for another catcher, the logical choice is Eli Whiteside, despite Twitters calls for Tommy Joseph or Andrew Susac. And there are plenty of reasons why.

  • Whiteside is on the 40-man roster. Joseph and Susac are not. Bringing up Whiteside would not require a corresponding move on the 40-man roster.
  • Calling up Joseph or Susac would also start burning their player options and begin their arbitration clock. Having already done that with the young Sanchez (22), they would not want to do that with the equally young Joseph (21) or Susac (22).
  • While Whiteside is only hitting .241 at Triple-A Fresno, Joseph and Susac aren’t batting much better. Joseph is hitting .255 at Double-A Richmond and Susac .226 at Class A San Jose.
  • Whiteside is hitting .400 over his past eight games (10 for 25).
  • But offensive production is a plus when you’re talking about backup catcher. The bigger plus is defensive ability. Whiteside has that big-league experience. Joseph and Susac are still learning.
  • The pitching staff is comfortable with Whiteside, with all of the starters and most of the bullpen having worked with him in the past.
  • Given the nature of the injury and how the backup would be used, we’re talking about a limited stint with the Giants, maybe 2-3 starts if Sanchez eventually lands on the DL. The Giants would rather keep their young catchers where they are and playing regularly than sitting on the bench with the big club.

Melky Cabrera or Michael Bourn? San Francisco Giants should Get Melky

National League’s Melky Cabrera, right, of the San Francisco Giants, celebrates his two-run home run with Matt Holliday, of the St. Louis Cardinals, during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 10, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Over the All-Star Break, the Giants were linked in stories with two potential free-agent outfielders — Melky Cabrera and Michael Bourn, currently of the Braves.

Jon Heyman reported that the Giants were viewed as a “likely suitor” for Bourn in free agency next winter, sources said.

Got to love those “sources” say, especially five months before free-agent season begins.

Yes, Bourn is a fine player, an All-Star. He’s led the NL in stolen bases the past two seasons. He fits the bill of the type of outfielder the Giants are looking for.

However, Bourn must be considered a fallback option if the Giants can re-sign Cabrera. They won’t be signing Bourn AND Cabrera. So if they have to choose, Cabrera is the better option.

Why?

  • Cabrera is younger. Melky will be entering his age-28 season in 2013. Bourn will be 30. And with speed being such a huge part of Bourn’s game, you’ll have to wonder what effect aging will have on his skills if the Giants sign him to a five-year contract, which he’ll likely be seeking.
  • Cabrera is a better all-around player. Melky’s 2012 slash line goes .353/.391/.519, compared to Bourn’s .311/.366/.451. Small sample, you say? OK, let’s look at 2011, when Cabrera went .305/.339/.470 and Bourn went .294/.363/.403. For their career, Cabrera is .283/.336/.411 in 8 seasons; Bourn is .277/.340/.370. And Bourn’s numbers have been steady over the past 3-4 years. Cabrera has taken off the past two seasons.
  • If you go out and sign Bourn, you’re basically saying that the No. 1 prospect in your organization is not going to develop into a big-league starter. That’s Gary Brown. Brown had an outstanding season in his first full pro season in 2011 at Class A. After a rough start at Double-A this season, Brown is starting to heat up. Wouldn’t it make better sense in a couple of years to have Brown in center and Melky in left, instead of having two leadoff/center fielders in your outfield?
  • Bourn has never been All-Star Game MVP.
  • Cabrera has started to create a cult following in the Giants’ fan base. He’s the kind of player the Giants can set up a marketing campaign behind.

So, while we have nothing against Michael Bourn, Melky Cabrera is the better player and the Giants need to make it a priority to keep him in San Francisco.

Cabrera told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that he likes it in San Francisco.

“Im a free agent next winter,” Cabrera told Shea, “but the fans and Giants organization have treated me very well, so I would welcome staying with the Giants.”

Shea added that Cabrera has told his representatives of let the Giants know about his wishes to stay with the team.

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