San Francisco Giants lose Melky Cabrera to 50-game suspension … Now what?

FILE – This July 14, 2012 file photo shows San Francisco Giants’ Melky Cabrera swinging for an RBI single off Houston Astros’ Lucas Harrell in the fifth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco. Cabrera has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for testosterone. The commissioner’s office says the suspension is effective immediately. Major League Baseball said on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, that Cabrera tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing substance, which violates MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program.(AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

It’s been a great season to be blogging about the San Francisco Giants, as they have provided a wealth of material this season, both good and bad.

Matt Cain’s new contract, Madison Bumgarner’s new contract, Buster Posey’s shingles, Brian Wilson’s elbow, Tim Lincecum’s struggles, All-Star voting, four All-Star starters, Melky Cabrera as All-Star MVP, trading for Hunter Pence. This list goes on and one.

Then came news Wednesday that we didn’t want to blog about.

The San Francisco Giants suffered a huge loss Wedneday, and they hadn’t even made a single pitch.

Major League Baseball announced that outfielder Melky Cabrera will be serving a 50-game suspension for testosterone immediately, taking him out of the remaining 45 games of the 2012 season and the first five games of the postseason, if the Giants are so fortunate to get that far.

And if you were hoping for a Ryan Braun-like appeal victory, forget about it.

Melky admitted his guilt.

“My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used,” Cabrera said in a statement. “I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Progam and will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down.”

Truly disappointing news. But now the major question is: Now what?

Tuesday’s game was the first time the Giants had a lineup that included Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence at the same time. It will be the last time we’ll see that lineup in the 2012 regular season.

In the short term, Gregor Blanco will fill Cabrera’s spot in the lineup, only because the Giants have no other outfielder on the 25-man roster. That’s part of Giants’ decision to go with 13-pitcher roster.

Blanco started off very well for the Giants, moving into the leadoff spot and dropping Pagan to the No. 5 spot.

But Blanco has struggled in recent weeks. He was hitting .291 with a .387 OBP on June 9. Since then, he’s seen his average plummet to .232 with a .329 OBP.

He’s been struggling so much, the Giants placed him seventh in the order, just ahead of Brandon Crawford in the Giants’ batting order Wednesday vs. the Nationals. And you would have to argue why Blanco isn’t hitting in the No. 8 spot, given how Crawford has been swinging the bat lately.

Here’s today’s lineup:

  1. CF Angel Pagan
  2. 2B Ryan Theriot
  3. 3B Pablo Sandoval
  4. C Buster Posey
  5. RF Hunter Pence
  6. 1B Brandon Belt
  7. LF Gregor Blanco
  8. SS Brandon Crawford

Other options?

TRIPLE-A: Outfielders in Fresno include Justin Christian, Todd Linden, Ryan Lollis, Xavier Nady and Francisco Peguero. Christian has hit .348 at Triple-A, but in 22 games with the Giants this season, he’s hitting a whopping .158.

In fact, none of the players the Giants called up from Fresno this season have hit at the big-league level. Those kind of takes any luster off averages put up by Lollis (.319), Linden (.280) and Peguero (.274).

Nady was signed late last month as roster depth at first base. But he has played the outfield. However, he’s hitting .138 in 29 at-bats in Fresno, with 2 HRs and 7 RBI.

Peguero is one of the Giants’ better outfield prospects who got off to a slow start at Triple-A this season. But he has hit better in recent months. He’s hitting .409 in his past 10 games.

Lollis, 25, was promoted from Class A San Jose recently. He has hit .327 in 30 games at Fresno.

But again, Fresno averages have not converted well into big-league averages this season.

AUBREY HUFF: Yeah, I know, that one excites you. There has been talk that Huff was about ready to give another shot at coming off the DL with his bad knee. He tried it once and didn’t last long. But this has been a lost season for Huff, who has hit .148 in 34 games.

BRETT PILL: Pill has hit .222 in 99 ABs this season for the Giants. He performed OK in his most recent stint from July 31 to Aug. 11, when he was 5 for 20 (.250) with one home run in seven games. He started seven games in left field earlier this season. However, having just been sent down to Fresno, so he can’t be recalled for another week.

GARY BROWN: The Giants’ top prospect is hitting .280 at Double-A Richmond. But he took so long to find his hitting stroke at Double-A, it’s doubtful the Giants will look to ask him to adjust to the big leagues in a pennant chase.

WAIVER WIRE? By now, the options have to limited. Alfonso Soriano? Are the Giants ready to take on the remaining $40 million on his contract for the next two-plus years? Doubtful.

Seattle’s Chone Figgins is due $8 million next year. But back-to-back years of hitting .188 is hardly attractive.

Jason Bay is due $16 million next year.

Juan Pierre is making $800,000 for the Phillies this season. What would it take for the Giants to deal for him?

David DeJesus will make $4.25 million for the Cubs next season. Are the Cubs ready to go in another direction?

Basically, if a player is good, he’s going to cost prospects. But then again, if he’s good, he wouldn’t have passed through waivers. If he’s cheap, there’s no reason for another team to trade him. So the Giants are going to need to take a chance on a reclaim project or someone with a hefty contract chained to them.

Somebody call Aaron Rowand and see what he’s doing.

Yeah, it’s that desperate.

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