July 2013

Brian Wilson doesn’t care about rivalry; San Francisco Giants fans do

When news broke Tuesday that Brian Wilson had signed had signed with the hated Los Angeles Dodgers, Twitter blew up with a mix of reaction from San Francisco Giants fans that ranged from “thanks for the memories” to “burn in Hell, you traitor.”

MoreSplashHits is convinced that if Wilson had signed with any other team, the reaction from Giants fans would have been almost universal “Thanks, and good luck.” But the Dodgers?

We finally heard from Wilson on Wednesday via post on gossip site TMZ.com.

San Francisco Giants' Brian Wilson during a spring training baseball workout Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

San Francisco Giants’ Brian Wilson during a spring training baseball workout Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Oh, and on a side note, is it odd to anyone else that this is the second time in the last few months that TMZ has been lucky enough to “catch” Wilson strolling down a public street? I mean, if there’s any place Wilson with his trademark beard could bleed into anonimity, it’s on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

Anywho, in the video (which can be viewed above), Wilson said: “I don’t worry about rivalry, bro. I just want to play baseball. You know, if there are 30 teams out there and 29 teams don’t want me, what am I going to do, say I’m not going to play baseball?”

He continued: “I’ve got much love for San Francisco. We had a good time. But there’s nothing I can do. They don’t want me back, so it’s all good.”

We get it. If you’re a free agent, you can choose where you want to play. And the Dodgers are an attractive destination. They are a contender. Wilson lives in Malibu. And the Dodgers have deep pockets.

Just don’t expect to get Buster Hugs from Giants fans. For the record, the Dodgers play three more games in San Francisco this season: on Sept. 24, 25 and 26 (Games No. 157, 158 and 159 of the season).

Wilson had a public tit-for-tat with the Giants last offseason when negotiations between the two parties broke down because the Giants didn’t offer him a guaranteed contract and Wilson felt the Giants owed him more — even though the Giants paid him more than $8 million in 2012 for two appearances.

Why wouldn’t you expect a guy like that wouldn’t go running to the free-spending Dodgers?

Giants CEO Larry Baer thanked Wilson for his service with the Giants, and added that Wilson signing with the Dodgers “doesn’t mean he’ll never be a Giant again. People go and come back.”

I’m sure Baer was speaking in broader terms, as in Giants who leave the Giants, then return later.

But if you’re talking about San Francisco Giants who left to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers then returned to the Giants, we could only find one example of that.

Jose Vizcaino, who started his career as a Dodgers in 1989-90 before being traded to the Cubs, was traded from the Indians to the Giants after the 1996 season. After the 1997 season, Vizcaino signed with the Dodgers and played there for two-plus seasons. Six years after leaving LA, Vizcaino re-signed with the Giants for the 2006 season. He hit .210 in 136 games that season before being released in August.

Good luck, Brian Wilson (not really), because recent ex-Giants who became Dodgers have stunk it up

FILE - In this July 10, 2011, file photo, San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson adjusts his neck during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets in San Francisco. Wilson is likely headed for surgery on his right elbow after an MRI showed structural damage and an issue with the ligament, and his season could be in jeopardy. Manager Bruce Bochy and athletic trainer Dave Groeschner say the club will seek at least one other opinion and probably two, including from the renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, who performs Tommy John elbow-reconstruction surgeries. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Brian Wilson

What’s the price of one’s soul? Brian Wilson will soon find out.

The former Giants closer reached a minor-league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, USA Today reported on Tuesday.

Wilson has not pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2012 after making just two appearances for the Giants in the 2012 season. Then he became grumpy when the Giants didn’t offer him a contract in the offseason for what would have cost the Giants more than $6 million.

Wilson vowed to be ready by spring training. But workouts last January showed that Wilson was still a long way off from being ready.

Then we lost sight of The Beard, until he showed up in San Francisco last week to throw for scouts that included the Giants.

But ultimately, Wilson, who lives in Malibu, decided to join Big Blue. Reports say Wilson could be called up to the big club in as soon as two weeks.

When that happens, Wilson will join a long and storied list of players who have played for the Giants and Dodgers.

But since Ned Colletti left the Giants to become the Dodgers general manager after the 2005 season, the outcome for players leaving the Giants and directly joining the Dodgers have not been good.

Consider …

BRETT TOMKO

Played for Giants in 2005, signed by Dodgers as free agent before 2006 season

With the Dodgers

  • 2006 — 8-7, 4.73 ERA, 112.1 IP in 44 games, 15 starts
  • 2007 — 2-11, 5.80 ERA, 104 IP in 33 games, 15 starts

DFA’d on Aug. 24, 2007

JASON SCHMIDT

Played for Giants in 2006, signed by Dodgers as free agent before 2007 season

With the Dodgers

  • 2007 — 1-4, 6.31 ERA, 25.2 IP in 6 starts
  • 2008 — Did not pitch, injured
  • 2009 — 2-2, 5.60 ERA, 17.2 IP in 4 starts

Retired from baseball after 2009 season

MARK SWEENEY

Traded by Giants to Dodgers on Aug. 9, 2007

With the Dodgers

  • 2007 — 0 HR, 3 RBI, .273 in 33 ABs in 30 games
  • 2008 — 0 H, 5 RBI, .130 in 92 ABs in 98 games

Retired from baseball after 2008 season

EUGENIO VELEZ

Played with Giants in 2010, signed with Dodgers as free agent before 2011 season

With the Dodgers

  • 2011 — 0 HR, 1 RBI, .000 in 34 games

Released after 2011 season

JUAN URIBE

Played with Giants in 2010, signed with Dodgers as free agent before 2011 season

With the Dodgers

  • 2011 — 4 HR, 28 RBI, .204
  • 2012 — 2 HR, 17 RBI, .191
  • 2013 — 5 HR, 30 RBI, .262

There are good reasons for the San Francisco Giants NOT to trade Hunter Pence

San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence singles against the Colorado Rockies in the ninth inning of the Giants' 5-2 victory in a baseball game in Denver on Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence singles against the Colorado Rockies in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 5-2 victory in a baseball game in Denver on Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Giants are not going to be contenders for a playoff spot in 2013. If that wasn’t clear last week, it became crystalized after being swept at home by the Cubs.

So in a week or so, the Giants went from potential buyers to potential sellers.

The news Monday that the Giants would be calling up first baseman Brett Pill and outfielder Roger Kieschnick from Triple-A Fresno to open the road trip Tuesday in Phil sent Giants fans into a Twitter.

There was no corresponding moves, but many speculated that a trade could be in the works, namely for Hunter Pence.

Given the Giants’ dismal state in the standing, dealing away Pence would seem to make sense. But there are reasons for hanging onto the right fielder.

If the Giants keep Pence, they can tender him a contract for 2014 and receive a draft pick as compensation if he signs elsewhere

Under new free agency rules, teams can offer their impending free agents the average of the top 125 average annual salaries in baseball for one year. Heading into 2014, that will likely be around $14 million. If the Giants make that qualifying offer to Pence, and he rejects it, they will receive a draft pick in return if he signs with another team.

But others may say that the Giants could get a prospect better than one that could be drafted No. 30-36 in next June’s draft. The draft pick the Giants would receive is a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. Maybe. Maybe not. For those folks thinking the Giants could get a top-notch prospect (i.e. the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar), you’re dreaming. It won’t happen. Pence isn’t that kind of draw.

You’ll remember in 2011 when the Giants added Carlos Beltran for Zach Wheeler? Well, it wasn’t Beltran for Wheeler straight up. The Mets had to send the Giants $4 million to pay for most of the balance of Beltran’s remaining 2011 salary to make the Giants agree to send the Mets a prospect who was still two years away from making it to the majors. So what would the Giants have to pay to lure a quality prospect from another team in addition to Pence.

The Giants have said they want to re-sign Pence, and the best way to do that is not trading him

When was the last time a player was traded in July, then returned to the team that traded by signing as a free agent the following offseason? I can’t remember. I can tell you it doesn’t happen often.

But more than that, making the qualifying offer doesn’t just give the team a guarantee of some kind of compensation, it could give the team some kind of leverage.

You’ll remember Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn last offseason. Both rejected qualifying offers and held out for long deals for big money during the free agent season. When teams decided they didn’t want pay big money for a player AND give up a draft pick, Lohse and Bourn lingered on the market. Eventually, they signed for much less than they originally sought.

If the Giants trade Pence, the team that acquires him cannot make him a qualifying offer. That means Pence hits the free agent market with less restrictions around him than if the Giants kept him and made the qualifying offer. That drives up his price in a market that appears very thin for outfielders.

Keeping Pence gives Giants exclusive negotiating rights for next three-plus months

The Giants have said they want to bring Pence back. Pence wants to return to San Francisco. Pence’s Facebook page “Team Pence” even linked to an SF Examiner.com post saying why the Giants should not trade the outfielder. Given the mutual interest, there is a good chance the Giants could agree to a deal with Pence BEFORE he hits the market — and potentially save the team some money to fill other needs.

The Giants will NEED a right fielder for 2014

Without Pence, the Giants will head into the offseason looking for a right fielder, a left fielder (unless they want to continue with the Blanco/somebody platoon) and will have a center fielder coming off a significant hamstring injury. Not only that, but they’ll likely be looking for a couple of starting pitchers and a reliever. That’s a ton of uncertainty. And, again, the potential 2014 free-agent class appears thin on outfielders. Shin-Soo Choo is the best option. And while we would prefer Choo over Pence, the price is likely to be higher.

The Giants still have two months of game tickets left to sell

The Giants boast of their consecutive sellout streak, and Pence has become a fan favorite with the Giants fans. The Giants still need a reason for fans to buy tickets for the remainder of 2013. Sending Pence away leaves the team with an outfield of Blanco, Francoeur, Torres, Kieschnick and maybe Peguero. Not all that exciting. Keeping Pence sends the message that the Giants are committed to being a contender in 2014.

You haven’t been imagining it: San Francisco Giants terrible against opposing pitchers

Chicago Cubs' Travis Wood, right, is greeted by teammate David DeJesus, left, after hitting a home run off San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum during the fifth inning of their baseball game on Sunday, July 28, 2013, in San Francisco. Giants catcher Buster Posey, center, looks on. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Chicago Cubs’ Travis Wood, right, is greeted by teammate David DeJesus, left, after hitting a home run off San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum during the fifth inning of their baseball game on Sunday, July 28, 2013, in San Francisco. Giants catcher Buster Posey, center, looks on. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Sometime between Travis Wood’s second-inning single and his fifth-inning home run in the Cubs’ 2-1 win over the Giants on Sunday, MoreSplashHits decided to do some research concerning how the Giants have fared against opposing pitchers.

It’s not good.

Wood’s home run was the fourth allowed by the Giants to opposing pitchers. No other team in the majors has allowed more than two (yeah, yeah, we know AL pitchers don’t usually face AL pitchers at the plate, but saying “majors” just sounded better than “NL.”)

Woods’ two hits on Sunday gave opposing pitchers 32 hits against Giants pitching this season. That’s tied for third-most in the NL, behind the Rockies (33) and Nationals (33).

And when you add in extra-base hits — the Giants have allowed 10 doubles (most in the NL) — it gives opposing pitchers 54 total bases against Giants pitching this season, the most in the NL in by LARGE margin. The Nationals (45) are next, followed by the Rockies (43).

Here’s the list (as of mid-afternoon Sunday)
HITS/2B/3B/HR (Total bases)

  1. Giants 32/10/0/4 (54)
  2. Nationals 33/9/0/1 (45)
  3. Rockies 33/7/0/1 (43)
  4. Diamondbacks 31/2/1/2 (41)
  5. Dodgers 28/1/1/2 (36)
  6. Mets 24/6/0/2 (36)
  7. Marlins 25/3/2/1 (33)
  8. Reds 23/6/0/1 (32)
  9. Brewers 30/2/0/0 (32)
  10. Padres 24/4/0/0 (28)
  11. Phillies 22/3/1/0 (27)
  12. Cubs 23/1/0/0 (24)
  13. Pirates 18/2/0/1 (23)
  14. Braves 18/1/1/0 (21)
  15. Cardinals 15/0/0/0 (15)

A glance at how San Francisco Giants’ top draft picks are doing

Christian Arroyo

Christian Arroyo

With the 2013 season quickly going nowhere, MoreSplashHits thought it was time to look to the future.

So we thought we’d take a quick look at how the top 20 players drafted by the Giants in the June draft were doing this season.

One thing to note — and I don’t know if this is a point of stress for the Giants (and if it is, good!) — but a lot of these young hitters appear to be showing signs of good patience at the plate

Second-round pick Ryder Jones has an OBP of almost .500. CF Johneshwy Fargas has an OBP of .417. SS Brett Kay has an OBP of .458.

These are small samples. And it also should be noted that almost three-quarters of the Giants’ rookie league roster is batting above .300. But it’s encouraging all the same.

Here are the numbers through Thursday (ages in parenthesis):

1 SS Christian Arroyo (18)

Arizona Rookie League — 20 G, 80 AB, 1 HR, 18 RBI, .300/.363/.463, 15 K, 9 BB

2 3B Ryder Jones (19)

Arizona Rookie League — 16 G, 57 AB, 1 HR, 9 RBI, .404/.493/.579, 10 K, 10 BB

3 RHP Chase Johnson (21)

Arizona Rookie League — 3 G, 5.1 IP, 0-0, 1.69 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7 K, 1 BB

Short-A Salem-Keizer — 3 G, 3 GS, 14.0 IP, 1-1, 0.00, 0.64 WHIP, 13 K, 2 BB

4 1B Brian Ragira (21)

Arizona Rookie League — 15 G, 28 AB, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .357/.379/.464, 6 K, 1 BB

Short-A Salem-Keizer — 15 G, 54 AB, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .278/.409/.389, 16 K, 11 BB

5 RHP Daniel Slania (21)

Short-A Salem-Keizer — 1 G, 1 IP, 1 H

6 SS Brandon Bednar (21)

Arizona Rookie League — 1 G, 2 AB, 1 BB.

Short-A Salem-Keizer — 30 G, 118 AB, 3 HR, 22 RBI, .280/.344/.415, 19 K, 10 BB

7 RHP Nick Vander Tuig (21)

Arizona Rookie League — 1 GS, 1 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 K, 0 BB

8 LF Tyler Horan (22)

Arizona Rookie League — 13 G, 49 AB, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .245/.321/.388, 12 K, 6 BB

Short-A Salem-Keizer — 16 G, 61 AB, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .262/.333/.377

9 LHP Donald Snelten (21)

Arizona Rookie League — 7 G, 9.1 IP, 2-0, 0.96 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 12 K, 7 BB

10 RHP Tyler Rogers (22)

Arizona Rookie League — 6 G, 7.0 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 13 K, 3 BB

Short-A Salem-Keizer — 3 G, 4.1 IP, 1-0, 2.08 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 5 K, 4 BB

11 CF Johneshwy Fargas (18)

Arizona Rookie League — 13 G, 31 AB, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .323/.417/.355, 3 K, 3 BB

12 C Tyler Ross (21)

Arizona Rookie League — 3 G, 11 AB, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .182/.308/.273, 1 K, 2 BB

Short-A Salem-Keizer — 10 G, 30 AB, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .300/.382/.467, 4 K, 4 BB

13 RHP Pat Young (21)

Arizona Rookie League — 2 G, 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5 K, 1 BB

Short-A Salem-Keizer — 1 G, 1 GS, 3.1 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 4 K, 0 BB

14 LHP Nick Jones (21)

Arizona Rookie League — 7 G, 5.2 IP, 0-0, 6.35 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 4 K, 4 BB

15 C Eugene Escalante (22)

Short-A Salem-Keizer — 25 G, 80 AB, 1 HR, 8 RBI, .300/.370/.388, 21 K, 6 BB

16 3B Jonah Arenada — UNSIGNED

17 C Rene Melendez (18)

Arizona Rookie League — 2 G, 1-for-6 batting

18 LHP Christian Jones (22)

Arizona Rookie League — 4 G, 5.1 IP, 0-0, 1.69 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 4 K, 2 BB

19 LHP Garrett Hughes (21) — UNSIGNED

20 SS Brett Kay (22)

Arizona Rookie League — 15 G, 41 AB, 1 HR, 9 RBI, .341/.453/.488

Loss to Cubs makes it official: Time for San Franciso Giants to look toward 2014

San Francisco Giants fans have been talking about rock-bottom for a month now.

Sergio RomoSome said it was when they got swept by the Dodgers after dropping three of four to the Marlins.

Others said it was when they got no-hit by Homer Bailey.

And more said it was when they got shut down by Zach Wheeler on a day when Matt Cain didn’t pitch out of the first inning.

Well, for MoreSplashHits, it was Friday night.

It’s rock-bottom because no matter how many games the Giants lose from this point forward, they won’t matter a bit. Because Friday night is when the last of my hope of the Giants making something out of the 2013 season when right out the window, or more precisely, right between our legs.

From this point on, it would take a miracle for the Giants to make the postseason. And, yes Al Michaels, I do believe in miracles. But they just don’t happen all that often.

The Giants lost to the Cubs after blowing a 2-1 lead with two on and two out in the ninth when Anthony Rizzo hit a ball right at Brandon Belt at first and the Giants’ sure-handed first basemen let it go right between his legs, allowing the Cubs to score the tying and go-ahead runs for a 3-2 win.

On the same night, the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Rockies — the three teams ahead of the Giants in the NL West — won. The Giants are now eight games out of first place and 10 games under .500. They have the worst record in the majors over the past two months.

And the win allowed the Cubs to have a better record than the Giants. Ponder that for a moment.

After I pondered that fact for a moment, I discovered it was a good thing. Because I’m not looking at 2013 anymore. I’m looking at 2014. Here are the standings I’m looking at.

  1. Astros 34-68 .333
  2. Marlins 39-62 .386
  3. White Sox 40-60 .400
  4. Brewers 42-60 .412
  5. Twins 43-56 .434
  6. Padres 46-58 .442
  7. Giants 46-56 .451
  8. Cubs 46-55 .455
  9. Mets 46-54 . 460
  10. Blue Jays 47-55 .461
  11. Angels 48-53 .475

The Giants have the seventh-worst record in all of Major League Baseball.

That’s not so important to just pick up the No. 7 pick in next June’s draft. But remember, if the Giants go after a free agent next offseason who has been tendered a qualifying offer, it won’t cost the Giants a first-round pick to sign that player if the Giants have a top-10 selection in the draft. It will cost them a second-round draft pick.

It’s very likely the Giants could be looking to fill four spots on their roster vacated by free agents: a right fielder (Hunter Pence), two starting pitchers (Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito) and a reliever (Javier Lopez).

While it doesn’t appear there will be more than about a half-dozen players who will actually receive qualifying offers this offseason — recent trades of Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza make them ineligible to receive one, and one of those qualifying offers may be made to Pence if the Giants opt not to trade him — it still takes a least one hurdle out of the Giants’ way if they want to go after a player like Shin-Soo Choo, who we fill would make a nice fit in right field.

And when you start looking toward 2014, these tough losses won’t seem so tough.

Anquan Boldin looks good in San Francisco Giants cap

Anquan Boldin

Anquan Boldin

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin talked to the media Friday at training camp … wearing a San Francisco Giants cap.

Uh oh. MoreSplashHits hopes he doesn’t get fined.

Actually, Boldin looked pretty good in a Giants cap (San Francisco Giants cap!). And wearing that sleeveless shirt, Boldin looks like he could hit a ball a loooooooong way.

Instead of asking Boldin how he is fitting in with the 49ers, maybe somebody should have asked him if he’d be interested in moonlighting as a baseball player.

He looks like he would make a great left fielder for the Giants.

At least we know he can CATCH THE BALL!!!!!!!!!!!

MLB allowed itself to be beaten again by Ryan Braun

File-Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun reacts after striking out after pinch hitting during the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins Sunday, July 21, 2013, in Milwaukee. Braun, a former National League MVP, has been suspended without pay for the rest of the season and admitted he "made mistakes" in violating Major League Baseball's drug policies. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced the penalty Monday and released a statement by the Milwaukee Brewers slugger, who said: "I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions." (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

File-Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun reacts after striking out after pinch hitting during the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins Sunday, July 21, 2013, in Milwaukee. Braun, a former National League MVP, has been suspended without pay for the rest of the season and admitted he “made mistakes” in violating Major League Baseball’s drug policies. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced the penalty Monday and released a statement by the Milwaukee Brewers slugger, who said: “I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.” (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

You ever see a player get into some kind of mischief on the field — throwing at a batter or charging the mound — and draw, say, a five-game suspension.

So, of course, he appeals the penalty.

And while he waits for his appeal to be heard, he plays on.

But then a couple of games go by and he tweaks his hamstring or rolls an ankle, causing him to miss a couple of games.

So the player decides to drop his appeal and start serving his suspension, using the five days to rest and recover from his injury.

Doesn’t that annoy you? How a player can manipulate the system to lessen the impact of his penalty.

It happens frequently. But this week it happened on the biggest stage, when Ryan Braun agreed to begin serving a 65-game suspension for unspecified violations of the MLB’s drug program.

MLB may think, after more than 21 months of pursuit, it finally got its man. But in reality, they let Braun wriggles himself off the hook.

Braun’s 2013 was been a walking pain. He was bothered by a neck problem for most of April and lingered into May. Then in late May, he was bothered by a thumb injury that eventually landed him on the DL for a month.

He returned from the DL and played in one game on July 9 before a trip on the bereavement list took him out of action through the All-Star break. When he returned, Braun declined to detail the nature of the “family medical emergency” that sent him home, only saying “This was one of those moments where I needed to be home with my family. Everybody is doing much better.”

After playing in three more games, his 2013 season was ended by the suspension.

To review, his 2013 season has been marred by injury, the inflamed nerve in his thumb was not completely healed even after his month-long stint on the DL and the Brewers’ season was going nowhere fast.

Sounds like a perfect time to cease his battle against MLB and take a 65-game suspension, and come back in 2014 and start fresh.

It seems to me that Braun beat MLB, again, just like he did in the spring of 2012 when he was suspended for testosterone use from a failed test during the 2011 playoffs that followed his MVP season. He appeals that penalty, and won … on a technicality.

He played it off as vindication.

Now who is vindicated?

Certainly not MLB. It had a chance to show it was serious about eradicating performance-enhancers by hitting one of the game’s biggest stars where it hurts.

But does this hurt?

Braun gets to go home, spend time with his family, heal his thumb that has been hurting him for more than a month, all while not hurting his team which was not a playoff-bound team with him in the lineup at less-than-100-percent.

Sure, there is the $4 million in salary that he will forfeit. But considering he’s due another $100 million-plus from the Brewers over the next seven seasons, what’s $4 million? Uncle Sam is going to take way more of Braun’s money as a normal course of business than what MLB will take by invoking a penalty.

But that is the penalty. And until MLB, and the players union, get serious about cleaning up the game and proposing some far more serious consequences to violators — and not allow players the right to plea bargain their way to a lesser penalty because it’s easy and convenient — MLB will again find itself allowing the cheaters to gain the upper hand.

After another loss to Reds, time to take a look at starting pitching prospects for Giants

San Francisco Giants starter Eric Surkamp, right, is pulled from the game by manager Bruce Bochy during the third inning of the first game of a baseball doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants starter Eric Surkamp, right, is pulled from the game by manager Bruce Bochy during the third inning of the first game of a baseball doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Cincinnati Reds have faced two San Francisco Giants pitchers who were called up from Triple-A Fresno this season.

The Reds lit both of them up for seven runs on nine hits in 2.2 innings.

The first was Mike Kickham on July 1 in Cincinnati. The second was Eric Surkamp on Tuesday’s first game of a doubleheader.

In fact, in four starts this season, starting pitchers called up from Fresno have given up 23 earned run 13 innings. That’s a 15.92 ERA.

If Kickham and Surkamp were the best two options at Fresno, and another — Chris Heston — was released by the club last weekend, we thought it might be time to take a look at the top-rated starting pitchers in the Giants’ system and see how they are doing this season. These ratings are set by MLB.com.

NO.1, RHP KYLE CRICK

Crick, 20, was rated as the Giants’ No. 1 prospect by MLB.com. He lost two months of this season to an oblique strain. But since returning from the DL, he’s been awesome, allowing 3 ER in 25 innings over five starts (1.08 ERA). He was selected to the Futures Game and Baseball America had him at No. 49 in their midseason rankings of prospects. For the season, he has 50 strikeouts in 34.2 innings, but walks are a concern (24 on the season). Don’t look for him contributing to the big club until 2015.

NO. 2 RHP CHRIS STRATTON

It was thought that Stratton may be able to contribute soon for the Giants after being the team’s No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Stratton, 22, is 7-3 with 3.66 ERA in low-A Augusta. He has 92 strikeouts and 32 walks in 91 innings for the Green Jackets. He’s been hot and cold. Twice in his last six starts he’s given up 11 hits in a start. But also in his last seven starts, he has twice throw seven shutout innings and two other times gone six innings with one earned run. So consistency appears to be the key.

NO. 3 RHP MARTIN AGOSTA

Agosta, the Giants’ second-round pick in 2012 out of St. Mary’s, is pitching very well at Augusta. He is 8-3 with a 2.03 ERA in 15 starts. He has 97 strikeouts against 34 walks in 79.2 innings. Over his last seven starts, he’s been even better — 5 ER in 39 innings (1.15 ERA). Perhaps a promotion could be in order.

NO. 4 LHP ERIC SURKAMP

Surkamp, a former top prospect for the Giants, had Tommy John surgery last July. He pitched well for Class A San Jose but he had a 4.79 ERA in four starts at Triple-A Fresno when he got the call to start Tuesday. Expect Surkamp to go back to Fresno to keep working. He might see him against in September and he could battle for a starting job next spring.

NO. 5 LHP EDWIN ESCOBAR

Acquired in a trade with the Rangers as an 17-year-old in April 2010, Escobar, now 21, has improved with age. He was an organization All-Star in 2012 after going 7-8 with 2.96 ERA for Augusta. He was promoted to high-A San Jose this season and went 3-4 with 2.89 ERA with 92 strikeouts and 17 walks over 74.2 IP. After being named California League pitcher of the week on July 8, he was promoted to Double-A Richmond. In three starts for the Squirrels, he is 1-2 with 4.32 ERA, but still throwing strikes — 17 Ks against 3 BB in 16.2 innings.

NO. 6 RHP CLAYTON BLACKBURN

Blackburn is a big kid at 6-3, 220. He was drafted in the 16th round out of high school in 2011. He went 8-4 with 2.54 ERA at Augusta in 2012 and is 5-4 with 4.26 ERA in 17 starts at San Jose. But the 20-year-old has a 1.147 WHIP with 107 strikeouts against 26 walks in 95 innings.

NO. 7 LHP MIKE KICKHAM

It’s been a bumpy 2013 for Kickham. After a slow start in April for Fresno, he put together a nice string of starts (1.72 ERA over six starts) that earned him a promotion when Ryan Vogelsong went on the DL. But a poor start against Oakland got him a trip back to Fresno where he had some very mixed results. When Chad Gaudin went on the DL, Kickham was called on again. He had an so-so start against the Dodgers before getting lit up by the Reds. The Giants kept him as a long reliever before sending him back to Fresno in the middle of July. He is 3-6 with 5.12 ERA in 15 starts in Fresno this season.

NO. 8 RHP JOAN GREGORIO

Gregorio is tall — 6-foot-7 — but not a lot of beef (180 pounds). He was signed as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican. He had a bumpy season in 2012 at shortseason Salem-Keizer (7-7, 5.54 ERA). Now 21, he is 6-2 with 3.12 ERA in 11 starts for Augusta with 73 strikeouts against 13 walks in 60.2 innings.

NO. 9 LHP ADALBERTO MEJIA

Signed out of the Dominican in 2010, Mejia, 20, is on a faster track than Gregorio. He was 10-7 with 3.97 ERA for Augusta in 2012 and now he’s 3-3 with 3.51 ERA in 10 starts for San Jose. He has 50 strikeouts against 15 walks in 51.1 innings.

NO. 10 LHP TY BLACH

Drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 draft out of Creighton, Blach, 22, has been impressive in his pro debut in 2013 for San Jose. He’s 10-3 with 2.59 ERA with 95 strikeouts and 11 walks in 100.2 innings. He has pitched at least five innings and not given up more than two runs in any of his last seven starts.

Silver lining: Tim Lincecum’s outing was not the worst no-hitter follow-up in baseball history

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum walks at the end of the second inning where he gave up two home runs to the Cincinnati Reds during a baseball game on Monday, July 22, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum walks at the end of the second inning where he gave up two home runs to the Cincinnati Reds during a baseball game on Monday, July 22, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Johnny Vander Meer didn’t have to wait long to pop that champagne bottle in heaven.

There would be no repeat of Vander Meer’s back-to-back no-hitters when Tim Lincecum took the mound on Monday against the Reds.

It took six pitches before Shin-Soo Choo lined a double to left on a 3-2 pitch to open the game to record the game’s first hit against Lincecum.

And unfortunately for the Freak, there would be eight more hits by the Reds before Lincecum was lifted from the game in the fourth inning.

In the end, Lincecum got tagged for eight runs (all earned) on nine hits and one walk in 3 2/3 innings. He also gave up three homers, a far cry from the no-hitter he tossed in San Diego nine days before.

So he went from one of the best starts of his career to one of his worsts. It was the first time in his career that he got tagged for eight earned runs.

It was not his worst start, statistically speaking. That honor would go to his April 11 start of last season, when he got tagged for six earned runs in 2.1 innings in Colorado (a 23.48 ERA for that start). But Monday’s start (19.62 ERA) would rank as second-worst if you used ERA as the measuring stick.

And before you start thinking it, Monday’s outing was also not the worsrt ever pitched by a pitcher coming off a no-hitter.

I started research the 273 starts the followed no-hitters in baseball history (I excluded no-hitters thrown by combined pitching efforts), and I only had to go back to 2008 to find a start worse than Lincecum’s follow-up effort.

That belonged to Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs, who on Sept. 19, 2008 — five days after he no-hit the Astros — got tagged for eight runs on six hits and three walks over 1.2 innings against the Cardinals.

Philip Humber of the White Sox got tagged for nine runs in his starter after no-hitting the Mariners last season, but he did that over five innings.

I don’t know if Zambrano’s start is the worst following a no-hitter, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one worse than eight earned in 1.2 innings.

So now, naturally, come the questions of whether than 148 pitches Lincecum threw in his no-hit effort against the Padres played a role in Monday’s start.

Lincecum said no, and I tend to believe him.

“I mean, I felt just as normal as I have in recent starts,” Lincecum said. “So there’s no toll.”

If you’re looking for another culprit, you might look at the eight days off between the two starts.

Lincecum is a prisoner to his unusual mechanics. And we’ve seen him get out of whack repeatedly over the years. And that’s what happened Monday.

“I think just repeating, you know?” Lincecum said. “I wasn’t consistently hitting spots with my fastball so that meant I had to go to my secondary pitches. I think I just used them up a little too much early and let them see them a little too much.”

Also circumstance had a hand in the debacle as well.

Choo’s lead-off double looked like the kind of ball Giants fans had gotten used to see Gregor Blanco catch in left field. But he didn’t and it went for a double.

The Giants then didn’t pounce quickly enough on Derrick Robinson’s clear sacrifice attempt and the speedy Robinson beat it out for a single.

After Lincecum struck out Joey Votto, he got Brandon Phillips to tap back to the mound for the second out.

Then he got up 0-2 on Jay Bruce before, in a very Lincecum fashion, couldn’t put him away and walked him.

That was followed by a hit-me fastball to Todd Frazier, who hammered it over Andres Torres’ head for a bases-clearing double.

The 31-pitch first inning likely led to more trouble later in the game for Lincecum.

Lincecum gets the Cubs at home this weekend, and Giants fans can only hope to finds his mechanics again and gets a little help along the way.

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