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Regardless of outcome, supporting Brandon Belt’s #VoteBelt campaign on Twitter was fun

Brandon Belt, Joe Panik

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt, right, celebrates with Joe Panik (12) after hitting a two run home run off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

First, Brandon Belt took the lead in the Final Vote for the All-Star Game. Then Starling Marte took the lead. Then Belt took it back. Then Marte took it back.

Finally, at the last update, Belt was in the lead most of the day Friday. And we can thank an aggressive effort on Twitter by San Francisco Giants fan.

The final results have yet to be announced. But regardless of the final outcome, it sure was fun supporting Brandon Belt’s #VoteBelt campaign on Twitter.

Here are some of my favorite tweets of my effort to support the campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brandon Crawford won’t be added to All-Star roster to replace Matt Carpenter

craw

San Francisco Giants fans have been up in arms since Tuesday when shortstop Brandon Crawford was not added to the All-Star team.

Fans voted the underwhelming Addison Russell of the Cubs to be the starter at shortstop for the National League in next Tuesday’s All-Star Game in San Diego.

The players then voted the Dodgers’ Corey Seager in as a reserve at shortstop.

Now you could argue that Crawford was more deserving of that honor than Seager — and Giants fans have done that.

According to ESPN, Seager has the eighth-best WAR in the National League at 3.43; Crawford is 12th at 3.24. Seager holds a big edge offensively (3.49-1.38), while Crawford holds the edge with the glove (2.27-0.37).

According to Baseball Reference, Seager is 10th in the NL in WAR (3.4), with Crawford just behind (3.2). Seager is second in offensive WAR (3.5), while Crawford leads the NL in defensive WAR (2.3) and it’s not even close (next is 1.6).

And FanGraphs says Seager is No. 2 in the NL in WAR at 3.9, and Crawford is eighth (3.3), with similar offensive/defensive splits.

The problem I have with WAR as a stat is two-fold: 1) I have no freakin’ idea how it is computed; and 2) people can’t seem to agree on how it is computed because different sites come up with different computations on it.

Anyway, I believe both Seager and Crawford are deserving of All-Star selections. If Seager were the starter and Crawford the backup, I’m cool with that. If Crawford started and Seager backed up, that’s cool, too.

But the fans piggie-backed Russell to be a starter along with four other Cubs, so it is what it is.

Some Giants fans felt Crawford should have been on the ballot for the Final Five. But MLB didn’t want two teams on that ballot, so the honor went to Brandon Belt.

Then fans were hoping Crawford could make the team as a replacement. So when Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals left Wednesday’s game with an oblique strain, there was hope.

Then Carpenter was placed on the DL Thursday morning. More hope.

And …. and…. and……

MLB announced the Cardinals shortsotp Adelmys Diaz would replace Carpenter on the All-Star roster.

Now, Diaz is having a solid rookie season for St. Louis. But this isn’t about comparing Diaz’s credentials with those of Crawford.

This had more to do with Carpenter was the lone Cardinal representative on the All-Star team. So the Cardinals lobbied hard that another Cardinal replace him on the All-Star roster.

And MLB acquiesed to the Cardinals’ request.

So now it looks more and more likely that Crawford will spend the All-Star break resting at home.

And given the fact he will likely enter the break having played 700 innings at shortstop this season, maybe a break isn’t the worst thing in the world.

The Giants’ Buster Posey hit a home run Wednesday, and there was something familiar about it

AP16189144223430

Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants hit a big home run to left Wednesday in the Giants’ 5-1 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Here is what it looked like (click on link to watch video)

BustaHR

When you watch the video, take a look at Rockies catcher Tony Wolters.

His reaction to Posey’s deep drive to left reminded me of something very familiar.

But what was it?

Let me think…..

Oh yes. Here it is!

Our prediction on what the National League all-star team will look like

Buster Posey

San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey takes his catching gear off in the dugout prior a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday, July 2, 2016, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 6-5. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The 2016 National League all-star team will be unveiled tonight at 4 p.m. Pacific on ESPN.

So let’s have fun trying to piece together what the team will look like.

First, let’s talk about how the team is constructed.

FAN VOTE: The fans get to vote on the starting eight position players.

PLAYERS VOTE: The players vote on the eight position subs, five starting pitchers and three relievers. If the players’ top choice on a position player is also voted in by the fans, then the players’ No. 2 choice gets the spot.

MANAGER PICKS: Mets manager Terry Collins gets to add nine players to the roster — five pitchers and four position players. But Collins must ensure that every team is represented.

FINAL VOTE: Collins and the league offer up five players to be placed on a ballot from which the fans will vote in the 34th player on the roster.

REPLACEMENT: If a player is unable to participate, Collins gets the choice for replacements.

So everything here is dependent on what the fans do. In the latest vote update before balloting closing showed must spots pretty much secured. Buster Posey held the narrowest lead (over the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina) in the final vote announcement (about 100K votes) at catcher. The Cubs’ Ben Zobrist (2B) and Kris Bryant (3B) could also be overtaken (Nationals’ Daniel Murphy and Rockies’ Nolan Arenado).

But these selections are based on the notion that the final leaders in fan voting end up winning the vote.
FAN VOTE

1B Anthony Rizzo, Chi
2B Ben Zobrist, Chi
3B Kris Bryant, Chi
SS Addison Russell, Chi
C Buster Posey, SF
OF Dexter Fowler, Chi
OF Bryce Harper, Was
OF Yoenis Cepedes, NYM

PLAYERS CHOICES

1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arz
2B Daniel Murphy, Was
3B Nolan Arenado, Col
SS Brandon Crawford, SF
C Wilson Ramos, Was
OF Carlos Gonzalez, Col
OF Ryan Braun, Mil
OF Gregory Polanco, Pit

SP Clayton Kershaw, LAD
SP Madison Bumgarner, SF
SP Jake Arrieta, Chi
SP Nolan Syndergaard, NYM
SP Johnny Cueto, SF
RP Jesus Familia, NYM
RP Kenley Jansen, LAD
RP Mark Melancon, Pit

Provided the vote leaders don’t change, here are our projections for the players choices. Kerhawn (injured) and Bumgarner (pitching Sunday) are candidates to be replaced.

MANAGERS PICKS

Jose Fernandez, Mia
Stephen Strasburg, Was
Jon Lester, Chi
Jeanmar Gomez, Phi
Jacob DeGrom, NYM
Matt Carpenter, StL
Will Myers, SD
Freddie Freeman, Atl
Jay Bruce, Cin
Fernandez, Gomez, Carpenter, Myers, Freeman, Bruce would fulfill requirements for every team to be represented. DeGrom gets a spot because Mets manager Terry Collins is make the pick.

FINAL FIVE

C JT Realmuto, Mia
2B DJ MeMahieu, Col
OF Starlin Marte, Pit
OF Christian Yelich, Mi
3B Jake Lamb, Arz

San Francisco Giants activate Sergio Romo, which means Madison Bumgarner won’t start in the All-Star game

World Series Tigers Giants Baseball

San Francisco Giants’ Sergio Romo reacts after striking out Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera in the 10th inning of Game 4 of baseball’s World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. The Giants won the game 4-3 to win the World Series. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The San Francisco Giants activated reliever Sergio Romo for the 60-day disabled list prior to Monday’s game against the Colorado Rockies.

Romo had been sidelined since mid-April with a flexor strain in his elbow.

To create room on the 25-man active roster, pitcher Albert Suarez was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. To create room on the 40-man roster, reliever Mike Broadway was designated for assignment.

The decision to option Suarez confirms a report earlier that the Giants would use Thursday’s off day to skip Suarez’s spot in the rotation.

That means the Giants will go into the All-Star break by starting Jake Peavy (today), Madison Bumgarner (Tuesday), Johnny Cueto (Wednesday), Jeff Samardzija (Friday), Peavy (Saturday) and Bumgarner (Sunday).

That means Bumgarner won’t pitch in the All-Star game in San Diego, let alone start in it.

Broadway was the most likely candidate to be DFA’d. He was the oldest pitcher (29) on the 40-man roster who was pitching in the minors. Broadway was lights-out in Triple-A in 2015, but hadn’t really done much in the majors.

He was 0-2 with 6.75 ERA in 25 appearances in 2015-16. He was 0-3 with 3.94 ERA for Sacramento this season with five saves. There’s a good chance he’ll be claimed on waivers.

Other injury news

DENARD SPAN: The Giants also announced outfielder Denard Span got a shot to help with his sore neck, but they did not place him on the DL.

Chances are the Giants are hoping the shot helps in a day or two. If not, Kelby Tomlinson was moved from San Jose to Sacramenton on his rehab stint, and he could get activated in a couple days and Span could go on the DL retroactive to last Friday. He’d then be eligible to return the second day after the Giants return from the All-Star break.

JOE PANIK: The Giants announced Panik would not be activated from the 7-day concussion DL until after the All-Star break. This kept the Giants from releasing one of the infielders recently added to the 40-man (Grant Green and Ruben Tejada) to make room for Romo.

MATT CAIN: After pitching in an Arizona Rookie League game over the weekend, Cain is expected to pitch for Sacramento later this week. With off days on July 18 and July 21, the Giants don’t need a No. 5 starter until July 26, so they can take their time with Cain.

As San Francisco Giants bullpen falters again, Sergio Romo can’t return fast enough

AP16185830024412The San Francisco Giants won their major league-best 20th one-run victory of the season and their NL-best sixth extra inning victory.

They have played 30 one-run games this season, also a major league high.

But there is a factor in the Giants’ success in close games — and the amount of close games they have played — that should not be overlooked.

Sunday marked the 16th time this season the Giants bullpen has surrendered the lead — second-most in the majors to the Reds, who have 17.

Oh, and by the way, the Reds SUCK!!!!

In eight of the Giants’ 10 extra-inning games this season, the bullpen has coughed up the lead.

It was a second day in a row that Giants gave up the lead with a big home run in the eighth inning.

The eighth inning is normally Sergio Romo’s. But Romo has been on the DL since mid-April.

But manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday that Romo could be activated from the DL when the Giants return home to open a series against the Rockies on Monday.

A healthy Romo will lengthen a beleaguered bullpen and strengthen up an area of weakness for the stretch run of the season.

And given how many close games the Giants have played this season, that could be crucial.

Now as we mentioned before, activating Romo will require the Giants to create some room on the 40-man roster, as Romo would be coming off the 60-day DL.

With Ramiro Pena coming off the bench Sunday, that roster spot could very well be created by designating one of the Giants’ infielders for assignment, either Ruben Tejada or Grant Green.

We would expect the Giants to DFA Green, which means he’ll need to clear waivers before he can return to Triple-A Sacramento. That will put him into limbo for 10 days.

But with Joe Panik expected to return from his 7-day concussion DL soon that shouldn’t be an issue.

Regardless of who gets dumped from the 40-man, the Giants seriously need Romo back … SOON.

Activating Sergio Romo is not as easy as you might think

Sergio Romo

San Francisco Giants’ Sergio Romo celebrates the final out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Phoenix. The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 9-8. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

There’s some good news in the injury front for the San Francisco Giants, which has been a bit of a rarity recently.

Reliever Sergio Romo appears very close to being ready to being activated from the disabled list.

Romo has been on the DL since mid-April with a flexor strain in his right elbow.

Romo pitched a scoreless inning for Triple-A Sacramento on Friday in the second of back-to-back appearances for the reliever. Romo had a 3.18 ERA with 19 strikeouts and one walk in 11.1 innings during his minor-league rehab stint which began in late May, then put on hold until mid-June.

Assuming Romo shows no ill effects from his back-to-back outings, he appears ready to be activated by the Giants, a nice boost to a beleaguered bullpen.

But there’s a catch.

When Romo experience his setback in late May, the Giants transferred him to the 60-day DL, temporarily removing him from the Giants’ 40-man roster.

When the Giants put Joe Panik on the seven-day concussion DL, they activated Ruben Tejada from Triple-A, adding him to the 40-man roster. Pitcher Chris Heston was moved to the 60-day DL to create room on the 40-man roster for Tejada.

Then a couple of days later, infielder Ramiro Pena suffers a sprained ankle in a collision with outfielder Mac Williamson, sidelining him for 5-7 days. So the Giants called up infielder Grant Green. To create room for Green on the 40-man roster, pitcher Jake Smith was designated for assignment.

Those moves have left the Giants with limited options when it comes to creating a spot on the 40-man for Romo if he is activated from the 60-day DL.

So here are the options.

Place Hunter Pence on the 60-day DL: When Pence went on the DL with a hamstring injury, he was expected to be out until August, so putting him on the 60-day DL would make him eligible to return Aug. 1. However, Pence is healing quickly, so the Giants want to leave the option open for him to return in July if possible.

DFA another minor leaguer: The minor league players on the the 40-man include pitchers Ty Blach, Ray Black, Clayton Blackburn, Mike Broadway, Kyle Crick and Joan Gregorio, Adalberto Mejia and Chris Stratton, and catcher Andrew Susac. Crick, a former top prospect, is the only player still in Double-A. Blach, Blackburn, Gregorio and Mejia have been starting at Triple-A Sacramento. Broadway and Stratton have had stints in the majors this season. There isn’t a player on this list who jumps out as a DFA candidate.

DFA Green or Tejada: Tejada is 0 for 7 with three walks in three games since joining the Giants. Green is 4 for 9 in two games. Tejada is better the glove man. If either is DFA’d, it’s likely both would clear waivers and could return to Sacramento. But before the Giants do that, they need to know that Pena or Panik is ready to return. But that won’t happen until Tuesday or Wednesday.

So Sergio’s return may have to wait until the Giants have some better answers elsewhere on the roster.

Designated hitter, schmesignated hitter: Madison Bumgarner to hit for himself vs. A’s

bumhitzzThis is an issue that comes up on Twitter every time the San Francisco Giants play in an American League park.

Why not just let Madison Bumgarner hit for himself instead of replacing him with a designated hitter?

I don’t think we ever thought it would go beyond Twitter banter. But today it did.

The Giants will become the first team to intentionally opt against using a designated hitter when playing in an American Park since 1976 when Bumgarner will bat for himself against the Oakland A’s on Thursday night.

Ever since the DH was first inacted by the American League in 1973, only four pitchers have hit for themselves instead of using a designated hitter: Fergie Jenkins of the Texas Rangers (1974), Ken Holtzman of the Oakland A’s (1975) and Ken Brett of the Chicago White Sox (twice in 1976). Andy Sonnanstine of the Tampa Bay Rays did it in 2009, but that was not by design but become of a lineup mixup.

Oddly enough, Sonnantine was one of only two pitcher to get a hit when hitting for the designated hitter when he went 1 for 3 in a 7-5 win over the Indians on May 17, 2009. Jenkins got that other hit.

So pitchers hitting in place of DHs are 2 for 13 (.154), which is probably why no one has done it on purpose in 30 years.

And then there’s the Giants.

“He’s a good hitter, he’s dangerous and we’re facing a lefty (in Oakland’s Dillon Overton),” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Bumgarner is only hitting .175 this season, after hitting .247 last year and .258 in 2014. But he does have two home runs, five RBI and five walks.

But this decision has as much to do with the sorry state of affairs with the Giants lineup as anything.

Hunter Pence on the DL. Matt Duffy on the DL. Kelby Tommlinson on the DL. Joe Panik on the 7-day concussion DL. To make matters worse, Ramiro Pena left last night’s game after colliding with outfielder Mac Williamson.

So the options are limited.

No lineup has been announced, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see it look something like this.

CF Denard Span
LF Angel Pagan
1B Brandon Belt
C Buster Posey
SS Brandon Crawford
RF Mac Williamson
3B Conor Gillaspie
P Madison Bumgarner
2B Ruben Tejada

So Bochy’s decision boiled down to this: Do you want Trevor Brown in the DH spot (as Buster usually catches MadBum)? Or do you want MadBum hitting?

  • Trevor Brown has a slash line of .258/.301/.412; Bumgarner .175/.261/.350
  • Trevor Brown hits a home run once every 24 plate appearances this season; Bumgarner once every 20.
  • Bumgarner strikes out 42.5 percent of the time; Brown 21.6 percent of the time.
  • Bumgarner walks 12.5 percent of the time; Brown 5.2 percent.

But because the Giants have been going with the lean four-player bench, having Brown DH would leave them with two healthy players on the bench: Gregor Blanco and Jarrett Parker.

Given that the Giants are in a three-game skid with two games of paltry offense, Bochy is looking for anything to provide a spark.

That’s why MadBum hits.

San Francisco Giants’ stretch of easy games just got a little easier

Madison Bumgarner

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday April 11, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

When Hunter Pence went back on the disabled list on June 2 — and expected to miss two months — the question was raised.

How would the San Francisco Giants survive without Hunter Pence?

The answer so far has been: Not so bad.

The Giants are 11-4 since June 2, thanks largely to their current eight-game winning streak.

The Giants are 27-8 in their last 35 games, the best 35-game mark for any San Francisco Giants team, best for the franchise since 1954.

They now have two eight-game winning streaks, which bookend that 27-8 stretch. They are 16-6 without Hunter Pence in the starting lineup for that 35-game stretch.

So how are the Giants pulling this off?

Two things: Excellent starting pitching and a weak schedule.

After the Giants took two of three from the Dodgers last week, they embarked on a 25-game stretch in which they would play 21 games against teams with sub-.500 records.

The only games against teams with winning records were the upcoming four against the Pirates.

That’s because when the Giants started on the 25-game stretch, the Pirates were hovering just above .500.

But now the Pirates have lost five straight and 10 of their last 11, and their record sits at 33-36 as the Giants arrive in town.

That makes 25 of 25 games against teams with losing records.

And the Giants are set up nicely heading into Pittsburgh with Madison Bumgarner (8-2), Johnny Cueto (10-1) and Jeff Samardzija (8-4) slated to start the first three games, while the Pirates counter with Jeff Locke (5-5), the celebrated TBA and Francisco Liriano (4-7). The Pirates’ ace Gerrit Cole is on the disabled list (So no shots of Cole facing his brother-in-law Brandon Crawford. Sorry).

Monday’s starter Locke has allowed 18 earned runs over his last two starts. Bumgarner has allowed 20 earned runs ALL SEASON.

This 25-game stretch (with games against the likes of the Brewers, Rays, Bucs, Phillies, A’s, Snakes, Rox and Padres) for the Giants would take them through July 17.

The Giants hope to have Pence back two weeks later.

Ichiro Suzuki vs. Pete Rose: Who is the REAL all-time hits leader?

Ichiro Suzuki

Miami Marlins’ Ichiro Suzuki takes batting practice prior to a baseball game against the San Diego Padres Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

There are a lot of headlines around baseball today that go something like this.

“Ichiro Suzuki all-time hits leader”

That statement can be made on the presumption of combining Ichiro’s 2979 hits in the major leagues and adding the 1,278 hits he collected in nine seasons in Japan’s Pacific League.

And as you may expect, that idea doesn’t warm the heart of one Pete Rose.

“I’m not trying to take anything away from Ichiro,” Rose said. “He’s had a Hall of Fame career. But the next thing you know, they’ll be counting his high school hits.”

When it comes down to deciding who is the hits king of baseball, perhaps it’s not best to try to compare Ichiro to Pete Rose. Maybe it’s better to try to compare Rose to Ichiro.

If Ichiro collects another 21 hits and reaches 3,000, he would become only member of the 30-man 3,000-hit club who made his major league debut in his age 27 season.

In fact, no current member of the 3,000-hit club ever made his debut after his age 24 season (Cap Anson and Wade Boggs).

So what if you compared the members of the 3,000-hit club on how many hits they collected after the age-26 season.

Obviously, Ichiro has 2,979 hits using that metric. But he would not be the all-time MLB hit leader by that measure.

That title belongs to … Pete Rose with 3,357. Ichiro would be second. The next on the list is Honus Wagner with 2,766.

Now Rose topped the list because he played into his 45 season. If you also pulled out the hits he collected after his age-42 season (Ichiro is in his age-42 season), Rose still leads with 3,091. And that means Ichiro would need to collect another 112 hits by the rest of the season to catch Rose by that measurement, giving him 156 for the season. He is currently on a pace to finish the with 129.

So, Pete Rose still reigns as the all-time hits leader.

But the accomplishments of Ichiro Suzuki should not be understated.

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