Well, we talk about when camp open that the Giants’ roster battles like would lack drama this spring.
And that’s a good thing.
It means that there weren’t any big injuries that would prompt some drama.
The Giants made moves on Sunday as they head into the final week of spring training that pretty much locked their opening day 25-man roster.
Because the Giants open the season with 23 games in the first 24 days – a very good thing for us fans, but not so great for the players – the Giants decided to keep 13 pitchers.
We thought that the acquisition of strong arms like Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto might preclude the Giants from opening the season with a short bench. But the schedule changed their thinking.
There really aren’t many chances that the weather could help with their busy early schedule – perhaps a three-game set in Colorado in the middle of the month.
So Cory Gearrin makes the club to reinforce the bullpen. It also keeps the Giants from a tough decision, as Gearrin was out of options. This will at least buy the Giants a couple of weeks to make a call on that.
It also means the Giants won’t carry a fifth outfielder. That means Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker will open the season in Sacramento.
Also heading to Fresno is Conor Gillaspie, despite having a very good spring. But Gillaspie is a corner infielder (3B-1B) and other options – Ehire Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson – provide more flexibility. Plus Gillaspie would need to be added to the 40-man roster, which is currently full. Tomlinson’s strong push late in the spring made that decision easier for the Giants.
That leaves one decision that really isn’t a decision at all. And that decision involves a backup catcher: Trevor Brown or Andrew Susac. Susac hasn’t played in a week because of his surgically repaired wrist, while Brown picked up the Barney Nugent Award as being the most impressive player in his first big league camp.
So barring any developments in the final week, here is your 2016 Opening Day roster.
Starting lineup: 1B Brandon Belt, 2B Joe Panik, SS Brandon Crawford, 3B Matt Duffy, C Buster Posey, LF Angel Pagan, CF Denard Span, RF Hunter Pence.
Bench: OF Gregor Blanco, IF Ehire Andriaza, IF Kelby Tomlinson, C Trevor Brown.
Starting rotation: LH Madison Bumgarner, RH Jeff Samardzija, RH Johnny Cueto, RH Jake Peavy, RH Matt Cain.
Bullpen: RH Santiago Casilla, RH Sergio Romo, RH Hunter Stickland, RH George Kontos, RH Chris Heston, RH Cory Gearrin, LH Javier Lopez, LH Josh Osich.
Giants fans tuned Monday night to watch Johnny Cueto pitch after he was hit hard in his first spring start.
In his second spring start, Cueto got hit hard …. In the head.
Cueto’s first pitch Monday night was sent right back at him by Oakland’s Billy Burns. The liner hit Cueto in the forehead, rebounded over the second baseman’s glove into shallow right-center for a leadoff double.
Cueto dropped to all fours, then looked out to the outfield rubbing his forehead, as manager Bruce Bochy and the medical staff raced out to check on him.
“There’s nothing that scares me more than that, that line drive up the middle,” Bochy said. “First night game, first pitch of the game. I was up as soon as it touched him, and I’m hoping it was what it was, more of a glancing blow. Still, it caught him pretty good.”
Cueto quickly got on his feet and told trainers he was fine and wanted to continue.
When play resumed, Cueto appeared confused when he started after a dribbler between the mound and first base off the bat of the next hitter Mark Canha. But then he backed off thinking first baseman Brandon Belt would field the ball. The play went for an infield single.
Josh Reddick followed that with a long three-run home run.
Cueto got out of the rest of the inning with a strikeout and two infield grounders.
He allowed just an infield single in the second. In the third, he gave up a double and a walk, finishing with 38 pitches. After Reddick’s home run, Reddick’s double in the third was the only ball to leave the infield.
Bochy said Cueto will be monitored for concussions symptoms over the next few days, but was only treated for the contusion.
“He was fine out there,” Bochy said. “He answered all the questions. He wanted to stay out there. … Guess it shows how tough he is, in a Spring Training game.”
MoreSplashHits is alive!!!
After a long, cold, quiet winter, we’ve decided that it’s time to start blogging baseball again.
And with Opening Day still three weeks away, there is plenty of time to get back into regular-season form.
So let’s start first by getting caught up.
The Giants had a busy offseason with three major free-agent signings: pitcher Jeff Samardzija, pitcher Johnny Cueto and outfielder Denard Span.
Gone are pitchers Mike Leake, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson (retired), Jeremy Affeldt (retired), Yusmeiro Petit, outfielders Marlon Byrd and Alejandro de Aza and catcher Hector Sanchez, among others.
Despite all of that flux, the Giants came to spring training with much of its 2016 roster decisions already in place.
Starting lineup: 1B Brandon Belt, 2B Joe Panik, SS Brandon Crawford, 3B Matt Duffy, C Buster Posey, CF Denard Span, RF Hunter Pence, LF Angel Paga/Gregor Blanco.
Starting rotation: LH Madison Bumgarner, RH Jeff Samardzija, RH Johnny Cueto, RH Jake Peavy, RH Matt Cain.
Even the bullpen looks pretty firm with RH Santiago Casilla, RH Sergio Romo, LH Javier Lopez, RH George Kontos, LH Josh Osich, RH Hunter Strickland and RH Chris Heston.
One of the five bench spots is held down by the Pagan/Blanco platoon.
At least one other spot will go to the backup catcher: Andrew Susac, Trevor Brown or journeyman George Kottaras.
At least two other spots will go to reserve infielders. Ehire Adrianza and Kelby Tomlinson are the leading candidates to claim those jobs, but veteran Conor Gillaspie was brought in to compete for a spot.
That leaves the final bench spot potentially for a fifth outfielder. The Giants brought in veteran Kyle Blanks to provide some right-handed pop on the bench, something they were missing last season. Rookie Mac Williamson has been solid this spring, hitting .344 with four home runs and 11 RBI. Left-handed Jarrett Parker is another option.
But the Giants could decide to keep three catchers, allowing them to use Susac as the RH bench bat.
Those are things to be watching in the closing weeks of spring training.
As the San Francisco Giants began a four-game home series against the Washington Nationals, there are very close to setting a new precedent at AT&T Park.
If the Giants don’t hit a Splash Hit in the series against the Nationals, it will mark the longest they have gone into a season without putting one into McCovey Cove since the ballpark opened in 2000.
The Giants have never gone an entire season without at least one Splash Hits — remember a Splash Hit is defined as a ball that is hit into San Francisco Bay on the fly, no rebounds.
The fewest Splash Hits the Giants have recorded in a season is one. That was accomplished twice — once in 2013 when Pablo Sandoval hit the lone Splash Hit and in 2006 when the king of Splash Hits — Barry Bonds — put one into the drink.
In fact, that 2006 season marks the latest date of the first Splash Hit of the season. It occurred on Aug. 21, 2006, when Bonds belted one of Arizona’s Livan Hernandez.
The Giants do not have a Splash Hit in 2015. The last Splash Hit was recorded on Sept. 25 of last season by Brandon Belt.
This comes after a 2014 season in which the Giants hit five Splash Hits, the most in the post-Bonds era.
But it’s not like it’s all about the Giants. Giants opponents also have not hit a ball into the bay this season.
That also has never happened. Opponents have hit at least one into the bay in every one of the 15 seasons at AT&T Park. It almost happened in 2009, until Arizona’s Miguel Montero hit one on Sept. 29.
And again, this after opponents hit eight balls into the bay in 2014, including Bryce Harper’s shot off Hunter Strickland in the division series last October. That is the most by opponents in one season.
So as a blog named to honor Splash Hits, MoreSplashHits declares that it’s about time the Giants got busy about hitting one into the bay.
Following their 6-1 win Wednesday over the Atlanta Braves, the San Francisco Giants have completed a 21-game stretch with a 16-5 record.
It’s a pretty good run, right? Of course it is. When the Giants started this run on July 10, they were at .500 (43-43) and 5.5 games out of first place in the NL West.
Now they are 11 games over .500 (59-48) and two games out of first place in the NL West and a half-game ahead of the Chicago Cubs for the second wild-card spot.
(OK, you all must be waiting for the “but” so here it comes)
But … we would hope the Giants would finish the previous 21-game stretch with a good record. Those 21 games came against six teams with losing records and one — the Rangers — that is one-game above .500 thanks to their current four-game winning streak.
But the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Padres, Athletics, Brewers, and Braves are currently a combined 52 games below .500.
Well, the fun run ended Wednesday in Atlanta.
Starting Thursday in Chicago, the Giants will play 26 games over the next 28 days against six teams all with winning records.
- Chicago Cubs 58-48
- Houston Astros 60-49
- Washington Nationals 55-51
- St. Louis Cardinals 67-39
- Pittsburgh Pirates 62-44
- Los Angeles Dodgers 61-46
The Giants are 17-15 this season against teams that currently have a winning record; 42-33 against teams with losing records.
That 17-15 record is padded by a nice 9-3 mark against the Dodgers.
But the Giants are also 0-3 against the Nationals and 0-3 against the Pirates. They are 1-1 against the Astros. They have not yet faced the Cubs or Cardinals and will play 13 of their next 26 against those two teams, starting with a four-game series at Wrigley this weekend.
After they clear this gauntlet of contenders, which will end with a three-game set in Chavez Ravine Aug. 31-Sept. 2, things again get easier for the Giants, as 25 of their last 29 games against teams that currently have losing records (only a four-game set against the Dodgers at AT&T Park Sept. 28-Oct. 1 breaks up that string).
So if the Giants are going to remain contenders in NL West and NL wild-card race, they will need to keep their heads above water over the next four weeks.
The starters for the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati will be announced Sunday night, with the reserves announced on Monday.
So there’s still time for MoreSplashHits to make our predictions.
These predictions are based on the notion that the leaders released earlier this week will remain unchanged. That is unlikely to happen.
Usually, there is a huge surge in voting in the final days which can have a big impact on the final results.
The closest vote is at third base, where Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals held a narrow lead over Todd Frazier of the Reds.
But, again, we base these picks on the latest standings. We’ll throw in caveats at the bottom
STARTERS, BASED ON FAN VOTING RELEASED ON JUNE 30
C – Buster Posey, SF
1B – Paul Goldschmidt, Arz
2B – Dee Gordon, Mia
SS – Jhonny Peralta, StL
3B – Matt Carpenter, StL
OF – Bryce Harper, Was
OF – Giancarlo Stanton, Mia
OF – Matt Holliday, StL
RESERVES, SELECTED BY PLAYERS
C – Yadier Molina, StL
1B – Adrian Gonzalez, LA
2B – Howie Kendrick, LA
SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Col
3B – Todd Frazier, Cin
OF – Andrew McCutcheon, Pit
OF – Ryan Braun, Mil
OF – Joc Pederson, LA
SP – Max Scherzer, Was
SP – Gerrit Cole, Pit
SP – Michael Wacha, StL
SP – Zach Greinke, LA
SP – Madison Bumgarner, SF
RP – Trevor Rosenthal, StL
RP – Mark Melancon, Pit
RP – Aroldis Chapman, CIn
P – Shelby Miller, Atl
P – Jacob deGrom, NY
P – Jonathan Papelbon, Phi
P – AJ Burnett, Pit
P – Matt Harvey, NY
PP – Justin Upton, SD
PP – Anthony Rizzo, Chi
PP – Nolan Arenado, Col
PP – Francisco Cervelli, Pit
None of the starting pitchers selected here as scheduled to pitch the Sunday before the All-Star Game, which would disqualify them from participating. So it would appear there would be few all-star replacements.
I really think Giants manager Bruce Bochy would like to select Brandon Crawford to the team. But it looks like that will be contigent on Matt Carpenter winning the fan vote. If Frazier wins the fan vote, as he should, then that allows the players to pick the deserving Nolan Arenado, and opens a spot for Bochy to take Crawford.
The manager only gets to pick four position players. Under this scenario, I have Bochy taking Justin Upton and Anthony Rizzo (both deserving) as their teams’ lone representative. I have Bochy taking Arenado, as a deserving player, and Cervelli as the third catcher. I’m sure Bochy does not want Buster Posey catching more than three innings, creating a need for a third catcher. In Bochy’s previous two All-Star games as manager with the Giants, he took three catchers, although in 2013 he took his third catcher as an injury replacement for a non-catcher.
He could do that again to get Crawford on the team.
As far as other Giants go, the only other player with a shot of making the team is second baseman Joe Panik. If Bochy can get Crawford on the team, looking for Bochy to nominate Panik as one of the five players to be candidates for the fans Final Vote.
Also look for the Nationals’ Denard Span and Pirates’ Starling Marte to be added to the roster for the injured Matt Holliday and Giancarlo Stanton.
I didn’t know there was anything wrong with Tim Hudson.
He’s going on the disabled list.
I do know there’s something wrong with Santiago Casilla.
He is NOT going on the disabled list.
As the San Francisco Giants arrived in Washington D.C. for a weekend series with the Nationals, a bevy of roster moves followed them.
As expected, Jake Peavy was activated from the disabled list after spending more than two months there recovering from a back strain that plagued him in spring training.
Hudson was placed on the DL with a right shoulder strain. He’s also battled a sore hip. But basically, the official diagnosis is that Hudson is suffering from heiskindofoldsowewillgivehimabreakitis.
In a more surprising move, the Giants designated Travis Ishikawa for assignment about week after the hero of the NLCS was called up from Sacramento. Ishikawa was 0 for 5 with a walk in his most recent stint.
It’s the second time this season Ishikawa has been DFA’d. Assuming he clears waivers — again — Ishikawa likely will head back to Sacramento.
Taking his place on the roster will be outfielder Ryan Lollis.
Lollis will be making his major league debut after seven seasons in the Giants’ farm system. The 28-year-old was drafted in the 37th round of the 2009 draft by the Giants.
Lollis was hitting .358 with a very impressive .431 OBP through three levels of the minors this season. With Triple-A Sacramento, Lollis was hitting .353 with a .422 OBP in 116 PAs over 32 games. He has two home runs and 11 RBI, and can play all three outfield positions, something Ishikawa could not.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle also reported that relief pitcher Josh Osich was in Washington, although an official move has not been announced.
Schulman reports that Casilla, who blew a two-run lead Wednesday without recording an out, will not be going on the DL. Manager Bruce Bochy will give Casilla a couple of days off to rest a sore shoulder.
The Giants will need to create room for Osich not only on the 25-man active roster, but also the 40-man roster, as Osich is not currently on the 40-man list.
MoreSplashHits has broken its blogging silence, to commemorate the return of Matt Cain to the starting rotation.
There was news Thursday, other than Cain’s return to the mound. The Giants made a rare big splash into the international prospect market with the signing of infielder Lucius Fox of The Bahamas.
Baseball America ranked Lucius Fox as the No. 4 international prospect in 2015.
Fox, 18, is a 6-foot, 160-pound middle infielder and switch hitter. He played for American Heritage High in Delray Beach, Fla., and committed to play for North Carolina State.
A 2015 Perfect Game third-team All-American, Fox was born in the Bahamas but spent 2-plus years playing high school ball in Florida before returns to his native island in May. He won his petition to be declared an international free agent.
Fox is considered an excellent athlete and sure-handed fielder with a strong arm. He’s a high-contact hitter who lacks power. He could develop into a big-league middle infielder, but could also play in the outfield.
San Francisco Chronicle writer Henry Schulman reported that Fox signed for $6 million, meaning the Giants likely won’t be able to make another big splash in the international free agent market over the next couple of years.
The Giants beat out teams like the Dodgers to get Fox. While it’s great to see the Giants active in this market, it’s hard to get overly excited.
The Giants’ most recent international signings haven’t really worked out.
Last year, the Giants signed Cuban outfielder Daniel Carbonell for $3.175 million. Carbonell was 23 when he signed last season.
He had a solid first season in the Giants’ farm system, hitting .336 with .384 OBP in 31 games, mostly with Class A San Jose.
But he has struggled big time this season for Double-A Richmond. He’s hitting just .146 in 206 ABs in 56 games with 53 strikeouts to only four walks.
The Giants’ other big international signing in recent history was Angel Villalona. The first baseman was signed as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2007.
After some solid seasons in the lower minor leagues, Villalona had his career sidetracked for more than two seasons when he was implicated in the shooting death of a man in his native Dominican Republic.
Since returning to baseball, Villaona hist .231 between Class A and AA in 2013 and .227 for Double-A Richmond last season.
Now 24, Villalona was dropped from the Giants’ 40-man roster. He’s currently hitting .171 with no home runs and 8 RBI in 76 ABs for Richmond.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had a legitmate beef on Wednesday night.
But, ultimately, the correct call was made in the bizarre play involving Giants third-base coach Roberto Kelly and Gregor Blanco in the ninth inning.
OK, let’s set up the play.
With runners on first and second and one out in the ninth of a 2-2 tie, Brandon Belt shot a single into left field. Blanco, on second base, got a late break on the line drive and had no intention on trying to score as he rounded third base.
But as he rounded the base, Blanco bumped into Kelly, who was standing about six feet from the base.
Mattingly came out to argue interference with third-base umpire and crew chief Fieldin Culbreth, as Blanco clearly came in contatct with Kelly.
“The third-base coach blocked him,” Mattingly said. “I guess that’s the way I’ve been taught – the third-base coach is not allowed to block the runner from continuing on. It’s obviously interference and they missed the call, basically. I don’t know who was supposed to be watching but they weren’t.”
He continued: “He didn’t see it. He was watching the play. I don’t know why the third-base ump is watching the play. There’s nothing for him to watch. It’s a ground ball to left. I don’t know who’s watching to see if he touched the base. I really don’t know what the umpires’ responsibilities are there. But I do know there’s no way in baseball they allow the third-base coach to come up and basically block the runner from going forward, and that’s what happened tonight. That’s obviously a missed call. It’s not reviewable from their explanation.”
It seems that the Dodgers’ main beef is based on the idea that Culbreth didn’t see the play, because he wasn’t looking. And he wasn’t.
But let’s take a look at the facts.
- FACT: Blanco bumped into Kelly.
- FACT: Culbreth didn’t see it.
- FACT: Blanco was not attempting to score.
- FACT: Kelly did not prevent Blanco from attempting to score, not did he assist him in getting back to third
- FACT: There was no play at third base by the Dodgers.
So, it would appear that the Dodgers were hoping to get bailed out of a ninth-inning jam not by a play that they made, but by a technicality or an umpire’s interpretation.
But one problem. Here’s the rule concerning the play from the MLB rulebook.
It is interference by a batter or runner when …
(g) In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base.
So, by the rule, Culbreth’s ruling was correct.
“Don came out and asked me did I see him grab him,” Culbreth said “I told him no, I did not see him grab him. . . . The rule is pretty specific in the fact that he had to touch and physically grab him and assist him in returning to the base. That did not happen. If he doesn’t physically assist him in returning to the base then there’s no interference.”
Blanco concurred: “It wasn’t like he stopped me. I was stopping on third. I don’t feel he was stopping me at all.”
The problem comes in that some umpires would have seen the contact and ruled Blanco out … simply on the basis of stupidity.
There is absolutely no reason for Kelly to be standings THAT close to third base. There is no reason for contact to ever happen in that circumstance.
But it’s another example of a learning curve for Kelly, who made the move from first-base coach to third-base coach to replace the retired Tim Flannery.
You may remember on Opening Day, Kelly got Nori Aoki thrown out with a late stop sign.
On that play, Aoki was rounding third on a double by Joe Panik, when Kelly threw up a late stop sign. That led to Aoki to get caught too far off of third base. He was thrown out in the resulting rundown.
Not surprising, a few days later Aoki scored on a play when he blew threw a Kelly stop sign.
Kelly’s still learning his new job. Hopefully, it doesn’t cost the Giants in the future.
The Giants have lost their first four home games of 2015.
The Giants have lost seven straight games overall.
The Giants, at 3-8, are off to one of the worst starts by a defending World Series champion in history.
So what is there to blog about?
Well, Tim Lincecum’s hair, of course!
The Giants right-hander lopped off his long mane for a more slick-back look on Friday.
So we thought it might be a good time to look back on the many sides of Timmy through the years.
You’ve gotta Timmy, the first-round draft pick in 2006.
And Timmy in 2008, the first of his two Cy Young years.
Timmy hoisting the first of his World Series trophies, in 2010.
Timmy at his second World Series parade in 2012.
The clean-cut Timmy, with glasses to boot in 2013.
And the mustachio’d Timmy in 2014.