Welcome to Czar's Blog #8 of 2018 | It's August - are you ready for some baseball?

There are two months left in the season, and the beginning of August schedule is brutal – do the G-Men have a shot if they can survive this period?

The Giants continue to play .500 ball.  They are 56 and 54 (4th place, 5 games out) as this post goes out. Right now the 4 game winning streak looks good but then again three of those games were a sweep of the bottom dwelling Padres after losing 3 out of 4 to the very hot Brewers.  The current series against the Snakes is huge and Bum came up big last night in an 8-1 victory. 

Starting Monday the 1st place AL West Astros come into AT&T, and then the 3rd place NL Central Pirates (with an almost identical record to the Giants), and then a series on the road against the 1st place Dodgers, and their new lineup. If the Giants come out of the next 13 games with a record better than .500 we can think there is actually a chance of a late August, early September, run.

One wonderful thing about baseball is that, as Yogi famously said, “it ain’t over till it’s over.” And folks, it is not over yet.  Our job as fans is to go to the games, cheer for the orange and black and encourage them to victory.  The Giants also have 5 more games at home than on the road in September.  That should be an advantage.  I intend to be there for every game I can get to; if for no other reason than to feast on crab sandwiches, and suck down Betty Sue’s infamous late inning Irish coffees.

If the Giants tank the next three weeks we can talk about emptying the River Cats bench to see what the future looks like.

Can the Giants overcome the loss of Cueto and the Panda?

Cueto is out until mid-2019 with Tommy John.  It was apparent in his three starts since his rehab that his arm was off.  The big loss is Panda.  His hamstring tear is an ugly injury and he will be missed.  He was the best back-up infielder (including at catcher), the best Giants pitcher (lowest ERA 0.0) this year and a clutch pinch-hitter. This makes Belt’s return imperative; especially considering that Posey just left the Snakes game with concussion symptoms after taking a wicked shot off his mask.

So, bottom line, Cueto will be missed but the pieces are there to pick up the slack; especially with the young pitchers (Rodriguez and Suarez) backing Bum and Holland. Panda is not replaceable. However, anymore starter losses and we are in trouble.

I predicted that the Giants would stand pat, and they did – what does that mean?

 See Czar’s blog #7 for details of the prediction.

It means that the young guys get to play for the next two months, we will see a constant shuttle between the AT&T and Raley’s field in Sacramento. There was no one player out there worth emptying the minor league system (even if the G-Men wanted to do that, and to blow the luxury tax threshold).

The bullpen is good (Ray Black is the real thing) and getting better, we may have a chastised Strickland back within a week or two and the G-Men have one of the best ERA’s in baseball.  On the hitting front we are in the top ten in dingers and this team can score runs; they just must do it in clutch situations.

Standing pat was the right thing to do.  Let’s play the hand we have and try not to draw to an inside straight.

The upcoming Series against the Astros and the Pirates, 2 of the best teams in baseball – will these two series tell the tale?

These two series are important, and are against dangerous teams.  This is a test and every Giants fan will be watching closely.  The G-Men must win at home to have a shot.  Now is the time.

That’s it!

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

The Czar

Welcome to Czar's Blog #7 of 2018

The G-Men are 52 and 51, by definition, a .500 team.  After a good June, July has been disappointing, as anyone who has witnessed a succession of blown saves, and late inning comebacks followed by late inning collapses can attest. Going 2 and 4 against the A’s in the Bay Bridge series (late inning losses anyone?) was really a bummer, as splitting the two game series against the Mariners, and losing Belt to a hyper-extended knee. Unless the Giants make a run over the next three weeks, it will be a summer and fall to enjoy the weather and the crab sandwiches at AT&T.

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Welcome to Czar's Blog #6 of 2018

The 45 and 42 G-Men are performing as we had hoped at the mid-year point; considering the injuries in the first half and the travel schedule from hell with the team bouncing back and forth to the east coast and playing 8 more away than home games. The advantage here is that in the second half the almost completely healthy Giants will be home (where they dominate - 24 and 14) more than away.

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Welcome to Czar’s Blog #4 of 2018

“The picture is clearing up – kind of

After a miserable 2-and-7 road trip against the Astros, Cubs and Rockies, the G-Men are 26 and 30, tied with the Dodgers for 3rd place in the NL West, 4 games back of the Rockies. The entire division is basically even (there are 6 games between 1st place Colorado and last place San Diego).  No one has pulled away from the pack and put a stamp on the division.” 

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Hot Stove Edition

Greetings to the Giants fans who hung in there through thick and thin, in the good years (certainly 2010 to 2014 qualify), and in the challenging years (every year since 1954 J).

 

The purpose of this blog post is to review some of the events that have taken place since the Parade on Halloween (what a day that was!) and the immediate post-season MLB movements that affect the G-Men.

 

Say it ain’t so Pablo!

 

The big news is that the Panda is going to the Red Sox, who essentially made him the same offer that the Giants did ($100 million for five years, with an option for six). He is taking his nick-name with him and we all wonder what a red Panda hat will look like.

 

Why did this happen ? Hunter Pence (after the Parade) got the crowd worked up with a chant to “re-sign the Panda.” Pablo got three WS rings with the G-Men. Pablo was the WS MVP in 2012. Pablo was one of the faces of the Giants and his energy and infectious enthusiasm touched everyone who ever saw him play (to quote Justin Verlander in Game #1 of the 2012 WS – “Wow”!). He was part of the chemistry of the Giants’ clubhouse that created the team that won three WS titles in five years. He will be missed.

 

My theory is that Pablo’s posse (the boys from Venezuela who are part of his entourage) convinced him that the Red Sox were a bigger platform and he (and they) could do better in the long run there. I also don’t think that the posse really liked the Giants brain trust. I have no inside information on that, it’s just supposition based on years of reports of friction.

 

Regardless, the Panda is gone and we all wish him well at Fenway, where he joins Hanley Ramirez from the Dodgers in what is sure to be one of the most toxic clubhouses in baseball.  Good luck with that Panda - -  but always remember that we loved you here and always will. Giants fans are not fickle. We welcomed Orlando Cepeda and Will Clark back and we will welcome you back when the time is right. You will always be a Giant to us.

 

What are the Giants going to do?

 

Pablo’s departure is not entirely a bad thing.  Yes it opens a hole at third base (the Giant’s already have a hole in left field) that needs to be filled but it also frees up a lot of cash to fill the open positions. Pablo’s regular season OPS had been trending downward for the last three years (but his OPS in the post season was unreal) so there are a lot of candidates who could potentially plug the regular season Panda gap, so to speak.

 

The options at third include Chase Headley (just offered three years with the Yankees but maybe the best defensive 3rd baseman in baseball) or to fill the position from inside the organization. For example, Buster Posey (if the G-Men can convince him to move from catcher and put that duty in the hands of Susac), Marco Scutaro (if he’s healthy), Matt Duffy (he might just be up for the job; converted shortstops do well at third) or another young player.   The Giants do have some good young position players who will be going all out in spring training to take the job.

 

If the G-Men go inside or go with a defensive 3rd baseman they could afford to add real power in Left Field.  Right now speculation centers on the Cuban guy, Yasmany Tomas, a hitter with the talent of Puig (although hopefully more mature and without the attitude) or one of the excess Red Sox outfielders (like Allan Craig, or Cespedes or Shane Victorino) any of whom would look good in Orange and Black, especially Craig, a Cal guy like Jeff Kent.

 

Other possibilities (dream big folks) are bringing back Melky (is the Melk man forgiven? Tell us what happened Melky – we are an understanding town) who tore it up with Toronto last year OR one of the excess Dodgers outfielders (like Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier – wouldn’t you love that?).  Right now it looks like there are a lot of candidates out there and the Giants have the money to spend.

 

The Giants are also in the market for a pitcher.  The choices are to re-sign Peavy, go after Jon Lester or maybe try big for Max Scherzer or James Shields. Don’t forget that Sergio is still out there unsigned. Pitching next year will be a challenge once we get past MadBum.  Cain is coming off an injury, Lincecum will be in his last year (as will Hudson) and Vogie might just be retired.

 

What will the rest of the winter bring?

 

Some of us are counting down the days until Spring Training in February and treating the Hot Stove time as winter sport.  Next week are the winter meetings so more rumors will fly and more deals will be done.

 

One perhaps sad note (for Giants fans, not for him) is that Tim Flannery has retired after 33 years in baseball. We will all miss his energy behind third base and will always remember him waving runners home by following them down the line and acting like a wild man. Adios Flan!

 

See you next year at AT&T!

 

GO GIANTS!

 

Ciao,

 

The Czar

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