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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The Rites of Spring

Welcome to the 2nd Czar’s blog of 2016 celebrating the end of Spring Training and the true beginning of 2016, when baseball comes back to the City by the Bay. The G-Men return home to AT&T today and play tomorrow and Friday before a game in Oakland and then off to Milwaukee for the Brewer’s home opener.

 

What does the team look like coming out of Arizona?

Answer: They look healthy and ready to play!

Pitching staff: The pitching staff has a high spring ERA but then again, they always do,  Spring is the time for pitchers to test pitches and get back in condition.  The good news is that the staff is healthy and the starters and relievers have pitched well over the last couple of weeks. The bad news is that the Spring ERA’s look pretty pathetic.

The Starters: I suspect that Bumgarner is not going to have a 11.12 ERA for long but we will see him on Monday against the Brewers. Peavy is at 7.62 for the spring but is starting to look very tough, Cueto is at 9.58, Smardzija is at 7.20 and Cain is at 12.15. The starters obviously need to suck it up now that the season is starting.

The Relievers (who have for the most part pitched much better than the starters): Heston, Osich and Kontos will be in long relief, Lopez and Romo (who has looked exceptionally tough) will be specialists, and Strickland and Casilla will be fighting it out as closers.   The G-Men are going to carry 13 pitchers so it looks like Cody Gearrin will get a shot (but maybe Jake Dunning will replace him – the last position battle going on).

Does all this sound familiar?  It should.  This is exactly how it looked going into Spring Training

The Infield is acknowledged to be best in the NL 

Belt (who is hitting really well and with power) at 1st, Panik at 2nd, Duffy at 3rd, Crawford at short and Buster Posey, the best catcher (and the best player) currently playing baseball, behind the dish.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  The defensive metrics for this group when they are together are off the charts.  Moreover they are hitting the snot out of the ball (the most home runs during spring training of any team in baseball).  Of course that is spring training but let’s see what they look like at AT&T this week.

Kelby Tomlinson (Clark Kent) made the team as the back-up infielder and Adrianza has been a real surprise. He hit the weight room in the off-season, gained 14 pounds (with no loss of speed) and his hitting (.333) has been solid.  Needless to say he made the starting 25.

One surprise.  Susac (he needs to get his wrist healthy) got sent down and Trevor Brown made the team as the back-up catcher.

Outfield: The bottom line is that the outfield is healthy and ready for the season. Hunter Pence is back (.471 and 6 dingers!). Denard Span is showing what he can do when he’s healthy but the eye opener has been a good-looking Pagan in left field (.395 with power – can you say “contract year” for Pagan?). Blanco is the fourth outfielder (which may all the outfielders that are carried early on – but Belt can play outfield in a pinch). Maxwell and Williamson both went to Sacramento, along with Conor Gillespie (who had a good spring and Gorkys Hernandez, another spring surprise).

Again, no real surprises after spring training, which is a testament to the Giants front office and coaching staff.  Bruce Bochy is the best manager in the game today, no question.

One question? Where’s Timmy?  Complete silence from the Lincecum corner.  I keep expecting something but who knows.

The NL West – what’s happening there?  

While this will be a three-team race (Dodgers, Giants and Snakes), the April ball-games will tell a lot.  The G-Men face the Dodgers (7 games), Rockies (3 games), Snakes (4 games) and the Padres (3 games) in April. That’s 14 games against the NL West alone.  Factor in a series against the Brewers and Marlins and it’s a very tough few weeks, with almost no days off.  That’s why Bochy is carrying 13 pitchers.  Let’s see how fresh the G-Men are after April.

The Dodgers are beset with injuries but the Snakes are playing well in the spring, as are the Padres. It is really too early to report without some games under our belt. We will have a much better handle on the NL West after April is over.

The next blog post (probably early next week) will offer tickets to the first homestand, and there will be tickets available, so make sure the blog post email gets through!

Now it is time to get the glove ready for AT&T and enjoy baseball – 2016 style!

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

The Czar

The Padres and the Rockies

Welcome to the 7th Czar’s blog of 2015 celebrating our World Champion San Francisco Giants! 

 

The question of the day - - Will the G-Men win another series at home?

It really hurts to lose 9 out of the last 10 games at home (does anyone remember what Tony Bennett sounds like?). Somewhat balancing that disaster the G-Men currently possess the best road record in the NL. What goes here? We take 2 out of three from the Dodgers and then get swept by the Snakes and the Pirates? It is a strange season for sure. Up and down is putting it mildly.  This is like a roller coaster.  Last year the G-Men had an outstanding May and went into the tank in June but even then (at June 22) they were 45-30 as versus today’s 38-33.  That’s a shot of perspective. The G-Men really need to get it on.

The question is which direction are we going in?  I say we maintain the momentum, start hitting at home (it’s hard to win when you don’t score runs), get our pitching back and start a winning streak.

To break the home losing streak I also suggest that the Giants keep the team in a hotel on this home stand – I’m just saying that if they play that well on the road maybe we should pretend they are still the away team.  I think another team somewhere did just that it break a home losing streak but I can’t recall who or where (any idea out there?)

Certainly injuries are taking their toll, the worst being Pence’s wrist.  The most current information is that Pence will most likely be out until after the All-Star game.  We need his energy, badly.  The latest injury is Aoki’s leg bruise.  He’s not on the DL but we also need him (certainly he’s the best off-season acquisition the Giants have made since Cody Ross in 2010) leading off and batting..317, with 33 runs, 19 RBI’s and 12 stolen bases.  This does give Pagan some shot at lead off again and he thrives there.

It is also true that the stars of tomorrow are playing for the Giants today.  I’ll take Panik, Duffy, Crawford and Posey any day over a Bryce Harper or Mike Trout.  We will be telling our grandchildren that we saw this infield.  Panik and Crawford deserve to be All-Stars, Posey already is, and I wonder if Duffy will be eligible for rookie of the year.

So, bottom line, all is not lost and we are looking for a good week at home.

Right now Maxwell is in for the duration at right field, McGeehee is on the bench as a pinch hitter (where he has been surprisingly effective as long as there are no men on first base so that he can hit into a double play) and Blanco is showing what he can do with more playing time (a lot because he isn’t worn down yet).

On a side note, the G-Men resigned Marco Scutaro so that he could retire as a Giant.  That was an incredibly classy move. No one will ever forget the arms to the heaven in the rain moment at the end of the 2012 NLCS. The only thing that I wish for is a snow globe of Scutaro at that moment for my bobblehead wall.

Anyone for a six-man rotation?

Cain and Peavy are almost ready to come back.  A healthy Cain is a number one or two guy, a healthy Peavy is maybe a number three guy, at best.  The book right now is that Lincecum goes to the pen (lasting an inning an half yesterday might have sealed it, although he still has a better ERA than Hudson, Vogelsong and Peavy).  That would be because Timmy has shown in the playoff’s that he can be effective out of the pen. My prediction is that either Vogelsong also goes in the pen and Strickland and Broadway (I love that name) go to Sacramento or that Strickland stays and Hudson comes down with a mysterious (but not serious) 39 year old muscle pull somewhere that is enough to place him on the DL for a month.

Lining up after the All-Star break (probably) will be Bum, Cain, Heston, Peavy and Hudson.  No need to talk about the pen because they have been nails, and Strickland does look like the real thing as the closer of the future.  Does anyone else see his resemblance to Robb Nen? He has Nen’s fastball and Wilson’s attitude.

The Upcoming Series against the Padres and the Rockies

Winning at home is the goal over the next six games against the NL West where the Giants are 9 and 17 against NL West teams not named the Dodgers. Unfortunately the 9 and 17 record is mostly against the Padres and the Rockies.  Everyone knows by now how tough those two teams are and what a dog fight the next six games will be – I want to see it and I want the G-Men to win. We are a game and half behind the Dodgers and it’s time to start pulling away.

 

It’s time for baseball!

 

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

 

The Czar

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