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

Giants v. Brewers, Giants v. Orioles

The G-Men are now 50 and 61 and 12 games back in the NL West  The season to date (at least since about May 15th when Pagan went down) has been gruesome. Like I said in the last blog, if you can’t score runs, play defense or pitch you are not going to win ball games.

Sabean did not make any trades at all at the July 31st deadline and is standing pat with the team he has. I like the attitude. The biggest moves that have been made were to bring Francoeur in from the Royals, to promote Pill (who is almost out of minor league options) and Kieschnick from Fresno and to get Casilla back from the DL. They did get Arias back from his burst appendix last week and Vogelsong is back on Friday against the Orioles.

The Positives

How about: they can’t get any worse?

On the pitching side, Bumgarner may be the best pitcher on the team and Timmy continues to improve with every start. Vogelsong returning, along with Gaudin continuing his very serviceable starts (a no-decision tonight against the Brew Crew but he still only gave up 2 runs), should give the pitching a shot in the arm. Affeldt went on the DL but Lopez continues to be a stud.

It is clear that the pitching staff is doing much better. The trouble is that the Giants can’t score runs to support the good pitching they are starting to get.

Buster Posey and Scutaro are both batting over .300 and Pence is on an 8 game hitting streak. For this series the batting order is getting shook up; with Scutaro hitting leadoff, Crawford second and Pence in the three slot. It worked tonight. Rumor has it that Pence might hit lead off tomorrow.

It also looks like the Panda has lost a lot of weight. Now we are worried that he is losing power. What do we want? A powerful fat guy or a slim singles hitter? I go with the Fat Man (who remembers Sidney Greenstreet in Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon?)

 The Negatives

How about: too many losses? The G-Men finished the last road trip 3 and 3 (against the Phillies and the Rays) and they lost two games to the Rays that they could have won if they could hit with men on base. That’s certainly improvement over the last disastrous home series against the Snakes, Reds and the Cubs (swept by the Cubs? Wow, that’s a low point).

Popular wisdom has it that the stress of the post season last year, followed by the World Baseball Classic in March (in which the Giants had more players than any other team) basically wore out the Giants pitching staff. That may be, but hitters don’t get worn out and that doesn’t explain the woeful deficiencies in the batter’s box.

What Can the Giants do? Is there any hope?

Yes, there is hope but it is fading fast. 12 games down can be made up and the G-Men are only a game behind Colorado and a game and a half behind the Padres. We fully expect that those two teams can be passed. The question is the Snakes, and the Team that Shall Not be Named. There can be a run but is has to start now. The G-Men have done against the AL East, and the series against the Orioles and the Red Sox are coming up. Before we get to the Pirates (leading the NL Central) at the end of the month.

Right now Giants fandom is split between seeing if the Giants can actually pull of a stretch run and giving it up, going for a six-man pitching rotation and seeing what the young guys can do for 2014.

We will know in the next two weeks whether or not September will bring a run, or will bring a relaxing month of playing the spoiler (a role that the Giants relish).

I will refrain from mentioning Brian Wilson – the pain is too fresh.

 The Series to come

The Brewers are practically the only team that is currently worse than the Giants, 20 games out in last place with their MVP (Ryan Braun) probably out for the year (or more) with a PED suspension. This is by all rights a series that the Giants should take, especially with Cain, Bumgarner and Lincecum lined up for the next three games.

The Orioles have dropped to 61 and 51, 10 games over .500 but 6 games behind the Red Sox and in third place in the AL East, right in front of the Yankee’s. They just picked up Bud Norris from the Astros and have a 40 HR guy in young Chris Davis, a real slugger. Another test for the G-Men.

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