26 Guys One Common Goal: Now That We Know Who They Are, the San Francisco Giants are a Viable Wildcard Contender, After Sweep of Pirates Brings Them Back to .500 with Snakes Coming to Town

Wow. Tonight’s game, that ended on the Thairo Estrada walkoff home run, definitely had the feel of 2010. Bam. Said it. The Giants could get hot at just the right time. The team we will be fielding from here out is coming into focus, and they working together much better.

The Giants swept the Pirates in a game where they had to come back twice. Logan Webb went eight last night. Rodon manhandled ’em Friday. Yaz and LaMonte have been showing up at the plate. Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford are back. Everybody is focused and we know who we are. Turns out, we’re a pretty good team.

If we were to make the playoffs, nobody should want to play us. That is something I didn’t think I’d be saying, given how crazy the year has been, but it’s legitimate. I don’t think we’re a contender, but we are a viable wildcard team. And if we get in, I think we are dangerous. Kudos to management for that belief.

The Starters

Carlos Rodon, Logan Webb and Alexes Cobb and Wood would be our starters for postseason. Our bullpen has been the second source of all the trouble this season (after the defense, which has been nightmarish, but probably more a result of using so many different players in the field). But weaknesses in the ‘pen will be mitigated by dropping to the 26-man roster. Selection will be critical.

In order of who makes it on my list: Obviously Jakob Junis, who could start. Then in my opinon, the guys worth taking to the playoffs are Dominic Leone, Tyler Rogers, Camilo Doval, Zach Littell, and if we can get them back, and they are as good as when they left, Mauricio Lloveras and Jose Alvarez. If we can get Jarlin Garcia in there, okay, but if we take John Brebbia, I am calling it a mistake.

It is true Brebbia did the heavy lifting in the ‘pen this season. He was thrust into seemingly impossible situations in the way you would send out your fifth starter. But he just cannot possibly hang with postseason mlb in high pressure circumstances. I say leave John Brebbia off.

The Catchers

Everybody knows I support carrying three catchers. It was what failed us in the irregular season: not having a third catcher. Right now Curt Casali is gone. Woah. So Buster Posey is gone and Casali is gone.

We technically have three catchers, but Yermin Mercedes wouldn’t make my post-season team, so it looks like it’s Joey Bart and Austin Wynns. That could be a weakness.

We hoped Yermin Mercedes could be third catcher and a bat, but it hasn’t looked good. If we had dealt for Willson Contreras, it might have helped but it’s academic, and it’s arguable, fairly, that it wouldn’t have been worth it – justifiable.

It is a definitive decision by current management, though, so I like it. I’ll be happy to be wrong that our modern game doesn’t need to carry three catchers.

The Bats

Joc Pederson has struggled to wake up his bat since the All-Star break. He needs to meet with Barry Bonds again. Everybody knows what happened last time they sat down and rapped. Wilmer Flores is a rock. Mike Yastrzemski and LaMonte Wade, Jr. seem to have found form. Tommy La Stella also seems to be looking, in his own patient way, for a stroke that could be timely.

It’s good to see Brandon Crawford back out there, but he is going to be a liability at the plate for much of August as he eases back into short. Evan Longoria looks great. I am excited to see what Longo brings in what could be his last season. Brandon Belt has been paid, in advance through QO, to be there – so please, “Captain,” can you show up? You draw so many walks – which is great – but we need you to smash some extra base hits, son.

Thairo Estrada seized the opportunity of La Stella’s absence to earn a position on the 26-man roster, for sure. Austin Slater, Luis Gonzalez and J.D. Davis are looking really good right now as well. Mr. Zaidi’s subtle move is showing meaningful progression.

count up bold names above, and it’s 26 guys.

I’m turning away from Sam Long and John Brebbia and other guys because I am trying to fine tune. Is there a bat in the minors to take the 26th spot that could put us over the top? Is there a reliever I don’t know about that could take anyone else’s place?

I feel weirdly confident – after all this crazy season has wrought – that we can make a wildcard game. We need to sweep Arizona this week, that’d put me over the top. It’ll be nice to see MadBum again. We gave him one last time with shitty defense, let’s take that one back.

Let’s Go Giants!

Wrangle the Snakes!

Beat AZ!

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VIDEO: First Home Run as a Giant by J.D. Davis

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VIDEO: Dodgers at Giants, Thursday, 08/04/2022, Feat. J.D. Davis First Home Run as a Giant

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VIDEO: Dodgers at Giants, Wednesday 08/03/2022

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GBC Reader 22-3: What the Giants Did at Trade Deadline and Why; Big Brother Comcast is Still the Worst

One thing can be said for Farhan Zaidi: he is precise.

And he absolutely has to be for any of what he has authored to work. In this age of sabermetrics-driven baseball, the tiniest, measurable difference in the skills of one player compared to another matter immensely to the composition of the team as a whole.

The Giants under Farhan Zaidi refuse to compete financially with the Dodgers and Padres. This means Zaidi and staff have to measure talent with an intensely scrupulous eye, to understand strengths and weaknesses of players down to extremely slim margins of comparison.

It is the firm belief of the current management group from President and Director of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi, to General Manager Scott Harris, to Manager Gabe Kapler, that the Giants can compose a team of less expensive players, designed to fit in slots – movable pieces that can be organized and positioned on a series-by-series or even game-by-game basis to get us into the playoffs.

There is no organized effort by management to target the spending of the Dodgers or the Padres. Quite the opposite, the Giants plan to do it with guys most of us have never heard of. This is to be done differently. It can be hard to watch.

MLBTR sums up the Giants moves at the Deadline thus:

“Despite listening to offers on impending free agents Carlos Rodon and Joc Pederson in the midst of career years, the disappointing Giants — currently hovering around both .500 and the periphery of the NL Wild Card race but well shy of last year’s torrid pace — largely stood pat at the deadline, making only a handful of minor moves. They acquired infielder Dixon Machado (from the Cubs) and catcher/infielder Ford Proctor (from the Rays) before swapping Darin Ruf for J.D. Davis, pitcher Thomas Szapucki, and a pair of minor-league arms. They also traded away a handful of more minor pieces, including catcher Curt Casali and left-hander Matthew Boyd (to the Mariners for a pair of minor leaguers), and rehabbing right-hander Trevor Rosenthal (to the Brewers for another minor leaguer).”

Farhan Zaidi and staff were unclear as to whether the Giants were “sellers” or “buyers” until the deadline actually passed. Everybody on ESPN and at MLBTR and all over the media expected Rodon to be moved in that last two hours and were flummoxed when it didn’t happen.

But I think I get it. If you were going to trade something – say baseball cards – you don’t reveal which ones you are willing and unwilling to give away. You don’t let the other trader know you have doubles and you are showing them the slightly flocked one. You make it seem like everything is possible. You listen to all comers. Then you make smart decisions.

Farhan Zaidi was swift and precise in spending last year, because we were charging up the Division. He saw that the expensive help could make the difference, and he went for it – signing Kris Bryant and Tony Watson in the final hours. This year, Zaidi was measured and did little. He gave the impression to everyone that he would listen to offers for anyone. But in the end we weren’t sellers.

We were listeners, who said, “No thanks, I think we’re mostly good with what we’ve got.”

First, Zaidi procured Dixon Machado from the Cubs, while we played them, to fill in for Thairo Estrada at short – who himself was filling in for Brandon Crawford. It was an immediate need at short, and Zaidi addressed it immediately. Susan Slusser covered the onfield trade and its peculiarities very well, as usual. Her piece from the 31st of July will tell you more about the young Dixon Machado, who seems excited to be a part of the team and to be playing in the majors.

Then Zaidi purchased a catcher to replace Curt Casali and promote Joey Bart, showing a steady, progressive confidence in the young man. Sonja Chen (yay! a non-white, non-male writing for MLB – maybe they got my note about Shillman) reported that Joey Bart responded by having another great night against the Dodgers last night). She also covered Casali’s departure sensitively there – check it out.

Continuing the desire for utility infielders, the catcher Zaidi picked up from Seattle, Ford Proctor, is a 25-year-old minor leaguer, who can also play first and third. He is in a good position to learn from behind Austin Wynns and Joey Bart and this interchanging staff and he is young enough to grow into our system.

The Giants then made arguably their biggest move, sending Darin Ruf to the NL-East-leading New York Mets in exchange for J.D. Davis and three prospects. Wow. That is value we added to Darin Ruf, 36-year-old, that returned in a 29-year-old and three possible relievers, or possibly even a starter. Maria Guardado reported on it best.

Evan Webeck Covers the Belief Management Has

It was a confusing trade deadline. But it featured clear, lucid decision-making, a hallmark of the Farhan Zaidi Era. Over at the Merc, Evan Webeck writes, “SF Giants insist they’re in playoff race but lose sixth straight to Dodgers,” which is a complicated and realistic take that includes this gem of an observation:

“In the four-run second, as Zaidi watched from the NBC Sports Bay Area broadcast booth, the Giants allowed two catchable fly balls to land in front of diving outfielders, botched a pickoff move that ended up in center field and allowed an extra base when center fielder Austin Slater struggled to pick up one of the balls that fell in front of LaMonte Wade Jr. Wood also plunked soft-hitting catcher Austin Barnes, who came around to score the last of the Dodgers’ four runs.”

Good read

Alex Pavlovic Misses the Point, Kisses The Players (Asses)

There was confusion and a feeling of mixed messages in the clubhouse, as reported by the sycophant AlPav “It was an odd deadline approach, one built around neither buying or selling. It also seemed to be sending mixed messages to the clubhouse,” he wrote, choosing to cover Mr. Zaidi as defending his approach, since AlPav is obviously not smart enough to understand it.

But hey, Alex, you got your eqally dumb and eqally pretty-boy friend a gig on comcast as an analyst though, didn’t you? Kontos? Are you kidding me?

Comcast Is the Worst

Comcast, you are the worst, and yet, you sit around praising yourselves all day long and have the audacity to repeat over and over that you are the best in baseball.

You have ruined authentic baseball fandom and call yourselves the authentic fans – wow. Unbelievable. Straight out of Orwell.You manufactured a fake-ass position of value in the Bay, called yourselves ‘authentic,’ and can’t even produce decent baseball content. You have to go looking for ‘production value,’ in everything else, but baseball. It’s annoying. Your “show”.

You ruin the game for so many of us real baseball fans with your obnoxious entertainment coverage of the game – camera wheeling about the building and showing food and hats and “babes,” and “dudes,” and dogs and kids more than actual game play. It is the worst. Kruk and Kuip babbling about some irrelevant memory of a team or a year gone by instead of covering what’s actually in front of them. At least have the decency to split them up and pair them with a pro.

I Believe We Can Win, GBC is All-In

I like that Farhan Zaidi and current management are sticking to their plan. They refuse to spend money like the Dodgers, Padres, Yankees, Astros, Phillies and Mets – and yet they believe we can beat all of them. They are stubborn. They believe.

So I believe.

Beat L.A.

Beat L.A.

Beat L.A.

Let’s Go Giants

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Trade Deadline Passes With Minor Changes to Staff; Vin Scully Passes Away; Giants Score Five in the Fourth After Alex Wood Gives up Six Through Six; Giants Lose

Rest in Peace, Vin

Vin Scully died tonight, at the age of 94. He was the consummate professional, who ultimately defined and perfected how to do the job. I didn’t agree with his politics, but he kept it out most of the time. Scully was one of the greatest announcers – and absolutely the greatest secret Giants fan – of all time. Vin, you were the best I ever heard. You made baseball a pleasure.

Giants Fall Behind Early as Wood and Defense Fail

Alex Wood committed a throwing error trying to pick off a runner at second, then was failed by the defensive outfield. The Giants started this game with two errors in the second – they could have been easily charged with three. Ugly.

  • WOOD PITCHING FOR SF
  • Freeman grounded out to first.
  • T. Turner hit sacrifice fly to center, Barnes scored, Betts to second.
  • Betts singled to right center, Lux scored, Barnes to third.
  • Bellinger hit sacrifice fly to right, Thompson scored.
  • Barnes hit by pitch.
  • Lux singled to center, Alberto scored, Lux safe at second, Thompson safe at third on fielding error by center fielder Slater
  • Thompson picked off second, Alberto to third on pickoff error by pitcher Wood.
  • Thompson walked, Alberto to second.
  • Alberto singled to left.
  • 4 RUNS, 3 HITS, 2 ERRORS

Wood allowed two more runs, one in each of the next two innings to give the Bums a Giants 0, Dodgers 6, lead. But the Giants stormed back in the fifth to score five.

  • ANDERSON PITCHING FOR LAD
  • Slater grounded into fielder’s choice to third, Machado out at second.
  • Machado singled to right.
  • Wade Jr. lined out to right.
  • Bart homered to center (408 feet), Villar scored.
  • González scored on Anderson wild pitch, Villar to third on wild pitch by Anderson.
  • Villar doubled to right, Flores scored, González to third.
  • González singled to right, Belt scored, Flores to second.
  • Flores singled to right center, Belt to third.
  • Mercedes fouled out to first.
  • Belt singled to left.
  • 5 RUNS, 6 HITS, 0 ERRORS

Giants 5, Dodgers 6

The Giants managed to load the bases with nobody out in the sixth, on two walks, and a brilliant bunt by Joey Bart. Down by just one, they chased the starter Anderson, who could not record an out in the sixth. But the Giants failed to score ANYONE.

A strikeout looking by La Monte Wade, Jr. was on a questionable call. A weakly hit pop-up by Dixon Machado wasn’t deep enough to score the runner at third. And a strikeout of Austin Slater got Los Angeles reliever Evan Phillips out of the jam. argh. Bases loaded and nobody out, we stranded ’em all.

Tyler Rogers had a nine-pitch scoreless seventh to follow up on John Brebbia’s scoreless sixth. But in the bottom of the seventh, Alex Vesia shut down the Giants: Belt (K), Mercedes (K) and Wilmer Flores, fouled out to third.

Tyler Rogers started to throw another great inning in the eighth, picking up Hanser Alberto (K) and Trayce Thompson (flied out to left). But then Rogers gave up a two-out triple to Gavin Lux. He followed that with five straight 71 – 73 mph sliders to Austin Barnes who ripped a double, scoring Lux. That was it for Rogers. Giants 5, Dodgers 7.

The Giants brought in Alex Young, who gave up a triple to Cody Bellinger, knocking in Barnes and a double to Mookie Betts, knocking in Bellinger. Young finally popped up Trea Turner to end the top of the inning, Giants 5, Dodgers 9. sigh.

The Giants went quietly in the eighth and ninth.

The Trade Deadline Came and Went

Curt Casali is no longer a Giant. Darin Ruf is gone, too. We got J.D. Davis from the Mets for Ruf. Farhan Zaidi made some small-time moves, but at least he didn’t sell Carlos Rodon, or Joc Pederson or some other beloved Giants for nothing. Also, now we can root for the team we actually are from here on out, not the team we could be.

These are most likely the guys we will see playing for the Giants the rest of the way.

Position Players

Joc Pederson, Wilmer Flores, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Thairo Estrada, Mike Yastrzemski, Louis Gonzalez, Austin Slater, Tommy La Stella, La Monte Wade, Jr., J.D. Davis, Austin Wynns, Joey Bart, Dixon Machado, Yermin Mercedes, David Villar, Jason Vosler, Donovan Walton and Heliot Ramos

Starting Pitching

Carlos Rodon, Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Alex Wood, possibly Jake Junis

Relievers

John Brebbia, Tyler Rogers, Dominic Leone, Camilo Doval, Jarlin Garcia, Alex Young, Sam Long, Yunior Marte and Zach Littell. Mauricio Lloveras should be back in September. Jose Alvarez could return, too.

Let’s Go Giants!

Beat L.A.!!!

Let’s start a winning streak!

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The Farhan Zaidi Era FAILS to Deliver a Contender

It is 30 hours until the trade deadline.

The Giants are not in it.

After the greatest regular season in team history last year, in which we were absurdly lucky, the team has fallen back to earth, and regressed to the mean. The balls that bounced our way last year, are slipping through our fingers this year. The very average manager Gabe Kapler, is average once again, no longer Manager of the Year.

The Giants beat the Cubs over the weekend to finally pull themselves back up to .500. (51 – 51)

We have used way more players than ever before and, since picking up Joc Pederson just before the season started, have committed to no one. The Giants have been a loose-knit team of dozens of different guys wearing Giants gear. This system is flawed. It is apparent to anyone who has watched the games – the Giants suck.

Who is our lineup for the stretch? The guys who would take us to the playoffs, to a wildcard?

Joc Pederson, Wilmer Flores, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Thairo Estrada, Mike Yastrzemski, Louis Gonzalez, Darin Ruf, Austin Slater, Tommy La Stella, La Monte Wade, Jr., Curt Casali, Joey Bart, Dixon Machado, Carlos Rodon, Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Alex Wood and a bullpen of misfits.

I am disappointed in the Farhan Zaidi Era.

We coalesced all the baseball power and created a singular new position, President and Director of Baseball Operations, and hired Farhan Zaidi. It has been four years. Mr. Zaidi was allowed to hire his own GM, and he picked Scott Harris. He was allowed to pick his manager and he hired Gabe Kapler.

What we know about Mr. Zaidi at the trade deadline is, that he is capable of swift surgical moves. He picked up Kris Bryant and Tony Watson at the last possible second last year. Farhan Zaidi can make things happen quickly, and does.

But this situation is a nightmare. We have no team.

We need a big bat, a serious bat, like Kyle Schwarber or Freddie Freeman. We also need a closer. A legit late innings shut-down reliever. How can we find these between now and 5pm on Tuesday? The answer is we won’t. Instead the Giants have become SELLERS.

Argh it’s enraging.

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Hang Around, Hang Around, Hang Around and We’ll Punch ‘Em in the ‘Pen with Pinch Hitters is Fascinating, and Hella Exciting From the Seventh Inning On, But Not a Championship Philosophy

The trade deadline is now eight days away.

The Nemesis swept the Giants over all four games of a series at the Ravine for the first time in 27 years to add to the brace they “swept,” back in May, and took a 6 – 3 lead in the season series (we swept them at Oracle in June). None of this means anything, but that’s what is up. You can read about any previous series GBC covered by following the links.

I had hoped we could take two, and the Giants fought hard in each of the four games in L.A., but they made way too many errors. They made just plain old playing mistakes even more: bad exchanges, misplays and misalignments galore. From a management standpoint it looked like a train wreck. It reminded me of that weekend in Cincinnatti that started that road trip back in May. Whew.

It also reminded me of the movie, “Moneyball,” when Billy Beane and the fictional Sabermetrician “Pete,” are under fire – just before The Streak. Everybody is doubting the system, nobody is blaming Art Howe. Is Gabe Kapler getting a pass, here, too? Because I have serious questions about the process.

It is way better to end the season hot – it’s how the sub-par St. Louis Cardinals did it in 2011, Pujols’ last championship, when they ran the table starting on August 10th. The Braves started way late last year.

So I guess I am still okay with losing the series, even with being swept, if it gave David Villar and Luis Gonzalez and Sam Long and others on the staff important Chavez Ravine experience. But we need to catch the Padres or seize a playoff spot from the Phillies or St, Louis.

We were very much in three of the games, we had a legitimate shot to win. The mistakes were precisely self-defeating. As I was watching game one, when Darin Ruf smashed his first grand slam (that one’s for Darin’s father, William L. “Bill” Ruf passed away May 30th) to tie the game, I suddenly had a new perception of the philosophy: everyone on staff has one shared job – to hang around until we can beat the opposing bullpen.

Might seem obvious, but what I realized is that now, when Gabe Kapler and co., charge you with hanging around, the score doesn’t matter, you could give up four runs on a grand slam, you are staying out there to finish the job. It’s your inning, score be damned.

Sam Long got caught in it in game two and I saw it clearly. The deal is you go out there and you endure and you pitch your inning. You get your three outs. If you get jacked, so be it. This applies to starters, too. You get your five, or six or seven innings if we need it. You aren’t going to be pulled for giving up two or three or even five runs. I guess the logic is that knowing they don’t have an ‘out’ forces them to step up, to try harder? Kapler’s just staring at them, going, “What? It’s you.” He has left a lot of guys hung out to dry.

But, to the system’s credit it has helped weed out those who cannot hang. The reasons for this are many: not enough fixed talent, complicated scheduling. Our staff on any given day is composed of lots of different guys playing together for all kinds of reasons. We are not fielding two or three expensive guys who play everyday. The defensive chaos has resulted from this mixed bag of teammates as well.

All this leaving-guys-in stuff results in blown up innings. The worst result of it was The Circus Game in St. Louis and it happened again in New York. The system really screwed Mauricio Lloveras, gone to the 60-day after a great start, because of a strain from seemingly pointless use in this game.

But it isn’t pointless. At the meta-level it’s innings-eating. They were measuring Lloveras’ endurance. Kapler and co. used these to learn and to use multiple player combinations. They discovered they can use Luis Gonzalez in a pinch, as a pitcher, in games where it doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of science and learning going on, I’ll say that. I could just use more winning.

The dictate to every single player playing the first six innings now seems to be: just hang around, hang around, hang around and we’ll punch ’em in the ‘pen with pinch hitters.

But that’s not a championship philosophy.

It lacks fire, urgency. We are urgently missing a captain, a barking-angry or semi-psycho cheerleader. We could use some nasty. All this science and managerial shifting has everybody playing way too inside themselves. WE NEED FIRE. Hey Brandon! Captain? You wanna get this crew up right now, please? Oh, no, you’re aloof sarcastic guy. Joc? Longo? Somebody get hot!

The next question to answer is why are we playing hang around and we’ll punch ’em in the ‘pen? Context provides the answer to why.

The Giants ended the first half with their longest consecutive game stretch of the season. Here at GBC we called it The Gauntlet II. They played seventeen games in the first seventeen straight days of July – right up to the All Star break. (Last year the longest consecutive game stretch was sixteen games, The Gauntlet – and it was the epic heart of the record-breaking, 107-win season).

But this year, the Giants face a double whammy. They open the second half on the road with … the second longest consecutive game stretch of the season – fourteen games. This is a managerial nightmare.

I don’t think much media is writing about or covering the context properly because we live in a society that is so sped up it screams about the now. What’s in front of our nose is the first four-game sweep of the Giants in Chavez Ravine in 27 years. What Gabe Kapler is looking at is a 17-game stretch, the All-Star break and then a 14-game stretch.

Zaidi, Kapler and co. are stretching their ability to evaluate players and exercise options to the very last minute. They are resting and recuperating the veterans – either for the stretch run or for trade. It is a flurry already and there’s a week to go. I really hope Mr. Zaidi does something big.

The Giants have used more players than any team thus far, and will have done so by far by season’s end. We just put Evan Longoria on the IL again for ten days because Zaidi/Kapler want to keep the vet fresh for when it matters while bringing up a brand-new pitcher, Gregory Santos, as per MLBTR:

“Santos, just 22 years old, has four big league appearances under his belt, but just one so far this season. Santos is the Giants’ 7th-ranked prospect per Fangraphs, though he did not make Baseball America’s list of top-30 prospects in the Giants’ system. The power righty owns a 3.42 ERA across 26 1/3 innings in Triple-A.”

They just acquired lefty Ben Bowden from the Rays.

It really does have the feel of a selling year.

Unless … all of a sudden Mr. Zaidi makes a move.

The trade deadline is now eight days away.

I found this link by Jeff Young over at Around the Foghorn that says Ken Rosenthal thought Willson Contreras of the Cubs would be a good fit as a veteran catcher to platoon with Curt Casali.

By the way, Joey Bart had a great night in the loss last night. It was good to see him perform. But Willson Contreras would be a veteran upgrade toward the playoffs that isn’t that expensive – a very Farhan move.

I ran a Stathead comparison of Willson Contreras vs. Curt Casali – um, yeah. Upgrade. Bart, Austin Wynns, and Yermin Mercedes can all catch in a pinch.

and just for kicks Contreras vs Buster Posey – check it out.

We are going into the desert with untried pieces just eight days before the trade deadline. I wish I understood or had any idea what that means!

Let’s Go Giants!

Wrangle the Snakes!

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REPOST OF Last GBC Reader of 2021: If Moneyball Mostly Dies in the DS, and Has Never Won it All, Do We Really Want to Commit?

[Ed. Note – WELCOME NEW READERS – This was the last post of LAST season.

Reposting it today, July 24th, 2022, in advance of the game down in Chavez Ravine later today because I want to bring up questions I raised last year as we enter the second half. AND BEFORE THE TRADE DEADLINE. Is ‘Moneyball’ satisfying?

Welp. Hope we don’t get swept. Let’s go Alex Cobb! Let’s go Giants! Beat L.A.!!! – MTK]

2021 POST STARTS HERE > This season was mathemagical and lucky. The Dodgers were the better team, that a few times only lost because of an error by one guy (Bellinger, Jansen, Turner). To their credit, our Giants seized the mistakes.

The Giants played unbelievably well. They were managed brilliantly and straight beat the Bums in some games. I was at that 5 – 0 shutout in late July. Then the clutch win to take the season series proved we were the better team when it mattered more than them, all season long.

We earned the division.

But it ended like it did not because of a bullshit check-swing call, but because this is how monied ball works: they spent $60m more than us for the guys on the field. As I pointed out back in April, they are the new Sith Lord – they outspent every other team in the majors by at least 20%

Their expensive guys were better, and frankly Dave Roberts stole one of our moves, by using an opener, to help their expensive guys out – an interesting moment mix-and-matching the moneyball game and the monied one.

Also, losing a big bat was far more costly for us, the moneyball team, than for the monied one: the Giants without Belt couldn’t outhit or outscore the Nemesis without Muncy.

Ultimately we contributed to the demise of the nemesis, exhausting the Bums, which allowed the Braves to deny them the pennant and the real trophy, the regular, 162-game season trophy:

still no repeat world series champion in the 21st century

Moneyball almost always runs out in the DS, as I restated immediately after the last game:

“all along I said we’d probably lose the DS, because that’s what happens to moneyball teams – since the Oakland Athletics invented it. The greatest moneyball team ever is the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, a team that achieved that level of success again in The Irregular Season (2020). And in the end, even they fell short.”

Which for me begs the question, then, is it worth it? We won more games than ever, had an incredible season, beat the Nemesis in the season series and for the division, and still weren’t favored to win the DS. Ask yourself why? I pose this because one of my jobs here at GBC is to ask stuff others won’t in the hopes of opening discourse toward a better team.

This season marks the true beginning of the Giants version of the moneyball philosophy. And it overperformed spectacularly. But a LOT of that was some crazy luck. So will we spend on several guys who sabermetrically fit the team, so we can try to make a run like that happen again? or spend bigger to add a premiere starter or premiere OF/utility power hitter? Will we ever have a starting rotation, like the old days? Are ‘bullpen games’ now just a part of our strategy? These are some of the questions emerging from this philosophical and financial change of process.

A good place to follow these discussions is at Around the Foghorn, which has been in the blogroll here since they started. I often link to their stuff in the corner.

Jeff Young and Mark DeLucchi and others there provide good sports journalism about all levels of the organization. Young’s stuff this week about where the Giants are headed prompted me to think about it, and off-the-cuff, I even replied in the comments over there:

“I say lock up Belt (QO) and Posey (contract). Pay Wilmer Flores and Jose Alvarez. Negotiate hard for Kris Bryant, Kevin Gausman, Donavon Solano, Alex Wood. But be flexible with Dominic Leone and Tony Watson and even DeSclafani, Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir and John Brebbia. The combination of luck and old guys’ last drops of magic were awesome, but we need to turn to a new round of misfit toys. All these guys are more valuable than they’ll ever be again. I want a legit, mid-career, big bat for the outfield, Kyle Schwarber or Starling Marte – Nick Castellanos could be affordable – and to go after a starting pitcher like Ray or Syndegaard.”

You should go over to Around the Foghorn and join the discussion.

Important Moments in 2021 w Links to GBC coverage

  • Dick Tidrow, Architect of Our Three-WS Winning Pitching Staff, Passed Away
  • Giants Were First to 40-, 50-, 60-, 70-, 80-, 90-, and 100-wins

Many season records fell as well: most wins, home runs, guys with ten home runs, pinch-hit home runs, and pitchers used are the ones I can remember right now. Safe to say our Sabermetrics Year, our Moneyball Year was without a doubt the best statistically in our history by a long shot.

I was going to link to some pieces I liked after the season, but you all probably read the same ones I did in the vacuum of the gut-punch that ended our magical ride. What a shitty way for the season to end – so anti-climactic, so vacuous.

It hurt to lose like that. In some ways it is comparable to the 1993 season. I remember it well. Those of you who do can share your unique stories comparing then and now in the comments if you like. For me, 1993 was WAY worse, because we lost so big and we had the better record by far and the team was in danger of leaving, and perhaps most importantly, we hadn’t won the world series yet.

Winning it all changed everything – losing hurts less. This one hurt badly. But there were silver linings all over it. We felt ahead of schedule … except we don’t really have a team and have to rebuild it again – ay! Moneyball!

Here’s the 2021 season GBC Glossary with some fun notes on superstitions and rally capping and finally, I did some new things here at GBC as well:

  • I finally paid for ‘giantsbaseballcorner dot com’ and removed the ads
  • created an Insta for GBC (hardly used it – looking for someone Insta-savvy to take it over)
  • posted to reddit a few times … mostly during …
  • live-blogging The Gauntlet – the longest uninterrupted stretch of games (16)

Thank you for joining Giants Baseball Corner this season. It felt good to have readers. Best wishes for good health to you all in my Giants family.

Let’s Go Giants!

love,

mtk

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An Open Letter to Sam Long

Son:

You were thrust into a remarkable situation.

These guys you faced are our nemesis for 138 years. The current version outspends us by hundreds of millions. You’re barely a full season in. What’d you play in a dozen games last season, as a rook?Command is what it is all about. And guess what, command is mental. So take tonight to learn the mentality. Have confidence. Stalk, and make the mound your own. Take your time. Then HIT your spots. Cause the show is no joke.

There’s a guy the TV folks hired to cover the games recently who utterly failed and screwed us in L.A. because of lack of command. He screwed Matt Cain out of a season opening win in Chavez shit-ass Ravine. He and others will now sit around talking about you. Don’t listen to them.

You had no business being thrust in that position this late in the season. Our current system demanded it. But you went out there, as Kap and co. asked you to do, and you knuckled down. You helped us save the rest of the guys in the ‘pen for the road trip. You dealt.

However, the curve/fastball combination is simply not enough in the show. You have got to develop command with other pitches. Play with your fingers on the ball. Improve that change-up, look for a slider, cutter, slurve. Your heater is great. Get control of it. That 95 mph strike was sick. Soon you will be joined by Trevor Rosenthal, a vet, a guy who knows. Learn from him.

We needed you to do it. That’s the system. You had to stay out there, despite it all. You did it, and got jacked by the most expensive team in all of baseball. They have hella hundreds of millions of dollars paid-for talent … that you faced – the highest paid side in all of MLB. They are the new Sith Lord. They are what the Yankees were in the 20th century – expensive talent.

You fought hard, TAKE LESSONS FROM IT.

head up.

MTK, Giants Baseball Corner

Dodgers, Bottom 8th

  • Pederson in right field
  • Wade Jr. at first base
  • Villar as designated hitter
  • Yastrzemski in center field
    • LONG PITCHING FOR SF
  • Freeman singled to left center
  • Smith flied out to left
  • Freeman to second on wild pitch by Long
  • Muncy safe at first on fielding error by first baseman Wade Jr., Freeman safe at third on error
  • Lux struck out swinging
  • Lamb hit by pitch, Muncy to second
  • Bellinger homered to right (383 feet), Freeman scored, Muncy scored and Lamb scored
  • Thompson walked
  • Betts popped out to shortstop
    • 4 RUNS, 2 HITS, 1 ERROR
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Giants Games After the Stretch Have Become Must-See-TV No Matter the Score Because of Kapler’s Use of Pinch Hitters and the ‘Pen; Ruf’s First Grand Slam Ties Game in Seventh in Chavez Ravine

The Giants fell behind by five runs down in L.A. and didn’t seem the least bit worried.

The defense was again the problem. This time Luis Gonzalez, our great-hitting rookie playing only his second game ever in right field at Dodger stadium, lost a fly ball in the lights in that shitty ravine, allowing a couple to score. Carlos Rodon was imprecise twice – which you cannot be against the Bums – and it cost a couple. A throwing error on a ball to the plate. Two errors. Giants down by five.

But everybody was cool. … and now LuGo has the experience in his memory banks of losing one in the lights in the ravine, which he can guard against. It’s an endearing system, but, Giants 0, Dodgers 5

On national tv, on ESPN, before the first game after the All-Star game, Gabe Kapler openly told everyone what he was going to do. He confirmed the game plan throughout. Again. He said he’d be using pinch hitters, and specifically Austin Slater and Yermin Mercedes against the lefties.

It worked almost to perfection. But again, ran up against a wall of talent.

The Giants scoring started in the top of the seventh with a solo shot by Evan Longoria recently back from the IL … Hey! I said he’d do that! Well, not really. It isn’t a called shot for GBC because I wrote this morning I expected him to hit a homer … in Arizona, because he likes that place with the lid closed.

But I did say, in good health at last, I expect him to figure prominently on this road trip. Evan looked good tonight, strong, ready to go for the stretch. He opened up the trouble for Phil Bickford. His bat was quick. I am excited to see what Longo does in the weeks to come.

Kap’s system did the rest. Austin Slater hit for Yaz, Mercedes hit for Wynns. A hit batsman, a Thairo Estrada single and the bases were loaded up for Darin Ruf, in his second pinch-hit AB. Blam! Darin Ruf’s first ever grand slam ties the game, Giants 5, Dodgers 5. These were patient at-bats. It was impressive.

Dave Roberts looked befuddled. Kapler and co. looked like Larry Bird telling guys defending him where he was going to make shots from before drilling the jumpers.

When the Giants loaded the bases again in the eighth and took the lead on a bases-loaded walk, Kapler’s checkmate of Roberts looked complete. After trailing 5 – 0 in the sixth, the guys led, Giants 6, Dodgers 5, in the eighth,. wow.

[I am writing this in the bottom of the eighth and Dominic Leone is on the mound. He just gave up a one-out double to Gavin Lux. And now the run-scoring triple to Trayce Thompson scores the tying run. And the ESPN commentators are praising Dave Roberts for leaving the hot-hitting Thompson in. Ha. He looked harried, friends, but Roberts successfully did … nothing, to tie the game.] Giants 6, Dodgers 6

Dom, unfortunately, was done.

The switch to Jarlin Garcia was a relief. I absolutely agree with it. It makes sense to get the one out. Dom was shook. I really hoped our new system thought so, too. Recently Kapler and co. have been leaving guys out there to just get hammered. This felt different. It felt like we are in the second half and we are playing the nemesis and Kap is calling it tight. I am impressed with his attention to detail at these times. Maybe Trevor Rosenthal is the answer for night’s like tonight.

Unfortunately, Jarlin Garcia walked Cody Bellinger. He had to get that out. Mookie Betts stepped in and hammered a homer to make it Giants 6, Dodgers 9.

Talent. Expensive talent. The most expensive talent … delivered. It didn’t matter if Dave Roberts was befuddled. That’s the story of the Bums these last seven years – outspend everybody and work around your manager.

Craig Kimbrel took care of the Giants in the ninth, despite a coy swinging bunt single by Brandon Belt. Kimbrel, a talent, an expensive talent, delivered. On the last out, Mookie Betts made a racing, fantastic catch to end the game. Expensive talent.

That’s what we don’t have: expensive talent.

Go get it, Mr. Zaidi.

*** UPDATE***
Carlos Rodon reached 110 innings pitched tonight which means he vests his option to opt-out of his contract at the end of the season. We knew and hoped he would, but now it behooves him to perform.

Great game, let’s get ’em tomorrow guys!

Beat L.A.

#BeatLA

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Giants Start Second Half On the Road in the Division – Against the Nemesis in the Ravine and Wrangling Snakes in the Desert; But Then Play 20 Games in California

It is twelve days until the trade deadline.

The second half of the season starts with the Giants in L.A. for four and Arizona for three. Unlike last year and the first half of this season, we know the starting rotation for the games in L.A. There will be no bullpen game.

Carlos Rodon, Logan Webb, Alex Wood and Alex Cobb will start against the nemesis. Could we finally be seeing <gasp> a rotation? of four starting pitchers? for the rest of the year?

I’ve been writing here about discomfort a lot of older fans and traditionalists have with methods of The Zaidi/Kapler Era. Not having a starting rotation is one that has really troubled me. It’s why I keep a record of the “bullpen games” (The Giants are 5 – 4, in those this year, by the way).

I welcome a regular rotation. If we rotate four starters, then, in the event of the need for a fifth starter, have that game be a bullpen game, I would understand it. I sincerely believe starting pitching benefits from the regularity. I think guys like to know when they will be due up in advance. It creates rhythm not only for each starter but for the staff as a whole.

The Giants lead the season series 3 – 2, after the sweep of the Dodgers they pulled off at Oracle in June. The Bums meanwhile are a little banged up and Clayton Kershaw and others will be coming off short rest from the All-Star game on Tuesday. Hopefully we can catch them with a hangover from the party, and steal a split.

The Giants and D-backs are tied 3 – 3 so far. It is time for us to start getting dominant wins against them and Colorado, separating ourselves from the bottom of the division. I expect Evan Longoria to homer in Arizona – he likes that yard when the roof is closed – and to figure prominently in those games now that he has returned from the IL.

After the road trip, it’s four games at home against the Cubs and four more against the Dodgers. We will face the nemesis eight times in the next fifteen games.

We stay in town for a brace across the Bay with the A’s, then it’s off to San Diego for three – a very chill five game roadie, after which we come home for three with Pittsburgh and four more with Arizona.

That’s a nice, soft set of 20 games all in California. We have to beat the teams that are not in contention, convincingly, and take sweeps as possible.

The Giants start the second half with a pretty winnable schedule. I can see us taking six from Arizona, both from Oakland, three from Chicago, two from the Pirates, and, at least one down in San Diego and maybe four from the Dodgers. That would be going (18 – 9) over the stretch before the next big road trip. I’d love to see us take seven or even eight from Arizona, take two from San Diego, and sweep Pittsburgh. These are achievable goals.

The next big road trip starts on the 19th of August and includes Colorado, Detroit and Minnesota – another winnable stretch. But that bring us to a very tough part of the season, starting around Labor Day, when the Giants will have to play San Diego and Philadelphia (at home); The Bums, Milwaukee and Chicago Bears (on the road); and then Atlanta and the Bums again (back at home). whew. That’s the stretch that could do us in.

That’s August 29th to September 18th:

Padres, Phillies, Dodgers, Brewers, Cubs, Braves and Dodgers again.

Time to separate the playoff contenders from the playoff pretenders.

The All-Star game is behind us and the dog days lie ahead.

Let’s Go Giants! Let’s go on a tear and start the second half racking up wins!

Let’s Go Giants!

Beat L.A.

#BeatLA

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Chavez Ravine is Ugly and They Just Spent a Week Lying about How Awesome It Is and Slapping Superficial Lipstick All Over It Like They Do in L.A. – Spiritually Bankrupt Stadium, Morally and Ethically Bankrupt Town, Hiding a Rapist They Hired and Enabled

Chavez Ravine is a shithole built by the Vinnell Corporation who destroyed the lives of itinerant farmers and native americans who resided in terraced farms there for decades, possibly centuries. It is spiritually and physically bankrupt of soul. Built on native land.

I’ve been there. We all have. And because post-covid blah blah we all just spent three days raving about that shithole? Are you kidding me? You wiki it and it’s all just cool now? OMFG

Fuck the Bums.

Fuck Chavez Ravine.

Beat LA.

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Giants Win Season Series With Milwaukee Aided by Game-Winning Score From Bases Loaded Balk in Eighth; Gauntlet of 17 Straight Games Concludes Today; Is Everybody Trade-able?

The Giants defeated Milwaukee Saturday night by standing still while they flinched.

It would be easy to say the Giants had no business winning this one – I’m sure that’s what the east coast media thinks – but that viewpoint is a shallow one. It misses the point of the entire scheme that got us to a 1 – 1 tied ballgame with bases-loaded in the eighth, despite numerous defensive failures and two scored errors. Here’s the AP recap over on ESPN.

It was the sixteenth consecutive game for the Giants, who have played every single day this month thus far. Here at GBC we call it The Gauntlet II: seventeen games in seventeen days, the longest stretch of the year, that ends today, with Logan Webb on the mound and the Giants (7-9) for the month.

Since we have won the season series, and we are exhausted from a gauntlet of games, and beaten up with injuries all over the field, throughout the staff, it doesn’t matter if we win or lose today. I’d like to see a dominant Webb start, and some pride in the boys, but a last loss in the first half doesn’t kill us.

When I saw this seventeen game stretch on the calendar I was relieved. MLB gave us our longest gauntlet of games in the first half and it ends going right into the all-star break. I couldn’t really ask for more if we have to play seventeen in a row. Meanwhile the Padres and Dodgers still have long consecutive game stretches ahead – and a limited number of expensive players that absolutely have to play them. Our system hopes to win that war of attrition.

Giants Lead Milwaukee Season Series 3 -1

The Giants won a one-off game against Milwaukee at the end of their first road trip back in April – placed there by scheduling adjustments of the lockout. It was a bullpen game in which they beat Corbin Burnes. It was the game where Milwaukee fans heckled Joc Pederson loudly and rudely when he was at the plate and Joc responded by smashing the go-ahead, two-run, game-winning homer for the Giants. It was awesome.

Last night the Giants beat the Brewers in a toe-to-toe old school starting pitchers’ duel. Alex Cobb turned in his best performance of the season. It gave Henry Shillman new belief in the starting rotation.

(ed. note – Henry Schulman, who for decades was the beat writer for the SF Chron – where he was a reporter, you know? a journalist hired to ask pointed questions – has now been hired by mlb dot com slash sf giants. Hank hired by the Giants. sigh. I will be referring to Hank’s columns if I link to them as those of Henry “Shillman” to separate the adcopy he writes for mlb from the journalism he did for the paper- mtk).

It is cool that we’ve now beaten the Brew Crew with both systems. It gives me greater confidence as well. By taking two of three at home this weekend, the Giants have already secured a season series win over the Brewers. Today staff ace Logan Webb takes the mound to see if we can end the Gauntlet II with a respectable (8 – 9) record.

I had hoped for over .500. We ought to have beaten the White Sox at home at least once. We ought not to have lost three out of six during this stretch to the D-Backs. But it is only the first half of the season. We are playing in one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball.

We’ve Successfully Played to the Middle

In the first half, the Giants have successfully organized, managed and played themselves to the middle. They are 13th in salary, using dozens of guys. They maintain a loose grip on the very last playoff position available despite a rocky, up-and-down first half, filled with streaky, inconsistent play and constantly shifting personnel.

Some positives have emerged and the system seems uniquely capable of absorbing injuries and missing players. The new system uses the IL as a means to introduce a phalanx of available new players, in a rapid-fire way. Most of these guys are utility players, who can fit more than one role.

These are all positives of the system that remain generally unreported. There are a lot of these and I think the reason why is because you cannot report them without weakening management’s position and shills can’t do that. Oh, but I can. Let’s talk about Disco … oh no wait, let’s not. It might make him less valuable. sigh.

When all this started I wrote that the only plan I can see that makes sense is to stay in it with the Padres and Bums until the All-Star break and then make key, critical, expensive moves at the trade deadline to hire whom we need to win. Hiring mercenaries at the trade deadline is the new way it gets done – the Braves did it last year. There is NO team better situated to pull that off than the San Francisco Giants.

We have more available salary to spend and have tried more players than anyone in putting together the group of guys any trade target will be joining. Gabe Kapler is reigning manager of the year and shows he has integrity and love for players. We are a destination team. If we are buyers, how much is Farhan Zaidi willing to spend? $400 million, multi-year for 23-year-old Juan Soto?

A Quick Look Back at Last year’s Trade Deadline

Farhan Zaidi was surgical and precise last year and waited til the very last second to secure his deals. He let Max Scherzer and Trae Turner make deals to go to the Bums, and Javy Baez go to the Mets. As I wrote at the time, “Then, like an elegant surgeon showing up to wrap up a job he has done a dozen times, Mr. Zaidi picked up Kris Bryant and Tony Watson. It was smooth.”

But it was also not expensive. He let Bryant, who is 30 years old, go get a triple-digit, multi-year contract with Colorado when the season ended. Tony Watson retired. Mr. Zaidi picked up Joc Pederson just before the season started to help with the production lost with Bryant leaving and Buster Posey’s retirement. It isn’t enough.

Is Mr. Zaidi willing to drop the big bucks for a young, important solution to our 15-year run production problem? Or is this going to be another surgical, fill-the-gaps trade deadline?

Whom Should We Go After

Jeff Young over at Around the Foghorn says there is interest in Brandon Drury, which would be more of a fill-the-gaps guy. Another Around the Foghorn guy, Nick San Miguel, pointed toward Josh Bell back in June – similar deal.

But four days ago, Farhan Zaidi said, “…I think until we get into the last week of July, it’s a little bit of wheel spinning because so much of it is the context and the situation at that point.” He also emphasized that if the Giants are either in possession of a playoff spot or in their current position just outside a potential Wild Card berth, the team is “definitely going to look to improve.” – That’s according to MLBTR

Mr. Zaidi also said the Giants, “probably won’t make any large trade-related decisions until closer to the Aug. 2 deadline itself.” So get ready for that wild ride again.

Target San Diego

The Nemesis is running away with the division. The Friars won’t catch them, nor will we. This season is now a battle for second in the NL West – a battle we have won before, most successfully on the last day of the season in 2010, as we launched ourselves to the first World Series Championship in San Francisco. That was so great! Beating Mat Latos hahahahaa.

Our target for the rest of this season has to be beating the San Diego Padres to second place in the division and attempting to avoid the play-in game. In fact, beating Milwaukee in taut, tense games is very similar to what we face against the Padres. Their records are very similar. Milwaukee today is a good test.

We need to situate ourselves to beat out the Padres. If a bear is chasing us, I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you. The Bums are the bear. Let ’em eat the Fathers, I say.

Who Are We?

In years past we would talk about the team as forming by now. We would know who we are at the All-Star break. This is changing. The system uses the first half as a sort of extended Spring Training – especially this year when the lockout forced us to skip weeks of the actual Cactus League. Also, we are done with the World Series Championship Era. Buster is gone. The Brandons are signed through next year and probably gone after that.

So who are we? Who is Mr. Zaidi willing to trade? Anyone?

Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Joc Pederson, Tommy La Stella, La Monte Wade, Jr., Thairo Estrada, Wilmer Flores, Mike Yastrzemski, Luis Gonzalez, Curt Casali, Joey Bart, Austin Wynns, Darin Ruf, Austin Slater, David Villar, Yermin Mercedes, Carlos Rodon, Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Jake Junis, Alex Wood, Camilo Doval, John Brebbia, Dominic Leone, Tyler Rogers, Mauricio Llovera, Jarlin Garcia, Yunior Marte

Is EVERYBODY trade-able? Yaz has struggled and his last name alone would put butts in seats in Boston. Is he a trade chip to get someone from the Red Sox? We have brought up a lot of guys nobody has heard of who are legitimate talents now.

How gutsy are you willing to be Mr. Zaidi? You hold the keys to everything. You were extremely sensitive to the fans here in protecting beloved players and we appreciated it. But it is time to go out and get us a Championship.

You have everything you need: money, luxury tax space, trade chips, a manager willing to play the plan and fan support. Here, at GBC, I have your back.

Engage, number one. Engage.

If you do nothing after all this, it makes no sense.

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Giants Compete Hard Against Central-Division Leaders, But Fall to Brewers in Extra Innings at Home in Fourteenth Straight Game in July

It is Friday, July 15th, and the Giants have played fourteen consecutive games this month and will play three more this weekend before the All-Star break to finally end the Gauntlet II: seventeen games in seventeen days, an exhausting stretch.

They have gone a disappointing (5 – 9) over these fourteen because they got beaten by teams with poor records, but they got two key wins over San Diego. They lost the opportunity to go over .500 for the Gauntlet II with last night’s loss. But it was a hard fought game and the Giants should hold their heads high. I would love to see them fight hard for the series against a very good team.

Last night, at Oracle Park, in the series opener versus the central division leading Milwaukee Brewers (50 – 40), the Giants started Carlos Rodón against the Brewers’ Corbin Burnes. The Giants jumped out to an early 2 – 0 lead in a crazy third inning, when two walks and a wild pitch put runners in the corners and a passed ball scored the first run. Joc Pederson singled in the second run.

The Brewers are a patient, quality team. They immediately addressed being down and clawed their way back into contention. The Giants had to fight them off. Twenty runners were stranded in this game – eight by the Giants and twelve by the Brewers. Giants pitching competed sternly in this one.

In the end a half-swing-bunt that foiled Camilo Doval was the difference. Last year those fell our way, all the way to the greatest regular season record in Giants’ history. This year not so much. We knew there would be fall off. That is what we are witnessing with the defense and weird bloopers this year – we are falling back down to the statistical mean after having an outlier season.

Rodón was very good until a mind-breaking at-bat by Jonathon Davis. Here’s AP:

“In the fourth inning, Jonathan Davis helped wear out San Francisco starter Carlos Rodón with an impressive, 13-pitch, at-bat that ended with a walk. Davis delivered again on a game-winning single six innings later.

Pinch-runner Christian Yelich scurried home for the winning run in the 10th inning on an infield single by Davis that pitcher Camilo Doval couldn’t secure on the grass in front of third, and the Milwaukee Brewers held off the Giants.”

Giants 2, Brewers 3

The Brewers showed their mettle and the Giants lost yet another extra innings game under Gabe Kapler – who has never looked like he has a handle on the way to win with the zombie runner on second in extras. Because everything we do is in the moment, on the day and situational down to the batter and the pitch count, not just the inning, there is no strategy for extra innings with the zombie runner on.

I have watched Kapler and staff mishandle extra innings since 2020, the Irregular Season. He wasn’t a lot better last year. This year it has been worse. So, I cannot imagine he has won more than he has lost. (Somebody look that up – Kapler’s record in extra innings games since 2020, or I will, and this paranthetical will be filled with the actual record later).

That said, the Milwaukee Brewers are a very good team and I was proud of the Giants for fighting hard and having a chance to win it in extras … and in the ninth … and in the eighth.

I have decided to stop recapping play-by-play in games here. I have a small following and I appreciate you, but I am realizing you all have either watched the game or can get the recap elsewhere, so I am going to start throwing a link into the blog post for a recap by AP or somebody else who writes better and then use my blog for analysis and commentary from here on.

Here’s last night’s game.

Let’s Go Giants! Beat the Brewers!

Mop Up the Brew Crew!

mtk

Posted in Commentary, GauntletII, Mid Series Reports, Post Game Blasts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giants Take Home Series Against Snakes (2 – 1); Bats Awaken Tuesday, Bullpen Game With Bench Bats Get Walkoff Wednesday; Can Still End Gauntlet of 17 Games Over .500

The Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks two games to one at Oracle Park this week, losing a cliffhanger on Monday night Giants 3, Diamondbacks 4; exploding for a massive score in a shutout on Tuesday Giants 13, D-backs 0; and pulling together a taut bullpen game that featured a walkoff Brandon Crawford single today, Wednesday Giants 4, Snakes 3.

The Giants are (5 – 8) in July, amidst the longest consecutive game stretch of the season. This weekend Milwaukee comes to town for four, which means the Giants can still come out (9 – 8) – above .500 – for the seventeen games in seventeen days that I call the Gauntlet II.

Bullpen Game Record

The Giants are (5 – 4) in bullpen games if you count Disco’s last start, when he had to leave in the third.

Bench Bats and Bullpen Game Combination

Gabe Kapler and the staff executed the game plan to perfection in today’s bullpen game. John Brebbia opened with a scoreless first and they stayed in it, despite that Sammy Long, the second of the six relievers that would be used, gave up three runs in the second. This was an interesting moment in the game.

As a fan who has loudly decried the bullpen game as a serviceable idea, it is very hard to watch Kapler leave a guy like Long out there past three batters when he’s getting beaten up so early in the game. It feels like we are just falling behind early for no good reason. I mean Long gave up a lead off double to Jake McCarthy, a single by Buddy Kennedy that moved him over to third, and then a triple to Daunton Varsho that drove them both in.

The temptation for me as a fan was to scream, “get him out of there! He doesn’t have it!” Three straight guys had hits, it was two to nothing with nobody out.

But Kapler left Sam Long in. The principle of a bullpen game is that you are responsible for your innings. Long managed to get the next three batters – pop-up, ground-out, strikeout – to end the inning and strand Varsho. I was wrong. Kap was right. Then Kap really frayed my nerves and sent Long out for the third!

Sam Long went out for the third inning and picked up Rojas on a fly-out to left. Then he gave up a 406-foot homer to Ketel Marte, an infeld single and not one, but two walks. Sam Long faced twelve batters over one and two thirds innings – the second and third innings – of this game. He gave up three earned runs.

Yet, the philosophy played out. The rest of the staff never gave up another run and the bats came through in the clutch. We hid the weakest staff ember of this particular night in the early innings and then made up for whatever he lost against the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, using bench bats in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. The Giants trailed by Sam Long’s three runs until the seventh.

In the seventh Brandon Belt homered. Then Thairo Estrada singled and Mike Yastrzemski doubled him over to third. David Villar drove a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Estrada and moving Yaz to third. The starters had us on the board and only down a run.

In the eighth, Kapler went to all bench bats. The first, Wilmer Flores, hitting for catcher Austin Wynns, resulted in the tying run, a solo shot. The other three: Darin Ruf, hitting for LaMonte Wade Jr., Yermin Mercedes hitting for Joc Pederson, and Luis Gonzalez hitting for Austin Slater were all fruitless. But the game was tied.

In the ninth, the starters came in and finished the job as Belt singled to right, Yaz doubled him to third, Villar walked to load ’em up and Brandon Crawford drove in the winning run with a single.

It was extremely satisfying to see the Giants touch up Mark Melancon who stole all that money from us and delivered us nothing in the clutch, only to turn around and deliver for the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres against us in the following years.

NL West

The Giants flirted with dropping below (.500) these past few weeks during this seventeen games in seventeen days stretch, but today’s win gets us a little breathing room in advance of Milwaukee coming to town for four.

TEAMWLPCTGBSTRK
Los Angeles5630.6510L1
San Diego5039.5627.5L1
San Francisco4542.51711.5W2
Colorado3949.44318W1
Arizona3950.43818.5L2
Let’s Go Giants

The Wildcard Race

An early look at the wildcard race has the Giants with a little breathing room thanks to the series win, and importantly we have as many losses as the two teams above us, and can improve our standing with wins against Milwaukee.

Atlanta (53 – 37)

San Diego (50 – 39)

St. Louis (48 – 42)

Philadelphia (46 – 42)

San Francisco (45 – 42)

Miami (41 – 45)

Milwaukee Comes to Town

The Giants have four with Milwaukee, who lead the NL Central, to end the seventeen games in seventeen days, Gauntlet II. Last year, in the Gauntlet of sixteen games in sixteen days, they finished with a flourish by being the only team to sweep Colorado at altitude. The bounce back in this staff is strong, and they are very streaky. Let’s hope we can end the first half with a winning streak and go into the All-Star Break sitting pretty as buyers.

Let’s Go Giants!

Beat the Brew Crew!

Mop up the beer!

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Giants Bats Come to Life at Last, Bounce Back Against Pads to End Road Trip (3 – 4) Amidst Gauntlet of Seventeen Straight Games

It has been a rough three weeks. All the confidence we had in the mathemagical system came crashing down in consecutive series losses to the Reds, White Sox and Diamondbacks – all teams that are playing under .500. The Giants looked like they were stampeding to the middle.

But, like the Dodgers sweep at home a month ago, the Giants keep showing glimpses of brilliance in bounce back performances against key opponents in the NL West. Yesterday the frustration of two weeks of poor hitting exploded into twelve runs and Alex Wood pitched a brilliant game. Wilmer Flores had four hits in six ABs and batted in four runs. Thairo Estrada and David Villar both hit two-run dingers. Mike Yastrzemski smashed an RBI triple. It was such a relief. Giants 12, Padres 0. boom.

The previous night the Giants managed to support an amazing complete game effort by Carlos Rodón

PITCHERSIPHRERBBKHRPC-STERA
Rodón9.03112120112-792.70

It was a stand-up performance during a stretch when the team was suffering. Giants 3, Padres 1.

The Giants managed to split the series down in San Diego with these great wins by Rodón and Wood. They are amidst the Gauntlet II, seventeen games in seventeen days, the longest consecutive game stretch of the season. They have lost seven of the first ten games of this stretch. Ouch.

However, we come home now – and this homestand before the All-Star break will define the Giants season. If we can sweep the Diamondbacks today through Wednesday, and take two of four from Milwaukee, we would end the Gauntlet (8 – 9). We have a shot at (9 – 8) or even (10 – 7), which would turn the season around. It’s time to go to the park. The guys need us.

Lets go Giants!

Wrangle the snakes!

Let’s win out the home stand of games before the all-star break.

Let’s gooooooo!

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The San Francisco Giants are Non-Contenders Who Aren’t Even Fun to Watch Anymore

sigh.

If you are a simpleton, you blame Gabe Kapler. If you are a slightly smarter person you look at the decision-making of Farhan Zaidi. But in reality the Zaidi/Kapler Era has been a middling experiment which shone with brilliance in the 2021 season and is regressing to the mean in 2022.

Regression to the mean refers to the tendency of results that are extreme by chance on first measurement—i.e. extremely higher or lower than average—to move closer to the average when measured a second time. Results subject to regression to the mean are those that can be influenced by an element of chance. The 162-game baseball season is highly influenced by chance.

It isn’t about “turning on Kapler,” as my friend Paulie put it. It isn’t about rejecting moneyball as a policy. This is about a sheer lack of talent. This is a machine being run on very little talent, that instead uses statistical principles some of the time to govern decision-making and then uses a mash-up of situational and whimsical decision-making the rest of the time. It’s at Kapler’s whimsy, so he is easy to blame. He hasn’t been impressive.

Kapler is not good at extra innings games with the zombie runner and lost another one last night. He makes weird calls in-game. He is an average baseball manager with an above average social media and cultural presence. I’d rather have a better manager with less of all that.

But why hasn’t Zaidi spent any money?

The Giants sent Anthony DeSclafani to the 60-day injured reserve again and acquired a starter from the Cleveland Guardians yesterday. Disco is dead. The new starter is named Tobias Myers and he has not yet made a start in the major leagues. Here’s the book on him.

The Giants lost another heartbreaker last night, a walkoff in San Diego. It was a brilliant Logan Webb start again laid to waste. Webb went eight strong innings and only gave up one run, a homer to Manny Machado in the fourth. The Giants “Cained” him. For the second-straight day, the SF Giants were held hitless by their opponent for multiple innings before scoring late.

The Giants tied the game with two outs in the ninth to make it exciting, and Mauricio Llovera was again excellent in the bottom half of the ninth – he struck out the side to take it to extras. But Jarlin Garcia couldn’t hold the zombie runner. Giants 1, Padres 2, 10 innings

This is a frustrating season, but it isn’t without explanation. Everyone can see what is happening. The mathemagical craziness of last year is gone and what is left is a mediocre team. The Giants are not good defensively, have no starting rotation – only two reliable starters, Webb and Rodón – and are weak offensively with no reliable bats. Joc Pederson, Luis Gonzalez and Wilmer Flores are our best offensive options.

This is not a team that can contend.

So what is Farhan Zaidi doing?

What are you doing, Farhan?

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Gauntlet II: Giants Hit the Road After Suffering Home Series Sweep by White Sox, Open in Arizona Against MadBum and Lose Big; Have Lost Five Straight and Eleven of Last Fourteen

It was just a terrible end to June, as the Giants finished it winning only two of the last eight games in the month. The Giants lost a three game series to the Reds at home and only split a brace with the Tigers here as well. They then got swept at home by the Chicago White Sox to lose the first three games of the gauntlet of the ’22 season: seventeen games in the first seventeen days of July. ugh.

Now they’ve lost the first four.

The Giants opened up the road trip in Arizona with Carlos Rodón facing our old friend Madison Bumgarner and the game was a wild one. MadBum got tagged early for a couple of runs and then Rodón had two cross the plate to tie it in the bottom half of the first. Giants 2, Diamondbacks 2.

Then the D-backs scored two more as a result of still more Giants errors. The infield without Brandon Crawford and Thairo Estrada was out of sorts. Rodón settled down, but never looked really comfortable. But this wasn’t his fault. Two errors in the first three innings of this one gave Arizona the early lead. Giants 2, Diamondbacks 4.

The Giants got a couple of singles from Evan Longoria and Yermin Mercedes in the fourth, which allowed our third back-up shortstop David Villar to knock in Longo and get the Giants within a run. The Giants are beat up. The guys on the field are thus out of sync and the errors are way up. (49 errors in 77 games) Giants 3, Diamondbacks 4.

Rodón and MadBum went at it, throwing 101 and 100 pitches, respectively, to finish their five innings. The game was turned over to the bullpen, where the Giants didn’t fare better. Tyler Rogers gave up three hits and two earned runs in the sixth, while the Diamondbacks Sean Poppen held the Giants scoreless for the sixth and Joe Mantiply struck out the side in the seventh. Giants 3, Diamondbacks 6.

To add injury to insult, Curt Casali had to leave the game with a strain. Sigh. This put our second-string catcher Austin Wynns behind the plate. To his credit, he drove a single up the middle facing a 3-2 count when he entered for Casali at the plate. But as bad as the Giants were on defense, the D-backs were good. They turned a ridiculous double play in the top of the sixth to retire Wynns and end the inning.

A bright spot in the Giants bullpen was Mauricio Llovera, who had a three-up, three-down seventh on sixteen pitches. Llovera looks good since his return from the 10-day injured reserve. Newest Giant Yermin Mercedes doubled with two outs in the eighth. But second-newest Giant David Villar struck out and couldn’t bring him in this time.

Gabe Kapler left Llovera out for the eighth inning. Hmmm. Here’s where the new mathemagical system seems suspect. The three-batter rule is one thing, but using a reliever for two innings after the fifth on Kap’s staff seems like a decision made on the fly because we don’t have enough consistent, quality relievers; not like a sabermetrics decision. And Kap does it a lot. That feels like a mix of math and guts, um so … wth are we doing?

Tonight Mauricio Llovera got stuck out there in a three-run game and Kapler and the staff just let him die. He popped up Buddy Kennedy, but then gave up a solidly hit single to Josh Rojas. Then an infield single to Carson Kelly on a high chopper that died on the grass near third. Daulton Varsho then ripped a single to right scoring Rojas and Kelly. sigh. Giants 3, Diamondbacks 8.

Arrrrgh. I am getting really tired of being told that decisions are being made on some kind of batter-by-batter, case-by-case, moneyball basis or sabermetric basis when it is painfully obvious it is because this team simply does not have the talent. We are thirteenth in payroll and do not have a consistent team. At all. I am severely disappointed.

The Giants have now lost five straight and eleven of their last fourteen. They have started the gauntlet of seventeen games in the first seventeen days of July by losing four straight. They are an inconsistent group, not only in performance but in terms of who is actually on the field. There is no consistent lineup. I doubt the way the coaching staff uses the 10-day and 60-day injured reserve and doubt the decision-making around the pitching staff.

Under. Whelmed.

Kapler and Co. are fading fast and proving that last year was an absolute fluke. Farhan Zaidi seems to have given up and is using the good will of last year’s record-breaking season to justify not spending any money. This team threatens no one.

Well, at least MadBum got a win.

Posted in Commentary, full games, GauntletII, NLWest, Post Game Blasts, Road Trips, SCRBRDWatch | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments