Saturday Showdown

Good morning folks. Sorry for the hiatus. Writing has been a challenge lately (obviously), but it’s also been killing me not to post something about this team, which has become one of the hottest clubs in all of baseball. Remember, I’m always active on Twitter, even when I don’t have the time to blog. I’ve added more tweets to the feed on the right-hand column of this page. If you’re ever curious about something, or just wanting to chat Giants baseball, please send me a message!

Here’s a 6-pack of topics for this Saturday morning:

1. The Dodgers were a national favorite to win the NL West this year, and many of the pundits picked them to represent the NL in the World Series as well. They are a solid club, no doubt, and one that will not be going away anytime soon. But time and time again, when these two bitter rivals get together, I am reminded why my loyalty stands with the team in orange and black. Clayton Kershaw is probably the only player in that entire organization who I respect, and even he is a little arrogant for my taste. Regardless of what the standings say (and it’s getting oh-so close), I’ll take Sabean, Bochy, Bumgarner, Posey and the rest of the Giants P’s over Colleti, Mattingly, Puig, Gonzalez, etc. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

2. Nothing like a Friday night showdown with the division on the line. Just a complete beatdown last night, and a great time for Brandon Crawford to (hopefully) get hot. I’ve talked previously about how Crawford could be a trade candidate. I still feel like he could net the Giants a decent haul, and 2B/SS is looking like somewhat of a surplus for the organization right now, but I’ll admit that it would be tough to part ways with a SS who has 9 HR and 62 RBI. You take out the batting average, and Craw has had a very nice season at the dish.

3. Last night sent a very strong message to LA and the rest of the baseball world, but it will still be incredibly difficult to earn a series win with Greinke and Kershaw taking the bump the next two days. The Giants can’t have a letdown this weekend after the big performance last night. If they have to play for one run, so be it. Do whatever it takes!

4. Blanco, Arias, and now Crawford are all riding hot streaks offensively right now. And how about Travis Ishikawa? The Giants continually go with what they know, and they have shown continued faith in every player on the 25-man roster. Most of us fans (myself included) would have sent Arias packing long ago. There were also loads of people who wanted Blanco out as well. I brought up Ishikawa’s name a couple months ago when he was hitting well for Fresno. I was ridiculed on Twitter for even mentioning him. It just goes to show, it’s a good thing that none of us are running the organization. Sabean, Evans, Bochy and the crew know exactly what they are doing… but they didn’t have to prove that to us, did they?

5. This team has absolutely come together, and I can’t help but think that Joe Panik’s month of August had a huge hand in saving the season. Yes, the Peavy trade has played a major role as well, but Panik has quite literally taken over the part of Marco Scutaro, circa 2012. You can’t strike him out, and he gives you a tremendous AB each time up. He’s been surprisingly strong in the infield too. Frankly, I haven’t seen a Giants rookie hitter make things look so easy since Buster in 2010. Before that, Pablo in 2008. Before that? Who knows… maybe Will Clark? Point is, Panik was written off by the majority of baseball after last season. Now, he’s helping carry this team to the postseason. Pretty cool for a guy with a ceiling of utility infielder, huh?

6. Minor league seasons are officially over, with Richmond being swept out of the EL championship series yesterday. The Squirrels got some solid pitching from Mejia, Blach, Stratton and company, but couldn’t get much going in the way of offense in the postseason. Great season for the AA club though, and I think they’ll be very good again next year. With a potential starting OF of Carbonell, Mac Williamson and Tyler Horan, there’s certainly a lot to look forward to.

One for the road: The Giants teased us all year long, but it’s really starting to look like this club has what it takes to go deep into the playoffs. The stars are stepping up, the rookies have been tremendous, and the role players are hot. If they can get Morse and Belt healthy, this could be a scary club heading into October. Let’s just say this: if I’m the rest of baseball, I don’t want to see the Giants in the postseason. I’m all in with this club, and I hope you are too.

Thanks for reading.

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6 thoughts on “Saturday Showdown”

  1. Great post, Kyle. Glad to see you chiming in. Hope you’ve settled in well to life back in CA and your new job.

    This has been such a strange season. It’s hard to know what to think about this team, but right now, they’re on a roll. My one nagging worry about the postseason outlook is the rotation. I know that sounds weird given how ridiculous they’ve been at home for the last few weeks, but…not so much on the road. Right now Bum and Peavy are the anchors, and Hudson hasn’t been nearly as good as he was earlier in the season. Vogey and Petit–on any given night either can be terrific or can get cuffed around. I’m a bit worried about the bullpen, too.

    Minor leagues: Fingers still crossed that we’ll be watching the Giants’ AAA team in Sacramento next year!

    OK, let’s get Greinke tonight. Go Giants!

    1. Lefty, thanks for reading! Life is good. We are thinking about coming down to Davis for the football game against Montana State next month. Sounds like that’s Homecoming, so I may get heckled for wearing Montana gear! Looking forward to it though.

      As for the Giants, I am a bit more concerned about the bullpen than the rotation. Romo instills little confidence in me at the moment. Given the chance, I would hope Hunter Strickland would be placed on a playoff roster.

      The Giants just have that feel right now. There are certainly areas of the team that aren’t perfect, but I would feel great about a playoff rotation of Bum, Peavy, Hudson and Vogey. Nobody will grind harder in October than those 4… That’s been proven!

  2. The saga of Mike Kickham might be an example of eyeball against numerical evaluations. His numbers sucked in the coast league this year. He had a WHIP of 1.584 and an ERA of 4.43. His lifetime minor league WHIP is 1.409.
    The Giant organization embarrassed themselves by bringing a pitcher to the majors who has struggled in AAA. He’s only 25. He still has time to work things out in the minors if he hasn’t been destrtoyed by this exposure.

    1. Thanks for commenting Walter. I’ll admit I haven’t caught any of Kickham’s appearances since his call up this year, but the results aren’t pretty. Personally, I don’t see anymore than a lefty specialist future for him… and that’s if he can keep the ball in the strike zone. I disagree that the Giants embarrassed themselves with him. Some players make it in the show, others don’t. Nothing extraordinary about that.

  3. Glad to see you posting!

    LA is 21-4 in Kershaw’s starts, he walks his talks. That’s a huge advantage in the playoffs, where he gets to do the extra starts. However, my research has found that he has faltered in the NLCS, so he will need to step up there if LA is to make the WS.

    And Puig is coming up small this season, he has been cold August/September, until he played against SF. His OPS was in the 500’s for Aug/Sept, but Bondsian again, in his last five games.

    We just disagree about Crawford. I like Adrianza at SS better than Crawford, but as the B.o.B. song goes, he’s “got the whole package.” I think the Giants will hold onto him during his arb years, but goes with an internal option (Adrianza, Arroyo, Duffy) once he reaches free agency and presumably wants a market level deal, which would be up there with what Pagan got, I think.

    Though I guess it also depends on what we could get for him in trade. If we can get an up-and-coming #1 starting pitcher with him, sure. But I know we won’t get one for him. Then it becomes a matter of getting a young prospect with question marks and development to do, and I would rather not take on that risk.

    Yeah, it was pretty tough against Greinke and Kershaw. I think Bochy blew it by starting Arias over Crawford. You don’t go for offense over defense (Arias bad at SS) against Kershaw, you want to eliminate mistakes. That grounder into the hole that Arias could not convert in the second inning helped lead to two runs that inning, else the game would have been tied when Kershaw was taken out. That play Crawford did last night shows that he probably could have gotten the runner out at the hole instead of Arias allowing the hit.

    Yeah, I’ve been one wondering about Arias, because offense is the only reason to keep him around. But Blanco has had my support because of his versatility and offense/defense combo that you can’t really find in starting lineups, let alone the bench. The only thing holding him back is his head, when he’s on, he’s playing within his talents and limitations, when he’s struggling, he thinks he’s the middle lineup guy he is in Venezuela.

    Ishikawa has a part of my heart because I was his adoptive parental unit at a certain Giants website. In addition, I got into a horrible argument with someone on-line, where he suggested that Ishi be DFAed immediately (he was repeating A-ball then) while suggesting that Brad Vericker and another guy were better prospects (neither one ever made the majors), while I said that you don’t throw away a prospect with such power and ability to take walks to go along with strong defense. He might not be a starter on a contender, but at minimum, I thought he could be a great platoon player at 1B, before Belt came flashing across the prospect sky, I thought maybe he could start at 1B against RHP while Posey would steal LHP starts at 1B. And he’s been good at PHing, he’s another guy whose head gets in the way of his bat, but he’s settling in now.

    I didn’t expect him to get called up, but I didn’t expect Belt to get two injuries, one via a concussion from a ball thrown by a teammate (cough, Scutaro) either. The Giants FO was smart to pick him up when available and stash him away just in case of emergency.

    Yeah, Panik and Peavy helped saved us from the June Swoon that stretched into July. Petit too, to a lesser degree, but still significant. Panik, yes, took Scutaro’s 2012 role for the most part, even down to the fielding. I didn’t see him hitting so high, but I’ve been in the rodeo long enough to know that such hot streaks don’t always continue (Herndon, Gladden). Still, I did think that he would be a good enough hitter and fielder to become our 2B starter, we don’t need Scutaro 2012 at 2B to win, we need someone average or more who could be a cheap complement to our high priced veterans like Posey, Pence, Pagan, and could enable us to keep Sandoval as one too (though not at Pablo’s asking price, I hope).

    Peavy, though, is doing what I thought he could do, which is dominate like this. I looked into his numbers for 2012-13 and he had very high quality games, and was down this year, which I’ve attributed to having to deal with Fenway’s Green Monster. Putting him back here, with a pitcher’s park and a manager he greatly admires (and whom he appreciates because Bochy was his first manager), were all good ingredients to bringing back the Peavy of 2012-13 in terms of peripherals, even if the results were not the best in that period. He has not only not disappointed, but he’s doing even better, to the point that even if Cain and Lincecum were still in the rotation, Peavy would probably be #2 starter in the off-season, should we make it.

    Posey is probably the best comparison with Panik. Nobody exhibited the bat control that these two exhibited. Will the Thrill struck out a bit more. Sandoval didn’t walk as much. Of course, they all have power that Panik can only dream of, and a higher level of prospect status as a result, though perhaps Sandoval before his power kicked in was a good comparison.

    Billy Mueller maybe? Panik is a bit of a unique prospect in Giants history, most hitters have been all (with power as big component, Kingman, Brown, Clark, Will the Thrill) or OK, not good as Panik appears to be. Of course, that’s partly because most of my Giants history is filled with barren farm systems over much of the years, as Shankbone notes often, this is a Golden Era for Giants prospects.

    Gladden wasn’t all that good, ultimately, though good enough for the Twins. Herndon is probably the closest I can think of in my time as a Giants fan. Thompson was never all that good, except for his free agent drive season… Oh, Chris Speier, Garry Maddux and Gary Mathews, but then you get quickly into the lower tiers, Gary Thomassen, Joe Pettini, Rich Murray, Jose Uribe (though that was trade), Gladden. Funny how Sabean gets labeled as not understanding offense, when the riches he has found in the past 5-10 years probably outweighs the ones produced in the 30 years prior.

    1. Hey OGC, thanks for the comments! Great stuff, digging deep into the file of Giants prospects!

      I like Crawford. I have absolutely nothing against him. But I’ve also kind of lost hope that he can be anything close to a .275 hitter like I’d thought he could. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong. The HR/RBI #’s this year look very good. The problem is his defense. I’m not sure if there is some conditioning issues, or focus, or what… but the promised Gold Glove caliber consistency just hasn’t been there.

      I guess the main point I’ve tried to make about Crawford recently is that middle infield has suddenly (and a bit surprisingly) become somewhat of a surplus for the organization. Crawford, Panik, Arias, Adrianza, Duffy… I have a hard time believing all 5 will be on the 25-man roster next year. And of those 5, I think Crawford would net the greatest return in a trade. Depending on how things play out this winter with Pablo and free agency, it might take some kind of a trade to help rebuild the offense and possibly even pitching staff. Crawford is just one name I’m keeping in the back of my mind right now should that situation play out.

      Only a couple weeks to go… Let’s hope these guys keep pushing for the postseason. As we both know, anything can happen in October!

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