Roger Kieschnick’s Debut (and some other stuff, too)

**Edit** I should know better than to post during the trade deadline. Forget what I wrote about Wilson. He took a minor league deal with the Dodgers. Can’t blame the guy for wanting to join a contender, but come on man, the Dodgers?!

Yesterday was a pretty eventful off-day for the Giants, including a visit to the White House (if you haven’t seen the picture of the team with President Obama, it’s pretty awesome, and I might have to tag a link to it) and a bus ride from D.C. to Philadelphia. Also included in the day was a major stir created by the greatest BS’er among the Giants’ beat writers, Baggarly, in which the Giants were making some roster moves and a trade was possible. Of course, people are already on edge this time of year with the trade deadline so close, so you can imagine the fiasco that ensued. It’s amazing to see the bevy of emotions people have regarding Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum.

Ultimately, the scandalous roster moves resulted in Brett Pill and Roger Kieschnick getting called up from Fresno, with Kensuke Tanaka optioned and Tony Abreu placed on the DL to make room. For Pill, the return to the bigs came just a day late, as he was on a plane while guys like Moscoso, Francoeur and Tanaka were on the White House lawn. I know this game is a business, and I’m sure Pill would never put up a stink, but it’s pretty embarrassing to me that they couldn’t have gotten him to D.C. with the club. He’s put in his dues for the organization, that’s for sure. Oh well.

Kieschnick will be making his big league debut, which is pretty exciting for those of us who have followed his play since the Giants drafted him in 2008. Four years ago, Kieschnick was the Mac Williamson of the organization, putting up impressive power numbers in the California League. Like many prospects, he stalled out a bit in AA thanks in large part to nagging injuries. After spending a second season in Richmond, he worked his way up to Fresno for Opening Day 2012. He started the season on fire, flashing his signature power with 15 HR by the end of May. But another injury likely cost him a shot at a promotion last summer. He returned to Fresno this year, healthy, and has had an up and down season to date. He’s a .273 hitter with 13 HR and an impressive 49 extra base hits, but he still averages a strikeout per game… Contact has always been an issue with him.

Now, Roger K. is on his way to The Show, and I for one am excited. He’s a big, athletic guy with a powerful left-handed bat and a very strong outfield arm. Let’s hope the Giants give him a real chance to show what he’s capable of. I mean, he can’t do any worse than the rest of the lineup has lately.

Some other thoughts:

The latest report on MLBTraderumors has the Giants now saying they will definitely move Javier Lopez by tomorrow. I think most of us were expecting this. He’s one of the best situational lefties in the game, and Bochy’s bullpen will significantly take a hit when he leaves. But the story goes that he wants to be closer to his home on the East Coast. Yesterday I read Sabean was asking for a ML ready starting pitcher for Javy, which is probably not going to happen now that they’ve made it known he’s going to be dealt. That kind of lowers your leverage a bit, if it doesn’t kill it altogether.

Not much change on Pence and Lincecum. The Giants want to bring them both back next year, or at least make them a qualifying offer. However, they still won’t say they aren’t going to trade them. It’s a bit of a strange situation, but I don’t think you’ll see Tim going anywhere. There’s no way he’ll get much of a return, in my opinion. Pence is another story, but I get the feeling the Giants think they will regret trading him. Honestly, who knows what happens here. I don’t think the Rangers have enough to offer, but Pittsburgh and Cincinnati certainly do. If one of those two really wants the Rev, Sabean can get pretty particular with names. Both clubs have some serious talent on the farm, so that could be fun.

Lastly, it sounds like we’re down to three teams in on Brian Wilson: Pirates, Dodgers, and Los Gigantes. Personally, I think we are the best fit for Wilson (if the money is right). The Giants are looking for someone to give them a shot of life, and Wilson is looking to audition for an offseason contract. Both may be able to happen if he spends the final couple of months in San Francisco. Many probably see him as a waste of time for the Giants, but I really think the team needs him as much as he needs them at this point. Just my take, maybe you disagree.

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Trending in the Right Direction

After Thursday night’s win in San Diego, I made the comment that it had to feel good for the team’s soul. If that’s the case, then last night’s 10-1 Padre beat-down might’ve just helped the Giants remember what it felt like to be a baseball power again. For the first time since June 18-19, the Giants have won consecutive games. Baggs called it a winning streak in his postgame wrap, but I still follow the words of the skipper Lou Brown in Major League; three wins make a winning streak. Still, the last couple nights have to be a real confidence booster for a team that’s really been lacking its swagger lately.

A couple things from last night’s game:

  1. Buster Posey is crazy. The guy grounds into a double play with runners on first and second to kill a rally in one AB, then drives in five runs for the game. He had both a 5-hit and 5-RBI game during the workweek alone.
  2. Jose Mirajes changed the game with 8 pitches. If you didn’t see it, Gaudin walked the bases loaded to start the 6th. Mijares entered the game with no outs and a 5-1 lead that was anything but safe. He proceeded to go pop-out/strikeout/strikeout, and the Fathers never threatened again.
  3. Kensuke Tanaka is a saavy son of a gun. The guy just plays the game the right way. He pulled a fast one on the basepaths in the 7th that changed the game. Caught in a rundown between 2nd and 3rd, he wisely turned back into the San Diego defender, who was called for interference. Tanaka was awarded 3rd, and the Giants opened the floodgates soon after.
  4. 10 runs on 17 hits? Dang Giants, save some for the next three weeks.

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Giants Win!

No, seriously. Apparently the Padres are falling harder than the Giants these days. I had my doubts about this one when San Diego put 2 on the board in the first inning. But Bumgarner was locked in after that, and Tanaka’s RBI single tied it in the 6th. Again, I had my doubts when Pablo and Belt struck out in the 7th with a chance to take the lead. Pablo missed a ball at his eyeballs, while Belt left the bases loaded to end the inning. Blanco and Posey saved them in the 8th, driving in two to put the Giants ahead for good.

The Giants are like that last-place Little League team right now. Every win is cause for celebration. But this one really may have been good for the soul. They received another ace performance from Bumgarner, who has truly become the “stopper” of the rotation. Baggs pointed out this morning that the Giants are 5-1 with MadBum on the hill since June 14. They’re 2-18 with everyone else! That’s just unreal, but it really does put things into perspective.

On the offensive side, every position-player starter came away with a hit. Pablo hit his first big fly in what seems like ages. He’s starting to have better at-bats, as are Blanco, Crawford and Belt (the slump brothers).

Three more to go against the also floundering Padres before then the All-Star break. Can you imagine the lift the Giants could get from taking three of four heading into the second half? You just never know in this fickle game of baseball, folks. 

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A Little Surprise

Note: I’m breaking my promise of 250 words or less for this post (and I don’t care).

Admit it; this slump has worn on you. It’s made you a little bitter, maybe even questioning the Giants’ offseason strategy. First you were in denial, now you’re just angry. You expected so much more from this team. Hell, if you live in a time zone outside Pacific Standard (like me), you’ve probably turned off a few games lately with the outcome still in doubt (but let’s not kid ourselves, you knew what the outcome would be). Maybe you never turned the game on to begin with.

If this doesn’t describe how you’ve been feeling lately, you’re either incredibly even-keeled, or you’re not as big a fan as you thought. Either way, at least you aren’t suffering. As for the rest of us, we’re reeling. Can you blame us? This team entered the season with high expectations. Damn high. But what we’ve got now is a lifeless, gutless group that has backed its way almost completely out of the picture in two months. Even the 2011 team was 12 games over .500 at the break, without Posey! Like 2011, though, I just don’t think we’re going to see any miracles this summer.

Which leads me to this: Yesterday we woke up to a surprise (that maybe wasn’t all that surprising to some). The Giants had agreed to sign Jeff Francoeur to a minor league deal. Francoeur was released by Kansas City last week, and he seemed like the kind of guy the Giants would go after at this point. Of course, he’s not the hitter he was even two years ago, but for a guy who’s been in the league since 2005, he’s only 29. Personally, I like the Frenchy signing. The guy has power (which we desperately need) to go with a great outfield arm, even if he’s not the most reliable defender anymore. If he can add a little spark to the club, I’ll be satisfied.  He suited up in Fresno last night and went 1-4 with 2 K. The hope is that he can get his bat going and be in San Fran fairly soon.

The Francoeur signing at least gave Giants fans something to talk about yesterday. But the day’s biggest surprise came when I checked the CSN Bay Area site for a lineup about an hour before the game. Playing LF and batting 2nd, making his big league debut, Kensuke Tanaka. Tanaka, who had high hopes to make the team out of spring training, was a Japanese all-star and gold-glove infielder. As most of us know, it was his glove that undid him this spring and denied his lifelong dream of playing in the Major Leagues. I followed him for about the first month or so in Fresno, but it didn’t take long to see that he was a singles hitter who couldn’t field well enough, and I (like most people I assume) kind of forgot about him. So the Giants (literally) pulled this one out of left field, but I couldn’t think of a better time for it. Tanaka made an immediate impact, leaping for a catch at the wall in the second inning. He put the ball in play, got his first career knock, took a walk and helped execute a perfect hit-and-run in the 7th… and he did it all with a smile on his face. He was, as Kruk says, “a shot in the arm.”

I don’t see any reason why the Giants won’t continue to give Tanaka a shot. He seems like he can handle the bat, and as long as his defense isn’t completely awful, I envision him helping the team. But more than anything, Tanaka’s surprise promotion and his inspiring attitude helped me finally come to terms with this season. The Giants still managed to fall apart and lose, but for the first time in quite a few games, I was legitimately excited to watch an at-bat.

Maybe the recent roster moves won’t make us contenders, but at least the Giants are showing they aren’t afraid to change things up. At this point, that’s all we can ask for.