A Wild 24 Hours

On a day when the Giants gave their minor league players a day off from conditioning camp after one of their team vans was involved in an accident, I think it fitting to take a day off from the Cove Chatter 100 prospect lists. If you missed all the commotion this morning, here’s the write-up over at CSN Bay Area. Fortunately, all of the players that were taken to the hospital (Mejia, Bandilla, Soptic, Tomlinson, and Slania) were released without any serious injuries.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter which players were in that van. What matters is their safety. The pictures of the car that hit them aren’t pretty… what a scary situation. This is one blog that is sure thankful those guys are all safe.

In other, not so stressful baseball news, it’s been a very busy 24 hours for the hot stove. Last night was the non-tender deadline for MLB, and the Giants were pretty generous with their contracts. No surprise that Brandon Belt, Gregor Blanco, Yusmeiro Petit, and Joaquin Arias were re-upped, but it was a bit of a shocker to me (and likely a few others) that Tony Abreu was tendered a contract. I guess Sabes doesn’t think too highly of the infield market… not enough to cut ties with Abreu – who really didn’t provide much support last year – anyway.

While all five of the arbitration-eligible guys were awarded contracts, Sandy Rosario and Francisco Peguero were sent packing last night. The Giants apparently couldn’t find a trade partner for Peguero, as they did with Johnny Monell (Baltimore). I’m sure someone will offer Peguero a minor league contract eventually, but his MLB future is very much in doubt at this point. Rosario’s time as a professional has sort of become a revolving door, as I remember his name popping up on numerous waiver claims last winter. He’s a guy I’d take a chance on, but the Giants seem to be looking for more stability from the bullpen next year… I can’t blame them.

So… it would appear that the same reserve infield/outfield issues still loom for the Giants going forward. Let’s assume for a second that Arias and Blanco have two of those spots locked up (which I think is a safe bet). If that’s the case, you still have Juan Perez, Brett Pill, Ehire Adrianza (who is out of options), Nick Noonan, and now Abreu all fighting for the final two spots… plus any other IF/OF Sabean decides to bring in before camp. I don’t know about you, but I sure hope there are more moves to come, even if it’s a guy like Mark Ellis, who I’d gladly take over Abreu to back-up Scutaro at 2B. Abreu and Adrianza are both switch hitters, but Abreu can’t stay healthy, and Adrianza’s ability at the plate is TBD. This is going to get a little messy, friends, and likely won’t be decided until spring.

Around the league, there really weren’t all that many interesting names on the non-tender lists… again, let me show you my surprised face. Noticeably absent from those lists were Justin Ruggiano and Drew Stubbs, two guys who I could see as decent fits to platoon with Blanco in LF. If Sabes is interested in either of those two (which is purely speculation at this points), he’ll have to acquire them in a trade.

The few non-tender players who do intrigue me: Justin Turner, John Axford, Wesley Wright, Daniel Hudson, Andrew Bailey, Jerome Williams. Among this list, I think Turner could be a nice fit (although I seriously don’t know the priority for middle infielders now that Abreu was tendered). He plays all over the diamond, seems to be passable on defense, and is accustomed to a reserve role. The OBP isn’t all that great, but the positional flexibility would be nice. The rest of these cats are pitchers. Hudson isn’t very far removed from a pretty darn good season with Arizona. Axford, Wright and Bailey could all be valuable pieces in a bullpen, but Bailey especially comes with the high injury risk. I would think all three of those guys will find a home pretty quickly. Finally, if the Giants want a little more depth in the rotation heading into spring training, Williams could be a nice full-circle story on a minor league deal. I didn’t really find much else that caught my eye… remember, these are the guys that other teams DIDN’T want.

We’ll wrap up with a quick overview of the recent trade/FA signing action. To my knowledge, there have been approximately 250 moves in the past 48 hours – and those are just from the office of Billy Beane. Seriously, though, the past couple days have been trade central. The A’s (Jim Johnson, Craig Gentry, Luke Gregerson) and Rays (Ryan Hanigan, Heath Bell) have certainly been the most active, but the Nats probably swung the biggest deal in snagging Doug Fister from the Tigers. Fister is a very nice addition to that rotation.

If we’re learning anything here, there are certainly trades to be had out there. The winter meetings are next week, and I sure as hell hope Uncle Sabes is working on that shopping list for a LF. Even if it’s a Ruggiano type, I don’t care. I’m not satisfied with a Blanco/Perez platoon, and I hope you aren’t either. Maybe the front office will completely surprise us with a trade nobody was expecting. They sure have enough interesting prospects to snag a decent player, but whether they’ll pull those strings or not remains to be seen.

We’ll pick back up with the CC 100 tomorrow, with another honorable mention list to be released. For now, though, we’re just thankful here at Cove Chatter that those prospects are safe, and still able to play the game they (and we) all love.

Tony Abreu

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Playing for Their Lives

The Giants scratched out another win against the Dbacks tonight, and scratched may be an understatement. Matt Cain improved his record to 6-6 with the win, and was more resilient than sharp in his five innings of work. He allowed 8 base runners, but only surrendered 2 ER. It seemed to me that Cainer got a little upset about the strike zone early on, and never quite bounced back, issuing 4 BB. Maybe he was just off, maybe it got in his head. Either way, he ultimately gave the Giants a chance to win. His ERA now sits at 5.00 for the season.

Cain departed with a 2-1 lead, which Buster Posey padded with a monster home run to center in the bottom of the 5th, the Giants’ 30th long-ball of the year at AT&T Park (they hit 31 at home all of last year, and went on to accomplish a few nice things if you recall).

So Cain took care of the first 15 outs for the Giants. The final 12 broke down like this: Kontos 1; Affeldt 1 (left the game with a groin injury); Mijares 1; Casilla 3; Rosario 1; Lopez 2; Romo 3. Think that bullpen needs a little help? Romo allowed a run in the 9th before striking out Cody Ross for the final out.  A wild night, for sure, but another win over the division leader.

The Giants are now 4.5 back and in great position for a sweep with Bumgarner taking the ball tomorrow. The Snakes’ lead in the West is down to only a half-game…over the Dodgers. Baseball is a funny game.

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2nd Half Baseball: Gaudin Rolls, Giants 5.5 Back

The Giants opened the second half like a team bound to forget about the last three months – which is exactly what they need to do. It sure felt like a classic Orange Friday last night, a 2-0 victory over the Snakes. And the Giants used a classic formula for the win: Offense scores early, starting pitcher goes 7 strong, bullpen locks the door, and it’s good night. That’s how playoff teams play, and it’s going to take many more games like that down the stretch if the Giants want to be a playoff team. But for now, the deficit is 5.5 with a chance to gain more ground tonight and tomorrow.

Some thoughts from the win: In case you forgot what kind of pitcher Chad Gaudin was before the Giants gave him a shot this spring, allow me to remind you. Since making his ML debut in 2003, he’d been with 8 different teams, hadn’t made a start since 2009, and hadn’t had a full-season ERA under 4 since 2006 with Oakland. Now, he’s the Giants’ #2 starter, and he just keeps getting stronger. Last night’s line: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. That’s domination for any pitcher. For a pitcher with Gaudin’s history, that’s an epiphany.

Ryan Vogelsong is getting ready to start pitching in live games again, and could be back by early August. Tell me Gaudin isn’t the perfect source of motivation for Vogey to regain his 2011-2012 form…

It was nice to see the bats jump on Ian Kennedy early, but they really could’ve gone large in the 1st inning. Instead, Crawford flies out on one pitch, leaving the bases loaded. 17 runners left on base for the night. That has to get better.

That 8th inning… whoa. Four pitchers, Lopez (does his job), Rosario (does not), Mijares (does not), and finally Casilla, who promptly walked Aaron Hill in his first action since returning from knee surgery, loading the bases for the pitcher, which he easily…. Wait, no, he loaded the bases for Paul freaking Goldschmidt! A note for future reference: That can’t happen.  Goldy grounded out sharply, and the Giants were lucky to get out of the inning with the lead, let alone a shutout. If we’re going to climb out of this hole, that group has to pitch better.  But hey, a win’s a win, right?!

Matt Cain can make the Giants a very confident team tonight with a strong performance. 5.5 back.

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