Archive for August 2016

Finally Some Good News

August 26, 2016

With the San Franciso Giants sinking like a stone in the NL West, the team sorely needed Matt Moore‘s performance tonight, even if he lost his no-hitter with two outs in the ninth.

It remains to be seen how Moore does in his next couple of starts after throwing 133 pitches tonight, but at least I no longer have such a strong feeling that the Giants’ big trades at the deadline amounted to giving away a mountain of talent for very little improvement to the team.  Moore’s results were mixed until tonight, but it’s now fairly safe to say that any starts Moore takes away from Jake Peavy or Matt Cain improves the team.

The trade for Will Smith, on the other hand, has definitely hurt the Giants, because he took Matt Reynolds‘ roster spot.  No one has ever heard of Reynolds, at least outside of Colorado and Arizona, but he’s now made 21 relief appearances at the AA, AAA and major league levels this season after being signed out of the Independent-A Atlantic League.

Reynolds has found something this season, and his scoreless streak has gone on too long for it to be nothing but a fluke.  In 17.2 innings pitched since returning to the MLB-system, he’s allowed only seven hits and three walks while striking out 18.  The majority of that has come in the AAA Pacific Coast League, which is no easy place to pitch, even if it isn’t the major leagues.

Eduardo Nunez hasn’t been terrible, but there is no reason to think that the Giants couldn’t have gotten the same performance out of the platoon players they were using before the Giants traded away 23 year old Adalberto Mejia.  Mejia made his first major league appearance for the Twins on August 20th and was hit pretty hard, but if he stays healthy, this still looks like a deal that the Giants will really be regretting in three to five years’ time.



Maybe It’s Time to Make Derek Law the San Francisco Giants’ Closer?

August 14, 2016

Santiago Casilla got rowdied up in the 9th inning of today’s game, costing the Giants a game they sorely needed to win.  It’s got me wondering whether now isn’t the time to make Derek Law the Giants’ closer.

Sure, you don’t like to put that kind of pressure on a rookie, but Law is now 48 games into his major league career, it’s clear he has stepped into the set-up role, and Casilla sure isn’t inspiring confidence.

Casilla is now 36 years old, he has a 2-4 record and six blown saves this season.  His ERA is now 3.28.  He’s still the safe bet going forward, but the brave move would be to give Law some save opportunities, and see what happens, even if Casilla’s tender feelings are hurt.

I fully expect the Giants to stick with Casilla at least until the next time he gets bombed.  He’s the veteran, and Law is the rookie, and the history of the major league game is that you don’t throw a rookie into the closer role, even this late into the season, unless you absolutely have to.

It’s just that the NL West race is exceedingly close, and the Giants can’t afford to give up even one or two games going forward, and Law 117 games into the 2016 season seems a whole lot less hittable than Casilla.  Casilla’s 2016 numbers aren’t that bad, but he looks like a guy who at his age is a half-step slower than in seasons past.

Maybe you give Casilla an opportunity to blow one more game, but the time is definitely getting near to do whatever you have to do to win every single game possible, especially since the Giants’ trade deadline moves have put them all in for 2016.


Dan Slania, Future San Francisco Giants Starting Pitcher?

August 9, 2016

Or are the Giants highly suspicious of his sudden success as a starter?

Dan Slania is a former fifth round draft pick from 2013 who apparently has good stuff, but had high ERAs for his ratios as a relief pitcher working his way up through the system.  The Giants began to use him as a starter about five weeks ago at AA Richmond, where he started the season in the bullpen.  The difference in his pitching since moving to the starting rotation has been night and day, in a good way.

Slania has a 1.51 ERA over his last ten starts — he’s got 12 starts on the season — and his ERA for the season has dropped almost a run-and-a-half since then.  After ten (or at least the last eight) very successful starts at AA Richmond, the Giants promoted him to AAA Sacramento, where he made a start against the Salt Lake City Bees in Sactown, allowing one earned run in seven innings pitched on only two hits and a walk while striking out five.

Slania made his next start five days later for the Class A+ San Jose Giants, where he won his 9th game of the 2016 season, pitching another seven innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and four walks.

One has to wonder why the Giants would demote Slania two slots in their minor league system after he had suddenly blossomed as a starter.  It almost certainly has more to do with the Giants not having a place for Slania at AA and AAA after adding two pitchers at the trade deadline.  However, the Giants had Phil Bickford‘s (still sad to see you go) spot open at A+ San Jose, so there Slania went.

The situation is not ideal.  Slania is three years older than Bickford, so you would like to see the Giants push him at AAA at age 24, particularly after that first tantalizing AAA start.

It’s up to Slania now.  If he has a couple more good starts for San Jose, he’ll move back up to AAA Sacramento as soon as a roster spot is available, maybe sooner.

San Francisco Giants Newbies So So So Far

August 9, 2016

Needless to say, I’ve been following the San Francisco Giants recent trade-products, and the outlook is definitely mixed so far.  Matt Moore was just good enough to get the Gints to a 3-2 win in his first start, allowing two runs in six innings pitched with only three hits but six walks allowed.

Eduardo Nunez is 1-for-5 with tonight’s game just heading into extra innings, dropping his batting average to .242 with a .748 OPS.  He hasn’t been appreciably better than the combination of Conor Gillaspie, Ramiro Pena, and Grant Green, unless Nunez’s defense is far superior to the combined effort.

Nunez is adjusting to a new league, and he’s still got time to make some adjustments, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Will Smith allowed two runs on three consecutive hits before mercifully being pulled out of tonight’s game.  He’s now got a 18.00 ERA after five G-Men appearances.  Smith got hit hard in his last ten appearances for the Brewers, allowing eight runs, six of them earned, in 9.1 IP, a 5.79 ERA.

Smith’s also got time to turn it around, but he sure isn’t inspiring confidence so far.

San Francisco Giants Trade Matt Duffy to Tampa Rays

August 2, 2016

In another sign the Giants are all in for 2016, they today traded Matt Duffy and two prospects to the Rays for Matt Moore.  The Giants could certainly use another starter for the stretch run, but I’m sorry to see Matt Duffy go.

There is still some question whether Matt Duffy will hit enough to be a star at third base.  However, players often slump in their sophomore seasons, and Duffy’s .671 OPS isn’t terrible for a 25 year old sophomore season.  Players that age typically continue to get better in their third and fourth seasons.

A lot of Duffy’s value is in his glove, and it’s a little strange the Rays would want him, given that they already have an above-average defender at the position in Evan Longoria.  If the Rays don’t turn around and flip Duffy in another trade, they will assumably move Longoria to 1B, so they can get more offense out of that position than they have in recent years.

Of the two prospects the Rays also got, Lucius Fox is almost certainly the better one.  He’s a former international bonus baby, and while he’s currently totally over-matched at the plate at full season A-ball in Augusta this year (.582 OPS), he’s only 19 years old and has tools.

Michael Santos, the other prospect, is a tall, thin right-hander, who can pitch, but so far doesn’t seem to have the stuff (140 strike outs in 177.2 innings pitched, none of them in a league higher than full season A-ball) to develop into a major leaguer.

As far as I am aware, the other Giants players liked Duffy in the clubhouse, and it seems like the Giants made the move because he got hurt, the team traded for Eduardo Nunez, and suddenly Duffy was expendable if it meant getting another piece the Giants felt they needed to make the post-season.  Once again, though, I feel a bit underwhelmed at what the Giants got in exchange for a young player who looked like he was going to be an important part of the Giants’ future.

San Francisco Giants Give Up Too Much For Will Smith

August 1, 2016

The Giants reportedly traded today for left-handed Brewers reliever Will Smith in exchange for Phil Bickford and Andrew Susac.  I have no problem with the Giants trading Susac, but giving up Phil Bickford, after also trading away Adalberto Mejia, is too much.

At catcher, Andrew Susac was the odd man out due to the emergence of the younger Trevor Brown.  In fact, if I were Giants management, I would have been willing to trade either Susac or Brown, because I think the two are roughly comparable at this moment, and either one remaining would be a fine back-up to Buster Posey for the rest of 2016 and going forward.

Phil Bickford was in my opinion the Giants’ best starting pitcher prospect, and the Giants have now traded away their top two starting pitcher prospects for guys who are likely to make the team only incrementally better.

Will Smith missed the first two months of the season after having knee surgery in March, and his strikeout rate is down this year compared to 2014 and 2015.  His ERA’s, except for last season, haven’t been impressive, although his ERA should improve pitching his home games at AT&T Park.

There is no question but that the Giants could use bullpen help, but it seems likely that Matt Reynolds, who is also a lefty, will be the  guy demoted to AAA Sacramento, which makes me sad.

Reynolds is a great feel-good story, starting the season in the Independent-A Atlantic League, pitching great, getting signed by the Giants, making 13 high minor league appearances without being scored upon, and then making two relief appearances for the Giants without being scored upon.  You hate to see a guy like that get sent down.

The Giants are certainly doing everything to win now, no matter the long-term cost, so they damn well better make it to at least the NLCS this post-season.