Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 6, Giants 4


Baggs' Instant Replay: Nationals 6, Giants 4


SAN FRANCISCO While the Giants tried to digest the sudden gut-bomb of Melky Cabreras 50-game suspension, Tim Lincecum added to their acute indigestion.
Lincecum took a step back from what had been a much-improved second half. He labored through a marathon first inning, surrendered a two-run home run to Danny Espinosa in the third and was gone after throwing a whopping 96 pitches in just four innings.The Washington Nationals have owned the Giants all season, and they did not hesitate to kick them while they were down while handing them a 6-4 defeat Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park.Stephen Strasburg pitched six strong innings, managing to step around an erratic patch in the second that included two walks and a two-run single by Brandon Crawford. The Nationals, who have the best record in the N.L., took two of three and held off a late charge to beat the Giants five times out of six in the season series.The Giants finished 3-3 on their homestand and are left to forge ahead without Cabrera, the major league leader in hits and runs scored, who will serve a 50-game suspension after Major League Baseball announced that he tested positive for testosterone.NEWS: Cabrera suspended 50 games
Cabrera was listed in Wednesdays lineup before his suspension was announced barely an hour before the first pitch.Cabrera leads the major leagues in hits and walks, so theres no understating the impact his suspension will have on the Giants chances to win the N.L. West. But this remains a pitching team, so a wobbly Lincecum is a damning omen in its own right.Starting pitching reportLincecum entered 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA and had thrown quality starts in five of six outings since the break. But a 38-pitch first inning served to deep-six him against one of the leagues most talented lineups.Lincecum (6-13) simply couldnt get his teammates in the dugout after retiring two of the first three hitters. Adam LaRoche reached on an infield single, Michael Morse walked to load the bases and Jayson Werth followed with a two-out hit. Lincecum hit Espinosa with a pitch before finally escaping by striking out Kurt Suzuki.The big difference with Lincecum this season: He cant maintain his stuff after being taxed early. That proved to be the case again, as the Nationals collected eight hits against him in all. Not all were seeing-eye singles, either. LaRoche doubled and Espinosa rocked Lincecum for a two-run home run in the third.Washington leadoff man Steve Lombardozzi, who led off the game with a single, proved pesky again to start the fourth inning. Lombardozzi stole second base and moved up on a wild pitch before Lincecum stranded him.But with the Giants trailing 4-2 and Lincecums pitch count soaring to 96, Giants manager Bruce Bochy lifted the two-time Cy Young Award winner for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fourth.It was the sixth time Lincecum failed to complete five innings. He has thrown quality starts in just nine of 25 outings this season. And the Giants are now 8-17 in his starts.Lincecum would match his career high with his next loss.Bullpen reportGeorge Kontos and Santiago Casilla each gave up a run; Werth hit an RBI single in the fifth, then walked and scored on a sacrifice fly in the seventh.At the plateCabreras last-minute replacement, Gregor Blanco, entered with an 0-for-19 streak and was batting just .079 (3 for 38) over his last 20 games.The club moved Pablo Sandoval from fifth to third and inserted Blanco in the No. 7 spot in the lineup.Blanco snapped his streak at 21 hitless at-bats, but Strasburg only gave up three other hits in his six innings. The two Brandons, Belt and Crawford, collected two of them in the second after Hunter Pence and Buster Posey drew walks to start the inning. But after Lincecum sacrificed runners to second and third, Angel Pagan flied out to left field.The Giants managed exactly one baserunner (and no more runs) in each of Strasburgs next four innings. He improved to 14-5 with a 2.91 ERA. The innings count now stands at 139.1, and yes, the Nationals still plan to shut him down in the 160-170 inning range.Blancos infield hit scored a run off Sean Burnett in the eighth, but Crawford received a heaping supply of offspeed pitches while striking out to strand runners at the corners.The Giants scored again in the ninth with a gift from the gods. Sandoval popped up and tossed his bat, assuming hed made the final out. But first baseman Adam LaRoche appeared to lose the ball in the sun, and Sandoval took second base. Posey stepped to the plate representing the tying run, and he took two huge rips after Tyler Clippard fell behind 2-1. But both baseballs ended up in catcher Kurt Suzukis glove.In fieldThe Giants might need foot massages, for all the standing around they had to do during Lincecums innings.AttendanceThe Giants announced 42,133 paid including Barry Bonds, in a case of wondrous timing. As for the Melkmen maybe they can reinvent themselves as the Pence-il Pushers.Up nextThe Giants have a travel day to take stock of themselves before beginning their road trip to San Diego and Los Angeles with a Friday night game at Petco Park. Matt Cain (11-5, 2.99) opposes right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (4-3. 6.41). Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong are scheduled to pitch the remainder of the weekend against Padres left-handers Eric Stults and Clayton Richard.

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors


Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

SAN FRANCISCO — Just around dinner time on Monday, Tyler Beede got a call he had been waiting for. General manager Bobby Evans informed Beede, the Giants’ top pitching prospect, that he was being added to the 40-man roster, a significant step toward making his big league debut. Earlier that day, however, Beede’s phone brought him some unwanted news. 

Like most Giants fans, Beede woke up to a report out of South Florida that he was one of several names the Giants and Marlins had discussed in Giancarlo Stanton trade talks. For fans or team employees, it would be painful to give up a Beede or a Chris Shaw or a Joe Panik, but images of Stanton taking aim at the Coke bottle at AT&T Park would soon wash away most concerns. 

For players, the reality this time of year is much different. The Giants are the only organization that all of the rumored pieces have ever known. Panik is a New Yorker, but he and his wife have grown to love San Francisco. Beede and Shaw have spent years dreaming of debuting at AT&T Park and playing in front of sellout crowds. That makes the Hot Stove Season a particularly tense time of year. 

“I try to be a guy who doesn’t look those kinds of things up too frequently, but obviously I’m a normal guy, so I tend to dig into it a little bit more and see what’s going on and see what people are saying,” Beede said on this week’s Giants Insider Podcast. “It’s funny. I don't really know how to handle it. It’s my third year going through the trade deadline and trade talk. I’ve just go to keep telling myself it’s a realistic possibility and not to be shocked if anything were to come out or a trade were to be made.”

The rumor mill is nothing new for these players. Panik acknowledged several times during the season that he could be the odd man out. Shaw actually already once thought he got traded to Florida. For a few minutes at the 2016 deadline, Twitter had him as a key piece in the Matt Moore deal. The outfielder came out of a hotel bathroom right after the deadline to see two teammates staring at him in disbelief as Twitter rumors flew. 

Five minutes later, he got a call from Bobby Evans. “You’re still a Giant,” Evans told him. “Don’t take your jersey off.”

“It’s a little tense for sure,” Shaw said earlier this year. “It’s not something you can try to predict. You can have a feeling but that means nothing.”

Evans has always communicated to players and their agents that they can reach out any time they have a question or concern about what they might be hearing, but when it comes to getting on the phone himself, he treats the trade deadline and offseason differently. There’s more urgency to clear the air in July when players might have to take at-bats or throw pitches with rumors weighing on their minds. In the offseason, Evans will wait to reach out until deals are closer to being agreed upon. He tries not to worry as much about “hot stove banter,” he said. 

“In the offseason I think it’s a little less of an issue because a lot of things get thrown out there that don’t have validity,” he said. “We certainly don’t try to respond to every single rumor with an update because there are new rumors every hour, so it’s hard to keep up. A lot more names are mentioned this time of year.”

Players try to find different ways to get away from it all. Every year, several Giants prospects talk of playing golf during the trade deadline to stay away from MLB Network and their phones. For veterans, it’s often easiest to just take offseason vacations, and Panik planned to visit Europe with his wife. 

Beede has a somewhat unique distraction as rumors trickle out. He’s getting married on Saturday, which along with the holiday, has kept him busy all week. Still, he knows the rumors will be out there. 

“After a couple of days I start to just understand that (my) name is going to be in rumors or there may be things that people say or speculate,” he said. “(If) Bobby tells me something, or my agent says something, then I can start to maybe engage in it a little bit more. But as of right now, I’m just trying to go about my preparation and I’ll continue to enjoy being a San Francisco Giant.”

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park


Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down.