Clinch looking like a cinch as Giants roll over Padres


Clinch looking like a cinch as Giants roll over Padres


SAN FRANCISCO What the heck happened to these Giants?

Winning nine out of 10? Going 24-10 since Melky Cabrerassuspension? Putting themselves in position to celebrate a division title asearly as Saturday, with another 10 games remaining in the season?

This is no way at all to torture a fan base, is it?

Weve been playing the right kind of ball, said PabloSandoval, who has a contact zone the size of an industrial freezer once more.Everything is going our way.

Including Sandoval. Including Ryan Vogelsong. If anythingmore broke the Giants way, Brian Wilson would levitate to the mound onSaturday and start shredding bats with 96-mph heat.

OK, so that wont happen. But what is happening is theGiants most sustained run of solid baseball since 2003. They continued rightalong in a 5-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Friday.

And Vogelsong needed it. He held the Padres to a run in sixhigh-quality innings after posting a 10.31 ERA over his previous seven starts.

Im gonna sleep for the first time in about a month, Illtell you that, Vogelsong said.

He mixed a 94 mph fastball with a moving two-seamer and achangeup that mostly settled in the right corners.

Ive been trying to tweak some stuff for awhile, Vogelsongsaid. I finally found something that felt comfortable and was easy to repeat.I got kind of twisted around along the way.

The Giants postseason rotation is all bunched up, too.There seems little doubt that Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum wouldopen a division series likely in that order. But would Barry Zito orVogelsong be the No. 4 starter?

A case can be made for starting Zito and keeping Vogelsongready to piggyback him. Vogelsong has much more experience in relief, andalthough he is ultra-intense on the days he pitches, he is lessroutine-oriented than Zito is.

Carrying all five starters could allow the Giants to openwith an 11-man staff, if manager Bruce Bochy is so inclined, and still have aseven-man bullpen since one of the starters would pitch in relief. That couldallow Bochy to carry Aubrey Huff, which seems likely, and still have a pinchrunner to caddy for him.

Asked if he is thinking about his role in the postseason,Vogelsong did not hesitate in offering his response.

No because things work themselves out, he said. If Imnot in the rotation, hopefully Im in the bullpen and if thats the way it is,thats the way it is. I said it last year: My ultimate goal is to win a ring.

You start by winning a division. And with the magic numberat two, the Giants could be ready for a soaking if they win and the Dodgerslose their earlier game at Cincinnati.

Thatd be nice, said outfielder Gregor Blanco, asked aboutwalking into the ballpark with a chance to clinch. I think we deserve it.Weve been playing hard the whole year, through ups and downs. We just hopeits tomorrow.

The Giants are ready to spill bottles. They also want tofind a way to bottle up the way theyre playing.

Sandoval, benched barely more than a week ago because of hisstruggles at the plate and inconsistency in the field, is starting to become acontact-crazy force at the plate once more. He singled at a ball near his eyes,dug out another single on a low pitch and cranked a two-run home run in thesixth inning his fourth homer in three games.

Another pitch out of the zone?

No, no, it was right in the middle, he said, laughing. Ivebeen seeing the ball well. Ive been working hard every single day in the cage.I want to get my timing going and Im seeing the results of the work Ive beendoing. Im happy right now.

When youre swinging well, things are going right.

No torture required.

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.