EXTRA BAGGS: Melky Cabrera returning to Kansas City?


EXTRA BAGGS: Melky Cabrera returning to Kansas City?


MIAMI Melky Cabrera prefers to use a translator in formalinterviews, and Emmanuel Burriss happened to be the bilingual teammate within aSpanish-English dictionarys length of him after Thursday nights victory.

So after Cabrera turned in another three-hit game, I proceeded to ask a fairlyinnocuous icebreaker: Have you felt really comfortable at the plateall year?

Oh, no, no, dont answer that! Burriss said. Let me. Iwill, I will. Ill answer it.

Burriss looked me in the eye.


Burriss was only slightly placated when Iagreed to tap Cabreras wooden locker.

You dont ask that! he said.

The answer is yes, of course. Yes to all of it. Yes toCabrera being the savior for a Giants offense that has dead production zones atthree or four infield positions every night. Yes to the trade with the KansasCity Royals looking so lopsided, Dayton Moore might never take another callfrom Brian Sabean. And yes to Cabrera returning to Kansas City to represent theGiants in the All-Star Game.

The Giants didnt have a four-RBI game from anyone allseason. Cabrera and Angel Pagan each drove in four in Thursdays 14-7 victory.

Cabrera leads the majors with 67 hits and 22 multi-hitgames. Hes on a pace for 241 hits, which would be the most by National Leagueplayer since Bill Terry for the 1930 New York Giants. (Terry, a Hall of Famer, had 254 hits that season.)

And then you think of that miraculous throw from left fieldin Milwaukee. And then you notice how Cabrera made an instant read to score thetying run from second base on Pagans jam-shot single in the fourthinning.

I just knew off the bat it was hit good and in the rightspot, Cabrera said, fielding a question that Burriss allowed him to answer. Ididnt need to hesitate at all.

Cabrera is hitting .361, and the most impressive part isthat his average isnt the most impressive part. Its amazing what happens whenyou mix talent, intelligence, instincts, focus and dedication.

Melkys just unbelievable, said Ryan Vogelsong, who justmight join Cabrera in Kansas City in July. Hes done nothing but impresseverybody in this locker room from the day he got here.

Still, there are 117 games on the schedule. Theres a reasonthe words on pace dont mean a lot in May. But the early returns, at least,would favor the notion that Cabreras 201-hit campaign for the Royals last yearwas no flash in the cooking implement of your choice.

Yes, its possible to sustain this pace. Ive seen it oncebefore, when I covered the Anaheim Angels in 2000. Darin Erstad hit .355 thatseason and finished with 240 hits, and the most marvelous part about it waswatching his daily routine. He took countless swings off a tee and in the cage.He stuck to a rigorous schedule. He never rested after a two-hit game, or athree-hit game, or a four-hit game. He was out there the very next day, doingeverything possible to stay sharp. And then hed spit out more hits with thatflat-bat swing of his.

Thats how teammates describe the relentless way Cabreragoes about his business, both in the cage and in the weight room.

Know this: The man travels with his personal medicine ball.

Every day I work hard and make sure I prepare myself totake good at-bats, Cabrera said. Its all about preparation, doing whatever Ican.

His routine does not include being overly chatty. ButCabrera offers peeks to his personality.

When asked what he thought of Sergio Romo copying hischinstrap beard, Cabrera didnt wait for the translation.

He looks better, he said, smiling.

The Giants didnt just score 14 runs against Anibal Sanchezand Co. They also looked smart doing it.

How about the discipline that Buster Posey showed in thesixth inning? He worked a count to 3-2, and when he got a breaking ball, hedidnt lunge at it. That's something he wasn't doing earlier this month, when the strikeouts were piling up in uncharacteristic fashion.

And how about Angel Pagan? Hes proving to be quite anasset as the No.5 hitter. When Posey walked to load the bases, Paganstiebreaking double drove in two runs.

You could argue the two most important moments in the game came with the bases loaded: Pagan's double in the sixth, and Vogelsong's getting Giancarlo Stanton to pop out in the fifth.

One more small thing I noticed, even if I forgot when it happened: With a hit-and-run on, Joaquin Arias found a way to foul off a pitch that was a footoutside. It didnt make a major difference in Thursdays outcome, but those arethe little things that add up over the long haul.

The Giants set season highs with 15 hits and four stolenbases. So the early returns on Marlins Park are favorable, no matter what an art critic would say about the home run fountain in center field.

Check out Romos before-and-after barbershop photos. Heposted them to his Twitter page.

I also happened to go for a haircut today near Little Havana. Theplace was called Manny Sosas. Sadly, the barber didnt look anything likeManny Mota or Sammy Sosa.

Tomorrow for lunch: Versailles, and arroz con pollo. With plaintains and then Cafe Cubano, of course.

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. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'


Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."