EXTRA BAGGS: Pagan can't buy a break


EXTRA BAGGS: Pagan can't buy a break

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. You have to believe no player wantsspring training to end more than Angel Pagan.

He had a nice little 0-for-24 streak going before he finallylined a double in the eighth inning Tuesday. He had to be the most relieved manin Maricopa County.

One pitch later, Pagan got picked off second base.

Unfortunately, he hasnt been on a lot, said Bruce Bochy,and the Giants' skipper wasnt trying to crack a joke.

Pagan batted one more time in the ninth after the Giantsmounted a rally and got the tying runs on base. He struck out looking.

A day earlier, the crowd went home buzzing after PabloSandovals walk-off homer. This time, the fans let out a loud groan.

The question was put to Bochy, and it was fair to ask: IsPagan still the opening-day center fielder and leadoff man?

Im not going to announce the lineup now, Bochy said, abit testily. In eight or nine days he could get hot and someone else could gocold. Nows not the time you write the lineup.

Now, we have a pretty good idea. But if theres anyquestion of where were going, if theres any tweaking, well give it the restof camp (to sort out).

Its hard to imagine the Giants pulling the plug on Paganthis early. But no question, they are concerned. For the second time in fivedays, he will go to minor league camp to feast on at-bats.

I see him battling himself a little, to be honest, Bochysaid. It is spring training and hes got to remember that. Weve got sometime to get guys locked in here, but as a group, were not swinging the batsfor the last five days now. We may cut back on (cage work).

The Giants have an alternative in Gregor Blanco, who ishitting .356 with a .424 on-base percentage. He also stole two more basesTuesday and leads the majors with 11. Hes been caught once.

What about Blanco? Could he start on opening day?

I cant answer that, said Bochy, adding, Hes made a lotof noise.

This is the time when Bochy experiments with lineups, so itwas interesting to see Blanco in the No.2 spot behind Pagan. Id imagine thatspot would belong to Melky Cabrera on most days; Cabrera was getting a routineday of rest.

Bochy also gave the middle of the lineup a new wrinkle,batting Buster Posey third and Pablo Sandoval fourth. The Giants were facing aleft-handed starter so perhaps Posey will move up a spot against southpaws.

Sandoval hasnt looked great from the right side most ofthis spring. Hes been out in front of everything. While I dont think theGiants would consider any kind of platoon, its worth pointing out that BrettPill has looked serviceable while taking grounders at third base this spring.If Pill is on the roster, the Giants probably cant hope to give him an occasional start atfirst base especially with Posey getting a game or two a week to rest hislegs.

But third base could be a place to give Pill an occasionalstart against a left-handed pitcher, and to keep Sandoval fresh.

Nate Schierholtz was given a day off, but he asked to go tominor league camp to get extra at-bats. He said he was 1 for 6 but felt he sawthe ball better.

Schierholtz is trying to hold onto the everyday right fieldjob, but hes hitting .217 this spring and has battled hip and forearm issues.

Right-hander Dan Otero is going to make his big league debut at somepoint this season, and maybe soon. Mark it down.

He allowed a double to Albert Pujols leading off the sixthinning, but stranded him by calmly retiring Vernon Wells, Bobby Abreu and Mark Trumbo (foul pop,ground out, fly out).

Otero has a 1.12 ERA in eight appearances and hasnt walkeda batter. If theres one kind of reliever that Bochy likes, its a strikethrower.

Ryan Theriot is wearing sunglasses at night. He has a niceshiner after getting hit in the face by a deflected ball on Monday, but hisnose returned to a normal size and hes otherwise fine.

Trade talk is minimal, Im told. Its still very possiblethat Theriot, Mike Fontenot and Emmanuel Burriss all make the roster. JoaquinArias is a longer shot, but dont count him out, either.

Also very little to report on the Matt Cain contract front.I do expect the gulf will narrow in the next few days. Will it narrow enough toget a deal done? Well have to wait and see.

Tim Lincecum, when asked for his perspective on springtraining as a veteran player: Im a veteran?

Former Giant Aaron Rowand signed a minor league deal withthe Miami Marlins in part because it was a chance to play for Ozzie Guillen,his former manager with the White Sox.

Now Guillen is in a very, very awkward spot.

Rowand is 6-45 (.133) this spring with one double and nohome runs. And Guillen might have to deliver bad news to a friend.

Folks have asked the question so often that Ill repeat theanswer: The Giants are on the hook for all of Rowands 12 million salary this season,minus only the major league minimum of 480,000 if he is on the Marlins roster. Either way, Miamis decision on Rowand wont have a major fiscal impact on the Giants.

Scottsdale Stadium fell eerily quiet during the ninthinning, when hard-throwing Santiago Casilla threw a pitch that broke JorgeCantus bat. The barrel shard flew into the stands above the third-base dugoutand struck a female fan. Two gentlemen nearby immediately took off their shirts to applypressure to her head, which was bleeding.

I have never seen this before, but the entire ballparkstopped. The Angels players all stood on the dugout top step and gazed with obvious concern.Casilla stood on the mound, clearly not ready to continue. Cantu made it clear he wasnt about to step back in the box, either. After a delay of maybe five minutes that felt more like 15, thewoman 50-year-old Kathleen Dunnivan of Bethesda, Md. got to her feet andwalked with assistance of EMTs to a stretcher. The crowd applauded her and theGiants said the report from the hospital (conveniently located next door) was that she was OK.

Later on, Giants PR man Jim Moorehead asked to borrow mypen. I found out later that he used it to have players autograph a baseball forher. Classy move.

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.