EXTRA BAGGS: Pence takes protection racket seriously, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Pence takes protection racket seriously, etc.


SAN DIEGO Hunter Pence reached 100 RBIs for the first timein his career with his three-run home run in the first inning Saturday night,but he wasnt doing handsprings in the clubhouse.

And not just because its bad form to celebrate a milestonefollowing a loss.

Its nice but you cant be too happy, said Pence, pointingout that hes getting tons of RBI chances because cleanup man Buster Posey hasbeen an on-base machine.

With Posey, theyre walking him a lot with runners on base.So its important that I have a good approach. Theres a reason Im gettingthese opportunities. To protect him, thats my job right now.

Everyone knows it: There will be times in the postseasonwhen Posey wont get anything to hit. Thatll be especially true if the Giantsface left-handed pitchers in the playoffs. Posey is hitting .431 against themthis season -- the highest average in the majors.

Yes, thats right. Posey is hitting .431 in 160 at-batsagainst left-handed pitching.

He did more damage Saturday against lefty Eric Stults. Poseywalked and also went 2-for-2 with a pair of singlesto raise his average to .337. He now has a larger lead over the Pirates AndrewMcCutchen, who saw his average fall to .329 despite hitting a walk-off home runagainst the Reds.
MCCUTCHEN WATCH: Slump halted, ground lost

Of course, for now, Melky Cabrera is still listed as theofficial leader with a .346 average. Thatll change after the 162ndgame, when hell no longer have enough plate appearances to qualify.

And in case you were wondering, yes, its theoreticallypossible for Posey to pass Cabreras average. Hell be off on Sunday, soassuming he gets 12 at-bats over the final three games at Dodger Stadium, hedneed nine hits to raise his average to .34586. That would nudge out Cabreras.34565, assuming you add an extra plate appearance to his total -- whichwouldve been the case if MLB and the union hadnt changed the rule atCabreras request.

Posey will get a break Sunday, but Bochy wont rest all hisregulars. For one, he wants to give Tim Lincecum a fighting chance at avoidinga career-worst 16th loss. For another, there are some regulars whowant the chance to continue to hone their swing. That includes Pence, who ishitting just .224 as a Giant but has 43 RBIs in 55 games.

Average is overrated to me, said Bochy, who probably won't trot out that same comment if Posey wins the batting title.

I like damage anddriving in runs," the manager continued. "Thats how you win ballgames. You talk about a guy whosknocked in 100 runs, its a great year and he did it in nice fashion there witha home run today.

If Pence can continue to do damage, that might get Posey afew more pitches to hit. And theres nothing wrong with that.

Aubrey Huff did not have a productive day, and not becausehe had a hitless at-bat off the bench.

Madison Bumgarner struggled in his four innings. And themore the starting pitchers struggle, the more likely itll be that Bochy keepsa 12-man pitching staff. Thatll make it tough to keep someone like Huff, whoessentially requires two roster spots because he needs a pinch runner.

A loyal reader gave me one heck of a news tip. He thought hesaw Brandon Belt and Bumgarner on the off day last Monday, kayaking around thebay near McCovey Cove. Their wives were in a double kayak while the two playerseach paddled solo.

I asked Belt today and he said yes, indeed, it was them. Thewhole thing was Belts idea. Bumgarner went along with it, but forget the swimtrunks and water shoes. He wore his blue jeans and cowboy boots. I only wish Ihad the pictures.

Apparel choices aside, they did the smart thing by ridingsolo. Every kayak guide knows those double-seaters by another name: divorceboats.

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.