EXTRA BAGGS: Playing the Lincecum 'what-if' game, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Playing the Lincecum 'what-if' game, etc.

WASHINGTON If you are searching for positives after TimLincecum melted like an ice cream cake in Tuesday nights 9-3 loss to theWashington Nationals, then sorry.

Unless you like ice cream soup, we dont have much for you.

But there is this: Even though Giants manager Bruce Bochypulled most of his starters, including Angel Pagan as early as the fourthinning, the entire team save Wednesday starter Madison Bumgarner stayed tothe final out.

Ordinarily, that would not merit special mention. But thegame was delayed nearly 90 minutes by a thunderstorm in the seventh inning. AndWednesdays first pitch is at 11:05 a.m.

No, no, they wanted to stay as a team, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Itsnot too bad. Well have a bus that leaves at 9 a.m. Theyre all still here.

Said Pagan: You want to be here to the last out to supportyour team.

As mentioned in the Instant Replay story, the Giants areexactly halfway through the season and they have 45 victories in 81 games. Theyare on pace for 90 victories. If they had won Tuesday night, they wouldve hadthe most victories in the National League.

What if the Giants were a meager 9-8 instead of 4-13 in TimLincecums starts?

They would be 50-31, tied with the Texas Rangers for thebest record in the majors. And, with the Dodgers result still pending as ofthis writing, the Giants would hold a six-game lead in the NL West.

If I had told you the Giants would be 9-8 in Lincecumsfirst 17 starts, youd have been disappointed.

Interesting stat from my pal Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports:The leader in the NL West on the Fourth of July has failed to win the divisionin four of the past five seasons.

So much for the whole whos catching Tim Lincecumcontroversy.

I figured itd end either way with Tuesdays start.

Outcome No. 1: Lincecum would have another good outing withHector Sanchez, giving him momentum that could be viewed as a little moresustainable. Call it the string and the top effect. Then Bruce Bochy couldswitch back to pairing Buster Posey with a more confident Lincecum.

Outcome No. 2: Lincecum would have a bad start, proving thetheory that it doesnt really matter who catches No. 55. It comes down toexecuting pitches. So hed switch back to Posey, so long as the schedulepermits him to catch.

Bochy originally turned to Sanchez because the Giants hadlost nine consecutive starts with Lincecum on the mound. Something had tochange. After the wheel came up red, he put more chips down. After it hit redagain, Bochy didnt want to mess with a good thing, and besides, the scheduledictated that Posey would have to take a break from catching either Tuesday orWednesday. Made sense to me.

Now Lincecum has around 17 starts remaining, and Ill wagerthat Posey will catch at least a dozen of them. Color me up, Monsieur Croupier.

The rub of having Sanchez catch Lincecum is that it forces Bochy to choose between starting Posey and Brandon Belt at first base. Belt is on a tear at the plate.

What about putting Belt in left field, and perhaps sitting Gregor Blanco?

I asked Belt the last time he took a fly ball in batting practice. "Spring training," he said.

It might be an option in the future, Bochy said. But he wasn't going to try it in one-off fashion Tuesday. Belt acknowledged he is more comfortable at first base, and playing there and only there probably has helped him settle in and make adjustments at the plate without adding another element of uncertainty.

"But if they asked me, I'd go out there," he told me. "I think I'd be OK."

Angel Villalona still doesnt have his U.S. visa and thatprocess remains a bureaucratic mess. But the one-time 2.1 million bonus baby is playing in Dominican SummerLeague games for the Giants affiliate. And hes doing quite well.

Villalona had a .407 average with two home runs in 14 games.Hes even drawn seven walks compared to 14 strikeouts in 54 at-bats.

Then again, Villalona should be dominating the competition.The former teenage prospect is now a soon-to-turn 22-year-old playing againstmostly teenagers.

If you've forgotten, Villalona hasn't stepped foot in the U.S. since he was arrested and charged in the 2009 fatal shooting of a barroom patron in the Dominican Republic. After two years, the charges were dropped -- reportedly because witnesses changed their stories.

Youve probably heard this a billion times already, but for Wednesdays 11:05 here in Washington, the first bus will leave the Giants' hotel at 8 a.m. The second bus will leave at9 a.m.

I just wish Guillermo Mota were still on the active roster.Id take 10:47 in the Mota arrival pool.

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role


Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered


Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.