EXTRA BAGGS: Posey collects seed money, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Posey collects seed money, etc.


ST. LOUIS Buster Poseys free video game is available foryour iPhone, and heres a quick review:

"Buster Bash" is mildly addicting. The first level, set in Bustersboyhood backyard in Leesburg, Ga., is easy. After that, you need to useaccumulated sunflower seeds to equip yourself with better bats, gloves, compete at higher levels.

Or you need to be better at video games than I am,apparently

(Seeds can be compiled through playing the game, or bysigning up for a credit card, or by watching commercials, or, if its moreconvenient for you, the game developer is also kind enough to accept cold, hardcash. America! What a country.)

Aubrey Huff and Brandon Crawford were playing the game nonstop inthe clubhouse Tuesday, taking virtual batting practice before the real-worldkind. Judging from the displeased faces they made at their iPads, Im pretty sure they didbetter taking actual swings.

Posey took his share of grief from teammates and claimed that no, he hadno cheat codes to give anyone.

Against real major league pitching, of course, theres no such thing asa secret up-down-up-down-left-right-left-right sequence.

It only seems likePosey has access to the codes.

His three-run home run in the first inning powered theGiants to a much-needed 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday night.It was his fifth home run in six games. It also was his 18th of theseason, matching his career high.

He leads the major leagues with 30 RBIs since the All-Starbreak, and hes hitting .432 over an 11-game hitting streak. Those are video game numbers, all right.

The Pirates Andrew McCutchen probably would win the NL MVPaward if the ballots had to be cast right now. But Poseys name is bubbling up,much as it did in discussion leading up to the Rookie of the Year award in 2010.

Poseys least favorite topic is himself. Heremained consistent when asked his thoughts about the MVP chatter.

Well, thats humbling to have your name even mentioned insomething like that, he said. Its pretty cool, I guess.

Thats Buster for you. I wonder if wed get a longer comment for 1,000 sunflower seeds.

And I jest, of course.

Posey and Barry Zito had started as a battery just twicethis season entering Tuesday, and the Giants had lost both times. But they madea nice team against a tough Cardinals lineup loaded with right-handed problemsto solve.

Zito always seems to deliver an excellent start when you leastexpect it. He had a 11.35 ERA in three career outings at Busch Stadium and saidhe knew he had a couple rough ones here in St. Louis."

"But it doesnt reallystand out in my mind," he continued. "You just come back to the fundamentals: Being aggressive,throwing strikes. When you do that, you put pressure on them. Theyll swing atpitches out of the zone. Theyll just react differently.

It was the 15th time in 384 career starts that Zito went at least 6 23 innings and didn't walk a batter. That was impressive, since the same Cardinals lineup spoiled dozens of good pitches from Matt Cain a night earlier.

Of course, it helps when Posey gives you a 3-0 lead with one swingbefore you take the mound.

Well, Ive had him for awhile, Bochy said of Zito. Youcan see when hes on. He used all his pitches at any time. He gave up a couplehome runs to a good hitter (Allen Craig) and kept his poise.

Yes, Bochy and Zito have been together awhile. Theirfirst season as Giants came at the same time, in 2007. Who could forget that media guide cover ofthe two of them, hands awkwardly grabbing their belts, standing back to back?(The most awkward thing about that cover: Barry Bonds, who would break the all-time home runrecord that season, was nowhere to be found on it.)

Its at turns easy and difficult to remember that Zito hasbeen a Giant for six seasons now. Hes surpassed expectations while going 9-8with a 4.19 ERA. So he was asked if he is having his most fun in a Giantsuniform.

I always try to have fun playing the game, Zito said. Sometimesits more fun than others. But I love the chemistry in this clubhouse. I wantto stay healthy, get out there every five and help this team win.

Ill let you know at the end of the season how happy I am.

I believe the words playoff roster will dictate Zitosmood at the end of the season, should the Giants make it.

Its been mentioned in this space before and it bearsmentioning again: Hunter Pence is going to be extremely important for theGiants. Hell need to protect Posey in the lineup and ensure that hes notpitched around.

If its already happening, Posey hasnt taken note of it.

Are they? I dont know. They havent really yet, he said. Idont feel like it.

Even if they do, Posey said he would try not to let it alterhis game plan.

I try to keep the same approach -- just look for a ball youcan hit hard, he said.

If you missed this from my Twitter post earlier today,right-hander Heath Hembree came out of two live BP sessions without anyproblems and the Giants activated him on Tuesday. But they assigned him toSingle-A San Jose, not Triple-A Fresno.

Hembree tossed a scoreless inning at Stockton, striking outone.

Hell remain in San Jose just long enough to get hisbearings before the Giants move him back up the chain, club vice president BobbyEvans told me. Theres no such thing as a rehab assignment in the minorleagues.

Hembree had been shut down for a month because of a flexorstrain in his right elbow.

Xavier Nady, who homered Monday, was 0 for 1 with three walks, an RBI and a run scored for Triple-A Fresno Tuesday night.

Left-hander Jose Mijares arrived during the game and wasissued No.50. With my binoculars, I could spot him in the Giants bullpen.

Actually, I could see him plenty well without the specs. Hefills out a uniform.

The Cardinals have a pitcher named Barret Browning, which Ilove. How much? Let me count the ways.

Hed better keep throwing strikes. I heard the Cardinalshave a young arm named Al Tennyson charging through the minor leagues.

Time for me to spend three hours obsessively trying to hitthe ball over the goshdarn barn in Buster Bash. One reader informs me that in later rounds, you get a shot to hit announcer Dave Flemming's car.

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."