Giants

EXTRA BAGGS: Why are teams running wild on Posey?

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EXTRA BAGGS: Why are teams running wild on Posey?

LOS ANGELES Buster Posey needs a day off behind the plate, according to Bruce Bochy.But the Giants' manager would have to show up in iron helmet and hauberkif he left his best hitter out of a late-August game at Dodger Stadium.

So Posey will be at first base on Tuesday, Bochy said.Hector Sanchez draws the assignment of catcherhuman pincushion with TimLincecum on the mound.

Posey took an 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Monday, andtheres no shame in that against Clayton Kershaw. Posey certainly looked strong whileblocking balls and making a pair of throws to nab runners, part of an overall solid defensiveeffort behind a left-hander Madison Bumgarner at the top of his game.

RELATED: Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 2, Dodgers 1

But heres the interesting part:

The Dodgers didnt stop running after Posey threw out ShaneVictorino in the third and Luis Cruz in the sixth.

In fact, Victorino took off with two outs and Matt Kemp atthe plate in the sixth. And after stealing second base, Victorino stole third,too.

That whole sequence didnt make a whole lot of sense to me. No, its not likeVictorino was taking the bat out of Kemps hands by stealing second. (TheGiants arent going to put the tying run on base, after all.) But at thatmoment, Kemp represented the tying run. If Victorino gets thrown out, Kempleads off the next inning with the bases empty.

Then, just as I started to justify the merits of getting into scoring position, Victorino goes and swipes third.

I wont even try to figure that oneout.

Really, theres just one explanation: Victorino was 100percent certain that he would make it.

Then I asked myself, Why would Victorino think that way? And itdawned on me that we saw a similar situation the other day in San Diego, whenCameron Maybin helped to run the Padres out of a potentially big inning. Poseythrew him out at second base with one out and runners at the corners.

Could the league be marking Posey as easy prey?

I looked up the stats, and this much is absolutely, unequivocally true:

Teams arerunning on Posey with reckless abandon.

Posey has thrown out 27 percent of attempted base stealers,right on line with the NL average. Yet opponents have made 97 attempts againsthim, which leads the league by a wide margin. (Carlos Ruiz is next, with 86.Brian McCann follows with 81, then A.J. Ellis and Nick Hundley with 79).

And although Posey has caught 26 runners stealing, which istied with the Dodgers Ellis for the third most in the NL, opponents havestolen 71 bases against him far and away the most among NL catchers. (RodBarajas is next with 61, McCann is at 59 and there is a little more separationbetween them and everyone else.)

You wouldnt think that Posey is a catcher that the scoutingreports would tell you to pick on. He has a strong arm. Hes an accuratethrower, too.

Sure, theres the impact of your batterymate. But Lincecumis generally considered an easy mark to run on, and Posey hasnt caught himvery often.

(Oddly enough, its Bumgarner, a lefty with a decent pickoffmove, who has witnessed the most thefts on the staff with 20 in 27 attempts. Thebullpen has had its share of issues, too. Baserunners are 9-for-9 against ClayHensley and 6-for-6 against Sergio Romo.)

There are a bunch of possible reasons that teams are takingchances with Posey behind the plate. But they are, and theres only one sureway to stop it.

Posey must throw them out, as he did twice Monday night.

As an Internet meme once suggested, Buster ain't having it.

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In case you were wondering, Marco Scutaro was bunting on his own in the first inning when his sacrifice put Angel Pagan in position to score on Pablo Sandovals flyball. Scutaro is a player who understands his strengths and applies them to fitgame situations. Theres a simpler definition for guys like that: winningplayers.

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Javier Lopez was the committee member who got to wield thegavel after Romo gave up his second gopherball of the season to Hanley Ramirez.Lopez got Andre Ethier to ground to first base to seal the Giants 2-1 victory.

It was their second one-run victory on the trip. Beforethat, they didnt have one since July 24.

Closer by committee is not an ideal thing, but it works forus, Lopez said. I think weve done a pretty good job with it. And overall, Ithink were starting to hit our stride.

How did Lopez attack Ethier?

Just trying to stay down in the zone and work ahead, hesaid. I got him to roll over a sinker. Tomorrow Ill probably have to come upwith something different.

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I didnt fit this quote into the main story on the game,which was mostly about the magic of watching two strong-armed left-handers at theheight of their powers in Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw.

RELATED: Bumgarner gives Giants a performance for the ages

But its too good a quote to stay in my notebook:

They came into our house and dominated us the wholeweekend, said Lopez, recalling the late-July series when the Dodgers outscoredthe Giants 19-3 while completing a three-game sweep. Thats something wevebeen thinking about in here.

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Gregor Blanco started in left field as the Giants preferred alefty-lefty matchup with Kershaw over Justin Christian, who is 0 for 15 overhis last 10 games.

I have to believe the Giants will make a roster tweak in thenear future to give Bochy another right-handed option for left field. Maybeits Xavier Nady, who was 2 for 4 with a double Monday night for Triple-AFresno. (And also played in both ends of Sundays doubleheader).

But heres a dark horse for you: Juan Perez is on fire atDouble-A Richmond. He is batting .414 in August and hit his 10thhome run Monday night. Hes been playing center field the past couple dayswhile Gary Brown moves to left.

GM Brian Sabean has said that Brown isnt likely to be inthe big leagues this season. But maybe Perez, a good defender with some wheels,will merit some attention.

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Your nightly Guillermo Mota update: He pitched two inningsfor Fresno and gave up one hit, a home run to Jedd Gyorko. Mota struck out twoand did not walk a batter.

What the Giants' 2018 Opening Day lineup could look like

What the Giants' 2018 Opening Day lineup could look like

SAN FRANCISCO — The excitement could be heard in Bruce Bochy’s voice as he spoke on a conference call Tuesday afternoon, which was understandable. Bochy used 136 different lineups last season, largely because the Giants never found permanent solutions in the outfield or at third base. 

Since the final game of a 98-loss season, the front office has handed Bochy an everyday third baseman in Evan Longoria, a star in right field in Andrew McCutchen, and a versatile outfield option in Austin Jackson. With every new addition, Bochy has tinkered with the lineup bouncing around his head. He isn’t ready to reveal anything publicly, but he said the new-look staff is already discussing lineup options. 

“It’s going to be probably toward the end of spring training until we have this lineup down,” Bochy said. “It’s a different lineup, as you know. I’ll see or we will see what makes the most sense.”

In McCutchen and Longoria, the Giants added two guys used to hitting right in the heart of the order. After the Longoria deal, Bochy did say he would like to hit Longoria in front of Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. Since then, McCutchen has given him another option, and a lot more could still change. 

Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans would like to add one more center fielder, and it’s possible that player can lead off. Steven Duggar could win the job in camp, and with his speed and strong eye at the plate, he would be an ideal leadoff option. That is, however, a lot of pressure for a rookie, and Bochy mentioned McCutchen and Jackson as options atop the lineup. Both hit there quite a bit earlier in their careers, but McCutchen hasn’t been a leadoff hitter since 2011 and Jackson has just 56 starts there the last three years. Joe Panik and Hunter Pence also have experience leading off for Bochy, and it’s possible the top of the lineup could change depending on the opposing pitcher.  

“I’ve always liked to have the versatility or flexibility to mix it a little bit,” Bochy said. “Maybe it’s a matchup thing or lefty-righty.”

It will be a lefty, Clayton Kershaw, staring in at the Giants on opening day. So for now, here’s a guess at the group Bochy will send out there at Dodger Stadium … 

1. Andrew McCutchen RF
2. Joe Panik 2B
3. Evan Longoria 3B
4. Buster Posey C
5. Brandon Belt 1B
6. Hunter Pence LF
7. Brandon Crawford SS
8. Austin Jackson CF
9. Madison Bumgarner LHP

Jackson not necessarily Giants' everyday center fielder

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USATSI

Jackson not necessarily Giants' everyday center fielder

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants had a glaring hole in center field after the acquisition of Andrew McCutchen and his subsequent move to right field, so it stood out when a press release to announce the signing of Austin Jackson included the words “depth at all three outfield positions.”

A day later, team officials made it clear that Jackson is not necessarily the final piece of the puzzle, or even the solution in center field. After mentioning several times that it was a strategic signing, vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean gave a blunt answer when asked about Jackson’s role. 

“Did we get him to be our everyday center fielder? Probably not,” Sabean said. “I don’t know that in his recent history he’s been able to go out there in that fashion.”

Jackson played just 54 games in 2016 and 85 last season for the Indians. The Giants see him as a complementary piece, someone who can handle plenty of time in center, spell McCutchen and Hunter Pence in the corners, and give them a dangerous bat against left-handed pitchers. 

It seemed that was a role that would mostly go to Austin Slater, but the Giants gave Jackson a two-year deal for $6 million, basically wiping out the rest of their room under the tax line. They will not be significantly involved in free agency from this point on, which leaves two options for one more outfield addition. 

Steven Duggar was mentioned over and over again on Tuesday’s conference call, and the Giants will give the prospect a chance to win a significant role this spring. It’s possible that Duggar and Jackson could form a platoon, but before committing to that, the front office will look to add a third offseason addition via trade. 

“There are still some fronts that we are pursuing with minimum-service type of players, which are low in salary,” Sabean said. “We’ll flush out other possibilities.”

Evans has spent months laying the groundwork for multiple deals, and the front office remains confident that one more outfielder can be added via trade. The player would have to be young and pre-arbitration to line up financially with the rest of the offseason work.

If that doesn’t end up happening, Bruce Bochy won’t be too upset. Bochy said he couldn’t be happier with the work Sabean and Evans have done to overhaul an outfield that was unfathomably bad on both sides of the ball last season. If Jackson is the final piece, Bochy is ready to make it work. 

“Right now, as we start the season, I think you’ll see Austin out in center field as much as anything,” he said. “We’ll see where we’re at when we break camp, but that’s a need for us out there in center. As we break camp, we’ll know where we’re at with other options, Gorkys (Hernandez) or Duggar. But center field is where (Jackson) will spend most of his time this spring.”