Giant Olympians?


Giant Olympians?

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DENVER Ryan Theriot thought deeply on the question:Which of his Giants teammates could win an Olympic gold medal, and in what event?I would probably win what is it, the decathlon? Theriot said. Yeah. Id win that. Because Im a freak athlete.Baseball is no longer a medal sport (the recently traded Nate Schierholtz won a bronze in Beijing four years ago), but there are plenty of Olympic endeavors some more random than others -- that use similar skills. And baseball players come in all shapes and sizes, from lithe Tim Lincecum to the rotund Kung Fu Panda.Surely these world-class athletes could find their way to some medal stand in London, right?Oh, no joke, said Brandon Belt, shortly after watching the American swimmers dominate the 4x100 medley relay. Im undefeated in the Nacogdoches city pool. I turned away all challengers. I swim like a fish. I could probably do the medley, but freestyle is my thing.Anyone want to get behind a freestylebelt hashtag?Ill either swim the freestyle or, you know what, I could play ping-pong, Belt said. Id do that. People dont account for my left-handedness.Theriot rolled his eyes.Have you seen those guys? Theriot said. You wouldnt win one point.What if you combined swimming and table tennis into one event? Its no less random than the winter biathlon, where you cross-country ski and shoot a rifle, right?Thats not a bad idea, Belt said. That might be my best chance.Speaking of marksmanship, several players suggested Jeremy Affeldt would hold his own in an archery competition. And as head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said, If it involves shooting something, Ill take Bumgarner.Yes, Madison Bumgarner was a popular mention in any of the various events involving firearms. The big left-hander actually has won a few long-distance 5-shot and 10-shot competitions in North Carolina.Can I use a scope? he said.Sure. Why not? Would he always use the same gun?Nope, he said. Ive got lots of guns.Left-hander Javier Lopez said Bumgarner might be the Giants best chance at a medal.Because theres no actual physical activity, Lopez said.Well, baseball players are pretty good at throwing. So maybe Pablo Sandoval could heave a shot put and Melky Cabrera, who has unleashed a few missiles to the plate this season, could be one heck of a left-handed javelin thrower (following in the footsteps of onetime international javelin competitor Felipe Alou).As for the discus?Give me Hunter Pence, Giants third base coach Tim Flannery said. You see the way he throws from down there? There you go.Pence received mentions in several categories, actually. Manager Bruce Bochy shared Flannerys notion of the discus throw. Lopez suggested Pence looks kind of like a beach volleyball guy to me.Yeah, Ive played a little beach volleyball, but I dont know, Pence said. Ive got long arms, but I cant extend them. And if its anything to do with throwing, Ill take our pitchers. Weve got a pretty good pitching staff here.This reporter suggested that Pence, with his long legs and upper body strength, might do well in sculls or one of the other rowing events.Rowing? Yeah, that might be my best shot, Pence said. Its endurance and back strength. I could see myself being decent.Brad Penny told shortstop Brandon Crawford that he could medal in one of the rowing events as hard as that might be to envision.I dont see it either, but Ill take his word for it, Crawford said.Lets put down Penny for Greco-Roman wrestling, instead.But lest we forget, baseball is a team sport. And there were several players who suggested a dynamic badminton duo of Theriot and Tim Lincecum.Theriot would win at badminton, Pence said. Hes got the quickness and the hand-eye coordination. Hes got the squirrelly mannerisms.Right-hander Clay Hensley mentioned that Buster Posey would make a good water polo goalie, since hes always blocking scuds in the dirt. And he embraced the badminton idea for Lincecum as well.Hey Timmy, would you be good at badminton? Hensley asked.Yes, Lincecum said, matter-of-factly. Id be pretty good at fencing, too.Just make sure Affeldt doesnt get near a foil or epee. Remember, this is the guy who stabbed his hand last year while trying to separate frozen hamburger patties. Its a miracle Affeldt didnt cut himself when he handled the Samurais sword given to Matt Cain after he pitched his perfect game.Posey had a safer suggestion for Affeldt:I can see Affeldt in beach volleyball because of his superior physique, Posey said, trying to swallow a smile. If you ask him, hell tell you how good hed look out there. Oh yeah, the Speedo put him and Bumgarner on a team. Now youre talking.Posey couldnt come up with an event for himself, leading Crawford to moan, Im sure Buster would win in anything hed be in.And as for Crawford?Well, for me I guess I played basketball in high school, he said.A member of the Dream Team? Crawford and LeBron and Kobe, finishing on a break?Sure, why not? Crawford said.If you want an out-there suggestion, Theriot is your man. He kept coming back with more ideas, including bench coach Ron Wotus in that run-walk thing.Ive got it. Ive got it, said Theriot, rushing back to offer one more wild thought. Romo and Wilson synchronized diving. Maybe representing the country of Mars.OK, time for some practical suggestions. Lets ask strength and conditioning coach Carl Kochan, who knows these players physical skills and potential better than anyone:Ill take Affeldt at archery, Bum with shooting, Javier Lopez with the bikevelodrome thing Kochan said. Ill take (Gregor) Blanco playing soccer and maybe Hector Sanchez, too.
He can do some tricks with a soccer ball. Lets go with Melky in the javelin and Pablo in the shot put. And Angel Pagan with boxing.Boxing?Sure, Kochan said. Hes quick, explosive, powerful, selective everything he does has a purpose. Boxing is very technical. I think hed be good at it.Pagan said he laced up the gloves a few times while growing up in Puerto Rico. But hed rather take his chances in the 100 meters or 200 meters. And he likes Bumgarner in the javelin, but only if he has animals he can aim it at.And Pagan had a little fun with Aubrey Huff, who face-planted while trying to jump the dugout rail after Matt Cains perfect game.Hey Huffy, Pagan said. How about the 110-meter hurdles?Huff shot him a look that said everything.But in all this discussion, both silly and serious, weve left out the obvious: Lincecum, the gymnast.He has a spine-bending delivery. He walks on his hands. He can do backflips on command. Its a given, right?Great call, oh, great call, Kochan said. Id take him in the floor exercise because hes like a freaky spider monkey.Id like his chances in the all-around, Theriot said.Lincecum said he never tried organized gymnastics as a kid, but he thought about it.It was more climbing trees, messing around, jumping on a trampoline he said.Trampoline? Really? Hey Timmy, you do realize that trampoline is an Olympic event, right?Noooo.its not, Lincecum said. Seriously?Seriously.

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."