Giants can't coax Lincecum through heat


Giants can't coax Lincecum through heat


WASHINGTON Bruce Bochy sounded like he was trying to coaxan old farm truck up a steep hill.

We were hoping he could get through the fourth inning,said the Giants manager, and he couldnt make it.

Tim Lincecum had nothing left in his tank. His gears were grinding. And he couldntescape the fourth inning. In his 172nd major league start, he gaveup eight runs for the first time. In the draining heat, his hair clingy withperspiration, Lincecums momentum from two good outings leaked out like power steering fluid.

The heat, said Lincecum, just got the better of me today.

Meteorology aside, here is the real thunderclap fact thatfollowed Tuesday nights 9-3 loss to the Washington Nationals:

The Giants face more than one steep hill with their formerace. They are exactly midway through a season. On this coast-to-coast drive,theyre in Topeka.

Somehow, they must continue to coax Lincecum along.

You always think hes turned a corner every time he goesout there, said Bochy, confirming that Lincecum would pitch Sunday atPittsburgh, the final game before the All-Star break. Hes got another starthere before the break. We need him to get back on track and pitch well.

Miraculously, the Giants made it to their 81stgame as a first place team, even though they are 4-13 in Lincecums starts.They are still a 45-win club, on pace for a 90-win season. They could be somuch further along. They could be spinning in mud, too.

Bochy waved off any big-picture talk of the Giants fortunesamid Lincecums failures.

Weve talked about that, Bochy said. I dont want todwell on that. Thats not what he needs to think.

You want to go with a mantra of, Its not how you start,its how you finish. The stuff is fine and hes healthy. We need him to pitchthe way we know he can.

Lincecum did not finish well amid the heat at NationalsPark, which was constant if not totally oppressive. Although temperatures werein the 90s with the requisite blanket-over-the-head humidity, an overcast skykept it from really roasting.

Lincecum threw 21 pitches in the first inning. Twenty-one.

Thats all it took to sap him.

Well, he worked hard and logged a lot of pitches, and Ithink it caught up to him in the heat, Bochy said. It showed. He couldnthold them. He couldnt get the ball where he wanted.

Lincecum threw 24 pitches in the Nationals two-run secondinning, including a curveball to pitcher Jordan Zimmermann that hovered like aglobby mass.

He threw 26 pitches as the Nationals hit rockets in athree-run third inning.

He had nothing left in the fourth.

It wasnt any one inning, Lincecum said. Just coming hereand dealing with that heat, its not anything different from what Ive dealtwith. It just got the better of me today. They made me work. They made me payfor it.

At the same time, Im not trying to make that my excuse ormy out.

Has he lost the momentum he searched for nearly two monthsto generate?

No, Lincecum said. Its easy to look at what happenedtoday and say I took a step back. But the next outing has nothing to do withtoday. Its about getting better the next four days.

Stuff was just a little flatter today. Just not as crispwith the exception of a couple batters in the first inning. That was thedifference.

Lincecum did a better job performing in the heat last season,when he was carrying an extra 20 or 25 pounds. He lost that weight over thewinter, saying he didnt like the way he felt.

Bochy said he didnt think Lincecums skinnier frame hadmuch of an impact. But his ability to maintain his stuff has been a largerissue this season. Heat or no heat. Long innings or not.

Well yeah, thats the case with most pitchers, Bochy said.Youre in the third or fourth inning with 70 pitches, its probably going tocatch up to you, especially in the heat. You could see him laboring in thesecond inning.

In the fourth, he couldnt quite make it.

Once again, Lincecum is left to talk about putting a badstart behind him. And find his old gear.

Ill try to feed off any wins we get, whether its mepitching or not, Lincecum said. Were all here for the same reason, and winningis contagious.

At least he can find some vapors there. Astounding though it might be, hes still pitchingfor a first-place club.

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."