Giants

Giants a little bit short of everything

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Giants a little bit short of everything

BOX SCORE

Pablo Sandoval sat on the dirt, his legs forming a perfect 90-degree angle as he blew a gum bubble and silently bemoaned his short-hopped throw to first on Allen Craigs seventh-inning single. The visual shrieked futility, resignation, and a long and painful winter examining what happens when a good baseball team finds itself a little bit short of everything in October.At least that is the appearance as the shards of St. Louis 8-3 win over the Giants in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series are picked over. The Giants didnt pitch enough when it mattered, hit enough when it mattered, or field enough the one time it really mattered. They were just short of okay, when even okay is insufficient.And because there is just enough grumbling to go around, the 3-1 deficit they face going into Barry Zitos start seems well nigh insurmountable.And the problems seem to move from game to game to game. In Game 1, Madison Bumgarner got kicked around the lot, and the Giants got close but stopped hitting after the fourth inning. In Game 3, they hit plenty but scored only one. And in Game 4, Tim Lincecum couldnt find his fastball, Hector Sanchez couldnt find a short hop from the outfield and their nine leadoff hitters could manage only one hit, and that well after the game was competitively extinguished.So of course theyre down, 3-1. They should be down, 3-1. Their play says so. And if there is a rally in them (and only four of 33 teams have gone down 3-1 in an LCS and won), their play across the board must be, well, less like what theyre doing now.And all they have to claim as their own momentum-builders are the memories of the Cincinnati series, and Zitos left arm. They believe fine, but they have no evidence to back it up.Their offense was two homers by the freshly de-goated Hunter Pence, and the struggling Sandoval. But the rest of their work product suffered again.And it starts with Lincecum, who used 91 pitches to get through 22 hitters, but couldnt navigate the two jams he did create for himself one in the first, that was capped by Matt Hollidays line single and Craig's subsequent sacrifice fly, and one in the fifth that finished with RBI singles from Holliday and Yadier Molina.The first put the Giants in a hole. The second piled dirt on top of them. And the culprit, ultimately, was a fastball that refused to behave as it once did, or as he desired. It either avoided the strike zone or got hit when it achieved it, and only when he changed his pitch selection did things improve.There wasnt a lack of confidence in any of my pitches or a (lack of) conviction, he said in his typical slightly less than fully audible monotone. They just werent hitting the spots I needed them to.In addition, throwing 25 pitches in the first and 19 in the second set him on a course for a quick outing, which the Giants needed the way they needed a dugout flood.That second inning was a little bit laborious, he said, referring to the only inning in which the Cardinals got baserunners who didnt score. But that third and fourth was a little bit better. I thought I was going to carry it a little bit further in the game, but like I said, I ran into some bumps in the fifth.The biggest bump was Hollidays single, which scored Matt Carpenter from second after Angel Pagans throw, which was on line but a bit short, skipped past catcher Hector Sanchez, allowing Carpenter to evade being thrown out at the plate by about three full seconds. When Molina followed two batters later with his single, Lincecum was done.And the bullpen, being asked to juggle cleavers while those around them dont, cratered, allowing two more runs in the sixth and seventh, and rendering Sandovals ninth-inning home run inconsequential.Just not quite enough after every turn of the game the Giants story in this series. And now Barry Zito tries to defy all that with an outing as good as Ryan Vogelsongs or Matt Cains. And an outing that might inspire some actual hits in important moments. And a defensive play that must be made at a critical juncture.Thats a lot to ask a pitcher, but the Giants have been trying to win this series with two starters, two hitters and a lineup that defies tweaking. So far, they have gotten what such a manpower shortage deserves, and they are out of mulligans, excuses and speeches.

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

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AP

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'

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AP

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."