Lincecum lasts four innings in improved outing


Lincecum lasts four innings in improved outing

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum has never had an ERA under4.00 in spring training, and after two starts in 2012, it looked like he was onhis way to another rough Cactus League.While his spring stats seem to have no correlation to his regular-seasonperformance, Lincecum entered Mondays start in Surprise against the KansasCity Royals with a 13.50 ERA in four innings.But after four sharp innings, in which his fastballroutinely hit 92 and his changeup led to many ugly Royal swings, the Giantsace looks like a regular-season Lincecum.

In the first inning, Lincecum left an 0-2 changeup high in the zone to EricHosmer, who drove it the other way for a loud foul ball. But he came back tostrike out the Royals young first baseman and complete a 1-2-3 opening frame.Lincecum sandwiched a strikeout around two groundouts for another 1-2-3inning in the second, then erased a one-out walk in the third with aninning-ending tailor made double play.The fourth inning tested the diminutive right-hander, as Jarrod Dyson led offby grounding a ball off Lincecums foot for an infield hit.Lincecum wasnt worried about the deflection, though.It wasnt hit hard enough, he said. Just caught the bottom of my cleat, thatwas it.Dyson kept the pressure on Lincecum, though, by stealing second base andadvancing to third on catcher Eli Whitesides throwing error. Dyson then scoredon Alcides Escobars groundout to shortstop. Lincecum looked like he might not make it through the fourth inning, as noGiants starter has done this spring, when he walked Hosmer, but he bounced backby picking off Hosmer and striking out Alex Gordon on a curveball.With a reputation for not being able to hold runners on,Lincecum said he has worked on being better in that aspect of the game.I just made myself more aware of it, he said. Its one thing to just givethe guy a little head nod over there. Sometimes you get in a rhythm and youkind of forget about him. But Im making more of a conscious effort to keeptrack of those guys and keep them out of scoring position.Lincecum ended up with just the unearned run in his four innings of work, whichincluded the lone infield hit, two walks and four strikeouts, one in eachframe. He wouldnt give himself a grade like he did in previous starts, but washappy with the results.A lot better than last outing, Lincecum said. The fact that I doubled myinnings helps and my arm still feels good, my body still feels good, and I stillkept my mechanics so Im just trying to take that as a positive and run withit.

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."