Giants

Matheny expecting 'knock-down, drag out' series

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Matheny expecting 'knock-down, drag out' series

SAN FRANCISCO -- There are only four catchers who have received more of Matt Cain's starts than St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

Matheny, who spent the final two seasons in his 13-year MLB career with San Francisco, has been behind the dish receiving pitches from Cain 15 times, ushering the Giants' horse to a 3.89 ERA and a .193 opponents batting average.

"I was very fortunate to be a part of this organization for a couple of years and watch some young careers begin, like a Matt Cain," Matheny said. "I knew Tim Lincecum was on the way. And Buster Posey through the minor league system."

Lincecum and Posey have achieved much since Matheny's departure -- two Cy Young Awards, Rookie of the Year, five All Star invites, plus the bevy of awards Posey will garner for his 2012 season that could include MVP and Comeback Player of the Year on top of the NL batting title. Matt Cain? He's does have the June 13 perfect game against Houston, but it's been very much business as usual for the man tabbed to start Game 1 of the Giants' playoffs.

Matheny was impressed with much more than just a young Cain, though.

"I was able to spend a good amount of time with Dave Righetti, with Ron Wotus and Mark Gardner," Matheny said. "And it's a quality group of people over here.

"Brian Sabean and the ownership here in San Francisco has done a great job of setting a great foundation for what this organization is all about, and the fan base has been phenomenal in their support. It was a nice place to play, and definitely learned a lot of things."

Matheny hit .239 with 16 home runs and 77 RBIs in 181 games with the Giants, earning his fourth career Gold Glove in 2005. He also won the Willie Mac Award -- voted on by the players and coaching staff for the player best exemplifying spirit and leadership.

This year's winner -- Buster Posey -- is hoping the give the '05 recipient fits in the NLCS. Each team is coming off comeback victories in their NLDS matchups.

The Cardinals, who trailed 6-0 in the elimination Game 5 and scored four runs in the ninth inning to end the Washington Nationals' season, don't have too much time to process what they've accomplished.

"It still hasn't really sunk in," Matheny said. "At least to the extent of what these guys did. The bats they put together, the innings that the bullpen threw, I mean, it was one that goes into a category like I've never seen before personally or been that closely a part of. So, it really hasn't sunk in, but that day will come.

"Right now we can't spend too much time on that, we need to get ready for the next one."

What kind of series is he expecting with the Giants?

"I see a knock-down, drag out."

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."