Giants

Schierholtz envisions no U-turns in 2012

571378.jpg

Schierholtz envisions no U-turns in 2012

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Nate Schierholtz spent the winterrunning with parachutes and pulling sleds, and no, he wasnt a contestant onThe Amazing Race."He does hope to be off to the races in 2012, though.By the time I leave here, I plan to make the stolen basepart of my game, said Schierholtz, the Giants incumbent right fielder.Definitely, I know its something Ill be comfortable doing.He hasnt been comfortable in the past, as his career stats illustrate. In parts of five seasons, the 28-year-old has stolen 17 bases and been caught12 times.Id always worry about making the out, he said.

His reticence to run included called plays from the bench.In one instance at Arizona in 2010, he entered as a pinch runner under ordersto steal second base and got picked off. (He later hit the game-winningtriple in extra innings, so all was forgotten that night.)This season, Schierholtz plans on following orders andexecuting them to success, too.Shoot, Im one of the slower guys in the outfield now,said Schierholtz, who figures to play alongside Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan.All of the sudden, the outfield is a pretty athletic group of guys. Id liketo show I can hang with em.I always felt I was pretty good at going first to third orsecond to home. But I need to steal bases, too, because this is a differentteam this year. Were built around speed and athleticism.Schierholtz is a major cage rat, but he spent time away fromhis bats this winter while working with newly promoted strength andconditioning coordinator Cark Kochan. Out came the parachutes and the sleds.Schierholtz also spent more time in the gym on exercises to strengthen his hipsand core.The key is getting a good jump, he said. Its all inthose first two to three steps.Schierholtz was one of many players on the basepaths morethan an hour before Tuesdays workout, practicing their leads and jumps. Duringthe workout, Kochan conducted a drill in which he shouted out various gamesituations such as sacrifice flies or doubles to the gap.Some easy trots wouldn't be bad, either. Although a fractured foot shortened his season, Schierholtz is coming off his best year at the plate; his nine home runs (in335 at-bats) equaled his career total from the previous four seasons combined(in 699 at-bats).Always labeled a power-hitting prospect in the minors,Schierholtz said there was a simple reason he was able to launch shotsinto McCovey Cove last season.In the past, coming off the bench as an extra outfielder, Iwas so concerned with getting my hits so Id get another opportunity to play,he said. I wasnt trying to drive the ball as much as make sure I got a hit. Everybody knows that if youre on thebench and your average doesnt look too good, youre not going to play.Last year, I learned to let it go a little bit. I figured Ididnt have anything to lose. I decided Id go out and play the way I want toplay. It worked out better than ever before.

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

stanton-ap.jpg
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'

ohtani-ap.jpg
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."