Giants

Total team effort leads to Giants' 5-2 win over Braves

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Total team effort leads to Giants' 5-2 win over Braves

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants are arguably playing their bestbaseball of the season and theyre doing it without a player who was arguablytheir first-half MVP. They were also without their second-half MVP as BusterPosey was a spectator for all of Thursdays 5-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.Melky Cabrera is long gone and Buster Poseys hamstring issue is lingering,putting pressure on teammates like Pablo Sandoval, Angel Pagan and HectorSanchez to deliver the run support.Pagan was a sparkplug atop the lineup again, Sandoval drove him in on a pitchat his neck for the games first run and Hector Sanchez broke it open to giveBarry Zito enough cushion to get into a groove. Zito (10-8) worked eight-plusinnings and watched the bullpen surrender his shutout but hold on for the win,which improves Zito to 9-1 this season, 36-3 as a Giant, and 121-7 in hiscareer when he receives four or more runs of support.I thought his stuff was crisp and he was using all hispitches, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Breaking ball was very goodtonight, his fastball too. He made pitches when he had to and had good focusout there. He just had a different look tonight.Zitos look was all too familiar after he walked Braves leadoff man MichaelBourn on four straight pitches to open the game. But Pablo Sandoval made asparkling defensive play behind him, with an assist to Brandon Belt, and Zitodid the rest to escape the early jam.Its huge, Zito said of the highlight-reel play Sandovaland Belt combined for. Martin Prado connected pretty good on that and for usto be able to shut that down, that inning right there, and get some momentumand allow the offense to do what they do was big. Pablo made a huge playtonight.The last couple games, Ive been doing that, Sandoval said of his one-hopthrow across the diamond. Belt is a great first baseman; I call him The PickMachine.Sandoval already has a nickname, but The Slop Machinemight be more fitting after he put good wood on a ball way above the strikezone to drive in Pagan in the third inning for a 1-0 Giants lead.Hes aggressive up there, Bochy said of his current No. 3hitter, Melky Cabreras old spot in the lineup. Hes the type of guy that doesexpand the zone, but he also has that ability to hit a pitch out of the zonewell. That pitch there, he made an adjustment from the first time up. He feltlike he was trying to get a little pull happy there so he went the other way.You have anybody in the heart of the order, you want them to swing the bat.Sandoval doesnt need to be told to swing the bat; it comes naturally to him.But there was a thought process behind that hack.That was a curveball, Sandoval said of the hanger he sentthe other way. The at-bat before, they threw me the same pitch, so I just wentup there and got a pitch high to try to put the ball in play, try to get a linedrive. He threw me that curveball almost at my head, so I hit it.The Pick Machine Belt was also in the middle of the Giants next rally, afour-run fifth that ended up more important in retrospect when the Braves made thingsinteresting in the ninth. Though Belts grounder down the first-base line wasruled an error on Freddie Freeman, it was the Giants third run, which turnedout to be the game-winner in a 5-2 final. Before Belt got to the plate in the fifth, Pagan started the rally by gettingon base for the third straight time with his second walk. Pagan, who extendedhis hit streak to seven games, came around to score when Hunter Pence shockedthe crowd and his own skipper with a perfect push bunt.I was as surprised as anybody when he broke that out on us, Bochy said. Itwas not a play. He says hes done it before. You give him credit. When yourenot locked in at that plate, you want to do anything you can to get the run in.And he took it upon himself to do a push bunt there and you couldnt lay down abetter one. It did surprise me; I didnt see it coming.After Pence and Belt kept the line moving, Sanchez tacked onthe Giants final two runs with his second double of the game. The Giantsyoung backstop came into the game hitless in his last 10 at-bats and 5-for-28 in13 contests since being activated from the disabled list on August 2.Make adjustments, Sanchez said of his strategy. I was late and I wasntswinging the ball very well. But I came in today and worked in the cage earlyand thats the result.The Giants four-run fifth came after Zito had mowed down 11 of the last 12batters he had faced. Zito was in cruise control after getting the five-runcushion until he allowed back-to-back singles to open the ninth. That forcedBochy to turn to his bullpen, despite some misgivings.I checked with him, Bochy said of his pre-ninth inningtalk with Zito. He came up and said I feel good. When I went out to get himhe said Im sorry. He felt horrible. Just a great job he did. You do want toreward a pitcher; it feels good. This time I had to get him early and thatsnot a lot of fun, but he earned that shot to go out there and try and finishit. Next couple guys got on so I had no choice but I thought his eighth inningwas very good. It looked like he was comfortable and free and easy so I let himstart the ninth.Zito had no hard feelings, expressing appreciation for the chance to go for hissecond shutout of the season and sixth of his career.Its awesome that he let me go out there, Zito said. Iwanted to go out there and finish it and I felt like I could, I was justfrustrated I didnt make my pitches like I had been all night and risked theteam possibly giving up the lead too.Luck for Zito, and Bochy, the Giants didnt give up the lead, though theyneeded three relievers to get the final three outs.Jeremy Affeldt was the first to get the call and allowed both inherited runnersto score on Freemans double. Situational southpaw Javier Lopez was next inline and did his job by striking out lefty Brian McCann. After a pseudo-chess game between Bochy and Braves managerFredi Gonzalez, the next matchup came down to Sergio Romo vs. Jason Heyward.The right-handed Romo had no problem with the lefty who finished a close secondto Posey in the 2010 Rookie of the Year voting, getting Heyward to ground intoa fielders choice that almost turned into a game-ending double play. Instead,Juan Francisco has the distinction of ending Thursdays contest, as he groundedout to Sandoval at third. When you do it by committee, thats the way it goes, Bochysaid. Guys get hot and guys have their tough times, whatever. But we have fourguys that were comfortable putting out there to finish off a game. Its a niceluxury to have, guys who are used to pitching late in the game. Well get thematchups hopefully that we like and that we can get, but theyll all be used.The ninth inning may have taken longer than Bochy, Zito or the fans wanted dueto all the pitching changes, but the end result is a win, San Franciscos fourthstraight. The Giants are now a season-high 15-games over .500, having won nineof their last 12 games.Melky who?

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

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USATI

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

SAN FRANCISCO — Just around dinner time on Monday, Tyler Beede got a call he had been waiting for. General manager Bobby Evans informed Beede, the Giants’ top pitching prospect, that he was being added to the 40-man roster, a significant step toward making his big league debut. Earlier that day, however, Beede’s phone brought him some unwanted news. 

Like most Giants fans, Beede woke up to a report out of South Florida that he was one of several names the Giants and Marlins had discussed in Giancarlo Stanton trade talks. For fans or team employees, it would be painful to give up a Beede or a Chris Shaw or a Joe Panik, but images of Stanton taking aim at the Coke bottle at AT&T Park would soon wash away most concerns. 

For players, the reality this time of year is much different. The Giants are the only organization that all of the rumored pieces have ever known. Panik is a New Yorker, but he and his wife have grown to love San Francisco. Beede and Shaw have spent years dreaming of debuting at AT&T Park and playing in front of sellout crowds. That makes the Hot Stove Season a particularly tense time of year. 

“I try to be a guy who doesn’t look those kinds of things up too frequently, but obviously I’m a normal guy, so I tend to dig into it a little bit more and see what’s going on and see what people are saying,” Beede said on this week’s Giants Insider Podcast. “It’s funny. I don't really know how to handle it. It’s my third year going through the trade deadline and trade talk. I’ve just go to keep telling myself it’s a realistic possibility and not to be shocked if anything were to come out or a trade were to be made.”

The rumor mill is nothing new for these players. Panik acknowledged several times during the season that he could be the odd man out. Shaw actually already once thought he got traded to Florida. For a few minutes at the 2016 deadline, Twitter had him as a key piece in the Matt Moore deal. The outfielder came out of a hotel bathroom right after the deadline to see two teammates staring at him in disbelief as Twitter rumors flew. 

Five minutes later, he got a call from Bobby Evans. “You’re still a Giant,” Evans told him. “Don’t take your jersey off.”

“It’s a little tense for sure,” Shaw said earlier this year. “It’s not something you can try to predict. You can have a feeling but that means nothing.”

Evans has always communicated to players and their agents that they can reach out any time they have a question or concern about what they might be hearing, but when it comes to getting on the phone himself, he treats the trade deadline and offseason differently. There’s more urgency to clear the air in July when players might have to take at-bats or throw pitches with rumors weighing on their minds. In the offseason, Evans will wait to reach out until deals are closer to being agreed upon. He tries not to worry as much about “hot stove banter,” he said. 

“In the offseason I think it’s a little less of an issue because a lot of things get thrown out there that don’t have validity,” he said. “We certainly don’t try to respond to every single rumor with an update because there are new rumors every hour, so it’s hard to keep up. A lot more names are mentioned this time of year.”

Players try to find different ways to get away from it all. Every year, several Giants prospects talk of playing golf during the trade deadline to stay away from MLB Network and their phones. For veterans, it’s often easiest to just take offseason vacations, and Panik planned to visit Europe with his wife. 

Beede has a somewhat unique distraction as rumors trickle out. He’s getting married on Saturday, which along with the holiday, has kept him busy all week. Still, he knows the rumors will be out there. 

“After a couple of days I start to just understand that (my) name is going to be in rumors or there may be things that people say or speculate,” he said. “(If) Bobby tells me something, or my agent says something, then I can start to maybe engage in it a little bit more. But as of right now, I’m just trying to go about my preparation and I’ll continue to enjoy being a San Francisco Giant.”

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.