Giants

With Alonzo Powell hire, Giants aren't going away from their roots

alonzo_powell_3.jpg
AP

With Alonzo Powell hire, Giants aren't going away from their roots

SAN FRANCISCO — When Giants officials met the media two days after the end of a 98-loss season, they did not indicate that adding power is at the top of the priority list. A month of watching teams slug their way through playoff games didn’t change that feeling, even with a former Astro joining the staff. 

During a conference call a few minutes after he was officially announced as the organization’s new hitting coach, Alonzo Powell said his focus isn’t just on bringing the Giants into the power era. 

“You’ve also got the understand the ballpark,” Powell said. “You’re not just going to turn around and hit home runs, everybody. The biggest thing is we have to find hits, we have to find walks, we have to find ways to get on base and keep the chain moving to the next guy. You have to understand the league and the NL West is one of the hardest places to hit in baseball. We have to do the little things to compete, to get on base and get runners over and get the runner in. Those are the things we have to be efficient in if we’re going to succeed the way we want to succeed.”

That’s the way the Giants have won in the past, in large part because they play in a park that stifles power and discourages free agent sluggers from coming here. So, if you were holding out for J.D. Martinez, you shouldn’t hold your breath. And if you’re on Stanton Watch, well, that has never sounded particularly likely either. The Giants will be in on any chase, but after weeks of meetings, vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said the three focus areas are center field defense, third base, and upgrading the bullpen. Do any of those mesh with Giancarlo Stanton? Nope. 

Powell would surely love to start his time in San Francisco by working with an imported slugger, but in his introductory remarks, he said the focus is on challenging the current core and embracing the tough competition of the NL West.

A San Francisco native who grew up watching Willie Mays, Powell was a late addition to the staff. He was on an initial list of candidates given to general manager Bobby Evans by outgoing hitting coach Hensley Meulens, but the Giants had to wait for an interview because the Astros were quite busy throughout October. Between the second and third games of the World Series, Powell flew to San Francisco to meet with management and Bruce Bochy. 

Bochy seemed to like what he heard, and he noted that Powell played a role in developing a star-studded Astros lineup. When Bochy talked about Powell’s work, however, it wasn’t the homers that came to mind. It was another stat. 

“They cut back their strikeouts and they were able to play small ball (when needed) and keep the line moving,” he said. 

The Astros were second in the majors with 238 homers, 110 more than the Giants, but they weren’t just swinging from the heels. They ranked dead last in the majors with 1,087 strikeouts, a huge improvement over 1,482 in 2016. The Giants, known in the past for keeping rallies moving, struck out 1,204 times after just 1,107 in 2016. 

“You have to adapt to your club and the club that you have, and I don’t know if it’s a club that’s going to hit more home runs,” Bochy said of the 2018 Giants. “If you’re a club like we are then we have to do the little things and cut back on the strikeouts and move runners.

“You can’t be who you’re not. You try to improve in all areas, but you you’ve got to be who you are.”

Down on the Farm: Giants rising prospect Shaun Anderson makes Triple-A debut

shaunandersonus.jpg
AP

Down on the Farm: Giants rising prospect Shaun Anderson makes Triple-A debut

In the land of I Want It Now, for some godforsaken reason we’re born to grade things the moment they happen. For sports, this is especially true with trades.

Nearly one year ago on July 26, 2017, the Giants received right-handed pitchers Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos from the Red Sox in exchange for infielder Eduardo Nunez. And on Thursday night, Anderson made his Triple-A debut for the Sacramento River Cats. 

Anderson tossed five innings for the River Cats in Fresno in what would be an 8-7 loss in 10 innings to the Grizzlies. The 23-year-old allowed two runs — both on a two-run home run in his final inning of work — four hits, three walks, and impressively struck out six batters. 

Throughout his first outing in Triple-A, Anderson never ran into trouble. Only one batter reached second base, besides the home run, and that was due to a walk in the bottom of the first inning. A walk hurt him again in the fifth inning as he let the leadoff batter reach base on four balls before Antonio Nunez, the No. 9 hitter, followed with his two-run shot.

On the year, Anderson now has 99 strikeouts to 25 walks in 99 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. His 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings are up from 7.8 last season and his 2.3 walks per nine innings are slightly down from 2.4 in 2017. The long ball has hurt Anderson this season as he has already allowed 10 home runs this season to nine all of last year. 

Following Anderson in the River Cats’ loss were four pitchers who have all found time with the Giants this season. They didn’t fare as well as the prospect. 

Former top pick Tyler Beede relieved Anderson in the sixth inning, but his control issues hurt him again with two walks and only one out recorded. Pierce Johnson followed Beede and walked two without allowing a run. He also struck out five batters in 1 2/3 innings. The night to forget came for lefty Josh Osich. Up 6-3, Osich blew allowed four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and now has a 5.40 ERA. Derek Law took the loss, going 1 2/3 innings before Fresno walked it off in extra innings.

In 11 days, Anderson went from pitching in Richmond for the Flying Squirrels, to Washington D.C. for the USA All-Stars in the All-Star Futures Game, to Fresno for the River Cats. Keep your grades and enjoy the summer. What matters is Anderson’s weaving road of six different teams in two years, including representing the USA, has him right on track for San Francisco. 

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Cain's Perfect Game vs Legend of Bumgarner is Born

giantspoll.jpg
AP

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Cain's Perfect Game vs Legend of Bumgarner is Born

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports Bay Area is looking back at the Giants' 60 Memorable Moments since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco. Tune into Giants Pregame Live at 5:30pm to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and A's conclude, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will move on.

1. Matt Cain's Perfect Game in 2012 

(From Matt Cain - Giants Pitcher from 2005 to 2017)

The Perfect Game was one of the most memorable nights of my playing career. 

I had always dreamed of throwing a no-hitter. I had come so close so many times throughout my career and in my younger years, but never had one. 

The ballpark was so electric that night. We had the TaylorMade guys out hitting golf balls. Dustin Johnson hitting monster drives into McCovey Cove, and I snuck one good swing in there as well. 

Pretty surreal day. I still think back to all the plays and pitches during that game. To have every single player on the same wave length and all realizing what was unfolding is truly something special. Everyone likes to say I pitched a perfect game and I get the credit for it but I’m in debt to everyone of the guys who made a play behind me , one that still doesn’t make sense in right center field, and I owe the most to the guy who called 125 perfect pitches behind the plate. 

Thanks to all the fans that have come up to me and shared there story about that night. So fun to hear them all!!

VS.

2. The Legend of Madison Bumgarner is Born

(From Javier Lopez, Giants pitcher 2010-2016)

I remember this night for so many reasons but first and foremost was that this kid was 21! What?! Let us all just take a moment and think about this? What were you doing at 21 and better yet what were you doing on Halloween? I can only answer for myself but I was back in college not going to class but just hanging out with all my friends planning on going to a party. I was telling stories of getting drafted that past June and how tired I had gotten from backing up so many bases because everything I threw usually ended up in the gap for extra bases but I digress. Let’s get back to it. Madison Bumgarner was pitching in a World Series game! Instead of partying or trick or treating he was carving up the Texas Rangers in their park. Eight shutout innings against one of the best lineups in the MLB at that time.

I think Bum has always had supreme confidence in his abilities. His whole career he has expected to win and will teams to win and often times that’s what happened. The Rangers had only been shutout 5 times all season long and here’s Bum going right through this lineup like a hot knife through butter. 3 singles is all they could manage. 3 measly singles off this 21 year old stud.

Fearless! I remember Aubrey Huff calling him that in a postgame interview. Aubrey had hit a 2 run shot in the third and Rookie of the Year Buster Posey would add a homer of his own off Darren O’Day but it was Bumgarner’s career in the postseason that was taking shape that night. Fearless was only one of the many words used to describe this country kid from small town North Carolina. Quiet, confident, one of a kind spectacular...all those work. I remember talking to Bum and him saying he may never get another chance to pitch in a World Series game so might as well give it my all. I laughed because I had played in 1 World Series prior to 2010 and remember how hard it was to get there and to win it. Little did I know we would go on 2 more rides to the World Series together. He would lead the charge like Washington crossing the Delaware and all of us ready to do whatever it took to reach our ultimate goal. 3 for 3 isn’t bad for anyone but I think if given another chance Bum will prove yet again why he was built for October.

VOTE HERE: