Giants

Down on the Farm: Checking in on former Giants top prospect Christian Arroyo

Down on the Farm: Checking in on former Giants top prospect Christian Arroyo

The Giants refused to rebuild this past offseason after finishing 2017 with the second-worst record in baseball. Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans and the rest of the front office stared at this team's window of opportunity and stayed in win-now mode, using the classic line of a "reload" over a rebuild. 

Shooting for the San Francisco stars, the team went all in on Giancarlo Stanton, before the now-Yankee turned them down, and traded off top prospects for former stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. Through the team's first 69 games, the two have looked exactly as described -- former stars. McCutchen has come on strong lately, hitting two two-run home runs in the last two games. He's batting .356 with four home runs over a 10-game stretch and is up to .267 with eight home runs on the year. The former MVP may be finding his stride as he figures out the NL West. 

Longoria on the other hand, hasn't found much success in his first season with San Francisco. At the time of fracturing his left hand Thursday in Miami, Longoria was slashing .246/.278/.434. The positive is Longoria's 10 home runs rank second on the Giants and he leads the team with 34 RBI, but he simply hasn't been consistent and isn't getting on base enough.

In 2017, Longoria finished with a career-low .313 on-base percentage and he's 35 points lower this year as he has 10 walks to 57 strikeouts. And the three-time Gold Glove third baseman has committed 11 errors in 66 games, three off his career-high for a season. 

The Giants had to part ways with former top prospect Christian Arroyo to acquire Longoria in the offseason. At just 21 years old last year, Arroyo's bat was too good to keep in Triple-A. After 16 games with Sacramento, the team's top hitting prospect was batting .446 and was called up to San Francisco. In 34 games, Arroyo proved to be a pup with the big dogs in the majors. He hit .192 with three home runs and 32 strikeouts in 34 games with the Giants. But with the Rays, Arroyo's second crack at the majors looks much dfferent in Year 2 compared to Year 1. 

Arroyo's season was cut short in 2017 with a fractured wrist. He started the season in Triple-A Durham this year and was quickly put on the shelf again, this time with a calf injury. Overcoming his wrsit injury, Arroyo's start to the season in Triple-A was the complete opposite this year than last. When the Rays called up Arroyo from Durham, he was batting .200 in 17 games with a .235 on-base percentage and .308 slugging percentage, not exactly major-league-ready numbers. And then, Arroyo replaced old friend Matt Duffy in his Rays debut and laced two singles. 

The recently turned 23-year-old has now played in 19 games, 18 starts, with the Rays. Drafted as a shortstop, Arroyo has played eight games at second base, six at third base and was the DH in two. He finds himself in an infield logjam, but Tampa Bay is in a youth movement and will be sellers before the trade deadline. Arroyo started off hot for the Rays and is now slashing .280/.357/.420 with one home run. 

Offensively, Arroyo is showing maturity with six walks, two less than his eight in 34 games with the Giants, and is barreling the ball with hard contact. Arroyo's average exit velocity is up from 87.4 mph with the Giants to 91.8 mph with the Rays. Longoria has a 90.0 average exit velocity this season. While he will never be a huge home run threat, the stocky-built Arroyo finds the barrel consistently and should at least find gap-to-gap power. 

In an attempt to make another run at October in 2018, there's no denying San Francisco's move to add the 32-year-old Longoria, who is signed through 2022 with a team option for 2023. At the same time, Arroyo, 23, is showing the versatility around the infield and growth with his bat that had Giants fan frothing in the past thinking about his future.

Giants walked off by Reds in 11th for second straight loss

Giants walked off by Reds in 11th for second straight loss

The first night at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati wasn’t what you would expect. The Giants and Reds took a 1-1 tie deep into the night in one of the league’s best hitters parks before Phillip Ervin took Ray Black deep in the 11th.

The Giants lost their second straight after a hot start to this trip. They are 2-2 on what they felt would be a trip that could get them back into the NL West race. Here’s what else you need to know from a disappointing night... 

—- The lineup did absolutely nothing against Anthony DeSclafini, who entered with a 4.46 ERA. He was finally knocked out in the eighth when the Giants put two on with two outs, but Buster Posey tapped out to short. 

—- The Giants couldn’t have asked for much more from Casey Kelly, an emergency starter after Dereck Rodriguez strained his hamstring. Two days after pitching the 12th in Los Angeles, Kelly gave up one run over 4 1/3 innings. He allowed nine hits — eight singles — but repeatedly wiggled out of trouble. It helped that he picked Billy Hamilton off.

—- Kelly shared a cool moment with his dad, Pat, the bench coach for the Reds. The two made eye contact before the first pitch and saluted each other. 

Why Dereck Rodriguez's injury hits outside-looking-in Giants at worst time

Why Dereck Rodriguez's injury hits outside-looking-in Giants at worst time

SAN FRANCISCO — Your view of which side was to blame Tuesday night depends almost entirely on which side of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry you grew up on. That much was made clear over the past three days, both in the aftermath of the mini-brawl and when the punishments were handed down Thursday. 

At this point, it doesn’t really matter how much blame to place with either party. The only thing that matters for the Giants is that for the second consecutive year, they found themselves mixed up in a silly skirmish that cost them a player. This time around, the price is steeper for the team, both because of the player involved and the circumstances of the season. 

A year ago, Michael Morse’s career ended with a concussion suffered when Jeff Samardzija crashed into him seconds after Hunter Strickland threw at Bryce Harper. Morse was put on the DL and soon found himself retired, but with a .194 average on a terrible team, he wasn’t going to stick around much longer anyway. Morse admitted to USA Today earlier this year that he looks back on that stretch as “playing with house money.”

This season’s injury will have a far greater impact, even though the hamstring strain Dereck Rodriguez suffered was announced as just a Grade 1. The timing couldn’t be worse for the Giants, who are on the fringes of the playoff race, sure, but are far from the 98-loss pace they were on when Morse went down last season. They still have hopes of making a run. 

The staff got together in Los Angeles and went away from manager Bruce Bochy’s tradition, using the off day to skip the fifth starter spot. That had Rodriguez lined up to face the Reds on Friday night, with the hope that the Giants could build off the momentum from the Dodgers series. He was going to face the lowly Mets next week, too. Those were two very good opportunities for road wins. 

Instead, it’ll be Casey Kelly on Friday, and the Giants will piece it together from there. The rotation is weakened with the loss of a dominant rookie who was soaking up innings like an ace, and the repercussions surely will be felt in the bullpen at some point on this important road trip.

The Giants have no margin for error this season, and they already have found themselves reeling from things like Madison Bumgarner being hit by a liner, Brandon Belt’s appendix acting up, Evan Longoria getting drilled by a pitch, Joe Panik spraining his thumb on a tag, and Mac Williamson suffering a concussion when he ran over a bullpen mound. 

There was blame to be placed Tuesday, but this also is another bad break. Rodriguez was the first from the dugout to reach the scrum, doing what players do dozens of times a year without injury, and he appeared fine as he hopped around the outside of the altercation. Two days later, the Giants admitted their latest beef with Yasiel Puig had come at a costly price.

The Giants will hope Rodriguez can return on the next homestand, but this is a blow to his Rookie of the Year campaign and a big shot to a roster that now has just three healthy starters and really could have used two more Rodriguez starts over the next week. Chris Stratton is an option to return, and Ty Blach is available for spot-start duty. Tyler Beede is on the minor league DL, so you can cross him off. Perhaps Shaun Anderson is thrown into a playoff push. Management surely spent the flight to Cincinnati trying to figure all that out instead of enjoying a successful and dramatic series at Dodger Stadium that was highlighted by Tuesday's shoving match. 

An hour after the shoving had ended, catcher Nick Hundley said he hoped the incident would bring the team closer together. 

“This is a tight-knit group,” he said. “We’ll feed off that. What a great win.”

The next night, the Giants lost in extra innings. They now have lost at least two starts from a player who was the best part of a season forever stuck around the .500 mark.

It doesn’t really matter who is to blame at this point. The simple truth is that the Giants have been involved in several of these incidents the last five years, and they finally paid a steep on-field price.