Giants

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago, the Giants and Padres were the two teams in it until the very end for Pablo Sandoval’s services. He ended up in Boston, and when he became available again over the past week, the Padres politely backed away. 

They prefer youth and Rule 5 Draft picks. They came into this season knowing they might lose 100 games, and they didn’t mind. If anything, they welcomed the increased shot at the top pick in the 2018 draft. They’re here to tank, but the Giants (who expect to welcome Sandoval back on a minor league deal as soon as Friday) just won’t let them. 

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to San Diego was like so many others over the past calendar year. The Giants didn’t hit, they didn’t come through in the clutch, they did not support their starting pitcher, and they did not guarantee a handshake line. 

The Giants have lost 15 of 20 to the Padres since last year’s All-Star break, including three straight last July to kickstart a tailspin that has lasted over a year now. They have dropped four of five meetings in this second half, which was supposed to prove that a Padre-like rebuild is not needed up here in the Bay Area. They are five games behind the Padres in the race to finish a distant fourth in the National League, and in a season full of disappointment, that stands as one of the more embarrassing facts. 

Not even Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park could turn the tide. The lefty looked good most of the night, but two homers left him with a rougher-than-hoped line. Bumgarner gave up four earned on two homers. He has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Both starts have come against the Padres. 

“I’ve got to stop giving up homers,” Bumgarner said of his start. “That’s not going to work.”

Bumgarner said he felt fine physically, and his curveball — the pitch that has backfired on him most often since his return — feels right mechanically. He was facing his last batter in the seventh as George Kontos warmed up with a runner on. Corey Spangenberg hit a two-run shot to the deepest part of the yard to make it 4-2. 

Buster Posey flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Giants brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but couldn’t score, which has been the norm against the Padres. The Giants are averaging just 3.2 runs per game during this 20-game stretch of futility against a team they once dominated. 

“We need to win ballgames right now,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve got to start doing that. There’s no magic solution. We’ve got to start playing better, all of us.”

MLB free agency debate: Where will Manny Machado sign this offseason?

MLB free agency debate: Where will Manny Machado sign this offseason?

Editor's note: Each day this week, Giants insider Alex Pavlovic and A's reporter Ben Ross will debate where one of the top five free agents might land this offseason. Wednesday's free agent to discuss is Manny Machado, a four-time All-Star infielder who has spent the last half of the 2018 season with the Dodgers.

ALEX: Ben, people have been looking forward to this free agent class for years, but it ended up being a little underwhelming. Clayton Kershaw didn't opt out, guys like Dallas Keuchel, Josh Donaldson and Andrew McCutchen dropped off a bit, and former All-Stars like Hunter Pence have totally fallen off the map.

But it's still a historic class with two young superstars at the top -- Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. We talked about Harper on Monday. Machado is the better all-around player, but there's a cloud hanging over his head after his postseason behavior.

[RELATED: Debate -- Where will Brantley sign?]

Personally, I don't think that'll cost him money. Aroldis Chapman got paid and Roberto Osuna got traded to a contender. Machado will get his big deal somewhere. What do you think?

BEN: Agreed. Machado is a special talent. He’s already a four-time All-Star and still just 25 years old. He is going to get his $300+ million contract from someone. So who are the contenders? I’m thinking the Yankees and Phillies are the frontrunners.

I don’t see him staying with the Dodgers, but maybe the Angels try to make a splash? How about the Cubs or White Sox? Who am I missing?

ALEX: I do wonder if the Mets will get involved if their new GM can convince them to spend. The Angels are a nice darkhorse for a lot of these guys. Some people have speculated he could go home to Miami.

But it sounds like the Yankees and Phillies have been out in front of this one. I'm going to lean towards the Phillies, because they have to get Harper or Machado, and I think Machado is the better fit. What's the official Ben Ross prediction? 

BEN: I've thought all along he would end up with the Yankees and I'll stick with that. I know there are reports they're concerned with Machado's comments about hustling -- not to mention his other antics -- but I don't think they'll be scared off. They have the opportunity to put Machado, Stanton, and Judge all in the same lineup. I'll say Machado gets 12 years, $325 million.

ALEX: I'm going to take the under. If the Yankees aren't that serious, there aren't enough major suitors out there to push his market where he wants it to end up. I'll say the Phillies get their guy, but at $261 million over nine years.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Wednesday is dedicated to free agent infielder Manny Machado.

'No red flags' for six injured Giants six weeks into the offseason

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AP

'No red flags' for six injured Giants six weeks into the offseason

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few hours before the Giants named Farhan Zaidi their new president of baseball operations, assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley stood in the lobby of the Omni Resort in Carlsbad and looked down at a notecard full of names. He had been asked about the large collection of Giants who finished the season on crutches or in slings. 

"No red flags," he said.

Zaidi's first order of business will be to build depth for a team that was crushed by injuries in 2018. That effort will be helped by the fact that all of the rehabbing Giants appear to be doing well. They're all on schedule, or in some cases, a little ahead.

It starts with catcher Buster Posey, of course. He's off his crutches and walking normally two and a half months after major hip surgery. Posey has been rehabbing five days per week in the Bay Area, and remains on pace to start baseball work in January.

Shelley said Posey "definitely" will be ready for activity in spring training, as the Giants had anticipated all along.

When Posey shows up in Scottsdale, he'll at some point run into Johnny Cueto. The right-hander is back in the Dominican Republic right now after months of rehab work in Arizona. He'll continue physical therapy at his offseason home and return to Scottsdale in February to begin a throwing program. There's still a chance that Cueto, who had Tommy John surgery, can return for a few starts at the end of next season.

First baseman Brandon Belt, who had a knee cleanup, is off his crutches and doing well. Steven Duggar (shoulder surgery), the likely Opening Day center fielder, just finished his rehab work in Arizona. He'll return to be checked later this month and then start a hitting program the first week of January. Austin Slater went down the last week of the season with an elbow sprain, but the young outfielder has started a throwing program and also is on schedule. 

Finally, there's a player who never made it back to the big leagues after a concussion. Shelley said Mac Williamson was cleared of symptoms in September and has had a normal offseason.

"He should be on schedule to compete for a job in spring training," Shelley said.

Williamson is out of options, so next spring is a big one for a player who looked headed for a breakout before he went down.