Giants Notes: Blach pulls a Bumgarner; Moore rocked on road again

Giants Notes: Blach pulls a Bumgarner; Moore rocked on road again

DENVER — In the seventh inning Thursday, manager Bruce Bochy walked out to see the home plate umpire and signaled for his rookie left fielder to play third base for the first time as a professional. It kept getting weirder from there. 

In the top of the eighth, with two on, Bochy called on rookie left-hander Ty Blach to pinch-hit for reliever Josh Osich. He was out of bats on the bench, having used Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson as pinch-hitters and Nick Hundley and Gorkys Hernandez as injury replacements. What did Bochy tell Blach? 

“We just want you to get a base hit,” he said, smiling. “You don’t need to hit it out.”

Blach obliged, lining an RBI single up the middle at 100 mph. An inning later, Bochy again had to turn to the rarely seen move. This time it was Jeff Samardzija pinch-hitting for Bryan Morris, and that led to a more urgent conversation between a coach and player. Denard Span was on second and third base coach Phil Nevin got his attention. 

“Phil gave me a look like, ‘Come right now.’ (Greg) Holland is slow to the plate and we’ve got Shark up there. Let’s try to make something happen,” Span said. 

Span immediately took off for third, stealing without a throw. When he got there, Nevin told him they would still have to be aggressive. Span took off on a ball in the dirt and was thrown out on a play so close that a long replay was needed. The call was confirmed. Span said he thought it was a coin flip at the plate. 

It was the right move, and it very nearly put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. As with most plays recently, the Giants just came up an inch short. 

--- From last night, updates on Buster Posey and Eduardo Nuñez. The news was mostly good, but you have to figure the Giants will make a move or two today. With Posey and Nuñez likely out a couple of days, they’re down to two healthy bodies on the bench. The Hunter Strickland suspension should begin any day now, so the bullpen will be short, too. 

On that note, it’s worth writing here that Joan Gregorio, a starter at Triple-A, was a late scratch Thursday night. Gregorio is on the 40-man roster and could serve as a long reliever this weekend. We’ll see if he shows up today. 

--- I wrote before the game about how Bochy is baffled by the delay with the Strickland ruling. He expressed his displeasure after the game, saying he was told a decision would be made two days ago. 

“This suspension thing is hanging over us,” Bochy said. “That’s disappointing.”

--- Early in the game, Span was robbed of a two-base bloop single by a diving Trevor Story. 

“It’s the story — pun intended — of how our season has been,” Span said of the unlucky play. 

--- Matt Moore was rocked, and he now has a 9.24 ERA on the road. 

“At times it felt they knew what was coming and that’s a bad feeling as a pitcher,” Moore said. 

He did not think he was tipping, but said he’ll review the tape as he always does. 

“It just wasn’t a good night,” Moore said. “I felt I did a decent job of getting ahead and there were some two-strike swings that weren’t defensive — they were big swings.”

Moore said he’ll try to be better about burying change ups and off-speed pitches with two strikes. 

“They were floating over the zone,” he said.

Why Madison Bumgarner trade now seems more likely at July deadline


Why Madison Bumgarner trade now seems more likely at July deadline

LAS VEGAS — When the Giants arrived here on Sunday, Madison Bumgarner was their Opening Day starter. After four days of circulated casino air, room service, $7 cups of coffee, a few rumors and one minor transaction, Madison Bumgarner is still their Opening Day starter.

That still could change, though. 

While the Giants are not close to any deals and have not gotten close, multiple sources familiar with their discussions said this week that the front office is still fully ready to trade the franchise’s ace if the right deal comes along. The Giants have come to grips with the reality of making such a move, but also believe at this point that if they are to trade Bumgarner, the best deal likely will come before the July 31 trade deadline. 

Discussions about Bumgarner have been overshadowed by contenders focusing elsewhere. The Yankees filled their hole by trading for James Paxton and signing another lefty, J.A. Happ. The Nationals signed Patrick Corbin. Other dominoes will fall, but the Giants have never been all that close to finding their own deal, and they are sensitive to a perceived shift in recent weeks.

[REPORT: Giants might hold Bumgarner until midseason]

Some recent stories written by national outlets have focused on Bumgarner's declining velocity, poor road numbers and concerning peripherals, but for the Giants, he still is valued highly. "He's still Madison Bumgarner," one Giants person said this week. He also, several team officials pointed out, remains an incredible bargain at $12 million, regardless of what some might believe about Bumgarner's current skill level. 

“I would never bet against him,” another source said when asked if Bumgarner’s value has dropped. 

During his required media availability on Wednesday, manager Bruce Bochy said he’s confident Bumgarner will bounce back from an up-and-down season, pointing out that he had a tremendous spring in 2018 and looked poised for a big year before a line drive caught his finger. 

“I can assure you he is working and he’s going to come in like he did last spring,” Bochy said. “He’s young. He’s strong. He’s smart. He has the ability to adjust. So I’m not going to be surprised if he has done something to tweak his delivery or whatever. Not that I think he needs to. This guy, he’s still really, really good.”

Bumgarner had a 3.26 ERA in 21 starts last season but his strikeout rate was down and his walk rate was a career-worst. There are other concerns for scouts who watched him last season, mainly a 4.97 ERA and 1.45 WHIP away from pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. 

But for the Giants, Bumgarner remains more than just the numbers. When asked about Bumgarner on Monday, team president and CEO Larry Baer pointed down to a ring on his hand, one Bumgarner helped the Giants win.

[MORE: Bumgarner almost played first base?]

Baer said the organization has dealt with “conflicting feelings” when discussing Bumgarner’s future. There is an emotional pull, certainly, but this is also Farhan Zaidi’s show now, and he has no ties to Bumgarner. Zaidi’s most interesting quote this week may have come when asked about the Diamondbacks taking a step back by trading Paul Goldschmidt. He challenged that assumption that they’re rebuilding, saying that deal was largely about the Diamondbacks "trying to fill multiple spots with a guy that maybe they had doubts about their ability to re-sign.”

The Giants and Bumgarner did not have extension talks last season, when the previous regime was in place. New leadership will make the decision, and multiple rival executives said this week that Zaidi will do what he thinks makes sense for the Giants on the field, no matter the resulting PR hit. 

“You hired the experts — Farhan and his team — to do what’s best for the organization,” Baer said. “At the end of the day, it’s the San Francisco Giants on the front of the uniform, and we’ve got to figure out a way to build this into where we want to go.

“If it’s with Bum, great. There are multiple scenarios here. It’s just too early to forecast it because we want to put the best team together. He may or may not be in that equation. Obviously you have your heart, and then you have what’s good for the team. There are a lot of scenarios to understand where it’s going to go. You may very well see him on Opening Day as the starting pitcher.”

For now, Bumgarner is still in that position. But the Giants do not in any way feel that they have approached the meaty part of their offseason, and they will remain open to any possibility with Bumgarner, even if this drags deep into the offseason. They believe there could be a contender — perhaps the Astros, or Braves, or Phillies — still looking for another big arm when the dust settles in January. This likely, though, will drag into the season and all the way to the trade deadline.

After weeks of whispers, the Giants still do not know where they’ll end up with Bumgarner. He’s still a Giant, but there’s a long way to go before he’s set to take the mound at Petco Park on March 28. 

MLB World Series odds: Each team's chance to win the 2019 World Series


MLB World Series odds: Each team's chance to win the 2019 World Series

The MLB Winter Meetings have wrapped up for the most part -- but we aren't done yet. We still have to figure out who will win the World Series next year.

We know, it's early. There is snow on the ground, and Red Sox players and fans are still sobering up from the World Series parade, but we need to be prepared. 

So, what are the odds your favorite team will win the World Series in 2019?

Are you hoping the A's 2018 season weren't a fluke? Do you want the Giants to prove their front office hires were successful? Or are you a fan who really wants any other team but the Yankees to hold that trophy at the end of the season?

OddsShark will put some of those thoughts to rest. They put out a tweet to show the odds now that free agency is getting interesting:

It's no surprise that the last two World Series champions, the Astros and Red Sox, are atop the list at +700. But the Mets and A's are at the same odds? Strange.

I suppose it has something to do with the fact that the A's haven't exactly made any blockbuster transactions yet, but c'mon.

The Giants are at +8000 odds after not trading away Madison Bumgarner, so there's that.

Do you think these are fair odds?