Giants review: Some familiar names finished 2018 season in Triple-A


Giants review: Some familiar names finished 2018 season in Triple-A

SAN FRANCISCO — When you lose 89 games a year after losing 98, there are some serious flaws on your roster. Giants officials acknowledged that late in the season, vowing to shake it up and bring in some fresh faces. Before they dive into the offseason, we’re going to look back, recapping the best and worst for the 2018 Giants and figuring out where players fit into future plans. 

This series starts with a look at the edges of the 40-man roster. The Giants currently have 24 pitchers on their 40-man, including some who were seen during the year but didn’t get the call in September, and some who weren’t seen at all.

Here’s a breakdown of the minor league pitchers on the roster: Tyler Beede, Julian Fernandez, Tyler Herb, Chase Johnson, Derek Law and Josh Osich.

What went right 

Beede was the only member of this group to debut in the big leagues in 2018, and while that didn’t go well, that’s always a milestone. It wasn't a positive that he was moved to the bullpen after returning to the minors, but Giants evaluators do believe he made some strides there, and his fastball ticked up.

Johnson made it back from Tommy John surgery and posted a 3.86 ERA in 18 Double-A starts. Law was said to be throwing better near the end of his season, but an ankle injury kept him from a call-up. In an earlier stint, however, he picked up a base hit, so he technically can say he led the 2018 Giants in batting average. 

What went wrong 

The combined pitching numbers from this group were ugly. Law had a 4.20 ERA in Triple-A and gave up 13 runs in 13 1/3 big league innings. Osich won a job with a big spring but was sent down after allowing 17 hits with a 9.00 ERA in nine April innings. He had a 4.96 ERA for the River Cats, allowing opponents to hit .299. Herb was hit at a .295 rate and had a 5.35 ERA and 1.60 WHIP for the River Cats.

Beede lasted just 7 2/3 innings in two big league starts and gave up seven runs, and he had a 7.05 ERA in Triple-A. The Giants plan to move him back to starting, but it certainly was a step back that he was shifted in the bullpen in the first place. 

Fernandez, the Rule 5 pick from the Rockies, technically could fit in both the What went right and What went wrong categories. He had an up-and-down spring but then needed Tommy John surgery. That’s a bummer, but he did get a full season of service time on the 60-day DL and a big league salary, which is a huge boost for an A-ball pitcher. The Giants took an unexpected tax hit, but ultimately they held onto a 22-year-old who hits triple digits. Who knows … perhaps one day that’ll prove to have been a break. 

Contract status

Osich, who has one minor league option remaining, is arbitration-eligible for the first time. The rest of these guys are not. Johnson has one option remaining. Law, once thought to be the future closer at AT&T Park, is out of options, which will play a big part in what the Giants do with him this offseason. 

The future

The Giants have 45 players on their 40-man roster, and while four free agents are coming off, they still will need to make cuts as they add players to protect them from the Rule 5 draft and sign free agents. At least a couple of these guys figure to be on the chopping block.

Osich already is 30 and appears to have no future with an organization that has lefties Will Smith, Tony Watson, Ty Blach and Steven Okert in the big league bullpen. Law has fallen behind Reyes Moronta, Ray Black and others. There is absolutely zero starting depth at the Triple-A level, so Beede, Herb and Johnson still could be in the mix there, although a new regime might feel differently about some of the players drafted during the Bobby Evans era. Fernandez should be safe, assuming his rehab went well.

MLB rumors: Giants-Twins Madison Bumgarner trade chatter ‘premature’

MLB rumors: Giants-Twins Madison Bumgarner trade chatter ‘premature’

It's possible that Madison Bumgarner made his last start for the Giants on Saturday at Oracle Park.

Charley Walters, a columnist for The Pioneer Press in Minnesota, reported that the Twins are "moving closer to a trade with the Giants for left-handed starter Madison Bumgarner."

Don't get too worked up just yet.

Darren Wolfson, a sports reporter for KSTP-TV in Minnesota, isn't ready to say a deal between the Giants and the Twins is close.

Bumgarner is the Giants' biggest trade chip, and he's expected to fetch them a haul of prospects before the July 31 trade deadline. A deal this far away from that deadline would be a surprise, though, as the team might want to wait longer for more suitors and richer offers.

The Twins aren’t one of the eight teams on Bumgarner's no-trade list, so that would make it easier for the Giants to facilitate a trade with Minnesota, which has surprised everyone this season and owned the best record in baseball through Saturday.

In 14 starts this season, 29-year-old Bumgarner has a 3.83 ERA and struck out 84 batters in 87 innings.

[RELATED: Will Smith remains focused as trade rumors swirl]

With the Giants in last place in the NL West, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi could start trading off his valuable pieces to restock the farm system. Along with Bumgarner, you can expect veteran relievers Will Smith, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson to be traded by the deadline.

Stephen Vogt's speed vs. Brewers leads Giants to fourth straight win

Stephen Vogt's speed vs. Brewers leads Giants to fourth straight win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey first worked together in the minors, and for a decade in the big leagues, more often than not, Posey has been in the squat when Bumgarner digs in and looks in at the plate in the first inning. Posey has caught nearly 80 percent of Bumgarner's big league starts, a number that would be much higher if not for a couple of season-ending injuries.

But when Giants manager Bruce Bochy sat down this week to plan out playing time, he made an interesting decision. With a day game Saturday, Bochy knew Posey, coming off a hamstring injury, would catch just one of the first two against the Brewers. He chose Friday, pairing Posey with Drew Pomeranz. That meant Stephen Vogt caught Bumgarner for a third straight start, and the left-hander didn't mind one bit. 

"That's definitely the fastest and easiest transition I've had with another catcher besides Buster," Bumgarner said. "The first game, it just clicked."

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the partnership found smooth waters so quickly. Vogt is apparently all about speed these days. 

The 34-year-old catcher had two triples and an infield single Saturday, providing much of the energy in an exciting 8-7 win over the Brewers that was the fourth straight for the Giants. Vogt, popular in every big league stop, has quickly become a favorite of longtime Giants, including Bumgarner. 

"The guy's a ballplayer," Bumgarner said. "He's fun to watch. He gives it all he's got. Everybody really appreciates that. He's a guy that's easy to pull for."

The two triples got most the attention, but Vogt's most impactful sprint may have been the one he made in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on the corners and two outs, Vogt hit a slow roller up the middle and beat Orlando Arcia's throw to first, reaching 27.6 feet per second, his second-fastest sprint of the season. 

"I like to joke that the fastest human being on the planet is a baseball player that smells a hit," Vogt said, smiling. 

All kidding aside, those four and a half seconds told the Giants a lot about their backup catcher. After being in the squat for nearly three hours, Vogt busted it down the line, providing a necessary insurance run. Will Smith would give up a solo shot to Christian Yelich in the ninth but held on when Mike Yastrzemski made a diving catch for the final out. 

"It ended up being a huge run," Bochy said of Vogt's final hit. "In the eighth inning, for a catcher to get down there like that, that's impressive."

Vogt's day was historic in a way. He became the first Giants catcher since Steve Nicosia in 1984 to record two triples in one game and just the third catcher in the last eight years to do it. The Giants had not had a two-triple game from any player in three years. 

Vogt's first triple, just the 10th of his career, came when he lined a 2-0 fastball from former teammate and friend Jimmy Nelson off the fourth archway. The ball would have been a home run in 18 ballparks, but it ricocheted into center field and Vogt cruised into third, his helmet flying off, as Yelich chased it down. With a sprint speed of 26.4 feet per second, Vogt reached third in 12.4 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than the MLB average this season. He would score on Kevin Pillar's single. 

The second triple was a bit more traditional by the ballpark's standards, as Vogt lined a Junior Guerra splitter into Triples Alley and hustled into the bag in 12.14 seconds. Again, he scored on a Pillar single. Afterward, Vogt briefly took on a serious tone when noting that he hopes the ball won't be able to roll that far in the future. Vogt joined the chorus of players who want the bullpens moved off the field and into Triples Alley. He said it's a safety issue, pointing out that Chris Taylor toppled over a mound earlier this homestand. 

"If that's how we have to get that done, let's do it," he said. 

[RELATED: Will Smith focused despite trade rumors]

That's a conversation for the future. In the present, the Giants are just trying to put a positive stretch together. They remain eight games under .500, but this is their best run of the season, and on Sunday they have a chance to sweep a contender. 

"That's a big win," Vogt said. "A big win for us."