Giants

Giants rotation up in the air for Bay Bridge series

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USATSI

Giants rotation up in the air for Bay Bridge series

SAN FRANCISCO -- As they prepare for what should be the most important Bay Bridge Series in years, the Giants are currently lined up to go with TBD, TBD, TBD. Well, kind of. 

Madison Bumgarner will start either Friday or Saturday at AT&T Park. After that, it's to be determined by usage the next two days. With the break coming up and plenty of starting depth, the staff has Dereck Rodriguez, Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Suarez available out of the bullpen before the weekend. 

"The next day or two, we could use anybody as far as a starter," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's all hands on deck because we've got some guys that need a break in the bullpen."

Bochy wouldn't commit to anyone besides Bumgarner making a start this weekend, although Suarez seems lined up for the final first-half game. The Giants could have optioned the rookie back to Triple-A after Monday's game and brought him up in a few days for his first second half assignment, but Suarez is throwing as well as anyone and is in the mix to make a second start this week despite the staff watching his innings. 

All of this came about after Bochy let slip Monday night that Johnny Cueto would not start Tuesday's game. That apparently has been the plan all along, with Cueto getting an extra day of rest, but the Giants did not reveal it until a few hours before the second game with the Cubs. Derek Holland will make a spot start and Bochy said that could be something that happens often in the second half, with Cueto potentially getting an extra day of rest between many of his starts as he tries to overcome an elbow sprain. 

--- Joe Panik is expected to miss about three weeks with his groin strain, team officials said. Alen Hanson will get most of the time at second base, although Hanson was off Tuesday because the Giants were facing a lefty and he has struggled against left-handed pitchers this season. 

--- Hunter Strickland had the pins removed from his fractured finger in the morning and now can ramp up strengthening exercises. Strickland is not eligible to return until August 18 because the Giants placed him on the 60-day disabled list. He likely will be ready about a week before that but will get extra time in the minors. 

--- Evan Longoria has graduated to taking grounders. He is expected back the first week of August. 

--- Renel Brooks-Moon will be the emcee for the mayor's inauguration on Wednesday, so our very own Tim Flannery will serve as the PA announcer for the final game of this series with the Cubs. 

Want to hate Baseball Hall of Fame voting process less? Here are six ways

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USATSI

Want to hate Baseball Hall of Fame voting process less? Here are six ways

The Baseball Writers Association of America, an embarrassingly ragtag and shamefully absurd group (this analysis is based solely on the basis that I am allowed to be a member), issued the annual ballot for the Hall of Fame Monday, and there is good news.

The bitching, whining, proselytizing and tub-thumping will be every bit as fevered and tedious as it always is. In a world in which the ozone layer is being replaced by rampant gasbaggery, this is clearly the gift that keeps on taking.

But there it is anyway -- 35 names on a sheet of paper, 400-some-odd eligible voters of different ages and experience levels, geographic areas and social strata (nerd, old coot, geek, contrarian, nimrod, mathdroid, drunk, science-based drunk – you name it, they’re all there), and over the next six weeks almost all of them will steal cheap columns of slow news days to disguise as actual work.

Like this one.

Point is, while the system has become slowly more flexible without actually achieving true flexibility, the assaults on the public have not. For every useful analysis, there are three to five “I’m voting for these guys because I’m smart and everyone else is human garbage, and don’t @ me because I’m really important” pieces.

Well, I will provide neither. Last year, my opinion counted for barely two-tenths of one percent of the electorate, and the number will probably be about the same this time. I release my vote on election day every year, and that’s good enough for you hyenas.

Instead, I'll use this space to remind you of a few things that may help you hate the process a little less. Not a lot less, mind you – we like hatred in our sports discussions, which is one reason why the meteor cannot arrive too soon.

But here’s a reminder on why the real lure of the Hall of Fame is all the ways the Hall of Fame annoys.

VOTES ARE OPINIONS, NOTHING MORE

When someone explains to you with undue haughtiness why their ballot is the zenith of the intellectual process, that person should be ignored as though he or she were a drunk trying to pick a fight with a goat. When in doubt, your argument should speak for you, not the other way around. But that’s in an ideal world. In this one, people tend to like acting like gods so that they can shout at all the other gods.

NOBODY NEEDS TO BE ON EVERY BALLOT

This isn’t the North Korean Politburo. If someone doesn’t vote for Mariano Rivera, then someone doesn’t vote for Mariano Rivera. He still gets in, so un-knot your delicates. Opinions aren’t worth having if they require agreement with everyone else’s opinions. I mean, did Jacob deGrom feel less joyous about the Cy Young Award because he didn’t receive all the first-place votes? No. He’s probably still hammered today. In other words, don’t be a bully for the hive mind. Let another viewpoint live. Let a thousand pot plants bloom.

VOTERS DON’T FORM BLOCS TO KEEP YOUR FAVORITE GUY OUT

Maybe your guy just isn’t that popular, or that good. Yes, as ridiculous as it seems, you might actually be backing the wrong horse, and in honesty, that’s okay. You get to do that. Besides, the only places voters ever meet is at the bar, and mostly can’t remember what they talked about an hour later. Of all the Halls of Fame, this is the one that colludes the least.

NOBODY IS WRONGED HERE

No promises have been breached, no contracts has been violated. It’s an award, not a hereditary peerage guaranteed by law. It would be nice if your favorite player got a plaque and a weekend in upstate New York, but not everything is an injustice, let alone an outrage. That is, until it’s your guy.

THE HISTORY/SHRINE ARGUMENT IS PLAYED OUT

Those who want the Hall of Fame to be a museum that accurately portrays the game for all its good and bad don’t get what they want, which is a profound disappointment for those of us who think Arnold Rothstein hasn’t gotten his due. Rather, the Hall of Fame is marketing wrapped around promotion, like all Halls of Fame are. More people in a position to decide these things want it to be a profitable shrine. They are of course wrong, but hey, if you don’t like the Hall of Fame, go make one of your own. 

OKAY, THE SYSTEM IS FLAWED, WE GET IT

But its biggest flaw is all the whingeing about how it is flawed. Could it use more voters without becoming the People’s Choice Awards? Yes. Could it use more spaces on the ballot? Sure. Does there really need to be a time limit on eligibility? Not really. But a voting system without quirks is a voting system that passes without notice, and the truest truth about the American electorate is that we love democracy because it allows us to bitch about democracy.

And don’t forget about Arnold Rothstein, especially when baseball embraces gambling for the piece of the action it can take from it. Rothstein wasn’t just a rank criminal. He was also a visionary. If anyone has a plaque coming, it’s him.

Compared to rest of MLB, Giants' injuries in 2018 weren't detrimental

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AP

Compared to rest of MLB, Giants' injuries in 2018 weren't detrimental

SAN FRANCISCO — You heard it repeatedly over the season’s final month.

If we were healthy, this team could have competed for a World Series title.

The 2018 Giants finished 73-89, so the statement sounds ridiculous at first, but you can see where the Giants are coming from. With a banged-up roster, they were just five games out in the NL West as late as August 14, and it’s not like the Dodgers and Rockies put the hammer down in September. There’s an alternative universe where a healthy Giants roster stays in that race, takes the West by a couple of games, and then goes on a run in October. You can picture it.

Madison Bumgarner does what he has done before in the postseason. Johnny Cueto, with no elbow pain, gives the Giants a second ace. Buster Posey, with a healthy hip, again catches every inning in October. Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Joe Panik get another round of clutch hits in close postseason games. Someone you didn’t expect — Alen Hanson or Mac Williamson or Ryder Jones — becomes this year’s Travis Ishikawa. 

[RELATED: Posey hip injury robs power]

Stranger things have happened. The Giants have proven that in past Octobers, and that’s why they had faith in how good this team could have been if healthy. 

But that narrative misses something important. Yes, the Giants had a series of injuries in 2018, but it’s not like they were alone. 

According to STATS, Giants players spent 1,107 days on the disabled list in 2018, but that placed them right in the middle of the pack. They were 15th, well behind the Angels, who led the Majors with 1,821 DL days, nearly all of which came from their pitching staff. The Mets paced the National League at 1,746. Two National League West clubs had more DL days than the Giants. The average for MLB teams was actually 1,127 DL days, so the Giants weren't particularly unlucky. 

Of the 14 teams ahead of the Giants in DL days, seven made the postseason, including the Dodgers and Red Sox (1,257), who faced off in the World Series. Across the bridge, the A’s (1,267) found their way to October despite losing practically an entire rotation to Tommy John and their young ace, Sean Manaea, to shoulder surgery. 

Now, there certainly are caveats here. Not all DL days are created equal. It’s a bigger hit to lose Cueto to Tommy John than it is to lose a No. 5 starter. Then there are guys like Posey, who officially missed 32 games because of injury but played five months with a compromised hip. He didn't add to the DL numbers much, but his injury left a mark on the record. 

But Cueto and Posey and others are also part of why the Giants should have seen this coming. Team officials often pushed back on that concept, pointing to fluke injuries like Panik fracturing his thumb on a tag or Bumgarner getting hit by a line drive. That’s true, but the majority of the DL days were because of wear-and-tear on older players. That’s not surprising. 

Cueto is 32, has thrown nearly 2,000 big league innings, and dealt with elbow discomfort before coming to the Giants. Tommy John wasn’t a shocker. Jeff Samardzija is 33. Same with Mark Melancon, who had forearm issues when he signed. Pablo Sandoval (hamstring) is 32. Posey is 31. 

There’s nothing you can do to plan for Belt’s appendix flaring up or Steven Duggar’s shoulder popping out as he dives into second, but in general, the Giants put together an old roster, and they should not have been surprised that so many players went down. 

They also should not look at those DL days and retroactively inflate their view of the 2018 roster. This was not a roster that was a bit more injury luck away from a World Series run. 

The good news is that we know the front office won’t go into these biggest weeks of the offseason with that view. We know this because of who they hired, a man who previously served as general manager of the Dodgers. 

Farhan Zaidi’s old club put together a roster that actually did win the division and make the World Series, and did so with players spending 1,617 days on the DL, the third-highest total in the majors.