Giants show they're emotionally done in 'don't look at me' loss


Giants show they're emotionally done in 'don't look at me' loss

Monday night’s game ended, and the broadcast booths at Dodger Stadium emptied at roughly the same time. Vin Scully looked at Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow and said, “Don’t look at me.”

And they didn’t. They couldn't. The Giants don’t get to make eye contact with anyone these days.

(By the way, this is entirely fiction, so calm the hell down).

Monday’s nightly tape loop from Hell, a 2-1 ninth-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, was Groundhog Day on crank, the only holiday the Giants know these days. It was made slightly weirder by Madison Bumgarner’s standard Yasiel Puig-related tantrum, a personal indulgence Bumgarner really has no business continuing, but it ended the way Giant fans knew it would.

With a paint can hurled into a campfire.

How the Giants do this night after night is a genuine amazement; they are the first team in eight years to blow 30 saves, and have blown 13 of them since the All-Star Break. And never mind the stability of their bullpen over the past seven years. That is not the point – this kind of concentrated failure would be extraordinary for any team, let alone one that lived off the bounty of its relievers for so long.

That makes Bruce Bochy’s reason for removing Bumgarner after the Puig at-bat all the more confounding. He said, “We talked,” which explains nothing and opens all manner of speculations – maybe Bochy said, “You gotta stop doing this stuff,” and maybe Bumgarner said, “You gotta stop pissing me off,” and then it becomes a dean of students thing.

And Bumgarner offered nothing more compelling, stonewalling and rope-a-doping his way through a series of reluctant inquiries about why he came out of the game, why he lost his braincap over Puig again, and why he ended up saying, “I think we’re getting carried away over the questions,” which is code for “You’re not getting anything out of me, flatfoot.”

[RECAP: Instant Replay: Dodgers get last laugh, Giants fall in ninth]

But that’s one guess, and has no more validity than any other explanation. The truth is, the Giants have no closer whatsoever, and Bochy seems oddly reluctant to shorten his pen to zero pitchers.

All this hilarity suggests that the Giants are emotionally done, a non-playoff team just waiting for someone to plunge a toasting fork into them to enhance the gravy. This was surely the most idiotic of the 30 blown saves, at the most telling time of the year, and the Giants did not get their reputations in this decade by turning stupid, or fearful, or bizarre.

But that’s what they are now, a rapidly deflating balloon whose pre-All Star Break achievements may as well have been in 1951 for all the good they are doing now. Indeed, for all but the most fervent of Giant fans, this is the team least qualified or deserving of a postseason place.

Can it get better? Yes, but only because neither the Mets nor Cardinals are particularly trustworthy either. But catching the Dodgers is a pipe dream, and finding a reliable arm in the bullpen is a pipe dream full of the kind of stuff you can’t even buy in Amsterdam without a Hazmat suit.

So they left Dodger Stadium, losers again, in a particularly ignominious fashion, and with a new battle cry for all occasions the rest of the calendar year.

“Don’t look at me.”

For the Giants, it is part warning, but more than that, it is a caution born of care. They are just worried about the well-being of your corneas.

Giants' new catcher Erik Kratz leaves a presence everywhere he goes


Giants' new catcher Erik Kratz leaves a presence everywhere he goes

Death, taxes, and Giants transactions.

That appears to be the theme of the week.

A few transactions were made on Saturday and on Sunday morning, the Giants acquired veteran Erik Kratz in a trade for minor league infielder, C.J. Hinojosa.

But this isn't an article about moves being made, or trades being implemented. This is about the 38-year-old catcher who leaves a presence behind with anyone he meets -- and he's met a lot of people.

Kratz coming to the Giants means this will be the eighth big-league team he will roster for and, in total, 11 organizations -- er, 12 now. 

Last season, during his time with the Brewers, he became the oldest position player to make his first postseason start since Lave Cross did in 1905.  

And how did he do during that debut? Well:

During Game 2 of the National League Division Series, he hit a two-run, eighth-inning single that gave the Brewers a 2-0 advantage in the eventual 4-0 win over the Rockies. And he was beyond thankful for the opportunity as he told's Adam McCalvy last year.

"If you told me 16 years ago that I'd be here today I wouldn't have changed the path that I took," Kratz said. "I never gave up. I've been blessed every day to be in this situation."

His friends had surprised him during the postseason -- and each one of them sported one of his jerseys from each of the teams he played on. And when he was asked about what they would think about seeing him on the big stage, they would probably ask about his "nasty facial hair" and say he "looks fat on TV."

I spoke to Robert Murray who is the Brewers' beat writer for The Athletic. Through the phone, you could hear his excitement at the opportunity to talk all things Kratz.

"This is right up my alley," he told NBC Sports Bay Area. "I love Kratz."

Then Murray told me a story about him. One that made Murray a little sad Kratz would no longer sport a Milwaukee uniform.

"I had asked Josh Fields if he knew anyone in the Brewers' clubhouse besides Yasmani Grandal when I heard Kratz say in the background, 'Robert, that's a stupid question." After the interview, I asked him what made the question stupid when he replied, 'You should know by now that basically everybody in baseball has played baseball with Erik Kratz." Even in the toughest of situations, knowing on Feb. 1, that he wouldn't make the Brewers, he was a true professional and kept a strong sense of humor."

Murray said that is what he will remember about Kratz.

Don't worry, I didn't rub it in his face too much the Giants had gained a great human, but I will say it got me excited to see what he can add to that team, to that clubhouse, to that organization.

For those of you who say, "I don't care, give me his stats." This isn't one of those articles.

You know where to find his numbers. 

Giants acquire veteran catcher Erik Kratz in trade with Brewers


Giants acquire veteran catcher Erik Kratz in trade with Brewers

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after they made a seemingly endless series of transactions, the Giants got going with an early morning trade. 

Catcher Erik Kratz was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers, with minor league infielder C.J. Hinojosa headed the other way. The deal was made a day after the Giants released Rene Rivera, a similar veteran who appeared in line for an Opening Day job. 

When Rivera was let go, Aramis Garcia looked to be in line for the backup job. But Kratz is a right-handed-hitting veteran who is out of options, so the Giants may keep him instead. Kratz, 38, will be playing for his eighth big league team. He hit .236 for the Brewers last year with six homers and six doubles in 203 at-bats. 

Kratz was a surprise contributor in the postseason, hitting .292 in 26 plate appearances. He is known for doing good work defensively and is a strong clubhouse presence. 

It's unclear why the Giants elected to go with Kratz over Rivera, who worked with their pitchers all camp. Or why they may be shying away from sticking with Garcia, who had a good spring and also knows the pitching staff well. Those questions will be answered in the next four days, and the Giants figure to make many more moves before the dust settles. 

[RELATED: Giants trade Matt Joyce after three days with team]

Hinojosa was once viewed as a future utility man at the big league level, but he was suspended 50 games last season for a positive test for a drug of abuse. When he returned, he posted a .689 OPS. 

To clear a 40-man spot for Kratz, the Giants DFA'd pitcher Jose Lopez, acquired at the start of the spring from the Reds.