Giants

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 8-1 loss to Royals

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 8-1 loss to Royals

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SAN FRANCISCO — If you thought the Giants would get a spark from Monday night’s action across the bridge, well …

Coming off their best offensive performance of the season, and an off day, the Giants again came out flat. Jason Vargas and the Royals dominated at AT&T Park, winning 8-1. If you haven’t looked at the standings in a while, we should note that the Giants are now 14 1/2 games behind the Rockies and Dodgers, and 14 behind the Diamondbacks. 

Here are five things to know from a quiet night at the yard ... 

—- Buster Posey’s double in the second was the 200th of his career. He’s the 24th player in franchise history to reach 200 doubles, but he has a long way to go. Willie Mays holds the record at 504. 

—- The two-run rally by the Royals in the third very easily could have been a 1-2-3 inning. Alcides Escobar’s single to right could have been ruled an error on Brandon Belt, and Alex Gordon followed with a flare that just missed Aaron Hill’s outstretched glove. Jason Vargas reached when his bunt found no-man’s land near third. It was that kind of night for Ty Blach, who gave up a two-run single to Jorge Bonifacio later in the inning. 

—- Blach was charged with seven earned runs, the second-highest total of his career. The BABIP Gods were unkind to him, but all those runs count, and that’s 12 earned over his past two starts. His ERA has jumped a full run in that span. 

—- There was a shark in the cove. I'm running out of steam here, don't judge me.

—- Hunter Strickland, usually a setup man, pitched the eighth with the Giants trailing by seven runs. Bruce Bochy planned to use him no matter what since Strickland’s suspension likely starts Wednesday.

Awards season was not kind to the 2018 Giants

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USA TODAY Sports

Awards season was not kind to the 2018 Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — For four straight days this week, MLB Network ran hourlong specials to reveal the 2018 award winners. After each winner was announced, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America released full ballots on its website. 

Nobody connected to the Giants had any reason to really pay attention to any of this. 

The Giants did not, of course, have a winner or anyone that even came particularly close. But for a second straight year, they also did not have a single player — or their manager — receive a single vote for any of the four major awards. 

The MVP ballot has 10 slots and 19 different players received at least one vote, but you couldn’t make the case for a Giant to even finish 10th. There was no Cy Young candidate and Bruce Bochy was out of the Manager of the Year race in the middle of the summer. The organization’s best shot at some consideration was in the Rookie of the Year balloting, but Dereck Rodriguez fell off a bit in September, and that was enough to keep him out of consideration for the third slot on ballots. Right-hander Walker Buehler of the Dodgers received 20 of the 30 third-place votes. 

This has happened two straight years, and as our Ahmed Fareed pointed out, the Giants joined the Padres and Pirates as the only NL teams to not have a single MVP vote the past two seasons. It goes deeper, though. 

Last year, the Giants at least had a Gold Glove winner in Brandon Crawford. Buster Posey won the Silver Slugger Award at catcher last season, too. But in 2018, the Giants were even shut out of those announcements.

Crawford failed to win a Gold Glove for the first time since 2014. Posey was shut down in August, ending any shot at awards. Madison Bumgarner is normally a threat for the Silver Slugger, which he has won twice, but he batted just .159. 

The end result was that the Giants did not receive a single vote for any of the four major awards and also did not pick up a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger. There will be no pre-game ceremonies of any kind next April, and that’s rare. 

You have to go all the way back to 2007 to find a Giants team that didn’t get any recognition at all during awards season. Hunter Pence finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting that year -- for the Astros, who were still in the National League. 

So, yeah, it’s been a long time since this has happened. 

Giants want pitching, but here's why Patrick Corbin doesn't make sense

Giants want pitching, but here's why Patrick Corbin doesn't make sense

SAN FRANCISCO — A few weeks ago, there was a rumor connecting the Giants to Patrick Corbin. It didn’t make sense for one significant reason. 

The Giants did not have a head of baseball operations at the time. In fact, they had not even interviewed Farhan Zaidi yet. But they’re a big-market team, one that has spent handsomely on pitching in the past, so you can’t blame an agent or someone connected to Corbin for trying to get another team in the mix. 

We now know that Zaidi will be making the decisions at AT&T Park. On his first day in the job, he talked about bringing meaningful baseball back to the ballpark. 

“I’ve had the good fortune of being in the playoffs the last few years,” Zaidi said. “The thing I appreciated most about that was playing meaningful baseball day in and day out and how energizing that is for the fans and the players. Playing out the string when you’re totally out of the playoff race, it takes a toll on the fans and the players and the organization. Our goal is to play meaningful baseball deep into the season, and as soon as we can.”

At AT&T Park, there’s always been one clear way to get to that point: Pitching. The Giants once again have the makings of a strong rotation, with Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez behind Madison Bumgarner, and the hope that Jeff Samardzija can return to form. Perhaps they bring Derek Holland back as a solid contributor. 

[PAVLOVIC: Will Giants take shot at Nathan Eovaldi, another risky starting pitcher?]

But what if they were to really go big?

Per sources, there is a lot of interest in the organization in continuing to spend on the starting staff, regardless of the fact that hitting is a bigger need. Zaidi has always been a creative thinker, and he may look at this situation and realize that doubling down on pitching is an easier way back to contention, even as everyone on the outside connects the Giants to hitters. 

Could that lead the Giants right to the top of the market, to Corbin, as previously rumored? It’s unlikely for a number of reasons, including a big one: Madison Bumgarner.

Zaidi is open to moving Bumgarner, but if the Giants instead want to extend their ace at some point, they can’t afford to have another massive deal on the books. Johnny Cueto is in the middle of a $130 million contract, Samardzija is owed $36 million more, and MLB Trade Rumors projects that Corbin will get somewhere in the neighborhood of $130 million himself. 

It’s reasonable for the Giants to always spend on pitching, knowing that’s the easiest way to be dominant given their ballpark. Cueto and Samardzija did, after all, help lead the team back to the postseason in 2016. But it's unreasonable for them to hand out another $100 million deal to a starter when Bumgarner will want the same in a year. 

Corbin is outstanding. The Giants know that better than most. He faced them six times last year — The Clayton Kershaw Schedule, you might call it — and posted a 2.27 ERA. Giants hitters helped Corbin put up the career year that will likely get him the biggest contract handed out to a starter this winter, but the Giants should avoid this mix. 

The best thing the Giants can do at this point is sit back, look for cheaper starters, and hope that Corbin ends up somewhere like New York or Philadelphia, further weakening the Diamondbacks. A division rival losing an ace would be one small step towards meaningful baseball at AT&T Park. 

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. Thursday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Patrick Corbin.