Giants

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

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AP

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”

Manny Machado is a Dodger, so Giants must be better at being the Giants

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USATSI

Manny Machado is a Dodger, so Giants must be better at being the Giants

As Comrade Pavlovic explains here, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ acquisition of Manny Machado is a gaudy rental that only slightly narrows the San Francisco Giants’ path to a surprise postseason berth.
 
In short, the rich got richer, and the Giants continue to mind the tax line.
 
There is, of course, no fun in that position. The A’s aren’t selling for a change, which makes the Giants seem weirdly conservative in comparison to the noisy neighbors they never seem to notice. The Warriors, who move in down the street in a couple of years, are burning money like it’s a college football pregame bonfire, which also makes the Giants look uncharacteristically thrifty.
 
But Machado is the only real jewel in the trade deadline crown (the Mets have pitcher Jacob deGrom, but nobody expects the Mets to do anything other than standard Met-ism), and not only would he find a way to beg out of any trade to San Francisco on religious grounds (he does not worship in a power-restrictive park), the Giants already have a shortstop in which they are exceedingly proud.
 
In short, the Giants weren’t in the Machado race, and they don’t look like they will be in many others, either. This is their year of stasis, in which they will either win as they are or lose as they are.
 
Indeed, the Giants are operating outside their usual shopping norms. They would need to shave salary to acquire salary, which means there will be no 2010 Summer Of Love (Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Javier Lopez, Jose Guillen). And their prospect bin is running pretty low, so they can’t toss young’uns into the wind to see what veteran difference-makers they can attract.
 
Thus, the Dodgers improving their lot is of little consequence to the Giants, save that corner of the fan base that believes the Dodgers always must be monitored. The Giants need to be more concerned about what the Diamondbacks and Rockies and Phillies and Nationals and Braves and Brewers and Cardinals do, which means there probably are too many teams to keep track of down the stretch.
 
Indeed, the simplicity of the task before the Giants is clear. Their path to salvation is through a rehabilitated Evan Longoria, and a revitalized Johnny Cueto, and a transformed Jeff Samardzija, and an offense that doesn’t regard seeing its own players on base as evidence of plague. The Giants have to be better at being the Giants, and there is no guarantee of that based on the evidence of not just the past 98 games but the 230-some-odd before that.
 
But if it helps, someone will enjoy the trade deadline. It just isn’t going to be the Giants. They are, for one of the rare times since they moved from Candlestick Park, a team likely to do almost nothing of consequence this July.
 
But maybe they can get DeMarcus Cousins to throw out the first pitch at one of the Pirates games in August. I mean, if you can’t be in the market, you might as well enjoy someone who is.

How Dodgers' trade for Manny Machado affects Giants' NL West chances

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USATSI

How Dodgers' trade for Manny Machado affects Giants' NL West chances

SAN FRANCISCO — With every move they’ve made over the last nine months, the Giants have been careful to stay under the competitive balance tax, eager to jump headfirst into this offseason’s loaded free agent class. Unfortunately, they’ll now get an up-close look at the best all-around player scheduled to be available this winter. 

After weeks of rumors, and an awkward All-Star Game, shortstop Manny Machado finally was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon. The Dodgers sent five prospects to Baltimore, a package highlighted by Yusniel Diaz, an outfielder who was the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. The other four prospects are not considered top-20 guys. 

There’s no sugarcoating this. The Dodgers, despite an extremely slow start, finished the first half atop the National League West, half a game ahead of the Diamondbacks and four up on the Giants. An L.A. lineup that already has eight hitters with double-digit homers added a player with 24 homers, 65 RBI and a .963 OPS at the break. Machado was far and away the best player available at the trade deadline, and he now might give the Dodgers the best position player in the division. 

Shortstop wasn’t exactly a position of need for the Dodgers. Chris Taylor has done a nice job filling in, but he’s no Machado, and the 26-year-old provides a perfect second-half fill-in for Corey Seager, who was lost earlier this year to Tommy John surgery. 

The Dodgers beat out the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Brewers and possibly a few others for Machado’s services. After hoarding top prospects for years, L.A. made its move, adding to a team that has a sense of urgency after falling in the World Series last year. Clayton Kershaw can opt out of his deal this offseason, too, and this move certainly shows the ace that there is a commitment to winning at all costs. 

Machado has just 48 at-bats against current Giants pitchers -- nearly half of those against Derek Holland, who spent his prior seasons in the American League. The Giants will get their first look at him in about a month, when they visit the Dodgers on Aug. 13. The Dodgers come back to AT&T Park for the final series of the regular season. 

Until that first meeting, where does this leave the Giants? 

Their road to a division title just got a bit steeper, and it’s unclear how they’ll counter. General manager Bobby Evans has said he’s not under orders to stay under the CBT line, but it’s not hard to read between the lines. The Giants just shipped a decent prospect to Texas to ditch Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin’s contracts, a move that was made specifically to get further away from the tax line.

Before the Machado trade, it was hard to see the Giants going away from their plan and adding a significant piece. The same holds true today. Any countermove won’t exactly have the Dodgers shaking.

Some Giants fans might take solace in the fact that the Dodgers paid a decent price in prospects to acquire Machado. But Diaz plays a position where their organization is loaded, and the unfortunate truth is that the Dodgers’ system today still is better than most. 

The Giants still would like to bolster their lineup, with a glaring need against left-handed pitching. Another bullpen arm always is helpful, although Ray Black might fill that hole internally. If the Giants do want to add, they’ll need to find a way to dump a bit more salary, and perhaps they can get creative, as they did with the Rangers deal.

They will not however, be able to go move-for-move with the team atop the division. Machado was the best player out there, and he’s now a Dodger.