Giants

Krukow suggests how Giants should use Span, Pence in 2018

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Krukow suggests how Giants should use Span, Pence in 2018

The Giants have a big issue to address this winter.

As they head into the 2018 season, what do they do about their outfield?

Hunter Pence and Denard Span have both seen big dips in their overall offensive and defensive production. And both are getting up there in age. Pence turns 35 next April, while Span will turn 34 in February.

According to FanGraphs, Span is just a 0.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) player this season. That is the worst among qualified MLB center fielders.

The numbers don't get any better with Pence. FanGraphs has him as a minus-0.2 WAR player. Only Toronto's Jose Bautista and Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez have been worse among qualified MLB right fielders.

With both of them under contract for the 2018 season, do you continue to ride with them or make changes? Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow has some thoughts on the two outfielders.

"As you go forward, next spring is going to be really interesting, because the way that [Hunter] Pence and [Denard] Span are right now, you might think about platooning them. Because of their age, keep them fresh. So you're going to have to develop guys who can come in and do that. I think there is a need for a better defensive player in center field. I think they've pretty much told Span that. There are guys out there that are talked about that could solve problems in center field," Krukow said Monday on KNBR 680.

According to MLBTradeRumors.com, there are no center fielders under the age of 30 on the free agent market this season. But Jarrod Dyson (Mariners) and Lorenzo Cain (Royals) are available and rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in Defensive Runs Saved among MLB center fielders. Span ranks dead last.

Madison Bumgarner waiting for results to match improved stuff on mound

Madison Bumgarner waiting for results to match improved stuff on mound

PHOENIX -- More than anything else -- the injuries, the rebuilding, the trade rumors -- Madison Bumgarner is frustrated by the losing.

So he was happy on Saturday night after getting backed by eight runs in the Giants' win over the Diamondbacks, but he was also perplexed. 

"It's a weird game," he said.

Bumgarner was referring to his own results. His stuff has taken a noticeable tick up in the last four starts, but he was charged with four runs in 6 1/3 innings on Saturday and has given up 11 earned in those four appearances. That's certainly not bad by any means, but it's not quite what he expects given how the ball is coming out of his hand. 

"I feel like I'm throwing the ball as good as I ever have," Bumgarner said. "The results not being there is frustrating."

Bumgarner's fastball and cutter again had a little extra zip on Saturday, and he hit 93 mph with eight pitches. He had done it 14 total times in his first nine starts. His fastball averaged a season-high 92.4 mph and his cutter was coming in at 88, but the pesky Diamondbacks kept making him work and eventually knocked him out in the seventh, when Bumgarner hit 93.2 mph with his last fastball of the game. That was his 10th-hardest pitch of the season. 

"Today I felt the best I've felt all year," he said of his command. "And somehow you look at the line and you walk three and give up four runs. It just doesn't match up. That's the frustrating part of the game."

Bumgarner shrugged it off, noting a couple of times how weird baseball can be.

[RELATED: Giants designate Altherr for assignment after one at-bat]

The results will come eventually, but by then he may be pitching in another uniform. There were plenty of scouts at Chase Field on Saturday to get a close eye at Bumgarner, and if the velocity bump sticks around and the command is still there, he could be the biggest name moved before the trade deadline. 

Giants designate Aaron Altherr for assignment after just one at-bat

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Giants designate Aaron Altherr for assignment after just one at-bat

PHOENIX -- Even Michael Reed thinks the Aaron Altherr Era was short. 

Altherr, picked up on a waiver claim eight days ago, was designated for assignment by the Giants on Sunday morning to open a roster spot for Drew Pomeranz, who is returning from the Injured List to start the finale against the Diamondbacks. 

Altherr was active for four games but got just one pinch-hit at-bat, striking out. His time in the organization may not be up, though. The Giants will hope to get Altherr through waivers and stash him in Triple-A as they have done with others, and perhaps he could return later this season to get a true look in the outfield. 

For now, there's no space. Steven Duggar and Kevin Pillar are entrenched and the Giants remain committed to giving Mac Williamson an extended look in left field. Altherr even found it tough to get pinch-hit at-bats, as Tyler Austin is ahead of him in the "right-handed hitting outfielder" pecking order. It was not realistic to carry five outfielders much longer. 

[RELATED: Giants' table-setters, sluggers do their part vs. D-Backs]

Pomeranz will make his eighth start on Sunday. He has a 5.93 ERA in his first season with the Giants.