One Ugly Week

photo credit: galoremag.com

by DrLefty

The featured image is from an e-zine directed at young women, and the article is about literally feeling ugly–bad hair days, skin breaking out, jeans not buttoning–you get idea–all at once.

When I posted a week ago today, the Giants were 4-4, and they gave me and Nate’sFanMom a birthday win to go 5-4. Thus ended the good times and thus began the ugly week.

Everything stopped working, all at once. Well, to be accurate, some things weren’t working even a week ago (/cough cough the defense; /cough cough Jeff Samardzija), but now even things that were working have unraveled.

The Giants have lost 5 of their last 6 games, barely hanging on to win one of four at Coors Field. In three of the losses, the bullpen either coughed up leads or imploded right after the hitters had fought back to tie the game. There were kicked balls, bad throws, catcher’s interference (again), and 97 grounded-into-double plays. There were relievers who came in and couldn’t throw a strike and there were way too many crooked numbers put up by the opposition.

It was, as I think I’ve mentioned, ugly.

 

Let’s Break This Down

The Giants lead or are near-worst in the majors in the following categories:

  • grounding into double plays (19–most in majors); the second team on the list is Cleveland with 15
  • committing errors (18–most in majors); the second team on the list is Kansas City with 16
  • walking batters (tied for second-most in the NL)
  • giving up home runs (24–58–tied for second-most in the NL)
  • WHIP (1.45–second-highest in the NL)
  • pitching deep into games: the Giants are the only team in MLB not to register a quality start (six innings/three or fewer earned runs)

You get the idea. They are also mediocre at striking out hitters (ninth in the NL), meaning that balls are being put in play, and…see “most errors in MLB,” not to mention defensive shifts that don’t lead to errors in the box score but are not always working out well.

Are they good at anything? Well…yes. They actually lead the NL in hits and are third in team batting average (.252). They’re fifth in runs scored, fourth in doubles, second in triples, and second in sacrifice flies. Now, some of those “good” stats are because Donovan Solano and Mike Yastrzemski are having crazy-good years so far, but overall, they can hit a little bit.

 

Bright Spots

Unless you’re a really persistent optimist, this season was never going to be about game results for the Giants. It’s about panning for those golden nuggets among the dirt clods. So here are a few from this season, now that we’re close to 25% (!!!) through it.

  1. Logan Webb: Webb started and won the only game the Giants took at Coors Field this week, becoming the first and so far only Giants starter to earn a win. The WHIP (1.50) is a little high and the strikeouts a little low (10 in 12.2 innings), but the 2.13 ERA is excellent. Back in March, before Tyler Beede went down and before the shutdown, it seemed that Webb might start the season in AAA. Now, with a 60-game sprint, they don’t need to manage Webb’s innings, and he can just get the experience he needs and build confidence. At just 23 years old, he’s not even eligible for arbitration until after the 2022 season. He should be a rotation mainstay for years to come.
  2. Wilmer Flores: All the attention is on Yaz and Donnie Barrels, who are near the top of the NL in most offensive categories–Solano is leading the league in hitting at .447(!!!)–but Flores is quietly having a solid season at the plate: .320/.340/.540/.880 and tied with Yaz for the team lead in homers at 3. His defensive “abilities” are pretty cringeworthy, but they got Flores for his bat, and so far, so good. Plus his walk-up song is awesome.
  3. Young bullpen: Is this a bright spot? Seems kinda…messy. Well, if you squint a bit, there’s a lot of potential there. Rico Garcia (who, I noticed, looks a bit like Sergio Romo in the face), Caleb Baragar, Shaun Anderson, Sam Selman, Tyler Rogers…they’ve all shown something, at least in spots, and–here’s where you have to squint–if some of them can build on the experience they’re getting this year, it could be the core of a solid bullpen for awhile. The only guy currently in the bullpen who won’t be back in 2021 is Tony Watson. Everyone else is under team control for years.
  4. Enthusiastic youngsters: Chadwick Tromp and Mauricio Dubon hit homers in three games this week–all games the Giants eventually lost. They were still fun homers, and the players’ reactions were fun, too. Famous homophobe and general stick-up-the-a** Daniel Murphy didn’t like Dubon’s enthusiasm about his big three-run homer, but, well, Daniel Murphy can rot.
  5. Trade bait: The 2020 trade deadline is three weeks from Monday, and it will be interesting to see if the Zaidi/Harris combo can get something for Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly (if healthy), or Tony Watson, all rising free agents. Less “free” (under team control for 2021) but still possible trade bait are Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt, and–gulp–Donovan Solano. Notice I didn’t mention Yaz (I don’t think they’ll trade him) or Jeff Samardzija or Brandon Crawford (no one will take them). Color me impressed that the front office turned a minor league deal with Billy Hamilton into a top-30 pitching prospect (Jordan Humphreys).

 

DrLefty’s First DFA List of 2020

Long-time TWGers may remember that I was quick to “DFA” players during games, especially relievers. The late, great Chef Michael Scott used to get on my case about it (along with various other things, including my use of ground turkey in cooking). I’m usually right about these (players I want DFA’d usually do get DFA’d, albeit not as quickly as I’d prefer), but I’ll admit to a big swing and a miss on Drew Pomeranz last season. (I’m still glad he’s gone!)

Anyway, here is my early list for possible DFAs, and you probably won’t like any of them.

  • Jeff Samardzija: Before last night’s game, MrLefty insisted that I commit to a guess of how many runs the Shark would give up against the Dodgers. I said, “Well–he’s given up five in each of his two starts, so I’ll say five.” And five (earned) it turned out to be. Even worse than the results is the stuff. He’s rarely breaking 90 with his fastball and just doesn’t seem competitive out there. He’s a free agent after this season, and no one is going to trade for him like this. While there doesn’t appear to be anyone he’s blocking, at some point you have to cut your losses and stop throwing him out there every five days.
  • Pablo Sandoval: Pablo is the position player equivalent of Samardzija right now except more beloved because of his long history with the Giants, which includes a World Series MVP award in 2012 and several All-Star nods.  He’s not driving the ball (only singles this year), he’s out of shape, affecting both his hitting and his ability to play in the field, and he’s one of the slowest runners in baseball. Furthermore, the Giants are relatively deep in guys who can play first base (Belt, Flores, Slater, etc.), they don’t appear to trust him at third, and a guy with no power isn’t useful as a DH. It’s hard to see how he justifies a roster spot other than “we love the guy.”
  • Speaking of “we love the guy,” Hunter Pence is 1 for 29 this season. Despite some of Gabe Kapler’s odd moves with him this season, like pinch-running or playing right field, if they want to stick with him, he should DH or pinch-hit against lefties. Period. I was listening to Baggs and Brisbee’s latest podcast on my walk this morning, and they pointed out that the Giants sent Pence off with a shower of love and a new scooter at the end of 2018 and supposedly turned the page on nostalgia signings, a hallmark of the Sabean/Evans era. And yet, here he is, back for 2020, and playing like it’s 2018, not 2019 (when he allegedly was good again).
  • Brandon Crawford: Crawford has picked up right where he left off in 2019, which was to be one of the worst hitters in MLB and a former Gold Glove shortstop who’s lost a step or three. I don’t really see them eating all of his money when he’s still signed through 2021, but I would not be at all surprised if he were relegated to a bench role next season and maybe DFA’d before that season is over.

There was a time when I thought Samardzija, Sandoval, and Pence could all be possible trade bait at this season’s deadline. Uh, nope.

 

Prospect News

MLB.com put out its “midseason” (!!!) top-100 prospect list, and the Giants did a little worse than the last time this came out. The top four prospects (Bart, Luciano, Ramos, and Bishop) stayed on the list, but Seth Corry (#99) dropped off, with new draft picks populating spots. Nor did the Giants’ latest top pick, Patrick Bailey, crack the list, even though other new draftees picked lower than he was did make it, suggesting that Bailey’s selection was a safe but “meh” pick.

New top-30 lists for each team were also published, and Bailey is #6 on the new Giants list, with promising lefty Kyle Harrison entering at #12. New acquisition Jordan Humpreys is #25.

At the Alternate Site in West Sacramento, the good news was the long-delayed arrival of 2019 first-rounder Hunter Bishop, who explained his COVID odyssey to beat writer Kerry Crowley. I guess Kerry made a good impression. You don’t usually see players gushing over beat writers.

 

The other piece of good news was the arrival of injured reliever Reyes Moronta at the Alternate Site. Though he is still rehabbing from his shoulder surgery, there is some hope that he could pitch before this season is over. I miss that guy. The Giants had a good bullpen last year, but it’s easy to forget how very good Moronta was in 2018-19.

 

My 28-Man Roster Results

With the Giants making what is now their final required roster cut-down (from 30 to 28 players), that’s a wrap on the My30/28/26ManGuy™ roster contest(s). Thanks again to HaakAway for collecting the votes and tabulating.

26 – AHS, Crawnik

25 – DrLefty, buyselltrade

24 – giantc, Boof, 610nm, 20Sharks

 

RIP Razor

Long-time KNBR host and great Giants fan Ralph Barbieri passed away on Monday at age 74 after battling Parkinson’s Disease for many years. One of his best schticks–along with his legendary face-offs with surly Rick Barry–were his battles with Giants GM Brian Sabean. KNBR put together a greatest-hits compilation of these. Enjoy.

Tell the Chef hi from all of us, Razor, and this reminds me that we’re overdue for an Amici’s run to Vacaville (half-baked pizza to finish at home and lemon-pepper wings, yum yum).

 

Tonight’s Game

Giants at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m., Chavez Latrine

Johnny Cueto vs. Clayton Kershaw (I’m feeling a night off for Belt)

 

Beat LA! Lefty out.