What a week! Since Out of Left Field posted last Sunday morning, the Giants have gone 4-0, a run that includes two shutouts, a couple of high-scoring beatdowns, the weirdest game you’ll ever see (the Wednesday afternoon game in Anaheim), and the grand re-opening of Oracle Park, or Home Opener 2.0.
Last night’s starter, Johnny Cueto, threw his best game since Home Opener 1.0 on April 9. Johnny Cueto likes pitching in front of a lively crowd. From Alex Pavlovic’s gamer:
For the first time in 21 months, the Giants opened up their jewel of a ballpark with no restrictions. The fans arrived early and in huge numbers, and they were already lathered up by the time Cueto started throwing warm-up pitches to Casali. The catcher soaked it all in and knew Cueto was in for a good night.
“He’s a showman,” Casali said. “He feeds off high-energy situations. I could feel it in the bullpen. He was nodding his head a lot like he was happy that there were a lot of people in the crowd.”
Curt Casali wasn’t the only one who could sense that Cueto was going to have a big night. Check this out.
I mean, this is a guy with 38 Twitter followers, but Johnny Cueto saw his tweet and quote-tweeted it with a great response. I love it! Check out Cueto’s little twirl in this GIF.
I assume giantc was talking about Curt Casali, the backup catcher who’s now caught 6 of the Giants’ MLB-leading 11 shutouts. Casali wasn’t even supposed to play last night and got inserted into the lineup late when Buster Posey had some back stiffness during batting practice. Cueto loves throwing to Posey, and he can be a bit diva-ish about his catchers, so this could have been an ominous development. But no problem. Not only did Casali guide Cueto, Tyler Rogers, and Jake McGee through the nine innings, but he hit a homer in the seventh inning to give the relievers a bit of breathing room.
Casali sends one out for the 2-0 lead pic.twitter.com/naBU2586h9
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) June 26, 2021
Casali enjoyed the crowd last night as much as Cueto did.
Casali loved playing for all the fans tonight 💯 pic.twitter.com/UbVPObWC0z
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) June 26, 2021
Let’s also give a hat-tip to Rogers and McGee. I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers that awful series against the A’s last August in which there were two straight ninth-inning meltdowns–the first one with a five-run lead going into the ninth–on the way to an A’s sweep in the Giants’ park. That was the low point of the 2020 season, which got better from there. McGee was not a Giant in August 2020, but Rogers was, and I’m sure he remembered it, as well. No problem last night, though.
Impending Roster Crunch
I’m referring to the 40-man roster here. At some point in the next couple of weeks, the Giants will have to make decisions about La Stella, Jaylin Davis, and Tyler Beede. All three are on the 60-day IL, meaning that they are not counted as taking up 40-man spots. There are rules about how long you can keep players on the 60-day IL once they’ve started their rehab games, and all three will run out of time very soon. The Giants at that point will have to add them back to the 40-man roster. Beede and Davis both have minor league options (meaning they could be activated and then optioned)–but the key point is that they have to be added to the 40-man roster before they can be optioned.
So here’s the problem. The Giants will need to DFA at least three players to get those three back on the 40, and–there are not a lot of obvious choices. I took a look at the current 40-man roster. Not counting the 60-day guys, they have 20 pitchers, 4 catchers, 8 infielders, and 8 outfielders.
Of the 20 pitchers, 13 are on the active Giants roster. The other 7 are Logan Webb (10-day IL), three young righties (Kervin Castro, Camilo Doval, and Gregory Santos), and three middling lefties (Caleb Baragar, Conner Menez, and Sam Selman). All of those pitchers except for Castro have seen time on the major league roster this year. They’re all in AAA and provide depth, and it’s hard to imagine the Giants wanting to lose any of them at this point.
I don’t think any of the four catchers are going anywhere. Chadwick Tromp has provided valuable depth and Joey Bart is a top prospect. Among the infielders, Jason Vosler and Thairo Estrada are in AAA, and I suppose one of them could be at risk of a DFA–I’d say Estrada before Vosler–but the Giants have been so decimated with injuries to infielders this year (all of the Opening Day infielders except for Crawford and Dubon have been on the IL), that it’s scary to contemplate cutting any depth there.
That brings us to outfielders. All of them except for Alexander Canario are already on the major league roster, and Canario is a top prospect who is absolutely not going to be DFA’d.
One sad possibility is that, if Belt’s knee injury is serious, he could end up on the 60-day IL. That opens one spot for La Stella, Davis, or Beede. Beyond that, I’m going to guess that one lefty pitcher goes. It could be Jose Alvarez from the major league roster–he seems pretty far down the depth chart right now–or it could be one of Selman, Baragar, or Menez. The roster crunch could also mean the end of the Mike Tauchman era, but the Giants might rather give up on Davis before letting ol’ tWAR go. I assume that in any case, ZaHarris will try to trade someone rather than just dumping them. These are good problems to have. In recent years, it’s never been all that hard to look at the 40-man roster and speculate who might be the next 2-3 on the bubble. But this year is complicated because a) the team is playing really well but b) they’ve been wracked with injuries (second most IL stays in the majors after Toronto). The depth is what’s carrying them, and you hate to guess wrong about any of it.
Shout-Out to the Little Giants
Everyone thought that the San Jose Giants, who are stacked with top-prospect talent not since seen the days of Posey/Bumgarner/Crawford, were going to be a team to watch. It took them a minute, but now they’re really good. They are 32-14 and have a four-game lead in their division. A young quartet of starting pitchers is putting up impressive numbers.
I think we found our next CoreFour. https://t.co/dvpwqtpxKb
— Mike Dickie (@giants28mvp) June 26, 2021
[That’s our own Crawnik on the quote tweet about a new Core Four.] Kyle Harrison and Ryan Murphy were drafted in 2020. Wil Jensen was an undrafted free agent in 2020 whom the Giants signed for $20,000. Carson Ragsdale, who at 6’8″ is only the second tallest pitcher in the Giants system, was acquired in a trade that sent Sam Coonrod to the Phillies. In other words, all four only were acquired in the past year, and now they’re leading the league in strikeouts.
The SJ hitters are second in their league (Low A West) in OPS and HRs. Here are some standouts noted by Joe Ritzo, the radio announcer for the San Jose Giants.
Genoves is a prospect who should be getting way more attention. Luciano’s strike zone awareness is a really underrated aspect of his game. Wright out of the ‘pen. And what Matos & Harrison are doing at 19 with little-to-no pro experience has been eye-opening. https://t.co/puI77Zl21D
— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) June 24, 2021
Anyway, keep an eye on the San Jose box scores. Good things are happening there.
A’s at Giants, 7:05 p.m., Willie Mays Field
Frankie Montas (7-7, 4.79 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (6-3, 4.09 ERA)
MrLefty and I will be at the park tonight, along with BrotherLefty, SisterLefty, and Brother-In-LawLefty. We’re trying to figure out how early we need to get there to snag one of the 15,000 Yaz bobbleheads. I really want one.
Like Cueto, Wood is due for a good outing. Maybe a nice, cool SF summer evening will help with his grip on the ball. Anyway, keep it going, Giants! What a great week. Lefty out.