Hooray! The Giants won another game that doesn’t count.
But a look inside reveals the Giants continued their troubling trend of struggling to mount offense early in the game.
If some Giants are unfamiliar with Godfrey, we’ve included a picture of him here.
But the game wasn’t all bad. The Giants rallied for four runs off the Oakland bullpen, while the Giants bullpen threw five perfect innings.
Melky Cabrera, who went 3 for 4, homered in the sixth. Then the Giants learned they don’t always need to get hits to mount a rally.
In the seventh, Ryan Theriot walked and Nate Schierholtz was hit by a pitch. Emmanuel Burriss dropped a sacrifice bunt attempt to third base, then used his speed to force the Oakland third baseman into an error that scored Theriot.
Angel Pagan grounded into a forceout to score Schierholtz. Just like that the Giants had two runs on zero hits.
After Pagan stole second, Cabrera then got the first hit of the inning, a single to score Pagan.
Patience and speed to score runs? A revelation.
- As we mentioned, the bullpen was lights out, including 1-2-3 innings by Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez — two pitchers who have had their bumps in Arizona.
- Brian Wilson, who was a regular in minor-league games in Arizona, struck out the side for the save in the ninth. Very encouraging.
- 1B Brandon Belt went 2 for 3 with a double, raising his spring average to .391. Just imagine how much higher it would have been if he didn’t have that hole in his swing that has led the Giants to consider sending him back to Fresno to open the season.
- Manager Bruce Bochy said Monday’s lineup could be very similar to his lineup to open the season on Friday: CF Pagan, RF Cabrera, 3B Pablo Sandoval, C Buster Posey, LF Aubrey Huff, 1B Belt, 2B Theriot, SS Brandon Crawford. We’d be happy with that lineup on Friday, except for the Theriot thing. We’d prefer Burriss.
- Buster Posey received a standing ovation when he was introduced to the AT&T Park at the start of the game. “It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in baseball. I feel luck to play in San Francisco.” Can we put that quote engraved onto a plaque and put it over Posey’s locker after the 2016 season, when he will be first eligible for free agency.
The Giants’ new money man, Matt Cain, takes the mound as the Giants play the A’s in Oakland at 7 p.m.
I’m not one to say I told you so, but ….
Hey, here’s a quote from a blog post on MoreSplashHits from late February.
“MoreSplashHits thinks that offer was more designed for Cain than Lincecum. The Giants offered it knowing Lincecum would turn it down. Then they could turn and make a similar offer to Cain.”
So what happened on Monday?
Cain and the Giants agreed to a five-year, $100 million deal.
Actually, with the $5 million signing bonus and the $7.5 million buyout for the 2018 option year, it brings the total guaranteed value of the deal at $112.5 million. That’s probably what Cain was holding out for.
The 2018 contract year as a vesting player option for $21 million if he reaches a certain number of innings pitched.
It means between now and 2018, the Giants could ending up paying Cain $141 million over the next years.
Some outlets were reporting the deal at $127.5 million. But that’s simple math.
Cain was due to make $15 this season. So take that $15 million, add $5 million signing bonus, five years at $100 million, plus the $7.5 buyout for 2018, it equals $127.5 million guaranteed over six years.
And let’s dispell some thoughts that have been shared in the wake of this deal.
First, there is the thought of the Giants giving so much to a pitcher who has a career losing record and has never won more than 14 games a season.
My response: Who cares.
Cain has historically received paltry run support. His career run support per 9 innings pitched of 3.6 is a full run below the league average.
To make a comparison, Cain received 3.6 runs of support last year had a 2.88 ERA and went 12-11.
Ian Kennedy of Arizona received 4.3 runs of support, had a 2.88 ERA and went 21-4.
It shows what a few more runs, and other circumstances, can do to a pitcher’s win-loss record.
Also, let’s tone down the rhetoric that the Dodgers sale sparked this deal getting done.
The Dodgers deal was going to happen. They were going to be sold this season. And once they were did, the new owners would be in a situation to spend more on the team, no matter who bought the team or what the price tag was.
The Giants knew this. Cain’s camp knew this. Everyone knew this. It really wasn’t much of a factor. It’s a cosmetic cause-and-effect thing.
The real issue was the opening day deadline that Cain and the Giants were working on. That’s why they made this deal now.
And we’re glad they did. It keeps Cain in black-and-orange through 2017, at least.
And here’s the big thing. It moves Zito down the list on the list of players the Giants will pay the most this season, behind Lincecum and now Cain.
All is not right in the world. But it’s certainly getter better.
What are the Giants going to do with Barry Zito?
That’s the $19 million questions as the Giants prepare to break camp (it will be a $20 million question next year).
In the short term, the Giants will leave Zito in Arizona as they travel north Sunday for the Bay Bridge Series.
Zito pitched a bullpen session Sunday in which is was more upright, ditch much of the crouch that he had experimented with this spring.
He’ll pitch a minor league game Wednesday in Arizona instead of pitching against the A’s at AT&T Park.
But we have serious doubts that two bullpen sessions and one start against minor leaguers will provide enough time for Zito to convert himself from a pitcher who “was throwing BP” (as one scout put it) to a servicable No. 5 starter by April 9.
He’s clearly starting from scatch.
The best option right now is for the Giants is to find a way to put Zito on the DL to open the season to give him more time to get himself right (or as right as possible for Zito). Then find someone, like maybe Yusmeiro Petit, to fill Zito’s spot in the roster until Ryan Vogelsong and Erik Surkamp are ready to pitch.
Or they could just have a couple of bullpen games featuring Guillermo Mota and Clay Hensley. Heck, they’re carrying 12 pitchers to break camp.
In the meantime, they’ll need to find some acceptable reasons to put Zito on the DL. So we offer these suggestions:
- Have Jeremy Affeldt invite him over for a cookout so Affeldt can share his technique for separating frozen hamburger patties.
- Schedule exhibition with Tigers, have Zito throw at Prince Fielder …. one … more… time….
- Have the team doctor diagnose him with being a carrier of a contagious form of Tourette Syndrome. If MLB wants proof, just tell them that everytime Zito pitches, it causes 40,000 people to have uncontrollable outbursts of profanity.
- Have him wash Jeff Kent’s truck.
- Make Zito collect his next salary payment … in pennies.
- Have him take Joba Chamberlain’s kids trampoline jumping.
- Have Dan Runzler teach him proper batting technique to swing and miss and dislocate your knee.
- Battle fatigue. It’s reasonable after being shelled in his last two spring starts.
- Take Zito on a day trip over the border into Mexico and confiscate his identification papers. Then make him try to re-enter the country with falsified documents under the name of Leo Nunez.
- On DL for “left arm weakness.” Can anyone contest that diagnosis?
I have a photo that I use as the wallpaper on my computer.
It’s an image of 14 Giants converging on the mound to celebrate the final out of the 2010 World Series.
When the Giants opening spring training this year, five of those players in the photo were not longer with the team: Eugenio Velez, Mark DeRosa, Pat Burrell, Jonathan Sanchez and Travis Ishikawa.
On Friday, the Giants added another name to that list … Mike Fontenot.
The decision to cut the middle infielder came as a surprise to many Giants fans.
“(Roster cuts are) always tough, and Mike in particular,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s very popular. I talked to him, thanked him for all he did to help us. With how the numbers were falling, we just couldn’t find a spot.”
Bochy said three factors played into the decision to release Fontenot: 1, The strong spring of Emmanuel Burriss, who now looks to be the starting 2B; 2, Fontenot’s .227 average last year; 3, the need for more right-handed bats in the lineup, and that led the Giants to pick Ryan Theriot over Fontenot.
Friday was the day to decide on guarantee contracts. So the Giants released Fontenot, while Theriot and Clay Hensley had their deals guaranteed.
Even with that, Bochy wasn’t tipping his hand on what players will make the 25-man roster. He wouldn’t even confirm that Theriot and Hensley were on the team.
“You can speculate on that,” he said. “It’s not my place to say something now.”
Going off the assumption that the Giants will break camp with 13 positions players, here’s how the opening day lineup could look like:
1B: Aubrey Huff; 2B: Emmanuel Burriss; SS: Brandon Crawford; 3B Pablo Sandoval; C: Buster Posey; OF: Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Nate Schierholtz.
And we can also assume two of the five bench spots are locked in: Theriot and OF Gregor Blanco.
Another bench spot will be for the backup catcher: Eli Whiteside, Chris Stewart, or even possibly, Hector Sanchez.
That leaves two more spots.
Bochy said the staff is leaning toward keeping a fourth middle infielder, which means Joaquin Arias is in line to make the club.
If that happens, there’s one spot left … for Brandon Belt or Brett Pill.
Both players can play 1B or OF, although Pill played 3B in a minor-league game on Friday.
Also possible, the Giants could keep Hector Sanchez as a third catch and send both Belt and Pill to Fresno.
OTHER MOVES: The Giants also sent three players officially to the disabled list: 2B Freddy Sanchez, P Dan Runzler and P Ryan Vogelsong.
It’s time to start worrying, Giants fans. Barry Zito may have hit a new low.
And for Zito, that’s saying something.
The San Diego Padres thumped the Giants pitcher for five runs on seven hits (five extra-base hits) and three walks in three innings.
And it took Zito 69 pitches to get through those three innings. He threw only 34 strikes.
Here’s how his outing went.
- Cameron Maybin walked, then picked off first base
- Orlando Hudson walked
- Chase Headley lines out to right
- Jesus Guzman doubles to left, Hudson scores
- Nick Hundley doubles to left, Guzman scores
- Kyle Blanks singles to left, Hundley scores
- Chris Denorfria flies to right
- Everth Cabrera singles to right
- Dustin Moseley sacrifices Cabrera to 2nd
- Maybin grounds to short
- Hudson flies to center
- Headley grounds out to 2nd
- Guzman walks
- Hundley doubles to center, Guzman scores, Hundley out trying to advance to 3rd
- Blanks doubles to left
- Denorfria triples to center, Blanks scores
- Cabrera grounds out to first
Zito recorded nine outs, but two were recorded on the basepaths and a third was recorded on a sacrifice (on a 3-0 pitch to the pitcher, thank you very much).
Zito finished Cactus League play allowing 15 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. And his last two starts were his worst — 10 runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Zito has been battling himself and his new pitching mechanics all spring. And now, with the season looming, he’s looking to make more adjustments.
“It’s not ‘Scrap the whole thing,’ ” Zito said after Friday’s debacle. “It’s just make a small adjustment. … It’s about starting tomorrow morning with (pitching coach Dave Righetti), finding out what the adjustment is and go with it.”
Everything Zito threw was up in the zone. And when it’s up and coming in at 74-82 mph, it’s going to get clubbed.
“It’s funny how when everything is up, it seems everything is off-kilter,” Zito added. “But it’s one click.”
Sounds more like a cha-ching to us, like $19 million this season, $20 million next season, then a $7 million buyout in 2014. And that’s not funny at all.
Zito has just one more preseason start coming, next Wednesday at AT&T Park against the A’s — and two more bullpen sessions — before the start of the season.
So unless Zito develops some kind of ailment like bicep tendinitis (that’s what Jonathan Sanchez had when he stunk it up last season) or some other ailment, it looks as if he’ll be on the mound on April 9 at Colorado for his 2012 debut.
And by the looks of things, it won’t be pretty.
In the course of writing this blog, MoreSplashHits often reads other Giants fan blogs, comment threads and Twitter feeds. And we’re often amazed at the rabid comments by some die-hard fans over even the most mundane decisions the team makes.
And that’s why MoreSplashHits likes to think of ourselves as the thinking fans’ blog, more prone to analysis than outrage, the voice of reason and calm. We like to find the logic in any decision the team makes even when we don’t agree with it.
But the news that came out of Giants camp Thursday even boggles our mind.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced the Giants will break camp with 12 pitchers, even though Ryan Vogelsong will open the season on the DL because the Giants won’t need a fifth starter until April 15.
It had been thought that the Giants would open with 11 pitchers, four starters and seven relievers. That would allow them to keep six players on the bench, offering a brief respite from some tough roster decisions.
But Bochy said with the Giants opening the season in the hitter-friendly parks in Arizona and Colorado, he would feel more comfortable to open the season with 12 pitchers so they would not run the risk of taxing the pitching staff so early in the season.
By that logic, if Vogelsong had been healthy to open the season, the Giants would have carried 13 pitchers, leaving only four bench players.
Idiotic, right? So how does the fact that the Giants only need four starters to open the season change how much the bullpen gets taxed in the opening week of the season?
But here are some facts that undermine Bochy’s logic (or lack thereof) concerning the worries of opening up in Arizona and Colorado.
In nine home games against the Giants last season, the Diamondbacks scored 44 runs or an average of 4.9 runs a game. A high number.
But take away one game — in late September — in which Arizona scored 15 runs against the Giants, then you’re looking at 29 runs in eight game, or a 3.6 average.
With the Giants opening with their three top pitchers in Arizona — Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain — there’s no reason to expect the bullpen to get taxed in Arizona.
Colorado is a different deal. We all know about Coors Field and its reputation as a hitter’s park.
But the park plays differently in April than it does in say July. It is much friendlier to pitchers in April.
Last season, the Rockies averaged 5.4 runs a game at home. In April, they averaged 4.6.
Bochy’s thinking might be more reasonable if any of the Giants’ starters had experienced some health issues this spring that might have stunted their preparation for the season.
But that hasn’t been the case. Cain threw seven innings Thursday against the Rangers. Bumgarner did the same in a minor league game on Wednesday. So there’s no reason not to expect Lincecum, Cain and MadBum to pitch six, seven or even eight innings in the opening week of the season.
Barry Zito is another story. The Giants would be happy to get five or six innings from Zito in any of his starts, whether they happen in April or August.
But Zito’s first start is scheduled for Monday, April 9 in Colorado. Even if the bullpen gets overworked in that game, April 10 is a scheduled off day, so the entire staff would get a day to rest.
So wouldn’t it make more sense of the Giants to use the roster flexibility created by Vogelsong opening the season on the DL to create more depth on its bench?
Bochy should be less concerned about possibly taxing his bullpen (a strength of the team) and more concerned with taxing Buster Posey in the first week of the season.
Opening with a six-player bench would allow the Giants to keep three catchers on the roster to open the season.
It would also allow the Giants time to see how Hector Sanchez’s outstanding spring translates into the regular season.
The same could be said for Brandon Belt, who has been rumored to be ticketed to start the season in Triple-A despite tearing up the Cactus League.
If that happens, that’s a blog post regarding Bochy’s lost marbles for another day.
Well, it was hardly breaking news, but in Tuesday’s ESPN2 broadcast of the Angels-Giants game Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced that second baseman Freddy Sanchez would open the season on the disabled list.
Sanchez has been idle since receiving a cortisone shot in his troublesome shoulder on Sunday. The Giants hope Sanchez can resume light throwing by mid-week. He was getting at-bats as a DH in a minor-league game on Wednesday.
But until he can show he can make all throws necessary to play second base, he won’t be playing for the Giants.
Bochy said Tuesday that he’s hoping Sanchez can be ready to play for the Giants “sometime in April.” But at this point, we’re not really sure he’ll return at all.
The Giants have said Sanchez’s rehab from shoulder surgery last year has hit a plateau. They hope the cortisone shots will be the spark that will Sanchez to push through this plateau and get back on the road to recovery.
In the meantime, it looks as if Emmanuel Burriss is the front-runner to win the start at 2B on April 6. Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot are also in the mix.
The Giants face a Thursday deadline to guarantee deals for Fontenot and Theriot. It looks as if they will do just that.
Theriot was hit on the nose with a pickoff throw on Monday. Yet, he is starting at 3B against the Dodgers on Wednesday. If the Giants were thinking of releasing Theriot on Thursday, it would figure they wouldn’t bother playing him Wednesday.
What can he show them in two days that they haven’t seen already.
But given the uncertainty of Sanchez, the veteran presence of Theriot (plus his right-handed bat) is something the Giants aren’t likely ready to part with.
VOGELSONG TO START FOR THE GRIZZLIES
This isn’t the start he was looking for, but it looks as if Ryan Vogelsong will make his second opening-day start for the Fresno Grizzlies.
After making his spring debut with a 39-pitch outing against the Royals on Monday, Vogelsong will pitch in a minor-league game Saturday so that the Giants can start the clock on his 15 days on the disabled list to open the season.
The plan is for Vogelsong to be ready to open the season on April 15 against the Pirates.
To get there, Vogelsong will start the season opener for Triple-A Fresno at Tucson on April 5. His next start for the Grizzlies would come on April 10 at Las Vegas.
SNAKES IN A ROW
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson announced his starting rotation for the 2012 season. It means we can lineup the opening series between the Diamondbacks and Giants
Friday, April 6: Tim Lincecum vs. Ian Kennedy, 4 p.m. ESPN2
Saturday, April 7: Madison Bumgarner vs. Daniel Hudson, 1 p.m. FOX
Sunday, April 8: Matt Cain vs. Josh Collmenter, 1 p.m.
Those are three right-handers for Arizona. Good news for Giants, who figure to open with a lineup that will include four switch hitters (Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval and Emmanuel Burriss) and three left-handers (Brandon Crawford, Aubrey Huff or Brandon Belt, and Nate Schierholtz or Gregor Blanco).