San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he will have some tough decisions regarding the opening day roster.
Bochy’s decision became slightly easier Friday, when the Giants traded infielder Conor Gillaspie to the White Sox. The Giants received pitcher Jeff Soptic, a 21-year-old hard thrower who has battled with his control.
Gillaspie, a 2008 sandwich pick (37th overall), was one of five players on the Giants’ 40-man roster who were out of options, meaning he could not be sent to minors this season without first being sent through waivers.
Gillaspie, who was part of the Giants’ draft class that included Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, hit .287 with 37 HRs in five minor-league seasons in the Giants’ system. Gillaspie got a call-up last season when Pablo Sandoval went on the DL. Gillaspie went 3 for 20 (.150) in six games before being sent back to Fresno.
What worked against Gillaspie was that he was not versatile defensively. He was a third baseman, and was not going to pass Sandoval and Joaquin Arias on the depth chart. Even Marco Scutaro is an option at third base. Gillaspie said he was thankful for the trade and hoped to have a better chance making the White Sox roster.
The move leaves the Giants with four players who are out of options: outfielder Gregor Blanco, infielder Arias, reliever Jose Mijares and pitcher Yusmeiro Petit. Blanco, Arias and Mijares are practically guaranteed of making the 25-man roster.
That leaves Petit, which will leave the Giants with an interesting decision.
One thing the Giants are lacking are big-league ready starting pitchers beyond their starting five of Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong.
Last season, all five made at least 31 starters, making the Giants the only team to have five pitchers make at least 30 starts. Only twice did the Giants need an additional starter, when a doubleheader in May in New York forced the Giants to call up Eric Hacker to make a spot start against the Padres, and in September when Petit made a start after the Giants’ clinched the division title and Bochy rested his starters.
Hacker was designated for assignment in September and signed to play in Korea this winter.
Of the seven pitchers who made at least seven starters for Triple-A Fresno last season, only two are in camp this spring — Petit and Boof Bonser.
Petit went 7-7 with 3.46 ERA in a team-high 28 starts for Fresno.
If the Giants keep Petit, it will need to be as a long reliever. It would also mean the Giants would likely release non-roster invitees like Ramon Ramirez, Chad Gaudin and Scott Proctor. Or it could mean George Kontos, who pitched well for the Giants after his call-up last season, would be sent to Fresno, for the sole reason that he CAN be sent to Fresno.
If they lose Petit to trade or waivers, the top option to make a spot start could be Gaudin. Gaudin made 34 starts for the A’s in 2007, but he has not started a game since making 25 starts in 2009 for the Padres and Yankees. Chris Heston, who had a solid season for Double-A Richmond, could be first in line to get a call from Fresno.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and the MLB Network said that no team since the adoption of the five-man rotation in the early 1970s has ever had five pitchers make at least 30 starts in consecutive seasons.
We have to admit, when we saw the Giants’ lineup Wednesday that included Joaquin Arias in the No. 5 hole, MoreSplashHits was hoping the Giants could find a run or two somewhere and hope Matt Cain could do the rest.
It turns out the No. 5 spot was the wrong place for Arias. He should have been batting in the No. 4 hole.
Arias went 3 for 5 with two doubles, a home run and five RBI as the Giants beat the Dodgers to complete a three-game sweep in Chavez Ravine.
Is it too early to talk about magic numbers? If not, the Giants’ magic number to clinch the NL West is 36.
The win pushed the Giants’ record to 5-2 in the post-Melky days, even though production from left field in the past few days has been very limited.
Justin Christian got the start Wednesday, going 0 for 3 with a bases-loaded walk. Christian is batting .125 this season and does not have a hit in his last 18 at-bats dating back to July 22. He is in a 1-for-33 skid.
He is not the answer — or part of the answer — in left field, even though he had a sensational catch Wednesday, which you can see here:
Gregor Blanco looked like he might be ready to contribute again, going 4 for 8 in his first two games after Cabrera’s suspension. But he has gone 1 for 11 since four games since, including five strikeouts (which is most troubling).
If Christian is not the answer and Blanco is not the answer, then who is?
The Giants had Ryan Theriot take some fly balls in left field recently. Theriot has played six games in the outfielder in his eight-year big league career.
If Theriot is being considered, then what about Arias?
When Pablo Sandoval was on the DL last month, Bruce Bochy was asked who was his emergency catcher, with Emmanuel Burriss in Fresno.
Bochy said it was Arias, even though he’s never played the position as a professional.
Arias has played three games at second base, 24 at shortstop and 55 at third base this season. He’s a possible option at first, where he’s played five games in his five-year big-league career.
Why not give him a look in left field? He has only played one game in left field in 180 big-league games over five season. In fact, it was only one inning.
Arias’ game Wednesday was a career game. He managed five extra base hits and five RBI in June and July. He had three extra base hits and five RBI on Wednesday.
But it’s more than one big game. Arias has been swinging the bat pretty well of late.
Arias has hit safely in 13 consecutive games in which he has had at least three plate appearances, dating back to July 24. He was hitting .246 on July 24. He’s hitting .280 now.
He’s hitting .426 in the month of August. He’s 9 for 15 over the past five games. He’s got a hot bat. Ride it while it’s hot.
In a move anticipated Tuesday, the Giants purchased the contract of infielder Joaquin Arias from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday.
Arias arrived in Cincinnati Wednesday afternoon, but no corresponding move was announced.
Arias was pulled out of Fresno’s game Tuesday in Tacoma.
The Giants have been playing shorthanded this entire road trip. Infielder Ryan Theriot missed games Friday and Saturday with a stomach bug. He still says he feels a little weak.
After a rainout Sunday, Aubrey Huff left the team Monday for an undisclosed family emergency. Huff flew to Florida Monday, where he has an offseason home is in Tampa.
It is expected that Huff will be placed on the restricted list or bereavement list. The difference being that the bereavement list is for players missing three to seven games dealing with a family emergency, and it is a paid leave. Players place on the restricted list are for players who will be out an indefinite period and it is unpaid.
Arias had a solid spring, and impressed the Giants with his defensive abilities. He was one of the final cuts before the opening day roster was set. Arias was second on the Fresno Grizzlies with .400 average (28 for 70) with five doubles, 2 home runs and 17 RBI in 18 games.
WEDNESDAY’S LINEUP: Manager Bruce Bochy is keeping Buster Posey’s hot bat in the lineup, even with Hector Sanchez getting the start at catcher as Barry Zito’s personal catcher. Here’s the lineup
- CF Angel Pagan
- LF Melky Cabrera
- 3B Pablo Sandoval
- 1B Buster Posey
- C Hector Sanchez
- RF Nate Schierholtz
- 2B Emmanuel Burriss
- SS Brandon Crawford
- P Barry Zito
The good news is that Crawford’s elbow, which he hyper-extended in a fall while attempting to turn a double play Tuesday, is fine. The bad news is that it means no Brandon Belt.
FREDDY SANCHEZ UPDATE: Freddy Sanchez is 3 for 7 with 3 RBI in two games as a DH for the Class A San Jose Giants. Sanchez is expected to make his first start at second base on Wednesday.
RAINOUT RAMIFICATIONS: Sunday’s rainout and subsequent doubleheader on Monday will force the Giants to find a spot starter Friday at home against the Padres.
The Giants could make it a bullpen game by giving the start to Clay Hensley or Guillermo Mota. Hensley started nine games last season for the Marlins. That decision depends on how much the bullpen gets taxed during the final two games in Cincinnati.
The other option is to call up a pitcher from Fresno.
The two options are Brian Burres, who pitched Saturday for Fresno and is not slated to pitch again until Friday, or Eric Hacker, who pitched Sunday.
Burres is 1-1 with 3.38 ERA in four starts. He has 15 strikeouts and 7 walks in 24 IP.
Hacker is 4-0 with 2.19 ERA in four starts. He has 16 strikeouts and 6 walks in 24.2 IP.
A spot on the 25-man roster would need to be opened to call up either pitcher. That would likely mean sending Dan Otero down.
Also, the Giants would need to open a spot on the 40-man roster, which could be accomplished by moving Brian Wilson from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.