MoreSplashHits goes on vacation, and so do the Giants hitters.
From the day we left for vacation, the Giants went 2-7, all home games.
What’s worse is that the Giants only scored more more than three runs in one of those game — a 4-1 win over the Mets on Tuesday.
The only good thing about this bad stretch is that the Giants (56-49) are still in first place in the NL West, leading the Dodgers (56-50) by a half-game.
The bad news is the Giants have allowed the Diamondbacks (54-51) back into division race. Arizona trails by only two games. AND the Giants are now four games out of the second NL wild-card spot, trailing the Pirates (60-44) and Braves (60-45).
The Giants hope the light air in Colorado will help get the bats going. If there is one NL West team that has been playing worse than the Giants (3-7) over the past 10 games, it’s the Rockies (2-8).
The three-game series gets started Friday with a reunion. Jonathan Sanchez, who was traded last month from Kansas City to Colorado will get the start for the Rockies Friday against Ryan Vogelsong.
Sanchez has seen his ERA actually go up since his trade from the Royals. It has gone from 7.76 to 8.93. He’s 0-7 this season.
In his two starts for Colorado, he has given up 11 earned runs on 14 hits in 8.1 innings, with eight Ks and six walks.
Sanchez has clearly been trying to throw more strikes, but that has left more hittable pitches. It’s a perfect combination for the free-swinging Giants.
Sanchez has given up at least four earned runs in each of his last six starts.
If the Giants can’t get the bats started IN COLORADO and against JONATHAN SANCHEZ, it’s time to get worried.
There was a time when Jonathan Sanchez was the pitcher with the most promise on the San Francisco Giants’ staff.
That time ended long ago, and now we’re left to wonder if Sanchez will be pitching in the majors for anyone anytime soon.
On Tuesday, the Kansas City Royals designated pitcher Jonathan Sanchez for assignment, in a move they probably thought was the rock-bottom moment from their offseason trade with the Giants.
They were wrong.
Sanchez and pitcher Ryan Verdugo were acquired in a trade with the Giants for outfielder Melky Cabrera.
On Monday, Sanchez was tagged for seven runs in 1 1/3 innings against the weak-hitting Mariners. That bumped his season ERA to 7.76 in 12 starts. He had not won since April 8.
On Tuesday, Sanchez was designated for assignment, making room on the roster for Verdugo, who was 6-2 with a 3.58 ERA with Triple-A Omaha this season. Verdugo made his MLB debut Tuesday against the Mariners.
Against the Mariners, Verdugo was tagged for six runs on eight hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings.
All of this came exactly one week after Cabrera started in the outfield for the National League All-Star team, eventually being named MVP of the game, which was ironically played in Kansas City.
“You want them all to work out, but most of the time they don’t, unfortunately,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Tuesday about the trade. “It’s part of the business, you move on and you accept it. You continue to look for solutions.
“There’s no need to spend a lot of time rehearsing what went wrong. You certainly analyze it, but don’t beat yourself about it because this game moves on. You can’t dwell on it. You can’t get stuck on it. You’ve got to move forward.”
OK, let’s move forward. On Tuesday, Cabrera went 2 for 5 with a hustle double, two runs and an RBI as the Giants beat the Braves 9-0. It was Cabrera’s NL-leading 41st multi-hit game of the season. He’s hitting .353 on the season.
As for Sanchez, it’s another fall along what has been become a steady decline since the 2010 season when it looked as if Sanchez had reached that potential the Giants fans had heard about for years.
Sanchez was outstanding in 2010, especially down the stretch. He pitched the Giants to victory in the regular-season finale when they clinched the NL West Division title.
He had another solid outing against the Braves in the NL Division Series. Then things started to turn.
He lost Game 2 of the NLCS vs. the Phillies and appeared to be headed another loss in Game 6 when he was pulled early and the bullpen came to the rescue.
He suffered the Giants’ lone loss in the World Series vs. the Rangers.
In 2011, things became steadily worse for Sanchez, who eventually landed on the DL with “bicep tendinitis” in June. When he returned from the DL, he was no better and a foot injury in August ended his season.
The Royals acquired Sanchez in the offseason, hoping a change of scenery would help him recapture the magic of 2010. Instead, things went the opposite direction.
His ERA jumped from 4.26 in 2011 to 7.76 in 2012. His WHIP went from 1.44 to 2.04.
Royal manager Ned Yost still believes Sanchez can be a quality pitcher, but the Royals could not continue to suffer from his struggles.
“It’s still there with Jonathan,” Yost said. “He’s still got the stuff to be successful. For whatever reason, he just wasn’t successful here. It just got to a point we needed to regroup for us and for him.”
So then what’s next for Dirty Sanchez?
It’s doubtful that another contender would want to risk throwing Sanchez into its starting rotation or even bullpen. If he latches on with a contender, it would involve him heading to Triple-A to figure things out.
The Royals are hoping he clears waivers and accepts a minor-league assignment with them. Sanchez had a 6.75 ERA in three rehab starts with Triple-A Omaha this season.
“We designated him and that gives us 10 days to trade him, but he also has an option and, if he agrees, he can go to Triple-A with us, which I’d personally like to see him do,” Yost said. “Because it’s still there, his stuff’s still there.”
Sanchez will clear waivers because no team will want to be on the hook for the remainder of the $5.6 million he’s earning this season.
If he wants to stay in the majors, it will have to be with a non-contender. A non-contender that is starved for starting pitching and preferably plays in a pitcher-friendly park.
And that leads to only one team … the San Diego Padres.
We’ll find out in 10 days.
MoreSplashHits has emerged from a self-imposed blogging blackout.
That’s because there is news to report.
On Monday, the Giants traded pitcher Jonathan Sanchez and minor-league pitcher Ryan Verdugo to the Royals for outfielder Melky Cabrera.
Both principals in the trade are in the final year of arbitration and will be eligible for free agency in 2013.
In Cabrera, the Giants pick up a player who is two years younger than Sanchez, and could save the Giants $2-3 million in salary. Cabrera earned $1.25 million last year. Sanchez earned $4.8 million. That’s why the Giants threw in the minor league in the deal.
Cabrera set career highs with 18 HRs, 87 RBI, 44 doubles, 102 runs, 201 hits, .20 SBs, 305 average, .470 slugging and .809 OPS last year. In seven big league seasons, his 162-game average season would look like this: 11 HRs, 66 RBI, .275 avg, 30 2Bs, 13 SBs.
Cabrera will be the Giants everyday center fielder. It would take the Giants out of the market for free agent Coco Crisp and may lead the team to non-tender Andres Torres.
The trade ends the enigmatic Giants career of Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez pitched his way out of the rotation in June 2009, only to return and throw a no-hitter against the Padres in his first start back in the rotation. He finished the year strong, going 8-12 for the season.
Success carried over into 2010, when he went 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA. He was especially strong down the stretch and pitched the Giants to the NL West Division title by outdueling the Padres’ Mat Latos in the regular-season finale.
Sanchez continued strong in the NL Division series against the Braves, giving up one run on two hits in 7.1 innings. But the wheels started to come off in the NLCS (0-1, 4.50 ERA in two starts), and he started the only game the Giants lost in the World Series (4 ER in 4.2 IP).
After leading the NL in walks in 2010 (96), he saw his walk rate jump from 4.5 walks per 9 innings in 2010 to 5.9 in 2011, when he was 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 starts. He went on the DL in June with “strained biceps,” came off in August, but ended with a sprained ankle in August.
Overall, MoreSplashHits likes this trade. When we heard Brian Sabean said that Sanchez would head into spring as the Giants No. 5 starter, we had hoped he was blowing smoke. Turns out, he was. Given his inconsistency, Sanchez wasn’t worth the $5-6 million he would make in 2011. And Cabrera is a better option than the free agent Crisp or the arbitration-eligible Torres.
Bottom line, he’s a vast improvement over Giants CFs in 2010. Compare:
Cabrera (2011): .305 avg, 18 HR, 87 RBI, 102 runs, 201 hits, 44 2B, 5 3B, 20 SB.
SF CFs (2011): .228, 9 HR, 43 RBI, 90 runs, 150 hits, 45 2B, 3 3B, 21 SB.
Cabrera hit mostly in the No. 2 hole in Kansas City, but he moves to the Giants’ best option to leadoff in 2011. That is unless the Giants don’t find a better option to fill hole at shortstop, like Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Rafael Furcal or even Willie Bloomquist.
Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News reports that the Giants are strongly considering handing the starting shortstop job to Brandon Crawford, if they feel they have made enough improvements to the rest of the lineup.
I read that to mean if the Giants can re-sign Carlos Beltran in the outfield, they’ll give the SS job to Crawford. I also read that to mean the Giants won’t be pursuers of shorstops seeking multi-year deals (i.e. Reyes and Rollins).
If that happened, the 2011 lineup could look like this:
CF Melky Cabrera
2B Freddy Sanchez
LF Carlos Beltran
C Buster Posey
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Aubrey Huff or Brandon Belt
RF Nate Schierholtz
SS Brandon Crawford
Is that good enough?
Jonathan Sanchez did not have the kind of outing he and the Giants hoped in his return from the disabled list on Friday.
Sanchez gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings in a 9-2 loss Friday to the Phillies.
Dating back to his previous two starts before going on the DL on June 25, it was the third consecutive start that Sanchez failed to pitch through the fifth inning. But in some ways, there were signs of encouragement.
For one, it was the first time six starts that he didn’t walk at least three batters. However, being in the strike zone was not all good, as the seven hits he gave up tied a season-high — as did the five earned runs.
Sanchez sailed through the first three innings, giving up just one hit and one walk and facing just 10 batters.
The Phillies went 1 for 8 with a walk and GIDP the first time against Sanchez. The second time through they were 4 for 9 with two singles and two home runs.
But even that is a little bit deceiving. Shane Victorino hit a one-out home run on an 0-1 pitch in the fourth. The pitch wasn’t a terrible one, but Victorino saw it and hit it hard.
Then Chase Utley and Hunter Pence followed with singles, but Sanchez almost got out of the inning with just the one run. Raul Ibanez grounded to second, but he didn’t hit it hard enough for the Giants to turn an inning-ending double play. A run scored, the John Mayberry hit a 3-2 fastball that was below the strikeout for a two-run home run. Just like that, a one-run inning became a four-run inning.
In the fifth, the Phillies added a more Sanchez-like run. It started with a four-pitch leadoff walk to Jimmy Rollins, which turned into a stolen base, which turned into a run on a single by Placido Polanco.
So a bad outing that came very close to being a not-so-bad outing. We can hope, if not expect, better results next time against the lighter-hitting Pirates.
It may have come on the second game of spring training, but any win over the hated Dodgers (is that redundant) is worth celebrating. The Giants spoiled the spring managerial debut of Don Mattingly with a 8-3 win on Saturday. Let’s see if we can spoil his regular-season debut on March 31.
Again, it’s early. But Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was filled with some encouraging signs.
PANDA POWER: Pablo Sandoval slammed his first home run of the spring training. Given that one of the biggest pieces of Sandoval’s dissapointing 2010 season was his lack of power, this was an encouraging sign.
“When that happens, you get excited about what you do in the cage and all the work you do in the offseason,” Sandoval told the Associated Press.
Sandoval has been working on getting deeper into counts this spring. Yet his home run Saturday came on the first pitch from Oscar Villarreal in the fourth inning.
“He threw that same little cutter to (Aubrey) Huff and Andres (Torres),” Sandoval told the San Jose Mercury News. “I know sometimes I get in trouble when I swing at the first pitch. But I was looking for that pitch.”
That’s exactly what Sandoval should be doing on the first pitch — treat it like the count is 2-0. He should look for a particular pitch and a particular spot. If he doesn’t get that pitch, take it. If he does, hammer it. That’s what he did Saturday.
DEROSA IS RAKING: Mark DeRosa had three singles in three at-bats on Saturday, looking like the player the Giants hoped for when they signed him prior to the 2010 season. DeRosa missed most of 2010 after wrist surgery.
“(Fans) don’t care if you’re hurt,” DeRosa told the Mercury News. “They look for production and it wasn’t there. … Now I’m feeling good. I really do. I’m not having to cheat on fastballs, to do certain things to relieve the pain, to force-feed every pitch to right field.”
STRIKES FOR SANCHEZ: When we last saw Jonathan Sanchez in the postseason last fall, he was struggling to find the plate on a consistent basis, and therefore struggling to get outs.
Throwing strikes is a focus for Sanchez this spring. And early signs Saturday were good.
Sanchez walked one in 1 2/3 innings of work, giving up no runs on four hits.
Manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti set the starting rotation for the 2011 Giants. And here it is:
RH Tim Lincecum
LH Jonathan Sanchez
RH Matt Cain
LH Barry Zito
LH Madison Bumgarner
Now there are some who might object to this rotation, saying that Cain has earned the distinction of being No. 2 man, and that Zito is better placed at No. 5.
But there are several reasons this rotation is the best one.
1. The mix of RH-LH-RH-LH-LH offers different looks to opposing lineups. That different look of pitching behind Cain would put Zito in the best position to succeed. And don’t we all want Zito to succeed?
2. Stress on the bullpen. Lincecum and Cain are the two pitchers on the staff best equipped to pitch deep into a game. Putting them back-to-back would leave the bullpen susceptible to a heavy workload in consecutive games. Sanchez has the ability of pitching eight innings of two-hit ball one start and struggling to get out of the fifth inning the next. And, of course, Zito is the poster child for failing to get out of the fifth. Putting a workhorse like Cain in between the two is a good move.
3. Sanchez has earned the chance to supplant Zito in the No. 2 start with a strong finish last season.
4. Keeping Bumgarner at No. 5 lessens the taxing on his arm. Although, the Giants will not skip anyone in the rotation, so the benefit of this is diminished.
5. Moving Zito down in the rotation gives him a better chance at getting some improved run support because he’s facing the opposition’s No. 4 pitcher. Run support has been a problem for Zito. Now he gets to go against the likes of, for example, the Dodgers’ Jon Garland, instead of Chad Billingsley.
All good reasons. Now, let’s see if it works. And let’s hope (knock on wood) that there’s no reason to change this rotation between now and March 31.
The Giants enter spring training not really worrying about the starting rotation. It’s set, barring any injury. That’s the only reason they signed Jeff Suppan to a minor-league deal.
Knock on wood, this is the 2011 starting rotation
RH Tim Lincecum
LH Barry Zito
RH Matt Cain
LH Jonathan Sanchez
LH Madison Bumgarner
Now, as much as some Giants fans would love to move Zito down in the rotation, the No. 2 spot is the best place for him. Putting the soft-throwing Zito in between the hard-throwing Lincecum and Cain makes sense.
And please, please, please, can we stop with the questions and comments around moving Zito and his contract. He’s not going anywhere. He’s set to make $18.5 million, $19 million and $20 million over the next three years. He’s got an $18 million option for 2014 that will vest if Zito pitches 200 innings in 2013 or averages 200 IPs over 2012-13 or 2011-13. The only good news is that Zito has not pitched more than 199.1 innings in any of his four seasons in San Francisco.
He’ll never be the kind of pitcher who warrants that kind of salary. But the Giants just need to hope he can be a functional starter.
But the bigger issue at hand is that Zito is the only returning starter who is not coming off a career-high for innings pitched in 2010 — regular and postseason.
So the concern is if any of the four starters will feel the effects of all those innings thrown in October.
Look for the Giants to be conservative with their pitchers this spring and early in the season. What the Giants should consider is treating Bumgarner like a true No. 5 starter in April.
The Giants have five scheduled off days in April, meaning they would only need a No. 5 starter three times in April — the opening homestand, the road trip to Arizona and Colorado, and the end-of-the-month trip to Pittsburgh and Washington.
They could skip Bumgarner’s turn in the rotation and throw him as a long man in between starts.
But we don’t expect the Giants to do this. This has not been Bruce Bochy’s M.O. Hopefully this philosophy doesn’t come back to hurt the Giants