After looking at the All-Star voting, I feel a little sheepish about complaining about the selections of the players and manager Tony LaRussa.
But in the end, the Giants ended up with four All-Stars, three of which deserved to be there — Melky Cabrera, Buster Posey and Matt Cain.
You could make the argument that there were more deserving players than Pablo Sandoval. But you could also say the Giants had two All-Star snubs — Ryan Vogelsong and Sergio Romo. You could even make a case for Madison Bumgarner or Santiago Casilla.
Some have argued that Sandoval’s election to start the All-Star game cost Vogelsong a spot. It’s possible that it’s true and it’s not true.
To explain that, we need to take a harder look at the selection process.
The All-Star team, as it stands now, is compiled in three parts: Fan voting for starters (8), players’ vote for eight pitchers and eight reserves (basically the backup at every position, and nine players added by LaRussa to fill out the roster and make sure each team is represented.
After the fans voted in the starters, the players voted in these eight position players:
1B Bryan Lahair, Cubs; 2B Jose Altuve, Astros; SS Starlin Castro, Cubs; 3B David Wright, Mets; C Yadier Molina, Cardinals; OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; OF Ryan Braun, Brewers; OF Andrew McCutchen.
And the following pitchers (5 starters and 3 relievers) …
Craig Kimbrel, Braves; Aroldis Chapman, Reds; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals; Stephen Strasburg, Nationals; R.A. Dickey, Mets; Matt Cain, Giants; Lance Lynn, Cardinals; Joel Hanrahan, Pirates.
MoreSplashHits takes no offense to most of the players’ selections. But two picks actually caused some issues.
1B Bryan LaHair, Cubs: This selection wasn’t too bad, almost a month ago. On June 7, LaHair had 12 home runs and was hitting .311. Now, he’s hitting .284 and he’s only hit one more homer. With the callup of Anthony Rizzo, LaHair isn’t even starting every day … for a last-place club. The best selection would have been Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks. Goldschmidt has 11 HR, 35 RBI and is hitting .292. His slash line of .292/.367/.540 is better than LaHair’s of .284/.364/.526, and it would have given Arizona it’s lone representative that instead went to Wade Miley, costing another pitcher a spot.
SP Lance Lynn, Cardinals: Lynn was 10-2 with 2.42 ERA on June 13, shortly before player voting starting. But since he’s given up 17 runs in 15.1 innings. He’s 10-4 with a 3.62. But two of those starts may have occurred after player voting ending.
We do take greater issue with some of Tony LaRussa’s selections.
LaRussa picked Carlos Ruiz, c, Phillies; Ian Desmond, ss, Nationals; Jay Bruce, of, Reds; Giancarlo Stanton, of, Marlins; Cole Hamels, sp, Phillies; Jonathan Papelbon, rp, Phillies; Clayton Kershaw, sp, Dodgers; Wade Miley, sp, Diamondbacks; and Huston Street, rp, Padres.
We have no problem with the selections of Ruiz, Kershaw and Stanton. Frankly, we’re stunned the players didn’t vote for Ruiz and let LaRussa pick Molina.
When the players picked LaHair over Goldschmidt, it forced LaRussa’s hand to pick Miley as the Diamondbacks’ lone representative. And we also aren’t too bent out of shape over the Bruce pick. We probably would have gone with Michael Bourn of the Braves, but it’s a close call. Plus, Bourn likely will make the team as an injury replacement for Matt Kemp if Bourn doesn’t win the fan voting for the final spot on the NL roster.
There are picks we have big beefs with:
Huston Street: Yes, we know Street is the Padres’ lone representative. But we feel Chase Headley would have been the better choice. Street has been great this season, but in limited action as he missed a month of the season on the DL. Headley would have been a more meaningful pick for Padres’ fans. He’s a product of San Diego’s system and figures to be with the Padres longer than Street. Street was acquired in the offseason, missed a month on the DL and likely won’t be with the team come August. If Headley is on the team, Ian Desmond likely is not, but it would have opened a slot for another, more deserving reliever … i.e. Sergio Romo (2-1, 0.79 ERA). But set-up guys don’t get the love, even though Romo has been lights-out this season, and lights-out last season, too.
Cole Hamels: Hamels was great in April and May, not so great in June (especially early June). He was 8-1 with 2.43 ERA on May 28, but 2-3 since then. His ERA sits at 3.08. Not bad. But it cannot compare to Johnny Cueto’s 9-4 and 2.26 ERA. LaRussa said he passed on Cueto because he was set to pitch the Sunday before the All-Star Game. Completely stupid. You pick the most deserving player, then let the schedule play itself out. If Cueto was declared unavailable for the ASG, pick a replacement.
Jonathan Papelbon: Four relievers is plenty for an All-Star Game. Once LaRussa opted to make Street the Padres’ rep, he should have looked to another starter, of which there are plenty of good candidates. As for Papelbon, again he started very hot, saving his first 9 chances with a 0.82 ERA. One bad outing in early May led his ERA to blow up to 3.00. He worked it back down to 2.02. But his last three outings haven’t gone so well. He twice allowed the opposing team to take the lead, only to get the win when the Phillies rallied to win in the bottom of the inning. His ERA is now at 3.03 and his last outing was June 26, plenty of time for LaRussa to notice there are better candidates like Ryan Vogelsong (7-3, 2.26), James McDonald (8-3, 2.45) or Chris Capuano (9-3, 2.69).
Now, it’s possible that Sandoval’s election kept Vogelsong off the team. LaRussa may not have wanted to give the Giants five spots on the team and end up with more than his own World Series champion Cardinals, who also had four (Molina, Furcal, Beltran and Lynn).
There could have been backlash with Sandoval’s election because it kept David Wright from winning the start, then the players would have voted for the backup, which may have cost another Cardinal a spot (David Freese). As it is, Freese is one of the five finalists for the Final Spot vote.
Again, it’s hard to complain too much when the Giants landed five on the All-Star Game last year: One who was voted on by the players (Brian Wilson) and three who were picked by manager Bruce Bochy (Cain, Tim Lincecum and Vogelsong). Sandoval was later added as an injury replacement.
The chances of Giants being added as late replacements this year aren’t good. There are two All-Stars battling injuries right now: Matt Kemp (who is unlikely to play) and Joey Votto (who is iffy). But there is little chance of Brandon Belt or Angel Pagan being added.
As for the pitchers, LaRussa specifically avoided pitchers who may pitch on Sunday, so that won’t be a factor.
Cain, Dickey, Hamels, Miley and Lynn pitch Thursday, Strasburg and Kershaw pitch Friday, and Gonzalez pitches Saturday.
The Giants accomplished something that they’ve never done in four previous trips to Seattle — win the opening game of the three-game series.
Ryan Vogelsong pitched into the eighth inning, giving up two runs and Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera homered to send the Mariners to their sixth straight loss at home.
The blasts by Posey and Cabrera gave the Giants eight homers in their past four games.
“I think what really got us going was (Madison) Bumgarner’s homer,” Posey quipped.
It was an odd and bit uneven night for Vogelsong.
Early in the game, the Mariners were hitting the ball hard … but directly at Giants defenders.
The Mariners only managed two hits through the first seven innings against Vogelsong, with a lot of loud outs early on.
“What you like about him, he keeps his composure out there,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He continues to grind it out and make pitches.”
But then Vogey settled into a groove. In the end, it was a dunker and a seeing-eye single that got Vogelsong out of the game with two on and nobody out.
Javier Lopez came in and gave up a single that did not score anyone. The Mariners did eventually plate two runs on groundouts, the second one should have been a double-play ball that Sandoval bobbled.
Then Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla shut the door for the victory.
Posey got the Giants on the board with a solo home run in the second inning. Cabrera added a two-run shot in the eighth which provided to be pivotal with the Mariners scored twice in the bottom of the eighth.
And Brandon Belt continued his current hot streak, going 2 for 4 with a double.
Tim Lincecum returns to the mound — one day after his 28th birthday and in his first start in his hometown of Seattle. Hopefully, those two factors will turn things around for the Freak against Kevin Millwood. First pitch in 7:10 p.m. Saturday.
I can remember watching one of those “experts” on TV making some preseason predictions about the Giants.
The “expert” admitted that pitching was the Giants’ strength. But their starting rotation had some question marks. Sure, he analyzed, they had studs in Tim Linecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. But you never what you were going to get from Barry Zito, he said, and it was no given that Ryan Vogelsong could repeat his 2011 performance.
Well, it’s true that Zito has been a pleasant surprise in 2012 (Lincecum an unpleasant one). But for Giants fans who watched him last year, there is no surprise about what Vogelsong has done.
Vogelsong was a rock in 2011. A steady performer. Not flashy. He wasn’t going to throw a no-hitter or strike out 10. He was just going to give you quality innings and give the Giants a chance to win.
And after he found his rhythm after back issues delayed the start of his 2012, Vogelsong has again hit his stride and may be even better than he was in 2011.
Vogelsong held the Rangers to one run on three hits in 7 2/3 innings Saturday. The lone run came on a solo home run that Mitch Moreland nearly hit to Alameda, as Vogelsong labored into the eighth inning.
Vogelsong won his fifth consecutive decision. More importantly, in his 10th start of the season, Vogelsong recorded his ninth quality start.
It was the sixth start since May 3 in which Vogelsong pitched at least seven innings and gave up no more than one earned run.
Could it get much better than that? Well, yes. Vogelsong also got his first hit of the season, leading to the Giants’ first run of the game.
- Pablo Sandoval, in his first start since being activated from the DL, went 1 for 4 with a run-scoring single.
- The Giants have not him a home run at AT&T Park in their past 15 games. The club record is 16 set in 1980. Nate Schierholtz almost snapped the streak when he hit a ball high off the right-center field wall for a triple.
- The game also snapped a nine game home streak in which the Giants did not score more than four runs in a game.
Tim Lincecum returns to the mound in search of his first win since April 28. The Rangers will send Alexi Ogando. Texas is hoping to get 60 pitches out of Ogando, so it will be a bullpen game for the Rangers. Let’s hope it’s not the same for the Giants.
Thursday was a day off for the San Francisco Giants, but does mean there wasn’t news to report.
San Francisco Chronicle reporter Henry Schulman reported that Ryan Vogelsong’s sore back — which caused the pitcher to get a late start to spring training and to the started of the season — flared up in the days before his most recent start.
It did not prevent him from pitching Tuesday in Los Angeles. In fact, Vogey’s seven-plus inning, one-run outing was his best of the season.
The Giants had Vogelsong leave LA early to avoid subjecting his back to a late-night flight after Wednesday’s game. It also allowed him to get a “maintainence shot” to his back in Arizona. The Giants say they don’t expect Vogelsong to miss his next start Monday at home against the Rockies.
Then came another piece of news. The Giants reportedly called on Fresno Grizzlies pitcher Shane Loux to join the team in Arizona. Loux was not activated. According to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com, teams have a short grace period in which they can bring a player in without calling him up.
The Loux summons could mean a couple of things:
The Giants could see Loux as insurance in the event Vogelsong’s back tightens up again. Loux started 28 games for Fresno in 2011 with a 4.67 ERA. But he’s worked exclusively out of the pen, with success, this season — 21 IP in 13 innings with a 3-1 record and an 0.43 ERA. So using Loux as a spot starter for Vogey doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Baggarly said it’s possible that Loux is being brought in simply to familiarize himself with the big league routine to prepare him for a future call-up. But Loux is no spring chicken. He’s 32 with two previous big-league stints — in 2002-03 with the Tigers and 2008-09 with the Angels.
It’s also likely the Giants are preparing to return to a seven-man bullpen. We knew that the Giants decision to go with a six-man pen in the wake of Guillermo Mota’s suspension and Aubrey Huff’s activation from the DL would not be permanent. The day off following the Dodgers series offered the Giants some flexibility.
But that flexibility ends Friday when the Giants start a stretch in which they play 20 games in 20 days. Loux’s call-up may be the first step toward the Giants returning to a seven-man pen. But with Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain, who both have the ability to pitch deep into games, going in the first two games, the Giants may simply be holding Loux in reserve, allowing them to keep the deeper bench at least to open the Arizona series.
And there’s another factor at play. Jeremy Affeldt (sprained knee) is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday and may well be available to do so. But even if he is ready to come off the DL, that doesn’t mean Loux won’t be needed.
The Giants normally keep two lefties in the pen (Javier Lopez and Affeldt). When Affeldt went on the DL, lefty Travis Blackley was called upon. So when Affeldt comes off the DL, Blackley could be sent back to Fresno and Loux is activated to give the Giants a seven-man pen.
This appears to be the mostly likely scenario to MoreSplashHits, given Thursday’s news.
Of course, if that does happen, the Giants would need to demote, DL or DFA a position player.
But we’ll deal with that decision in a later post.
Ryan Vogelsong gave up two runs on six hits over six innings of work in his second rehab start with the Fresno Grizzlies on Tuesday and is set to make his 2012 big-league debut Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Vogelsong threw 93 pitches, 60 for strikes. He struck out six and walked one.
Vogelsong threw five shutout innings before giving up two runs in the sixth on an soft, looping single to left, an infield single and then a two-run double.
BARRY LOVES HECTOR: If you liked what you saw from rookie catcher Hector Sanchez in his 2012 debut on Monday, you’ll see him again on Saturday, at the latest.
The Giants are planning to make Sanchez Barry Zito’s personal catcher. And why not? The combination produced Zito’s first shutout in nine seasons.
“I’m really comfortable with him,” Zito said of Sanchez. “I thought he mixed it up real well. He has a great feel back there. I don’t think he gets enough credit as a catcher. He’s not scared to go out there and call a pitch that may not be a normal pitch to throw in a siutation.”
Zito will take the mound again on Saturday night against the Pirates. But it’s possible Sanchez could be behind the plate again on Thursday.
With the Giants playing a day game after a night game and with the left-hander Jamie Moyer on the mound, we could see Sanchez catching and Buster Posey making his first start at first base.
Given the Giants’ struggles against lefties, manager Bruce Bochy will likely want to stack Thursday’s lineup with as many right-handed bats as possible. That could include the switch-hitting Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval and Sanchez, with righties Posey at first and Ryan Theriot at 2B. Bochy could also leave Posey at catcher and start Brett Pill at first base.
LINEUP JUGGLING: After getting a day off to clear his mind, Brandon Belt should be back in the starting lineup Wednesday against the Rockies.
Bochy said Belt, who started 1 for 10 with five strikeouts after an outstanding spring, was pressing a bit.
We also could see Nate Schierholtz make his first start Wednesday.
“I need to get Nate a start,” Bochy said Monday. “I know that. I need to let him get three or four at-bats.”
SET THE DVR: The Giants will make their second national TV appearance of 2012 next Tuesday when they host the Philadelphia Phillies at 7 p.m. on the MLB Network. Madison Bumgarner is set to pitch for the Giants.
While San Francisco Giants had to wait for opening day, the Fresno Grizzlies opened the Triple-A season with a 3-0 win at Tucson.
The spotlight was on Fresno starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, who was making the first of two rehab starts as he opens the season on the DL.
Vogelsong threw four shutout innings, giving up three hits, three walks and striking out six. He threw 83 pitches, 49 for strikes.
Vogelsong will make his second Triple-A start on Tuesday at Las Vegas before making his Giants debut on April 15.
Heath Hembree, the Giants’ closer-of-the-future, earned his first save with Fresno, giving up two hits and striking out two in a scoreless ninth.
Here’s the rest of the Grizzlies’ opener roster
Pitchers: Travis Blackley, Brian Burres, Hector Correa, Steve Edlefsen, Eric Hacker, Heath Hembree, George Kontos, Andrew Kown, Mitch Lively, Shane Loux, Jean Machi, Yusmeiro Petit, Wilmin Rodriguez, Ryan Vogelsong (DL rehab), Craig Whitaker, Matt Yourkin
Catchers: Tyler LaTorre, Jackson Williams, Eli Whitside
Infielders: Joaquin Arias, Brock Bond, Charlie Culberson, Conor Gillaspie, Nick Noonan, Skyler Stromsmoe
Outfielders: Justin Christian, Tyler Graham, Roger Kieschnick, Todd Linden, Francisco Peguero
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).