It’s September, so it’s time to look at prospects.
From Sept. 1 through the end of the regular seaso, any player on the 40-man roster is eligible to play in an official regular season game. Many young players make their Major League debuts in this way, as “September call-ups.”
The Giants in the past few seasons have not called up a ton of minor leaguers in September. But in the past few seasons, they’ve been in contention for the postseason.
Not this season, so it’s time to take a look at the youngsters. So we’ll start with players who are on the 40-man roster, but not on the current 25-man roster or on the DL
RHP Jake Dunning
Pitched well in his first stint in the majors, posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 19 innings before being sent down in late July. He’s gone 1-2 with 1.37 ERA in 46 innings at Fresno. He’ll surely get a call-up.
LHP Edwin Escobar
Escobar started the year at High-A San Jose, going 3-4 with 2.89 ERA and 1.138 WHIP in 16 games (14 starts). His numbers got better since his promotion to Double-A Richmond — 5-3, 2.59 ERA, 1.068 WHIP in nine starts. But at 21, and a starting pitching prospect, he’s likely not to get call this September.
RHP George Kontos
A key contributor in the bullpen in 2012, Kontos struggled with the big club in 2013, posting a 5.05 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 46.1 innings. He’s pitched well at Fresno (3-1, 3.74 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 21.2 innings), so he’ll get a call.
LHP Dan Runzler
After losing most of the 2012 season to injury, Runzler was visibly upset when he was sent to minor-league in spring training. But things have not gone well at Triple-A for the lefty (5.79 ERA and 1.83 WHIP in 51.1 innings). But at 28 years old, it’s time for the Giants to see what they’ve got in Runzler as they make offseason roster decisions.
LHP Eric Surkamp
After losing the 2012 season to Tommy John surgery, necessity forced the Giants to call on Surkamp a little earlier than they should have. The result was an ugly start in July vs. the Reds. But he’s been very good in Triple-A (7-1, 2.54 ERA, 0.90 WHIP in 10 starts), and he’s been especially good since being sent back after his one ugly start in the bigs (5-1, 1.47 ERA in six starts). So he deserves another look with the Giants and could be asked to contend for starting spot in 2014.
SS Ehire Adrianza
A former top prospect, Adrianza built a reputation as a guy with big-league glove, minor-league bat. After hitting .240 for Double-A Richmond to start 2013, he was promoted midseason to Fresno more out of necessity. But since arriving for his first stint at Triple-A, he’s hit .311 with a .418 OBP in 39 games. He walks about as much as he strikes out. It might be a surprise, but maybe he’s worth a look.
IF Nick Noonan
Noonan earned a job with the big club out of spring training and opened the season well. But a lack of consistent playing time led to a drop-off (he’s hitting .209 for the season). A demotion to Fresno didn’t help the numbers (.245 in 42 games). But he’s shown some ability when given the chance to play, so the Giants may give him more ABs in September.
1B Angel Villalona
Villalona emerged from nearly three years out of the game because of legal problems. He hit .229 with 14 HR and 42 RBI in 73 games to High-A San Jose before getting moved up to Double-A Richmond, where he’s hit .236 with 7 HR, and 27 RBI in 46 games. He still needs to find his hitting stroke, so don’t expect him in San Francisco this September.
OF Francisco Peguero
Peguero was just up with the big club before being sent down to make room on the roster for Angel Pagan, who was activated from the DL on Friday. So we can expect to see Peguero back up when rosters expand.
OF Juan Perez
Perez was another player who showed brief flashes early in his call-up to majors. He’s continued to hit at Triple-A (.301 in 94 games) but his lack of patience at the plate (.333 OBP) nullifies one of his assests — his speed. His shown a good glove, and with Andres Torres done for the year, the Giants could use outfielders.
IF-OF Kensuke Tanaka
The Japanese League veteran held his own in his brief stint with the Giants (8 for 30, .267, in 15 games). He’s shown he can handle Triple-A pitching (.331 avg, .403 OBP) and he actually walks more than he strikes out (like the Giants could use that?). He’ll get another look in September.
PLAYERS NOT ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER
The Giants might not restrict a September call-up to players currently on the 40-man roster. They may want to take a look at others.
Right now, all 40 spots on the 40-man roster are spoken for. But the Giants could create a spot if they wanted to.
One easy to do that is to put infielder Tony Abreu on the 60-day disabled list. Abreu has been bothered with knee issues dating all the way back to spring training. He worked his way back into playing shape and earned a promotion to the big club in July. But knee issues resumed and he returned to the DL in late July. If the Giants determine that Abreu won’t be 100-percent healthy in September, they could put in him on the 60-day and open a roster spot.
With pitchers Matt Cain, Jeremy Affeldt and Chad Gaudin expected to return soon from the DL, the only other way to create a spot on the 40-man roster is to designated someone for assignment.
The prime candidate for MoreSplashHits is Barry Zito. We’ve seen enough of Zito over the past seven years, and we don’t need to see any more. If Cain is able to come off the DL next week, as expected, the Giants have plenty of starting pitching candidates with Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, Yusmeiro Petit, as well as youngsters Mike Kickham and Eric Surkamp.
I would rather see what Surkamp has to offer instead of Zito. Surkamp is a candidate to contend for a rotation spot in 2014. Zito is not.
BUT, Zito is slated to start Monday against the Padres at home. Let’s hope this is final send-off.
Here are candidates to get a call-up who are not on the 40-man roster.
RHP Heath Hembree
Hembree wowed the Giants during spring training 2012 as he became the “closer of the future.” But arm troubled sidelined him a bit in 2012, and he struggled early in 2013 for Triple-A Fresno. But he’s been pitching better of late, posting a 2.70 ERA with seven saves, eight strikeouts, one walk in 10 innings in August. He’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, so the Giants might as well take a look now.
C Johnny Monell
Teams often like to call up a third catcher in September. And the idea of giving Buster Posey more time off in September seems like a good one. Monell, a 27-year-old, impressed the Giants with his power in spring training, but he needed to improve his defense. He’s worked on that at Fresno while he has continued to hit. He has 20 HRs, 63 RBI and batting .279 in 118 games for the Grizzlies.
OF Gary Brown
We throw this name in for the heck of it. Brown, a first-round pick in 2010, has been one of the Giants’ top rated prospects the past few years, but he has had a poor year at Triple-A this season. He’s hit .233 this season in a hitter-friendly league and has a team-high 132 strikeouts for Fresno. Not what you want to see from a guy you had hoped could be a leadoff candidate. Brown’s not ready. Another year in Triple-A would be good. No need to call up Brown now.
Another loss — a 4-2 setback to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday — has put the San Francisco Giants on an historic path.
A historic path of the worst kind.
The loss dropped the Giants to a .441 winning percentage on the season. That prorates to a record of 71-91 on the season. It would match the Giants’ worst season since going 71-91 in 2007, Barry Bonds’ final season with the Giants.
If the Giants lose 92 games this season, it would be their worst season since going 68-94 in 1996.
But when put into context of defending World Series champions, it gets really bad.
When it comes to follow-up seasons for World Series champions, the 1998 Florida Marlins set the gold standard with their 54-108 season. The Giants only need to win three more games to surpass that season.
After winning the 1997 championship, the Marlins traded away players like Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Moises Alou, Devon White, Jeff Conine, Robb Nen, Ed Vosberg and Dennis Cook in the offseason. They would trade away Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich and Felix Heredia during the 1998 season.
In the Nen trade with the Giants, the Marlins received in return Mike Villano, Joe Fontenot, Mick Pageler. So it’s no wonder they lost 100-plus games in 1998.
By contrast, the Giants kept the bulk of their 2012 championship trophy together for 2013. So they won’t challenge the 1998 Marlins. But they are right on course for the second-worst record by a defending World Series champion.
Presently, that honor goes to the 1991 Cincinnati Reds, who went 74-88 (.457). To finish ahead of the Reds, the Giants only would have to go 23-21 the rest of the way. If the Giants finish 75-87, they would also surpass the third-worst mark by a defending champ, the .460 mark of the 1918 Chicago White Sox (57-67).
On more win would put them ahead of the 1932 St. Louis Cardinals. Another win and they slide past the 1986 Kansas City Royals and 1967 Baltimore Orioles.
In all, 15 defending World Series champions have failed to post a winning record in their encore season. For the Giants to avoid becoming the 16th team, they would have to finish the season 30-14.
The most likely scenario is somewhere in between. So here is the list of the worst records of defending World Series champions, along with (in parenthesis) the record the Giants would require in their final 44 games to surpass that mark.
- 1998 Florida Marlins 54-108 .333 (3-41)
- 1991 Cincinnati Reds 74-88 .457 (23-21)
- 1918 Chicago White Sox 57-67 .460 (23-21)
- 1932 St. Louis Cardinals 72-82 .468 (24-20)
- 1986 Kansas City Royals 76-86 .469 (25-19)
- 1967 Baltimore Orioles 76-85 .472 (25-19)
- 2003 Anaheim Angels 77-85 .475 (26-18)
- 1994 Toronto Blue Jays 55-60 .478 (26-18)
- 1989 Los Angeles Dodgers 77-83 .481 (27-17)
- 2007 St. Louis Cardinals 78-84 .481 (27-17)
- 1919 Boston Red Sox 66-71 .482 (27-17)
- 1961 Pittsburgh Pirates 75-79 .487 (27-17)
- 1983 St. Louis Cardinals 79-83 .488 (28-16)
- 1964 Los Angeles Dodgers 80-82 .494 (29-15)
- 1965 St. Louis Cardinals 80-81 .497 (29-15)
The San Francisco Giants officially listed their starter for Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay as “TBA.”
Sunday is Barry Zito’s turn in the rotation.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted: “Not a good sign for Zito. … Chances of Zito pitching that game … not good.”
Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea chimed in with: “We might have (seen) Barry Zito’s last start as a Giant.”
MoreSplashHits remains completely baffled as to why the Giants didn’t use Monday’s off-day (not to mention last Thursday’s) to skip Zito’s turn in the rotation.
Then they could have given Zito some time in the bullpen to work on his delivery, while Chad Gaudin, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner pitched in Philly and Tim Lincecum, Zito and Gaudin pitched in Tampa.
Instead, they said the ONE GUY who has been terrible on the road and make him the only pitcher to be slated for two starts on the six-game road trip.
Now, they find themselves looking for a replacement starter possibly on Sunday.
So what are the options?
Ryan Vogelsong: Vogey made his second rehab start after his long DL stint with a broken finger Tuesday in Richmond. That would put him on pace to pitch Sunday. But manager Bruce Bochy said Vogey will remain on his original rehab schedule, which is to pitch Sunday for Double-A Richmond. If all goes well, he will return to pitch for the Giants on Aug. 9 at home against the Orioles … in Zito’s spot in the rotation.
Guillermo Moscoso: The Giants acquired Moscoso from the Cubs a week ago just for this situation. Moscoso, 29, was 7-5 with 3.93 ERA in 17 starts for the Cubs’ Triple-A team in Iowa. He had a shaky debut for the Giants in relief of Zito on Tuesday. He gave up a single, intentional walk and hit batsmen before escaping without giving up a run in the fourth vs. the Phillies, set down the side in order in the fifth, then gave up another walk and a two-run homer in the sixth.
Eric Surkamp: Zito could develop some mysterious ailment that would prompt a trip to the DL — or he could be DFA’d — creating a roster spot for Surkamp. Surkamp struggled in his first big-league start since Tommy John surgery, giving up seven runs in 2.2 innings vs. the Reds on July 23. Surkamp was optioned to Fresno on July 24, meaning he needs to stay at Triple-A for 10 days. That period would expire Saturday, allowing the Giants to recall him to start on Sunday. In his first start back at Fresno, Surkamp gave up one run on three hits over seven innings on Tuesday, putting him right on pace for a Sunday start.
Pray for rain: Rain is the forecast Thursday in Philadelphia. The two teams will wait out for a window to play for as long as possible as Thursday’s game is the last scheduled in 2013 between the two teams. But if the game is postponed, then Cain starts Friday in Tampa, followed by Bumgarner and Lincecum. That would give the Giants the option of pitching Zito on Monday in San Francisco against the Brewers, where he’s had more success.
And so ushered in the Roger Kieschnick era.
Kieschnick singled in runs in his first two major league at-bats, finishing the night 2 for 5 and included a nice grab in left field as the Giants snapped a five-game skid with a 9-2 win at Philadelphia.
It’s been a long road to the majors for Kieschnick, a third-round pick in the 2008 draft that included Buster Posey (first round), Conor Gillaspie (sandwich pick), Brandon Crawford (fourth round) and Eric Surkamp (sixth round).
Injuries have stunted Kieschnick’s progress through the minors. After hitting .296 with 23 home runs and 110 RBI for Class A San Jose in 2009, he spent two injury-filled seasons with Double-A Richmond in 2010 and 2011. He was off to a solid start in 2012 with Triple-A Fresno and might have earned a call-up to the majors, but he injured his wrist while crashing into a wall while trying to run down a foul ball, effectively ending his season.
He was hitting .273 with 13 HRs and 56 RBI for Fresno this season before getting his first call-up on Monday. He made his debut on Wednesday.
Here’s how Kieschnick’s debut matched up with other MLB debuts for players on the current Giants’ roster who made their debut as a Giant.
- Sept. 11, 2009 vs. Dodgers — 0 for 1, 1K, entered game in eighth inning
- Sept. 25, 2009 vs. Cubs — 0 for 3, 2 K
- March 31, 2011 at Dodgers — 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
- May 27, 2011 at Brewers — 1 for 3, 1BB, 1 HR, 4 RBI (grand slam)
- Aug. 14, 2008 at Astros — 0 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 SF
HECTOR SANCHEZ (currently on DL)
- July 15, 2011 at Padres — 0 for 0, 1 BB, entered game in ninth inning
- Sept. 10, 2011 vs. Dodgers — 0 for 2, 1BB.
- Sept. 6, 2011 at Padres — 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI
When news broke Tuesday that Brian Wilson had signed had signed with the hated Los Angeles Dodgers, Twitter blew up with a mix of reaction from San Francisco Giants fans that ranged from “thanks for the memories” to “burn in Hell, you traitor.”
MoreSplashHits is convinced that if Wilson had signed with any other team, the reaction from Giants fans would have been almost universal “Thanks, and good luck.” But the Dodgers?
We finally heard from Wilson on Wednesday via post on gossip site TMZ.com.
Oh, and on a side note, is it odd to anyone else that this is the second time in the last few months that TMZ has been lucky enough to “catch” Wilson strolling down a public street? I mean, if there’s any place Wilson with his trademark beard could bleed into anonimity, it’s on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
Anywho, in the video (which can be viewed above), Wilson said: “I don’t worry about rivalry, bro. I just want to play baseball. You know, if there are 30 teams out there and 29 teams don’t want me, what am I going to do, say I’m not going to play baseball?”
He continued: “I’ve got much love for San Francisco. We had a good time. But there’s nothing I can do. They don’t want me back, so it’s all good.”
We get it. If you’re a free agent, you can choose where you want to play. And the Dodgers are an attractive destination. They are a contender. Wilson lives in Malibu. And the Dodgers have deep pockets.
Just don’t expect to get Buster Hugs from Giants fans. For the record, the Dodgers play three more games in San Francisco this season: on Sept. 24, 25 and 26 (Games No. 157, 158 and 159 of the season).
Wilson had a public tit-for-tat with the Giants last offseason when negotiations between the two parties broke down because the Giants didn’t offer him a guaranteed contract and Wilson felt the Giants owed him more — even though the Giants paid him more than $8 million in 2012 for two appearances.
Why wouldn’t you expect a guy like that wouldn’t go running to the free-spending Dodgers?
Giants CEO Larry Baer thanked Wilson for his service with the Giants, and added that Wilson signing with the Dodgers “doesn’t mean he’ll never be a Giant again. People go and come back.”
I’m sure Baer was speaking in broader terms, as in Giants who leave the Giants, then return later.
But if you’re talking about San Francisco Giants who left to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers then returned to the Giants, we could only find one example of that.
Jose Vizcaino, who started his career as a Dodgers in 1989-90 before being traded to the Cubs, was traded from the Indians to the Giants after the 1996 season. After the 1997 season, Vizcaino signed with the Dodgers and played there for two-plus seasons. Six years after leaving LA, Vizcaino re-signed with the Giants for the 2006 season. He hit .210 in 136 games that season before being released in August.
What’s the price of one’s soul? Brian Wilson will soon find out.
The former Giants closer reached a minor-league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, USA Today reported on Tuesday.
Wilson has not pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2012 after making just two appearances for the Giants in the 2012 season. Then he became grumpy when the Giants didn’t offer him a contract in the offseason for what would have cost the Giants more than $6 million.
Wilson vowed to be ready by spring training. But workouts last January showed that Wilson was still a long way off from being ready.
Then we lost sight of The Beard, until he showed up in San Francisco last week to throw for scouts that included the Giants.
But ultimately, Wilson, who lives in Malibu, decided to join Big Blue. Reports say Wilson could be called up to the big club in as soon as two weeks.
When that happens, Wilson will join a long and storied list of players who have played for the Giants and Dodgers.
But since Ned Colletti left the Giants to become the Dodgers general manager after the 2005 season, the outcome for players leaving the Giants and directly joining the Dodgers have not been good.
Played for Giants in 2005, signed by Dodgers as free agent before 2006 season
With the Dodgers
- 2006 — 8-7, 4.73 ERA, 112.1 IP in 44 games, 15 starts
- 2007 — 2-11, 5.80 ERA, 104 IP in 33 games, 15 starts
DFA’d on Aug. 24, 2007
Played for Giants in 2006, signed by Dodgers as free agent before 2007 season
With the Dodgers
- 2007 — 1-4, 6.31 ERA, 25.2 IP in 6 starts
- 2008 — Did not pitch, injured
- 2009 — 2-2, 5.60 ERA, 17.2 IP in 4 starts
Retired from baseball after 2009 season
Traded by Giants to Dodgers on Aug. 9, 2007
With the Dodgers
- 2007 — 0 HR, 3 RBI, .273 in 33 ABs in 30 games
- 2008 — 0 H, 5 RBI, .130 in 92 ABs in 98 games
Retired from baseball after 2008 season
Played with Giants in 2010, signed with Dodgers as free agent before 2011 season
With the Dodgers
- 2011 — 0 HR, 1 RBI, .000 in 34 games
Released after 2011 season
Played with Giants in 2010, signed with Dodgers as free agent before 2011 season
With the Dodgers
- 2011 — 4 HR, 28 RBI, .204
- 2012 — 2 HR, 17 RBI, .191
- 2013 — 5 HR, 30 RBI, .262
The Giants are not going to be contenders for a playoff spot in 2013. If that wasn’t clear last week, it became crystalized after being swept at home by the Cubs.
So in a week or so, the Giants went from potential buyers to potential sellers.
The news Monday that the Giants would be calling up first baseman Brett Pill and outfielder Roger Kieschnick from Triple-A Fresno to open the road trip Tuesday in Phil sent Giants fans into a Twitter.
There was no corresponding moves, but many speculated that a trade could be in the works, namely for Hunter Pence.
Given the Giants’ dismal state in the standing, dealing away Pence would seem to make sense. But there are reasons for hanging onto the right fielder.
If the Giants keep Pence, they can tender him a contract for 2014 and receive a draft pick as compensation if he signs elsewhere
Under new free agency rules, teams can offer their impending free agents the average of the top 125 average annual salaries in baseball for one year. Heading into 2014, that will likely be around $14 million. If the Giants make that qualifying offer to Pence, and he rejects it, they will receive a draft pick in return if he signs with another team.
But others may say that the Giants could get a prospect better than one that could be drafted No. 30-36 in next June’s draft. The draft pick the Giants would receive is a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. Maybe. Maybe not. For those folks thinking the Giants could get a top-notch prospect (i.e. the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar), you’re dreaming. It won’t happen. Pence isn’t that kind of draw.
You’ll remember in 2011 when the Giants added Carlos Beltran for Zach Wheeler? Well, it wasn’t Beltran for Wheeler straight up. The Mets had to send the Giants $4 million to pay for most of the balance of Beltran’s remaining 2011 salary to make the Giants agree to send the Mets a prospect who was still two years away from making it to the majors. So what would the Giants have to pay to lure a quality prospect from another team in addition to Pence.
The Giants have said they want to re-sign Pence, and the best way to do that is not trading him
When was the last time a player was traded in July, then returned to the team that traded by signing as a free agent the following offseason? I can’t remember. I can tell you it doesn’t happen often.
But more than that, making the qualifying offer doesn’t just give the team a guarantee of some kind of compensation, it could give the team some kind of leverage.
You’ll remember Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn last offseason. Both rejected qualifying offers and held out for long deals for big money during the free agent season. When teams decided they didn’t want pay big money for a player AND give up a draft pick, Lohse and Bourn lingered on the market. Eventually, they signed for much less than they originally sought.
If the Giants trade Pence, the team that acquires him cannot make him a qualifying offer. That means Pence hits the free agent market with less restrictions around him than if the Giants kept him and made the qualifying offer. That drives up his price in a market that appears very thin for outfielders.
Keeping Pence gives Giants exclusive negotiating rights for next three-plus months
The Giants have said they want to bring Pence back. Pence wants to return to San Francisco. Pence’s Facebook page “Team Pence” even linked to an SF Examiner.com post saying why the Giants should not trade the outfielder. Given the mutual interest, there is a good chance the Giants could agree to a deal with Pence BEFORE he hits the market — and potentially save the team some money to fill other needs.
The Giants will NEED a right fielder for 2014
Without Pence, the Giants will head into the offseason looking for a right fielder, a left fielder (unless they want to continue with the Blanco/somebody platoon) and will have a center fielder coming off a significant hamstring injury. Not only that, but they’ll likely be looking for a couple of starting pitchers and a reliever. That’s a ton of uncertainty. And, again, the potential 2014 free-agent class appears thin on outfielders. Shin-Soo Choo is the best option. And while we would prefer Choo over Pence, the price is likely to be higher.
The Giants still have two months of game tickets left to sell
The Giants boast of their consecutive sellout streak, and Pence has become a fan favorite with the Giants fans. The Giants still need a reason for fans to buy tickets for the remainder of 2013. Sending Pence away leaves the team with an outfield of Blanco, Francoeur, Torres, Kieschnick and maybe Peguero. Not all that exciting. Keeping Pence sends the message that the Giants are committed to being a contender in 2014.