Posted on: November 29, 2011 5:13 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 5:28 pm
The news peg for the Giants on Tuesday was the ballclub extending the contracts of general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy through 2013, with club options for 2014.
That order of business out of the way, understand this as the Giants charge full-speed ahead -- such as it is -- toward building their 2012 team this winter: Those fabled splash hits at AT&T Park are a far different thing from a big splash free agent signing.
"There won't be a big splash," Sabean said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. "We are in concert through Larry Baer [club president] and our partnership that our pitching is our gold standard.
"Whatever we attempt, we have to make sure we take care of that commodity first."
San Francisco's clear goal this winter is to beef up an offense that ranked 29th in the majors in runs scored last summer.
But that also likely will not include another free agent, one who finished 2011 with the Giants: Outfielder Carlos Beltran.
"A lot of conversations," Sabean said. "We're going to have a conference-call update [internal] on where we're at after this call.
"I would say it's a fluid situation, as well as other situations we're in on."
Baer confirmed that the Giants expect to manage a 2012 payroll of about $130 million, up a tick from the $125 million at which San Francisco finished the season. That doesn't leave much wiggle room for normal arbitration raises, let alone free agency.
"The best way to phrase it is, he is a consideration but [length of contract] will be an issue with anybody we pursue," Sabean said of Beltran. "Whether it's him or anybody else. We have a very definitive game plan on each conversation on what we think is a reasonable length."
As they look to upgrade their offense, the logical areas for the Giants -- who already have traded for Melky Cabrera this winter -- are a corner outfield slot or shortstop. One thing Sabean and Bochy will hash out in the coming days is whether they think Brandon Crawford, who started last season at Class A San Jose, is capable of playing there every day in the majors.
Sabean watched Crawford in the Arizona Fall League and was impressed with Crawford's progress, however incremental.
"Around the end of the Fall League, he certainly was impressive," Sabean said. "I was able to see him in person quite a bit. We know what his glove brings. He's trying like hell to make adjustments at home plate. Albeit it's not major league pitching, but he's doing what we asked him to do -- put the ball in play, [swing at pitches] at the belt and below and stay off of the high fastball, which has been his kryptonite."
Crawford hit .204 with 22 runs scored in 64 games for the Giants last season. But unless Sabean can find a hidden gem, it sounds like he may get a real shot this spring. Forget Reyes, Jimmy Rollins right now isn't a fit in San Francisco's payroll.
"It's going to be a function of what's left in the payroll, and what the price point is," Sabean said of Rollins. "Any acquisition is in the eyes of the beholder. A sticker-shock-type, I don't anticipate a big splash. Or let's say a household name, per se."
Posted on: September 6, 2011 8:36 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 8:39 pm
Beleaguered San Francisco left-hander Barry Zito threw a simulated game Tuesday. But the looming question is, big picture, what's he pitching toward?
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was non-commital when asked whether the Giants will view Zito as a starter or as a reliever going forward. Being that the club owes Zito at least $46 million through 2014 -- and that some where surprised Zito wasn't released along with Miguel Tejada and Aaron Rowand last week -- where he fits in (or if he fits in) is no small decision.
"Good question," Bochy said when asked about the club's long-term plans for Zito. "I don't know. I don't think we know. I can't answer that."
Zito currently is on the disabled list for a second time this season with a sprain in his right mid-foot. He's been out since Aug. 1 after a DL stay from April 17-June 25. He's 3-4 with a 5.62 ERA in nine starts for San Francisco this year.
Bochy said the Giants will see how Zito comes out of Tuesday's simulated game before making their next decision. If Zito is moving around well, Bochy said, he'll likely be activated for what sounds like relief -- or maybe spot start -- duty.
"We don't have time to get him up to 100 pitches," Bochy said. "Right now, there's a little bigger sense of urgency than that."
The Giants started play Tuesday seven games behind Arizona in the NL West. They owe Zito $19 million in 2012 and $20 million in 2013. They hold an $18 million club option on him for 2014 -- which they surely will not exercise -- or a $7 million buyout.
As Zito's luck would have it, he was struck in the shin by a comebacker during Tuesday's simulated game. But he pitched on.
Posted on: July 17, 2011 8:55 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 12:06 pm
But as is the case with any great artist, sometimes perfection isn't quite enough.
"My dad texted me [recently] and said, 'You're going to have to start doing a commercial for Just For Men, get an endorsement from them, with all the gray hair I'm getting'," Hanrahan says.
In the old days, not many more folks than the Pirates' dads were watching in Pittsburgh. But with Clint Hurdle's club playing well and gaining momentum, it's amazing who's paying attention. The crowds are starting to swell. The Bucs are averaging 23,578, and weekend crowds of 30,000-plus are becoming a regular thing. A community, you might say, is being galvanized by an unexpected source.
"Fans in Pittsburgh are excellent baseball fans," Hanrahan says. "Everyone knows about Penguins fans and Steelers fans, but now we're starting to see Pirates fans. Weekends are selling out.
"Our fans are really knowledgeable, and they don't feel embarrassed to come out any more. Before, the real baseball fans were sitting home cussing out the TV and cussing out the Pirates. And before, the fans who would come to see us were rocking Steelers' shirts.
"But now, you're seeing Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker jerseys everywhere. It's a lot more fun."
Likes: Looking forward to watching the Pirates' next test, 12 games against teams with a combined record of 212-167 -- Cincinnati, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Atlanta. ... Eli Whiteside actually stealing a base on Sunday (second of his career). ... Giants manager Bruce Bochy calling a (successful) suicide squeeze. When you're that offensively challenged, you've got to figure out ways, man. ... The weekend's Tigers-White Sox series. Midsummer, and it's easy to sense that each series is taking on a little more importance. ... National Ice Cream Day on Sunday. How can you not participate in that?
Dislikes: Disneyland ... Mickey Mouse. ... Goofy ... Snow White ... long lines ... overpriced tickets ... waiting in line 45 minutes for a roller coaster and then it breaks down when you're on the platform, up next ... overrated places.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I know the rent is in arrears
-- Grateful Dead, Touch of Grey
Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:12 pm
PHOENIX -- You know what would really throw some gusto into this All-Star Game?
Except, as you may have heard, because of a new rule instituted last year, starting pitchers who work on Sunday are ineligible to play in the All-Star Game.
So Verlander is here, watching the game just like you. Only difference is, Verlander gets to dress in uniform and hang out in the clubhouse.
It is a well-intentioned rule, and the spirit in which it was instituted is right (and no disrespect to the Angels' Jered Weaver, who will start for the AL and is pretty darned good himself). But it needs to be revisited.
In most cases, a pitcher throws in the bullpen two days after a start.
So there is no reason why, say, Verlander, can't contribute one inning in Tuesday's game (in what effect would be akin to a post-start bullpen session).
NL (and Giants) manager Bruce Bochy disagrees.
"I think it's a good rule," Bochy says. "I was caught in this back in '99 where a couple of pitchers pitched on Sunday, and I was actually told that they would be available for an inning. Then once they got there, [I was told] they would prefer them not to pitch, so it puts the manager in a tough spot.
"I think that takes care of that. If he throws on Sunday, he can't pitch. And that way you don't come out short-handed. We need to have all 13 pitchers available."
There you have it, same as designating a closer and refusing to change: It allows a manager to cover his rear end and shut down all critics with an easy answer along the lines of, "That's the way it is, I didn't have a choice."
No question, managers are put in tough positions at the All-Star Game, especially in regard to pitching.
A manager's first responsibility is to return pitchers healthy to their respective teams. You can't blame clubs for getting jumpy about it. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly planned to ask Bochy to only use Clayton Kershaw for one inning Tuesday night because the Dodgers have slotted Kershaw to start their second-half opener Friday in Arizona.
Still. They can't contribute one inning on Tuesday?
AL (and Rangers) manager Ron Washington said "I'm all good with it."
The Sunday rule -- and other All-Star issues -- is being discussed by players and owners as they work toward reaching a new Basic Agreement (the current one expires after this season), according to sources.
It's too early to say whether there will be a change for 2012. But certainly, the trend has been to protect players more, not less.
Verlander, who beat Kansas City on Sunday, is enjoying the scene here and said Monday he understands why the rule was put into place -- and supports it.
"I think it's probably a smart rule," he said.
Yeah, but if his Tigers advance to the World Series this year ... but have to open on the road because the NL won the All-Star Game when Verlander couldn't pitch?
Wouldn't he be angry then?
"I probably would be, in that case," he said, grinning.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 8:13 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:30 pm
PHOENIX -- He leads the National League in both wins (12) and ERA (1.87), but Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens will be cooling his heels on the bench when the All-Star Game begins Tuesday night.
Even given Jurrjens' stellar season, it's hard to argue with Bochy. Halladay has been one of the game's elite pitchers for years -- arguably the best over the past several -- and he's tied for second in wins (11), fourth in ERA (2.45), first in innings pitched (143 1/3) and second in strikeouts (138).
The Braves' affable Jurrjens, 25 and participating in his first All-Star Game, was disappointed -- and refreshingly honest -- about being passed over.
"In a way yes [I'm disappointed] and in a way no," he said Monday, smiling. "I'm happy to be here. I got my hopes up a little bit because Doc pitched on Friday, but he deserves it.
"He's been doing it a long time. He's one of the best. You can't go wrong with him. He's one of the best pitchers -- that's why they call him 'Doc'."
The kid may be disappointed, but you've gotta admit, he's logical. Hard to argue with his thinking.
Posted on: April 5, 2011 10:05 pm
The reeling Giants took another loss Tuesday, this one 3-1 to the Padres to fall to 1-4, and right now Wilson's absence seems the least of their problems: They've had exactly zero save opportunities in their first five games.
So if a closer is activated in the forest and nobody notices, is he really active? Or something like that.
"After throwing to hitters in LA and playing catch today, he feels great," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before Tuesday's game.
Wilson has made no secret of his eagerness to return, but the Giants are confident that he's ready.
"Just watching him throw to hitters in LA, he wasn't hesitating," Bochy said. "He was letting it go.
"If your oblique is bothering you, you can't hide that."
You can't hide some of the Giants' fielders, either. They've committed five errors in their first five games (none on Tuesday in San Diego, though pitcher Madison Bumgarner didn't distinguish himself on Chris Denorfia's bunt in a three-run third).
Bochy already is going into overdrive protecting Aubrey Huff -- rightly so -- for his uneven play in right field. Huff was supposed to be the San Francisco first baseman this year, but when Cody Ross suffered a strained calf, Huff went out to right to replace him and rookie Brandon Belt was installed at first.
"Huff played pretty good outfield last year," Bochy said. "In fairness to him, he didn't get a lot of time out there because Ross was there. Give him time."
That's fair. But it doesn't help matters short-term (Ross is expected to miss at least the first three weeks of the season).
"Andres Torres is going to weight 138 pounds by the end of the season with all that ground he has to cover," one scout quipped Tuesday of the Giants center fielder. "He's got from foul line to foul line."
Likes: If you're a fan of San Diego sports, check out Jane Mitchell's book One on One: My Journey With Hall of Famers, Fan Favorites and Rising Stars. All sorts of people -- and stuff -- in there from the popular Mitchell, who has been doing magazine-style, in-depth pieces on San Diego television for years. ... The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. Netflix'd it the other night and what a gem. Julianne Moore is terrific, and Woody Harrelson, as usual, is pitch-perfect.
Dislikes: The Padres changing uniforms again. Now their road unis are gray, not the "sand" color of the past few years. ... Butler-Connecticut, what a letdown. Ugh. ... Made of Honor. Brutal. Patrick Dempsey may be fine for Grey's Anatomy, but keep him on the small screen.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Now Paul is a real estate novelist
-- Billy Joel, Piano Man
Posted on: October 31, 2010 12:34 am
ARLINGTON, Texas -- There already were questions surrounding whether the Giants had enough hitters to fill out a lineup that demanded a designated hitter in the AL park at the World Series.
Now, with Pat Burrell regressing back to his toothless Tampa Bay days, the Giants really are short.
Burrell, batting fifth in San Francisco's 4-2 Game 3 loss Saturday, struck out swinging in all four at-bats.
Worse, he now is 0-for-9 in this World Series with eight strikeouts.
Working on mysteries without any clues, Burrell looks like a player in need of a benching at the most inopportune time.
"He's a veteran guy that's been up and down before," Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens said. "He knows what he needs to do to get back on track. He's a student of the game, and he's already looking at video.
"We're going to go over it tomorrow. It's not easy."
The World Series overall hasn't been kind to Burrell, who now has whiffed in 13 of his 23 Fall Classic at-bats in 2008 and 2010.
Saturday, he became the 13th player to whiff four times in a World Series game, and the first to do so since Philadelphia's Ryan Howard in Game 2 last year.
Manager Bruce Bochy said after Game 3 that he does not know whether he'll sit Burrell in Game 4 Sunday.
"I'll talk about it after I get back," Bochy said, referring to conversations he'll have with his coaching staff between Saturday night and Sunday's game. "Their guy [Colby Lewis] threw well. He threw a nice game for them, and we had a few guys who were off tonight a little bit.
"But give their pitcher credit. He pitched a nice ballgame."
Posted on: October 25, 2010 10:33 pm
Moving away from Philadelphia's left-heavy lineup, Bochy is slotting the right-handed Cain in for the Game 2 start, with Sanchez starting Game 3 in Texas.
The Giants lined up with Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez against Atlanta in the Division Series. But in the NL Championship Series, they went Lincecum, Sanchez, Cain and rookie Madison Bumgarner. Bochy wanted the lefty Sanchez to pitch Game 2, partly to break up his righties and lefties in the rotation and partly so that Cain, a fly ball pitcher, would not be exposed to the home-run trap that can be Citizens Bank Park.
Like Philadelphia's park, the Ballpark in Arlington is notoriously friendly to hitters who launch fly balls, and that probably factored in to the Giants' thinking. One reason Bochy voiced: Cain last started before Sanchez, back on Oct. 19, and he wants to get the big right-hander back on the mound.
"We'll start it out with Timmy against Cliff, and then we'll go to the next game," the mellow righty said.
As for pushing Sanchez back, it's got nothing to do with the lefty's rough (two-innings-plus) start in Philadelphia in Game 6.
"The guy had a hiccup," Bochy said. "We're here because of what Jonathan Sanchez did down the stretch. He had an off night. It's going to happen."
"It doesn't matter," Sanchez said of when he pitches. "You're just going to pitch one game. I've just got to throw a bullpen when I have to."
The way things set up now, Sanchez could pitch Games 3 and 7, but he said he hasn't thought about that.
"We'll see what happens," Sanchez said.
As for Lincecum, as he made adjustments following his rough August, he mostly stopped throwing between-starts bullpen sessions. Of his three-batter relief outing in Game 6 of the NLCS, Lincecum said he did not -- and will not -- do any extra bullpen work.
So the relief appearance serves as his between-starts bullpen session?
"I suppose," he said.