Tag: Brian Sabean

5 Reasons to Be Optimistic for the San Francisco Giants’ 2015 Season

The San Francisco Giants embark on the 2015 campaign with one goal in mind: They want to defend their World Series title and win it again.

The baseball season is a long, arduous process, which makes the Giants’ three world championships in the past five years a tremendous accomplishment.

On paper, there are teams that look better than the Giants, but that was also the case in 2010, 2012 and 2014, when the Giants won it all. Fortunately, the game is not played on paper, and there are injuries and other intangibles that factor into whether a team is ultimately successful.

Looking at the 2015 team, two key players, Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse, have departed. The Giants have replaced Sandoval with Casey McGehee, who was acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins. McGehee is a solid hitter and decent defensive player, so the loss of Sandoval is minimized.

McGehee does not have Sandoval’s power, as he hit only four home runs last season, compared to Sandoval’s 16. However, McGehee actually had more RBI, as he contributed 76, compared to 73 for Sandoval.

The Giants will miss Morse, however, as he carried the team early in the season and came up with some huge hits in the postseason. Morse hit 16 home runs and drove in 61 runs during the regular season.

Nori Aoki was signed as a free agent and will get the opportunity to replace Morse. He is a completely different type of player. Aoki has good speed, is a good contact hitter and gets on base. His OBP last year was .360. Although not great, Aoki is a better defensive player than Morse.

The Giants hope the assets that Aoki brings to San Francisco will offset his lack of power in comparison to Morse.

The key for the Giants, however, will come down to pitching. If the Giants pitch well and play good defense, they have shown an uncanny ability to win close games.

Let’s take a look at five key reasons to be optimistic heading into the 2015 season.

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Ranking MLB’s Top 10 General Managers

The MLB clubs that consistently make October runs don’t just have stars on the diamond and master button-pressers in the dugout, they also have savvy general managers calling the shots in the front office.

From Brian Cashman in the Bronx to Billy Beane and Brian Sabean on opposite sides of the Bay, there are all sorts of top-flight execs around the league.

As the 2015 season approaches, now is the perfect time to sift through the array of candidates and build a list of the best of the best. In the process of constructing the top 10, a variety of factors were taken into consideration. Here are the four most important:

  1. The number of World Series titles—after all, that’s what it’s all about
  2. The number of playoff appearances
  3. The GMs’ track record on the trade block, the free-agent front and in the draft
  4. The Payroll Limitation Factor

That final bullet point requires a bit of explaining. Baseball is not an even playing field—not even close. Last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers opened up the season with a $229 million payroll, while the Miami Marlins fell at the opposite side of the spectrum with just under $46 million in commitments.

The idea of the “Payroll Limitation Factor” is to take that drastic disparity into consideration in the ranking process. Each GM gets a score from zero to five, with zero representing no limitations and five representing the most. As a result, the GMs are graded on the basis of what they’ve accomplished with the means available.

Cashman, Beane and Sabean all end up near the top of the list, but none of them claims the distinction of the No. 1 spot.

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San Francisco Giants: What Sets Them Apart from the Other Teams in Baseball?

The San Francisco Giants have won three world championships in five years. In today’s era of free agency, that level of success qualifies as a modern-day dynasty.

So, how have the Giants been able to accomplish this, even though, on paper, their talent level has often been regarded as weaker than their opponent in a given series? 

What is it that sets the Giants apart from all the rest?

The answer can be found in just one word: continuity.

On the field, the Giants’ core group of players has stayed together, and several have been members of all three World Series-winning teams. These players include Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez. 

To have four key relief pitchers—Casilla, Romo, Affeldt and Lopez—on all three championship teams is unheard of. 

In addition, Pablo Sandoval, who recently departed to Boston in the free-agent market, also played on all three victorious teams.

Even more Giants have played a role in the past two World Series teams in 2012 and 2014. These include Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Joaquin Arias and Ryan Vogelsong.

Travis Ishikawa was also on two of the championship clubs, although not consecutively. He played on the 2010 and 2014 teams.

Outside of Sandoval, 16 players that have at least two World Series rings are still in San Francisco.

This means that 64 percent of the projected 25-man roster is made up of players with at least two World Series rings with the Giants. That continuity and experience is extremely valuable during the high-stress situations that occur in any postseason.

The continuity is even greater on the management end of things. Larry Baer, who is the president and CEO of the Giants, joined the organization in 1992. An interesting bio on Baer and his ascension up the ranks in San Francisco can be found on sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com.

The baseball management, player development staff and coaches have also remained remarkably stable.

General manager Brian Sabean has held the job since 1996 and is the longest-tenured GM in the game. Sabean deserves a lot of the credit for building a roster that fits together well and being able to make critical midseason deals to bolster the team.

Looking back over the Giants’ past three world championship teams, Sabean acquired the likes of Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Lopez, Chris Ray and Ramon Ramirez in 2010. All of these players helped the Giants make it to the postseason and win it all.

In 2012, it was the acquisition of Marco Scutaro prior to the trade deadline that pushed the Giants over the top. Amazingly, both Ross in 2010 and Scutaro in 2012 were NLCS MVPs.

In 2014, prior to the trade deadline, Sabean acquired Jake Peavy, who stepped in for the injured Cain. Had it not been for Peavy, the Giants never would have even made the playoffs, let alone won the title.

The continuity at the executive level does not end with Sabean. Assistant GM Bobby Evans has been with the Giants for 21 years. Shane Turner, the director of player development, has been with the Giants for 19 years. 

On the field, manager Bruce Bochy is entering his ninth season with the Giants. His coaching staff has also been very stable.

The only departure is third base coach Tim Flannery, who is also a close friend of Bochy. Flannery has retired and will be sorely missed.

Flannery decided he had accomplished everything he wanted in the game of baseball and had other things he still wanted to do. Reddit.com has Tim Flannery‘s complete letter to the Giants and their fans. 

Dave Righetti is the longest-tenured pitching coach in the major leagues, having started his coaching career in San Francisco 15 years ago. 

Mark Gardner, the bullpen coach, acts as a second pitching coach for the Giants. He began his coaching career in San Francisco in 2003. Gardner actually pitched for the Giants from 1996-2001, winning 58 games and losing 45, per baseball-reference.com.

Roberto Kelly will move from first base to third base, replacing Flannery. Kelly also works with the outfielders and coaches base running. He is entering his eighth year as a coach in San Francisco.

Ron Wotus is the bench coach and is also responsible for the defensive alignments. The Giants do a lot of shifting in the infield, and that’s Wotus‘ call. Wotus has been in the Giants organization for 26 years and a coach in San Francisco for the past 16 seasons. More on Wotus can be found on sfgiants.com

Giants management has also made a concerted effort to keep their past stars in the fold. Former greats like Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal are frequent visitors to AT&T Park.

Barry Bonds, Will Clark and J.T. Snow have also come out to spring training to work with players and have even been seen during the season helping when they can.

From the top down, the Giants organization is a model of continuity. This is different than any organization in baseball and a big reason the for the success of the team. In addition, the continuity enables the fans to connect with the players in a way that helps the players stay motivated and on top of their game.

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San Francisco Giants: Why Brian Sabean’s Offseason Strategy Is Costing Them

When one part of a team has struggled for years, it’s expected that the general manager would go out and try to upgrade that area.

Surprisingly, San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean has different ideas.

San Francisco is known for its stellar pitching staff and poor offense. Its pitching staff wasn’t the same in 2013, but in years past, it has been outstanding. However, it suffered a season-long slump in 2013, and the 21st-ranked offense, notorious for its struggles, couldn’t pick it up.

As you would expect, the Giants were far from making the playoffs. They finished 76-86.

It might seem like the pitching staff, which had a horrid 4.37 ERA, was a major issue as well. However, it’s evident that starters Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum will be better in 2014. Once the Giants re-signed Lincecum, it would have made sense to look for starting pitchers but also focus on the offense.

Instead, the Giants have only focused on the pitching staff.

After the season ended, Sabean negotiated with, and signed, Lincecum for two more years. Seeing that the Giants only had two starters (and a potential fifth starter in Yusmeiro Petit) set in their 2014 rotation, that deal made sense.

The agreement with Tim Hudson, a durable, reliable former ace who will stabilize San Francisco’s rotation, also made sense. Hudson came for $23 million over two years, which is good value in this day and age.

Now, the Giants have a solid rotation. Most teams would feel confident with Bumgarner, Cain, Hudson and Lincecum, all of whom have been the undisputed ace of a pitching staff at some point in their careers, as the top four hurlers in the pitching staff. And most teams would then go fill another need before filling out the rotation.

Not the Giants.

The Giants apparently didn’t learn from 2013, when offensive starters Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco, among others, turned in horrendous offensive performances. The Giants were expected to pursue left fielders on the free-agent market or on the trade block, but they haven’t and likely won’t.

Instead, according to Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury, the Giants are still looking to sign pitchers.

According to Mark Sheldon, the Giants are interested in Bronson Arroyo, an older pitcher who wants a short-term deal. That fits the Giants’ criteria, so they are interested.

However, in pursuing a fifth starter to fill out the rotation, the Giants are neglecting to improve the offense, the aspect they desperately need to improve. And, if they do sign a solid pitcher, they wouldn’t have the cash to sign a bat.

In this year’s NL, that won’t cut it. No team has won with a below-average offense since 2003, when the Florida Marlins finished barely below the average. Recently, World Series winners have been offensive juggernauts, and you can’t win the World Series with an offense in the bottom 10.

Sure, the Giants won the World Series with some great pitchers. But having a solid rotation just won’t cut it anymore. In fact, the Giants needed the 12th-best offense, one that averaged more than 4.3 runs per game in the playoffs, to win the 2012 World Series.

But the current offense just isn‘t that good. It needs significant improvement, but Sabean is clinging to the past and refusing to fix its glaring holes.

If the pitchers hit a skid, the team will suffer a severe slump. With the rival Los Angeles Dodgers likely to reach the 90-win plateau annually, the Giants can’t go through those swoons anymore.

In 2010, the Giants were dismal in August, and in 2012, they hit a swoon in late July. Luckily for them, the second-place San Diego Padres weren’t dominant in 2010, and in 2012, the star-laden Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t have enough time to mesh. Consequently, the Giants escaped with NL West titles both years.

But now, Los Angeles is a bona fide juggernaut. It has meshed and has seen a playoff run, and it will continue to compete every year. The Giants simply can’t compete by trusting a good pitching staff; they need to score.

The Giants don’t have the money to sign a top target like Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin Soo-Choo, but they can sign a high-reward, cheap option. Corey Hart could fill that role and provide much-needed pop. He has an injury history and might not be graceful in left field, but he is competent defensively and offers a lot on offense.

If the Giants want a cheap, high-reward option, Hart would be a good fit. If they want to dish out more cash, they could sign Nelson Cruz, whose contract could be reasonable because of his PED suspension. Cruz, who has posted a slugging percentage better than .500 in five of his last six years, would provide power and be a perfect offensive fit.

Even if the Giants don’t sign a hitter, they can trade for one. Or, they could trade Pablo Sandoval.

At first, it doesn’t seem to make sense that the Giants would trade one of their best hitters to improve their offense. However, it makes more sense if you dig deeper.

They would have to risk an uprising in San Francisco, but it might be for the best. Sandoval is entering the final year of his contract, and patience is wearing thin with the third baseman. He is constantly out of shape, and, quite frankly, is overrated.

But because of his three-homer game in the World Series, Sandoval is known as a clutch hitter who, when on, is one of the best in the game. That means his trade value is high, and that means the Giants could get a good deal for him.

If they were to trade for a good long-term option in left field, like Alex Gordon, they could insert Joaquin Arias at third base and wait for third-base prospect Adam Duvall to come up. Arias isn’t a flashy option, but he is much more competent than Blanco (who would start in left field if the Giants get no one else) and having a solid left fielder long term would definitely trump having Sandoval short term.

The possibility of a deal makes sense for the Giants, but, unfortunately for the team, it won’t happen. The possibility of dealing a prospect for a big bat also makes sense, as the Giants have a wealth of quality arms in the farm and can afford to lose one.

However, as we all know, Sabean has tried that before. He traded Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran in 2011, and that didn‘t pay off. So, the conservative general manager likely won’t make any kind of big trade.

In other words, the Giants won’t make a huge splash this offseason.

The Giants won titles with pitching, but this scenario is different. The Dodgers are a great team, and if the Giants don’t make a big deal, they aren’t going to contend. 2013 was supposed to teach that to Sabean, but apparently, it hasn’t.

And because of that, the Giants will likely fill out a strong pitching staff and bullpen but leave the offense the same. Consequently, the team likely will be good but have a difficult time bringing home another World Series trophy.

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San Francisco Giants’ Investment in the Bullpen Paying off Early in 2013

In the top of the sixth inning Monday night, the Colorado Rockies knocked out San Francisco Giants‘ starter Madison Bumgarner. They coaxed five walks out of him on the night and cut the Giants’ 3-0 lead to 3-2 against him.

The Giants bullpen would let the Rockies get no further. Santiago Casilla stranded the tying run at second base with a strikeout of Yorvit Torrealba to end the sixth before throwing a perfect seventh.

Jeremy Affeldt followed with a scoreless eighth inning. Sergio Romo allowed a leadoff double in the ninth, but then struck out the next three hitters to end the game for his fourth save of the season.

The Giants bullpen combined to throw 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball Monday night. They struck out six of the 11 hitters they faced while only allowing one baserunner. It was a dominant performance that helped vindicate general manger Brian Sabean‘s decision to invest heavily in the bullpen this offseason.

One of Sabean‘s first moves of the winter was to re-sign Affeldt to a three-year, $18 million contract. He also gave Casilla a three-year, $15 million extension with a club option for a fourth year. He then finished by buying out Romo’s two remaining seasons of arbitration for $9 million.

According to research by Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles, the Giants now have the second most expensive bullpen in the game after Sabean‘s winter shopping spree. They are eighth in percentage of payroll allocated to the bullpen.

It’s sabermetric dogma that it isn’t good business to invest heavily in the pen. Relievers can be created out of thin air on the cheap, which saves resources for the rest of the roster.

Romo—a 28th-round draft pick—and Casilla—whom the Giants signed as a minor league free agent—are good examples of why teams shouldn’t overpay for relief pitching on the free agent market.

However, Sabean decided that he had to spend some money to keep his three horses off the market. Since Casilla came aboard in 2010, he’s put up a 2.25 ERA for the Giants—good for eighth best in baseball among relievers. Romo has the third best ERA at 1.81 during that period. Affeldt‘s 3.03 ERA since 2010 is pretty good, too.

A large part of their success is due to their ability to pitch effectively against opposite-handed hitters. Over the last three years prior to 2013, Romo has held lefties to a weak .590 OPS, Affeldt has held righties to a .734 OPS and Casilla has held lefties to a .687 OPS (the league average OPS has hovered between .719 and .728 from 2010-12).

The Giants are more dependent on the bullpen than most teams because they play so many tight, low-scoring games in their spacious home ballpark. They absolutely need to win close games in order to make the playoffs because they don’t have an explosive offense that can consistently blow the opposition out.

So far this season, Romo and the bullpen have saved leads of 3-0, 5-3, 1-0 and 4-2. Last year, the Giants tied the Reds for the best winning percentage in one-run games by going 30-20. They were 33-22 in one-run games the year before and 28-24 in one-run games on their run to the first World Series title in 2010.

The relief trio of Affeldt, Casilla and Romo has helped the Giants hold on to a lot of close leads on the path to winning two out of the last three World Series titles. Sabean invested heavily to retain them this winter and reward them for a job well done. On Monday night, he looked wise for having done so.

Early in 2013, the Giants’ formula for winning looks a lot like it did over the last three years. That means the bullpen is going to be counted on to save a lot of tight games.

So far, Sabean‘s veterans appear up to the task once more.

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San Francisco Giants: Breaking Down Re-Signing of Ramon Ramirez

The San Francisco Giants‘ offseason tour down memory lane continued on Tuesday when the team reportedly re-acquired free agent reliever Ramon Ramirez on a minor league contract (h/t Andrew Baggarly).

Ramirez was a key contributor on the 2010 Giants team that brought the organization its first championship since moving west to San Francisco in 1958. General manager Brian Sabean swung a deal for Ramirez at the deadline that year, and he delivered with a 0.67 ERA over the final two months of the season.

In 2011, he remained an outstanding contributor as part of manager Bruce Bochy’s setup corpse. He put a 2.62 ERA with 66 strikeouts over 68.2 innings that year. Sabean then dealt Ramirez and Andres Torres to the Mets for Angel Pagan last winter in a deal that helped propel the Giants to a second World Series title in three years.

This offseason Sabean has brought back all three of the pieces in that trade by re-signing Pagan, Torres and now Ramirez. Given Pagan’s success last season and the struggles of Ramirez and Torres with the Mets, it’s safe to declare that trade a total victory for Sabean—especially now that he has all three components of the deal back under his employ.

Ramirez had a tough go of it in his lone season with the Mets last year—putting up a 4.24 ERA while also going on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury suffered during the celebration of Johan Santana’s no-hitter.

Sabean has spent the offseason bringing back free agents who contributed to past championship teams. In addition to bringing back Pagan, Torres and Ramirez, he re-signed Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt—who was with the Giants for both title runs.

Unlike Pagan, Torres, Scutaro and Affeldt—who all have guaranteed big league deals—Ramirez is going to have to battle to make the team out of spring training. He’ll likely compete with waiver claim Sandy Rosario and minor league free agents Chad Gaudin and Scott Proctor for the final spot in the bullpen.

The Giants could conceivably decide to re-sign another blast from the past in free agent reliever Brian Wilson. However, he likely won’t be ready for opening day given that he’s recovering from a second Tommy John surgery. Thus, even if Wilson does come back, Ramirez will have a solid chance to reclaim his former spot with the Giants. Also, the latest reports on Wilson indicated that he likely wouldn’t be returning to San Francisco.

Ramirez has a solid 3.32 career ERA and a 3.67 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). He throws a fastball in the low 90s, a sharp slider and a change-up.

The biggest difference between his success with the Giants in 2010-2011 and his struggles with the Mets last year was his results against left-handed hitters. He held lefties to a .161/.231/.250 batting line with the Giants in 2010 and they hit just .250/.346/.265 off of him in 2011.  Last year lefties blasted him, slashing .273/.380/.409 over 111 at-bats.

The Giants’ nostalgic offseason of re-signing players who contributed to past glories continued with the signing of Ramirez, who should have an excellent chance of making the team this spring if he can get back to his old ways against lefties.

Time will tell if the Giants cap off the winter by bringing back their former bearded closer.

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San Francisco Giants: 4 Big Names That Could Be on the Move

The Hot Stove is still in simmer mode, but offseason activity is beginning to pick up around the majors. About the only movement in San Francisco so far has been the Giants’ commitment to offering Hunter Pence arbitration.

But this should be a busy winter for the Giants, with nine free agents from this past season’s 40-man roster, an arbitration-eligible closer coming off Tommy John Surgery, and a need for another power bat in the lineup.

Here is a look at four players from the 2012 World Series champions who could be on the move this offseason.

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MLB Trading Deadline: San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean Delivers the Goods

The San Francisco Giants went into the trading deadline needing to fill three obvious areas of deficiency: a lack of power in the lineup, a lack of depth on the bench and in the bullpen due to the loss of closer Brian Wilson earlier this season.

For Giants’ general manager Brian Sabean, two out of three wasn’t bad.

The late-inning reliever never materialized, because it didn’t exist. The relievers that the Giants were rumored to be interested in were ultimately not legitimate options to replace Santiago Casilla in the ninth inning.

Jonathan Broxton and Brandon League were the two biggest names that were moved on the relief market, and while both throw hard, neither misses enough bats to be considered an upgrade on Casilla. You can’t fault Sabean for failing to acquire bullpen help when the help that was out there wasn’t good enough to warrant selling part of the farm for.

Casilla has been awful over the past month, but his strikeout rate per nine innings (K/9) of 10.2 is much better than that of Broxton (6.31 K/9) or League (5.44 K/9).

In acquiring Marco Scutaro and cash from Colorado for minor league non-prospect Charlie Culberson, Sabean bought low on a player who is a good bet to bounce back in the second half. Scutaro struggled in Colorado, but the main culprit was simply bad luck. Despite an excellent line drive rate, Scutaro saw his batting average drop to .271 from .299 last season.

Scutaro struck out looking in a crucial at-bat on Monday night, but he’s also hitting .400 with a walk in three games since coming to the Giants. With Pablo Sandoval on the shelf, Scutaro is probably the best hitting infielder on the current roster. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy is going to have a hard time keeping Scutaro out of the lineup when Sandoval returns.

When Sandoval comes back, the Giants could play Scutaro over the light-hitting Ryan Theriot at second base, over the similarly offensively-challenged Brandon Crawford at short, or they could leave Scutaro at third and replace struggling first baseman Brandon Belt with Sandoval. More likely, Scutaro will be a spot starter at all three infield positions, and a massive upgrade over Joaquin Arias and Manny Burriss, who was recently designated for assignment, on the bench.

While the acquisition of Scutaro did not garner the same excitement as Tuesday’s acquisition of Hunter Pence, the deal for Scutaro may turn out to be just as valuable given the low cost to pry him away from Colorado.

The Giants’ acquisition of Pence on Tuesday was more costly in terms of both cash and prospects, but it filled the huge need for thump in the middle of the lineup. The Giants entered Tuesday with the fewest home runs in baseball and the 25th worst slugging percentage.

Pence is having a down year, but his 17 home runs and .447 slugging percentage provide a huge boost to the middle of the Giants lineup. Like Scutaro, Pence is a solid bet to improve over the final two months of the season. His .784 OPS this season is down from his career .823 OPS, and way down from the .872 OPS he put up last season.

The Giants had to part with Nate Schierholtz, number two prospect Tommy Joseph and minor league pitcher Seth Rosin to get Pence. The cost was high, but with the Los Angeles Dodgers acquiring League, Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino before the deadline, the Giants were forced into action.

Sabean gets high marks for his deadline work, but that doesn’t automatically mean the Giants will hold off the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks in the tight National League West race. All three teams are evenly matched on paper after the flurry of trade activity over the past week.

While I hated to see Joseph get dealt, Sabean did well to hold onto top prospect Gary Brown as well as all of the Giants’ top pitching prospects. In the end, he gets an ‘A’ for upgrading the roster without dealing Brown, Belt or any of the top arms in the system, and for getting a player in Pence who the Giants control for next season as well.

The only question left to answer is whether or not these moves are enough to hold off the surging Dodgers and Diamondbacks. If the Giants come up short, it won’t be for a lack of in-season activity by their tire-kicking general manager.

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Your Team is Struggling? San Francisco Giants to the Rescue

After watching another pathetic performance by the San Francisco Giants, one that almost put me asleep, I had a thought. This team might not be doing itself much good right now, but boy it’s been good to its opponents.

As evidence, I give you tonight’s opponents, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Before tonight, the Diamondbacks had lost five in a row and seven of their last eight.

Giants to the rescue! It doesn’t matter that the D’Backs rolled out a guy with a seven-plus ERA; he was still able to shut down the Giants’ feeble bats.

And the Giants’ defense helped again with a couple of errors, along with a misplay in the outfield that opened the door for a three-run inning that undid the Giants. Down 4-1 at that point in the fifth inning, the score might as well have been 16-1 the way the Giants have been hitting. Or I should say not hitting.

Prior to the D’Backs, the Giants limped into Los Angeles to play the Los Angeles Dodgers. The first-place Dodgers had gotten off to a great start, but had been slumping lately, losing four of six and coming off a series loss to the Cubs.

No problem. the Giants came to town and managed to lose two of three, including an embarrassing 9-1 defeat Monday night. Wednesday night wasn’t much better as the Dodgers prevailed 6-2 against Giants “ace” Tim Lincecum. Surprisingly, the only win in the series was against Giant-killer Clayton Kershaw. But the Giants didn’t exactly tear the cover off the ball, winning 2-1 and getting all of their runs on a Brett Pill homer in the second. That’s four runs in three games if you’re keeping score at home.

Before the Dodgers series, the Miami Marlins came into San Francisco, reeling with seven losses in their last eight games. Now the Marlins are red hot, thanks to the Giants, sweeping the Giants in three games at AT&T Park.

The way the Giants are playing right now, I think they would have a tough time with the Bad News Bears or the Sisters of the Poor.

The hitting is non existent, the defense is shaky and the bullpen is iffy at best.

It’s time to shake things up for your San Francisco Giants. The first one that needs to go is Hensley Meulens, the batting coach. The Giants need to bring someone in who isn’t as nice as Meulens and Bruce Bochy. Someone who will fill a player’s ear when he has a bad at-bat.

And Bruce Bochy needs to get mad about the situation. If I see one more shot of Bochy looking frustrated in the Giants’ dugout, I think I’m going to be sick to my stomach. The guy always looks like he has gas.

Get pissed off, Boch! Do you have it in you? Well, show us. Tell a player if he makes a bad play. Argue a little more with the umpires when there’s a bad call. Get yourself tossed every once in a while to try to fire your team up.

The Giants need some leadership right now. They need someone to show some care. Bochy has to be that guy. If he can’t show that kind of leadership, then he shouldn’t be the Giants’ manager.

The Giants have injuries, but that’s part of the game. The guys they have will need to perform. And I think they have enough talent to be competitive with their starting rotation.

If things don’t change soon, Bochy should be in danger of losing his job. But he can control his own destiny. Get mad, Boch! Let your team know you care. Or soon it will be someone else’s job to get the Giants on track.

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San Francisco Giants: Is Aubrey Huff Getting Cut?


Aubrey Huff texted in sick, to manager Bruce Bochy before the San Francisco Giants doubleheader with the Mets on April 23.  Apparently a “family emergency” called him urgently back to Florida.

Well, in baseball timing is everything and Huff’s little excursion certainly raises some eyebrows. Huff is currently hitting .182/.300/.333.  During Huff’s last game he was 0-4, but much worse than that was the appalling error he made in the ninth inning that cost the Giants an unearned run in what would be a rather bizarre 5-4 loss.

Manager Bruce Bochy said: “He had to go back for personal reasons, personal issues.”

So how much empathy do we show?  It’s a puzzle, isn’t it?  Fans can run hot and cold on certain players like Aubrey Huff.  He was adored in 2010.  We all loved him, even when he shoved his hand down his pants in front of Willie Mays and the world.  

Now that he isn’t hitting, making rookie mistakes in the field, and blocking first base from younger, hungrier players he is the goat.  People resent his $11 million salary this year, and his apparently laissez faire attitude toward playing and working out.

He lets the team down on the eve of an 18-inning marathon while another player (Theriot) was just released from the hospital with a terrible stomach virus.  That must have been some text message. Don’t you think he should have called or met with Bruce Bochy before leaving?  I mean, isn’t that the professional thing to do, even in an emergency?

Bochy mentioned that Huff was apologetic in his message.  I bet.  He certainly was not apologetic after the loss on Saturday, in fact he was smiling after the error.  Giants’ announcer and former pitcher Mike Krukow told KNBR that Huff’s performance at second was, “a brain-dead play…it’s unacceptable.

The fact that the usual very supportive Krukow was so verbally (and emotionally) critical of Huff to the media is an obvious test balloon from the front office.  The Giants are preparing to make a move with Huff, if you ask me, although none of my inside sources will confirm anything. 

Aubrey Huff was still missing when the Giants came to Cincinnati on Tuesday.  He is now dealing with GM Brian Sabean.  MLB does have a Bereavement List where a player can leave the team for up to seven games, thus freeing the team to call someone up from the 40-man roster.  

This was not used in the case of Aubrey Huff which tells me that no one in his immediate family has passed away.

What’s the emergency?  

Obviously the truth is going to get out sooner or later.  I believe the longer it takes for the real story to get out, the more the fans will be embittered toward Aubrey Huff.  I thought that Huff would probably exit the 25-man roster when Freddy Sanchez came off the DL.  The rumor is that Freddy returns to the majors on May 11th in time to face the D-Backs.

Before all this happened I predicted that Huff would not finish the year as a Giant, but it’s starting to look like he won’t finish April as a Giant.  It was fun while it lasted, Aubrey.  I hope the emergency isn’t really terrible.  I hope Aubrey didn’t really let down his teammates and his fans by abandoning everyone in New York.  I hope he’s a little bit sorry that he lost his mind at second base, and I hope he’s still got his rally thong on because he needs it now more than ever.

We all get older, and we all slow down.  “That’s the law,” as Butch once told Sundance.  I hope there are better days ahead for Aubrey Huff, but I doubt those will be in San Francisco.  

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