Tag: Marco Scutaro

San Francisco Giants: Lessons Learned from Their Series vs. Toronto Blue Jays

The 2002 World Series Loss Still Stings

Winning World Series titles in 2010 and 2012 should have pushed any lingering pain of the San Francisco Giants 2002 World Series loss far into the stratosphere—especially since I was among the million at the purely joyous 2010 parade.

Laying eyes upon a villain from that 2002 series, however, proved I’m not fully healed—at all. Most of those Los Angeles Angels are long retired. As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind.

The pain quickly flooded back Wednesday when the CSN camera locked on Toronto‘s starter—Ramon Ortiz, 40 years young, back in MLB after a two-year absence. He was the winning pitcher in Game 3 of that World Series (thanks to run support, it should be noted).

Just seeing his face brought it all back. Some folks lead very successful adult lives and still withdraw upon spotting an old high school bully at a reunion. This wasn’t much different.

To have the title all but ripped out of the Giants’ grasp that fall devastated me like the death of a loved one; I then knew how it felt to be a 1997 Cleveland Indians or a 1986 Boston Red Sox fan. 2011 Texas Rangers fans: I feel your pain and just know that it may never completely subside. Mine hasn’t.


Toronto’s “New” Uniforms Make Me Feel Younger

Over the years, I’ve watched countless players enter the major leagues, enjoy 15-year careers, retire and become coaches/managers. They are living reminders of just how much older I’ve become. I was 10 when I first discovered MLB—23 years ago. There are players today who didn’t exist when I caught my first ballgame. 

So, despite being one of about six people who actually liked the 2004-11 Blue Jays “steel” logo, I’ve enjoyed their conversion to a look reminiscent of the one used during my fledgling years as a hardball fan.

The Jays were the truth in the early ’90s; watching them in their old/new uniforms allows me to pretend it’s 1992 and my biggest problem is memorizing my class schedule rather than paying rent, repairing a shattered taillight and finding a competent preschool for my kid.


Damon Minor is One Scary-Looking Dude

The Giants television broadcasts occasionally jump into the wayback machine and come out with classic Giants (or Giants-related) highlights (such as then-Diamondback Randy Johnson accidentally donning a discarded Giants cap during a 1999 brawl in an eerie bit of foreshadowing or Dave Winfield charging the mound after being plunked by Mike Krukow in 1980).

Tuesday’s flashback: a four-hit game by the otherwise-forgettable Damon Minor the last time SF played in Toronto, back in 2002. I never realized just how much fright his face could generate when in mid-swing (answer: very). Now I must be extra-cautious when watching Orioles games; his twin bro Ryan was the starter at third when Cal Ripken Jr. ended The Streak.


I Will Probably Never Forgive the “Unnamed Left Fielder”

I’m skeptical and pessimistic by nature, and I never participate in fads—especially related to athletics. Slumps occur, bottoms fall out, players come back down to earth.

Wearing Panda hats and long, stringy wigs is all well and good when Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum are succeeding. That’s how it goes in sports. You’re the man when you’re producing; you’re a bum when you’re not (see: Huff Daddy).

This brings me to the “Unnamed Left Fielder,” who got the entire fanbase behind him on the strength of a scorching-hot offensive performance (and some saucy defense as well). He had hundreds of fans donning idiotic dairy costumes in tribute. He was “The Man.”

Only, he really wasn’t. He was juicing the whole time. He was a fraud. At the time of his suspension, the Giants’ season seemed to be wrecked. He, not Buster Posey, had been their best hitter to that point. He’d been the league’s best hitter to that point. He got everybody to believe in him and depend on him, and then he got busted.

I know in the end, everything worked out, so logically I should be past what happened. But a re-marriage to a wonderful person doesn’t magically erase the bitterness and pain of an ugly divorce.

As you can see, I still won’t say or type his name or his ridiculous, unimaginative nickname of ’12. It’s my right as a fan and as a person to hold grudges—and it sure didn’t help that the ULF abused the Giants’ pitching staff during the Giants/Jays series.

(Note: Don’t question why I hold a grudge against the ULF and not Barry Bonds, Marvin Benard, Benny Santiago, Willie Mota or any other Giants PED noteworthies. I just do, okay? I still dislike the NBA’s Amar’e Stoudemire for showing up Golden State’s Adonal Foyle after a dunk seven years ago—even after since learning he’s not that bad a guy.)


AstroTurf Just Isn’t Baseball And Sloppiness is Contagious

Though I’m sure Angel Pagan didn’t mind, a standard major league base hit should not bounce over an outfielder’s head unless the outfielder is on his back napping or the outfielder in question is Emmanuel Lewis. (Google him; I’m not here to talk about the past).

But that’s exactly what happened in the third inning of the second game; Pagan’s single bounced off the Toronto turf over the ULF’s head and graduated to a double. Fortunately, there are only two of these wretched surfaces remaining in the bigs (as opposed to the 11 in use when I began following MLB in 1990.)

The following Giants made defensive mistakes during their 18 innings in Canada: Pablo Sandoval, Nick Noonan, Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro. (Furthermore, Scutaro and Brandon Belt allowed solidly struck balls to skip under them on the turf; these plays were ruled hits but may have been outs on a dirt infield.) They can’t all be blamed on the surface, but it didn’t help.

Giants Fans Should Emulate Jays Fans

Well, at least one of them.

One of the most annoying aspects of the AT&T Park experience (and most—if not all—other parks) are the fans who turn catching a foul ball into a Showcase Showdown triumph. They scream, hop up, throw their hands in the air as if at gunpoint and rotate around the park to ensure everyone in the park knows they did something any Little Leaguer can do—catch a baseball.

It’s pathetic at times. Such reactions are acceptable if the fan has caught the pennant-clinching home run ball or even made a difficult catch on a hard-hit foul. But our fans will ham it up on anything—even a popup that bounced off three pairs of kids’ hands first. The older the fan, the more drawn-out the celebration seems to be—sometimes lasting the remainder of the at-bat.

And of course, their “achievement” is instantly forgotten when the next guy snags one a couple of minutes later and repeats the cycle.

But I must give props to a Jays fan who calmly caught a bat flung from the hands of Pence in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game. He snared it, grinned—and returned to his seat, as if he’d done it dozens of times before. To all AT&T Park visitors (and any of the other 29 parks) from now through eternity, please borrow a page from that guy’s book. Catch the ball and move on.

And of course, Go Giants.

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Marco Scutaro Reportedly Signs 3-Year Deal with San Francisco Giants

Marco Scutaro was a vital piece of the San Francisco Giants‘ World Series run in 2012, and it appears that he’s being rewarded for his efforts.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Giants have signed the veteran shortstop to a multi-year deal:


Forget that Scutaro will be 37 years old by the time this deal is up—he was too big in the postseason to not be retained. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports mentioned on Tuesday that the Cardinals and Yankees were also said to be interested, but Scutaro decided to return anyway.

Acquired from the Colorado Rockies before the trade deadline in July, Scutaro turned into a new player. He hit .362 in 61 games, which is completely out of character for the career .276 hitter.

Once the playoffs came around, things changed again. He was injured in Game 2 of the NLCS when Matt Holliday slid hard into second base, but that didn’t stop him. He came back and hit .500 in the series while also maintaining sound defense.

Scutaro was a critical part of the Giants’ magical postseason run and he deserved to come back to San Francisco. He’s not going to win any Silver Slugger Awards, but he’s going to play excellent defense, work counts and do the little things that every team needs to do to win big games.

It’s important for the Giants to retain the core of last year’s team and Scutaro—along with Angel Pagan—is a big part of that.

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San Francisco Giants: Analyzing 2013 Payroll Expectations

San Francisco is still relishing the aura of earning championship glory for the second time in three seasons as the offseason hot stove is about to start up.

The Giants have adopted a wait-and-see approach in relation to potentially resigning outfielder Angel Pagan and infielder Marco Scutaro.

GM Brian Sabean has publicly stated that the World Champions have prioritized bringing back the two catalysts that solidified the top of the order in 2012, but both free agents are commanding significant value in the market, and it remains unknown how much the Giants are willing to spend on player payroll entering the 2013 season.

The market should heat-up when MLB Winter Meetings commence in Nashville, Tennessee on December 3rd, although the Giants have until midnight EST of November 30th to tender contracts to Pagan and Scutaro before the exclusive signing period ends.

It doesn’t seem likely that either free agent will ink a contract before that date, however.

Pagan is widely considered to be one of the best outfielders on the market and is coming off a stellar season. The 31-year-old hit .288 with eight home runs and drove in 56 runs during the regular season, while also crushing a league-best 15 triples.

Pagan struggled in the postseason offensively, but played Gold Glove-caliber defense to aid a lights-out pitching staff en route to a championship.

He’s expected to earn a multi-year contract worth more than $10 million annually, which could prove to be too costly for the Giants, who have previously outlined a payroll ceiling in the $130 million range.

Scutaro has immeasurable value to the Giants and should be easier to retain than Pagan. The NLCS MVP was outstanding, hitting .362 in 61 regular season games with the Giants.

The 37-year-old veteran never let up in the postseason, mounting a historic performance in the NLCS when he collected six multi-hit games and sustained a .500 average. His 21 hits in 64 at bats were good enough for a .328 postseason average.

It would be cataclysmic for the Giants not to resign Scutaro. He figures to command a two-year deal worth about $16 million, which fits the Giants’ budget.

The Giants’ front office has not publicly stated what their expected player payroll will be for the 2013 season, but it should incrementally increase from last season’s figure of $130 million, especially given the influx of new revenue generated from winning another world championship.

Left-handed set-up man Jeremy Affeldt earned himself a three-year, $18 million deal after tossing 10.2 shutout innings in the postseason. That contract, coupled with contracts already in place, means that the Giants have approximately $84 million allocated to eight players for 2013, including all five starting pitchers.

It’s assumed that funky outfielder Hunter Pence will be retained in his final year of arbitration for a figure of about $13.8 million, which would increase total payroll to about $98 million.

That means the Giants have nearly $100 million in place for nine players. Team payroll has increased every year since 2008, jumping $22 million in 2011 after the Giants won a championship the season prior.

It would seem reasonable for player payroll to stretch to about $150 million for the 2013 season, giving Sabean approximately $50 million to sign 16 players, including those who are arbitration eligible.

The Giants’ eight arbitration-eligible players (not including Pence) are estimated to yield a collective sum of $27.1 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors. Those players include Santiago Casilla ($5.4), Brian Wilson ($8.5), Sergio Romo ($3.6), Jose Mijares ($1.6), Buster Posey ($5.9), Gregor Blanco ($1.3), and Joaquin Arias ($0.8).

If all eight arbitration-eligible players are retained for 2013, then the Giants’ player payroll would reach an estimated total of $125 million with nine available roster spots remaining.

Brandon Belt (1B), Brandon Crawford (SS), Hector Sanchez (C), and George Kontos (RHP) are among non-arbitration eligible players that had significant influence on the Giants’ 2012 title run. Each will earn approximately $0.6 million apiece.

Retaining both Pagan and Scutaro would boost the total payroll to at least $140 million and leave less than $10 million in the bank to fish for at least three more players.

Signing Pagan to a multi-year deal totaling more than $10 million annually could potentially cripple the Giants’ roster depth on the bench and in the bullpen.

However, failing to retain Pagan could prosper a significant void in the lead-off spot.

Blanco would be the most obvious candidate to fill in if Pagan signs elsewhere, but the speedy outfielder hit just .241 in the lead-off spot in 2012, compared to .321 in the seventh slot in the lineup.

The most pivotal decision that Sabean faces this offseason is consequentially whether or not to potentially overpay Pagan and keep the entirety of the 2012 World Series lineup in tact.

The Giants provided outlandish contracts to players such as Aubrey Huff (2 years, $22 million) and Cody Ross (1 year, $6 million) after winning the 2010 World Series.

It’s doubtful that they’d repeat a familiar debacle, but that decision is dependent on how highly they value their coveted center-fielder.

The Giants ultimately enter baseball’s winter meetings with two goals in mind: Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro.

The determining factor in retaining both players is objectively dependent on how high the Giants’ payroll ceiling climbs.

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San Francisco Giants: Breaking Down Their Free-Agent Second Base Options

The San Francisco Giants went through the first half of last season with a platoon at second base that consisted of the light-hitting Ryan Theriot and the non-hitting Emmanuel Burriss.

Theriot hit .270/.316/.321 in 384 plate appearances, and Burriss hit .213/.270/.221 in 150 plate appearances. They combined for just 17 doubles, one triple and no home runs.

The midseason acquisition of Marco Scutaro turned the position from a weakness into a giant strength. Scutaro hit .362/.385/.473 in 61 regular-season games after the trade, and .328/.377/.391 during the postseason. He earned NLCS MVP honors and delivered the game-winning hit during the clinching game of the World Series.

Burriss has been outrighted to Triple-A, while Scutaro and Theriot are both free agents. The Giants want to bring Scutaro back, but if he does get away, they’ll have some other options in the free-agent market this winter. However, unlike the robust outfield market, the pickings are slim at second base.

If Scutaro leaves, the Giants can turn their attention to Japanese free agent Hiroyuki Nakajima, former Giant Jeff Keppinger or Kelly Johnson. Macier Izturis would have been a nice alternative, but he recently took himself off the market by signing with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Let’s examine four of the remaining free-agent options at second base.

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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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Matt Holliday Versus Marco Scutaro: The NLCS Slide Seen ‘Round the World

Was Matt Holliday‘s slide into Marco Scutaro in the first inning of Game 2 of the NLCS a dirty play?

While Holliday’s intent was almost assuredly not to injure Scutaro, the fact is that Scutaro did have to eventually leave the game because of the collision. Scutaro‘s status is in question for Game 3 as he deals with a hip strain and sore knee suffered from the collision.

Still, even though Holliday slid late and hurt Scutaro, he doesn’t come across as a dirty player, and the Giants players and coaches didn’t think it was a dirty play.

Holliday said that he wished he had started his slide earlier, and Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt, Holliday’s former teammate in Colorado, vouched for Holliday’s character after the game.

So, the question of whether it was a dirty play really comes down to your judgment on Holliday’s intent. Based on everything I’ve read, it seems that Holliday accidentally slid late; therefore, it wasn’t a dirty play. If he had sharpened his spikes before the game a la Ty Cobb and spiked Scutaro, that would be dirty, but that’s not what happened.

However, the better question might be if that was a legal play. Giants manager Bruce Bochy was adamant that the slide was illegal.

There’s reason to think Bochy‘s assessment is correct. The rulebook states, “In sliding to a base, the runner should be able to reach the base with his hand or foot.”

By the time Holliday finished his slide, his arms were taking out Scutaro‘s legs, and thus he was not in a position to touch the base with his hand or foot, in my judgment.


The rulebook goes on, “A runner who, in the judgment of the umpire, contacts or attempts to make contact with a fielder with a slide or roll block that is not a bona fide effort to reach and stay on the base may be called out for interference and, when appropriate, a double play may be called.”

Holliday’s slide may have been an attempt to hit the base and stay on it, but it failed miserably, as he started the slide at the base and by the time he was finished he was not in position to be able to stay on the base.

Thus, had the umpire judged the play as I did, calling an automatic double play for an illegal slide would have been quite reasonable. Alas, the umpire did not make that judgment, and his judgment ultimately was the final verdict on the legality of the play.

In my mind, it was an illegal slide, but the umpire judged that Holliday could have still contacted the base with his hand or foot even while his body was annihilating Scutaro and appeared to be nowhere near the base.

So, the play was ultimately legal because the umpire deemed it so. It was also a clean play in that Holliday doesn’t seem like a malicious player and no one on the Giants has called it a dirty play (to my knowledge). He should have slid sooner, and he admitted as much.

It’s a shame that Scutaro was injured on the play, and it will be a bigger shame if he misses any more time or can’t play as effectively going forward.

Personally, I do think the play should have been ruled illegal, and I also think Major League Baseball needs to do more to protect players from these types of collisions around second base and home plate. 


Dave Cameron of FanGraphs suggested today that MLB should institute a rule in which base runners are ejected for making contact with fielders the way that Holliday did in Game 2. This type of rule would go a long way to preventing the type of collisions that injured Scutaro last night and catchers like Buster Posey and Carlos Santana in brutal home plate collisions in recent seasons.

The players are the commodity. They are the reason fans go to games, and doing everything to keep them healthy should be of vital importance.

If Posey’s career had ended in that brutal home plate collision last year with Scott Cousins, we all would have been deprived of watching one of the greatest offensive catchers to ever come along. Is losing someone so valuable worth it because home plate collisions have always been a part of the game?

In my mind, that makes about as much sense as preventing minorities from playing because that’s the way it used to be.

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2012 NLCS: Will Game 2’s ‘Dirty Slide’ Bad Blood Carry over into Game 3?

The San Francisco Giants didn’t need extra motivation to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. They knew the series would be shifting to St. Louis for Game 3, and they wanted to make sure things were all even at a game apiece before it did.

Perhaps just to make things a little more interesting, the Cardinals gave the Giants a little extra motivation anyway.

We all saw what happened at second base in the top of the first inning at AT&T Park on Monday night. Allen Craig bounced a tailor-made double-play ball to Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, but Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday broke up the would-be twin killing with a hard slide into second baseman Marco Scutaro.

It was a very hard slide.

Like, hard enough to be well past the point of it being a “dirty” slide.

There’s really no arguing that Holliday’s slide wasn’t dirty. It’s true that going hard into second base is perfectly within the rules, but there has to be some sort of pretense that the runner is just going hard into the bag.

A runner going out of his way to upend the fielder at the base is a no-no. A runner going out of his way to crush the fielder is a huge no-no.

And Holliday did go out of his way to crush Scutaro, not starting his slide until he was at the second base bag and then hurling his body at Scutaro‘s legs.

Holliday may not have had it in his mind to injure Scutaro, but he should have known that his linebacker-esque frame was going to do some damage if it actually made contact with Scutaro‘s wheels. 

And it did, of course. Scutaro stayed in the game long enough to get his revenge in the form of a bases-loaded single that gave the Giants three runs thanks to a misplay by none other than Holliday in left field.

He eventually left the game to go get himself checked out, but his single loomed large in a game that the Giants eventually won by the final of 7-1.

Fortunately for the Giants, Scutaro is OK. According to Henry Sculman of the San Francisco Chronicle, X-rays taken o Scutaro‘s left hip turned up negative, meaning he could be in the lineup for Game 3 of the series on Wednesday.

If so, there will be no need for payback. If Scutaro takes the field on Wednesday, it will be like nothing ever happened.

But something most certainly did happen, and now the question becomes whether the Giants or the Cardinals will be entirely willing to let it go. The narrative of the series has been changed, and the next chapter could very well see bloodshed.

The operative word here is “could.” Technically, a UFO could land in center field in Game 3 and abduct Angel Pagan. The baseball gods could descend from the heavens and steal Holliday’s hat right off his head as a form of payback. Or just for funsies. Anything could happen.

Whether some sort of violence will happen is going to be up to the Giants. They got back at the Cardinals for Holliday’s slide by putting seven runs on the board and evening the series, but they didn’t respond by drilling Holliday at the plate or by going after one of St. Louis’ own infielders on the basepaths. The Giants got angry, but they haven’t necessarily gotten even yet.

If the Giants are ticked off enough, they will get even. And from the sound of things, they were pretty ticked off on Monday night.

“Somebody said, after that play happened, ‘That’s just gonna [tick] us off,'” said Giants veteran Aubrey Huff, via Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. “And sure enough. We scored four runs there [in the fourth inning]. And it looked like we played with a little more edge after that.”

Even Hunter Pence, a man who doesn’t need an excuse to have more energy coursing through his veins these days, was fired up by the play.

“In my opinion, it pumped us up a little bit, you know?” said the Giants right fielder, via Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News.

As for the man in charge of the Giants, Bochy said point-blank that he thinks the Cardinals got away with a dirty play.

“I really think they got away with an illegal slide there,” he said after Game 2.

Are we hearing the rumors of war in these comments? Are the Giants planning some sort of attack? For that matter, will the Cardinals strike preemptively if they think the Giants are planning some sort of attack?

Hmmm…let’s see here. I’ll go with no, no and no.

The Giants talked about how the play fired them up, but there was also a clear “no-hard-feelings” sentiment to some of their postgame comments. It helps that they won the game and that Scutaro isn’t seriously injured, but there’s also no real hatred for Holliday for what he did.

“There’s no bad feeling or anything—just one of those plays where baseball happened,” said righty reliever Sergio Romo. “He plays hard, he was trying to win for his team, so you can’t fault him for that.”

Hunter Pence agreed: “You know Holliday, I don’t think he’s trying to hurt someone. He’s playing the game hard and those things happen.”

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated wrote something very much akin to “You know Holliday,” pointing out that the brawny left fielder is not the most coordinated player under the sun. Given his size and utter inability to play the game with any finesse, it’s no wonder Holliday “is a bull in a china shop when it comes to baseball aesthetics.”

Even Holliday himself stopped justifying his slide to a certain extent. 

“In hindsight, I wish I’d started my slide a step earlier,” he said. “But it’s happening fast. And you’re trying to get to his lower half so he can’t turn the double play. I wish I didn’t land on top of him.”

When Holliday was asked if the extra energy that goes hand in hand with the postseason was a factor in the play, he admitted that it was.

However, he also pointed out that he had been doing the same thing at second base on potential double plays all season. This particular play did some damage to Scutaro, but Holliday said there was “no ill intent.”

Holliday wasn’t just regretful in speaking to the media after the game, either. He said he gave Scutaro his best wishes through Giants catcher Buster Posey the next time he came to bat in the third inning.

“Tell Marco I should have started my slide a step earlier,” Holliday said he told Posey. “I hope he’s OK. Obviously I wasn’t trying to hurt him.”

Granted, even here you can ask whether Holliday was really being sincere or if he was just telling Posey something he wanted to hear. How do we know for sure that Holliday wasn’t just blowing smoke?

How about a testimony from a former teammate?

“I know Matt Holliday very, very well. He’s a good friend of mine. He’s not a malicious person…I saw him running off, and I played with Matt, so I can kind of read his facial expressions pretty good, and I could tell he felt bad,” said Giants lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt.

Behind every violent baseball play is a guy who may or may not be violent. In the case of Holliday, there’s enough floating around out there to suggest that he’s not a violent man. He’s just a very big man who made a slight miscalculation. He deserves the benefit of the doubt.

But even if the Giants are willing to give Holliday the benefit of the doubt, are he or any of his teammates safe from the Giants’ wrath?

Of course not. If the Giants feel that they need to send a message, they’re not going to allow their sympathy for Holliday, such as it is, to get in the way. He may still yet get plunked in the ribs. One of the club’s infielders may still yet get pulverized by a Giants baserunner.

Here’s the thing, though. The postseason may be a time for going the extra mile on the basepaths and in other aspects of the game, but it’s a pretty lousy time to go out of your way to get revenge. Winning games is the No. 1 priority, and petty things like revenge have a way of making it tough to win games.

For example, plunking Holliday wouldn’t be very good idea because that would mean a free baserunner for a Cardinals team that features plenty of thump in its lineup.

Even if the Giants have a comfortable lead, a Holliday HBP could lead to a two-run homer that would make the lead considerably less comfortable. More bad things could transpire.

Going hard into a Cardinals infielder doesn’t carry the same kind of risk, but it’s something that could still end up being a regrettable incident for the Giants.

Holliday ticked the Giants off when he went sliding into Scutaro‘s legs on Monday night, and the Giants responded by winning the game. If the Giants respond in kind by taking out a Cardinals infielder, they could find the tables turning on them. 

You can think back to the 2003 ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. That was the series in which Pedro Martinez threw a pitch at Karim Garcia’s head and wrestled Don Zimmer to the ground in Game 3, inciting all sorts of bad blood and headline fodder.

The Red Sox lost Game 3, and went on to lose the series. The bad blood didn’t do them any good.

Regardless of how they go about getting it, revenge therefore isn’t necessarily in the Giants’ best interest. They could end up shooting themselves in the foot, and they’d also be going out on a limb that the Cardinals wouldn’t want their own revenge after the Giants get theirs. They may not be willing to call it even.

If the Giants want to punish the Cardinals for Holliday’s slide, the best thing they can do is beat the Cardinals again.

Likewise, if the Cardinals want to defend their honor after what happened on Monday night, the best thing they can do is fight back and beat the Giants to take a lead in the series. 

A beanball war or a benches-clearing brawl would certainly make for great headlines and writing fodder, but I doubt we’re going to see anything like that because both the Giants and the Cardinals know that now is not the time for war games. Now is the time for baseball, and nothing else.

And why shouldn’t they just play baseball? The slide happened. The Giants won. Scutaro will live. Holliday was remorseful. The Giants don’t hate him. Both clubs only care about going to the World Series.

So play ball.


If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

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Marco Scutaro: Injured Giants 2B Benefits from NLCS off-Day

The San Francisco Giants got a scare when second baseman Marco Scutaro had to come out of Game 2 of the National League Championship Series with an injured hip after St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday slid into him. 

Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News reported some good news on Tuesday, as Scutaro‘s X-Rays came back negative. 

The fact that Scutaro is sore should come as no surprise. Holliday’s slide was ugly and bent Scutaro‘s right leg and hip in a way that they shouldn’t. 

But the best news for Scutaro and the Giants is that it happened on Monday. Since the two teams traveled to St. Louis after the game, the schedule works out well for the Giants. They have an off-day on Tuesday before going back to the park for Game 3 Wednesday. 

That extra day of rest can make all the difference in the world for a player like Scutaro. He is not going to feel 100 percent overnight—at least, I assume he won’t—but by getting constant treatment and having time to relax, he can be in playing shape for Wednesday. 

Scutaro‘s bat is really invaluable for the Giants. He isn’t going to get a lot of recognition because he is hitting just .250/.300/.286 in 28 postseason at-bats, but it is the way he handles himself in the box. 

In those 28 at-bats, Scutaro has struck out just once. He has such great bat control and feel for the strike zone that he always forces the defense to make a play in order to get him out. 

Plus, if you believe in the notion of a “productive out.” Scutaro is more likely than anyone on the Giants to move a runner from second to third with a grounder to the left side of the infield or a sacrifice bunt. 

Defensively is where the hip concerns me the most. He is going to have to move to his left and right and pivot when turning a double play, so attention must be paid to fielding drills on Wednesday. 

But the key is having a whole day off to get healthy. Scutaro is going to do all he can to convince everyone that he is ready to go. The Giants need him to keep their offensive mojo going. 

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Marco Scutaro: San Francisco Giants Second Baseman Should Be a Keeper for 2013

Marco Scutaro delivered a clutch walk-off hit for the San Francisco Giants on Monday, and such heroics are nothing new for the second baseman.

There were a number of reasons why I was a huge fan of the Giants’ midseason acquisition of Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies.

While Rome was burning in Boston last September, Scutaro did his best to hold the team together by hitting .387/.438/.581 down the stretch.

Besides his clutch performance during the Red Sox‘s historic collapse, Scutaro has always been an extreme contact hitter—striking out in only 11 percent of his career plate appearances while walking nearly nine percent of the time. He’s a patient hitter who rarely swings at the first pitch, works the count well and doesn’t expand the strike zone too often. 

Though Scutaro doesn’t have much power, he’s hit line drives over 20 percent of the time that he’s made contact during his career, and that number is up to 25 percent this season—eighth best in the game, right behind the great Robinson Cano.

In 36 games since being acquired by the Giants, he’s hit .322/.344/.425, including a .333 batting average with runners in scoring position. The Giants have gone 22-14 since acquiring Scutaro, despite losing Melky Cabrera due to a failed drug test and not getting the production they expected from their other midseason acquisition, Hunter Pence (.234/.295/.371 with the Giants).

Angel Pagan, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt have also been hot for the Giants, but replacing Ryan Theriot with Scutaro has given the Giants a huge boost at the keystone. In 60 fewer games than Theriot, Scutaro has already provided the Giants with more total value this season.

Led by the acquisition of Scutaro and the scorching hot Pagan, Belt and MVP front-runner Posey, the Giants have led the National League in scoring in August and September.

Scutaro will turn 37 before the end of the calendar year, so he’s closer to the end of his career than his prime. However, with the Giants’ best middle infield prospect, Joe Panik, at least two years away from the show, re-signing Scutaro for one more year would be the best bet for production at second base in 2013.

Scutaro is getting older, he isn’t going to hit for much power and he isn’t going to remind anyone of Roberto Alomar in the field. However, for a team that struggled to hit with men in scoring position for the better of the last two seasons and had to endure the punch-less, range-less combination of Manny Burriss and Theriot at second base for most of 2012, Scutaro has been a godsend.

As players get closer to 40 years old, a precipitous collapse starts to become a more likely possibility. However, with no readily available alternatives in the farm system and a weak crop of middle infield free agents hitting the market, one more bet on the gritty Scutaro is a gamble worth making.

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San Francisco Giants: Pablo Sandoval’s Return Means the End of Brandon Crawford

According to Andrew Baggerly of CSN Bay Area, Pablo Sandoval will return to the San Francisco Giants‘ infield sometime in the middle of next week.

Make no mistake, Sandoval will play third base when he returns. Bruce Bochy doesn’t want to see a repeat of Sandoval’s hamstring pull in a stretch at first base, so the Panda will return to his familiar hot corner. That’s certainly good news for the Giants’ offense.

But it’s probably also bad news for Brandon Crawford because Marco Scutaro, who’s been manning third base since he came over from Colorado, can play his position.

Crawford has been one of baseball’s worst shortstops this season—literally. Crawford is dead last among starting shortstops in OPS. It’s been a disappointing year for Crawford, who the Giants didn’t exactly expect to be an all-star. But even with meager expectations, Crawford’s useless bat and shakier-than-anticipated defense have been a complete disaster.

To put it kindly, Crawford doesn’t deserve to see any more starts at shortstop this year.

Marco Scutaro, however, has played 666 career games at short, and his numbers are a hell of a lot better than Crawford’s—although it would be nearly impossible for them to be worse.

In 27 games at short this year, Scutaro has hit .328 with three homers. That’s a small sample size from this season, but even if we only took those numbers, Scutaro has outproduced more than a half-season’s worth of Crawford starts at the position. Of course, Scutaro’s 2012 games at short were played in the thin air of Coors Field. But if we look at his career production at shortstop, Scutaro’s OPS of .757 blows away the .613 figure Crawford has put up this year.

But what about defense?

Crawford’s UZR of 3.1 ranks him 14th among shortstops. He’s committed 13 errors so far this year, which ties him for fifth-most among shortstops. So, whether you prefer new-age or old-school, the numbers don’t show Crawford to be all that great in the field, either.

Overall, Scutaro has committed 11 errors this year while playing second base and shortstop. His .978 career fielding percentage is better than Crawford’s .970 figure.

Even if Crawford has a slight advantage defensively—although I’m being kind by honoring his statistically unsubstantiated reputation as a good defensive player—Scutaro’s enormous advantage at the plate makes him the clear choice to play shortstop for the Giants down the stretch.

The return of Pablo Sandoval means the end of Brandon Crawford this year.

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