Tag: Travis Ishikawa

San Francisco Giants 2011 Opening Day Roster: The Last Bench Spot

As Opening Day draws nearer, major league rosters are beginning to take  definite shape. Clubs have evaluated the talent within their systems, and have made the easy decisions. Hopeful youngsters have been told that they need at least one more year to mature, and aging vets hoping for one last shot have been sent home. Now is the time for the tough choices: who is the last player to get cut?

For the San Francisco Giants, there is contention for spots both on the bench and in the bullpen. Jeff Suppan, Ryan Vogelsong and Dan Runzler are all making their respective cases for a spot alongside established veterans Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez and Santiago Casilla.

Position players Emanuel Burriss and Brandon Belt are on the outside looking in, wondering how they can force their way into an already crowded infield that houses Mike Fontenot and Mark DeRosa off the bench.

Eli Whiteside and Pat Burrell have established roles on the squad, and will without a doubt return for 2011. Aaron Rowand is almost assured a roster spot because of his enormous contract, leaving Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa fighting for the fifth and final bench spot. Here are three reasons why it does not matter which of the two gets cut.

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MLB Postseason Talk: San Francisco Giants 25-Man Playoff Roster

The Giants have a magic number of one.

The only way the Giants do not win the division is for the struggling Padres to win four in a row against San Francisco.

What I am trying to say is that it’s over.

For those who have commented on my articles, I will say it: I was wrong. But I did say the Giants would win the division at the beginning of the season.

Since that’s out of the way, we can move on to what we all want to know. Who should be on the Giants 2010 postseason roster?

Any player added to the roster by September 1 is eligible for the postseason, and it is only a 25-man roster. Teams can also change rosters between series. This roster is only for the National League Division Series.

The easy choices are the following:

SP: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito

RP: Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affedlt, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla

INF: Buster Posey, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Pablo Sandoval, Juan Uribe, Mike Fontenot

OF: Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, Jose Guillen

That is 19 guys. With six spots remaining, we have to take a closer look at who they have and who should be in.

There are 10 pitchers on that roster. Who else should be added to that staff?

Ramon Ramirez? Dan Runzler? Chris Ray? Maybe Guillermo Mota?

This is a team that has struggled more to score runs and may not carry as many pitchers to let more hitters on board.

San Francisco will probably go to a four-man rotation, meaning one of the lefties in the rotation will go to the bullpen. That would give the Giants three lefties in the pen.

Probably enough.

Ramirez maybe the only addition to the roster from the staff.

Now the hitters/defenders. The candidates are Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz, Travis Ishikawa, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, and Eli Whiteside.

Whiteside is in because they need a backup catcher.

Ross and Schierholtz have come up huge in clutch situations and are the defensive replacements in the outfield. Ishikawa has been the Giants’ best pinch hitter all season and could provide some very good defense at first base.

One spot remaining. Pitcher or hitter?

For my last roster spot, I go back to the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

In game four of the ALCS, Dave Roberts stole second base late in that game and went on to comeback and win the game and the series.

Speed kills.

With that statement, I give my last roster spot goes to Darren Ford. He never has to pick up a bat. He doesn’t ever have to play defense.

All he would have to do is run the bases and wreak havoc on opposing pitchers and catchers.

As I am writing this, FP Santangelo named his 25-man roster and the only difference is Ford for Eugenio Velez.

I’m glad to hear I am not the only one to think this is the roster that should play in the NLDS.

One step at a time and the final step is to win Friday night. But after Friday night, this is what matters.

The best 25 men for the job.

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The San Francisco Giants Could Be Better, But Also A Lot Worse

Thanks to Marty Lurie of KNBR, I got the idea to write just how good the Giants are and how well certain players are performing compared to previous seasons.
As August begins, the Giants begin a difficult two months to catch the first place Padres. Starting off the second half going 8-1 in the division and 13-4 overall, they’re the hottest team in baseball. Giants’ players are peaking at the right time and this team is having fun again as they fight for a post-season berth.

It’s been an incredible year so far, and fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming months. Although we all hope to see the Giants keep winning and overtake San Diego, the Giants can also fall back. Up to this point, this team has far exceeded expectations.

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MLB Trade Deadline: Moves Would Be Luxury for Streaking Giants

It’s tempting for the more seasoned (really old) followers of the San Francisco Giants to sit back and enjoy what has been a fabulous start to the second half of the season.

The club’s record is third-best in the National League and seventh in the big leagues three games into the Florida Marlins series in San Francisco. The Giants are 2 1/2 games out of the NL West lead and are atop the NL wild-card race.

Fans and media-types have to work, or ignore reality, to be critical of what were considered shortcomings with the Giants on a 11-3 streak since the All-Star break.

The team’s starting pitching has been superb. The bullpen has done a surprisingly good job getting games to closer Brian Wilson.

Manager Bruce Bochy has, apparently, become a great deal smarter in the second half. Unless he, alone, blew the three games the club lost in the last couple of weeks.

Every club can use another hitter, but the Giants are scoring plenty of runs. And, knocking situational hitting when a team is 11-3 seems silly.

Fans and the media should be relaxing and enjoying the fact that the Giants jumped from 10th to seventh on ESPN.com’s MLB power rankings this week.

Why bother worrying about the trade deadline when the Giants have one of the best records in baseball? Well, the cyclical nature of baseball indicates that the club’s flaws will become apparent again soon. So…

The Giants desperately need relief pitching (specifically left-handed relievers). The only way to get help for the bullpen is in trade. No help coming from the minor leagues and even the happiest of Giants fan likely quivers at the thought of relying too heavily on Denny Bautista, Joe Martinez, and Santiago Casilla.

While they’re poking around for a reliever or two, the Giants might as well see if any hitters are available for a decent asking price. Pablo Sandoval might return to first-half form. And Buster Posey just might not bat .368, with a .975 OPS and .571 slugging percentage for the final three months of the season. Although, nothing the kid does should surprise anybody.

There just isn’t a great deal of bullpen talent on the market, so trade rumors have focused on the organization’s reported interest in finding another proven hitter.

Oh, the Giants are going to get relief help. Before giving up anything in trade, the Giants might want to consider calling lefty Alex Hinshaw up to see if he can get outs or about giving Dontrelle Willis a shot as a lefty-vs.-lefty reliever.

The Giants have the luxury of giving a young farmhand and a fallen star a chance to stabilize the pen.

The club is a lot more likely to land an outfielder like Washington’s Josh Willingham or Kansas City veteran Jose Guillen than they are to trade for Adam Dunn. (Although, Dunn is on record now as denying that he ever said he would refuse to play in San Francisco. That, apparently, was an urban legend based on the assumption that AT&T Park is death to all lefty swingers who aren’t Barry Bonds.)

Dunn’s going to be a free agent at the end of the year, so the Giants aren’t interested unless they can sign him to a long-term deal before any trade is consumated. Teams typically allow for negotiations between a trade partner and a player in such a situation.

The Giants just aren’t willing to offer the type of package necessary to lure Dunn to San Francisco. The Nationals apparently turned down a Chicago White Sox offer featuring starting second baseman Gordon Beckham and insisted on a package featuring three top prospects headed by pitcher Daniel Hudson. Translation: Madison Bumgarner and two top prospects would, maybe, bring Dunn west.

Tampa Bay asked the Nats about Dunn and the Rays were told that any package for the slugger would have to include starting pitcher Matt Garza, who is having an outstanding season and pitched a no-hitter on Monday night. Translation: If Bumgarner’s untouchable, toss Matt Cain into the deal.

The Giants discussed Guillen with the Royals, the New York Post reported. The 34-year-old would, reportedly, go to San Francisco with cash to cover some of the $4.55 million left on his contract. ESPN’s Jayson Stark, however, reported that the Royals “have no real options” to trade Guillen—even while asking for little in return.

There’s word that the Giants are, again, interested in free agent-to-be Prince Fielder. Any package would start with trading left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Fielder’s out of the question.

Willingham can play right field, where he wouldn’t take any more at-bats from Pat Burrell.

The Giants had interest in Royals base-stealing outfielder Scott Podsednik, but the Los Angeles Dodgers wound up acquiring the left-hand hitter in exchange for two minor leaguers.

If first baseman Travis Ishikawa keeps producing, Aubrey Huff will split time between the outfield and first and the Giants wouldn’t necessarily have to add a hitter, because it appears that Aaron Rowand might be inching back to reasonable productivity after his single started Thursday’s game-winning rally against the Marlins.

It could be that this is the time for Giants fans to step back and acknowledge that the call for homegrown talent has gone on for years and, well, it could be that Nate Schierholtz, Ishikawa and, perhaps, a minor leaguer like infielders Emmanuel Burris or Ryan Rohlinger team to produce the runs the Giants need.

Why deal for a .260 hitter in Guillen if Schierholtz can hit .250 and contribute in every other area of the game, too?

The Giants are inching toward the trade deadline in position, remarkably, to just keep doing what they’ve been doing. That’s been plenty good enough over the last 14 games.

Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com

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No Deal! San Francisco Giants Will Rise Or Fall With Current Crew

The San Francisco Giants lost to the Colorado Rockies in 15 innings on Independence Day to fall further back in the NL West and NL wild-card race.

Since frustrated fans have run out of cockeyed ways to fix the lineup or the pitching staff, firing manager Bruce Bochy is now their solution to all of the club’s problems.

Fair enough.

If you invest five hours of your July 4th holiday in watching a ball game on TV, you’re due the right to question Bochy for removing catcher Buster Posey, who was reportedly ill.

It’s understandable that the near mandatory double-switch that prompted Bochy to remove hot-hitting first baseman Travis Ishikawa would leave fans raving mad—even if the switch did help give the Giants a chance to use their entire bullpen in shutting the Rockies out for eight innings.

Look, if your veins are bulging because Edgar Renteria played shortstop instead of Juan Uribe—OK. We’ll ignore, for the moment, that Uribe was two for his last 25 entering the weekend.

Blame the manager. Blame the general manager. Blame the ownership.

How could they let the team we loved, which played so well in the spring, become a team we could barely tolerate in the summer?

Take your best shot.

Maybe a manager whose only claim to fame is that he’s not Bochy would turn things around. It could be that firing Sabean and giving his job to one of his subordinates would change everything.

This is a call for common sense, a holiday reality check.

The 2010 San Francisco Giants have the talent of a team that should be one game over .500.

If the club hadn’t kicked away a few games early, they’d be five or six games over the break-even point today.

We all remember when we’d sit through a loss and smile, mumbling, “It’s early…there’s a long season ahead. Renteria’s crushing the ball. Rowand’s hitting. No reason to bring Posey up from the minors! Molina’s on fire and he’s really helping the best pitching staff in baseball.”

If Uribe had maintained the pace of an All-Star shortstop and Posey had hit .700 for a full month rather than a full week, maybe the club would be 10 games over .500. Those are unrealistic expectations.

The starting pitching and closer Brian Wilson helped hide fatal flaws offensively and defensively. They enabled us to believe that Andres Torres was a guy who simply blossomed into a .300 hitter in the lead-off spot—at age 32. When the starters began to struggle, we realized the Giants can’t put together an everyday lineup that gives any reason to believe that the club should finish much over .500.

Guess what?

There’s nothing the Giants can do to fix things right now.

Sabean opted to sign Pat Burrell, while fans and insiders groaned at the thought of another aging, automatic out in the lineup. Burrell’s hitting over .300 and is among club home run leaders in a platoon role in left field. How much has the considerable upgrade Burrell provides over John Bowker and Eugenio Velez helped the won-loss record?

So, why would trading a prospect or two to acquire David DeJesus or Jose Guillen from the Kansas City Royals ignite a second-half burst? The fact that DeJesus and Guillen seem to be such fine fits for the Giants says more about the Giants than it does about either player. (Note: how many times do you figure the Giants have passed on dealing for Guillen?)

Cleveland’s Austin Kearns could key the Giants’ run to the playoffs? Oh, OK…Kearns and DeJesus…they join the outfield and magic dust starts falling at AT&T Park?

There’s more of a chance that Bowker could start hitting big league pitching like he absolutely crushes Pacific Coast League pitching. 

Adam Dunn will be signing a contract extension, most likely, with the Washington Nationals. Florida’s Jorge Cantu would help add a little punch at a corner infield spot, but he’s a fairly weak defender.

There’s not a big league-ready hitter in the Giants’ farm system, either. This is it for the remainder of the season—griping about how Renteria and Rowand shouldn’t have played ahead of Uribe and Ishikawa.

Not much out there in the way of sure-thing bullpen fixes, either. The Giants are going to trade for relief help, most certainly. They’ll try to fix the pen with a guy most of us won’t recognize.

Prince Fielder? Wouldn’t he look great in orange and brown?

ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote that the Giants won’t acquire Fielder because their refusal to trade Matt Cain is a “deal-breaker.” Shipping Madison Bumgarner or Jonathan Sanchez as centerpiece in a trade package wouldn’t be enough to get Fielder.

Anyone out there want to trade Cain and top prospects for Fielder? (Think, now—the argument could be made that Cain has a brighter future than Tim Lincecum.)

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo says the Giants covet Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Corey Hart. Small problem, though—the Brewers feel like they can still reach the playoffs and aren’t trading Hart any time soon. (News flash: the Giants covet Albert Pujols, but the Cardinals are not anxious to trade him as long as they’re in the pennant race.)

So, this is it.

Pablo Sandoval’s going to return to form or keep breaking our hearts. It means Posey will have get hot again. Aubrey Huff will have to go from All-Star Game candidate to MVP candidate. And, remarkably, the Giants must hope that Ishikawa is the one Giants prospect in the Bowker-Velez-Schierholtz group who actually emerges as a truly productive big leaguer.

In a small way, it will be more entertaining following those storylines than it would be to suddenly root for Guillen or Kearns or others of their ilk. Not that Giants fans have much choice.

Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com.

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San Francisco Giants: Bengie Molina Swap Creates Job for Brett Pill

The San Francisco Giants’ decision to trade Bengie Molina creates an opening in the everyday lineup, primarily at first base.

The club surely isn’t interested in returning Aubrey Huff to first base, with Buster Posey the everyday catcher.

Huff giving up his spot in the starting outfield creates a spot that could only be filled by returning Aaron Rowand to his role as the starting center fielder, with Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, and Nate Schierholtz sharing the other two starting jobs.

(Burrell’s listed as an outfielder-first baseman, but it’s hard to imagine the club moving him and creating even more chaos in that outfield.)

Torres hasn’t torn it up in the lead-off spot lately. Schierholtz, clearly, isn’t in the Giants’ long-term plan.

Burrell, arguably, merits the everyday left field job, even though the club can’t be certain he will return to the form he showed in his heyday with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Molina deal does bring a credible relief pitcher in Chris Ray. The Texas Rangers reliever was, at one point, the Baltimore Orioles’ closer of the future.

That didn’t pan out, but relief pitchers given a second and third chance are exactly the guys who catch lightning in a bottle and become lights-out set-up men. And, boy, do the Giants need a lights-out set-up guy.

The Molina trade wasn’t made to go back to the outfield merry-go-round, even though it does give Posey the full-time gig he deserves behind the plate.

The Giants have had slick-fielding Travis Ishikawa on the bench all year. The first baseman’s presence is inexplicable, save that he’s done well as a pinch-hitter.

Ishikawa’s chance to follow John Bowker, Nate Schierholtz, Eugenio Velez and others into oblivion, or to prove he can be a big-league contributor, has arrived. He’s hit well enough off of the bench to fill part of the hole left at first base.

He’s still young and he’s flashed power. Barring an accompanying trade for a first baseman, which is unlikely, Ishikawa will be in the lineup now.

The Giants aren’t prepared to send Ishikawa out there against left-hand pitchers, though. That means they’re likely ready to call on slugging, right-hand hitting first baseman Brett Pill.

He has 10 home runs, 50 RBIs and a .298 batting average at Triple-A Fresno. And, remember, the Giants were anxious to give Pill a shot at winning a big league job this spring before other holes in the roster became more pressing.

Pill is 25 years old and he’s hit for more power the last few years in the Giants organization. He’s a good enough defensive first baseman to platoon with Ishikawa.

The front office likes Pill and, at 25, they can’t wait forever to give him a shot.

Look for Ishikawa and Pill to become the everyday first baseman with Burrell, Torres, Huff and Rowand sharing the outfield slot.

No, Pablo Sandoval isn’t the answer in a platoon with Ishikawa. Sandoval’s lost his stroke completely from the right side of the plate.

Finally, an Ishikawa-Pill platoon for now gives the Giants a bit of a youth movement when one considers that Posey will also be taking over behind the plate.

If Ishikawa and Pill don’t do the job in the coming weeks, there would still be time to see where the club stands and deal for another outfielder to free Huff to play first base.

Posey, Ishikawa and Pill. Giants fans are about to find out that they gotta love those kids, because they will be in the lineup.

Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Contact Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com.

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