Ehire Adrianza

San Francisco Giants: 3 Good Signs/3 Bad Signs From First 10 Days

April 5, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) celebrates the 7-2 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The San Francisco Giants have played great baseball and shown much improvement so far in the 2014 season. The Giants knew that 2013 was disappointing in many different ways and that they would have to go back to fundamentals in Spring Training to have a more successful season in 2014.

Obviously, it’s still very early in the season, but the Giants have improved in several areas that they struggled with last season. There are still some areas that need work, but thankfully for the Giants, they have lots of time to improve in those areas.

Here are three good signs from the first 10 days of the 2014 season for the Giants:

1) Brandon Belt’s hot streak at the plate has carried over from last season. Belt is currently hitting .342 and has a .737 slugging percentage with five home runs and nine RBI. He leads the Giants in home runs, RBI, and runs.

After hitting .350 with five home runs and 13 RBI and having a 1.051 OPS in August of 2013 and hitting .341 with two home runs and 15 RBI and having a .910 OPS in September of 2013, Belt was set to have a breakout year in 2014. Even though it’s early, it seems as if that prediction will come true.

Belt is on pace to have an All-Star caliber year, and he could possibly even hit 25-30 home runs this season.

2) The Giants’ offense so far this season, specifically their power numbers and their hitting with RISP, has been impressive. As of Wednesday, the Giants rank first in MLB with 13 home runs, whereas in 2013, the Giants ranked second to last in MLB with 107 home runs for the whole season. Obviously, it’s early in the season and the Giants played their first four games in the hitter-friendly Chase Field, but the power displayed so far by Belt, Buster Posey, Michael Morse, and others has been impressive.

Apr 6, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (9) follows through on a solo home run in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers defeated the Giants 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to their power, the Giants lead MLB with a .393 average with runners in scoring position. They also lead MLB with a .462 average with runners in scoring position and with two outs.

These are all impressive, especially given the fact that the Giants struggled so much with runners in scoring position last year. In 2013, the Giants left an average of 3.70 runners in scoring position per game, which ranked 26th in MLB.

The Giants’ offense has looked more powerful than last season, and Angel Pagan deserves a lot of credit. Pagan is hitting .447, which leads the Giants, and has a home run and eight RBI. He also leads the Giants in OBP with .488 and hits with 17. Pagan has also hit safely in all nine of the Giants’ games so far. Pagan is healthy, and the Giants’ offense is benefiting greatly from his presence and his hot hitting.

3) Tim Hudson has become a fan favorite because of his dominant pitching so far. He’s started two games so far, and he’s gone 2-0 and has a 1.15 ERA, 11 strikeouts, no walks, and a 0.64 WHIP in 15.2 innings. He’s allowed opponents to hit just .182 against him, and he’s allowed just 10 hits and two earned runs.

Every single one of these stats is excellent, but one of the important stats to the Giants is the fact that he’s pitched 15.2 innings in two starts. So far this season, Hudson is the only Giants starting pitcher to complete seven innings, and he’s done this in both of his starts.

Last season, Giants’ starting pitchers threw too many pitches, made too many early exits, and this taxed the bullpen and Posey. Hudson’s efficiency and low pitch counts are already greatly benefiting the Giants.

Here are three bad signs from the first 10 days of the 2014 season for the Giants:

1) Besides Hudson, the starting pitchers haven’t shown some much-needed stability. One of the main reasons why the Giants failed to make the playoffs in 2013 was because their starting pitchers struggled, besides Madison Bumgarner. They need this to change in 2014, and so far, they haven’t proven they can be more reliable as a staff.

Apr 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (32) in the third inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

So far, Matt Cain has a 5.73 ERA, Tim Lincecum has a 9.90 ERA, and Ryan Vogelsong has a 9.00 ERA. Bumgarner has a 1.74 ERA, but he hasn’t pitched more than 6.1 innings yet.

Vogelsong’s struggles have been the most concerning, because he has faced serious velocity and mechanical issues since returning from injury last season. Hopefully Vogelsong, and the pitching staff as a whole, can bounce back.

2) Marco Scutaro started the season on the DL, and there haven’t been any updates so far on his status. Alex Pavlovic of the Bay Area News Group reported that Bruce Bochy has no idea when Scutaro will be back with the team.

“I really don’t know,” Bochy said when asked about Marco Scutaro. “I know he’s doing baseball activities. I don’t even have a target date for you and I don’t think Dave Groeschner can even have that for you.”

So far, Scutaro’s absence hasn’t been too troublesome for the Giants because of the emergence of Brandon Hicks, the versatility that Joaquin Arias possesses, and the defensive prowess of Ehire Adrianza. However, it has to be a little concerning that the Giants don’t have a timetable for the return of their 2012 NLCS MVP and 2013 All-Star.

3) The Giants struggled mightily with defense last season, and they’ve shown some inconsistency on defense this season too. During the first game of the season, they committed two errors but it easily could’ve been more than that. They struggled with executing simple rundown plays, handling bunts, etc.

It even prompted Bochy to ask bench coach Ron Wotus if they needed to start spring training again. The Giants made a point during spring training to get back to the fundamentals on defense, and it certainly didn’t show during that first game.

The Giants have played better defense since then, but they need to keep improving.

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San Francisco Giants: 2014 Preview

Mar 12, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) is taken out of the game by manager Bruce Bochy (15) against the Chicago White Sox at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The San Francisco Giants have one mission for the 2014 season. The Giants hope to prove that the 2013 season was a fluke and that they’re ready to contend for not just a playoff spot but also another World Series title.

Here’s a preview of the Giants’ 2014 season:

San Francisco Giants: Position Battle Updates

Feb 26, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Francisco Giants pitcher Jose Casilla (72) stands with his teammates during opening ceremonies at Scottsdale Stadium prior to their exhibition game with the Oakland Athletics. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Going into Spring Training for the San Francisco Giants, there were about four or five open spots on their 25-man roster.

The position battles that have to be worked out in Spring Training are for two, possibly three, spots in the bullpen, a backup infielder spot, and a fifth outfielder spot.

Here are some updates on each position battle:

San Francisco Giants: The Case to Give Younger Players More Starts

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The San Francisco Giants were officially eliminated from the NL West Monday night. The Giants won’t be winning a wild-card playoff spot either, so it’s officially time for the organization to start looking towards the future.

February 20, 2013; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Heath Hembree (72) poses for a picture during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants called up many young, promising players from their AAA affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, at the beginning of this month. They brought back some familiar faces such as Jake Dunning, George Kontos, Francisco Peguero, Nick Noonan, and Juan Perez. They also brought up some prospects that hadn’t made their major league debuts yet such as Johnny Monell, Ehire Adrianza, and Heath Hembree.

Since the September call-ups, not many of these prospects have started games or seen a significant amount of playing time though. Bruce Bochy seems adamant about starting his regular players for the rest of the season.

“I’ll find my spots to get [the callups] in the game,” Bochy said. “Some of them will start, but at the same time, we’re going to be playing to win every game. Our regulars are going to be out there.”

Bochy’s stance is understandable. After an extremely disappointing season, Bochy wants this team to finish this season strong. Even if it’s impossible to make the playoffs, they could still finish off the season on a run and carry some of that momentum into next season. If they finish on a good note, then it’s more likely that the returning Giants players will come into spring training with a better attitude and will be more focused on getting back to the playoffs next season.

Although that argument verifies that Bochy should continue to start the regular players, it’s time to at least start mixing in some of the prospects. Bochy doesn’t necessarily have to do a starting lineup with just the prospects, but it would be wise to give each of them some starts occasionally. This will give them some experience in the major leagues, it will make them more confident about their game, and it will potentially put some of them in a better position to make next season’s roster.

For example, Hembree has a great shot at making an impact next season for the Giants. In fact, Hembree almost made the 25-man roster coming into this season. He has only appeared in three games so far this season for the Giants, but he has been very impressive so far. He currently has a 0.00 ERA with three strikeouts and two walks in three innings. He also has only allowed one hit.

He has shown great command of all his pitches, and he throws hard. He could easily make the 25-man roster next season and be one of a couple right-handed set-up men for Sergio Romo. After gaining some more experience in Fresno this year, he looks like he’d be ready to contribute effectively next season.

February 20, 2013; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Johnny Monell (79) poses for a picture during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Although he most likely won’t make next season’s roster, it would be interesting to see Monell get some starts too. Since Buster Posey is still playing with a small fracture in his right ring finger, it’d make sense for the Giants to rest him more or at least give him a break from catching.

Hector Sanchez will certainly get a fair number of starts at catcher for the rest of the season, but Monell could really use some more experience behind the plate. Monell has great power, but he needs to work on his defense. Giving him a few starts would be a great opportunity to see what he can do and what he can work on.

Adrianza is another prospect that should get a few starts. Adrianza is known for his defense at shortstop, but he started to improve on his offense once he was promoted to the Grizzlies earlier this season. The Giants should give him a couple spot starts to see if he truly has become more proficient with the bat.

The Giants, for the most part, already know what they’ll get out of Dunning, Kontos, Peguero, Noonan, and Perez. Dunning and Kontos will definitely get some consistent playing time out out of the bullpen, since Bochy wants to utilize his larger staff of relief pitchers. Perez and Peguero will most likely get some spot starts in left field, and it’s not clear how much playing time Noonan will get, besides pinch-hit opportunities.

The 2013 season for the Giants is almost over, but it’s not too late to give their prospects a chance to prove why they deserve to make next season’s roster. It’s time to focus on 2014 and which prospects could make an impact.