Jake Dunning

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.

San Francisco Giants Midseason Grades: Offense, Defense and Pitching

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Jul 13, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) celebrates with teammates after throwing a no hitter against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. The Giants won 9-0. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season for the San Francisco Giants has certainly been a disappointment. After winning two World Series titles in three years, the Giants have looked tired this season and are now struggling just to get back to being a .500 team. Going into the All-Star break, the Giants have a 43-51 record, which puts them six and a half games back from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West standings.

One word to sum up the Giants’ season so far: inconsistent. Sometimes, this team looks unstoppable. When the Giants do what got them two World Series titles in the past three years, such as stellar starting pitching, perfect defense, and timely hitting, then they can win a lot of games.

Other times, this team’s effort is laughable. It all starts with the starting pitcher. If the starter gets off to a rough start and gives up some runs, it puts more pressure on the offense and defense, and many times, the Giants can’t recover.

The All-Star break couldn’t come soon enough for the Giants. They could use a break from the long road trips and the mental grind of the game.

Here are the Giants’ midseason grades:

San Francisco Giants: 3 Players They Should Pursue at the Trade Deadline

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

June 2, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Nick Noonan (left) catcher Buster Posey (center) and relief pitcher Sergio Romo (right) celebrate with teammates after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. San Francisco defeated St. Louis 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Out of 15 National League teams, the San Francisco Giants currently rank 13th with a 4.47 ERA for their starters. This is hard to believe given the fact that the Giants have won two World Series titles in the past three seasons behind dominant starting pitching.

Matt Cain struggled in the beginning of the season, Tim Lincecum has been inconsistent, and Barry Zito has a 10.41 ERA on the road. Because of their struggles, many analysts and fans have suggested that the Giants acquire a starting pitcher.

By adding another starting pitcher, the Giants could move Chad Gaudin back into his role as a reliever, which would strengthen the struggling bullpen. In addition, when Ryan Vogelsong comes back from injury, the Giants could also consider moving Lincecum to the bullpen. According to a club source, the Giants would convert Lincecum into a late-inning reliever “in a heartbeat,” and Lincecum said he is open to that change as well.

On the other hand, Bruce Bochy has said the Giants need the most help in the bullpen. If the Giants acquire a relief pitcher, they could continue to use Gaudin as a starter until Vogelsong comes back, and then when Vogelsong is healthy again, the Giants could move Gaudin back into his long reliever role.

The Giants also need a veteran outfielder, with¬†Angel Pagan¬†expected to be out until September, at the earliest. Gregor Blanco, Andres Torres, and Juan Perez are currently filling the void at center field and left field, but they’re collectively not providing enough offense to make up for Pagan’s energy and production in the leadoff spot.

Here are three players that the Giants could acquire at the trade deadline that would fill these needs: