Tag Archives: Joe Panik

Phillies visit San Francisco for a season-defining long weekend

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The Philadelphia Phillies (59-55) will continue their roller-coaster ride of a 2019 regular season out west with a long weekend visit to face the host San Francisco Giants (56-59) at Oracle Park.

The Giants, who stormed back into the National League Wildcard playoff picture with a scorching hot July, have stumbled backwards in August. Since flipping the page over on the calendar, San Francisco has gone just 1-6.
Wins in just four of their last 13 contests, including dropped two of three to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, have dropped the Giants 3.5 out in that Wildcard race with four teams now standing between them and a spot in the postseason.
For the Phillies, losses in three of their last four games leave them tied for one of the two NL Wildcard berths. However, there are now five teams within 1.5 games of one another in what looks like it is shaping up to be a wild sprint (stumble?) down the stretch.
The biggest problem for both of these teams of late has been an inability to score runs. The Giants enter the series having put just 17 runs up on the scoreboard across their seven August games. That is an average of just 2.43 runs per game. Meanwhile, the Phillies have crossed the plate just 23 times over their own last half-dozen, or an average of 3.83 runs per contest.
The Giants have averaged just 4.24 runs per game over the entire 2019 season, the second-lowest per-game output in the National League. They also have registered the league’s second-lowest OPS, and have the second-lowest home run total in the NL, ahead of only the rebuilding Miami Marlins in each of those categories.
Things aren’t much better statistically on the mound for San Francisco. The pitching staff ranks just 10th of the 15 NL ball clubs in batting average against (.254) and OPS against (.754) as well as strikeouts. The Giants came in at 18th of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball in our latest MLB Power Rankings released one week ago, with the Phillies ranking in the No. 14 position.
With so many teams between them and a postseason berth, this is now a pivotal series for the host Giants. If the Phillies manage to somehow take three of four here, that would probably sound the death knell for the 2019 season by the bay.
For their part, the Phillies need to come out of this with at least a split. That would allow the club to return home next week having gone no worse than 3-4 in a two-city western swing.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Kevin Pillar (30/CF): .252/.281/.420, 13 HR, 42 XBH, 56 RBIs, 55 runs, 9 steals
Brandon Belt (31/1B): .233/.347/.390, 12 HR, 33 XBH, 39 RBIx, 57 runs
Evan Longoria (33/3B): .239/.314/.439, 13 HR, 30 XBH, 39 RBIx, 38 runs
Pablo Sandoval (32/3B): .267/.312/.507, 14 HR, 37 XBH, 41 RBIs, 42 runs
Mike Yastrzemski (28/LF): .264/.316/.477, 10 HR, 24 XBH, 34 RBIs, 37 runs
Scooter Gennett (29/2B): .218/.233/.310, 1 HR, 6 XBH, 7 RBIs, 5 runs (90 plate appearances with CIN/SFG)
Gennett arrived in a trade deadline deal from the Cincinnati Reds, leading to the release of longtime Giants second baseman Joe Panik.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Buster Posey: A Georgia native now in his 11th big-league season, Posey was the first round pick of the Giants at 5th overall in the 2008 MLB Draft out of Florida State University.
After receiving a cup of coffee in September 2009, Posey became the Giants starting catcher in the 2010 season. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award and finished 11th in NL MVP voting, then led the Giants past the Phillies in five games in the NLCS enroute to the first World Series championship for the franchise in 56 years.
Two years later, Posey made his first of six NL All-Star teams, won his first of four NL Silver Sluggers, and won that NL MVP Award. He also once again helped the Giants to a World Series crown.
Posey and the Giants would add a third World Series championship to their franchise trophy case in the 2014 season. In 2016, Posey won his long career NL Gold Glove Award at catcher.
The wear and tear of catching more than 900 games at the big-league level have taken their toll on Posey, who is now 32-year-old. Still, he has been behind the plate in 74 of the team’s 115 games this season.
He received a nine-year contract at $167+ million which runs through the 2021 season with a 2022 team option. It will be interesting to see whether the Giants can remain a playoff contender over the next year or two, and if not, whether he could end up moving on to another team. For all the world, Posey feels like a one-team player to me, and he will make an interesting Hall of Fame case one day late in the 2020’s.

GIANTS SHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

Thursday – Madison Bumgarner (29/LH): 6-7, 3.92 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 1.175 WHIP, 140 hits over 144.2 IP across 24 starts with a 142/30 K:BB
Friday – Tyler Beede (26/RH): 3-6, 5.38 ERA, 5.50 FIP, 1.602 WHIP, 84 hits over 73.2 IP across 15 games (13 starts) with a 69/34 K:BB
Saturday – Jeff Samardzija (34/RH): 8-9, 3.70 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 1.164 WHIP, 111 hits over 126.1 IP across 23 starts with a 110/36 K:BB
Sunday – Conner Menez (24/LH): 0-1, 5.73 ERA, 7.49 FIP, 1.273 WHIP, 9 hits over 11 IP across 2 starts with a 10/5 K:BB

THE SKIPPER

Bruce Bochy – (reprinted from CBP series 7.30.19)
Now 64 years of age, Bochy was actually born in Landes de Bussac, France while his father was serving in the U.S. Army. His family ultimately moved to Florida, and he became the first round draft choice at 23rd overall in the 1975 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros.
Bochy reached the big-leagues with Houston in 1978, beginning what would become a nine-season career as a player in Major League Baseball. A catcher, he was famously plowed into by Pete Rose, who was scoring what would prove to be the winning run in the top of the 10th inning as the Phillies rallied to tie up the 1980 NLCS at two games apiece. He was the backup catcher with the San Diego Padres team that won a National League pennant in 1984.
After his retirements as a player, Bochy was hired to manage in the San Diego minor league system. In 1993 he was moved up to the big club, taking over as the third base coach. Then for the 1995 season, Bochy was finally hired as manager of the Padres. Over 12 years as skipper in southern California, Bochy amassed a 951-975 record, guiding the Friars to four division crowns and a 1998 NL pennant.
Let go following the 2006 season, Bochy immediately caught on as manager with the division-rival Giants, and has been the skipper in San Francisco ever since. Over 13 years by the bay, Bochy has a 1,029-1,021 record and has led the Giants to three World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. His 2016 team went to the postseason as a Wildcard team.
Overall, Bochy is now in his 25th consecutive season as a manager in Major League Baseball. He has a combined record of 1,980-1,996 between his work with the Padres and Giants organizations. He is just 28 wins behind Leo Durocher for 10th place on the all-time MLB managerial wins list, 60 behind Walter Alston for 9th place on that list. That top ten spot is his goal, as Bochy has battled health issues and has already announced that this will be his final season as manager.

THE BALLPARK

Oracle Park: Originally opened for the 2000 season as “Pac Bell Park” and having undergone two prior name changes, most recently to “AT&T Park”, this gorgeous facility took on the “Oracle Park” name this season.
Lying off the San Francisco Bay, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is visible from the right field bleachers, beyond which lies China Basin, now nicknamed “McCovey Cove” after Hall of Famer Willie McCovey. The Cove is a hangout via kayack and small water craft for souvenir hunters hoping to snare a home run ball flying entirely out of the yard.
To hit a ball into that cove, batters have to lift one over the 24-foot high right field wall, that number in feet chosen to honor Willie Mays, the Hall of Famer who wore that number with the Giants.
Behind the left field bleachers is a giant Coca-Cola bottle, which lights up after any Giants home run. Playground slides can be found inside the bottle, which is located in a park-like area. Next to the bottle is the “Giant 1927 Old-Time Four-Fingered Baseball Glove” art work.
It is 309 feet down the right field line to that wall, out to 365 feet in right field and 421 to right-center, the deepest part of the ballpark. Around to dead center field it is 399 feet, then 404 in left-center, 364 in left field, and finally 339 feet down the left field line.
Though the Giants have won three World Series titles earlier in this decade – 2010, 2012 and 2014 – all of those championships were clinched on the road. The ballpark has been the site of three no-hitters, including a 2012 ‘Perfect Game’ thrown by Matt Cain.
The semi-finals and championship round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic were held here, and the park was an official sellout for Giants games over 794 consecutive games between October 2010 and July 2017.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

Thursday: Partly cloudy with temps dropping from the lower-60’s at the 9:45 pm EDT first pitch into the upper-50’s during the series opener with winds moderate off the bay and just the slightest chance of precipitation.
Friday: Partly cloudy with temps in the lower-60’s at the 10:15 pm EDT first pitch and remaining consistent all evening with winds moderate off the bay and a 20% chance of precipitation during the game.
Saturday: Sun breaking out for the 4:05 pm EDT first pitch with winds moderate off the bay and a 20% chance of precipitation during the game.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, gorgeous afternoon for what will be a 7:05 pm EDT first pitch. Winds moderate off the bay and a 20% chance of precipitation during this ESPN Game of the Week.
San Francisco area forecast from The Weather Channel
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Phillies opposition preview: San Francisco Giants

Giants Must Strike Now, While Window Still Open

The San Francisco Giants have been consistent contenders in the National League West Division for much of the last eight years, but the club’s window of opportunity may now be closing.
It’s always a difficult decision when a club such as the Giants begins to hit a crossroads. How do you continue to win while restocking your big league team and your farm system with quality young players?
Few teams are able to pull off the feat well. Most who undertake the attempt have failed for a couple of seasons before realizing they simply have to cash in as many of their aging, higher priced veterans as possible in exchange for that younger talent.
The Giants have reached that crossroads. Their decisions are especially difficult because they do remain legitimate contenders who have division rivals with significant weaknesses. The window of opportunity to contend remains open, but general manager Bobby Evans needs to be aggressive this offseason.

In 2016, the Giants ended their “even year” streak of World Series victories. The club had won the crown in the 2010, 2012, and 2014 campaigns. It wasn’t for a lack of trying.
San Francisco finished second in the NL West to the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers, four games back in the standings. They were, however, able to secure an NL Wild Card playoff berth.
The Giants then rode a Madison Bumgarner gem to a 3-0 victory over the New York Mets in the NL Wild Card Game before losing a dramatic NLDS in four games to the eventual world champion Chicago Cubs.
The San Francisco Giants have been consistent contenders in the National League West Division for much of the last eight years, but the club’s window of opportunity may now be closing.
It’s always a difficult decision when a club such as the Giants begins to hit a crossroads. How do you continue to win while restocking your big league team and your farm system with quality young players?
But for all the drama in late September and into October, what happened over the second half of the 2016 regular season cannot be ignored.
The Giants led the division by as many as eight games on June 26, when they were 21 games over the .500 mark. They would go to 24 games over at the MLB All-Star break, still with a 6.5 game lead.
But from that point on, the Giants collapsed to a 30-42 finish. The Dodgers drove past them in August and never looked back. Meanwhile, the Giants had to win their last four in a row to finish tied with the Mets and hold off the St. Louis Cardinals by just a game for that Wild Card berth.
So where does San Francisco stand heading into 2017? The club will return its twin pitching aces, some clutch veteran hitters, and perhaps the best defense in the game.
Those pitching aces are Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, the best left-right combo in the National League. Cueto will turn 31 as the team reports to Spring Training, and is signed for another five years. There are affordable team options on Bumgarner through 2019. The ace left-hander will pitch all of next season at age 27, and thus is just now entering his prime years.
The clutch veteran hitters would include catcher Buster Posey, who turns 30 at the end of Spring Training. Posey, like Cueto, is signed through 2021.
First baseman Brandon Belt will turn 29 in April, and is also signed through that 2021 season. Right fielder Hunter Pence also has an April birthday. But he hits 34, long in the tooth in today’s game. His deal runs for two more seasons.
Center fielder Denard Span is signed up with a team option that could take him through 2019. He turns 33 as Spring Training gets underway.
The defense should remain locked down thanks to the presence of perhaps the game’s best keystone combo in second baseman Joe Panik and shortstop Brandon Crawford. Both men took home Gold Glove Awards last week, as did Posey.
Crawford was further honored with his second Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award, and the team was honored as the Defensive Team of the Year. The biggest part of that equation is the up-the-middle defense.
The problem moving forward is the aging status of Pence and Span in the outfield, and the fact that there is now a gaping hole in left with the departure of veteran Angel Pagan.
Add that to light production at the third base position, and the looming specter of Bumgarner’s contract, and the fact that the Dodgers have major holes to fill. The Giants have an opportunity in 2017, but need to strike now to take advantage of the situation.
There is talent coming from the minor league system, but that talent does not appear likely to impact the big league roster very much in the 2017 season.
Evans seems to have money to work with. The Giants have carried a payroll north of $170 million each of the last two seasons. Fans support the team extremely well, flocking to beautiful AT&T Park at a rate more than 41,000 per game. Forbes ranked them as the fourth most valuable franchise in MLB this season at $2.25 billion.
Making a move on a couple of key free agents at left field and third base should make the Giants at least co-favorites with the Dodgers for the 2017 NL West crown, and make them legitimate contenders to push the champion Cubs as well.
There are players available this offseason. The two perfect fits may be the top bat on the market, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, and a player who would come right from those Dodgers in third baseman Justin Turner.
The Giants could also decide to get involved on one of the big closers in Kenley JansenAroldis Chapman, or Mark Melancon.


While it was a rough final three months by the bay, the Giants showed at the end that they still have the spunk and the talent to make things rough on the most dangerous teams in the game. With a couple of big moves right now, they can return to that status themselves in the 2017 season.

Nine First-Timers Among 2016 Gold Glove Award Winners

The 2016 MLB Gold Glove Awards were announced last night, and there were nine first-timers among the honorees.

When MLB announced the 2016 Gold Glove Award winners for fielding excellence last night, a total of nine first-timers were among the honorees across the two leagues.
In the National League, center fielder Ender Inciarte of the Atlanta Braves, second baseman Joe Panik and catcher Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the world champion Chicago Cubs were all first-time winners.
In the American League,  Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees in left field and Mookie Betts of the rival Boston Red Sox in right field each won their first Gold Glove Award.
On the infield in the AL, first baseman Mitch Moreland of the Texas Rangers, second baseman Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers, and shortstop Francisco Lindor of the pennant-winning Cleveland Indians all won their first career Gold Glove Award.

Others receiving a Gold Glove Award as previous honorees included left fielder Starling Marte (2) of the Pittsburgh Pirates and right fielder Jason Heyward (4) of the Cubs in right field in the National League.
Shortstop Brandon Crawford (2) of the Giants, third baseman Nolan Arenado (4) of the Colorado Rockies, and pitcher Zack Greinke (3) of the Los Angeles Dodgers were multiple-time NL winners.
In the American League, center fielder Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays won his second career Gold Glove, pitcher Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros took his third, and catcher Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals won his fourth.
The final winner in the American League is third baseman Adrian Beltre of the Rangers. It was a fifth career Gold Glove Award for Beltre, another notch in his future Baseball Hall of Fame belt.
The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards are voted on annually by managers and coaches in each league, with those managers and coaches not permitted to vote for players from their own teams.
Baseball glove manufacturer Rawlings created the Gold Glove Awards back in 1957 to honor the best fielders at each position in both leagues.
Pitcher Greg Maddux won 18 career Gold Gloves, the most by any single player of all-time. Pitcher Jim Kaat and third baseman Brooks Robinson each won 16, holding second place on the career list.