PLAY BALL!!

Tomorrow’s the day we’ve all been waiting for!  The baseball drought is over!  It’s time to play ball again!  The National Anthem, hot dogs, the crack of the bat, the cheers, the crazy outfits, the kiss cam, Kruk and Kuip, Tony singing, and my boys in their real Giants uniforms are all back!  The Giants start off their season in Arizona playing the D-Backs – Bumgarner vs. Greinke.  I am thrilled that I can watch my boys regularly again.  Tomorrow’s game will be extra special with all the opening day ceremonies – love ALL of it!!  Planning on spending the entire afternoon in front of the tube on the couch enjoying my boys and the official start of the 2017 season.  That reminds me – I have to get my Beat the Streak picks in!  Wonder which one of my boys matches up well against Greinke.  Hmmmmm… it says Buster, Eduardo Nunez, and Nick Hundley all have batting averages above .300 against him.  Gotta love that!!  Maybe I’ll start my first streak of the season off by picking Buster!  Are you all going to be watching along with me?

I wanted to see what the final 25-man roster is, but it hasn’t been updated on the sfgiants.com site yet.  I found an article that says they are still making some last-minute tweaks.  It did answer a question about who will be the 5th starter, though.  Matt Cain has earned that job over rookie Ty Blach, though Blach will be on the 25-man roster as a long relief option.  He may also see some time as a lefty specialist since the team lost Will Smith to a season ending elbow injury.  Kelby Tomlinson, Albert Suarez, and Josh Osich were optioned to Triple A.  The five backup position players will be Nick Hundley (catcher), Conor Gillaspie (infield), Gorkys Hernandez (outfield), Aaron Hill (infield), and the surprise of the Spring, Chris Marrero.  Marrero can play in the outfield or also at first base.  Marrero wowed his way onto the team with his power bat – he finished tied for second in homeruns this spring in all of baseball.  His defense is a little lacking, but I am so excited to see some pop in the lineup.  He will form a platoon in left field with Jarrett Parker who also showed promise in the spring.  Marrerro’s kind of similar to Michael Morse – not the greatest defender, but a powerful bat.  And though my boy Michael Morse will not be on the 25-man roster due to an injury he sustained during spring training, there is talk that he will be rehabbing in an attempt at possibly joining the team later in the season.  He also had a great spring and impressed the big wigs enough that they are still considering him.  So very happy for him!  Do your work and get back with us soon, Michael!  Hunter misses you!  Once Morse or Mac Williamson are healthy again, they would probably replace Marrero in the outfield (unless Marrero gets super hot – you never know!).

Had a fantastic time at Spring Training in Arizona last month.  I went with my brothers Nick and Paul and my sister Kathleen.  We always have a great time on our trips because we’re all pretty mellow and just go with the flow.  We watched 3 games in 4 days – all away games.  I actually plan our trips that way because away games are so much cheaper.  It’s always fun to watch the new kids and see the old familiar faces.  And being in a ballpark again is always fabulous!  We went to Surprise for the first time this year, and the ball park was really nice – a bit further out than most but not too bad.  I have to say that I’ve really liked all the Spring Training ballparks we’ve ever been to.  Besides Scottsdale Stadium, my favorite is Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (plus I love that name!).  We watched the Giants play the D-Backs there this year (a preview of tomorrow’s game).  Gregor Blanco started for the D-Backs – it was so nice to see him out there, even if it wasn’t for the Giants.  He did really well in that game, and he does have a minor league deal with them, but he won’t be starting in the bigs due to a strained oblique.  Hope he heals quickly so he can join the team – love that guy and wish him all the best.  Besides games this year, we also adventured to a couple of new spots in Arizona – South Mountain Park and Papago Park.  We drove to the top of South Mountain Park and enjoyed the spectacular view of the Phoenix area and beautiful dessert.  At Papago Park, we climbed up a mountain with a hole in it (the climb was really mild – I’m not a climber – but the view was great).  I recommend both places if you are ever there.  We were lucky to stumble upon them.

One fun thing to do is to sample the food in these parks.  It’s almost like being in the team’s real park foodwise because many of the parks carry the signature food from their team’s home park.  We got to sample two ballpark delicacies on this trip.  At Salt River Fields, we tried the signature hot dog of the Diamondbacks.  It’s called a Mega Dog – a huge hot dog covered in pulled pork and jalapeno mac and cheese – fantastic!  Then at Goodyear Ballpark, I got to try the signature food of the Cincinnati Reds – a Skyline Chili Coney Dog.  It was a hot dog smothered in Skyline Chili (famous in Cincinnati – we had it there on our trip in 2012) with onions and cheese.  It was really small, but really tasty.

The highlight of my trip this year was the single autograph I got.  At the first game we went to I just missed getting Hunter Pence’s autograph.  I noticed him signing and moved over to where he was, but by the time I got there he had to leave.  He was being so patient and friendly and signing for so many people.  I figured I had missed my chance for that trip.  Then two days later, I was lucky enough to actually be standing close to the area where he came over to sign autographs.  As he was signing, I asked him, “Are you happy to be playing with your buddy Michael (Morse) again?”  He gave me this big smile and said, “Very happy!  Great things happen when we get together!”  And luckily he eventually made his way over to me and signed my journal!  YAY!!  It was so adorable because I noticed it was taking him a while to sign.  Then he said, “I’m trying to draw you a smiley face!”  And thank goodness he told me that because I wouldn’t have known what it was otherwise!  LOL!  He’s such a cutie pie!

Congrats to Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, and Mark Melancon (even though he didn’t play much) on their World Baseball Classic championship!  Sounds like all three had a blast playing in that series.  I know that there were a lot of comparisons to the All-Star game, but it was even nicer for them because they actually got to build a relationship with their teammates over several games, not just one.  It’s kind of more like the Olympics in that sense.  It was very nice for Brandon to be in the national spotlight, even being mentioned by the announcers as a possible WBC MVP candidate.  I had a lot of fun watching the games and enjoying the different ways different countries play and enjoy the game of baseball.  Those Japanese fans really get into it, even coming up with different songs for each of the different players!  And the Latin celebrations are fantastic!  Bottom line, though – really glad no one got hurt!!

Melancon reminds me that I have two new questions from Angel to answer.  The first is about the pronunciation of Mark Melancon’s name.  Angel wonders why you pronounce the c like an s.  I assumed it’s because it’s French.  I looked it up, and it is a French name.  The c is actually ç (cedilla), and it is pronounced like s.  Melancon is the Americanized version since we don’t have that letter in our alphabet.  Another interesting thing I discovered about the name Melancon – it means “an ill man”.  Why in the world did that first Melancon choose that as their last name???  Angel was also curious about how they select the managers for the WBC teams.  Well, I couldn’t find an outright answer to this question, but I did find out that no manager currently working in the Major Leagues can head a WBC team, although coaches are potential candidates if they are given permission from their individual clubs.  That’s why Hensley Meulens was able to manage the Netherlands team.  And Jim Leyland could manage the US team because he’s retired.  If anyone else has any insight into this question, please help Angel out.  Thanks!

Saw my first intentional walk of the season on Friday (well, preseason anyway).  Brandon Crawford was intentionally walked.  Bob Melvin, manager of the A’s, simply held up four fingers to the umpire and that was that.  One second Brandon was warming up swinging the bat and the next he was on first.  I don’t like it!!  Angel and I were texting about how much we hated it.  Oh well – I guess that’s what we’ll be seeing this season.  Even Kruk and Kuip mentioned how weird it was.  BOOO!!

There will be some new pre and post-game analysts at Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area (soon to be NBC Sports Bay Area – why do they have to change things???) this season, and I’m really excited about the additions.  Besides Javier Lopez, Matt Williams and Cody Ross will be joining the team.  I was surprised about Matt Williams because I thought he was still a manager somewhere, but I guess not.  So glad he’ll be talking about my boys.  And who doesn’t love Cody Ross??  Look forward to seeing that great smile again!

Will end today on a silly note.  I heard a crazy story about the Giants on KNBR the other day, on the Tolbert and Lund show.  Those two guys make me laugh out loud all the time!  Anyway, they were talking about how the Giants have full-time sports scientists on their medical staff.  They can use all sorts of cutting edge gadgets to make sure that the players are working at their optimum capacity.  Well, one of the areas they are interested in is proper hydration.  I can see how this would be a good thing, and I would imagine that good hydration could give the players and the team a competitive edge.  It’s just the way they are going about it is pretty hysterical.  They measure the player’s hydration by measuring their urine specific gravity.  Of course, this is accomplished by taking a urine sample, and it’s taken before batting practice.  The testing is 100% voluntary, but in order to get guys to buy into this, they’ve turned good hydration into a competition – the best hydrated player after every series wins a coveted prize.  That prize is a golden urinal trophy!  Check it out!!  And I love the Twitter quote: “Think of it as the M-V-Pee trophy!”  HAHAHAHAHA!!!!  What would you do with that thing if you won it??

Hope that the boys can carry the momentum of an A’s sweep with them to Arizona.  So looking forward to all the pomp and circumstance of an Opening Day game.  I should go out and buy some hot dogs just to feel like I’m there!  Come on, Boys!  Show us what you’ve got!  We’ll be cheering for you!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  PLAY BALL!!

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Play Ball!! (Sort Of)

Baseball’s back!!  Well, at least baseball training is!!  I can even watch games on TV again!  In case you’re interested and dying to get that baseball fix as much as I am, here’s a link to the broadcast schedule (both TV and radio) for the Giants Spring Training games.  I’ll definitely be watching that Giants vs. Dodgers game on Wednesday.  Maybe we’ll even get a view of Romo with his new teammates (UGH!!).

Yes.  We knew he probably wasn’t going to be a Giant this season, but now we know Sergio Romo will be wearing Dodger blue.  Sigh.  It is going to be really tough to watch him play in that uniform, joking around with the likes of Adrian Gonzalez and (choke) Yasiel Puig, but I can’t really blame him for making that choice.  When I first heard, I was pretty upset, but then I heard about a text he sent to Paulie “Mac” McCaffrey of KNBR.   Here’s a link to it.  Sergio made it clear that he has no ill will and is moving to the Dodgers for family reasons.  He grew up a Dodgers fan, his dad is still a Dodgers fan, his family lives in the area, and frankly, they offered him a job.  He still wants to work, and the Giants didn’t come a calling.  He turned down some offers from East Coast teams, but that’s understandable coming from a guy who puts his family first and has young children.  I always hate it when my boys go to that team, but I understand.  Come game time, though, he ain’t going to be getting any cheers from me!!  Thanks for all you did for us, Sergio.  You (and “El Mechon”) will definitely be missed!

It’s also been confirmed that Javier Lopez will not be a Giant and that he is retiring from playing baseball.  Thankfully, he’ll still be hanging around and will be announcing some games along with Jeremy Affeldt.  This comes as Mike Krukow will have a lighter workload this season due to his medical issues.  Can’t think of a better replacement – Javi is a natural and will fit right in.  He’s also supposed to help out at Spring Training as a special instructor.  Looking forward to hearing him in the booth (and the craziness that will ensue when he and Jeremy get together!).

Another former Giants reliever, Brian Wilson, is trying to make a comeback.  This time, he’s trying to make it as a knuckleballer.  He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2014 when he played for the Dodgers (Yeah – remember the World Series ring fiasco with Larry Baer?  Still hate the guy for that.).  And he must be serious because he even shaved off his beard.  I had forgotten how cute his face was under that thing!  Here’s a pic of his clean-shaven face.  Whatever.  You have to admit, the guy is entertaining I guess.  We’ll see if he can make his way back onto a team or not.

I’ve got some more Spring Training tidbits for you.  Our beloved Cody Ross is also helping out the Giants in Arizona this season.  I love that guy – he’s always so happy.  Glad he’s coming back.  The Giants signed Gordon Beckham to a minor league deal.  If that name sounds familiar it’s because he played in 3 games for the Giants at the end of last season.  Guess they’re going to give him a chance again this year.  Plus they are also giving Aaron Hill a chance to compete for a spot, signing him to a minor league deal as well.  Hill batted .262 between the Brewers and the Red Sox last season, but he floundered near the end of the season and found himself up for grabs.  The list of guys competing for infield utility spots now stands at 8 (Kelby Tomlinson, Jae-gyun Hwang, Orlando Calixte, Conor Gillaspie, Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Hill, Gordon Beckham, and Juniel Querecuto – thanks for this list, Grant Brisbee).  That dugout sure must be crowded!  How stressful it must be to know you have to beat out that many guys to earn a spot on the team.  Guess that’s part of why they make the big bucks.

I learned a fun fact about how Michael Morse ended up in Spring Training camp this season.  It was due to a bit of crazy serendipity.  He was at Hunter Pence’s wedding (of course he was there because those two have a major bromance going on), and he happened to run into Giants general manager Bobby Evans there.  During a casual conversation with Evans, Morse mentioned that he felt he still had something to offer as a reserve player, to which Evans responded, “Well, if you don’t think you’re done, why don’t you come to camp?”  WHAT???  Isn’t that crazy???  And Morse said that he wouldn’t want to play for any other team than the Giants.  I love that boy!  Hoping, hoping, hoping I get to see him at Spring Training.

Has anyone else been wondering what the heck happened to Jake Peavy?  I hadn’t heard a word about whether the Giants were pursuing him or if he had been picked up by another team until last week.  It turns out the poor guy has had some horrible luck lately.  Not only was he the victim of a Ponzi scam last season that bilked him of millions of dollars, but he also came home after the 2016 post-season and was greeted by divorce papers from his wife of 15 years.  Harsh!  Understandably, he’s decided he needs a break to be there for his kids at this difficult time in their lives, so he’s not planning on playing for a team right now.  I feel so bad for the guy.  I hope everything works out.  He hopes that once things settle down he may be able to help out some team near the end of the season.  Wishing you all the best, Jake.  Hang in there.

There are a couple of new rules that baseball is considering in order to speed things up, and frankly I’m not a fan of either.  The first is a change to the intentional walk.  Pitchers would no longer have to throw any pitches to do this – the bench would simply signal to the umpire that the batter is being intentionally walked.  I think this stinks.  If you are going to walk someone, you need to walk them.  That’s 4 pitches the pitcher is being saved – not fair!  Plus it’s always exciting when something crazy happens during an intentional walk, like a passed ball or an actual connection by the batter.  And seriously, how much time is this going to save?  Another rule that’s being tossed about really makes me angry.  In order to speed up games that go into extra innings, a runner would be placed on second base at the start of the inning.  They are actually trying this out in the low minors this year.  I hate this in so many ways.  Who is that runner going to be?  How is that runner going to affect the pitcher’s stats?  And with both teams getting that runner, how is it going to change anything??  I still think if you want to speed up the game, cut off a couple of innings!!  And apparently, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins agrees that it’s something to consider.  Check out some of the other ideas that came out of an interview during Spring Training Media Day in Florida.  What do you think?  Personally, I say just leave the game I love alone!

I’ll end by mentioning what a fantastic time I had at Giants FanFest two weeks ago.  The lines definitely seemed a bit shorter this year – Ginny and I got to the park at about 7 am and we were right up in the front of the line.  We got into the KNBR Q&A session with Bruce Bochy, Bobby Evans, and new closer Mark Melancon, we got lots of goodies from vendors down on the field, we watched our boys being interviewed down on the field, we walked on the field (Ginny got to stand where Brandon does at short) and in the dugout, we went to The Garden in center field (Ginny’s first time), we got to get close to lots of my boys signing autographs, and we toured the Press Box.  We also got to talk to many of the wonderful AT&T Park staff members – they’re always so friendly and helpful.  But the highlight of my day was when I got to take a picture with my boy Eli Whiteside as he was walking from one autograph booth to another.  What luck!  And what a thrill!  Thanks for having the peace of mind to stop him for a photo with me, Ginny!  I owe you big time!  Just being in that park always makes my day wonderful!  Heading off to Spring Training in less than two weeks – can’t wait to see my boys up close and personal again!  Hopefully I can update you on some of the kids in camp next time.  Have to start learning those names.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  BEAT LA ON WEDNESDAY!!

Pitchers and Catchers Report in 13 Days!!

I seriously need to update this thing more often!  Even though baseball hasn’t started yet (but it will very soon!!), there has been some news to update you on regarding our boys.  Here’s a list to get you up-to-date with what’s happened in the past month:

  • My beloved Gregor Blanco will be leaving the Giants. He was offered a minor league deal by the Diamondbacks and will be battling for a spot on their team during Spring Training.  At least I might get a chance to see him again as we will be attending a D-Backs game in March.  I am really going to miss that guy.  He definitely came through for us when we needed some outfield support.  Plus he made several amazing catches (including the one in the Matt Cain perfect game) and clutch hits (remember that leadoff homerun in Game 2 of the 2014 World Series?).  Besides his production, he is just an all-around nice guy, so I’m sure he’ll be missed in the clubhouse as well.  Best of luck, Gregor.  And thank you for not spitting!!
  • Santiago Casilla will also be leaving as he signed a 2-year contract with the Oakland A’s. At least he doesn’t have very far to travel!  I think everyone expected this after his performance last season, but I will really miss Santiago as well.  He always gave it his best and he was another really nice dude.  I won’t miss the torture in those late innings, though.  Glad he was picked up by another team.  Best of luck, Santiago.  Thanks for helping us win those rings.
  • Conor Gillaspie, George Kontos, Eduardo Nuñez, and Will Smith all avoided arbitration with the Giants and signed 1 year deals. Gillaspie gets $1.4 million, Kontos gets $1.75 million, Nuñez gets $4.2 million, and Will Smith gets $2.5 million.  Very excited about all these guys coming back.  Conor earned his place on the team as a backup third baseman with his amazing post-season play.  George was a treasured gem in an otherwise lackluster bullpen, posting a solid 2.56 ERA and 1.16 WHIP last season (plus he’s adorable!).  Eduardo came through with some amazing support both offensively and defensively at third after the Matt Duffy trade (still hard for me to type that).  He may even see some time in left field next season as he has experience in that role.  We need some outfield backup with Angel and Gregor leaving.  And Will showed much promise at the end of the season.  He’s a much needed lefty in the bullpen with the probable exit of Javier Lopez.
  • Still haven’t had confirmation whether Sergio Romo or Javier Lopez will be coming back, but at this point it doesn’t look good. On KNBR this morning, Duane Kuiper mentioned that if Javier isn’t offered a major league contract up front, he probably will retire.  He could definitely have a second career in baseball as an announcer, though.  That guy is so intelligent and witty!  On the other hand, Sergio Romo would be willing to try out for a team during Spring Training (even though he’s never had to do that before).  Romo mentioned in an interview that he would love to come back, but at this point he’s assuming it’s not in the cards.  I would have to agree.  Supposedly the Mets and the Nationals have shown interest in him.  Will keep you updated if I hear anything.  I love Sergio and all he did for us during his time on the Giants, but I have to say his disrespect of Bruce Bochy near the end of last season has left a sour taste in my mouth.  Sergio will be pitching for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
  • The Giants signed Korean 3rd baseman Jae-gyun Hwang to a minor-league deal. He will be competing for an infield roster spot during Spring Training.  I mentioned him as a person of interest in my last blog.  He did really well in the Korean League, so we’ll see how that translates here.  There’s going to be a lot of infield competition this season!
  • The most surprising move to me was the signing of Nick Hundley, former starting catcher for both the Padres and the Rockies. He was given a major-league contract, agreeing to a 1-year, $2 million dollar deal, meaning that he will most likely be Buster’s backup catcher.  Hundley hit .260 with the Rockies last season, but that was in a park that is super batter friendly.  Still that’s above average for a backup catcher, and he is a veteran behind the plate so I’m sure guys will feel comfortable pitching to him.  I remember Hundley from watching games where he was our opponent, and what I remember is that you need to watch out when he comes up to the plate!  Definitely made a good impression on me!  This addition surprised me because I assumed Trevor Brown would be the backup catcher, but I guess even though the starters like to pitch to him, his bat has been a bit too quiet for comfort.  Trevor is a guy who may also be able to play another position, making the Spring Training competition that much more lively.  Welcome to the team, Nick.  Wonder how he’s going to adjust to the lower altitude?
  • As one player gets added to the roster, another must leave. Thus when Nick Hundley was signed, Ehire Adrianza was designated for assignment to make room for him.  I liked Adrianza, but I’m kind of surprised that he wasn’t released sooner.  He was never really that impressive.  Today he was claimed off of waivers by the Brewers, so at least he’ll be on a team again.  Thanks, Ehire, and good luck to you in Milwaukie.

I also heard that one of my favorite ex-Giants players, Ryan Vogelsong, signed a minor-league deal with the Twins.  I’m so happy he’s able to continue playing baseball.  I love that guy!  And I’m sure he’ll continue to battle, giving it his all and surprising people.  Keep on going, Vogey!  Wishing you the best.  And all the best to your lovely wife Nicole as well.

I heard on KNBR about a study that was done on the effects of jet lag on baseball players.  At first I said, “DUH jet lag affects baseball players!” but some of the results were interesting.  They found the offense of jet-lagged home teams is much more affected than that of jet-lagged away teams, and eastward travel had more negative effects on home teams than on away teams.  Negative effects on offense were related to base running, such as stolen bases, number of doubles and triples, and hitting into more double plays.  Pitchers were especially affected, giving up more home runs.  This effect was large enough to erase the home field advantage for the pitcher.  The other weird thing is that there are worse ill effects from eastward jet lag than westward jet lag.  If this is true, our boys, who are usually travelling eastward to games, would be at a disadvantage.  But of course, they are amazing, and they do well for us regardless!!  Pretty interesting stuff after all.  Wonder how much they spent for that study, though.  As a result, you may see teams sending starting pitchers to away games ahead of the rest of the team in order to allow the jet lag to wear off.

I have a fun video to share with you.  Bruce Bochy did this piece with Yahoo Sports where he opened a pack of 25-year-old baseball cards and commented on each of the guys.  Man, he knows everyone!  It was so cool because he had stories about almost every single one.  Listening to the interview I realized how much I miss that guy!  Here is the interview.

Also came across a heart-warming baseball story that I wanted to share.  It’s not about the Giants but the San Diego Padres.  The story involves pitcher Matt Lachappa.  He was drafted in the second round of the 1993 draft by the Padres and played Class A ball for them in Rancho Cucamonga.  In April 1996, while warming up for a relief appearance, he stopped and clutched his chest and then fell to the ground.  The team’s trainer got to him quickly and performed CPR for 20 minutes until help arrived.  Surprisingly at such a young age, Lachappa had suffered a heart attack.  He survived, but the lack of oxygen to his brain for that period took its toll, leaving him unable to walk and slowing his speech.  Of course, sadly, Matt could no longer play baseball, plus he would be burdened with hefty medical bills if he lost his insurance from the team.  But Priscilla Oppenhiemer, director of minor league operations at the time, wasn’t going to let that happen.  She asked why the team couldn’t continue to offer Lachappa a contract with insurance benefits each year, and she got no resistance.  So to this day, Matt Lachappa is signed to a minor league contract with the Padres and continues to have his medical bills paid through the team.  That’s a great story right there.  Baseball people take care of their own!

I can finally count the days to FanFest on my fingers!!  It’s only 10 days away!  Can’t wait!  I wonder if the guys that are going to the World Baseball Classic will be wearing their countries’ jerseys again this time.  And I’m hoping that Angel and I can score that Peet’s orange mug that we barely missed out on last year!  Will be so wonderful to be in my happy place and see my boys again.  I’ll keep my ears open for any late off-season news for you, though there’s not much time left for any major moves.  Let me know if any of you are going to FanFest and we can try and meet up.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!!  LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING MY BOYS AGAIN!!

Is It Baseball Yet?

Once the new year arrives, my thoughts begin to focus on the upcoming baseball season.  Can you believe that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in only 40 days???  And FanFest is even sooner than that.  I can’t wait to see my boys again after the long winter lull.

On the Hot Stove front, there hasn’t been much major going on since the Melancon acquisition.  However, one nugget of joy did fall into our Giants lap – my boy Michael Morse is back!  Granted he’s got a minor-league deal, but he’ll be at Spring Training and I’m so looking forward to seeing his smiling face there.  I bet Hunter Pence is thrilled to have his old buddy back again as well.  May the Morse be with you!  Odds of him actually making the team are pretty slim, but who cares! He’s back in the Bay Area!  I love that guy!  Besides Michael, the Giants also signed Jimmy Rollins and Justin Ruggiano to minor league deals.  Rollins spent most of his career with the Phillies, though he also played a season with the Dodgers (BOO!) and last season played 41 games with the White Sox.  The Rollins signing brings back memories of the Pat Burrell and Ryan Theriot signings – the Giants brought in guys who were once really good and tested them out to see if they had anything left in the tank.  Rollins’ season last year was not stellar (he batted .221) plus he’s 38 years old, but you never know what can happen on this team.  He’ll be battling for a backup infield spot.  Ruggiano has moved around and played on 7 different major league teams (including one season with the Dodgers – BOO!), and he’s also on the older side (34).  He has been a good hitter when he’s healthy (last season he was on the DL twice for shoulder and hamstring issues).  Plus he can play both corner outfield positions and first base.  So again, we’ll see if some magic can come to him this year – another Giant-like signing.  Trevor Brown will also be getting some competition as the Giants signed catcher Tim Federowicz to a minor league contract.  Besides his Triple A time, Federowicz has played in parts of 5 major league seasons, including 4 for the Dodgers (BOO!! – I sense a trend here!).  Unfortunately, his major league batting average is .194, but he’s hit over .300 while in the minors, so the Giants are hoping he can show them some pop when he competes for a spot on the team in the spring.

As far as rumors regarding potential signings, the Giants have expressed interest in slugger Mark Reynolds as a way of adding some power to the lineup.  Reynolds played for the Rockies last season and batted .282 with 14 homers and 53 RBI in 118 games.  That’s some pop right there!  I like pop!  He’s recently played at first base, but he could also play third, so potentially he could be a third base starter, sending Eduardo Nunez to the bench as a backup.  Also rumored as a person of interest to the Giants is Korean infielder Jae-gyun Hwang.  He would also be a potential third baseman.  He’s an unrestricted free agent, so he wouldn’t require a posting fee (and those can get pretty excessive!).  Last season in Korea, he hit .330 with 26 homeruns and 104 RBI in 118 games.  Granted the Korean League is known for being offense friendly, but those stats are still impressive.  We’ll see if the front office actually pursues either of these guys.  I’ll keep my ears open.

It breaks my heart to update you on this next item.  The wife of our beloved Andres Torres lost her battle with cancer on December 7th.  Soannie Torres was only 37 years old.  She had been fighting the disease since February.  Shortly before she died, the two renewed their wedding vows.  So touching.  Jorge Ortiz, a Bay Area sportswriter and friend of the Torres family, gave some insight into how Soannie helped Andres with his ADHD: “She would settle him down in a kind, caring way.  She once told me how sometimes he would get up in the middle of the night and start taking air swings, obsessively trying to hone his hitting skills, until she would implore him, ‘Yungo (his nickname), come to bed.”  The couple have two children, Diego (12) and Mia (4).  I was lucky enough to meet Andres in person, and he’s such a friendly and generous man.  This is such horrible news.  I send my deepest condolences to him, his children, and their family.

Switching over to the lighter side, I have several nuggets to share with you dealing with my boys.  Here’s a link that showcases Matt Moore’s offseason wiffle ball prowess.  Who would have known?  It’s tough to hit a wiffle ball that far!  Watch out, Madison!  Then there’s Johnny Cueto and a donkey right here.  True love.  Gosh, I miss watching that guy pitch!  Then there’s this letter that a young fan wrote to Bobby Evans trying to get him to sign Melancon.  Thanks, Kid!  Plus there’s one last article on how Melancon feels about coming to the Giants right here.  I know you’re probably tired of reading this stuff by now, but READ IT!  I almost didn’t, feeling that same way, but I’m so glad I did.  Love that guy even more now.  Plus I didn’t realize that he played on the Astros with Hunter.  There’s a great Hunter story in there.  Plus he mentions the kid that wrote to Bobby Evans – he’s going to be one pumped little boy!  READ IT!!

Also found out today that Kate Scott is leaving KNBR.  I knew that she was too talented to stay there for very long.  She’ll be calling women’s basketball games during the week and anchoring Sports Report on Sunday nights on the PAC-12 Network besides calling some WCC men’s games on CSNBA and CSNCA on Saturdays.  Busy girl!  Who’s going to keep those KNBR guys in line?  And who’s going to take over the MC job for the player interviews during FanFest?  She rocked that!  I’m super sad to hear she’s leaving, but she really deserves to move on to bigger and better things.  Best of luck on your new endeavors, Kate.  Still hoping to run into you at a Giants game one day.

I’ve noticed that even KNBR is starting to talk more about baseball now that 49er football is over.  So exciting!!  Can’t wait for Spring Training to get here.  I’m all set to go with my siblings to Arizona in mid-March.  Can feel the heat already!!  If anything exciting happens in the near future I’ll definitely let you know.  Gotta get my spit certificates ready to send out in early April!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Bye, HestoPresto!

I wasn’t expecting any news so quickly after the Melancon signing, but Bobby Evans is definitely still at it.  This time the news isn’t as jaw dropping, though.  Chris Heston was traded to the Mariners today for a “player to be named later”.  It sounds like this was done in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Melancon.  I’ll never forget that no hitter he pitched 2 seasons ago, a prospect coming out of nowhere to help out in the rotation.  But he couldn’t handle being in the bullpen last season, his numbers weren’t anywhere near what they were in 2015, plus he spent most of the year on the DL with an oblique strain.  Hope he does well up there – apparently he’ll have a much better chance of getting on the 25-man roster in Seattle.  Good luck, Chris.  Thanks for the wonderful memories from that amazing game.  Now we just have to wait and see who that mystery player we’re getting will be.

I got a little more insight into the character of Mark Melancon from an interview that Tom Tolbert and John Lund from KNBR did with him.  That guy is definitely a thrill seeker!  He and his wife came up with a mutual bucket list when they got married.  Some of the things they have already crossed off are a safari, skydiving (only him), they rode down the most dangerous road in Bolivia on bikes, going in a shark cage, and a blimp ride.  Another he hasn’t yet done is going backstage at a concert, and he asked Tom and John if they could help him with that one.  He also mentioned that winning a World Series and meeting a president were also on there.  Hey, he could accomplish both with the Giants in one season!  And just in case you were wondering, his walk-up song is “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.  He mentioned that Ryan Vogelsong helped sway him to join the Giants (they played on the Pirates together).  In fact, he said Ryan spoke of the Giants so much he started to get sick of it!  LOL!  Really looking forward to getting to know Mark better and watching him pitch FOR US!!

Another rumor that I’m not really surprised about is that Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, and Javier Lopez will most likely not be back next season.  After last year’s bullpen train wreck, I can’t say I’m very upset about this.  The blown saves killed Casilla’s chances of returning, Lopez’s ERA skyrocketed to 4.05, and Romo was starting to be predictable (plus his bad attitude and disrespect of Bochy started getting on my nerves).  Changes had to be made, and the Giants are opting to go with the youngins.  I’ll always remember the significant contributions that all three made to us winning those three rings.  I’m pretty sure if they want to continue playing, they will be picked up by some other team.  And when he retires, I’m sure Javi could easily slip into a broadcasting role – that dude is so intelligent!

The World Baseball Classic is back next season, running from March 6 – 22.  Last time it happened, several Giants players were involved, and there was some discussion about whether it negatively affected their seasons because of the increased playing time coming off an already extended season.  But they’re back at it again this year.  So far Buster will definitely be playing for the U.S., Johnny Cueto will pitch for the Dominican Republic, and Albert Suarez will play for Venezuela.  Brandon Crawford may also play for the U.S.  I love the fact that these guys will be representing their countries, but please, please, please, don’t get hurt!!  My favorite part of the WBC last time was watching the Latin fans in the stands – those folks love their baseball and show so much energy and emotion!  Fun times!  I hope some of the games are televised next year.

Will continue to keep you posted on the moving and shaking going on with my boys.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

It Never Fails!

It never fails – if I post a blog, the next day something important happens.  And boy did it happen today!  The Giants signed one of the guys they’ve had their eye on for a while to be their new closer.  Mark Melancon is now a Giant!  Giddy up!!  The Giants have signed him to a 4 year, $62 million deal, a record for a closer (but of course, this record will be shattered once Aroldis Chapman gets his deal).  This is such amazing news!  I mentioned his impressive stats yesterday.  I can’t help but wonder how many more games we would have won last season with him as our closer.  Add him to a full year of Matt Moore and possibly Ty Blach as starters next season and I think we’ll be in great shape.    Bobby Evans said, regarding the signing, “The core of our bullpen is in place.  We felt the closer was one area we didn’t want to have any doubt about.”  Just having such a strong closer will also help take the stress off the rest of the bullpen, who last season never knew if they would be called upon to pitch in the ninth inning.  Nice to have someone to count on in that role.  I don’t know much about Melancon (except I seem to recall that he doesn’t have much of a neck – sorry, Mark!) so I’m anxious to hear some interviews with him.  I’m sure that will be happening in the next few days.  I did find an article – 10 things you should know about him.  Pretty darn impressive.  Also found this video.  I like him already, especially the way he speaks of his wife.  And the guy sure is a thrill seeker!  He should fit right in with my boys, especially Jeff “Shark” Samardzija.  Haha!  Welcome to the team, Mark!  We’re so very glad you came!  I can breathe again!

I also heard some other trade rumors on KNBR this afternoon from John Lund.  He mentioned that the Giants are still interested in pursuing J.D. Martinez from the Tigers to bolster the outfield.  He’s a guy who could help both offensively and defensively while not breaking the bank.  I love that guy and chose him as a Beat the Streak pick several times, so I know he can hit.  Along with J.D., another possible target for the Giants is left-handed reliever and fellow initial user J.P. Howell.  He had a 4.09 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 44 strikeouts last season.  J.P. played for the Dodgers – always love taking players away from them!  Maybe since I’m posting this today we’ll hear something tomorrow!  Stay tuned!

Keep up the great work, Bobby Evans!  Will continue to update you if the Giants make any more moves.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Oh, Happy Day!

I don’t usually get excited when I hear that the owners and the players’ union in Major League Baseball have a new collective bargaining agreement.  Yes, there was some worry that the process was taking too long this year, and there was even some mention of a possible lockout if they didn’t make the deadline, but with all that money on the line you knew they were extremely motivated to find common ground.  But they came together and got ‘er done in time.  There is something in the agreement that I didn’t know was being discussed but which directly affects part of what I do here, namely counting spits, and I am more than excited about this.  I am thrilled to announce that the MLB has banned smokeless tobacco.  (cue the angels singing) Hallelujah!  Isn’t this incredible?  Now the one caveat is that if you played at all during the 2016 season or before, you are grandfathered in and can still chew to your heart’s content, but otherwise YOU CAN’T CHEW!!!  I am so excited about this!!  I’m almost positive this is in response to the untimely death of Tony Gwynn a couple of years back due to salivary gland cancer.  Gwynn and his family attributed his cancer to his habit of chewing tobacco.  I am very proud of all those involved in making this decision as I’m sure it will not only improve the health of many players but it will almost definitely save lives.  Way to go, MLB!!  What a wonderful tribute to the life and talent of Tony Gwynn.  Plus, I wonder if this will cause my spit counts to drastically decrease.  I can only hope so!!

There were many other things decided upon in the CBA.  Here are a few of the more interesting points:

  • The regular season was lengthened to give the boys some extra days off. They deserve it – a 162-game season is harsh enough.  And time with the family is important to their well-being.
  • World Series home team advantage will now go to the team with the better record, not to the winner of the All-Star Game. This seems so much more fair to me, and I bet they’ll still take the All-Star game seriously even though there is nothing at stake any longer.  They will still be on the big stage after all representing their team.
  • Clubs will play games in Mexico, Asia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and London over the next five years in order to increase the popularity of baseball worldwide. This can include regular season games, and the players will get extra compensation for playing in these countries.  MLB is all about making the game more popular in other countries right now.  Will be fun to see how fans react in other countries – not just fun for us but fun for the players.  And will they still eat hot dogs?  Or fish and chips?
  • One thing I’m really thankful for is that the league is ramping up drug testing and making penalties for offenders harsher. There will be increased testing for human growth hormone, with double the amount of random testing during the season and triple the amount during the off-season.  Players caught taking stimulants will be warned after their first offense plus have increased random testing, be suspended 50 games for a second offense, 100 for a third, and up to permanent suspension for a fourth violation.  Plus if you are suspended, now you don’t accrue service time during the suspension, thus closing a loophole in the previous agreement.
  • The league’s domestic violence policy has remained intact, plus there will be new anti-hazing and anti-bullying policies. Sad to think that this actually exists in baseball, but glad to hear they’re doing something about it.

As far as the Hot Stove League goes, still not a lot of news but a few tidbits to mention.  Cory Gearrin and Ehire Adrianza were signed to one-year contracts.  Gearrin will get $1.05 million plus performance bonuses, and Adrianza will get $600K while in the majors and $300K while in the minors (guess that’s how they do it when a guy will potentially be in the minors for a big chunk of the season).  The Giants have also tendered offers to Conor Gillaspie, George Kontos, Eduardo Nuñez, and Will Smith, saving them from free agency.  They will either receive a contract soon or go through the arbitration process.  Regarding the opening in left field with the departure of Angel Pagan, Bobby Evans mentioned that he would like to give Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson the opportunity to take that role.  He’s still keeping all options open for acquiring a player, but he thinks they would do fine as well.  I would have to agree with him, and I’m sure they will play better if they see more playing time.  The strongest rumor to date revolves around the Giants possibly obtaining a closer.  According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, free agent Mark Melancon (formerly of the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates) has multiple 4-year, $60 million plus offers, with the Nationals and the Giants definitely in the mix.  Crasnick thinks the Giants have the strongest offer.  Melancon pitched in 75 games last year for 71 1/3 innings, had an ERA of 1.34, and WHIP of 0.90, struck out 65 while only walking 12, and logged 47 saves.  Hope Jerry is right and we get him.  What a relief that would be (haha – get it??)!

The Winter Meetings started today in Maryland, so there will probably be some important moves made in the next few days.  All 30 front offices will be there with lots of opportunity to negotiate.  While doing some research, I learned that the Winter Meetings are actually a minor league networking event, but the major league teams always tag along.  Can’t wait to hear some solid news.  Bobby Evans, work your magic!

I’m always impressed by how active my boys are in community service.  I learned recently that one of our newest members, Matt Moore, supports a charity that benefits our veterans.  It’s the cycling based non-profit organization Ride 2 Recovery.  They use biking to help vets get out and active.  They’ve gotten many off medication in the process.  They also fund research into vet related issues like PTSD.  Moore did not choose a charity that supports veterans by chance.  He has a personal stake.  His father was in the Air Force for 23 years.  One of his best friends is a combat-wounded veteran.  Matt hopes that his work with the charity can reduce the extremely high suicide rate amongst vets as well.  Approximately 20 veterans commit suicide each day.  “That’s something you can’t really walk away from,” Moore said recently.  “I believe that it’s our duty to take care of the people who have protected and served our country and provide help when they need it.”  Nice work, Matt.  If you’d like to help Matt’s cause, you can get more info at www.ride2recovery.com.

Well, I purchased our first set of game tickets for our Spring Training trip!  I can almost taste those hot dogs, smell that freshly-mown grass, and feel that intense heat already!  I miss everything about baseball.  Will keep you posted if I hear any news about player transactions.  Hopefully we’ll hear something at least about a closer soon (probably right after I post this – that seems to happen a lot!).  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!