Baggs makes his fearless predictions for MLB 2012

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Baggs makes his fearless predictions for MLB 2012

PHOENIX Tim Lincecum is about to twirl and deal for keeps,which means Id better hustle to get my 2012 predictions out there.

Annual reminder: Infotainment purposes only. Please do notpawn any belongings on your way to the sportsbook. (Unless its that euphonium.Youre never actually going to learn to play that thing, are you?)

AL WEST: Rangers, Angels, Mariners, As
Not sure if Texas can get back to the World Series, but Ilove their power-packed lineup. Even though the Angels staff might be bettertop to bottom, Texas has plenty of live arms in the rotation and bullpen.

AL CENTRAL: Tigers, Royals, Indians, Twins, White Sox
You heard it here first: The Royals will score more runsthan the Tigers this season. Youre welcome, Jonathan Sanchez. Justin Verlanderis still better than you, though.

AL EAST: Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles
Anyone who thinks about picking Baltimore also thinks aboutself-appendectomies. I like everything about the Rays except Joe Maddon dyeinghis hair.

WILD CARDS: Yankees, ANGELS
Id love to take the Royals as my dark horse team. But itshard to pick against the second-place clubs in the West and East. Mike Sciosciamight resemble the Kool-Aid man more and more every year in that redwindbreaker, but the man knows how to beat the Yankees.

NL WEST: Diamondbacks, Giants, Dodgers, Rockies, Padres
Very, very tough call here. Im going with the Diamondbacksbased on their farm system in addition to the major league roster. Where theGiants have little rotation depth, Arizona could call up Trevor Bauer or TommySkaggs. Theyve got more in their system to trade in late summer, too. Plus Imnot sold on the Giants leadoff situation.
NL CENTRAL: Brewers, Reds, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Astros
Houston will be baseballs only sixth place team, but thatsonly because by rule, they cant finish 187th. Lets go withMilwaukee here. Theyll still hit plenty, and their top three starters are theclass of the division.

NL EAST: Phillies, Marlins, Nationals, Braves, Mets
The Phillies lineup is getting so old, I half expected themto sign Steve Finley on general principle. But, hey. Halladay, Lee, Hamels.That gets you a hand stamp. Plus the Marlins will be in a fishbowl, literallyand figuratively, as the newest subjects of The Franchise. Cant wait for theshow where Zambrano and Ozzie go to the Sunglasses Hut together.

WILD CARDS: GIANTS, Reds
The Giants have not fared well in one-game wild cardplayoffs. Dont worry. Mark Gardner will not start this time.

ALCS: Tigers over Rays
NLCS: Brewers over Giants
World Series: Tigers over Brewers
Viva la Rust Belt. Prince Fielder clubs a game winner offJohn Axford, and all six people who live in downtown Detroit celebrate.

Awards!
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander
NL Cy Young: Zack Greinke
AL Rookie: Matt Moore
NL Rookie: Zack Cozart
AL Manager: Whoever the Royals manager is. Wait, its NedYost? I may have to rethink this whole dark horse thing
NL Manager: Ron Roenicke
Choco Tacos I will consume in Coors Field press box: Atleast eight.

Enjoy the season!

After another loss, Bochy challenges staff to 'tighten it up here'

After another loss, Bochy challenges staff to 'tighten it up here'

DENVER — For the second straight start, Matt Moore watched an outfielder chase down a rocket, slam into the wall, and immediately leave the game with a hurt shoulder. 

“You’ve got to feel a little responsible,” he said Saturday night, shaking his head. 

That’s not entirely fair. The Jarrett Parker and Denard Span injuries have been flukes, but there is a different kind of responsibility for the starting staff. Bobby Evans built this team on the starting five, and through three weeks, the group has been a letdown. 

Madison Bumgarner was hurt during an off-field incident. Johnny Cueto has an uncharacteristic 5.25 ERA and 1.38 WHIP through four starts. Moore gave up six runs in four innings Saturday, raising his own ERA to 5.87. On the other side, a rookie — Antonio Senzatela — held the Giants to four hits, leading the Rockies to a 12-3 win.

“He just made mistakes. You saw them,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Moore. “They caught too much of the plate and they were up and they took advantage of them. This can be a tough park but they pitched well tonight with a young kid. You’ve got to make your pitches. Keep concentrating and don’t give in. That’s the way it works and we’re not doing a very good job of that.

“Obviously our staff, we’re a much better staff than what’s happened. We’ve got to tighten it up here and wake up. We’re not a team that goes out and pounds it with you. We’ve got to pitch.”

The starting staff, even without Bumgarner, is more important than it first seemed. That's because the rest of the Giants are dropping, too. Span went out in the third when he slammed into the wall while making a catch, and while the initial read is positive, he was going for X-rays Saturday night. At the very least, a right shoulder sprain will keep him out a couple of days. 

That means Bochy, 18 games in, is dealing with one of his Bomb Squad situations. Buster Posey will play first on Sunday after a couple of long days in the squat, and it’s possible Brandon Belt will get a day in left. Gorkys Hernandez, hitting just .088, is the man in center while Span is out. Hunter Pence (knee bruise) is expected to return to right field Sunday, but the outfield is hanging by a string. The Giants have even talked about putting Eduardo Nuñez in left, and on Saturday he played several innings in right because of the Span injury. 

Bochy challenged his starters, but the regulars behind them will need to be better, too. The bats didn’t get going until the eighth inning at Coors Field, and even then, a rally was cut short and the Giants promptly gave up six more runs. Nuñez was late getting over on a pop-up that clanked off Joe Panik’s glove and extended the inning. 

“You’re going to deal with that,” Bochy said. “He’s going to feel discombobulated.”

Bochy had just one positive to point to, and he lit up when asked about Chris Stratton, who threw three hitless innings to keep the Giants within shouting distance. 

“Boy, that kid did a nice job," he said. 

Stratton isn’t far down the depth chart if there are further injuries in the rotation, and with a fastball that touched 95, he looked better than he has in years. The Giants hope they don’t need to test him. They’re banged-up, but at the moment, they still have four of their projected starting pitcher, along with Ty Blach. Without Bumgarner, the group will have to be better, and Bochy let them know it Saturday. 

Instant Replay: Rockies crush Moore, Giants lose Span in third straight loss

Instant Replay: Rockies crush Moore, Giants lose Span in third straight loss

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Near the end of last season’s collapse, the Giants spent a couple of days sitting eight games out of first place. Less than three weeks into this season, they’re already six out, and there are no signs that this is going to get better anytime soon.

The Giants managed just four hits against rookie Antonio Senzatela and went on to lose 12-3 at Coors Field. They also lost another starter to injury. 

A week to the day after Jarrett Parker broke his clavicle, Denard Span was removed after a similar collision with an outfield wall. Span has a mild right shoulder sprain and will go for X-rays. Throw in Hunter Pence’s left knee bruise and the Giants played most of this game without all three of their projected starting outfielders. 

To hang in a game like this one, the Giants needed a one-man show on the mound. Matt Moore wasn’t up to it. The lefty gave up six runs in four innings, including three homers. Mark Reynolds hit a deep blast in a three-run first and Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon went deep in a three-run fourth. 

The Giants threatened in the eighth, getting two runs back and sending the tying run to the plate. That rally seemed a lifetime away by the top of the ninth. The Rockies scored six runs off Neil Ramirez in their half of the eighth. 

Starting pitching report: No pitcher likes this place, but Moore has a real beef. In three career starts at Coors Field he has thrown just 11 2/3 innings and allowed 16 earned runs. 

Bullpen report: Chris Stratton, called up for the Madison Bumgarner roster spot, made his season debut in the fifth. He was outstanding. Stratton allowed just a walk in three innings and he topped out at 95 mph, a significant tick up from where he was last year. Stratton struck out three and broke Nolan Arenado’s bat on a grounder. 

At the plate: Joe Panik went deep in the sixth for his first homer of the year. 

In the field: Eduardo Nuñez made a great stop in the second and threw Stephen Cardullo out as he rolled over. An inning later, he was in right field. The Span injury forced Nuñez to right for just the seventh time in his career. He wasn't tested until the eighth, when he was late getting over to a deep pop-up that Panik dropped. 

Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 39,239 human beings. They’re excited about this team, and for good reason. 

Up next: Save them, Jeff.