EXTRA BAGGS: Picking the Giants' ideal roster vs. Reds, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Picking the Giants' ideal roster vs. Reds, etc.

LOS ANGELES The regular season is over, the CincinnatiReds are the Giants first-round opponent and there are no more games remainingto audition for the postseason roster.

All precincts have reported. Now its time for Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy and his staff to draft their names.

The composition has changed over this past week. Earlier onthis trip, Bochy said he was leaning toward 11 pitchers. Now all indicationsare that the Giants are more likely to keep 12. That would allow them to carrythe impressive George Kontos in addition to the experienced Guillermo Mota,along with all five starters, plus Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt,Santiago Casilla and Jose Mijares.

Im a believer that you go with the guys who are throwingthe best, Bochy said.

You can lock in most of those 13 position players, too.Theres Buster Posey, Hector Sanchez, Brandon Belt, Marco Scutaro, RyanTheriot, Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval, Joaquin Arias, Gregor Blanco, AngelPagan and Hunter Pence.

Two spots remain, and Xavier Nadys right-handed bat makeshim a fit especially given the Reds lefty-laden bullpen. Its less likelythat Nady will start, though, as the Reds have an entirely right-handedrotation. The hints thrown on Wednesday point to Blanco starting in left fieldas the Giants prioritize defense and speed, especially when they play the firsttwo games at AT&T Park.

That leaves one more roster spot. Aubrey Huffs success offthe bench in September made him a near lock just a week ago, but his lefty bat might not beas useful against the aforementioned Reds bullpen. Plus Huff's general lack of mobility would make it evenmore important that the Giants carry another speed guy. (Justin Christian wouldbe my guess to lead that derby over Emmanuel Burriss and Francisco Peguero.)

Maybe in a series when you're facing a lefty starter or two, you couldstart Nady in left field and use Blanco as your speedy reserve. But against theReds, that wont be the case.

Here is one other idea thats being kicked around the staffmeetings: Have Eli Whiteside fill that final roster spot, freeing up the Giantsto use Sanchezs switch-hitting bat off the bench.

However they decide to line em up, the first decision willbe whether to carry that 12th pitcher. Even when Bochy said hed gowith 11 a week ago, I didnt buy it. Always, always, always bet on Bochy totake a pitcher over a spare position player. This is a manager whos won a lotof games because of bullpen management, after all, and he wants as many options aspossible.

The sixth and seventh innings might be the Giants greatestconcerns as they enter the postseason. As I mentioned yesterday, this currentbullpen did not post a 0.90 ERA in September or enter the postseason with 24consecutive scoreless innings, as the relievers did in 2010.

The Reds do not have a book on Pence this season.That's because, strangely enough, he hasnt faced them since 2011, due to the trade in Julythat sent him from the Phillies to the Giants. (Philadelphia hadnt begun itsseason series with the Reds, and the Giants were already done with Dustys gangby the time Pence arrived.)

They dont know whats coming, Pence said, smiling.

Game 2 starter Bronson Arroyo does. Pence is a .343 hitter(12-for-35) with two homers and four doubles against him. Hes fared OK againstGame 1 starter Johnny Cueto, too, hitting .276 (8-for-29) but with no home runsand 11 strikeouts.

Want to know who has the most experience against Cueto? Its Theriot, who owns a .302 average in 48 plate appearances. In fact, Theriotis tied with Milwaukees Aramis Ramirez for the most career plate appearancesof any active player against Cueto.

Not that Theriot would start over Scutaro. I dontthink Rogers Hornsby would start over Scutaro right now.

As mentioned in my story on Buster Posey and the battingtitle, Pence led a team effort to present Posey with a token of esteem.For all my journalistic efforts, I wasnt able to find out what they got him.It might have been a Rolex. Or a hamster. Or a Subaru Outback. Ive got mymoney on cowboy boots. I saw clubhouse man Mike Murphy lugging around a couple of huge boot boxesWednesday afternoon. Pence was sporting new crocodile boots, after the game, too.

Whatever the gift was, I hope Pence dropped some dimes on it.Poseys NL-best .408 on-base percentage had a little bit to do, after all, withPences ability to collect 45 RBIs despite a .221 average in 58 games as a Giant. Pence reached 100RBIs in a season for the first time. And thats gonna look mighty sparkly when he files forhis final year of arbitration.

Speaking of Pence and a lot of bread, you'll want to watch this.

Everyone is amazed by the As, and that includes their BayBridge rivals. In the hours before Wednesdays game at Dodger Stadium, when theGiants first-round still hadnt been set, the TVs in the visiting clubhousewerent tuned to the Washington Nationals game. They had the As on, and nearlyeveryone watched with great interest as they clinched the AL West aftertrailing by five with nine to play.

Its one of most amazing stories ever in baseball, Bochysaid.

Ryan Vogelsong finished with a 3.3690 ERA barely nudging outMadison Bumgarner for the second lowest among Giants starters. Bumgarner was at3.3696.

But Bumgarner crushed Vogelsong, 11 hits to 5. (Matt Cain led thestaff with 13 hits.)

And when it comes to clubhouse bragging rights, the startersspend far more time and energy on that.

Bochy made Thursday afternoons workout optional andspecifically told a couple regulars to skip it. Fridays workout will be moreof a formal affair.

Time for me to fill out my BBWAA ballots. Ive got MVP andRookie of the Year. After the Nationals let Teddy Roosevelt win the PresidentsRace for the first time, I might just give both awards to him. (Not really.)

Cant reveal my ballots until after the awards are announcedin November. But if you have any last-minute suggestions, any at all, please leave them in thecomments section.

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

LOS ANGELES — Mac Williamson was sent up to pinch-hit when the Giants faced Clayton Kershaw earlier this month, and on a two-strike count, he watched as Kershaw shook off five different signs as he stood on the mound. Kershaw then froze Williamson with a fastball. It was a good lesson for Williamson, a player still trying to find his footing at the big league level.

“He’s a guy you can’t really guess with,” Williamson said. 

The outfielder admits he tends to overthink things. “I’m a perfectionist,” he said Sunday. But given a start against Kershaw, Williamson let his talent — and a little luck — take over. Williamson’s first hit off Kershaw was a bleeder that resulted in an infield hit. His second bounced through the middle of the infield for a single. The third one was the highlight of the day for the Giants. 

Kershaw had a shutout going when he tried to sneak a first-pitch fastball past Williamson in the eighth. He blasted it to dead center. It was the only run for the Giants in a 3-1 loss to the Dodgers. 

“It’s good to see him get those swings off,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That homer was to the big part of the park. It shows how strong he is.”

The Giants have always known Williamson has the strength and raw talent. He hasn’t stuck for a number of reasons, including injuries and that aforementioned tendency sometimes to overthink at the plate. It probably hasn’t helped, either, that the Giants tend to sit him for days at a time and then play him against the Kershaws and Zack Greinkes and Rich Hills of the world. 

Williamson took advantage of the tough assignment on Sunday, joining a small group of Giants who have three hits in a game off Kershaw. 

“Hunter was ahead of me,” he said, smiling. “He beat me to it.”

Pence also had three hits, giving the Giants six from the corners against the best pitcher in the game. It wasn’t enough, but for Williamson, it was something to build off as the offseason approaches. He said it’s a winter he doesn’t plan to take lightly. Williamson’s agents are working to line up a Winter Ball job in the Dominican Republic.

Giants lineup: Three lefties out against Kershaw


Giants lineup: Three lefties out against Kershaw

With Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers Sunday, Bruce Bochy is resting three left-handed bats...

San Francisco Giants:
1. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
2. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
3. Buster Posey (R) 1B
4. Hunter Pence (R) RF
5. Nick Hundley (R) C
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
8. Mac Williamson (R) LF
9. Chris Stratton (R) RHP

Los Angeles Dodgers:
1. Chris Taylor (R) CF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Cody Bellinger (L) 1B
4. Curtis Granderson (L) RF
5. Logan Forsythe (R) 3B
6. Chase Utley (L) 2B
7. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
8. Joc Pederson (L) LF
9. Clayton Kershaw (L) LHP