Giants player-by-player roster review

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Giants player-by-player roster review

Now that we've had a little time to digest thedisappointment that was the Giants' 2011 season, it's time to take a quick lookback at the players' performance and hand out some grades. Not every man whoappeared in uniform is included, mind you. The focus is primarily on those whomade an impact -- or, sadly -- didn't -- and those who might be back in 2012with a shot at returning the Giants to 2010 glory.

1BOF Aubrey Huff
Key stats: .246 BA12 HRs59 RBIs.306OBP.370 SLG
The biggest disappointment among Giants whostayed off the disabled list for long stretches, Huff reported to camp inless-than-optimal shape and was nowhere near the impact player he was whileearning a two-year, 22-million contract in 2010. The team has publiclychallenged him to attack offseason workouts with renewed vigor. Regardless,he'll be on a very short leash -- if not elsewhere -- in2012.
Grade: D

1BOF Brandon Belt
Key stats: .225 BA9 HRs18 RBIs.306OBP
After making the club out of camp, Belt bouncedbetween Triple-A Fresno and San Francisco all year and never really got into much of agroove. Still viewed as one of the game's more promising prospects, he's a GoldGlove-quality defender with plus power who needs to slay a couple of dragons --high fastballs and back-foot breaking balls -- to become themiddle-of-the-order beast the Giants need.
Grade: C1BOF Brett Pill
Key stats: 15-for-502 HRs2 3Bs2 2Bs9RBIs
A September callup after posting big powernumbers at Fresno,he looked more comfortable and polished than Belt, who got considerably morehype (and a zoo-friendly nickname). Pill actually played a little second basein the minors, too, but he's not any sort of long-term option there. Itwouldn't be a shock to see him packaged in a deal that lands a more provenbat.
Grade: A-2B Freddy Sanchez
Key stats: 60 games.289 BA
One of the most pure hitters on the roster,Sanchez was on his way to a potential All-Star berth before suffering a nastyinjury to his right shoulder, requiring season-ending surgery. The officialword is that he's on track to be ready by spring training, but the Giants needto insure themselves in case this notoriously slow healer needs more time.Sanchez is signed through 2012 at 6 million.
Grade: INCSS Miguel Tejada
Key stats: .239 BA4 HRs26 RBIs.270OBP
Signed to replace Juan Uribe's power productionand anchor the infield defense, Tejada did neither and eventually forced theGiants to admit to a 6.5-million mistake and show him the door. No sensebeating the dead horse; this bad boy is glue.
Grade: FSS Brandon Crawford
Key stats: .204 BA3 HRs21 RBIs.288OBP
A grand slam in his first big-league game setunrealistic expectations for this offensively challenged defensive whiz, but hecame back to earth and bounced in and out of the lineup (and the big leagues)thereafter.
Grade: CSS Orlando Cabrera
Key stats: .222 BA1 HRs13 RBIs.241 OBP39games w Giants
Acquired in a midseason trade to do what Tejadaand Crawford weren't doing, he didn't. And that's all we have to say aboutthat.
Grade: D3B Pablo Sandoval
Key stats: .315 BA23 HRs70 RBIs.357OBP
Eligible for arbitration, Sandoval figures toget a nice raise after raising his fitness level and his game -- at the plateand in the field -- in the wake of his nightmarish 2010. Had he not missed sixweeks with a wrist injury, he likely would have had his first 30-homer seasonto go with his first All-Star appearance. His defensive prowess was freakishfor a man of his size, even slimmed down.
Grade: AIF Mike Fontenot
Key stats: .227 BA4 HRs21 RBIs.304OBP
His versatility came in handy as playersstarted dropping like flies, and he's capable of catching fire for a handful ofgames at a time, but whenever asked to play for an extended stretch he wasexposed as the career backup he's meant to be. Eligible for arbitration, he's anon-tender candidate.
Grade: C-IFOF Mark DeRosa
Key stats: .279 BA0 HRs12 RBIs.351 OBP47games
DeRosa's contract is up, but he sounded open toreturning for a third year with the Giants after making roughly 12 millionwhile playing in 73 games over the past two seasons. His power seems all butgone, but he's a great clubhouse guy who can play all over the field and wouldbe a smart sign for the right price (think 1 million).
Grade: B-OF Aaron Rowand
Key stats: .233 BA4 HRs21 RBIs.274OBP
His partial season was much like his Giantscareer, which came to an end when he was released: bleh.
Grade: C-OF Carlos Beltran
Key stats: .323 BA7 HRs18 RBIs.369 OBP44games w Giants
Sure to be one of the belles of the free-agentball, the biggest name on the summer trade market was mostly productive aftercoming from the Mets in a deadline deal, but that he missed a cruciallate-season stretch underscored injury concerns that have dogged him in recentyears.
Grade: B-OF Nate Schierholtz
Key stats: .278 BA9 HRs41 RBIs.326OBP
Eligible for arbitration but sure to betendered a deal, Schierholtz finally established himself -- without a doubt --as a legitimate big-league starter. He's best suited for right field but movedseamlessly to left in the wake of Beltran's arrival. Though not the classiccorner man in terms of power, he can hit all over the lineup, and his defense wasnothing short of outstanding all year.
Grade: BOF Cody Ross
Key stats: .240 BA14 HRs52 RBIs.325OBP
Ross didn't have much of a "walkyear," prone to extended slumps and nagging injuries. With the bar setridiculously high after his supernatural postseason in 2010, Ross came infurther under it than even the biggest doubters expected. He made about 6.5million, and if he wants anything close to that again, it probably won't be inSan Francisco.
Grade: C-OF Andres Torres
Key stats: .221 BA4 HRs19 RBIs.312OBP
There was quiet concern all winter that Torres'breakout in 2010 wasn't evidence that he was a late bloomer. After all, thephrase "career year" exists for a reason. Well, based on what we sawfrom Torres this season, you have to wonder. He didn't have half the impact hehad during the run to the World Series, making his arb-eligible status iffy atbest.
Grade: C-OF Pat Burrell
Key stats: .230 BA7 HRs21 RBIs.352OBP
Severely limited by a foot injury after puttingtogether a solid April, Burrell never really got much of a chance to prove hisworth as a deep threat off the bench, and based on his emotional sendoff, we'velikely seen the last of him on a big-league diamond.
Grade: CC Buster Posey
Key stats: .284 BA4 HRs21 RBIs.386OBP
Posey got off to a fairly slow start, but notlong before The Collision it was clear he had found his stroke and was on hisway to another tremendous season.
Grade: INCC Eli Whiteside
Key stats: .197 BA4 HRs17 RBIs.264OBP
Another arb-el candidate to be non-tendered,Whiteside is a solid receiver who has the respect of the pitching staff, buthe's no Pudge Rodriguez-in-his-prime when it comes to controlling the runninggame, and his offense was mostly woeful.
Grade: C-C Chris Stewart
Key stats: .204 BA3 HRs10 RBIs.283OBP
A solid defensive catcher, he simply didn't hitenough to force his way into any meaningful conversation about2012.
Grade: C-RHP Tim Lincecum
Key stats: 13-142.74 ERA220 Ks1.21WHIP
Though inconsistent at times, Lincecum had thekind of year most pitchers would consider "career" despite it being"down" by the lofty standards he's established. Walks and control ofthe running game were issues, and he had a couple of bad games when the teamneeded him at his best, but don't let the record fool you. His run support wasa joke, and overall he was extremely good over the longhaul.
Grade: BRHP Matt Cain
Key stats: 12-112.88 ERA179 Ks1.08WHIP
Always the strong, silent type as a team leaderin the clubhouse, Cain was exactly that on the mound, too. He was as consistentas anyone on the staff, and he took another step up the ladder toward trulyelite status. For the first time since Lincecum joined the team, Cainoutpitched his co-ace, and the Giants would be wise to get into seriouscontract-extension talks this winter to make sure he doesn't hit free agency afterthe 2012 season.
Grade: ARHP Ryan Vogelsong
Key stats: 13-72.71 ERA139 Ks1.25WHIP
One of the top feel-good stories in recent BayArea sports memory, Vogelsong came out of nowhere to establish himself as adark horse Cy Young candidate with remarkable consistency and efficiency uponjoining the rotation after starting the season in Fresno. Eligible forarbitration this winter, Vogelsong earned the right to enter spring trainingnext spring with a starting job in hand..
Grade: ALHP Jonathan Sanchez
Key stats: 4-74.26 ERA107 Ks1.44WHIP
The hope was that this would be the season inwhich Sanchez put it all together and joined Lincecum and Cain to form the mostimpressive trio of starters this side of Philly. It didn't happen. All of theold issues -- lack of command, mental lapses, inability to work deep into games-- combined with injury issues led to a massive disappointment that has hisfuture -- he's arbitration-eligible after making more than 4.5 million --somewhat up in the air.
Grade: DLHP Barry Zito
Key stats: 3-4, 5.87 ERA32 Ks1.40WHIP
The highlights came in a flurry, after he wasreinstated from his first career stint on the disabled list. It didn't lastlong, though, and his good health didn't, either. He came back from his secondDL stint late in the season as a mop-up, and his year in general did nothing tochange the perception that he's among the biggest free-agent busts in thegame's history. Still under contract for two more seasons, he'll be fightingfor a roster spot come spring.
Grade: D-LHP Madison Bumgarner
Key stats: 13-133.21 ERA191 Ks1.21WHIP
After opening the season with a miserablestring of performances that left his record at 0-6 with a bloated ERA,Bumgarner got stronger, more consistent and nastier as the season wore on,assuaging any fears that his increased workload late in 2010 would come back tohaunt him. Firmly entrenched in the rotation for years to come, and a potentialfuture ace, no doubt.
Grade: BLHP Eric Surkamp
Key stats: 2-25.74 ERA13 Ks1.84WHIP
Called up late in the season out of necessity,Surkamp got off to a blazing start but faded as teams started to make theirinevitable adjustments. That he didn't appear in over his head from the outsetspeaks to his talent level.
Grade: BRHP Brian Wilson
Key stats: 6-457 games3.11 ERA1.47WHIP
He started the year on the DL and spent moretime shelved late in the season, but in between he was his dominant self farmore often than not.
Grade: BRHP Sergio Romo
Key stats: 65 games1.50 ERA0.71WHIP
Quite simply the best season by a setup man theGiants have enjoyed in a long, long time. Romo turn the corner this season in ahuge way.
Grade: ARHP Ramon Ramirez
Key stats: 66 games2.62 ERA1.17WHIP
More of a secondary setup man, Ramirez wasn'tas brilliant in his first full season with the club as he was after beingacquired for last year's stretch run, but he was solid if not spectacular.
Grade: BLHP Jeremy Affeldt
Key stats: 67 games2.63 ERA1.15WHIP
After a forgettable 2010, Affeldt frequentlyshowed flashes of the form that made him the top setup man in the game in 2009,but his club option for 2012 -- 5 million -- might be a bitsteep.
Grade: BLHP Javier Lopez
Key stats: 70 games2.72 ERA1.28WHIP
Mr. Reliable against lefties became Mr.Reliable against lefties and righties, and he should be a top priority as oneof the Giants' eight free agents this winter
Grade: BLHP Dan Runzler
Key stats: 35 games6.36 ERA1.65WHIP
Great arm, plenty of talent, not a ton ofcommand until late in the season.
Grade: C-RHP Santiago Casilla
Key stats: 49 games1.74 ERA1.12WHIP
Still a little sketchy when it comes tohigh-pressure situations, but he's got filthy stuff and is a lock to beretained via arbitration.
Grade: BRHP Guillermo Mota
Key stats: 52 games3.81 ERA1.26WHIP
The unsung hero of the bullpen. He'd fill anyrole he was asked to fill, and he usually did it well. Terrific Swiss ArmyKnife.
Grade: B

Down on the Farm: From College World Series hero to Giants Triple-A

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USATSI

Down on the Farm: From College World Series hero to Giants Triple-A

Some Twitter bios are better than others. 

Baseball is something I do, not who I am. 

"Our jobs can't define us as who we are," Michael Roth says from the Raley Field clubhouse before a Sacramento River Cats win. "For me, that's really just what it means. My identity is not my sport. 

"That doesn't mean that if I go out there and I get shelled, that I don't get upset, but it just means that I'm not going to take that home with me. That's the biggest thing and that's what it means to me. Baseball is not my identity, I'm not going to wrap my life in it. While I love it and enjoy it, I'm just not gonna hinge on every game as to whether I'm a failure or success." 

Every June, college baseball's elite come to Omaha, Neb. aiming to do what Roth accomplished at the College World Series. As a team, that would be winning the national championship — twice in Roth's case. As a player, that would be turning into a superstar. 

Long before he earned a single cent for playing the game, Roth was signing autographs for more than just fans of his South Carolina Gamecocks on his way into the record books. 

"You’re pretty much famous while you’re there," Roth said. "The College World Series is about as big league as it gets when you’re not in the big leagues. Playing in front of 25,000 people, the fans are really good fans, they’re really into the game no matter if it’s your fans traveling or just the people in Omaha." 

Roth's College World Series career ended with three straight trips from his sophomore season to his senior season (2010-12) and was crowned a champion twice with legendary numbers. They are as follows: 10 appearances (third most ever), eight starts (record), three starts in a championship game (record), four wins (second most ever), 60.1 innings pitched (record), and a 1.49 ERA (fourth best ever with minimum 30 innings pitched). 

Roth's collision course to domination was not an excepted one, especially on the mound. In fact, he wasn't even recruited to South Carolina as a pitcher. 

"I was recruited to South Carolina as a first baseman and didn’t really perform well enough in fall to even merit much contention so I really pitched out of necessity my freshman year," Roth said. 

The lefty still managed to hit in 13 games as a freshman, batting just .154. On the mound, he turned out a solid 4.22 ERA with a 1-1 record after pitching in 16 games and starting two.  

That next season in 2010, the legend began. 

When he came back to campus as a sophomore, Roth was still plenty focused on trying to be an everyday first baseman. One day while turning double plays at first, then pitching coach Mark Calvi saw a way to make Roth into a force on the hill.

"He saw me and said, ‘Have you ever thought about dropping down?’ I’m like ‘Hell no, what are you thinking?’ He made me do it right then and there, go throw sidearm in the bullpen," Roth said. 

That lefty sidearm slot saw Roth, who is far from a flamethrower, sling unhittable pitches to the tune of an ERA just above one. He was the ultimate lefty specialist until South Carolina needed him the most for much more than a quick outing out of the ‘pen.

With South Carolina facing elimination against rival Clemson in the College World Series, the starting rotation was out of arms. Before he knew it, coach Calvi came up to his All-American reliever and named Roth the day's starting pitcher for the first time that season with one simple message: "Hey, just go out there and pitch." 

The plan was for Roth to go a couple innings so South Carolina could use a bullpen by committee approach. Next thing you know, Roth is through three innings. The plan seems perfect. Then five innings. Okay, this is a lot better than any plan. He's dealing, keep him in. Roth not only perfected the plan, he was more than perfect, better than any expectations that were placed upon him. He saved the season with a complete game, allowing only three hits in a 5-1 win. 

South Carolina went on to beat UCLA in the championship, starting its run of three straight appearances in the finals, winning again in 2011 before losing in 2012.

Now at 27 years old and pitching with the Sacramento River Cats as part of the San Francisco Giants' Triple-A team, Roth knows the questions are coming around this time of year. His left arm earned its legend as an amateur and instead of run from the past, his eyes are set on the present while appreciating how he came to this point. 

"I guess in a sense my career did take off in the College World Series because if it weren’t for that, I’m not sure if I’d even be here as a starting pitcher or as a pitcher in general," Roth says. "It’s kind of interesting how life’s events take you with things like that in big moments.” 

Less than a year after being selected by the Angels in the ninth round of the 2012 draft, Roth made his MLB debut against the Astros, pitching two perfect innings while striking out four straight at one point. The dream was made, but he also learned the realities of pro baseball compared to college. 

"As far as from a career perspective, college baseball really teaches you how to go out there and compete and go out there and win," Roth explains. "Pro baseball is much more individualized. 

"It still sucks if you come to the park every day and get your ass kicked. But it’s just more individual in its nature, it’s more of a business." 

After the 2014 season, the Angels released Roth. He has made it to the bigs with two teams — the Angels and Rangers — but the Giants signing him in November 2016 made them Roth's fourth organization since 2012. 

The Giants were particularly intriguing to Roth in the offseason as they weren't set on him being a starter or reliever, creating flexibility and hopefully another path to the majors. Roth has pitched in 13 games this year for Sacramento, starting nine, and holds a 4-4 record with a 4.12 ERA in the highly hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. 

The journey has been stardom in college with peaks and valleys as a pro. For Roth though, it still comes down to that message coach Calvi said to him as he started his status among the College World Series greats — make pitches, throw strikes, get outs. 

"Whether you throw mid to upper 90s or 88 to 92 like I throw, I think it's really just attacking the zone," he says. "That's something I focus on every time out there. It's going right at them and not trying to be too fine and make a perfect pitch. A good pitch is good enough, I don't need to make a perfect pitch."

The stats will always be there. The memories too. Records are meant to be broken, but plenty of his might as well be etched in stone. The game, the numbers have been how others see him yet it's not all who Michael Roth is — just like he showed by spending three months in Spain after winning the 2011 national championship — no matter how many South Carolina fans sit around bars talking about what his left arm did in Omaha, no matter when he's back in the big leagues and no matter how long he toes the rubber.

Baseball is something I do, not who I am. 

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants dropping series vs Braves

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants dropping series vs Braves

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The kid who raced The Freeze on Thursday night blew a tire as he hit center field, hobbled for about 50 feet, and then went down for good. He still had a better night than the Giants. 

They blew all four tires in the fifth, giving up eight runs in a nightmare frame that turned a two-run lead into a 12-11 loss. The Giants finished 1-7 on the swing through Denver and Atlanta, and they have lost 18 of their last 23 games. 

But, let’s face it, you’re here already. So here are five more things to know from the night … 

—- Matt Cain was hanging in there until the fifth, and then … disaster. The inning started with Brandon Phillips’ solo shot that cut the lead to one. Then it went single, single before Cain was relieved by Bryan Morris. After that, it was single, single, single, sacrifice fly, homer, flyout, walk, single, pitching change, single. 

—- Morris had to wear it in the fifth because the bullpen is short, and boy, did he wear it. Morris gave up five runs on five hits and a walk. His ERA jumped two full points in two-thirds of an inning. 

—- Kyle Crick made his MLB debut in that horrendous bottom of the fifth. The Giants surely did not want to bring him in with runners on, but Bruce Bochy had no choice when Morris blew up. Crick’s first pitch was a 95 mph heater. After giving up a hit in that inning, he pitched a perfect sixth and perfect seventh. Crick topped out at 97 mph. Pretty, pretty good stuff there. He needs to get a long look the rest of this year. 

—- In the second, Buster Posey hit a ball that went 311 feet and had a hit probability of just six percent. Cain hit a ball 357 feet. Posey got a homer that bounced off the top of the wall; Cain just got a double. Baseball is such an odd game.  

—- On a positive note, Javi Lopez, who calls Brandon Belt “Sparky,” repeatedly referred to Posey as Gerald. He’s going to be good at this job.