Giants roster reflects youth over loyalty

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Giants roster reflects youth over loyalty

SAN FRANCISCO -- Proving if nothing else that they are not prisoners of a run-deficient status quo, the Giants churned up their Opening Day roster Wednesday.

Stuck with a conundrum at first base between Aubrey Huff, Brandon Belt and Brett Pill, they kept all three. Looking for a cushion for Buster Posey, they dropped Eli Whiteside (who was optioned) and Chris Stewart (who was traded to the Yankees for pitcher George Kontos) and made a place for Hector Sanchez. Trying to remake their outfield, they finished with Gregor Blanco.

They also promoted Dan Otero to their bullpen, though that is mostly pro forma until Ryan Vogelsong returns.

Then again, it wasnt the pitching that needed the makeover.

Still, eight of their 13 everyday players were playing every day somewhere else last April, which is an impressive remodel for a team that won 86 games a year ago.

The problem, though, was that based on their run differential in 2011, they were lucky to have won those last six, and everyone who pays attention to baseball knew it. In other words, overachieving with no offense pays off just as poorly as not.

The decisions made Wednesday means that only Posey, Huff, Nate Schierholtz and Emmanuel Burriss are everyday players with 2010 World Series rings. There would be a fifth if Freddy Sanchez were healthy, but that is so yesterdays news.

Thus, the allegedly conservative Brian Sabean shows that he has overcome his one instance of romantic loyalty, and the stereotypically age-bound Bruce Bochy now has 13 players whose average age is a shade over 27.

In short, if the Giants are any kind of team at all, they are a team in flux, and they are because a team with 590 runs on their resume has to be. Wednesday was not the day it all blew up, but it was the day they committed to a new broom.

Sanchez made it because he had the best spring of the three backup catchers, so much so that he overcame Whitesides reputation as a handler of pitcher and Stewarts arm. Belt made it because he hit too well in Arizona not to, and Pill made it because Ryan Theriot could not be the right-handed bench power alone. Blanco made it despite Huff being moved to the outfield.

And they all made it because 2010 is a million years ago.

There is still the question of whether this roster will work better than the one last year although the Galactic Overlord is the only one who could imagine how it could be worse but it is considerably different, which means that Sabean and Bochy were as sick of looking at last year as the rest of you.

And if you are prone to self-absorption, you can pretend that they listened to you specifically. Nice work, Miscellaneous Giants Fans. Your incessant whining paid off . . . kind of. Maybe. Youll know for sure in 162 games.

But if you didnt whine for the right people, you could be just as gone as Cody Ross or Chris Stewart. So watch yourselves.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.