Roster advice for Brian Sabean

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Roster advice for Brian Sabean

How do you spell relief? Try S-A-B-E-A-N. Giants GM Brian Sabean knows a thing or two about fortifying a bullpen midseason -- see 2010, when he made the under-the-radar but critical additions of Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez. And Im guessing that is once again at the forefront of Sabeans attention, as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches.This year is different than the last two. The Giants arent desperate for a big bat to rescue an anemic offense. To be clear, theyre still far from a juggernaut (12th in NL in runs scored, last in home runs). But as we all as know, with that pitching staff, they dont have to be. And hey, their .261 batting average is tied for fourth in the league. More importantly, the lineup just feels more adequate than it has the last couple of seasons.Could it use more thump? Of course. But theyd likely settle for a reasonably-cheap, reasonably-productive, reasonably-right-handed bat. Im talking Chris Denorfia. Or Jonny Gomes. Not Carlos Beltran. That aint happenin this time aroundRELATED: Should Giants acquire a closer?
Adding the right piece to the 'pen, however, could be of critical importance for the stretch run. This team plays a whole lot of one-run games, and Bruce Bochy loves him some bullpen fun. He will channel his inner La Russa all summer long, and playing the matchups works a whole lot better when you have a stable of reliable options at your disposal.Let me be clear: I am not suggesting the Giants need a new closer. Not exactly. I think Santiago Casilla will be just fine. I know hes gone through a rough patch recently, but not many closers dont during the course of a long season. And while its easy to peruse the recent numbers and dwell on those four blown saves in six chances, lets not forget that in two of those games Casilla was pitching through blister problems, and in another he fanned the would-be final out -- only to have the batter reach base and the tying run score from second on a play you might never see again.That said, heres my advice to the man who doesnt need my advice: Hedge your bet. Go get a quality reliever who can close if need be, but wont cost anywhere near as much as a bona fide stopper. There are plenty of those guys out there -- Houstons Brandon Lyon, Minnesotas Jared Burton, Baltimores Luis Ayala, to name a few. All having really nice seasons, all with at least some closing experience. And none of whom will cost anything close to a top prospect.Is the bullpen the Giants biggest weakness? Clearly not. On the contrary, you could argue its their biggest strength. Doesnt mean its not a priority for the guy in charge of making a good team better. Like World Series better. Kinda like two years ago.

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

SAN FRANCISCO — Over in Cleveland earlier Friday, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer for the visiting team and five other players chipped in a pair of hits. The Royals had six runs, which meant that when Jim Johnson closed the Giants out a few hours later, what has seemed true all season became officially true. The Giants have the lowest-scoring lineup in the majors.

At 3.32 runs per game, they have dipped below the equally-disappointing Royals (3.38). They are capable at the moment of making any pitching staff look dominant. A 2-0 shutout was the first of the year for the Braves, who previously had just two games this season where they allowed fewer than two runs. 

“Six runs in (the last) four games … I thought we would come home and get some rips in tonight, but it didn’t happen,” Bruce Bochy said. 

The manager’s frustration showed late in this one. After the only rally of the game — a two-run single by opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia — Bochy took his cap off and rubbed his forehead. He dipped his head and briefly stood as if he was going to fall asleep on the rail. The bats were equally still. 

The Giants had just four hits, all of them singles against Garcia, who is a nice pitcher but hardly one of the league’s best. One was an infield single by Eduardo Nuñez, another a single through Garcia’s five-hole, and a third a generous ruling by the official scorekeeper. 

“It comes down to, you’ve got to get some hits and create opportunities, and we’re not doing it very often,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting somewhat hot. We did, we had some success, and we won some games. The thing you like to see is some good cuts and I didn’t think we got enough of those tonight.”

That run, which spanned the last homestand and small parts of two road trips, has come to a screeching halt. The Giants have lost five of six. It seems silly to scoreboard-watch in May, especially when a team is playing like this, but it’s worth noting that the teams the Giants eventually need to catch keep winning. They fell 12 games back of the Rockies and 11 back of the streaking Diamondbacks. They are 9 1/2 back of the Dodgers, who might be the best team in the whole league. 

Matt Cain did his part to allow the Giants to keep pace. He got beat just once in seven sharp innings. The Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, who bounced a single into left. Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw was short and hit the runner. A second run scored. 

“That’s tough,” Cain said. “(Garcia) was throwing the ball really good and that’s what it comes down to, you’re looking for that one hit and he did it. He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen it in St. Louis. But it definitely is tough when the pitcher does that … it just stinks on my part to give up a hit to the opposing pitcher.”

Instant Analysis: Giants bats silenced, losing streak now at four games

Instant Analysis: Giants bats silenced, losing streak now at four games

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The return to AT&T Park was a huge boost to Matt Cain, who has wild home-road splits this season, but it did predictable things to an already-limp Giants offense. 

The Giants entered the night as the lowest-scoring team in the National League and they got blanked 2-0 by Jaime Garcia and the Braves. Garcia out-dueled Cain and provided the only offense of the night, as well. The Giants have dropped five of six.

Here are five things to know from AT&T Park, where they keep having Star Wars Night but they’ve never once celebrated Super Troopers … 

--- Cain entered the seventh with a 0.94 ERA at home this season, but the opposing pitcher busted him. With one on and two outs, the Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, a career .145 hitter. He bounced a single into shallow left and it looked like Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw home hit the runner. That allowed Swanson to race home for a 2-0 lead. 

--- Cain’s final line: seven innings, one earned run, one walk, three strikeouts. Yep, that’s a Caining.

--- Justin Ruggiano is here for the opportunity he was given in the sixth. Ruggiano has always crushed lefties, and Bruce Bochy put him behind Buster Posey on Friday night. The Braves intentionally walked Posey to load the bases for Ruggiano, who grounded out to third. Even the platoon splits are failing the Giants. 

--- If you need a little perspective on Christian Arroyo’s struggles, look across the field. Swanson, the former No. 1 overall pick, is batting .198. The shortstop slashed .302/.361/.442 as a rookie but his numbers are way down across the board, and he’s nearly two years older than Arroyo. These things take time. Having said that, Arroyo’s hole is pretty deep. He’s hitless in his last 21 at-bats after an 0 for 3.

--- There were three no-pitch intentional walks. I hope you used the extra ninety seconds wisely.