July 19, 2011
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants made news on so many fronts Tuesday that they managed to do something typically quite difficult: They made a game against the rival Dodgers seem secondary.Let's break the news down, then, before touching on that pesky game.The biggie, in many minds, was a fairly significant trade. The Giants sent two minor-league arms, both of them with late-inning stuff, to the Astros for second baseman Jeff Keppinger.
URBAN: Giants' Keppinger deal solid if unspectacular
Not an exorbitant price to pay by any stretch, but a price nonetheless -- for a player with virtually no pop, a less-than-impressive on-base percentage and average defensive skills. That's the glass-half-empty take on the deal, anyway. The half-full take: Two guys you won't miss at all this year for a guy hitting over .300 who could play a significant role this year and next.
Biggie 1-B, then, was the promotion of rookie first baseman Brandon Belt, who ripped through the minors last season, made the team out of spring training this year, got sent down after struggling, got called back up after proving he'd closed the hole in his swing, got injured, rehabbed, was activated and sent back down again. His past 12 months have been nothing short of dizzying, but Belt is staring straight ahead, hoping to provide the patience, power and production the club has been sorely lacking.One way to make room for a promotion is to dole out a demotion, and Tuesday's came -- actually, it won't be made official until Keppinger arrives Wednesday -- at the expense of a player whose promotion never made sense in the first place.
Twenty-one-year-old catcher Hector Sanchez, who started the season in Single-A ball, advanced to Triple-A and was called up to The Show last Friday despite the Giants already having two catchers on the big-league roster. Perhaps having three Sanchezes violated some sort of MLB bylaw of which the Giants were unaware when they called the kid up, but they sure didn't give him much of a chance to flash his wares. He came, he got meal money, he was gone.
You've heard a brief call-up to the bigs referred to as a "cup of coffee," right? Sanchez ended up with a thimble full of espresso -- decaf, at that.We also got word of a change in the starting rotation, which taught Barry Zito that the Giants' brass thinks exactly like most of the team's fans. For the enigma that is Planet Zito, three great starts and a stinker means blah, blah, blah, stinker! That's just the way it is, and the way it always will be.What's a busy day without somebody getting placed on the DL? Miguel Tejada, come on down. Despite impassioned pleas, Tejada was shelved with an abdominal strain a day after Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he'd earned back the starting shortstop job he'd lost to rookie Brandon Crawford. Crawford got the start Tuesday, but he might not be the starter even with Tejada out. When Keppinger arrives, it's likely that Mike Fontenot will slide from second to short, bumping Crawford to the bench. There was good news related to the DL, too. Giants VP of baseball ops Bobby Evans told CSNBayArea.com that second baseman Freddy Sanchez, whose injury made way for the Keppinger deal, is progressing well enough in rehab from his right shoulder surgery that he might be DH-ing in Arizona Rookie League games in the near future.
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When he gets back, of course, he'll be the starting second baseman. But he's not eligible to return until Aug. 11, because Tuesday's ferris wheel forced the Giants to transfer him from the 15-day DL to the 60-day shutdown.
Who'll be the shortstop by mid-August? At this rate, you could throw out Danny Bonaduce and not get laughed out of the room. All that and a game? Relax, boys. Space it out a bit. Living in the KardashianFlavor Flav Era is sensory overload enough.Alas, they did play a game. Pretty darn good one, too. And as things turned out, one of the aforementioned stories factored quite nicely in the Giants' 5-3 comeback win in front of -- cut and paste time -- yet another sellout crowd at AT&T Park.RECAP: Belt powers Giants to 5-3 win over Dodgers
Belt, whom Evans last Friday said would "ideally" spend the rest of the season getting more seasoning at Triple-A Fresno, essentially said, "I've got your ideal right here, pally." First he pounded a home run in his first at-bat, then he smoked a two-run, game-winning double after an intentional walk ahead of him. Why was Belt playing? Oh, more news: starting first baseman Aubrey Huff has a balky back.Wait, one more: Pablo Sandoval, whom you're tempted to refer to as a machine but the prospect of getting that image stuck in your dome is too daunting, suffered a right quad strain during the game and was removed for a pinch runner after going 2-for-3 with a walk and his daily defensive gem.You got all that? Good. For the bars are now closing, deadlines are looming, and there's still one last thing to report: Giants general manager Brian Sabean suggested he's working on another trade, one that might make the Keppinger deal look like child's play.Now that's some serious news, because the Giants, whose calm at the eye of Tuesday's storm was embodied by young Madison Bumgarner, already are -- against all odds -- really, really good. With Belt back in the mix (no more seasoning, please), Keppinger on the way and perhaps another big bat on the horizon, they might very well be on the brink of getting a whole mess better.