Giants: First-half awards, highs, lows, etc.

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Giants: First-half awards, highs, lows, etc.

FIRST HALF SURPRISESRyan Theriot
He looked cooked in the spring and couldnt hit a lick before landing on the DL with a bad elbow. Since returning, though, hes been a two-out hitting machine, stabilized the lineup in the No.2 spot and took the sting out of the news that Freddy Sanchez wont play this season.

Santiago Casilla
Until his last six outings, Casilla had a better save percentage, ERA and WHIP than Brian Wilson posted in the Bearded Ones best season as the Giants closer. Not bad for a guy plucked off the scrapheap a couple years ago, even if fans cant get behind the obscure Spanish-language Christian song he uses for his entrance tune.

Melky Cabrera
The Melk Man had 201 hits for the Royals last season and hit better than .300 from both sides of the plate, but the Giants merely hoped he could approach those numbers. Cabrera has exceeded them, and then some. Being named the All-Star Game MVP was icing on the cake.

FIRST HALF DISAPPOINTMENTSTim Lincecum
Hi, Timmy. Thanks for not signing that five-year, 100 million extension we offered you. Sincerely, the Giants.

Freddy Sanchez
Hes not going to play this season after back surgery. His shoulder hadnt allowed him to return to second base, anyway. A surprise? No. A disappointment? You bet. Thats 6 million the Giants cant use to boost the roster at the trade deadline.

Guillermo Mota
Done in by Dimetapp -- the kiddie version, so he claims. Hes eligible to return from his 100-game PED suspension at the end of August, and can begin working out with the team 20 days before that. Well see. In the meantime, no sniffling allowed.

THE HIGH POINT
We wont soon forget the sight of Melky Cabrera leaping against the wall, Gregor Blanco hurling his body into no-mans-land, Joaquin Arias throwing desperately across the full width of the diamond from flat feet -- and Cain, the longest tenured Giant, hooking the air triumphantly after throwing the 22nd perfect game in major league history. For evermore, June 13 will be Matt Cain day in San Francisco. He got a Samurai sword, too. Cool. Cain notched his feat against the Houston Astros. Its probably worth mentioning that his first start out of the break will come against you guessed it.

THE LOW POINT
What a cruel trick. A year to the day that Pablo Sandoval had surgery to remove a fractured right hamate bone in his right hand, the Panda was diagnosed with the same injury in his left paw. Call it the bane of the switch-hitter. The Giants already were five games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers when Sandoval was diagnosed with the fracture May 3. He started on a tear, too, hitting safely in 21 of his first 22 games and smacking a team-high five home runs. Without Sandoval, the Giants went 16 consecutive home games (more than 500 at-bats in all) bereft of a home run -- the longest in San Francisco-era history, and the longest by any major league team since the 1990 Houston Astros. Yet the Dodgers lost Matt Kemp, too, and the Giants managed a 21-14 record while Sandoval healed. At least hell never fracture another hamate again.

FIRST HALF MVP
Cabrera owns a major league-leading 119 hits, the title of top vote-getter among NL All-Star outfielders, the All-Star Game MVP award and his own freshly starched, bow-tie wearing fan club. The Melk Men are a hit at AT&T Park in their 50s-era delivery uniforms, and lately the ratio has improved with the addition of a few comely Milk Maidens. Cabrera has them in a froth over his hitting, but his excellent, smart baserunning, his left field defense and a cannon-strong left arm have inspired cheers as well.
FIRST HALF LVP
If Lincecum were merely pitching below his standards, the Giants would be threatening to run away with the NL West. Even a 9-9 record in his starts would have the Giants at 51-35 -- a record that would pace the NL and give them a 4 -game lead over the Dodgers. Instead, the Happy Lincecum Day is a faded memory. The Giants are 4-14 in his starts, hes thrown quality outings just four times in 18 assignments and hes already allowed three more earned runs than he did all last season. On the road, its been nothing but tractor marks on his slender backside. He has a 9.00 ERA away from AT&T Park. Thats contributed to a staff road ERA of 4.69 that ranks 25th among the 30 major league clubs -- even higher than the horror-show Colorado Rockies. (At home, the Giants 2.42 ERA is second best in the majors.)

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

TOKYO -- Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani says he could move to the major leagues after the 2017 season.

The 22-year-old right-hander, who has also put up big numbers at the plate, signed a $2.37 million contract for next season with the Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.

Otani will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season and will need the Fighters' approval to negotiate with a major league club through the posting system before that time.

He says "we discussed the possibility of me going. ... The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go."

Otani went 10-4 as a pitcher and batted .322 with a career-high 22 home runs this season for the Fighters.

New rules in MLB's collective bargaining agreement make it more difficult for players like Otani to get paid big bucks right away. But there is a definite curiosity about his abilities, even from those who haven't seen him play much.

"I don't know which side you're worried about more: his ability to pitch or hit," former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Hopefully he stays healthy because he's an addition whatever league he winds up with, whether he stays in Japan or comes to the U.S. he's certainly going to be an exciting player for people to look forward to watching."

Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was reluctant to talk about Otani because he's under contract in Japan. But he's intrigued about Otani's ability to pitch and hit.

"We have reports on him," Dombrowski said. "Do I think a player could be a two-way player? Yeah, it could happen. It is very difficult? Yes. But I'm not saying that there's not a player out there that can't do that because some of them are rare, rare guys. Babe Ruth could do it. He was pretty good. So it can be done."

Report: Giants 'among teams that have asked' about lefty reliever Howell

Report: Giants 'among teams that have asked' about lefty reliever Howell

The Giants added a huge piece to their bullpen Monday by signing closer Mark Melancon to a four-year deal. While much of the bullpen is complete, San Francisco's front office is reportedly keeping an open mind with a familiar reliever. 

San Francisco has reportedly asked about lefty reliever J.P. Howell, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Howell, who turns 34 in April, spent the last four seasons as a Giants rival with the Dodgers.

Last season coming out of the Dodgers' bullpen, Howell tossed 50.2 innings pitched and ended with a 1-1 record and 4.09 ERA. The year before, Howell posted a career-low 1.43 ERA. 

In just 13 appearances out of the bullpen -- 10.2 innings pitched -- Howell has struggled in his career at AT&T Park. The lefty has a 6.75 ERA in San Francisco, to go along with an 0-1 record. 

As a whole, the Giants' bullpen finished the 2016 regular season with a 25-24 record. The group's 3.65 ERA ranked ninth in the National League. 

Howell is seeking a one-year deal, according to Olney.