Game Recap: Pablo Sandoval hits for the cycle

Giants 8, Rockies 5.

The story tonight was Pablo Sandoval, who became the first Giant to hit for the cycle since Fred Lewis. Via Baggs, it’s the tenth in San Francisco Giants history (25th in franchise history), and he’s just the second player to do it this season (joining George Kottaras of the Milwaukee Brewers). Sandoval’s been very hot lately — he was riding an eight-game hitting streak until yesterday, and he picked things right back up again tonight. Overall, he’s got 17 hits in his last 38 at-bats with nine of them going for extra bases. To re-affirm what I said the other day about his supposed weight gain: I’m not too concerned.

While we’re on the subject of unlikely occurrences, the Giants scored eight runs. Again. This is the third time in the last five games. According to STATS LLC, they had reached the eight-run mark three times in their previous 89 games.

Unsurprsingly, this new-found (and hopefully not short-lived) ability to score runs has yielded success for the Giants of late: they’ve got a five-game win streak going, and have worked their way up to six games back in the wild card race, and seven games back in the NL West. They have just 12 games left, so all they can do at this point is keep winning games and hope Atlanta or Arizona has some kind of massive collapse. In any event, it’s awesome to see this team playing well.

Lastly — while we’re on the topic of awesome things, here are my obligatory short daily musings on Brandon Belt: it’s very nice to see him knock one out — even if it took him five at-bats (including two strikeouts). This is why I want to see him in the lineup every day. The Giants really have nothing to lose putting him out there, and these are valuable at-bats. If he’s getting playing time on a daily basis, hopefully he’ll get a chance to work through his struggles…because when he does overcome them, he’s going to be doing special things with the bat. We’ve seen glimpses of that, and tonight’s home run off Matt Reynolds was just an example.

Game Recap: Carlos Beltran hits home run #300

Giants 3, Padres 1. 

Things didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts — as the Padres scored in the first on the following sequence: reached base on error, fielder’s choice, stolen base, double. Anyway, that would be the lone run the Padres scored as Tim Lincecum pitched pretty well — four hits scattered over seven innings. He entered this game as the National League leader in walks for the second half (h/t @SFBleacherGirl), but only walked two through seven innings (in eight of his other 11 second-half starts, he walked at least three).

On the offensive side of things, Carlos Beltran provided all the support Lincecum would need, as he notched career home runs #299 and #300. It doesn’t sound amazing, given that it wasn’t so long ago that Barry Bonds was reaching career HR marks in the 700s, but the club is actually quite exclusive.  To give an idea of that, it has roughly half as many members as the 2000-hit club (of which Orlando Cabrera is a member). Beltran is making quite the case for the Giants to pursue re-signing him this offseason – he’s currently slugging .884 in the month of September.

On the defensive side of things, Pablo Sandoval dazzled, making a couple nice plays at third (like this); at this point, he has to be under serious consideration for a gold glove this year. He’s currently leading National League third basemen in both DRS (+17) and UZR (+12.3).

After sitting on the bench for the duration of yesterday’s 12-inning affair, Brandon Belt actually got a start; he did not, however, get to play in the entire game — he was taken out in the seventh after hitting a double. At this point, I just don’t understand why the management refuses to make him an everyday player.

Sergio Romo came in to work the eighth (after Dan Runzler surrendered a leadoff walk), and added to his impressive 2011 campaign with a scoreless inning of work (1 K). He’s currently riding a 19+ inning scoreless streak.

All in all, a great getaway game, and the Giants have themselves a nice little four-game win streak.

Previewing the 2012 Free Agent Oufield Market

Aaron Rowand‘s gone for good, and the Giants will lose several outfielders — Carlos Beltran, Cody Ross, Pat Burrell — to free agency. Nate Schierholtz will be back, in with a breakout season, could potentially see regular playing time in the outfield. In addition, the Giants will presumably tender Andres Torres a contract, though it remains to be seen what role he’ll play next season.

Anyway, the Giants will be in the market for outfielders; if they envision Nate Schierholtz as the starting right fielder, and Brandon Belt as the starting left fielder, the big void is in centerfield — where the market is very thin. A brief preview of the 2012 free agent outfield market:

Re-Signs

Cody Ross: He made $6.3MM in his final year of arbitration, and has had a somewhat disappointing season – .238/.327/.399; that said, his numbers (thanks to a very-high walk rate) are bascially in line with his career norms, and he’s posted the best BB/K of his career (0.53). He averaged roughly 2.5 WAR/season from 2007-2010, and I imagine he’ll be looking for a starting role (which he deserves). The thing that makes Ross special is that he can play centerfield — and an average hitter in center is of value. Given his versatility in the outfield, and the fact that he’s solid at the plate, Ross represents one of the best available outfield options for the Giants.

Carlos Beltran: Easily the top outfield bat on the market. It’d be nice to retain Beltran, as he solidifies the middle of the Giants’ lineup. He’s the cream of the crop though, and could command a whole lot of money. If I had to guess, I bet he’ll end up elsewhere.

The Athletics

David DeJesus: initially suggested by Zack in the September roundtable, DeJesus could provide decent value at an affordable price. Here’s what Zack had to say:

I’d love to see them make a cheap offer to David DeJesus. He’s putting the worst offensive numbers of his career, but he hasn’t been nearly as bad Oakland fans tend to think. He has the ability to take a walk, and unlike other “sluggers” on the market (Jason Kubel, Josh Willingham, etc.), he still rates well defensively. I’m inclined to give DeJesus the benefit of the doubt because 1) he may still be recovering from an injury, 2) half of his games are in Oakland, and 3) his playing time has been iffy due to the managerial situation. And while he’s not exactly young, it’s not like it would be a long-term deal. One or two years would be great.

Coco Crisp: Another Oakland A’s outfielder, Crisp is an intriguing option for a number of reasons: he can still play centerfield, and despite the fact that he’ll be entering his age-32 season, he still flashes speed on the basepaths — in fact, his 40 steals in 2011 represent a career-high, and he’s stolen 72 bases in all since 2010, at an 86% success rate. Over his career, he’s pretty much been an average hitter (.276/.331/.407, 99 wRC+), but he’s been especially solid at the plate over the past two seasons (114 wRC+).

Josh Willingham: a very nice bat (career OPS+ of 121), but he’ll be 33 years old and his defensive limitations mostly restrict him to left field. Given that the Giants will probably enter 2012 with Brandon Belt as the regular left-fielder, Willingham doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

The Other Centerfielders

Rick Ankiel: Wrong side of 30 and a below-average hitter, but he’s also posted +17 DRS (defensive runs saved) in centerfield this year.

Nate McClouth: He’ll be four years removed from his all-star season, and he really hasn’t impressed of late. Over the last two seasons (609 PA), he’s posted a .650 OPS. He can play passable defense in centerfield, but he’s not a particularly good defender.

Some other CF names: Willie Bloomquist, Corey Patterson, Scott Hairston

Some Right-Field Names: Michael Cuddyer, J.D. Drew, Lance Berkman, Jason Kubel, Ryan Ludwick, Kosuke Fukudome

Splash Hits: Brandon Belt, Jonathan Sanchez, Sergio Romo

After yesterday’s 8-K performance, Madison Bumgarner has raised his K% to 23.1% on the season, which is the eight-best mark in the National League. On a similar note, did you know that Bumgarner has one of the top bat-missing fastballs in the major-leagues? Anyway, some Monday morning links…

Joe Blogs: Wins and WAR and MVPs
More fantastic statistical ramblings from Joe Posnanski.

Breaking Bad: Brandon Belt and curveballs, sliders, and more « Bay City Ball | Giants Baseball with a Side of STATS!
A look at Belt’s struggles with breaking pitches.

The Jonathan Sanchez Decision » Bay Area Sports Guy
Should the Giants tender Jonathan Sanchez a contract this offseason?

Player Profile: Sergio Romo, RHP, San Francisco Giants – Minor League Ball
Player Profile: Sergio Romo, RHP, San Francisco Giants

NL West:  The snakebit Giants
Did you just see that? Did you see that rattler strike that bumbling oaf?