The Giants have swept the cheese-heads, and the team finds itself playing some of it’s best baseball during this tough year. Playing a 4 game series against the struggling Marlins has certainly helped kick start this run. The team is 8-2 since the Marlins series. In August, the Giants have been playing some of their “best” baseball this year. I say best, begrudgingly, because they are under .500 this month but with 4 games left in August they have a shot to finish over .500 for the first time since April, beggars can’t be choosers.
If the Giants can go 3-1 over the next 4 games they will finish August with a record of 16-15, good for a winning percetnage of .516, which would place them second to their April performance of .542. Here’s the Giants record by month.
As you can see, the tale of the 2007 Giants has read more like a Stephen King novel than anything else. Was this team ever bad in June? Sheesh. If only every month was April.
While the August surge is a modest one, it goes to say that the Giants have been getting some good performances from certain players. Let’s take at those who have enjoyed August.
Barry Zito – Zito’s struggles this year have been well chronicled but he’s done quite well in August. He’s posted a 2-1 record this month to go along with a very nice 2.76 ERA. Zito hasn’t posted an ERA under 4 since April and in August he’s been pitching some of his best games. His 7 year deal is still way too long but his performance this month gives us some hope that Zito still knows what he’s doing.
Matt Cain - Matt has been the poster child for poor run support and bad luck this year. He’s 15th in the NL when ranking by ERA but he’s 58th when ranking by wins. Of course, wins are a awful way to evaluate pitchers but Cain’s had a tough year and it serves as a rough sketch of his bad luck. Vinnie Chulk has almost won as many games (5) as Cain has (6). In August, Cain has pitched well, finding a groove and even some wins. Consider that Matt has won 3 games this month compared to 3 games for the entire 4 previous months! Cain has posted a 2.36 ERA this August to go along with some nice peripherals, that include his highset K/9 this year at 8.59 and his lowest BB/9 at 1.57, Cain has been outstanding.
Rajai Davis – Even with Rajai’s recent struggles factored in, his August stats have been good. He’s boasting an overall line of (.286/.375/.442) in August to pair with 9 stolen bases out of 11 attempts. I like Davis as long as he can keep his OBP up and keep stealing bases at a good rate. He’s even made some really nice plays in the field this August, for a guy that’s had mixed reports on defense, he’s been good so far.
Barry Bonds – OK, I admit, it seems silly to even have to add Bonds to this list, but he’s been having a terrific August. With a August line of (.340/.507/.800) Bonds is still the best hitter on the Giants by miles. His team leading 55.8 VORP is over 40 points higher than the next best Giants hitter (Randy Winn is #2 with a 15.0 VORP), what else can you say about Bonds? He’s pretty good.
The Giants will play the Rockies at home for 3 games and then travel to Washington to play the Nationals (1 of the Nat’s game will fall under the August month and the other 2 will be in September).
AA outfielder, John Bowker, continues his breakout season in the Eastern League. He hit his 20th HR today against the New Britain Rock Cats. Bowker has a overall line of (.300/.353/.511) which is good for an OPS of .864, in a Giants farm system starved for hitting, Bowker has emerged as one of the top hitters.
Rumor has it that the Giants will receive 2B Travis Denker as the PTBNL in the Mark Sweeney to the Dodgers deal. Denker was rated as high as a B- prospect before in the past from John Sickels. Denker, who is 22, is a short second basemen, only 5’9″, in the mold of a Brian Giles. He’s most noted for his power potential, OPS’ing at 973 in the Sally League as a 20 year old in 2005, that year he hit 21 HR’s.
He’s hit a couple of speed bumps but has rebounded nicely this year (.294/.369/.450) in A+ ball. I think this is a great return for Mark Sweeney, Denker might not ever make it with the Giants but he’s provides another interesting MI option for the Giants. His fielding is suspect but his bat has potential.
Link to TrueBlueLA, a Dodgers blog, discussing Denker.
According to the Inland Empire 66ers broadcast, high A second baseman Travis Denker was the P in the Mark Sweeney for a PBTNL deal. Denker had the reputation of being unable to handle high A coming into this season, but he’s bounced back by hitting .298/.371/.457 in high A this year, albeit with a .339 BABIP with a 12.6% line drive rate. (This reminds me, I should do a study on expected line drive rate for minor leaguers, since everyone I look at seems to over perform).
I like Denker, but with Tony Abreu and Blake Dewitt in the organization, I have to question where his place is. I still think nothing of Dewitt, so he might surpass him, but I think Denker will have to show more to be a valuable major leaguer. The Giants have more expected value in this deal, and it’s not the type of move you should be making, but it’s hard to believe that this will come back and bite us. Ask me what I think about this deal two years from now.
For Mark Sweeney, I would take this deal every time.