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SF 6, AZ 4: More Rotation Commotion

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Ladies and germs, señoras y señores, here's your late-April Giants rotation report: Hooray for Madison Bumgarner!

Otherwise... a terrible April for Ryan Vogelsong. A dismal month for Matt Cain, who needs to call pest control to get rid of all those gophers. Glimmers of hope from Tim Lincecum, but nothing to point him back to those pre-2012 days. Also, Dr. Barry and Mr. Zito: it's getting a bit ridiculous. Dominant at home, shellacked on the road.

Like our hometown fog, certain thoughts creep in on little cat feet: Could this be the year? Could this be, finally, where there's no fix in Rags' magic bag of tricks, where health conspires unfavorably, where the rock of the rotation shows the inevitable wear of all those years weathering storms?

I'm inclined to say no. Other than the home runs, Cain looks fine. Vogelsong had a stretch like this last year, and he fixed it. Lincecum and Zito can muddle along like this all year, and I think the Giants would take it. Then again, all things fall part at some point. This is the second law of baseball thermodynamics, also known as Andujar's Law: Youneverknow.

And here's where the little cat feet start to sprout nasty little claws:

hestonkickham.JPGThose are the top three starters at Triple-A Fresno. It's early and all that, but the two young-ish prospects Heston and Kickham have gotten off to simply awful starts, and journeyman Petit, who had a little big-league success a few years ago, is likewise getting knocked around. (Although the K total is quite impressive.)

Another option is Chad Gaudin, who's been lights-out in relief so far. But I think the big message today is that help is not on the way. Again, it's early. No need to panic, and no need to Panik. Even if Cain and Vogelsong have an abysmal May, they'll keep plugging along. With their lack of pitching depth, the team is more likely to compensate with an upgrade of the offense rather than make drastic rotation moves. After Hunter Pence's dismal showing in Arizona Monday night -- just a hit or two and the team wouldn't have had to sweat out the win -- I'm inclined to look for ways to move him, but after a few deep breaths I'm calm again (amazing what a win can do) and say just give him a day of rest.

There are other moves to make in the near term while the rotation gets itself straightened out. First order of business: Get Hector Sanchez out of here. Let him catch regularly in Fresno and get desperately needed work, and hope that by 2014 he'll be an adequate backup. To replace him, call up Brett Pill, who's absolutely mashing in Fresno. He might be Quad-A material, but let's give him another shot as the main power source off the bench.

The Blanco/Torres platoon could be nearing its end. Blanco's holding up his end with a .361 OBP, but Torres is scuffling at the plate and, recently, in the field. As Brandon Crawford comes back to Earth, and if Brandon Belt continues to be mainly a singles-hitting first baseman, the sub-.300 slugging from the left field spot is going to be exposed like Pat Burrell in the ladies room. I wouldn't cut Torres yet, he's earned way too much respect, but if he so much as gets a cold sore, send him to the DL and bring up Roger Kieschnick from Fresno. Give him some starts. It couldn't hurt.

A couple other roster considerations:

Jean ("Hey-Ahn") Machi pitched again Monday with more good stuff to make us wonder if he might not be sent down when Jeremy ("Hair-Eh-Mi") Affeldt returns from the DL. No other reliever would be demoted, but perhaps they'll keep him and send Hector down instead, figuring the struggles of the rotation make an extra bullpenner more valuable right now than the extra pinch-hitter -- if you could call Sanchez that; he's had two plate appearances since April 18. All the other benchies have had at least five in the same span.

As I write this, post-game reports say Pablo Sandoval left Monday night's game with a tweak of the elbow problem that bothered him in spring training, but that it's not serious. If Sandoval had to hit the DL, I'd still say call up Pill, and let Noonan and Arias platoon at third. Noonan has earned a little more playing time. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We can't, actually, because Hunter Pence just batted for us and grounded into a double play.


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