Slumping Giants can get younger, better

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Indications are that the Giants, losers of five in a row, are thinking about having Eric Hacker replace Todd Wellemeyer at the back of the rotation. It’d be another stopgap for a team that has generally given more weight to short-term solutions over long-term considerations during GM Brian Sabean’s time at the help.
Fortunately, the time is approaching at which those short-term needs and long-term goals will meet. Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey are looking ready for the majors, and it’s going to make sense to bring both to San Francisco next month.
Bumgarner, who essentially had a rotation spot to lose this spring, has regained his velocity over the last month and gone 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in five May starts for Triple-A Fresno.
Posey has been hitting all season long, but only recently did the power start to come. He has four homers and seven doubles for Fresno this month, and he’s hitting .327/.422/.506 in 156 at-bats for the year.
There is one complication with both players. Since they were up last September, they already have a few weeks of service time. The Marlins can call up Mike Stanton on June 1 without any worries that he’ll be a super-two arbitration case after 2012. The Giants, though, would have to wait until around July 1 to be guaranteed that same protection with their two elite talents.
That might be too long, and the Giants probably won’t wait once they’re convinced the youngsters can help them win ballgames. Bumgarner, in particular, could make a big impact right away, given that the alternatives for the fifth spot in the rotation are less than stellar. The 27-year-old Hacker is 7-1 with a 2.20 ERA as Bumgarner’s rotationmate, but his fastball is below average and he major leaguers won’t be particularly vulnerable to his curve.
Inserting Posey into the mix would be more complicated. Bengie Molina got off to a great start, only to fall into an awful slump of late. He hasn’t had an extra-base hit since May 6 or an RBI since May 5.
The Giants, though, are happy with how Molina handles the pitching staff. And backup Eli Whiteside has done fine work in limited action, hitting .298/.340/.532 in 47 at-bats. The other position Posey can play, first base, is home to Aubrey Huff. Huff’s 800 OPS in unspectacular, but only part-timers Whiteside and Andres Torres have higher marks on the Giants.
Whether Posey gets the call in the next couple of weeks will probably be determined by how Molina bounces back. If Molina starts producing runs again, the Giants would rather have his experience behind the plate. Posey, though, is likely the second-best hitter in the organization at the moment, behind only Pablo Sandoval. He’d likely be an asset while catching two or three times a week and playing first base against lefties. The Giants have made the right move for his future in letting him catch regularly in Triple-A for two months, but it’s about time for a change.

Bartolo Colon ain’t doing so hot this year

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If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.

Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.

The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.

At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.

Braves designate Josh Collmenter for assignment

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Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.

Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.

Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.

Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.