Of course you want the Giants to look really good as the season rolls towards the trade deadline. You want them to be in the mix for the big, sexy names. With a new GM calling the shots, there's even a chance of a legitimate surprise, even if that new GM was born and raised in the Giants' system of telegraphs and old timey trade grifts that you might see in a baseball version of The Sting. Winning always brings joy, but surprise player trades consistently bring euphoria.
Well, sweeps are euphoric, too. Like, hella euphoric. Today, the Giants' accomplished their second straight sweep and their first road sweep since the end of May in Milwaukee. And they did it against a team that classically characterizes a .500 team: not bad enough to beat easily, not good enough to beat you easily. The previous two games saw them pound out the hits, but when the offense stalled, the Giants managed to minimize mistakes and throw at the Diamondbacks some quality pitching, both things having been in short supply over the previous 45 or so days.
Madison Bumgarner's performance was what the beatwriters call a "five and dive". Where Madison is from it's more likely called a "cut and run". In either case, five innings of lots of pitches but only one run allowed certainly did the job, but in the least efficient and troublesome way possible to get to a win. Who will be the innings eater in the Giants' rotation? If it's up to Chris Heston, then the Giants' pitching staff is going to hit a wall something fierce in September when the 40-man roster will be 27 pitchers. The bullpen has been a sore spot and that'll only get more Machist should the Caindsonvy beast average 4.2 innings & 4 earned runs per start. ::crosses fingers:: Come on, sexy trade deadline...
But it's not all doom and gloom in the bullpen.
When you look back on this golden age of Giants Baseball, it's very likely that George Kontos won't make it into the first 50 thoughts you have about this moment in time. After all, Webster's Dictionary defines George Kontos as:
A tall right-handed relief pitcher of Greek descent with a butt that won't quit.
Unless you're specifically thinking about "Best Butts in Giants History", it's simply unlikely that a reliever with few "big game moments" will stand out. That's just the way it is. Sure, I remember Dustin Hermanson just like you remember Dustin Hermanson, but do you remember Joe Price, Jim Poole, or Dan Giese? The latter three are simply rando relievers who were on the Giants at some point.
For a good long while, that's really all George Kontos was: a rando reliever who had the distinction of not being memorably good or terrible. The Greek God of Not A Gas Can. He's been a bit more than that at times, of course, but it's this season in particular where, as we head towards the trade deadline, his efforts should not only be noted but highlighted. You see, he's the best reliever in the Giants' bullpen right now.
Since June 1st, he's allowed two earned runs in 18.1 innings (over 19 games). His pitch quality has noticeably improved as well. The slider on display today was consistently sharp.
He's 30 years old. That's the time where a lot of people just figure things out. And given his relatively safe spot on the roster (you know, as safe as a reliever's spot can be) and time with the organization, time + experience + familiarity might just breed stud performance for Kontos this season.
And this might be a situation where Scott Cousins deserves some credit. If Chris Stewart doesn't have to fill in because of his crime, then maybe he doesn't get scouted by the Yankees and then... yeah, you know what, no thanks to crediting Scott Cousins.
So, here's to you, George Kontos. You're more than a pair of pants.
Justin Maxwell is excellent depth. His bat has pop, his legs have speed, and his glove has catch. As Angel Pagan's on base percentage plops beneath .300 it becomes clear that the Giants have 3 quality 4th outfielders (with Blanco possibly being a great 3rd outfielder). This is not a terrible problem for a team to have, especially when the Giants have the best infield in baseball, but it's a situation that gets tricky when Nori Aoki comes back. Aoki has the on base and the speed, but he doesn't have the pop or the glove. Maxwell lacks on base and is probably a bit more contact-free than the Giants would prefer from a player.
So then, the best possible outfield the Giants could throw out is Aoki, Blanco, and Pence. That's not terrible, but it feels like it could be better. Complicating all this is that the Giants are committed to Pagan for another year. They are committed to a lot of players who are probably beyond the useful periods of their careers and the organization is willing to carry them going forward because of the past. I guess what I'm saying is: please, Baseball Gods, let us have a crazy or weird or crazyweird trade deadline.