SERIES WRAP UP AND FREE AGENTS

For a baseball fan, there is nothing as thrilling as Game 7 of the World Series and when that Game 7 is a nail biter, won by one run, with all the heroics this one had, it is spectacular entertainment.

I thought Giant Manager Bruce Bochy would flinch at the last minute and start his young ace Madison Bumgarner on two days rest. Instead, he saved him for just the right time, ahead by one run, going to the fifth inning.

I don’t think even Bochy dreamed he could get five scoreless innings out of the MadBum. I think he wanted to get three or four innings and rely on his bullpen and his Closer Santiago Casilla to get them home. Bochy had done the smart thing in Game 1.

With the Giants up 7-1 after seven innings, he pulled Bumgarner and let the bullpen finish. The game was won and Bochy, perhaps figuring he might need Bumgarner on short rest for Game 4, got him out. It might just be that not working the eighth and ninth in Game 1 gave him the ability to go the whole five innings in Game 7.

It was a great series with two Wild Card teams putting on a show. There were too many great defensive plays to count. The biggest was the diving stop Giants rookie Joe Panik made on Eric Hosmer’s shot up the middle in the third inning. Panik’s stop and glove flip of the ball to start the double play, with the score tied 2-2, kept the Royals from having men on first and third, no outs and designated hitter Billy Butler coming up. The game and the series could have gone right out the window there.

Bumgarner’s performance throughout the series was nothing short of amazing. He was the MVP with no question. It’s scary to think he is only 25 years old, has three World Series rings, with a 4-0 record, has pitched 36 innings and given up just one run in the three series. He is under contract with the Giants through 2018 with an option for 2019. Do you think that makes Bochy happy?

Three World Series wins in five years seems to qualify the Giants as a dynasty in most people’s eyes. That dynasty could lose some of its clout over the winter as Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Vogelsong, Sergio Romo, Mike Morse and, oh yes, Jake Peavy who has been talking about going to the Cubs since shortly before his poor performance in Game 6, are all eligible for Free Agency.

Sandoval has to have increased his value on the Free Agent market with his offensive performance, 26 hits in the playoffs, defensive performance, hustle and leadership ability. Losing him would be a big blow to the team. Indications are the Giants want to keep him but they will have a lot of competition.

Vogelsong, a 37 year old veteran right handed starter, has had two off years in a row, winning eight while losing 13, with a 4.00 ERA this year and giving up nine earned runs in 12 1/3 innings in the post season. Losing he and/or Peavy would not be devastating to the team. Losing Romo would hurt, although he lost his position as closer during the season, he still made 64 appearances, saved 23 games and had a respectable 3.72 ERA.

The player I see attracting a lot of attention in the Free Agent market is Michael Morse. The 30 year old, 6’5′, 245 pound slugger could help almost any team, particularly American League teams in need of a part time outfielder and designated hitter with power. He is a career .281 hitter who hit 31 homers in 2011. He began his career with Seattle in 2005 and also played for Washington and Baltimore before coming to the Giants.

The Giants may have to do some rebuilding over the winter, particularly getting some starting pitching help for Bumgarner but they have a strong nucleus of very experienced players who have proven they know how to win.

Okay, baseball is over, the football season can begin now.

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