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Giants Scramble to Survive Sandoval Injury, Replace Vogelsong

This is not a drill. The San Francisco Giants are in emergency mode and the goal is not to just hold ground in the National League West, but to find some new momentum.

On one side the injury to third baseman Pablo Sandoval is a huge blow to an offense that has struggled for consistency all season. He has a left foot tendon strain and will be going on the DL as reported by Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Buster Posey may be the rock in the center of the Giants' line-up, Marco Scutaro is one of the best off-field hitters in the game, and Hunter Pence is proving to be a reliable run-producer so it's not a one-man show.

But Pablo Sandoval is one of the game's best pure hitters and a sparkplug in the dugout; at the plate he's unpredictable, smart, and at times explosive.

Sandoval is the one offensive piece this team needs to succeed.

For now GM Brian Sabean and Manager Bruce Bochy are planning to use a semi-platoon at third with Joaquin Arias getting the majority of ABs and newly recalled Nick Noonan picking up the rest. But Pablo Sandoval is a #3 hitter with power and neither Arias or Noonan will be hitting anywhere in the top six spots in the line-up.

On another front it looks like Brian Sabean is in full acquire mode to get a quality starter. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported the Giants are looking at the Florida Marlins' Ricky Nolasco and Bud Norris of the Astros, among others.

Since Nolasco will be a free agent after this season, the Marlins have let it be known that Nolasco can be had for several mid-level prospects. And San Francisco's minor league system is well-stocked with players in that category.  

Let's hope the Giants' front office goes hard for the thirty year old Ricky Nolasco who is a quality starter with a history of success at AT&T Park.

Nolasco has a lifetime 79-71 record with a 1.295 WHIP. His best year was probably 2008: 15-8, 1.102 WHIP, and 186 SO in 212.1 innings pitched. More to the point, since 2008 Ricky Nolasco is 4-0 in four starts at AT&T Park with a 0.87 ERA.

Not only do the Giants need to replace the injured Ryan Vogelsong, they will likely need to replace the healthy Ryan Vogelsong. As noted in previous posts, Vogelsong has pitched poorly the past four consecutive regular season months (August and September 2012, April and May 2013).

Nolasco (or someone like him) also provides insurance if Tim Lincecum continues his struggles to find consistency. Whether or not Lincecum finally clicks, trading for a starter should allow the outstanding Chad Gaudin to move back to the bullpen where he added much needed strength and depth.

San Francisco has three or four very promising pitchers in the minors but none look to be ready by 2014. Luckily, the Giants not only have the resources to get a quality starter like Nolasco, they have the budget to sign that starter to an extended contract if his three month audition works out.

These are troubling times for the Giants. There are offensive issues beyond the Sandoval injury that need to be addressed, the Lincecum watch continues without a definitive resolution, and all fingers and toes are crossed that Pablo Sandoval will be back and healthy very soon.

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