Monday, February 13, 2017

Raising Matt Cain

Almost 2000 innings pitched. Over 300 starts. Twelve seasons in orange-and-black. First-round pick out of high school. Youngest player in the bigs on his debut. A brace of rings. 31 career WAR. Three-time All-Star. A perfect game, the only one in franchise history. He's done it all, the big fella has, and now he'll fight for a spot in the rotation. Rookie phenom Ty Blach might send the man they used to call The Horse to the bullpen. The ravages of time have not been kind to our original stud, as we know 32 years of age is old in baseball.

So raise a glass to the lad from Tennessee, the first brick in the House of Champions. After Matty came Timmy and Buster and Madison and the rest, but Matty was first, and he was the one I picked as my favorite. He didn't disappoint!

First Spring Training workout tomorrow.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. Nice piece from Andrew Baggarly about Cain.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Old and New

The Giants dipped a toe into the Asian baseball market by signing Korean free agent Jae-gyun Hwang to a minor-league deal. He's a slugging 3B/SS type, is 29 years young, and has ten seasons of KBO experience. This looks like a high reward/low risk venture for the Giants: power bat, infield depth. Could be a fresh face on the big club this year--we'll see what happens with Ehire Adrianza, Kelby Tomlinson, and Jimmy Rollins. I've been expecting Conor Gillaspie to be the hot corner backup and/or platoon partner for Eduardo Nunez, but a good showing by Hwang in Spring Training could mean a shake-up. I will not attempt to guess at what this guy can do, but we know that Korean ballplayers are serving notice in MLB and it's exciting for Giants fans to get in on the action. Not to mention Hwang is coming from the Lotte Giants! They sport orange-and-black and play in Busan. History buffs may recall the "Pusan Perimeter" from the Korean War--that was the previous Westernized spelling of Busan, a port city in southeast Korea. "Lotte" is a multinational conglomerate, teams in Korea are named for the businesses that own them. He looks good in the colors, wouldn't you say?



One of the stalwarts of our team's recent run of success has been outfielder Gregor Blanco who became a free agent after this past season. He signed a minor-league deal with Arizona last month. Blanco was an average hitter at best but a defensive wizard and his speed on the bases and little-ball skills made him a very valuable guy. He made important contributions to two World Series teams. When the Giants lost left fielder Melky Cabrera to a suspension in 2012 the unsung Blanco took over and made the transition seamless. In 2014 he took over center field from the injured Angel Pagan and delivered once again. He made a lot of great plays but the most famous one of course was snagging a ball to save Matt Cain's perfect game. I'd say he earned his rings. Good luck, Gregor, and thanks for everything!



Twenty days until pitchers and catchers report.

--M.C.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Closure

Santiago Casilla pitched brilliantly for the San Francisco Giants for seven years and was a key part of a dominant bullpen that helped nail down three World Series titles. Check out the bWAR totals (2010-2016): 1.7, 1.4, 0.5, 1.1, 2.0, 1.1, 0.8. Not bad for a guy who pitched less than 65 innings per season. And his post-season work was also excellent: 19-2/3 IP, 15 H, 20 K, 5 BB, only three runs allowed in 25 appearances. We are left with the bitter taste of last season's failures, but closing out wins was a team-wide problem, much of it due to the end of the Core Four. Jeremy Affeldt retired and neither Sergio Romo nor Javier Lopez could conjure up the old magic in 2016.

Casilla returns to his original team, the Oakland A's, on a two-year deal. He's still an effective pitcher and I expect he'll contribute positive value to that club. But the Giants had to move on. All the bullpen roles are up for grabs (other than closer!) and we will finally get to see if the young arms can deliver. Even if Lopez and/or Romo return there's a good chance neither will play as big of a role as they once did. It's a "whole new ballgame" for the Giants relief corps. Thanks for everything, Santiago. Wear those rings proudly, you earned them.

In other news, the Giants avoid arbitration with Conor Gillaspie and sign him to a one-year deal for $1.4M. I think he'll be a useful role player in 2017. It's nice to have a veteran left-handed bat who can play the hot corner. And none of us will forget his post-season heroics!

Pitchers and catchers report in 32 days.

--M.C.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

"Competitive Balance"

The Giants have reached new heights:
  • Dodgers, $31.8MM tax bill
  • Yankees, $27.4MM
  • Red Sox, $4.5MM
  • Tigers, $4MM
  • Giants, $3.4MM
  • Cubs, $2.96MM

No more small-time for this outfit! Yes, our beloved orange-and-blackers are now officially out-of-balance and must pony up to the Man. In this case the Man is MLB. The so-called "luxury tax" (officially it is the Competitive Balance Tax) is mostly set aside for something called "industry development" and not for revenue sharing. Whatever, sounds a tad Orwellian. Big payroll, big expectations, wouldn't you say?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

--M.C.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

. . . and Chris Heston is not

The right-hander was traded this evening for a Player To Be Named Later. I suppose this move makes a spot on the 40-man for Mark Melancon. Adios, Chris Heston. Thanks for suiting up in San Francisco. We won't forget the  ninth and most recent SF no-hitter. Best of luck--except of course when pitching against the Giants.

--M.C.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Apparently, Mark Melancon is a Giant

Mark Melancon.  I read $62 mil, 4 years, a record for closers, but probably not for long.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Golden Trio

I'll admit I'm not a big fan of awards but I'm happy for three Giants--Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, and Joe Panik--who were awarded the Gold Glove. The Giants had a good club this season and it's not surprising they'd get some recognition. Not much else to celebrate. Counting the days until Spring Training.

--M.C.


p.s. More good stuff. Alguacil, as expected. But . . . Barry? OK by me, of course.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cubs Win

Game Seven was not what I expected but was a spectacular contest nonetheless and the Cubs prevailed in 10 innings, 8-7. It was as exciting and dramatic as you could have hoped for a championship decider. I can't imagine what it would have been like if that had been the Giants on either side. I suppose it's a good thing they have those defibrillator stations at ballparks these days. CLEAR!!

The Indians finally had their amazing run of great pitching come to and end. It took a great hitting team to wear them down. Congratulations to Chicago for winning the World Series. The best team doesn't always get to wear the crown, and the Cleveland squad was equally impressive. It was one of those games that could have gone either way and it's almost a shame to pick one club as winner.

I suppose my favorite stories tonight were the homers by 39-year old greybeard David Ross in his final game and by the 36-year old former Giants outfielder Rajai Davis.

2016 is over, and I'm sad about that. At least it ended on a thrilling note, especially for Cubs fans. I suppose the off-season stuff will be happening sooner than we think. I keep saying I'm going to take a break and stay away but I always get pulled back, though I was pretty quiet last November, only two posts. A little respite from our obsession is a good thing, eh?


--M.C.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The World Series






From OddShark:




From VegasInsider:



From 538:



Certainly the Cubs are the favorites--they scored the third most runs in baseball and gave up the fewest. They also won the most games. They are the best team. But the Indians are good. They were expected to do well this year and they have played well all season and beat two good teams to get to the Series. So a Cleveland upset is not unreasonable. It would be a good bet. The favorites don't win as often as they "should" in baseball, I'm not sure why that's the case other than to say "anything can happen" in a small handful of games. I think the Chicago starters give them the edge and I'll be surprised if they don't make the biggest impact on the outcome. But that's why we watch--there are no sure things!

By the way, fuck football. Baseball is so much better. I'll be sad when the season is over. I don't really care who wins the Series, I just want to see some good baseball.

--M.C.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cleveland Rocks

The Cleveland Indians will be hosting their first-ever World Series opener on Tuesday. The Tribe went 7-1 in the playoffs, allowing only 7 runs in their sweep of the Red Sox and only 8 runs in the five games against the Blue Jays. Andrew Miller pitched 11-2/3 innings across six of those games, whiffing 25 of the 41 batters he faced while allowing only five hits, two walks, and no runs. Acquiring him obviously had the biggest impact on the AL race. Congratulations to them for a great season. They have not won the World Series since 1948--losing in 1954, 1995, and 1997. Manager Terry Francona adds another pennant to his already impressive resume.

Down in Los Angeles the Dodgers have to be a bit dismayed that the Cubs seem to have found their collective batting stroke with a 13-hit, 10-run attack to even the NLCS two games apiece. Chicago's lefty ace Jon Lester goes tonight. The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw scheduled for Game Six in Wrigley. Replay denied LA an early score as Adrian Gonzalez was called out at home after apparently beating the tag. He tweeted "Us against the world" after the game. I don't know about that--this is the Dodgers who have not only the best attendance but the highest payroll, not to mention an internationally-recognized brand. Seems like the "world" is filled with Dodgers fans! "Us against the ML replay system" might have been better. It did look like he was safe, although there could have been a gap between his hand and the plate at the moment of the tag. I'm glad I don't have to make those calls.

--M.C.