Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Then and Now

I've a DVD of Matt Cain's perfect game from 2012 and we watched it last night. Even though we knew the outcome we still got shpilkes as the outs piled up. It was a great performance, of course, and a milestone for the franchise, and Matty was at the peak of his powers and would lead the team to a World Series title. The next few seasons weren't so kind to the big righty and he eventually had to have multiple surgeries just to stay in the game. He's now penciled in as the team's fifth starter. I remember when he came up (way back in '05) the "talk" was all about his simple, repeatable mechanics and how that would serve him well in his career. And those mechanics did indeed serve him well for about 250 starts. But mechanical soundness also requires physical health and even the guy they call The Horse succumbed to the rigors of pitching in the bigs.

The Houston Astros team that Cain and the Giants beat that night in June was in the midst of three last-place finishes, all of those teams losing over 100 games per season. Only three players--Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, and Jed Lowrie--on the field for the Astros that night were on their 2015 playoff team. With Lowrie back on the A's only Castro and Altuve are suiting up for the 2016 team. That's a lot of changes in a short span but they obviously worked! The 2012 season was their 51st in the NL, they were shipped off to the AL for 2013. Their AAA affiliate is now the Fresno Grizzlies after the Giants hooked up with the Sacramento River Cats.**

The Giants had a few guys on the field then that are no longer with the club: Joaquin Arias, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Theriot, Emmanuel Burriss, and Melky Cabrera. But Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, Gregor Blanco, and Angel Pagan remain. (Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro had yet to join the club.) Coming back to Matt Cain, what can we expect of the 31-year old with 1872 innings under his belt and 7734 batters faced over eleven seasons? I wish I could answer that. Here's what I'd like to think: his veteran savvy clutchness will give him the mental tools to succeed. If his body responds to the post-operative therapies then he will be a good pitcher again. Will he be the All-Star he was? That's more of a stretch for me, but the good news is that he doesn't have to be. "Fifth starter" doesn't seem to fit next to his name, but with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto as co-aces and Jeff Samardzija as the new innings-eater the pressure is off Matty (and Jake Peavy as well) to put up big numbers. Stolid consistency has always been Cain's calling card and that's what the team will need. He can do that. Maybe his average game score won't reach the high peaks we saw from 2009-2012, but he'll rack up his share of quality starts and that will be hugely valuable.

**I tagged the reference to the River Cats because the Giants will be playing an exhibition game in Sacramento on Wednesday, March 30th. Neither website has information other than the date and time (6:05 pm) but I think it would be really fun to go. If you guys hear or see anything about this game (er, BroBob?) in the meantime please let me know!

I'm trying not to enjoy the spring weather we are having here as I'm not done with my ski season. I need a few more big storms and powder days. They can have all the sun they want in Arizona, I want some El Niño action.

Otherwise, GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Stupor Bowl

The best thing about the NFL championship is that it will be over very soon and baseball can again take center stage.




Whether you spend it eating and drinking in front of a big screen or fleeing to someplace mercifully free of television, enjoy yourselves. And be careful on the roads afterwards!

--M.C.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The World is Going to Hell

You read about it every day in the paper.  Terrorism, global warming, asshole republicans, and now this.

"Adding the DH to NL would bring a number of benefits to the game, though: It would increase offense, since many pitchers are looked as easy outs (the Zack Greinkes and Madison Bumgarners of the world notwithstanding) and that's something that would benefit baseball overall, since fans like offense."   Fans like offense.  There it is, the simplemindedness that is in charge of our national pastime.  So those 45 - 28 run baseball games?  Fans must absolutely love those.  This is the crappy, fuzzy, illogical thinking that threatens the sport, and with it, America.  Baseball is packing them in a deriving record revenues.  MLB, who apparently already thinks the game it too long (although it means more time for fans to spend money and watch commercials), now wants to slow it down.  So Adam Wainwright tore his achilles tendon running to first?  Why not carry him to the mound and back and let him forego fielding grounders?  More offense, if that is what the effect is, will make the game longer.  I find American League baseball more boring in that where you are in a line up is really irrelevant.  Once you start a game, if you have all hitters then there is no point to putting your weaker hitters towards the end of the batting order.  It just doesn't matter anymore.  If baseball wants fans, making the game simpler isn't going to help - it will just lose those nerdy kids who love everything about the game and want to discuss it for hours.  Kids like we used to be before we all grew into nerdy adults.  I know that pitchers make outs.  But the worst thing in the world is to bloat up your roster with fat, old guys and watch them swing for the fences.  I can go to the park and watch senior league softball for free if I want that.  The honeymoon's over.  Fire Rob Manfred NOW!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

+500

That's the line at Bovada for the Giants to win the 2016 World Series. You want to make 500 bucks? Put down a hundred on San Francisco and if they pull it off you get your hundred back and a nice little five hundred profit. Another way to say it is 6-to-1. The Chicago Cubs are also 6-to-1 to win the Series this season. That's what you call "playin' the favorites." I still have a betting slip from 1989 when my brother-in-law put down fifty smackers on my behalf for the Giants to win it all at 7-to-1. They came close as you may remember. But this year the Giants are favored. That's not The Giants Way™, man. We are more into the plucky underdog thing, the surprise team, the dark horse. Will the lads and The Boch be able to handle this new role? The pressure, man. Can we handle it?

It's a brave new world, me buckos.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

25 in 2014

You must have figured that I had the 2014 World Series on DVD as well and that I'd post something about that team. You were right. The Giants won Game Seven on the road. That doesn't happen all that much in the post-season. Something to savor!

Current Giants in italicized bold. *Starred players were on the 2010 post-season roster. †Daggered players were on the 2012 post-season roster.

There were 12 pitchers:

*†Jeremy Affeldt: retired.
*†Madison Bumgarner: signed through 2017 with options for '18 and '19.
*†Santiago Casilla: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Tim Hudson: retired.
*†Tim Lincecum: a free agent.
*†Javier Lopez: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Jean Machi: signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs.
Jake Peavy: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Yusmeiro Petit: with the Washington Nationals.
*†Sergio Romo: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Hunter Strickland: pre arb-eligible.
†Ryan Vogelsong: with the Pittsburgh Pirates.


Two catchers:

*†Buster Posey: signed through 2021.
Andrew Susac: arb-eligible in 2018.


Six infielders:

†Joaquin Arias: signed a minor-league deal with Arizona Diamondbacks.
Brandon Belt: third year of arbitration.
Brandon Crawford: signed through 2021.
Matt Duffy: arb-eligible in 2018.
Joe Panik: arb-eligible in 2018.
*†Pablo Sandoval: with the Boston Red Sox.


Five outfielders:

Gregor Blanco: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
*Travis Ishikawa: a free agent.
Michael Morse: with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Hunter Pence: signed through through 2018.
Juan Perez: signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago Cubs.


The 2016 infield will be anchored by the Fabulous Brandons--Belt at first and Crawford at short--each sporting rings from 2012 and 2014. Joe Panik will be flashing his 2014 ring at second and Matt Duffy, be-ringed from 2014 as well, will hold down the hot corner. With Buster Posey behind the plate showing off three rings that's one hell of a group. Youth and experience (BCraw just edges out Buster as the oldest at 28) with a championship pedigree. Backup backstop Andrew Susac has his hardware, too. Buster, by the way, started every playoff and Series game. Susac got in two innings at the end of the 10-0 loss to KC in Game Six, otherwise it was Posey back there. The Giants will be very strong "on the dirt."

No slouches in the outfield either as the Giants greensward patrol is jewelry-laden. Angel Pagan was a stalwart on the 2012 team but did not make the 2014 post-season roster unlike his teammates Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco. Those two started every post-season game in both 2012 and 2014. Pence played every inning and Blanco missed only the last two innings of the 2012 LDS (Xavier Nady! finished up). Again, you have to love the championship experience. Pagan is the old man at 34 with Pence and Blanco two years younger.

Pitching is the key, as we have learned, and the 26-year old Madison Bumgarner is the unquestioned ace, bedecked in rings (three, like Buster) as well as glory. Matt Cain, of course, was a stud for the first two championships but had to watch in 2014. The bullpen trio of Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, and Javier Lopez have nine rings between them (ten if you add in Lopez' time with Boston) and some life left for 2016. Losing Affeldt from the Core Four certainly hurts but I think the 'pen will survive and thrive once again. Note that the The Key Three are all free agents in 2017. Jake Peavy has had his post-season struggles but he earned his 2014 ring (and still has one from the 2013 Red Sox). Newcomer Johnny Cueto's last start of 2015 was a World Series shutout for his winning side, the Royals. Flash that sporty jewelry, man! Again, a deep and experienced bunch of champions. Lopez gets oldest man honors at 38.

Tim Lincecum pitched in all three post-seasons. Ace. Stud reliever. Mop-up man. I think the Giants should bring him back as a closer. Don't you think he'd be great at that? I think he should embrace his inner finisher. Pablo Sandoval is of course the other player who was there on all three 25-man rosters but we moved on from that divorce. His .344/.389/.545 line in 39 games (167 PA) is all-time great territory and will be fondly remembered. I suppose we are all wondering if he'll last in Boston--last year's abysmal .658 OPS was 133 points below his career mark. He turns 30 in August.

There you have it. Bring on 2016!

--M.C.


Monday, December 21, 2015

25 in 2012

I've got the 2012 World Series on DVD of course and just finished re-watching the whole thing. I thought I'd do for the 2012 team the same thing I did for the 2010 club. Current Giants are in italicized bold. Starred players were on the 2010 post-season roster.

The Giants carried 12 pitchers on that squad:

*Jeremy Affeldt: retired.
*Madison Bumgarner: signed through 2017 with options for '18 and '19.
*Matt Cain: signed through 2017 with an option for '18.
*Santiago Casilla: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
George Kontos: first-year arb-eligible
*Tim Lincecum: a free agent.
*Javier Lopez: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Jose Mijares: a free agent.
*Guillermo Mota: retired.
*Sergio Romo: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Ryan Vogelsong: signed with Pittsburgh for 2016.
Barry Zito: retired


Two catchers:

*Buster Posey: signed through 2021.
Hector Sanchez: signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago White Sox.


A whopping seven infielders:

Joaquin Arias: signed a minor-league deal with Arizona.
Brandon Belt: third year of arbitration.
Brandon Crawford: signed through 2021.
*Aubrey Huff: retired.
*Pablo Sandoval: with the Boston Red Sox.
Marco Scutaro: retired.
Ryan Theriot: retired.


Only four outfielders:

Gregor Blanco: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Xavier Nady: a free agent.
Angel Pagan: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Hunter Pence: signed through through 2018.


That's a dozen players still with the team. All of them, in fact, are important pieces for 2016. Speaking of 2016 I don't see much more happening on the roster/trade/free agent front. The Giants grabbed two big pieces in Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto during the Winter Meetings and ought to feel good about a job well done.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

--M.C.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Johnny and Jeff

From Brandon Crawford, via Andrew Baggarly:

“With these two, we’ve also added a good amount of hair, which is never a bad thing…”

No argument here. My own locks are in out-of-control retirement mode so I'm in favor tonsorial adventurousness. I must say I was surprised by the Johnny Cueto deal. I did not expect the Jeff Samardzija signing but it seemed like a natural move for the club, picking up a talented under-performer for a reasonable free agent cost. The Cueto thing is bizarre. The front-loaded nature of the contract plus the opt-out makes it a puzzler. If Johnny does well, the Giants get two years for $46m ($23M/yr) and then he leaves to get a bigger windfall on the open market. But the Giants would have gotten two years of stellar starting pitching. Perhaps they are also thinking that one of the young arms in the system will be ready by 2018 (that's Matt Cain's option year). If Johnny does poorly or gets hurt, the Giants are on the hook for four more years and the remainder of the contract (about $84M or $21M/yr). So he gets paid less over the long haul if he sticks around. Matt Cain's $21M/yr will be off the books by then so if the team is going to overpay for an aging starter (Cueto is younger by a year-plus) he'll have dreadlocks instead of a crew-cut. Madison Bumgarner also has a 2018 option and will likely require a Greinkian investment to stay in orange-and-black. But this is why teams pay those smarty-pants accounting types, so we don't have to worry about it.

What am I thinking about? I'm thinking about next season. And it looks good. Consider that the Giants now have a full rotation: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy, and Matt Cain. That's a hell of a thing, man. I'm stoked. Peavy was hurt for much of last season but when he was healthy he pitched well. Cain is a question mark but he's healthy and I think he will deliver far more than fifth-starter value. And the team still has Chris Heston who can ably fill in for one of the Big Five if need be. (And then Timmy can be the 6th man!)

What's left? A little outfield help, I suppose. But it has less urgency now that the rotation has been solidified. A lefty for the 'pen, but I think that may come from within. The lineup was excellent last season and I expect more of the same. If they need a piece or two I feel like BobbyE will pull off a mid-season move and get it done.

Giants: thank you for surprising me. And thank you for fixing what was broken. Should be a hell of an interesting race in the West next year.

--M.C.


p.s. Warm farewells indeed to Hector Sanchez and Joaquin Arias--champions in orange-and-black. May they succeed brilliantly in their new roles but rack up 0-fers vs. the Giants.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Still rainin', still dreamin'

Bobby Evans is in Nashville for the Winter Meetings and Giants fans are hoping for at least one more big splash from the GM to bolster the 2016 squad. I think we are more likely to see a few smaller splashes, word is sought-after IF-OF free agent Ben Zobrist wants to be "closer to home" with his new team. His home? Nashville. The Dodgers reportedly grabbed free agent pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma but the big news is that they made a trade with the Reds for Aroldis Chapman. We'll see how that story plays out, supposedly they did not have to give up any of their top prospects in the deal. The arms race in the West has certainly heated up. The Diamondbacks shocked everyone by nabbing über-ace Zack Greinke. They can afford to spend $30+M on him as their core of cost-controlled young studs is formidable: Paul Goldschmidt, AJ Pollock, Ender Inciarte, and David Peralta racked up over 20 WAR in 2015. The Giants could certainly have spent the big bucks for Greinke or David Price and word is they made an effort but it seems more like the team to spread the wealth and go for quantity instead of one shiny bauble.

As I mentioned in the comments of JC's post I'm happy with the Jeff Samardzija deal. More than anything last season the Giants needed a workhorse to complement ace Madison Bumgarner. All free agents are risks, but the Giants like the big righty's power arsenal, athleticism, and durability. He was an All-Star in his impressive 2014 campaign, and despite his regression in 2015 I think the match with San Francisco is an ideal one. He'll have a great group of fielders behind him in a big, pitcher-friendly park and a consistent and productive lineup to give him ample run support. We all believe in Dave Righetti's magic touch with mechanical issues and we all know that Buster Posey is a great pitch-framer and game-caller. At an average of $18M/season Samardzija's contract is a relative bargain. The only downside to me is the loss of next year's 1st-round pick, but the club has a nice array of young arms close to the bigs so I can live with it.

What's left? I have to say I've been thinking about Ron's coveting of Justin Upton and that would be quite a coup if the Giants could sign him. He gives me that untouchable Greinke-Price vibe though, and I don't expect it to happen. But you never know! And Alex Gordon is still available if the Giants maintain their we-need-an-oufielder urgency. Regardless I think the Giants have shown, again, how well they can navigate the minefield that is free agency. They grabbed a quality arm for a fair price and I think they'll find another good deal or two out there this week

It's raining here and I'm still dreaming about snow. Seems to be falling everywhere except my local mountain. A foot of the stuff might fall later in the week and that would be great, in fact it would mean I'll be skiing on Saturday. In the mean time I'll just have to be patient and wait for good news.

--M.C.


p.s. I forgot to mention that RMC is now the proud sponsor of Sergio Romo's B-R page!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

No Greinke, What Now?

It looked like a fresh post was in order since we have moved out of the dream portion of the off-season (where we land the biggest and most beautiful FA's) and we have moved into the harsh, boring Giants reality of "making do" and grabbing for sloppy seconds.

The easy choices are done.  Yes, I think Price and Greinke were no-brainers and they automatically help their teams, even at the crazy high prices.  We needed to get one of those two in order to be sure that we were ready to match up with the doggers. Especially nice would have been Greinke, since that means LA loses him (oh, he also had the best year pitching since Gibson).  BTW he is 7-0 against us in the last couple years, so getting him gone from LA is a big help.

I guess I really am having trouble with the "too much money" for that guy idea that pops up all the time.  The market value of these guys is pretty clear and predictable and it exists within a very clearly successful industry.  In other words, no one in Giants land is losing money and we have more to spend all the time. So why care if one guy deserves it or not?  If we need Greinke, 10 or 20 million dollars should not get in the way of that.  Didn't we all learn that even HORRIBLE deals can easily exist in championship situations?  Aren't we richer after throwing $ away at Barry Zito?

So I say we spend like there is no tomorrow. (There actually are a lot of tomorrows but you must admit that we have a window right now that we must take advantage of!).  Leake seems like the next easy choice due to his age.  He was disappointing for us at the end but his first half was super strong.  We MUST HAVE more starters, at least one big one, and

I DO NOT REALLY CARE HOW MUCH WE SPEND ON THEM!

Monday, November 23, 2015

25 in 2010

We recently re-watched the 2010 World Series (it never gets old) and it got me thinking about where all those players are now so I thought I'd do a post about it.

We'll start with the pitchers (11) and go in alphabetical order. Active, under-contract players in the majors are in bold. Giants in italicized bold.

Jeremy Affeldt: retired at the end of the 2015 season.
Madison Bumgarner: signed through 2017 with options for '18 and '19.
Matt Cain: signed through 2017 with an option for '18.
Santiago Casilla: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Tim Lincecum: a free agent.
Javier Lopez: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Guillermo Mota: retired 2014.
Ramon Ramirez: a free agent.
Sergio Romo: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Jonathan Sanchez: a free agent.
Brian Wilson: a free agent.

There were only two catchers, and one played every inning of that post-season.

Buster Posey: signed through 2020.
Eli Whiteside: retired 2015, still with the organization as a bullpen coach.

Not one of the seven infielders are still playing on the team although one returned, memorably, for the 2014 post-season.

Mike Fontenot: a free agent.
Aubrey Huff: retired 2014.
Travis Ishikawa: a free agent.
Edgar Renteria: retired 2013
Freddy Sanchez: a free agent--has not officially retired.
Pablo Sandoval: on the Boston Red Sox.
Juan Uribe: a free agent.

The same is true for the five outfielders--none are playing with the Giants.

Pat Burrell: retired 2012, still with the organization as a scout.
Cody Ross: a free agent.
Aaron Rowand: retired as a player but coaching in the White Sox system.
Nate Schierholtz: currently in the NPB with the Hiroshima Carp.
Andres Torres: opted out of his 2014 contract with Boston, presumably a free agent.

There you have it. Of the 25 guys who won the title in 2010 only SIX are still on the team's active roster. Seven have retired and a few more are most likely done as players. We'll probably see Juan Uribe and Cody Ross on the diamond somewhere in 2016. Who knows about the rest?

The one glaring omission is of course Tim Lincecum. He was so awesome then it is hard to reconcile that with his uneven performances since and equally hard to picture him in anything but a Giants uniform. Otherwise I'm pretty happy about the guys the Giants held on to!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I hope all of you have a great time celebrating. I am certainly thankful for much in my life. As always, I appreciate all the readers, lurkers, commenters, and contributors here at RMC. It's great to know you are out there and I value all of your contributions to the site. Thanks for sticking around.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.


p.s. Baseball-Reference let me know that my sponsoring of Matt Duffy's page expires in a month. I think it was thirty bucks last year. Now they want three hundred! Way to go, Duff-man. Play like a star and you get noticed. Y'all will have to help me pick a new kid to sponsor.