Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Tale of Two Sixths

We are one-third of the way through the season. Our first sextile showed a spunky 12-15 (.444). Number two clocks in at 11-16 (.407). After 54 games we are 23-31 (.426), projecting at 69-93 for the season. I've felt all along we were a 100-loss team, so this has to be considered "playing above our heads."

Three stirring wins against the division leader in their yard was gripping stuff. Highlight of the season so far. Unfortunately, I think our brain trust will believe such events are the result of their roster-building brilliance. We know better. We all know a hot bad team can beat a cold good team. Memo to Neukom: we're the bad team, and p.s., what does "rebuilding" mean to you?

Here's an easy way to see it. Take The Enchanter, Timothy LeRoy Lincecum. Remove him from the team. He's 7-1. (We are 1-2 in his 3 ND). The 2008 SFGs are 15-30 without Tim. (And they say pitchers shouldn't be MVPs.) When you lose 11 of your 13 previous road series against a team, you are bound to win eventually. Great series, but a pyrrhic victory if we get excited about Randy Winn, Ray Durham, Bengie Molina, and Aaron Rowand. Sanchez was impressive in his start, and Wilson had two huge saves. Those are the kind of highlights we need to keep 2008 interesting.

Another highlight for me is Freddie Lew's .818 OPS, good for THIRD on the team. I know he is only 41st in the league, but I'm getting tired of Bonehead not letting him play against lefties. How the hell will he ever learn how to hit these guys? ZiPS projects Lewis at .722, admittedly with a limited sample size. I'd like to see if he can finish over .800. He'll have to keep up an OBA of .350 and slug at .450. He's got 20 XBH (11 2b, 5 3B, 4 HR) in 48 hits so far. Even if he slugs only .400, that .750 OPS is serviceable. Randy Winn has 10 years in the bigs with a .344/.424/.768 line. The average OPS in the NL is .743! As a team we are 9th in the league at .727, just ahead of the Mets. Molina's sizzling .903 (19th) and Rowand's gaudy .946 (13th) belie their career numbers, .729 and .814 respectively.

First 1/3, what's your highlight?


Brother Bob said...

The one big no brainer is the consistent excellence of Lincecum. Unlike our other recent good power pitchers, Schmidt & Cain, who are beefy poker-face guys, he exudes a certain loveableness. Hell, he's cute as the dickens.
The emergence of Lewis as a bona fide major league starter. he's exactly what the franchise has needed for years. Apparently he's a late-bloomer, a multi-sport stud who chose to specialize in baseball relatively late in life. It remains to be seen just how good he can become.
Molina's success in the cleanup role. No way I thought he was this good.
Rowand's all-around ability. I knew nothing about him before. It's a treat to have a free agent who meets expectations.
Wilson's a pretty darn good closer. Far from automatic, but just the kind of manly hurler you want.
Of course the progress of my boy Jon Sanchez. I think he's now in the category of a reliable part of the rotation, potentially much better than Lowry. The sky's the limit with him.

JC Parsons said...

Perhaps looking back at the first third of the year should be called "A Tale of Two Fifths." Only by getting very drunk would this be a enjoyable task. We have played about as well, or even better, than expected yet we will never scare .500. This last month included Molina's best ever production and Rowand was super as well, but we still lost 5 more games to .500. It is a HORRIBLE break for us that the puds and rookies are below us in the there is this sick notion of "contending". Actually it reminds me of Clinton and her denial that she is done. Failure to deal with reality helps no one. This country (and our ballclub) must move forward and quit pretending.

Any accomplishment by Molina, Rowand, Durham, etc can not be considered a "highlight," maybe a pleasant surprise. The ONLY true highlight is Tim, I especially liked the game that he started with 3 looking strikeouts. Lewis and Sanchez are a close second.

My general highlight is the emergence of a bonafide running game. We steal bases well and that is an important aspect of any future success we may have. Our ability to survive one run games (we are now 12-12) is the biggest single improvement from last year.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Do I get to pick my fifths? Yes? OK: Booker's Bourbon and Redbreast Irish Whiskey.

El Lefty Malo had a link the other day to Paul DePodesta's blog. Mr. DePo discusses "speed" and "power." You should check it out: IT MIGHT BE DANGEROUS (blogspot). The posting is from 16 May.

Zo said...

I think that the good parson's comment, "Our ability to survive one run games (we are now 12-12) is the biggest single improvement from last year" is pertinent. This is the kind of thing that can deflate a team, and a team's fan base just about as quickly as anything - the realization that close games are lost games. I'm not sure how to tease this out of the stats very efficiently, but I would like to know if our starters are giving us more innings this year. It sure seems like it. I would also like to know how our relievers are doing by some better metric than era. Seems like that has improved, too. Remember, we finished 11 games behind the 4th place team last year. This year, thus far, we have a poorer won-loss percentage, and exist in a really bad division. Anyone think the NL West will have 3 of the best five records in the NL this year? So, if the bullpen has actually improved, what does that tell you about the rest of the team. Maybe.........that it hasn't (improved)? Maybe.........that Barry Bonds' absence doesn't improve the team in the way that Mr. Bruce Jenkins speculates? Maybe...........that there really, really is some real rebuilding to be done?

The inestimable Mr. Malo stated it well, referencing Billy Beane, "The first third of the season is for figuring out what you got, the second third for making it better, and the third third is for the stretch run." We got squat. We need to decide whom we can trade between now and the trade deadline. Then, as the so called stretch run is going to be meaningless for the Giants this year, we need to decide whom to pursue as a free agent while letting our trade acquisitions and youngsters play. Then fire Bochy. If this doesn't happen, fire Sabean.

JC Parsons said...

Maybe a good relief pitching metric is % of inherited runners stranded. We are currently (before yesterday's game) second only to Tampa Bay at 79.6%. We lead the NL with 103 inherited runners, and are 4th in baseball. I am not sure if this is a great stat but I do think it helps to explain our bullpen improvement.
There is a lot of blog speculation that we should trade an older bullpen guy for prospects. Walker's name is mentioned often. It seems like you can never have too much bullpen depth, so I'm not too sure this is wise. I wonder if we try to trade Threets today or just cut him. It is tough to give up on a hard throwing lefty. I think we should give him another look and send Hinshaw back down.