Monday, September 29, 2008
Sorry for the late posting, but I can already feel it. Yeah, I can tell I have a bad case this time. I bet there will be a lot of it going around the next few days...No, not anything as pedestrian as a head cold, I am talking "Post-Lincecum Depression" and this time we have a lot longer to wait than 5 days!!!
As all of us Tim-junkies are well aware, the 2008 love affair with Tim Lincecum has come to an end. What an amazing ride it was! It was completely appropriate that the season finale was another dose of vintage Tim: another quality start, four little hits in 7 full innings, 2 walks and, of course, the strikeouts. THIRTEEN this time, with the lovely side note that Tim got the first nine outs via the "K". Don't you just love it how he can just turn it on when he wants to? Isn't that the definition of DOMINANT?
So why am I depressed? I'm addicted. I tried not to fall in love with strikeouts (they really are kind of boring and fascist) but as Tim's totals rose so did my dependency. After all, 265 little rushes can add up over a long season, especially a season with little else going for it. Who's going to give me what I need?? Is there some back alley where strikeout artists hang out? Maybe a website, free would be great, but if I have to subscribe it better include a nasty off speed pitch. I bet Korea or Japan is the ticket, those people are baseball junkies. Time to do some research!
I'll write a season review and all that crap later, as I am sure my fellow bloggers are busy doing right now. Me? I'm going to go watch some video highlights of ....well, you know what.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
MC pitches well? Check.
No run support? Check.
Another "tough-luck" loss? Check.
Didn't I already write this post? Check.
Fuck this shit.
(From Andrew Baggarly's blog:
Matt Cain: 34 starts.
Times the Giants scored one run or fewer for him: 16.)
Friday, September 26, 2008
Team…..not so good.
Need more sleep.....It’s a sharp slider over the outside corner, and Omar Vizquel lines a single into right field, the runner scores and the Giants win the game! I say slider, it was a curve over the inside part of the plate. I say single into right, it was more of a dribbler picked up by the third baseman, thrown over to first for the out. I say Omar Vizquel, it was Pablo Sandoval. I say the runner scored, but it seems no runners were on base, and the Giants waste yet another opportunity. I say the Giants waste an opportunity, but since no runners were on, it was really not that much of an opportunity at all. I say the Giants win, it is actually only the third inning..... Mr. T here, for….just about anyone with two nickels to rub together! Do you like lying around in a comfy new bed, drinking light beer while watching your choice of over three hundred channels of flickering images until you pass out in a pool of pale, watery vomit and urine? I know I do! You want to pass out, you need your bed peed! And with Coors, there’s no thinking involved! Just like on when you vote! Which, in my case, is a damn good thing! You know that phone call? The one you get from your lazy assed slacker employee who is pretending to be sick, and you know that they're not, and that you are going to get dumped on by YOUR boss because they have yet again blown off work without getting their assignments done and you think, this person will never, never, never, never see a promotion as long as I work here... you know that phone call? It won't change. The Giants are really not very good! And I say that without asterisks, without qualifiers, and without disclaimers! So get on down to your Toyota dealer, right now, without hesitation, whether you are wearing clothing or not, no matter what time of the night it is, don’t fuck around.
Falsetto chorus:Don’t fuck around.Notes and Errata: Of the 63 pitchers who have thrown 180 innings, Zito is 59th in run support. Last night was the 19th time in his 32 starts where the Giants have scored 2 runs or less. In the run support ranking, Matt Cain is 62nd. Miss Yankee Stadium? Some folks in the neighborhood might feel differently. Saw Dave Zirin speak and picked up a copy of his latest book yesterday evening, a very unassuming and interesting sports fan. A People's History of Sports in the United States: 250 Years of Politics, Protest, People and Play. His point - the next time you hear about how sports and politics don't mix - don't believe it. Sports have been used to serve political ends for a long time.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Congratulations to Tim Lincecum, the new San Francisco Giants single season Strikeout King. With nine more K's last night, Tim boosted his total to 252 which passed Jason Schmidt's 2004 record. All true Giants fans are thrilled by this milestone, but even more exciting is the kid's future. What on earth can he do next year to top this!!??? Please, o' wise management, make sure we all get to enjoy this journey to stardom for his ENTIRE CAREER.
Oh yeah, he pretty much sucked last night. In a self described "garbage start," Tim gave up more runs than ever (6, should be four), went fewer innings (4.1, tied with when he got hit on the leg), and more walks (6, which he did once before). This all follows a dynamic stretch drive (for an award, not the division) which featured a couple complete games and a couple 8+ innings games. Is this one bad game enough to blow Cy Young award chances? Combined with Webb's 22nd victory, yes, I'm afraid it is. I do not think that Tim Lincecum will win the award. Being 5, and maybe, 6 wins behind Webb is too big a jump for a bunch of East Coast writers. But that is OK...Tim can't control those fools and I'm pretty sure he is not worrying about that. Right now, I hope all Tim is thinking is
Sunday, September 21, 2008
This was a game where the Giants fielders helped out MC big-time. Even Errant Throwin' got in on the act! Matt struggled but kept the lid on. He gets the True Grit Award for today. Too bad he had to go up against Lowe, a very tough pitcher. Of course, our pathetic offense makes 'em all look tough. (For the record, Lowe's FIP is 3.29, 9th in baseball, just ahead of Brandon Webb.)
I'm still reeling from the thoughtful and intelligent move by Bonehead to lift MC after six shutout innings! Hinshaw was studly in relief, keeping it deadlocked. I fully expected Cain to start the 7th and get yanked when he got up to 120+ pitches, two guys on base, and an unearned run already in. But Bonehead DID THE RIGHT THING and sat our boy down after a stressful afternoon. Although my haphazard foray into statistical analysis revealed that Matt is a good pitcher, in the upper echelon of starters, he can still improve. Walks are his Achilles' Heel, of course. But ground ball outs are the big indicator for me. With his high fastball he has to keep his other pitches down. If he is not going to get the swing-throughs on his fastball or change, he has to get them to beat it into the ground more frequently. (Note to MC: watch Maddux pitch.) Regardless, I'm really happy that he's come back strong in two starts after that bad stretch of three ugly ones. I'm still worried about the workload, but that is someting to fret about in the off-season. No career "W" vs. LA yet, but he'll get another shot at home (Friday?). The LAtriners will likely have clinched by then, maybe it will be a lineup of scrubs and call-ups. Kick some ass, Matt, and get your 9th win. If anyone needs a lesson on the silliness of assigning "wins" to pitchers, note that Barry "Da Beezy" Zito has TEN this season. Does anyone really believe he's a better pitcher than Cain?
How about ROMO?? Wow, three big outs on 11 pitches in the 8th!! The whiff of ManRam was serious studliness!! Then another three outs on 10 pitches in the 9th!! Then another three outs on 12 pitches in the 10th!! Have we found a REAL relief pitcher?? God, I hope so. Our bullpen has been hideous. The lowest 'pen moment of the season I think was Special Agent Jack's three consecutive walks last night to effectively end the game. There ain't no alibi for that kind of U-G-L-Y.
We are going to the 11th, still 0-0. I'm not sure I can endure the agony. I call upon all hecklers to give the post-game feedback.
WHIP is an easy one. "Walks plus hits per innings pitched." Cain is 39th at 1.35 We know why. He's 10th in baseball (all pitchers) in BBs with 83. Zito, at 98, is "number one."
VORP is one of those things only a statgeek can love. "Value Over Replacement Player" borders on the psychedelic. (q.v. BP's Glossary) A team of "replacements" would only win about 20-25 games--think marginal big-leaguer, not an average one. If you sort for 180 IP, Matt Cain comes in at 26th, just behind Carlos Zambrano. The numbers are 37.7 and 36.8, higher is better. (Cliff Lee is the leader at 75.2, The Link second at 72.2.) MC drops to 35th if you include all 700 possible guys. (Luis Mendoza of the Rangers is last with a -31.6.) Barry Zito (-3.1) and Jeff Suppan (+1.3) are performing at about the level of a "replacement" starter, just to give you some idea. They are approaching "zero" value above any promotable AAA+ warm body. Jonathan Sanchez is at 15.8, besting the likes of Greg Maddux at 14.4.
I'll let you chew on that stuff. This is great fodder for off-season rants and 2009 planning! Meanwhile, Ivan Ochoa hits second today. He has a .546 OPS. Good choice to hit 2nd, Bonehead.
Let's hope Matt brings the gas today, and you can expect my usual "line post" after the game.
Communism died in 1991. Capitalism died last week.
Of course communism per se still exists in a few places(China, Vietnam,Cuba and Alameda County) But the big bear Russia keeled over,and China is a marketplace wet dream with the added benefit of totalitarian rule.
And of course capitalism still exists big-time, but something big happened. We have socialized the financial industry. We're going to hand over a sum of money equivalent to the amount of all the money that's been flushed down the rathole of Iraq in 6 years.
For that uberprincely sum we get a mountain of bad debt.
We have socialized our liabilities while continuing to privatize all the profits.
But I don't trust these rat bastards for a second. I think it's one last ripoff while they can still get away with it. Take the money and run. The very first thing these guys did in '01 was privatize the surplus. They just took it. Then they kept taking and taking, the richest 1% sucking the life out of the middle class, wanting to keep us anxious, fearful and compliant.
Don't get me started on 911, abuse of power,shredding of civil liberties, etc. Today's rant will stay focused on economics.
But actually, hell I'm spent. That felt good. Thank you.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Quick, before Lincecum gets a chance to really think about this year and this franchise...THROW MONEY AT HIM!! Make him the proverbial offer he can't refuse. Do it this morning because if Tim is thinking the way I am, he is counting the days until he is gone. Milk us for a few huge arbitration deals, then get a Zito-esque deal from a real team. You know, one with a plan or the ability to help him get BETTER.
Sure, I am having an emotional reaction to a disgusting loss to finish off a horrible sweep. Tim AGAIN pitched well enough to win: 8 innings, 3 runs (somehow all earned!) 7 hits (really only 5 and only one double), zero walks and six strikeouts. But thanks to the huge flaws of this team, he gets his FOURTH LOSS. Not one , but TWO misplayed fly balls destroyed Tim's win, and very likely his Cy Young award. Velez we all know is raw and a defensive liability, but Rowand SHOULD BE SHOT. How in earth did he ever get Gold Glove consideration, let alone win one? Since opening day his defense, physically and mentally, has been PUTRID. By this time next year, he will be considered a TERRIBLE acquistion and we will have another albatross that we can't unload.
So as Tim is eating his Malto-Meal this morning, I can just imagine him thinking about another couple years with Bonehead and Rags, about his team that never even tried to get a FIRST or THIRD baseman, about his team that just cast aside the last true superstar they had, about his team that shot their financial wad on a crappy lefty that doesn't deserve to hold Tim's jock. Or maybe he is just wondering...is this really my team? Should it be?
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
A stirring rally in the 9th was the coulda half of coulda-shoulda. The geezer duo of Omar and Aurelia produced a few runs. One more and Webb gets a ND.
MC: Sure, Coach.
Rags: And ya gotta get groundballs, kid. That's the ticket.
MC: You bet, Coach.
Rags: Keep those pitch counts down, too, y'know what I'm sayin'?
MC: (nodding eagerly) Uh-huh.
Rags: That's how we turn those L's and ND's into W's, pally.
MC: (to himself) Wins, oh yeah, the big "W!"
Rags: Now go on out there and do what I told ya. (Pats MC on rump.)
MC: You got it, Coach! (Runs on to field.)
Rags: (to Boch) These clowns gonna score any runs tonight, boss?
Boch: Well, they're hard-nosed ballplayers, y'know.
Rags: Haren's pitchin', he's good. I say--complete game shutout with a dozen K's.
Boch: Well, ya might be right, there, Davey-boy.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Not only did he score the go-ahead run, he threw out 2 runners on steal attempts and successfully blocked the plate to save a run. He can do it all.
He's fun to watch when he's at bat. Nobody ever pitches in the strike zone- they don't have to. He swings at anything close and a few that are not so close. But he doesn't strike out much. He fouls off a lot of pitches, then he puts the ball in play. Approximately 2/3 of those balls get fielded by the defense. And that's good.
At this stage of his career he believes he can hit anything he can see. I hope he soon realizes the value of at least a little patience so he will get on base more often and get better pitches to hit.
Intriguing pitching matchups for the series in AZ. Who knows what Hennessey will do tonight, but wouldn't it be exciting if he follows up his good comeback game with another strong start? Then Cain needs to get his shit back together to have any chance to beat Haren. Then we need my boy Sanchez to find a way to beat Webb, for obvious reasons. Then Timmy vs The Unit. That one could be special.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
There were lots of positives in last night's win in San Diego. Sanchez was solid, Pablo jacked one a mile, Ishikawa also homered, Velez continued his productive streak, the bullpen did a good job, etc.
I want to make a case for keeping Randy Winn. He happens to be the best player on the team right now. He has been nearly spectacular since the All-Star break. His average goes up almost every game.
The thing is, he's only 34 years old. He's got at least 3 more good years in him. Lots of men can play well up to the age of 40 and beyond.
He shouldn't be lumped with guys like Vizquel, Aurelia and Roberts, who we all can't wait to dump. (At least we dumped Durham) Most of you include Molina in this category. I think we need him one more season, then adios.
The problem will be, how soon will Schierholtz be a strong every day ML player. We're stuck with Rowand (a mixed blessing) and let's assume Fred is set in left. Then we have an extra outfielder.
You could certainly make a good case that now is the perfect time to trade away Winn, because his value is peaking. You could be right.
Friday, September 12, 2008
"I'm embarrassed in how I pitched and embarrassed for the team," Cain said. "I feel like I let them down, [given] the things we've been doing the past week." (Haft article)
After a stellar 10-start run from July 1st to August 20th, MC has crashed back to earth with three straight poor games. Fatigue? He won't say so, but when you are 4th in all of baseball in number of pitches thrown, you have to wonder. We'll see if he can rebound in his last three starts and finish strong. JCP and I were musing the other night that perhaps what Matt Cain needs is another pitch. I think the Giants should hire Rick Reuschel to teach him to throw a sinker. Too many pitches up in the zone--he needs to have batters put the ball in play and make outs. When the Bloody Fookin' Padres are jacking them out of the yard and pounding the fences in Petco, something is seriously wrong.
Readers: if you are not tuned in to the revolution that is "pitchf/x," you are missing out. I live 300 miles from my beloved team and spend a lot of time with Jon Miller, Phlegm, Kuip, etc. And I'm addicted to Gameday and its pitch-by-pitch display. The data accumulated from the tracking system Gameday uses is freely available for download and analysis. Our very own blogfellow, Chris at BCB, does some amazing shit with pitchf/x numbers. His last three posts have focused on Hennessey, Zito and Lincecum. Check 'em out, report back.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Annie Savoy tells us no other religion satisfies like The Church of Baseball, and she's tried them all. I've tried a few myself, (my second choice would be "None of the Above") and I have to agree with Annie.
Baseball inevitably draws us to thoughts of Karma, the subtle chains of cause and effect which are connected to everything. Superstition and magical thinking abound. We, as fans and now commentators, instinctively feel a link between what we do and what might happen as a result of our doing it. We blame ourselves for streaks ending because we broke some taboo, or jokingly credit someone else for a winning streak because he was out of the country the whole time.
It all seems to make some kind of sense. On the other hand, it's all clearly just a big joke. Right? We laugh about it. It's a form of juvenile teasing.
I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this.
I now look at god as a kind of emotion; an aspect of psychology. We "goddam" when we're angry, "thank god" when we're happy, "oh god" when we come, etc.
Baseball brings out big feelings. Community, anticipation, pride, tradition, action, suspense, ecstasy, agony. Many enjoy wallowing in the intellectual aspects of Baseball too, such as on-field strategy, personnel issues, and so on. But this is the by-product of irrational pre-occupation with the game, frequently crossing over into obsession.
Right here is where I want to paste on the speech by James Earl Jones from near the end of "Field of Dreams." You know the one I mean.
I feel sorry for people who don't love baseball.
My bonehead Z-boy Eugenio came through in a manly fashion and won us a game. Did you see Pablo's brilliant slide home? The boy's "got it."
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Tim Lincecum, in a completely predictable manner, rebounded from a rather "human" effort last time by returning to his usual "superhuman" self. Tim found a way to lower his ERA (2.54), maintain his league leading strikeout total (225, setting a new franchise record for team K's at 1,090), and go a career high 8.1 innings. Nothing remarkable for Tim, but still, as a Giants fan that has watched a life time of pitching mediocrity, I get chills every time he is out there. At the risk of sounding like a religious zealot, I think we should all take a while to appreciate and give thanks for the bounty that is Tim (hallowed be his name...)
OK, the service has ended. Time to ask 2 questions (one common, the other my own):
1) The one on many lips today...Will Tim win the Cy Young?? What a great thing to speculate about! Unfortunately, it looks like Webb probably controls this more than Tim. He has one more start than Tim and if he gets to 20 wins (quite likely) or the snakes win the division, he'll get it. He won't really deserve it (ERA one run higher, about 100 fewer K's) but it is his to lose. Luckily he is trying real hard to do just that.
2) Was that lineup Bochy's idea of giving Tim the best chance to win?? Is this who plays when we face "contenders" and have to look like we are trying our best?? That is GROSS. The lineup was full of stiffs (Aurilia, Roberts! and Vizquel) and only had Pablo and Emmanuel. If this is Bonehead's "respectable" lineup, then we are still in big trouble. Are we so out of touch that we haven't noticed that all great teams are filled with hungry (cheap) youngsters? That is a big part of the modern formula of success. Why do we have to be such a "good ol' boy"network??
Sunday, September 7, 2008
It's just the bottom of the second now, with no score. (Shit, a double play!)
I want Pablo as our "catcher of the future." He looks so right back there.
Can't they teach Buster Posey to play first base or something?
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Matt Cain has made 100 major league starts. I took his career totals (subtracting out his one relief appearance and adding in tonight's numbers) and divided them by 100.
His "average" start (IP/H/ER/R/BB/SO) is thus:
6.29 5.31 2.74 2.62 2.67 5.38
Here is the same scheme for Cole Hamels (I know, he's a lefty, but he's 24 and in the NL), who has made 80 career starts (IP/H/R/ER/BB/SO):
6.48 5.55 2.69 2.46 1.71 6.20
And the same for Jake Peavy, 196 career starts.
6.33 5.45 2.42 2.28 2.03 6.35
Then, for comparison, I "normalized" all the numbers to an even 6 IP.
Cain, Hamels, Peavy, 1-2-3:
6.00 5.07 2.61 2.50 2.55 5.13
6.00 5.14 2.49 2.28 1.59 5.74
6.00 5.17 2.30 2.16 1.92 6.02
Matt Cain, as we know, needs to cut down his walks. The other boys have the edge in strikeouts, but otherwise our young lad stacks up quite favorably, eh?
Baseball-Reference gives MC an ERA+ of 118 for his career. This is a saber-stat supposedly adjusting for park factors and relating the pitcher's ERA to the league-wide ERA. 100 is average. MC is 18% better than the league norm. Hamels comes in at 134, Peavy at 122, both very impressive.
Obviously Matt Cain is a valuable commodity. He could return a lot to the club in a trade this off-season. I would hate to see it happen, naturally, despite our desperate need for bats. (The "big bomb" sure made the difference tonight, eh? And Pablito's idiot savant baserunning!) We've talked about trading Cain before, but only briefly. My answer is no--you can't give up on a guy about to turn 24 with his track record. You cannot gamble on the return in a trade--you won't get your money's worth (esp. w/ Sabean at the helm). Far more likely? I hate imagining it, but the next few years will seem familiar to Twins fans: Tim Lincecum becomes San Francisco's Johan Santana.
The big news, of course, is that CONOR GILLASPIE has been added to the roster. He is 21 and has only a few dozen professional games under his belt. The Wild and Wacky 2008 SFG's!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Zito last 10:
5 IP, 2 er, 2/6 K/bb (Jul 10 @ NY)
6 IP, 3 er, 5/3 K/bb (Jul 22 WAS)
5 IP, 6 er, 4/5 K/bb (Jul 27 AZ)
8 IP, 0 er, 5/4 K/bb (Aug 2 @ SD)
5 IP, 5 er, 1/3 K/bb (Aug 8 LA)
5.2 IP, 6 er, 6/5 K/bb (Aug 13 @ HOU)
7 IP, 0 er, 3/2 K/bb (Aug 18 @ ATL)
8 IP, 3 er, 5/3 K/bb (Aug 23 SD)
3.1 IP, 7 er, 2/2 K/bb (Aug 29 @ CIN)
8 IP, 2 er, 5/2 K/bb (today, @ COL)
This is not a consistent uptrend, but it bears comparison with the early part of the year (when he rang up 11 of those 16 losses). The point is twofold: 1) Zito is not the suckiest suck who ever sucked, as some have alleged, and 2) We need this guy to pitch well next year, and thereafter, if we are going to be worth anything as a team. This encourages me that he has the potential to do so.
And talk about your potential! How about a 4 for 5 with 3 runs scored for Schierholtz, 2 for 5 with a home run for Pablito Sandoval, 3 for 5 with 3 rbi and a home run for Scott McLain, and 2 for 4 with 3 rbi for Travis Ishikawa. That's some hittin'!
First of all, everything bad happened all at once, the fourth inning. One bad inning. I remember an interview with Tim in which he talked about the dangers of one bad inning. His main concern was the fatigue, he thought a stressful inning is worse than high pitch counts on the arm. This tells me that Tim worries about that one inning. Thirty seven pitches, 2 wild pitches, 2 xbase hits, 5 runs (hard to believe they were all earned considering Burriss' blunder) certainly qualifies as stressful. Tim's other strengths also faltered: several hits with RISP ( a stat that Tim owns!) and a long ball (only the tenth he has given up this year). I got the feeling that the homer was a classic Coors Field number; not cheap, a breaking ball that hung in the thin air. So, it seems that this poor outing serves better to underscore Tim's strengths than to educate us on his weaknesses.
So, The Enchanter probably should have lost....but the weakest (and classiest) Giant of them all got the big hit to take Tim off the hook. Isn't this game weird?
Monday, September 1, 2008
Sanchez was just okay in his comeback game. He looked sharp early, then seemed to lose focus and made a few mistakes, then pulled it back together for a solid last few innings. Too bad it was one of those games where the offense disappeared.
So I guess we can pencil him in every 5th day and have a fair chance of winning. he should get better eventually, along with our other young pitchers. In a couple of years we will have an awesome nucleus, assuming we retain Lincecum.