Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Death Bomb

6 5 4 4 2 4
Game Score

I was thinking when Matt finished the 5th (getting Helton to groundout after a long at-bat) that I'd be happy with three more outs. Six would have been ideal, but I would have taken three at that point, down 2-0 and looking pretty weak against De La Rosa. Maybe we could conjure up a couple of runs, I thought, and push the game to the bullpens. At home, I like our chances late. Alas, Sean Smith hit the Death Bomb. As it was, we got those late runs, but that was too little by then, and a little too late as well.

We played a horrid game for the most part, with fielding blunders, a spectacular baserunning gaffe, and wretched hitting to go along with the big 2-out mistakes from Cain. When Matt has trouble getting strikeouts, he's vulnerable, and the Crockies feasted on the cheese tonight. Cain has seen a big drop in strikeouts this year, with his K/9 dropping below 7, the worst rate of his four full seasons. He's cut down on his walks, always a good thing, but he managed to get burned on a 2-out walk tonight. September has not been kind to Big Sugar in 2009. "Mandatory" studliness was demanded, and "a shutout" as well (hey, this is a tough crowd), and that sure didn't happen. Sorry, Matt, the suitcase sticker with "no. 2" on it has to get peeled off and passed around, ol' no. 75 has been itchin' for it, and he's been looking pretty good lately, so give it up, amigo. (Psst, it's OK, we're still homeys. But I have to serve you up for a flaying, so suck it up and take your whuppin' like good boy.)

Rafael Betancourt--he of the Renteria grand slam--had to clean up Franklin Morales' mess in the 9th, and the usually reliable Troy Tulowitzki made an error to put him on the spot. Alas, Renteria was unable to produce the encore, and the Scheirholtz strikeout ended what turned out to be a last-gasp tease. I've written one obit for this club, and I won't write another. The numbers don't look good with 16 games left to play, but improbabilities have piled upon improbabilities this season, so you never know. You can flip "heads" ten times in a row, can't you?

UPDATE (0656 Thursday): It was Ian Stewart who hit the Death Bomb, as JCP points out, the no. 8 hitter. He's a funny duck, with a Renterivian BA/OBP (.231/.323) but slugs .483 (19 2B, 24 HR). It's not a Coors Field artifact: his splits are lefty-righty, not home-away. There is no "Sean Smith," only a "Seth Smith." (Memo to self: don't blog after late games.) There's a write-up at BtB re Seth Smith. Be nice to have an OF or two with his "upside." The venerable Rob Neyer (one of the few ESPN guys I respect) was at the Park last night (link via ShysterBall). Grant at McChronic and El Lefty Malo both offer thoughts on last night with their usual skillful mixture of humor and insight.


JC Parsons said...

The homers were brutal, but I guess that comes with Matt. He has set a new career high (20!!) already, so that's a little worrisome. I still think his new method (fewer K's, pitching to contact) is probably the right direction.

HOWEVER I can NOT forgive the second run he gave up last night. After a walk and with TWO OUTS he threw a piece of shit FAT nothing fastball right over the plate to the NUMBER EIGHT hitter!!! On the first pitch!!! What the hell was that!?! A mental mistake that was inexcusable. I spent the rest of the night hoping that would not be the difference...oh well

Ron said...

First, Matt is still #2. His ERA is still well below Zito's. His winning percentage is still much higher. He is younger, & is chock-full of 'up-side'.

Second, that was garbage, & he should be dissatisfied. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

Third, it never ceases to amaze me how we (& everyone else in baseball) recycles personnel at the fill-in positions, somehow gradually decreasing in quality. When he was a Giant, we all thought that Yorvit Torrealba was a lovable, competent, & perennially-stuck-in-the-role back-up catcher. Years later, he still is. Yet, since we let him go, we have paraded through a dozen or so inferior jokers (e.g. Steve 'the luckiest man in the world' Holm). What would have been wrong with hanging on to Yorvit? By now, he would have offered VSC, in addition to his general lovableness & competence.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Yeah, letting Torrealba go was a mistake, and it sent us down that road of Matheny-to-Pierzynski-to-Molina which, frankly, hasn't worked out too well. I know he was not full-time starter material, but he was clearly a capable guy, and there was no reason to send him away.

I'm very disappointed in Matt's start, and he's certainly been slumping lately, but I'm not going to make any one guy the goat, unless it is Sabean for failing to provide us with quality hitters.

I put almost no stock in ERA. I think it is a very misleading statistic. I know sabermetrics is an anathema to most readers of this blog, but FIP and other things are much better. (No stat is ideal, of course, but some are a little better than others. That's why we use slash lines with hitters, for example, because BA, OBA, and SLG complement each other and enlarge our picture of the hitter.)

Matt's had a good year and given us a lot of quality innings. I don't give a rip who our "#2" or "#3" is or whatnot--they'll get the SAME NUMBER OF STARTS in a season, so it is a silly distinction. Obviously you want your ace to get the most starts, just like you want your best hitter to get the most PAs.

Bob said...

You've gotta play them one game at a time. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.
Think about it.

Zo said...

1) I agree with JP on the pitch to Stewart. We could have won that game with three runs except for that.
2) The double play engineered by Andres Torres in the (3rd?) was equally inexcusable, although weirder. If he does not get another at bat this season, fine with me. I'm not sure his defense is all that great either.
3) I was furious at the 6th inning, man on second and third, no out situation in which the Giants failed to score. On the post game show, Krukow pointed out that that was some of the best pitching he had seen all year (De La Rosa strikes out the side). De La Rosa has 15 wins, is 13-2 since June 21. A couple of games in there, he has given up a fair number of runs but the Rox have slugged their way to a victory for him (unlike our batters). This seemed reinforced in the ninth when we finally started hitting. Sometimes you just have to give a tip of the tam-o-shanter or whatever it is that MOC wears to the pitcher.
4) Every time I hear "Seth Smith" I think it is an anagram of "death star."
5) Matheny was the best catcher we have had in my memory. He was a huge upgrade over Torrealba or Santiago or anyone else. If the choice is Molina or that piece of White Sox shit, Molina is the undebatable upgrade.
6) ERA is imperfect, but valid. It is simply less trendy than other, newer stats.

M.C. O'Connor said...

(5) Matheny had a career year at the plate for us before his unfortunate injury. He was a fine fielder, too, as good or better than anyone I've seen. But we shipped out a useful guy--Yorvit-- when we got him (for no reason).

(6)Fashion is one thing, utility is another. Clearly, saberstats are highly unfashionable here. ERA has its uses, but it unfortunately gives a false picture for many, many guys. Take a look at the leaderboards. There are a lot of good pitchers who lack "top 10" ERAs who are, nonetheless, good pitchers. And there are some guys (like Matt) whose gaudy ERA says he's a better pitcher than he actually is.

JC Parsons said...

BTW the #8 hitter was Clint Barmes (20ish HR's) and it was a double that scored Torrealba with the second run. Stewart's HR was the 3rd and 4th runs.

ZO: "simply less trendy than other, newer stats" Trendy??? Come on, if you really think the new stats aren't any better than the old ones, I'm worried. Its the 21 st century dude, join us.

Ron said...

I'm with Zo on this one. Despite liking to look at numbers, I have a limit ... and, there's really one item on the line score of a game that matters ... runs for us & runs for them. I don't need to complicate things with Game Scores & so forth. On ESPN's GameCast, the probability of winning or scoring doesn't even get adjusted for who is batting or pitching (i.e. you could have bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, with Albert Pujols up facing Matt Herges, or Eli Whiteside up facing Mariano Rivera, & the so-called 'probability of winning' would be the same) - it's just a bunch of meaningless drivel.

Zo said...

I did not say that the new stats were not any better than the old stats. I am reacting to this sentence, "I put almost no stock in ERA. I think it is a very misleading statistic. I know sabermetrics is an anathema to most readers of this blog, but FIP and other things are much better."

First, I would have thought that sabermetrics, which, by the way, include era, is (or are) much beloved by readers (and writers) of this blog. Why are they an anathema? How do you know that?

Second, to put "almost no stock in era" is a matter of fashion, not value. Please don't respond about how FIP is calculated or how era is misleading. I know that. I am reacting to the new media vs old/newspaper junk columnists vs guys in their mother's basement/new stats vs old trash talk fest. It is like saying, "I put almost no stock in home runs, because they are not a measure of runs scored" (note to self - I think this may be an actual quote from Brian Sabean).

I'm sorry, I like home runs. They are easy to understand and have value. I understand that they are not the perfect measure of a team's score, but I wish we had more. Sorry for being old fashioned.

I don't know why we cut Yorvit loose. Maybe he wanted too much money for a back-up catcher. Maybe he said, "fuck this, if I can't be the starting catcher, I'm leaving." I don't understand the implication that Matheny was start of a continual downhill trend at catcher because, or starting when, we cut Torrealba loose.

Finally, Cheezus, JP, I started out agreeing with you.

JC Parsons said...

Well, first I should thank you for agreeing with me.
Secondly, that won't ever keep me from picking on you...well, maybe if it was something big.
Third, it was all MOC's fault. He's the one that provoked you. I just picked on you for did some one put it? "Sorry for being old fashioned"

I always appreciated Yorvit's speed, not great but good for a catcher. Athletic guy, did he ever get injured? We definitely blew it there.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Sabermetricians, btw, are in love with HRs. Just for clarification.

OK, I'll admit my statement about ERA was a little strong. But defensible. And I'm not interested in anyone's trash talk. I said what MY opinion was. I am not responsible for anyone else who holds a similar opinion. Or not. And you must admit that the reception to modern statistical ideas on this blog is less than enthusuiastic. And I'll admit "anathema" was over-the-top. But I'm an excitable guy.

Ron, I refuse to believe that someone who loves baseball as much as you do isn't interested in new ways of seeing the game. I think of the new analysis as enriching, not detracting. I still love all the things that make baseball a beautiful game, and new tools to study it make me happier! I like to think of myself as a student of the game. Well, this stuff is part of the classwork.

And don't confuse ESPN's mis-use of win probabilities as anything but ESPN throwing a bone to saber-savvy fans to keep them tuning in.

There will never be a definitive way to quantify a collective event played by human beings. The mystery will always be there. That's a wonderful thing. But I need better tools to evaluate players than what I grew up with. I don't have the luxury (like sportswriters) of seeing them play all the time. I need better ways to compare their performances. And it's pretty clear that Brian Sabean does, too.

Hey, Im a FAN, not a sabermetrician. But I sure appreciate how much more I have learned about the game I love the best.

Ron said...

Not criticizing anyone else's experience, but I like to do my analytical, boring deep into the numbers stuff at work. Between analyzing cost trends & budgets & engineering data, I get my fill of that during the day. Off-hours, I just want to enjoy my Family & be entertained & relieved of the details - when it comes to following baseball, the runs scored totals & a few simple-minded stats are enough for me.

Bob said...

For the record I have nothing against sabermetrics except the fact that they occasionally make me feel dumb. I'm glad someone tries to analyze players in newer smarter ways. People with that degree of obsessiveness are cool.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I don't DO sabermetrics. That's what sabermetricians are for. I read them and try to use them because the other stats just don't give enough info or adequately assess the relative worth of one player to another.

It seemed to me that you were saying the new stats were of no value. That's what I was reacting to--you are one of the smartest guys I know, and I was shocked that you could seemingly dismiss an entire body of fascinating work about our favorite sport.

I'll tell you what--I'll do the saber work here at RMC and you can chime in on it when you feel like it. (I'm the one with too much free time--hence the blog!!!) But I WILL critique the stats that don't tell enough of the story (like ERA). And I'll try to say why I think they don't, and what could help us see the story better.


Zo said...

Wasn't I the one who advocated for a corrected batting average where GIDP's took away a hit from a player's previous totals? Which gave pierzynski an corrected ba as a Giant of just under .150.

Here are some other stats, or as we in the government (especially the Labor Department) call them, "fun with numbers": If Colorado can pick up 2 games in the next 12 on LA, they can go into LA for their final series with the opportunity for a sweep to tie for first place. Obviously, picking up more than two games would put them in a better position, but this is the least they can do. The Giants need to pick up 3.5 on Colorado, no easy task, but they could pick up 3 right now if Colorado loses this weekend. Then we only need 1/2 game pick up on Colorado in the last 12 games for a three way tie! (Again, assuming the Rox sweep the final series). There is some kind of coin toss to pick who plays first, sites are selected by head to head records (here if against the Rox) and it turns out the doggers aren't even in the playoffs at all!!!! Children cheer, mothers cry, grown men fall to their knees to give thanks, Joe Wilson resigns in disgrace and there is a renaissance of all things good.

Yes, Beat LA