Friday, September 25, 2009

No. 38

FanGraphs has Brian Wilson's season worth 2.4 WAR, which puts him just ahead of JSanchez and Zito for 3rd most valuable pitcher on the squad, trailing only Matt Cain (3.0) and the ridiculous Tim Lincecum (7.8). For batters, only Sandoval (4.2) and Uribe (2.6) rank higher. I don't think it takes sabermetric wizardry to know that Mr. Wilson has been a huge contributor this year, and that he has been even better than his breakout season last year. In 71 IP he's given up ony 60 hits, and has 80 K versus 26 BB. That was only the THIRD HOMERUN he's allowed in 2009! It is always ugly when your closer blows a game, and it is particularly agonizing with 2 outs and 2 strikes, but Wilson has been up to the task in those "high-leverage" situations more often than not, so I can't get too upset at him. He's another one of those cheap ($480,000/year) youngsters that will be back next year to form the nucleus of the 2010 club. In the end, Penny pitched a great game, and John "Dirtbag" Bowker got some big hits, but our wretched offense (10 strikeouts!) continues to be wretched, and we couldn't put enough runs on the board to win. Atlanta and Florida are now as close to the Wild Card as we are--doesn't that change things a bit? Isn't it time to give Buster Posey a start? Or, at least, bring him in instead of Eli "You've Been a Fine Backup But . . . " Whiteside? Waiting for Posey: a tragic existential drama you can't stop watching even if you want to. Maybe Tim can be ridiculous tonight and strike out a dozen guys or something.


Ron said...

Comment #1: Penny, only 94 pitches, dominant, 3 DP's at key moments. Why does he get pulled?

Comment #2: When Todd Helton was first called up to the Rockies in 1997, I lived in Colorado. It was an exciting moment, because everyone new that he would be a fine player, but Andres Galarraga was already the 1B - a bit past his prime, but still beloved & contributing. The Rockies played Helton in LF for a few weeks. He had never played there. Because he is a stud athlete, he played errorless outfield, while getting quite a few AB's, preparing himself for 1998, when he was the regular & hit .315. IF MOLINA & WHITESIDE MUST PLAY (still haven't figured out why, but apparently they do), ISN'T THERE SOMEWHERE ON THE GODDAMN DIAMOND THAT POSEY CAN PLAY A FEW GAMES, GETTING HIMSELF A FEW AB's & SETTING HIMSELF UP FOR HIS AWESOME 2010 SEASON??? I AGREE - THIS IS SOME SORT OF BIZARRE, EXISTENTIAL DRAMA - NO GOOD CAN COME OF WHAT IS GOING ON NOW.

Bob said...

Yeah, I can't get too mad at Wilson for this one. You have to give Baker credit. Of course it still sucks big-time.
I'm very fatalistic at this point.
I'm glad Penny did well after his one-game meltdown.
Pablo is "hot" but he sure seems to be popping up a lot, including his only "hit" last night, which apparently got lost in the fog.

Ron said...

I, for one, will not buy the 'since he's had a good year, then blowing chow in the most important moment to-date is OK' line. This is back to the same discussion last week about Cain - he had his moment to step up, he didn't. Ditto for Wilson. Ditto, unfortunately, for Lincecum on Sunday. We can talk all we want about how tired our starters and/or relievers are, how under stress they are due to poor hitting support, etc.. But, we have all seen OTHER PLAYOFF LEVEL TEAMS with key performers, going on fumes & delivering somehow, some way in the late or post-season. We have one of those guys on our team: Randy Johnson, relief appearance in the '01 World Series. No excuses - just deliver!

M.C. O'Connor said...

Check the key difference between those "playoff-level" teams and the 2009 Giants: the ability to score runs, particularly the large difference between runs scored and runs allowed.

The Giants are a one-legged man! We are seriously handicapped. Every other playoff team has lost crucial games, has had their starters blow chow, and has seen saves evaporate. The difference is they have the depth and balance to bounce back. We don't. Losing a shot at the WC this year has nothing to do with our guys failing to "man up." It has to do with the fact that we don't have a playoff-caliber offense. You CANNOT WIN over the long haul with a league-bottom offense. We are merely proving that truth after a long run of good luck and impressive pitching that papered over our serious team shortcomings.

The other fact we have to remember is that ALL PLAYERS HAVE BAD GAMES, bad weeks, bad months. ALL players--stars, rookies, vets, has-beens, up-n-comers, middle-of-the-roaders, you name it. Good teams survive the ups and downs and variation that are a NORMAL PART of any sport. They do that because they have the depth and talent to ride out bad streaks.

I refuse to "blame" any one individual for poor performances if they have shown that they are consistent, quality performers. Wilson, Cain, etc. have shown that they are winners in my book, and I'm happy we've got them to build a real team around next year.

We live o

M.C. O'Connor said...

I was going to add "we live on the razor's edge," but I think I made my point.

Ron said...

I like Cain & many of our other young players. Cain will be excellent for many years - he's a keeper & a future All-Star. Wilson? I'm not so sure of his long-term greatness, but he has done a generally fine job. That isn't the point. The point is September 24, 9th inning.

Now, please address why Wilson was in the game in the first place. Penny, only 94 pitches, dominant, 3 DP's at key moments. Why does he get pulled? Why?

Bob said...

If Penny pitched the 9th and HE gave up a 2-run homer, you'd be going,"Why the hell didn't we use our closer? WTF is wrong with that Bochy?"

Ron said...

Absolutely not ... dominant starters with low pitch counts deserve the chance to finish the game. The rule of thumb used to be 'don't set him up to get a loss'. Therefore, Penny could have at least come out there & pitched. If one guy reached base, then, OK, pull him (maybe). No, I'm not one of those 'you automatically go to your Closer in the 9th' kinds of guys.

Zo said...

Every team in the major leagues would have put in their closer in that situation. Also, regarding playoff teams and closers, check out Philly. This supports Mark's point - Philly has hitters.

Ron said...

The 2009 SF Giants haven't always put their closer in in that situation. The CG's we do have weren't just accumulated in blowouts. On September 25, 2009, the 2009 SF Giants sure as hell better not put in their closer, if that situation arises again. Armando Benitez & that Korean Arizona World Series closer come to mind.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Second-guessers might revel in declaring that Giants manager Bruce Bochy should have stuck with Penny, who had thrown 94 pitches. But Penny himself defended the call for Wilson.

"Nine times out of 10 he saves that game," Penny said. "I'd give the ball to him in the ninth anytime he wanted it. He's an outstanding closer. There's not many better than him."

Penny added that he would have been facing Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters for the fourth time, implying that familiarity could have bred disaster.

"And you've got a guy in the bullpen who's fresh and throws 100 [mph]. To me, it's a no-brainer. Every manager in the game would go to his closer right there, especially in a one-run game."

q.v. Chris Haft's game story.

I don't put a whole lot of stock in jock quotes, but their it is.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I mean "there".

Ron said...

I'm sticking with my theory - hey, we lost the game, so doesn't that at least make you wonder about conventional wisdom? And '9 times out of 10 he saves that game'? Is that good enough? Again, is that what we need in the biggest moment of the season to-date? No, we need '10 times out of 10, he saves that game', or at least '99 times out of 100, he saves that game'.

Did Atlee Hammaker lose the 7-game '87 NLCS by his performance in Game 3? Yes. We all knew it. Big moment - big-time delivery needed.

Of course, I have since learned that Aaron Rowand's 9th inning AB actually really cost us the game.

JC Parsons said...

Quite the spirited debate! Good work.

Obviously I lean toward Ron's attitude on the touchy subject of "rising to the special games." In fact with closers it is what makes them who they are. I recognize that every great player doesn't always deliver in the clutch, but (unlike MOC) I do not believe that daily performances are simply random chance expressions of a players skill. People are not random number generators...emotions,inspiration and FOCUS are probably just as important as skill sets. No one (except maybe Barry) can be perfect everyday, but the special ones can do it when they need to do it (usually).

Given that, I definitely would have used Wilson the way Bochy did. I am a big believer in closers starting the ninth. I don't have data, but my gut tells me that coming in with men on is alot harder than starting an inning. Everything from the warm up tosses to pitching from the windup favors starting an inning. I am not completely sold on Wilson (I think he needs another out pitch besides a good fastball) but I am alot more confident in him now as compared to last year.

I also still don't believe you can't win with an imbalanced (pitching strong, not hitting strong) team. And I mean win it all, cause if you make it to the playoffs and you pitch like we do...well, it is very possible to win those 11 games needed. We are living proof of it. We can all list two dozen "razor edge" games that could have gone our way. Besides the obvious fact that if Matt's last three outings had been victories, we would be pretty much tied...oops, sorry, I didn't mean to flog that ol'dead horse.

Again, great job on the commentary!!

M.C. O'Connor said...

9 out of 10 is damn good. I'll take it every time. Wilson was a safe bet--he blew the save, yes. But it was a reasonable gamble, with a good probability of success. Would leaving Penny in give you better than a 9 of 10 chance? Maybe. Maybe not.

No. Hammaker cannot lose a series single-handedly. (Neither can Candy Maldonado.) Don Robinson had a 9.00 ERA. Rick Reuschel had a 6.30 ERA. Beloved Robby Thompson was 2-for-20. Chili Davis was 3-for-20. It takes a team to win and a team to lose.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I'm a big believer in emotion, inspiration, and focus. I know, however, that those aren't quantifiable. I can only GUESS at the psychic states of ballplayers. I assume (perhaps wrongly) that all ballplayers give their best effort. I HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING OTHERWISE. Nor do you, I might add.

I believe clutch performances exist. I do not believe that "clutchness" is an inherent personality trait, or, if it is, the viewer cannot necessarily discern it. Nor do I believe "clutchness" is quantifiable, or even a repeatable skill. I watched a World Series once where Mike Schmidt went 1-for-20, and another where he was the MVP. Is he "clutch" or a "choker?" Until Barry, he was the best player I ever saw. I'm more confident in THAT statement than in any assessment of his "character" or his "heart" or whether he gave "a hunnert-n-tin percent" or not.

Ron said...

It was tough carrying this thing all day without your back-up, Jon. I assume that you must have been doing something important like working (me, too, but with some time today). Anyway, you said it about closers - rising to the special games is what makes them who they are. That's why the only stat that really matters with them is Saves/Blown Saves. How many times do they come in with a 3-run lead & give up 2 runs? Doesn't matter, really - we get the win.

Anyway, I think the bigger questions are these:

- Is Wilson the guy for 2010?

- Will Buster Posey play tonight?

JC Parsons said...


M.C. O'Connor said...

Finally! Too bad I'll be watching HS football!!!

Wilson is our guy for 2010. If not, find me another guy. And not some fantasy like trading Eugenio Velez for Jonathan Broxton. A real, live, flesh-and-blood, actual OPTION to Wilson as our closer. I'm open to ideas. I thought we should have traded Wilson last year when he was an All-Star, I figured we could have picked up a couple of young bats for him. I'm glad we didn't--he's turned out to be a valuable piece of the puzzle.

But we still need hitters! Let's hope Buster is the first piece of the new lineup for 2010.