Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving week

My job has a few perks, one of them I particularly enjoy: a whole week off at Thanksgiving. I thought I'd find a few things to be thankful for and throw them up on the blog so y'all will have some reading material for the holiday.

If you aren't a Baseball-Reference junkie, you should be. I sponsor a page there. Guess which one? B-R has everything. Here's a page for real Giants fans. Here's another. How about the Franchise Encyclopedia? Or the day-by-day game logs for any season? Or playoff game box scores? Transactions? This site has something for every one of you. Go find something cool and report back!

For the sabermetric beast lurking in your soul--and I know it's there, so let it out--nothing beats FanGraphs. Want to see how Pablo Sandoval stacks up with the best using today's trendy new stats? No problem. Want to settle arguments about Tim Lincecum and the Cy Young? Piece o' cake. Want to gape with awe at Barry Bonds' hitting prowess? How about another gusher about Tim? There are lots of ways to view a ball game. It's hard to stay on top of this stuff, I'll admit, but this is 21st-century baseball. There's no end to the data mining we can do.

You can hit "refresh" on this page until your eyes glaze over.

Danger, danger.

Nerd! Nerd!

Road trip!!

A thoughtful piece by a one-time-Giant called "Exploring the Intagibles of Catching." Recommended.

I'll be on the road and un-tethered from the web for the week. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Basking in the glow

At lunch yesterday JCP and I had a lot of fun talking about Tim Lincecum's remarkable season and his 2nd Cy Young in as many years. This morning I'm still basking in the glow. I know Cardinals fans are dismayed, and I expect a number of BBWAA members are surprised, but I believe the best man won the award. All homerism aside, Tim Lincecum was the best pitcher in the league last year and pitched even better this year. They used to say when I was a kid that a challenger had to "knock out the champ" in order to claim the title. Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Wainwright had tremendous seasons and are great ballplayers, but they lost their 15-round decisions by a few points on the judges' cards. I knew the vote would be close--I think we all did, and I must admit I thought Carpenter would win. I figured he'd get the lion's share of 1st place points, and Tim would clean up the 2nd place points. I could certainly see a writer picking either of the other two guys as number one, but I couldn't imagine anyone voting both guys ahead of Tim. (And Javier Vasquez and Dan Haren are both studs and very deserving of votes--it should not have been Tim vs. The Cards, but Tim vs. the best in the league.) In the end, Tim just got too many votes--he was 1, 2, or 3 on every ballot. He made quite an impression on the baseball cognoscenti. As well he should. Giants fans know how dominating this kid is. Leave the stats aside for a second, and think about the feeling you get when you watch him pitch. For me, it's simply awe. I just marvel at his confidence, his fearlessness, and his ability to sit guys down. The guy is great theater--his small frame, his slacker 'do, his outrageous delivery--and you can't take your eyes off him. Giants fans have never seen this kind of talent on the hill. Tim has a long way to go to match the career numbers of guys like Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, but in back-to-back seasons he has simply smothered the opposition with pitching brilliance. (Pitching brilliance, I might add, that is totally supported by a panoply of both sabermetric numbers and old-fashioned stats!) When Barry was being Barry, I remember feeling like the earth stopped turning when he was at the plate. Whatever I was doing, wherever I was, I froze and gave my full atttention to that moment. We know what that was like--we will probably never experience a hitter like that again. Tim is the closest thing to getting that feeling back. You feel like magic is going to happen when he has a ball in his hand, much like when Barry was waving that black bat. Congratulations, Tim! I hope the brain trust is smart enough to make you a Giant forever.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two For Tim

That's right, based on the BBWAA voting protocol, Tim Lincecum is officially the best pitcher in the National League for the second consecutive year. Hey JP, how about another of those great pictures of our favorite Timmah?

OK, back to bitching about other stuff!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Off-season filler

Stat geeks don't like the Giants 2010 offense. Big surprise, eh? Check out and click on the Giants hitters. There's also a projection for Free Agents. OK, since I know you won't follow the links, here are the highlights:

Sandoval .312/.356/.502
FSanchez .281/.319/.396

Holliday .299/.376/.510
NJohnson .264/.395/.407

The fellow who puts these together is named Sean Smith and his system is called CHONE (he's an Angels fan). BBTF's Dan Szymborksi has a system called ZiPS, but I don't believe he has worked up next season for the G-men. FanGraphs has Bill James projections available if you really need to waste time at work. These are popular with fantasy league guys, and I enjoy them because I do that sort of thing in my head all the time--imagining what so-and-so will hit next year. These are just more systematic, and have a track record. Have fun while we wait on Tim news!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Outrage is too mild a word

Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals beat out the Giants Pablo Sandoval for the 2009 Silver Slugger Award for National League third basemen. Managers and coaches vote.

Ryan Zimmerman

.888 OPS
133 OPS+

Pablo Sandoval

.924 OPS
142 OPS+

I'm sure Mr. Zimmerman is a fine fellow and all, rescuing babies from burning buildings and whatnot, but this is the SILVER SLUGGER award. According to the website:

They base their selections on a combination of offensive statistics, including batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage . . .

Hmm. Batting average? Check. On-base percentage? Check. Slugging percentage? Check. I'm sure glad the managers and coaches were paying attention to the criteria for Silver Slugger Award when they filled out their ballots. Oh, wait:

. . . as well as the coaches and managers general impressions of a player's overall offensive value.

This is what we call a fudge factor. As in, "I never got to see Sandoval play, because I'm an East Coast guy, and the Nationals really suck, and the only other guy I know who plays third is David Wright and so, uh, I guess it's Zimmerman." That, my friends, is what passes for analyis in the upper echelons of MLB leadership.

Of course, any excuse to write about the Panda is fun. Here's the latest on his off-season (hat tip to OBM). How can you not love this guy? Here's what he says:

The fans, I love them and want them to know I'll always be the guy who's working hard.

Hah. Keep your damn silver bat, Zimmerman. Let's see you top that!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Uggla rumors

Acording to "major-league sources" the Giants are pursuing Dan Uggla. We've heard this before, of course. Uggla sports a career OPS+ of 114 and a career slash line of .257/.344/.482 (.354 w OBA). In his four full ML seasons, all with Florida, he's been worth 4.1, 2.7, 4.7, and 2.9 WAR. He's considered a defensive liability, and would have to play third on the Giants (moving Pablo Sandoval to first). He's a legit power threat, racking up 121 HR and 139 2B in 617 games. He made over $5 M last season, his first arbitration-eligible year. HE'S NOT A FREE AGENT. We would have to make a trade (that scares me). He turns 30 in March.

Assuming we don't chase Matt Holliday with 6 years and $100 million, would you pursue Uggla? He's never had a season below .800 OPS (.826 career), but also never reached .900 (Sandoval was .943 last year). He's a cut above Aaron Rowand (.788), but that's not saying much. For the record, Juan Uribe gave us .824 in 2009. Uggla would be a temporary piece, adding some much-needed pop but not much else. He walks a fair bit, which is nice, but doesn't hit much for average, and strikes out a lot. He's a bit too one-dimensional for me. I suppose it would come down to what we'd have to give up. At this point, we don't have much in the way of surplus, and I've no idea what the FloMars are looking for. You can bet they'll sell high and dazzle poor Sabes with "All-Star" and "RBI-man."

I think we'd be better off chasing a free agent, at least then all we'd lose is money, and your San Francisco Giants have never had issues about throwing money on the ground. Barry Zito will be paid $18.5 M in both 2010 and 2011, and $19 M in 2012. Add in Aaron Rowand at $12 M per year over the same span, and you've got over 1/3 of a $90 M payroll spent on two spectacular mediocrities. Unless the team is willing to jack up the cost of doing business, those two contracts may doom us. The Lincecum-Cain-Sanchez triumvirate will only get spendier, and the window of opportunity to win big with them will close quickly. You see why I get depressed thinking about next year? Tell me, O My Brothers, that I'm wrong. Maybe I'll just have to start gobbling Zoloft.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A trade proposal from Al at (
"The first order of business is to remove Milton Bradley from the premises. We have had many long debates about whether and for whom he should be traded, but I believe this is top priority for Jim Hendry and will happen sooner rather than later. Disagree if you wish, but I think the best of many not-so-great scenarios is to send him -- and Aaron Miles -- to the Giants for Aaron Rowand. Between Bradley and Miles, they are owed a total of $23.7 million; Rowand is owed $36 million. Since in doing a deal like this, you would be relieving the Giants, essentially, of $12 million (approximately) by taking the third year of Rowand's contract, Hendry should ask the Giants to split the difference and pay half of Rowand's 2012 contract, which would split the total dollars (approximately $60 million) between the two teams, about $30 million each.
This would also accomplish equalizing the 2010 payroll -- or come close -- to what Bradley and Miles would have been owed ($11.7 million) and what Rowand is owed ($12 million). I think the Giants would be willing to do this, because you are taking $6 million off their 2012 payroll, while leaving their 2010 and 2011 payrolls where they are now, since Bradley is owed $12 million in 2011.
I concede that Rowand has had two pretty poor offensive seasons in San Francisco (at least in part due to injuries). But in 2007, he had a fine hitting year in Philadelphia, and I believe that he has at least a chance to return to that level in Chicago. If you were looking at the possible acquisition of Rowand in a vacuum, you wouldn't do it -- but the necessity of removing Bradley from the team makes this probably about the best way to accomplish that. At best, this could turn into a Hundley-for-Grudzielanek-and-Karros sort of deal."

So what do you think? Would you be willing to risk a petulant Milton Bradley to replace a gamery Aaron Rowand? Bradley has been a major leaguer for 10 years, has hit over 20 hr only once and hit 19 once. .277 avg, .371 obp and .450 ops (Rowand: 9 years, 2 with 20+ hr, .280, .339, .448). Could Bochy handle Bradley, and vice-versa? Would he likely be able to find success and fit in with the Giants? If you think this is a possibility, would you throw in some cash as Al suggests? Or would you just do Bradley for Rowand straight up and tell the Cubs to stick it?

Me, I think Milton Bradley has more potential than Rowand, but I can't see it, even if the cash were not "equalized." Just not enough upside in the career stats to make it an attractive deal. I don't know if Bradley is a head case, or has some issues that are going to re-appear over and over. But in spite of a better obp, where I see the only significant difference, it is the devil you know against the devil you don't know. Aaron Miles - could be a back up, but we got guys for that. Aaron Miles does not create an incentive.

OMG it's the GM meetings!

This is a rough time for me. The season is over and there's nothing going on. I click on all my favorite blogs and news sources, hoping and praying that there will be something to write about. Something good would be nice, like the Giants getting Hanley Ramirez in a blockbuster trade for Eli Whiteside and Waldis Joaquin (it's a major-league ready-to-go battery, you see, I'm not just talkin' outta my ass here). Naturally I stare at one of my favorite spots to stare at in the off-season, the MLB Important Dates link from Presto! Something to write about! The GM meetings are here! The GM meetings are here! (I feel like Navin Johnson getting his new phone book.)

I doubt the Giants will do anything earth-shattering. Extra Baggs says Randy Winn has been let go. No surprise there. Having him at the top of the lineup has been a big reason why our offense stinks. This year's dropoff (.262/.318/.353) from his career line (.286/.344/.418) is pretty alarming, especially since it is even worse than his terrible 2006 season (.262/.324/.396). He sandwiched two .790+ OPS seasons in between, but that isn't particularly impressive (104 and 105 OPS+). He's a good fielder and baserunner and can get on base at a .350 clip when he's going well, but has no pop. That makes him a role player, or a 3rd OF on team with two studs. The Giants, of course, populate their team with league-average guys. That's fine when you have a Phillies-like murderer's row (Utley-Howard-Werth), but we don't, and we won't for a long time.

So long and good luck, Randy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The "objective list"

You may recall my note of 19 October to Mr. William H. Neukom, MGP/CEO, and his reply of 29 October. He stated most artfully:

Be assured that we continually look for ways to improve and a winning team is always at the top of our objective list.

I didn't know we--er, the Giants--had an "objective list." But since they do, and we know that they do because W.H.N. said so, it seems time to talk about it (the list, that is) in more specific terms. In other words, what's on the list? And, uh, can we see it? At least we know "a winning team" is on the list, and it is "at the top." Does that mean it IS the top? Or just ONE of the top items? I'm having trouble with that wording. Seems a fella like W.H.N with his Dartmouth A.B. and his Stanford LL.B and all would have little trouble saying exactly what he means to say. And since he said something that isn't EXACTLY clear, I can only assume that was his intent. It would be OK with me if W.H.N. said "a robust revenue stream" was priority number one because it takes one of those to build a good club. Hey, I'm a practical guy. I'm down with capitalism and the free market thing. I got no beef with a business being business-like. It takes the big bucks to build the big winners, don't it? How 'bout those Yankees? I can join hands with the congregation and praise the Almighty Dollar just as well as any good American. So it's OK, Mr. N., you can come clean. If "$$" is numero uno and "in play--runs" is numero dos, let's just 'fess up and be done, OK?

For the record, here's my objective list:

1. Win the World Series.
2. Do everything in the organization with objective number one in mind.
3. Get rid of anyone who does not abide by objective number two.

It's a good thing I'm not the MGP/CEO. I'd be a tiresome bore, constantly droning on about winning the World Series. No one would want to work for me.

"Hey, boss, I got us some donuts!"
"That's fine, son, but how does it helps us with Objective Number One?"

You see? Tiresome.

God help me, I can't wait for Spring Training.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Important stuff

Just wanted to make sure y'all knew the Spring Training schedule was posted.

March 3rd--that's not so far away, eh?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Franchise is party animal!

This just in: Tim Lincecum was stoned and speeding! (Hat tip to commenter Orwell D. Catt on McChronic for the link.) The Freak is goin' all Michael Phelps on us, dudes! Now he won't get on the Wheaties box!

Welcome to the off-season

The Yanks were the best team all year. They won it all. They deserved it. Congrats to Mr. Matusi. OK, enough of that.

The real excitement for Giants fans is that we have the off-season! Hot damn! What over-rated free agent will we throw money at this year? Oh, wait--we got a guy already. Do this: go to this FanGraphs page. It is sorted for "second basemen in 2009" by wOBA. Look at the list. Then change the pull-down tab to read "2008." Then try "2007." You see, the problem with contracts for guys like Freddy Sanchez is THEY HAVE TO REPEAT THEIR CAREER-BEST YEAR IN ORDER TO BE ABOVE-AVERAGE. Hey--he might do that. But the odds are against it. At least it is only a two-year commitment, I can live with anyone for two years. I expect FSanchez will be an net positive for the club, but so what? He can't walk or hit homeruns. He doesn't run and he's an average defender at best. Sounds like an infield version of Aaron Rowand. The Matt Holliday/Jason Bay circus will play out soon, and someone will give them 4 years and $60+ million. I hope it is not us. We could use the bat, but both of these guys will be good for two years, max, before they become just another drain on the payroll. This FA class is not much help, and the thought of Sabean trading one of our core guys fill me with dread.

How do we improve the team, guys? And should we expect our lights-out league-dominating run-prevention to be the same in 2010? What happens if we have a drop-off, even a slight one, like Matt Cain posting a 3.50 ERA? Or Jonathan Sanchez getting hurt? Or the bullpen having a few hiccups? Last season our pitching had to be damn near perfect to win. Can we reasonably expect that to work again? Finally, who is going to get the walks and homeruns it takes to win in the major leagues?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mr. Neukom writes back!

click to enlarge

Here's my original letter.

He wrote me back! I wasn't sure I'd get a personal reply. I thought I might get the old "Dear Valued Customer" routine, but I got an actual letter on French vanilla stationery (with embossed Giants logo) with The Man's actual signature. Oh, I've no doubt one of the minions processed my note and printed the reply, but they must have at least waved it under the Big Fella's nose. I mean, I made his "in box." How cool is that?

Here's the complete text if the image is unreadable. Sorry for the poor quality, its the best my scanner can do. Hey, computer-savvy guys out there: suggestions for how to display this item for consumption on the blog are most welcome!

Dear Mr. O'Connor:

Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts about the San Francisco Giants. It is always interesting to hear what our fans are thinking, whether it be in the form of praise or constructive criticism.

Your passion for the Giants is shared by all of us here in the Giants' front office. Be assured that we continually look for ways to improve and a winning team is always at the top of our objective list. (emphasis mine)


William H. Neukom

Charitable translation: "we're working on it."

Uncharitable translation: "piss off, mate."

What say, me buckos? Are you "reassured?"

(update 1900 PST: 7-1 Yanks after five, looks like 2009 is over)


What passes for excitement around here in GiantsLand is the hiring of a new batting coach. This guy makes my all-time, all-name team. How cool is a nickname like "Bam-Bam" and how cool is a moniker like Hensley Filemon Acasio Meulens? Admit it, your middle name is not anywhere near as cool as "Filemon." He's paid his dues professionally, and is supposedly fluent in several languages (not surprising in someome from Curaçao), which has to be a good thing in today's game. None of this will matter if we throw the same squad of no-talent hackers out there in 2010. I remember thinking Carney Lansford was a good choice, but the brain trust threw him under a bus without so much as a second glance. The skeptic in me says "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" but the sucker, er, believer in me says "change is good and ought to help." Welcome aboard Bam-Bam, I hope you like working with guys who swing at pitches that hit them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Miracle, part I

I was thinking about 3-1 deficits in the World Series while watching the Phils win last night. I remember the 1968 Series when the Tigers came back--most improbably--against the defending champion Cardinals. I was a bit young to appreciate the significance, but I did know the Cards were the best team (they had beaten my Mom's beloved Sox the previous year) and that they lost. A comeback like that didn't happen again until the 1979 "We are Family" Pirates picked themselves up off the floor and wore down the mighty Orioles. I remember the Series well as I still had a grudge against the Pirates for beating the Giants in the 1971 playoffs. The Cardinals saw their 1985 World Series dream end after being up 3-1 against an underrated Royals team. That Series was best known for the blown call in game six that kept KC's chances alive. Jack Clark had been my favorite Giant through a long stretch of mostly lousy teams and I rooted for him and the Cards in that one. It is 2009, there hasn't been a 3-1 comeback in the Series for over two decades, don't you think we are due? As I said yesteday, I don't like the odds, but the Phils got step one out of the way for their miracle, can they do it two more times? They pounded the crap out of the ball and withstood a furious Yankee rally that chased the imperturbable Cliff Lee out of the game. In the 9th the Yanks had Derek Jeter up with two on and no outs, and he hit into a double play! Lots of guys hit into double plays, but this was Cap'n Derek, Mr. Clutch, the very embodiment of The Bronx Bomber Mystique. Imagine if it had been A-Rod! The matchups so far are Pedro vs. Pettite, and Hamels v. CC, but it wouldn't surprise me if Charlie Manuel did something nutty and used rookie phenom JA Happ at some point. Is a miracle still possible in these dark and cynical times?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nail, meet coffin

The Phils are done. Barring a miracle, the Yanks will be wearing new rings this week. Cliff Lee can pitch the Series back to NYC with another one of his gems tonight, but that will mean the season is over for Philadelphia's best pitcher. A weekend in New York without your best pitcher and you have to win two games? I don't like those odds. The Yankees just scored 15 runs in two games against Hamels, Blanton, and the bullpen. Pedro Martinez gave a "quality start" in game two, but still lost. The Yanks have a seemingly-endless supply of counter moves for whatever Manuel and the defending champs try to do.

Everybody's talkin' about the Johnny Damon double steal. It was a smart play, and unique. No one was covering third due to the shift on Teixeira, and Damon outran Pedro Feliz (who took the throw at second on the steal). It shouldn't have mattered with two outs, but Lidge plunked Tex and gave A-Rod a chance to hit. I could smell "three-run HR" but the game-winning double was enough. Damon should also get a lot of credit for a great two-out at-bat: down 0-2, working it full, singling on the 9th pitch. The beleaguered Phillies closer was perfect last season. Oh, how things change! The fact that the Phils are the NL champs with Lidge struggling so much all year long is a credit to the rest of their team.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treat

When the Phillies opened their Hallowe'en sacks last night they found a fat, stinking turd instead of candy. The pile had a note from King George stuck to it: Bugger off ya bloody wankers, we're the fecking Yankees. Trailing 3-0 after three, the Bombers put up two in the fourth and three in the fifth to kick Cole Hamels' butt. They went on to score a single run apiece against the next three relief pitchers. New York goes for the kill tonight with their big ace, C.C. Sabathia, on short rest. It's not a great spot for the defending champs as their über-ace, Cliff Lee, goes tomorrow. Let's hope Joe Blanton pitches the game of his life and the big bats produce for Philadelphia.