Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Then and Now

I've a DVD of Matt Cain's perfect game from 2012 and we watched it last night. Even though we knew the outcome we still got shpilkes as the outs piled up. It was a great performance, of course, and a milestone for the franchise, and Matty was at the peak of his powers and would lead the team to a World Series title. The next few seasons weren't so kind to the big righty and he eventually had to have multiple surgeries just to stay in the game. He's now penciled in as the team's fifth starter. I remember when he came up (way back in '05) the "talk" was all about his simple, repeatable mechanics and how that would serve him well in his career. And those mechanics did indeed serve him well for about 250 starts. But mechanical soundness also requires physical health and even the guy they call The Horse succumbed to the rigors of pitching in the bigs.

The Houston Astros team that Cain and the Giants beat that night in June was in the midst of three last-place finishes, all of those teams losing over 100 games per season. Only three players--Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, and Jed Lowrie--on the field for the Astros that night were on their 2015 playoff team. With Lowrie back on the A's only Castro and Altuve are suiting up for the 2016 team. That's a lot of changes in a short span but they obviously worked! The 2012 season was their 51st in the NL, they were shipped off to the AL for 2013. Their AAA affiliate is now the Fresno Grizzlies after the Giants hooked up with the Sacramento River Cats.**

The Giants had a few guys on the field then that are no longer with the club: Joaquin Arias, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Theriot, Emmanuel Burriss, and Melky Cabrera. But Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, Gregor Blanco, and Angel Pagan remain. (Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro had yet to join the club.) Coming back to Matt Cain, what can we expect of the 31-year old with 1872 innings under his belt and 7734 batters faced over eleven seasons? I wish I could answer that. Here's what I'd like to think: his veteran savvy clutchness will give him the mental tools to succeed. If his body responds to the post-operative therapies then he will be a good pitcher again. Will he be the All-Star he was? That's more of a stretch for me, but the good news is that he doesn't have to be. "Fifth starter" doesn't seem to fit next to his name, but with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto as co-aces and Jeff Samardzija as the new innings-eater the pressure is off Matty (and Jake Peavy as well) to put up big numbers. Stolid consistency has always been Cain's calling card and that's what the team will need. He can do that. Maybe his average game score won't reach the high peaks we saw from 2009-2012, but he'll rack up his share of quality starts and that will be hugely valuable.

**I tagged the reference to the River Cats because the Giants will be playing an exhibition game in Sacramento on Wednesday, March 30th. Neither website has information other than the date and time (6:05 pm) but I think it would be really fun to go. If you guys hear or see anything about this game (er, BroBob?) in the meantime please let me know!

I'm trying not to enjoy the spring weather we are having here as I'm not done with my ski season. I need a few more big storms and powder days. They can have all the sun they want in Arizona, I want some El NiƱo action.

Otherwise, GO GIANTS!



M.C. O'Connor said...

Belt signs a 1-year deal for about $6M and thus avoids arbitration. The Giants like to have their "house in order" before Spring Training and this was the last piece of business. I like BB, he's a fine player, and I think he is also under-appreciated and I gravitate toward those types. Over the long haul I think we can expect to see Buster Posey playing more and more first base and that means longer term deals with first basemen may not be part of the Giants planning. Belt is still under team control (next year is his final arb year) for 2017, he's a free agent in 2018. Looking forward to more of that goofy, looping lefty swing and that gigantic reach at first base!

campanari said...

I see that a guy who was with us in the WS championship year between the one in 2012 and the one to blossom this October, is now a D--g-r: Brandon Hicks is migrating to LA. That organization continues to flatter us by seizing on to our rejects, or so it seems to me, more than any other team, and certainly way more than we have been diving into their dumpster.

M.C. O'Connor said...

According to Sabes (via Baggs' tweets) they are open to a multi-year deal with Belt and see him as their first baseman. So much for Posey moving there! And that signing Timmy is a "longshot" because he wants to start and they seem him as a reliever. They will however send reps to his showcase.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I suppose if they do go with Belt at first long-term Posey will get some starts esp vs. lefties. Interesting. Maybe Buster is committed to catching. Hell, Yadier Molina still racks up the bulk of his innings behind the plate and does not look to change any time soon. Maybe Posey sees himself similarly. Or the Giants figure the DH is coming soon and that will save the wear and tear on the Franchise Player. Or Sabes could just be talking out of his ass!

So, when do they renegotiate with MadBum and give him a $30M/yr deal? Peavy and Pagan come off the books next year, that'd free up some bucks.

campanari said...

I guess that since the Giants just got Belt to settle before arbitration, an annual high wire routine with him each year, the FO has good reason to say to Belt and to us that they love him and want to keep him. How much of that is real and how much is soft soap, who knows, especially since Belt's annual act suggests that any longer-term deal will require negotiations so tortuous and demanding that the team will have lots of room to say, gee whiz, we're sorry, and we love Brandon, and would rejoice mightily were we able to keep him, but his salary and no-trade and special perks requirements are such that we simply can't prudently and in all fairness, etc., etc., etc.