Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Penny for your Thoughts?

Brad Penney is now a Red Sock (which I take to be the singular of Sox). My first thought was, "Good, we don't have to face him anymore" but then, I thought, "Wait a minute, didn't we used to beat that guy?" The answer is a little bit of both. Brad Penney was a dogger for four years, in that time period, his record against the Giants was 5 and 2 in 14 starts. Last year, he turned in an era of 0.77 in 2 starts, but, collectively from 2005 - 07, he posted an era of 3.29 in 12 starts. Of note is that he has averaged less than 6 innings per start. So, no, we didn't beat him, but he is one of those pitchers who has rarely lasted deep into a game - and that is what I remember, chasing him mid-game. During some of that time, he had some pretty ferocious relief to back him up, earlier more so than later, from my memory. The question here is with whom are the doggers going to replace Mr. Penny, and more importantly, what does it mean to us? The doggers currently have a pitching rotation consisting of Kuroda, Schmidt, Billingsley, and some other guys. They are talking trade with the Mets for A. Jones (have the Mets checked Mr. Jones stats last year?). Maybe they expect pitching help out of that, but it seems like the Mets also want pitchers. The doggers are, from the trade rumors, busy pursing hitters. One has to like that, although I think they have some pretty good up-and-coming pitching talent. All in all, I rate losing Penney better for the Giants than not. Especially considering the timing, after the Giants signed Randy Johnson. Other thoughts?

Saturday, December 27, 2008


This recent photo shows Randy Johnson's reaction to the news that he will become a member of the San Francisco Giants.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rummagin' around in the old treasure box . . .

Nothing to report in GiantsLand. I'm going crazy thinking of something to write about. So, you're stuck with nostalgia. Like all fans, I've got piles of souvenirs. Check these out. They are from Opening Day 1987. I like the Candlestick Parking Plaza receipt. For some reason, we saved a bunch of those. Spent a lot of hours in that lot, excuse me, plaza, especially that year. I'm not sure why we have Lower Reserve ($9.00!) stubs, we usually sat in General Admission (left field bleachers, Section 30), which were then two-and-a-half bucks apiece, an outrageous increase from the glory days of dollar seats. We probably anticipated the big crowd, and bought seats in advance to make sure we got in. Tailgating was a huge part of the adventure. My lovely bride and I would arrive early, enter on the bleacher side of the lot (plaza!) that had the freaky control tower. This involved coming from Berkeley over the Bay Bridge and down the Bayshore to the Third Street exit, doubling back over the freeway and hitting Jamestown Avenue, turning right and heading for the park. We had an even more convoluted exit strategy, which depended on a mad sprint down the dirt path next to the Gate E staircase and out across the damn plaza. Ah, Candlestick, such a lovable dump! Our coveted parking spot was next to the cyclone cage "protecting" the big gray gas fittings. We never knew exactly what that thing was, but we knew it had something to do with PG& E and we always eyed it warily while barbecuing next to it. We'd cordon off a half-dozen spaces with lawn chairs and whatnot, and wait for the gang to arrive. Those days died quickly as the team became more successful. The increased crowds meant more "crowd control" and the wide-open nuttiness that was Giants home baseball in the really bad years (1972-1986) started to fade. I certainly don't miss the lousy teams, but I remember the adventures fondly.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bet, check or fold?

Take a look at The Baseball Analysts NL West SWOT (Patrick Sullivan, 15 Dec). You got S, W, O and T: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Highlights (quotes):

S--Any hope the Giants have for 2008 rests with these two. (The Franchise and M.C.)

W--Their offense was the weakest in the division and help does not appear to be imminent.

O--If Aaron Rowand can return to form . . . the outfield offense might not be too bad. ("Might not be too bad" is quite a compliment, eh?)

T--If Lincecum or Cain falter at all, San Francisco's season is finished.

If we were playing poker with this hand, would you bet, check or fold? Mr. Sullivan concludes with the observation that we "hung in there" for much of 2008, but he credits that to the teams W-L record with you-know-who on the mound. I've been saying the same thing--we were a 100 loss team "saved" from that ignominy by the +10 performance of The Studly One. We had the best pitcher in baseball and only managed 72 wins. Think about it like that. Here's another take, from Mr. Sullivan: Starters not named Cain or Lincecum took to the hill 95 times for the Giants in 2008 and posted a 5.32 ERA while playing home games in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks around.

I'm going to paste a smile on my face and "check."

Your turn.

(btw here's the link http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2008/12/nl_west_swot.php)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

All You Need To Know

The San Franicsco Chronicle today tells you all you need to know about the 2009 Giants. Bochy foresees Molina in cleanup spot again. Bengie Molina batting clean-up. After 2008, Molina Still bats Fourth. Going Into 2009 with Molina as the Clean-Up Hitter. No matter what you do, it always comes out the same. I won't bore you with the description, from Bochy, of the upcoming line-up, but really, go there yourself if you want to get even more depressed than the headline. Yet, the accompanying articles, with the exception of Bruce Jenkins' "I Don't Care What Ballplayers May Have or Have Not Accomplished When I Cast My Hall of Fame Ballot", are all about the pointless distraction du jour, CHASING SABATHIA. And Randy Johnson! I can see it now, the Giants finish 2009 with a team ERA of 0.79 and a .435 winning percentage. They go down in history as the weirdest team ever. Maybe I am just too short-sighted and uncreative. Maybe CC can play first and bat clean-up on days when he isn't pitching, when he can pitch and bat clean-up. Maybe what Bochy really meant was that "Unless we sign CC Sabathia or someone with some real power, we might wind up with the regrettably sucky sitution where Bengie Molina bats fourth all year again, which will probably result in a net lower performance level than last year, although I like the way he swings the bat." Sure, CC would be a great addition. So would Alex Rodriguez and maybe we can trade Aaron Rowand straight up for Matt Holiday and Eric Chavez. Maybe the face of Jesus will appear in some dust bunnies and I can make some real money. Or maybe the Giants will sign CC for big bucks, trade Matt Cain and/or Jonathan Sanchez for some hitters and make Bochy eat his words. Literally. And you know the worst part? I actually agree with almost all of Jenkin's picks and pans. But not Bruce Blyleven.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sanchez on the block?

Lots of rumors about our boy Jonathan. Peter Bendix of FanGraphs has a piece about our young lefty titled "Breakout candidate." (There's also a piece on Fred Lewis.) A lot of this stuff is fantasy analysis for people in roto-leagues, but it can be useful when thinking about trade value. The lastest rumor involves Jorge Cantu. I know we are desperate for a 3B, but I don't think he's enough for Sanchez. We actually have some options at third, like Kevin Frandsen or even Pablo Sandoval. I like to see power hitting, but numbers like "29 HRs" don't translate well at our park and in our division. Cantu's not a bad player, and may improve, but he doesn't seem like the right type. We have to find hitters that hit a lot of line drives and get on base a lot, and not be mesmerized by HR totals.

And we'd be foolish to give away a guy--a lefty--who averages a K per IP.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Renting Renteria

Clearly the Giants do not believe Emmanuel Burriss is ready for the prime time. For two years, I can live with the Edgar Rental. I don't expect much, his OPS+ last year was an abysmal 84, and lifetime it's 96. He's league-average as a hitter, which is good for a shortstop, but there are some questions about his glove. If we can get a 2007-like year (OPS+ 125), the drinks are on me.

FanGraphs has the best take on it (link via Lefty), and BCB has some thoughts as well (with more cool pitch f/x stuff on our FNG*). Check out OBM for some contrarian grumbling.

*fookin' new guy

UPDATE: Here's a quote to cherish:

"In the American League, you have to wait for the home run," Renteria said. "To me, that's kind of boring."

(from the Chris Haft article)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Howdy, Howry!

I like this Howry:



More than this one:


The first is 2007 and the second is 2008. It is a low-risk move for the Giants and I can't find much to argue with. We got our lefty and now a righty. I'm optimisitic that Howry will bounce back and pitch effectively, he certainly has a good track record out of the 'pen. I'm worried that Sabean has been behaving rationally and making reasonably prudent, cautious moves. I think this means we are going to go hog-wild and throw $200 million at C.C. They call our new boss "Nuke-em," don't they?

What say you, me buckos?

Monday, December 1, 2008


The Latin word "adventus" means "arrival." This is the Advent season, where the faithful expectantly await the coming of Christmas. As one of the humble heralds of the Giants faithful, I am expectantly awaiting the arrival of our savior(s). What will Sabean Claus wrap for us this year? Will we get the present(s) we seek?

Who is on YOUR wish list?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Renteria Rumors

While his career line of .290/.347/.405 is certainly an upgrade over most guys on our team, that says more about us than him. This guy is 33 and we would be his sixth team in 13 years. I wonder if a career OPS+ of 96 has anything to do with it.

The Giants can certainly throw money at any ballplayer they like. I have a feeling Neukom is going to free up wads of dough over the next few seasons. Why not? They've plenty of it.

But Renteria? I keep having these anagrammatic fits and seeing "retread" in his name.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How'd I miss this one?

Yet another piece about our wunderkind, this one by Josh Kalk at The Hardball Times (18 Nov).

JCP said it earlier, and I have to agree. Tim's 2008 campaign was the best season of pitching I have ever seen.

I'm glad other folks noticed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Busta Wave

The league.

The story.

The stats.

We were talking about Buster Posey the other night. RotoWorld had a note about Buster and the HWL championship, thought I'd check it out.

Buster seems like he can rake, but the lack of homerun power is noticeable. Small sample size, of course. And he's young.

So, when does Buster bust his way into the bigs?

Talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good vibes flowin'

Giants sign Jeremy Affeldt.

Two years, not too many bucks. Are we seeing a new, more cautious approach from the Brain Trust? The Global Credit Crunch that is Barry Zito's remaining 5 years will do that to you!

El Lefty Malo and Bay City Ball take a look at Affeldt's positives:

Not only did he post a career high K rate, he also threw a lot of ground balls, more than 50%. If he can repeat that for two more years, and some of the fly balls that went over the fence in Cincy die in the echoing canyons of Mays Field, the Giants just got themselves a relief ace. (ELM)

You’ve got to like the strong K% coupled with an above average BB%. He also showed some groundball tendencies which is also nice to have in a reliever. (BCB)

Can't argue with that. Kevin Gibbs at Giants Cove calls it "a sweet little move" and Martin at OGC penned "Affeldt looks like the prize among relievers." We got a harmonic convergence going on, guys! This bodes well for the rest of the off-season, eh?

Special SHOUT-OUT section:

Big D at Giants Win for always pimpin' our site. "Walkin' the Walk!"

Chris at BCB (again) for this bit-- I’ll also be working on a PITCHf/x profile on Affedlt once I get my pitch database squared away.
Dude, we are not worthy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Raising the bar

Timothy LeRoy Lincecum has set a new standard for San Francisco Giants pitching excellence.  He deserved the Cy Young Award.  He was the best.  Congratulations, Tim!  And joy to all.  After all, we are all Giants.

And a wink-is-as-good-as-a-nod to the Good Doctor, who proved prescient:

Most likely to get the "glory":
By this I mean the hearts and souls of the fans, the acclaim, the awards; that kind of stuff. I think Matt's working man persona hurts him here. Also not having a nickname (an issue that this blog has tried to address) is a big handicap. I get the sense that Tim might be more likely to get the flashy stats (strikeouts, low BA) and we all know how the media loves that. Tim seems like a better photo op and that's probably the difference maker here.
Advantage: Tim

Raising Matt Cain is all about raising the bar.  Matt Cain is going to step it up next season.  He's not going to let Tim get all the glory and hardware.  He's going to kick the little pipsqueak's ass!!

Well, OK.  Sorry.  I'm getting pumped up for my main man!!  And I'm losing it.  Speaking of losing it, it's my birthday tomorrow.  I will be older than Tim + Matt.  And I'm going to spend money on Matt Cain.  Such a deal!

Baseball-Reference is always seeking page sponsorships.  And, in a sudden development, Matt's B-R page needed a sponsor!  Fabulous news.  (I use B-R like a drug.)  I pulled the trusty old PayPal account out of the garage, dusted it off, gave it new spark plug and spent the bucks.  Eighty-four Yankee dollars.  That was easy--my lovely bride and I got married on 8-4-84.  Eighty-four is my number!


I'll stop yelling now.

<---Click on Matt's bobblehead box cover to go to his page.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why Tim is about to win....


In the next few minutes, Tim Lincecum will be awarded thr National League Cy Young Award. We all know why... he dominated the league FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON. It was very likely the best pitched season I have ever witnessed.

Let me be the first to congratulate you ( even before you win! ) and wish you all the best for the next season. Surprise us all again!

p.s. If he did not win...never mind and every writer should go to hell...all of you!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our neighbors have been busy

Looks like the A's will acquire Matt Holliday. (FanGraphs take on MH here.)

This guy is a stud. Any team would love to have a young, accomplished athlete in his prime like Holliday. The A's had some trading chips and went after one of the best players around.

How does this impact the Giants? (1) We'll see less of Holliday. That might add some wins. (2) Our Eastbay neighbors steal some headlines--AGAIN!

(1) + (2) doesn't add up to much, really. Tim Lincecum winning the CYA will steal the headline thunder right back. And beating the Rox will have more to do with OUR offense than theirs.

I don't expect the Giants to make any "blockbuster" moves to get a player of Holliday's caliber. We could sure use a guy like him, but we'll have to grow one from our crop of youngsters. Unlike Beane, Sabes doesn't have the overstock to parley with.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I switched to Chrome.  It's the Google browser.  It's a beta.  I notice it does not work with the RotoWorld widget.  What say readers--fix the RotoWorld widget or dump it?

Friday, November 7, 2008


Do you want Rafael Furcal?

His career line .286/.352/.412 makes him very Winn-ish (.288/.347/.425) at a premium glove position. (They are rated 96 and 102 respectively using OPS+.) Furcal is 31, still in his prime, but coming off two injury-shortened seasons.

If he could be had for a 2-year deal, would you want him? Martin at OGC and Andrew Baggarly kick the tires on Furcal if you need some background.

My take? No, fur-chrissakes. Sure, he is an upgrade, but he's a short-term short-timer. I want to build a team from within and not with aging free agent "stars" unless they can solve an IMMEDIATE problem (like third base). A fellow like Mark Texeira is a true "impact" free agent. And we could sure use a thumper and a genuine major-league first baseman. I'm not sure I want to see the Giants throw millions his way, though, despite his impressive credentials (q.v. Giants Cove for a contrarian take on Mr. T). Pablo Sandoval sure tugged at our heartstrings last season and I'd hate to deny him a chance to show us his stuff. We picked up Josh Phelps as a bit of insurance for that move, and I'm feeling OK about it. As I've said many times, I'm willing to lose and if we know the team is moving in the right direction with youth, the draft, the farm system, etc.

So me buckos, what's your take on the FA market?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Faster than a speeding bullet

This Internet Age thing, that is.

It is 0630 here in the State of Jefferson, I'm having my morning cup o'Peets and reading the news, surfing the 'net, and I come across John Shea:

Giants not interested in trading Cain

Yes, I still read the Comical, but only because I think I'll miss something. Idiotic notion, and hopelessly outdated in our super-cyber world. So I jump to RMC to post my happiness and share it with my blogfellows, and I see my little Roto-World widget already has the story. Normally I would pop in on a few other blogs and see if anyone has picked up the thread, but it is six-freakin'-thirty in the a-freakin'-m and I ain't getting up any earlier than I do now so I'm just going to post and be done with it.

So there.

I'm happy.

Are you?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Don't trade Matt Cain.

Chris Haft has a piece on everyone's favorite off-season topic.

Trading Cain is nuts. We have two good pitchers to build a staff around. Well, one other-worldly great pitcher and one good pitcher. Make no mistake. Matt Cain is a good pitcher. When you have a young, studly 1-2 punch you are a fool to break it up. Especially when your next-best guy is Barry Zito. Sure, Jonathan Sanchez could step up next year. That would be great. Right now, our rotation is God, demi-god, mortal, mortal, mortal. Fuck with that at your own peril.

(a wink is as good as a nod to Chris at BCB)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Pete

Pedro Feliz gets the game-winning hit in the World Series for his new ballclub. Now that's a story. I don't want to write it, though.

Congrats to the Phils, deserving winners. I'm happy that a National League team won.

The season is over. 2008 is in the books.

Sharpen your pencils, lads, 2009 is just around the corner.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Who's our homer hitter?

The Phils hit 214 HRs this season, second to the ChiSox' 235. The TBR's tied with Yankees for 9th with 180. Our beloved team finished 30th with 94. This post-season, the Rays bashed their way past the defending champs in the ALCS with 16 HRs in 7 games. The Phils are on a homer-binge, and seem poised for the big prize.

Now I realize you can be a good team and not hit a lot of homers. The Angels, for example, were 18th in home runs with 159, yet had a terrific season. But 18th means they hit more bombs than 12 other teams. And you can hit homers and be el-stinko. The Padres hit 154, good for 20th place. It should be noted that the MLB average is 163 HRs in 162 games. (q.v. here)

Back to the question: who's our homer hitter?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

RIP Merl Saunders

The Chronicle had an obit today for Merl Saunders. I got to see Merl play at the old Keystone in Berkeley when he teamed with Jerry Garcia in Reconstruction. That was 1979, I was a college boy at Cal. The Giants had completed an improbable winning season in 1978, the "Little Orange Skateboard," led by Vida Blue and Jack Clark, had a long run in first place before the LAtriners crushed our vain hopes and we finished six out. We had even higher hopes in 1979, that spring we were probably giddy at the thought of another good run. Alas, Joe Altobelli's boys went down in flames, 71-91. Joe was gone before the season was over. Jerry was a big part of the soundtrack of my life then. I've always associated the Dead with the Giants. Living a couple of blocks from the Keystone on Francisco Street, I got to see Jerry and Merl together (with John Kahn, Ed Neumeister, Ron Stallings, Gaylord Birch in "Reconstruction") several times. I worked that summer at JC Penney, just a few blocks down Shattuck Avenue.

Merl was a unique and creative artist, a relaxed and gentle showman. He was as psychedelic as Jerry, and could take you places with his spacy solos, but his grooves were what I remember. Merl was the perfect foil for the mercurial hippie genius, keeping the tunes grounded, laying down the guts so Jerry could take off. They made a memorable pair.

The picture is a scan of an album cover, one of my treasures, a 1973 Fantasy double LP. It features a wonderful "Harder They Come," Merl's rolling, rippling organ spurring Garcia to anguished, bluesy heights, and Merl coming back with a driving lead to finish it out. Sublime stuff.

Merl Saunders was born in San Mateo in 1934. He was a fixture on the San Francisco music scene for forty years. Thanks, Merl, for giving this Giants fan some back beat!

Requiescat in pacem.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tim Is Much Cuter Than Ross Perot

From Henry Schulman in today's SF Chronicle:

In the Players Choice awards announced Monday by the Major League Baseball Players Association, Lincecum outpolled Arizona's Brandon Webb and Milwaukee's CC Sabathia for Outstanding Pitcher in the NL. Later Monday, the Sporting News announced that Lincecum won its player polling for NL Pitcher of the Year.
Cy so what? If the guys who actually have to stand in the box and face pitchers vote Mr. Lincecum the best pitcher in the National League, what possible rationale could there be for some old guy on the east coast to look at win totals and decide that a pitcher on some east coast team was "better"? We all know that, because there are various attributes involved, unlike, say, picking the home run leader, that the Cy Young award can be somewhat subjective. However, if you read various newspaper columns around the country written by people who actually get to vote, then you begin to wonder what criteria is really in use, if any. So I have two possible suggestions. One, relegate the Cy Young to a minor mention, call it the old writers pitching award, and make a big deal out of the player's choice awards. Or, let Chris at Bay City Ball, the guys at firejoemorgan.com and Grant at McCovey Chronicles vote. At least they partly pay attention. Congratulations Tim! You deserve it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Giant Sucking Sound

Yes, the Grand Nagus himself! I think the Giants will woo more independents if we put HRP on the ticket. Maybe he can bust a move or two for us at first.

Yes, first base. In 2008, it was a chasm of Giant suckitude:

Bowker (71 games at 1B, 111 overall) .255/.300/.408 (84 OPS+)
Aurilia (82 games at 1B, 140 overall) .283/.332/.413 (95 OPS+)
Ortmeier (13 games at 1B, 38 overall) .219/.315/.313 (66 OPS+)
Ishikawa (29 games at 1B, 33 overall) .274/.337/.432 (100 OPS+)

Then one arrived who fit Monty Python's Shavian quip "you shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark" . . .

(cue Metallica)


Yes, Pablo. Our adorable Pablito. Little Money.

Sucking sound? What sucking sound?

.345/.357/.490 in 41 games, 17 at first base. Good for a 120 OPS+!

Pablo sparkled at A+ and AA ball in 2008 before his call-up. He has a career .787 OPS in 452 games in the minors. He'll turn 23 in August of next year. No less than Brian Sabean declared "I think at this point we'll pencil in Sandoval as our first baseman."

Quite a ride for our free-swinging youngster from Venezuela. I think 1B is his best spot--with Molina our starter for 2009 and Posey in the wings, catcher is not in the works. If Sandoval is a major-league hitter, then let's keep him happy and healthy at the least demanding spot on the field. I was impressed by his grace and athleticism--he looked good at third and running the bases--so I imagine he could be an above-average fielder at first.

Can Pablo hit for a full season? He'll have to. Does he have what it takes to plug the hole and stop that goddamn sucking sound? He better. Because if we don't get Mark Texeira, there is no one else on the FA market. And unless Sabes suddenly becomes Billy Beane and plucks an unlikely under-valued blocked prospect or latent rookie star out of some other team's grasp, we have no one else.

I'm neither optimistic nor pessimisstic about Pablo Sandoval being our 2009 first baseman. I just know that he is our ONLY option at this point. There is no real competition for the job, other than Travis Ishikawa (a career .803 OPS in 708 minor league games), who certainly looked better than either Bowker or Ortmeier. But Ishikawa has never seemed to impress the brain trust until his spectacular effort at Fresno (38 XBH in 48 games, 1.107 OPS) last summer. Can the big lefty make a push for the job? Or is he doomed to a platoon/bench role for some other team?

More important than that--is Pablo the man? Heckle on, O My Brothers.

I ripped off the HRP image from somewhere.
I don't remember where.
I don't think Ross cares.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Supermassive black hole

That's what happens in my brain when I think about third base.

Fan Graphs has a breakdown of the available free-agent third basemen. It ain't pretty. The only one remotely interesting is big-stick no-glove recovering-from-injury Hank Blalock, but the Rangers have an option on him.

Tell me, buckos, who's on third? Pablo Sandoval? Kevin Frandsen? Ryan Rohlinger? Conor Gillaspie? Makes you miss Pedro Feliz, eh?

Help! I'm being sucked into a supermassive black hole!!


(NASA image: public domain)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Who's on Second?

Travis Denker was waived and claimed by the Padres. Obviously he was not in the Giants plans for second base.

A quick look at his stats on B-R:

574 games in the minors (started as a 17-year old!), 556 hits, 124 doubles, 73 homers, 310 RBI, 320 walks, 391 strikeouts. An .830 career OPS with a .276/.376/.454 slash line. (Only 42 major-league plate appearances so I skipped that.)

In about half as many minor-league games, Kevin Frandsen sports an .849 OPS, his line is .327/.391/.458. This has translated into a .254/.318/.363 in the bigs, a .681 OPS, about 100 points lower than the league mean over the last three years. To be fair, he has yet to see a full season. He's 26--time to fish or cut bait. (Denker is 22.) The Giants have invested a lot of time and energy in Frandsen and seem poised to hand him the job in 2009. His competition, now whittled to just Eugenio Velez, who is also 26, a shit-or-get-off-the-pot number. Velez' main attribute seems to be his blazing speed. Let's look at his lines:

Minors: .295/.342/.450 (.792 OPS in over 400 games)
Majors: .262/.303/.392 (.695 OPS in 112 games)

I have to say I'm damn underwhelmed.

Maybe that's why there's a rumor the Giants are interested in Dan Uggla.

So, me buckos, who's on second for 2009?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Duke" Neukom

The new head honcho has a book. (The following is lifted from Ray Ratto's piece in the Comical:)

"We want to develop a Giants Way of playing baseball," the team's new managing general partner announced Tuesday. "My idea is that we adhere to it at the minor-league level and all the way up. It's how you play the game, conditioning, fundamentals, a rigorous spring training regimen, everything. We want the best talent, the best teachers, the best leaders, the best trainers, and we want to have better communication on what we want and how we want it done."

There's a well-known fellow who passed on a some years back by the name of W. Edwards Deming. He was a mangement/leadership guru, but a nuts-and-bolts guy, not some clown spouting woo-woo hippie bullshit. His first rule was, in short: create constancy of purpose.

Now, I've been squawking for years about this sort of thing. Ever since I learned about Branch Rickey and Walter Alston and their famous tomes on how to play baseball, and how their organization (during the O'Malley era) actually embraced a uniform approach to the game, I was astounded that they were the exception, not the rule. Of course, I learned this stuff way back when the LAtriners routinely thumped the Giants and routinely found themselves fighting for a post-season spot. It was obvious then that their organization was superior. Some day, I thought, the Giants will figure it out.

I therefore greet this news from El Jefe with optimism--guarded of course, because Sabean and Bochy will still be around. But optimism nonetheless, something I've had in short supply recently. After all, our starting shortstop next year has a .337 lifetime slugging percentage.

I'm about to head off for work right now, so I can't actually "raise a glass," but I call on all readers and hecklers to raise a glass to Bill "Duke" Neukom for making a fine first impression.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Post-season Blues

As in the Blue Horde from the Chavez LAtrine. Of course, if the CHCers had won, we'd be hearing interviews with Sarah Palin about how she's always been a Cubbies fan and only communists, liberals and terrorists like other teams. If I search my soul, I find I don't care that much. The LADoggs make me want to vom, especially with The Godfather at the helm, reaping in more praise about his managerial magic. Sort of like Rudy Googliani getting credit for "leadership" by going to Yankee Stadium after 9/11. Hell--a whole goddamn smell of Yankees fans went to the Bronx after 9/11. They just didn't get on TV. Nevermind. I hate the Smogsuckers, but I don't give enough of a shit to get upset about a playoff win, even a trip to the World Serious. I'm bummed because of the damn Giants. I knew they would stink this year. We all did. But they are going to stink next year, too. We will finally put up five straight losing seasons in 2009, a franchise record for futility.

Tell me I'm wrong.

Deliver me some Xanax for my baseball soul.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Love You Long Tim

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.

photo credit

Sunday, September 28, 2008

7 8 2 2 4 6

Maddux? Check.

Dodgers? Check.

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

I am ........... Losing it


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

King Tim

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

It is good to be King!

photo credit

Sunday, September 21, 2008

6 5 0 0 4 4

108 pitches, 73 strikes, 26 batters faced, 4 groundouts, 9 flyouts.

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.

Penultimate Matt: FIP, WHIP, and VORP

The statgeeks have some lovely acronyms, eh? Figuring that MC has his second-to-last start today, I thought I'd see how he stacks up against his fellows. I went to Fan Graphs and did a sort for all pitchers over 180 IP using FIP, or "Fielding Indpendent Pitching." (See a breakdown for that on THT's Glossary page.) The wunderkind, Tim Lincecum, leads the world in FIP at 2.62. There are 51 guys in the ML with at least 180 IP: 30 starts x 6 IP = 180. Thus my choice of cut-off point. This unfortunately eliminates some outstanding pitchers like John Lackey and Jake Peavy, both who've lost starts to injuries. Matt Cain is currently 30th, at 3.86. Think of FIP like an uber-ERA. It is supposed to be a better indicator of the things the pitcher controls--an attempt to reduce the team and park influences.

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.

This Is Not About Baseball

(I want to abuse this wee daft forum with a bit of a rant about the world such as it.)

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




Sign Tim!

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?

Please Tim,

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

At Least Pablo Got Two Hits

The Giants coulda-shoulda deprived Webb of win #21. They jumped on him for 3 quick runs, but Sanchez caved in quickly and had a disastrous 2nd inning, hanging an all-time bad 0-2 pitch to Webb, who drove in 2 with a double. The inning went from bad to worse with Upton's mammoth HR. Sanchez managed to strike out the side in the 3rd, but lost it again in the 4th and was gone.
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.

7 7 2 2 0 7

Rags: Listen kid, ya gotta cut down on them walks.

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

Pablo is God

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

55 for 55

Tim Lincecum's fifty-fifth appearance dazzled: his first SHUTOUT! Four lousy singles (two in the ninth), twelve strikeouts - including Gonzales three times - never in doubt. This performance, while solidly placing Tim in Cy Young command, will again bring out cries of "abuse!" Who knows? Tonight's thrills make one wonder...

Is Tim the new Barry?

Author's note: This 55-word post, in the spirit of M.C. O'Connor's series of mini-sagas starring Matt Cadd, honors a minor numerical milepost on the highway to stardom. I bet you expected tonight’s title to be Completely Tim, didn’t you? Heckles should assume similar form, as this note did...try Word Count Tool!

A Good Game.

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

3.1 9 6 6 1 3

After yielding only 14 HRs in 30 starts, MC gave up two big bombs last night. OK, I can forgive Adrian Gonzalez. After all, that dude is a stud. He can jack 'em off anyone. But Drew Fookin' Macias? Shit, that whole 82-pitch, 20 batter nightmare looked like BP. Worst outing of the season, obvviously, a spectacularly Zitovian effort.

"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

The Church of Baseball

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

Rebound Tim

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??

photo credit

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sanchez and Sandoval

I'm so psyched about today's lineup. Watching Sanchez pitching and Sandoval catching is like a little dream come true. The rest of the lineup- almost all rookies- is exciting too.
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

6.2 10 4 4 1 2

Can it be so? Matt Cain getting run support? Pitching below his standard but getting some good luck? I love it! The Pirates were rakin' it tonight, MC got some park help and some relief help and kept it close. The improbable rally took me by surprise, but it was the lowly Pirates after all. Despite their ownage of us, they are still lowly.

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 = Ace

I've been waiting all year to use this title, and, well, better use it now because I might not get another chance. Discouraging loss yesterday in 12 innings, young Tim on the mound didn't look so good and it looked every bit like a 0-fer road trip. Just to make it worse, we matched our 16 loss pitcher against the Rox 16 game winner. Lo and behold, the Gints came out a-swingin' and Zito came out a-pitchin'. Zito gave up 4 hits in 8 innings, threw a total of 75 strikes in 123 pitches, earned 2 runs (one a Clint Barmes home run) and struck out 5. In spite of his bad, bad outing last time, he has, generally, been on an improving trend. This is important, and not because of his high salary, but because we are going to be paying his salary so we might as well get some utility out of him.

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'!

Fallible Tim

For the first time this year Tim Lincecum deserved to lose. His 5 inning, 5 hit, 5 run outing easily stands as his worst, especially since the All-Star Break. We have all spent a great deal of energy figuring out what makes Tim so good; I have always felt you can learn even more trying to figure out what makes players bad. This is a challenge with Lincecum (since he is hardly ever "bad" and never "Zito bad") but maybe we can gather something.

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

Adequate Jon

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.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

5 8 5 5 5 3

Not his worse start of the year. That honor is reserved for his 4/18 effort in St. Louis (3-2/3 IP, 9 ER). He gave up 6 earned runs against the White Sox at home month later, but that was in 7 innings. He gave up a couple of bombs late in that one to blow what was a good start, but managed another ND despite the team losing 13-8. He's given up 5 ER on 3 other occasions (5/8 in Pittsburgh, 6/4 against the Mets, and 7/6 vs. LA), all losses.

MC had nothing today--he didn't bring the gas. He couldn't get the damn pitcher out to end the 5th inning! Wildness and lack of velocity were the culprits. Despite today being his 100th career appearance, his 100th start is not until next time. MC pitched 2 shutout innings of relief in 2006 (5/16 in Houston). JAMEY WRIGHT started that game for the Giants! I got this info via FAN GRAPHS, but I can't remember the circumstances of that game--why we had Cain in the 'pen, for example. I reckon he was struggling. He bounced back with a shutout in Oakland 5 days later. Let's hope we see some more of that.

The Kids So Far

Nobody wants to write about the high-scoring losses in Cincinnati, so I thought I'd compose some short reviews of some of our rookies.

Ivan Ochoa- On the bench since 8/26. Batting only .236 with no steals. Has shown a good knack for bunting. Doesn't look like a keeper at this point.

Emmanuel Burris- Batting .282 with 12 steals. Getting the bulk of the starts at SS now. One of many switch hitters the Giants have.

Travis Ishikawa- A tall lefty with a great name. Some power. Hitting only .237. No future with Giants probably considering the better prospects available to play first.

Ryan Rohlinger- Can't hit right-handed pitching- only .050.

Eugenio Velez- Hot recently with a double and a triple 2 days ago and a homer yesterday. Still a flawed player with potential for improvement. Is very fast.

Pablo Sandoval- Has been in the starting lineup every day of his ML career. A hitting machine from both sides of the plate. Plays 3 positions, apparently well. If he can handle 3rd base he will solve many of the Giants' long-term needs. Pitchers will learn that there's no reason to throw strikes to him, as he swings at everything close or even not so close. But he still puts the ball in play.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Exhausting Tim

Last night, after an exciting 4-1 victory over the pesky rookies, I felt just like Austin Powers after a photo shoot...I was spent! Tim Lincecum was probably fresh as a daisy, even after a career high 132 pitches over 7.2 innings. Damn kids, don't know any better. Right from the start, I was having a bad feeling. When Tim gave up a couple hard hit balls and fell behind 1-0, I started sweating. Every inning that Livan mowed us down made my heart sink a little deeper. I found that it was ALL ABOUT Tim getting the win. I know that I'm always spouting that wins are not important, blah, blah... but last night that didn't enter my mind. My attitude was getting snarkier by the second ( my friends will verify that, sorry! ) until, of course, two pitches to Bengie and


( Unfortunately for my friends this happened in the car after I left. ) After Wilson finished up I thought I would post, but I was too tired and crashed. A great win, another great job by Lincecum ( 10 strikeouts for 210 on the season, lowered his ERA to major league leading 2.43 ) but this morning I am not basking in The Enchanter's glory.

Instead I am still wondering if we are doing the right thing with Tim. After 7 innings he had thrown 116 pitches, already above his average. Tim was due up and I'm sure most people thought he was done. Didn't somebody in the front office just mention the idea of shutting down Sanchez and Lincecum early? Obvious for Jonathan, but are they really going to "manage" Tim at all? Does the front office have a plan, or do they ride that exciting Lincecum train (like I did last night) for as long as possible? Is that extra inning that Bonehead likes to send Tim and Matt out to get really worth it? In a few years are we all going to wondering what could have been? I am a lunatic fringe fan, my emotions get the best of me (like last night). Are the people in charge of Tim's future any different than me?

Monday, August 25, 2008

6 6 3 3 4 4

Sometimes you have a bad game. It happens to the best of them. We go out and spend sixty million bucks on a guy who hits fifth, we hit him third, we get what we deserve. As Jon Miller succinctly put it after the 8th inning, "he's had 4 at-bats, seen 11 pitches, and made 5 outs."

Yes, it is the saga of Captain Gamer himself, Aaron "Gomer" Rowand. What a display he put on for us tonight! Wow. The leadership alone was legion. Never mind the ball-playing. And what is this with his throws? Does he always uncork those ugly-looking things or was that an aberration? Tell me it was an aberration. Lie. It's OK.

Despite the 5 hits by Winn and Lewis, we couldn't generate the runs we needed. Matt Cain was not sharp, he labored (27 batters, 112 pitches) for his "quality start," pitching just poorly enough to lose. But, ye gods, the man ought to win one of these creaky 6-and-3 efforts now and again, eh? If this were a Kirk Rueter start, we'd have won 7-4! Perhaps a little time in The Shed with Woody would help.

I don't like the way that sounds. Sorry Matt, skip the Shed. Forget I brought it up.

Just bring the gas next time.

Pabloooo-Mania 2

Two more hits and one more Giants win. I'm watching Sandoval and I'm thinking, "This man will never draw a walk," because he swings at everything, and also he's probably going to strike out a lot. So I checked his stats and he's walked once, but amazingly has only struck out twice. His OBP,.441, is barely higher than his AVG, .438.
What remains to be seen is how much power he can eventually conjure. You look at those massive thighs and buns and you know he's as strong as an ox, but he's not even trying to hit anything but singles. I'm not complaining, just wondering "What's next?"

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I just love this guy. I was hoping for a power hitter,
but he resembles Tony Gwynn more- a pudge who slaps
the ball to the opposite field a lot.
Let's all hope he stays good for a long time.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Veep Tim?

Wow, I am really groggy. I'm back to work, but that didn't stop me and the missus from going out for a little Friday night boogie time. Yes, I missed the game...didn't even check the score before crashing at about 1 am. Sue me. But, here's where it get's odd....I swear that my cell phone went off in the middle of the frigging night, jarring me awake. Here is what I saw:

I have some important news that I want to make official.

I've chosen Tim Lincecum to be my running mate.

Tim and I will appear for the first time as running mates this afternoon in Springfield, Illinois -- the same place this campaign began more than 19 months ago. I'm excited about hitting the campaign trail with Tim (and his father), but the three of us can't do this alone. We need your help to keep building this movement for change.

Please let Tim know that you're glad he's part of our team. Share your personal welcome note and we'll make sure he gets it: http://my.barackobama.com/welcometim

Thanks for your support,

What a blockbuster! Makes sense, especially considering Tim's continuing ridiculous dominance of the pudres ( lowered his ERA to 0.79 in five starts this season,) hell, the entire league (14-3, ERA of 2.48). Last night's example featured 8 innings of 4 hit mastery, ZERO RUNS, and 8 strikeouts. Clearly a strong leader. Of course, the milestone of 200 STRIKEOUTS helps put Tim's name on America's lips. I think this is going to work. Lord knows that a magnificent talent like Tim only comes along every generation or so. For Giants fans, Mr. Lincecum truly represents

Change We Can Believe In.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Giants Find Ways to Win

The Giants' star closer Brian Wilson got his second win in 2 days as the team scratched out a come-from-behind win today at PhoneCo Park. With the score tied, Emmanuel Burriss completed his round trip of the bases in the bottom of the 9th without benefit of a hit when the Marlins' Kevin Gregg threw a wild pitch with the rookie infielder at third. He got there by virtue of a walk, a steal, and a fly ball.
Interim starter Matt Palmer made quantum-leap progress over his miserable 1st start by throwing 6 solid innings and giving up only 2 earned runs.
Incredibly, the lowly Giants have the best record in the NL in one-run games, at 24-12. (I think that's what they said. I need a fact checker.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

7.2 5 2 2 4 4

This was an evening touched by the Fates. I violated a cardinal rule: I spoke of a streak while we were in the midst of that streak. The result? Well, predictable indeed. Said streak was kaput. It was the Fata Mattcainia, that "fog of war" that descends upon our youngster's games. He has the third-lowest career (50 starts) batting average against in the NL (.225) and the third-lowest run support average (3.91). He is known around here as "Mr. No-Decision," and is famed in song and saga for his rotten luck. This season, the team has scored only 69 runs in his 27 starts! You do the math. He has a lifetime 30-38 record. So in the 4th inning I was casually remarking, mind you, casually, to mi amigo JC, that Matt Cain had a 13-game homerless streak going on. Sure, and don't you know, Jeremy Fookin' Hermedia hits a pop fly to the only place in the park where a pop fly is a homer, and the FloMars are up 2-1. This is followed two innings later by an out-of-character offensive outburst that put us up 5-2. Bonehead naturally felt that after 112 pitches--7 WINNING innings--and 29 batters that MC should pitch ANOTHER inning. He gave up two ropes that were--luckily--outs. Then, still throwing 95 mph, he walked Dan Uggla. Bonehead had seen enough. Ya think? Does anyone else read Pitcher Abuse Point charts? That's rhetorical, of course. I know you do. Someday, we hope and pray, so will Bonehead. Alas, the Fata Mattcainia appeared to have let us be. We cruised into the 9th with a three-run lead, full of confidence. I had visions of .500 for MC (not since he was 1-1 on April 22, 2007, had he reached such seasonal heights).

It was bound to happen. Wilson had a save streak of 24, tied with Beck and Nen for 3rd all-time in SF history. I opened my mouth earlier, and got slapped down hard, a streak in tatters. I kept my mouth shut in the 9th, but my earlier transgression, apparently, was still in play. I got beaten down again, this time with a 3-run opposite-field bomb by an ex-Golden Bear with 97 MLB ABs who was born the year I graduated from that venerable university.

We won, though. That's good. The Fates cursed Matt Cain again, but somehow the team escaped their wrath. I know, I should be happy that he pitched well and that he has pitched consistently well since the Break. But I'm greedy and selfish and I want W's on his ledger, damnit. Is that so much to ask?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Number 3 starter

Just when it seemed like Barry Zito was going to have trouble being the fifth-best pitcher on our squad, he tosses 7 shutout innings in Atlanta. Who is this guy? What do we make of the enigma that is The Second Highest Paid Pitcher in Baseball? Check out the snarky take from RotoWorld--he's due for a fall if recent pattern is a useful predictor. They say it is "almost a guarantee" he'll get hammered in his next start. Is it just random variation that produces these strong Zito efforts? Is he really a 5.40 ERA guy? He was a league-average 4.50 last year, and his lifetime mark is 3.80. I think I'll go beat my head against the wall and see if any insights emerge. I imagine that is just as useful at this point as pitch f/x analysis. Whatever he is, he's our #3 right now, and I have a feeling he'll be our #3 for five more years.

And, just because it feels so good: