Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lovable Tim

As Lord Tennyson once said, "In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." Needless to say, if you are reading this, Giants baseball is probably a big part of what you love in life. Furthermore, the latest incarnation of our team features one of the most exciting, talented and, yes, lovable players any of us have ever seen. Face it how can you not love someone who HAS NEVER LOST TO L.A.!?!?! The Franchise delivered another quality start last night (7+ innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 8 strikeouts) and the offense backed him up to easily take the rubber match with the hated doggers. Not only that, we REACHED .500 !!! Respectability!! My heart is bubbling over with joy and, as usual, the focus of my affection turns toward our shaggy mainstay. To honor him, as well as the American Academy of Poets’ “Poem in Your Pocket Day”, my everlovin' wife was commissioned to craft a love poem. We hope you enjoy...

"The Love Song of J. Cory Parsons"

Let us go, on this fine day
Where the ballpark reaches out into the Bay
Lines of verse can express our admiration
For the youngster and his march toward domination.

To the plate another comes and goes
Muttering about his mighty throws

Southern swingers think their LA jive
Can be a force—but Number Fifty Five
Just sits them down, of course.

The night grows cold, the game grows old
(And he never wears his trousers rolled)
Yet another tale to be told…

To the plate another comes and goes
Muttering about his mighty throws

Do I dare to eat a garlic fry?
A former hurler, by the name of Cy,
Is remembered as the pitches fly.

I hear the Dodgers sing a solemn hymn.
I do not think that they will sing to TIM

Based on T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pre-game chatter

C'mon, Tim! Kick some ass!!!


Intangibles-R-Us is the new motto of the MMIX Giants. We're gritty and we hustle, we're tough and we hang in there, we got spunk and vim and vigor and youth. Well, some youth.

But we got no one who can consistently deliver crushing blows. Like this guy. (Sorry, I know this is a Giants site, but sheesh, this guy can hit.)

I'll give the bhoyos some credit, they had a shot a winning the game against a tough lineup and an ace pitcher. But we are like a tick, hiding on a stalk of tall grass, waiting for the unsuspecting short-pantsed hiker to come too close so it can burrow into the skin and maybe give him Lyme disease. I mean, the odds aren't good on that sort of attack strategy. We need some fangs, some claws, a vicious roar, and other-wordly leaping ability.

Intangibility is nice, but an extra-base hit with men on base is way better.

Otherwise, it is nice to see Ishikawa getting some hits and Sandoval heating up. The Fred Lewis Mystery Train rolls on: what's next? And, can Manny Burriss hit?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What could be bad?

The Giants beat their hated rivals with a little bit of Chavez Latrine dink-ball and a 1-2-3 see-you-later Brian Wilson 9th, and also got a visit from The King Himself, who not only energized the fans in the park but had some fun in the KNBR booth as well.

Bonds talked about hitting, of course, and reiterated a point he's made many times before. Barry said that if a hitter "did his job" he should not worry about the results. The job, naturally, is to "hit the ball on the screws." If a fielder "just happened to be standing there" that's the nature of the game. Go back to the dugout and be happy with the execution--hitting the ball hard. Don't let the "negative result mess with all the positive you just created." You have to figure The Greatest Hitter of All Time knows what he's talking about. So much of sport is random chance--the best athletes, especially those in team sports, know that they can only control a small zone of the entire event. Focus on that zone of influence, maximize your chance to do well, and let the chips fall where they may.

I was happy to see a relaxed Bonds, loved the fact that we won the game with him in the stands, and found myself glued to radio when he was bantering with Jon Miller. At one point, Barry talked over the action, then hastily described the play. Miller joked about it, and offered to let Bonds continue the play-calling, to which Barry responded, trying his best to drop an octave, "well you know I don't have as low a voice as you, Jon." The King said all the right things when the mic was in front of him, praising the fans, the club ("these kids have a good thing going"), the organization, talking up the rivalry with LA, deftly side-stepping any contentious points about his forced retirement, and joked about missing the game but "not the pain."

What could be bad?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


7 4 1 1 4 5

Matt Cain managed to keep Papa Loss-ba away today, and he pitched well enough to have Papa Win-ba take possession of him. Always nice to get an unexpected clutch, dramatic, studly three-run homer to help out your cause, eh? It was after that they called the game on account of the locust plague, right? My radio went to static--what did yours do?

Matt gave us a splendid little show of "three times through" today. He threw 103 pitches (67 strikes) at 27 batters, facing the starting nine three times each. This just has me all a-twitter (no, not that twitter) because of Chris' way cool graph over at BCB on Friday. No, not the Barry Zito graph, the other one, Times Facing Opponent in Game.

Matt has a problem. First time through the lineup (2008 stats), teams produced well below a league-average OPS against our youngster. The second time through they did a little better, but still well below average. The third time through Matt gave it up. Team OPS numbers against Matt were at least 10% above league average, a jump of over 30% from the previous plate appearance. Tonight that wasn't the case. Matt's first nine batters went 1-for-8 with a walk--hitting a solo homer. Two strikeouts and a .125/.222/.500 line for a .722 OPS. The next nine went 2-for-7 with 2 walks and a .286/.444./.286 line, a .730 OPS. The final nine plate appearances produced a hit and a walk for a paltry .125/.222/.125 line, a miniscule .347 OPS. Three of those 27 outs were the pitcher, Jon Garland, including of course the strikeout to end Matt's start. (Funny that Melvin didn't pinch hit there.)

I figure Matt had some good voodoo working for him in that little homer-happy ballpark. The walks didn't hurt him. He only got 6 groundballs, but the fly balls (other than the HR) didn't hurt him either. And he even got some swinging Pablito voodoo to end the run support curse! Matt Cain with run support? Look out National League!

Muggsy, part one

Mickey and Johnny McGraw, two young Irish brothers, arrived at New York some time in the 1850s, like so many others, to escape the awful famine and poverty of the old country. Then, like other poor immigrants, they were drafted to fight in the Civil War. Shortly after the war, Johnny got married but his young wife died in childbirth. The surviving baby girl was named Anna.

Johnny moved from town to town taking whatever jobs he could get, and in 1871 he settled in the town of Truxton, in central New York. He remarried, and on April 7, 1873 a son was born and they named him John Joseph McGraw. The McGraws would go on to have seven more children over the next twelve years.

Tragedy struck the family in the winter of 1884, when a debilitating fever swept through the family. Little Johnny's mother was the first to succumb, and his half-sister Anna, 13, died shortly thereafter. By the time the month of January in 1885 had passed, three more McGraw children had died.

In his despair Mr. McGraw became abusive toward his son and had no tolerance for the lad’s passion for the sport of baseball. Young John ran away from home at the age of 12. From that day onward, he was raised by a kindly neighbor, Mary Goddard, under whose care he did quite well….

Thus endeth the melodramatic prologue to the story of John McGraw, the greatest figure in the history of the Giants.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ophiophilic Tim

( How's that for an Tim adjective? Extra credit if you know it without looking it up. Bet you can figure it out.)

Young Mr. Lincecum continues to mock traditional baseball wisdom. Pitchers are suppose to hate facing the same team in two consecutive outings, especially young pitchers. Apparently Tim did not get that memo. This time it was 8 innings, 5 hits, one walk (oops!), and a DOZEN STRIKEOUTS. Oh yeah, NO RUNS. That makes a lovely 16 innings of work: ZERO runs, TWENTY-FIVE K's K's, and ONE walk (oops!). A wonderful way to get a feel for Tim's dominance is to watch the post-game video highlight. I absolutely LOVE the sense of awe ( which later has hints of resignation ) in the voices of the Arizona announcers. (Note to self: I hope I never get jaded about our new superstar...and I pledge to never let my readers ( both of you ) lose touch with the miracle that is Tim. Amen.)

Another benefit of watching this super condensed video is that you really get a sense of how devasting his changeup has become. Yet, Mike Krukow made the comment that Tim has four strikeout pitches. Isn't that a over-statement? Two for sure, and the curve can be nasty, so I buy three. But what is the third? I thought he only had one type of fastball. What did I miss?

Photo credit: I wonder if Tim dreams about snakes and what does that mean? Look here for answers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mel Ott

One of the Giants' all-time greats, there were many things special about Mel Ott besides the 511 career homers and the leg lift.
- Went straight to the majors from high school and was 17 years old when he played his first game as a Giant.
- Played 22 years with the same team.
- Led the team in homers 18 consecutive years.
- He was only 5' 9" and 170#.
- 63% of his career homers were hit at home. (The right field line at the Polo Grounds was only 257 ft.)
- He was a player/manager for most of 6 seasons. His final appearance as a player took place in July of the '47 season, and continued to manage thru the '48 season. His best finish as manager was 3rd place in '42. He was allegedly the subject of Leo Durocher's infamous line, "Nice guys finish last."

Ott played in 3 World Series, '33, '36 and '37, winning in '33. He hit the series-winning homer in the top of the 10th in game five at Griffith Stadium in Washington DC against the Senators. (There hasn't been a post-season game played in DC since then.)

He died in a car crash in 1958 at the age of 49. He was interred in the famous Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans .

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Off-day offering

Yes, I double-checked, it is an off-day for the orange-and-black.

One of the many great sites on the web for baseball junkies is The Baseball Analysts. Today's "Designated Hitter" post by John Walsh is called WAR and Remembrance. He is referring to WAR, or Wins Above Replacement (player), one of the sabermetric crowd's favorite new stats. I know that long-time fans and traditionalists don't care for the clunky geekiness of the new stats. After all, do you really want to talk about VORP when you're arguing about your favorite players over a few beers? Actually, I do, because I see these things as adding new levels of richness and sophistication to something I love to cogitate about, namely, the Greatest Game on Earth. I don't consider them "argument-settlers" by any means. Just because you have a saber-stat that says player X was better than player Y doesn't mean you are done. It does mean, however, that the argument has a new landscape. It also means we can strip away SOME of the bias and emotion that accompany our arguments. It means we can improve the signal-to-noise ratio whenever we look for answers in a debate.

Today's post by Mr. Walsh references a freely-available database created by Sean Smith, who is known for his CHONE player projection system. This database attempts to classify all players and also the TOP 300 position players of all-time (1955 forward) by WAR. The 1955 cut-off is due to the availability of good data, apparently, but it suits most of us because it is post-integration and closer to our "modern" game. This list attempts to rank everything from hitting to fielding to baserunning.

The winner? Barry Lamar Bonds, of course, who finishes well ahead of the neck-and-neck 2nd and 3rd place guys, Mays and Aaron. YOU MUST CHECK IT OUT. Giants fans of our era will particularly appreciate positions 68 through 88.

Give it a gander and report back!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Duh . . . it was a DAY game!

I MISSED Zito's greatest start ever as a Giant and spent the day twiddling my thumbs at work because I fookin' forgot it was a fookin' DAY game! Sheesh! LAME!

Damn. Maybe I've been wrong about his team all along. Maybe you CAN win in the modern game 1-0 and 2-1 and whatnot like you're the '65 Doggers. (Eeeek! I'd rather lose.)

Then again, it was the Padres. Dr. J and I were talking the other night about home-field advantage. We oughta have one, you know? And so far in MMIX it looks like we might. At least against the Padres.

I just finished Baseball Between the Numbers: why everything you know about the game is wrong (by The Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts, ed. Jonah Keri, Basic Books, 2006**). It was an excellent read: I highly recommend it. In Chapter 8-1, Steve Goldman asks "Can a Team Have Too Much Pitching?" He discusses one of the most lopsided teams of all time--the 2003 Chavez Latriners. They allowed 3.43 runs per 9 innings while the league allowed 4.64. The gap, even adjusted for the park, between their team ERA and the league's, was almost 30%. That's one of the biggest spreads in history. This was Kevin Brown, Hideo Nomo, Guillermo Mota, Eric Gag-me, etc. On offense, however, they "won" the Triple Crown: last in batting average, on-base average, and slugging percentage. Adjusted for their park, the team OPS was 17% below the league average. They were 16th of 16 in runs scored, 58 behind the 15th-place team. They scored only 18 more runs than they allowed, at a rate of 3.54 runs per game. (Shawn Green, .280/.355/.460 with 23 HRs, was the hitting star.) They were shut out 13 times and scored one run 25 times to go along with throwing 17 shutouts.

Using VORP, Goldman concludes that they were the most pitching-heavy team of all time. Their batters only supplied about 1/6 of their total VORP, the rest was from the pitchers. They finished 15-1/2 games behind Barry and the Seven Dwarfs, but managed a respectable 85-77 record. Only ONE OTHER TEAM IN HISTORY (the 1925 Reds) with that lopsided of a pitching-to-hitting VORP ratio had a .500 record (80-73, 3rd place).

What's the moral of the story? You have to have BALANCE!

Regardless, it was a great win today, eh?

**Google books link
**Powell's link

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bloomin' lucky Matt

6 9 2 2 0 5

The "luck" associated with Matthew Thomas Cain has usually been of the "hard" variety, and especially in the form of "hard-luck loser." Baseball-Reference has a couple of stats for us to look at, naturally:

RS/GS (run support per game), that is,
runs scored/27 outs in the entire game when the pitcher started
RS/IP (run support per innings), that is
runs scored/27 outs while the pitcher was in the game as the pitcher

CAIN (career) 3.7 RS/GS and 3.1 RS/IP
MLB (average) 5.0 RS/GS and 4.1 RS/IP

Of course, none of us are surprised by this. What surprises us is when the tables are turned! That's why we all love the game, of course. Bloomin' lucky Matt threw 102 pitches and made it through six with the lead, despite giving up 9 hits. I remember hoping that he would keep his walks down tonight--of course he yields ZERO bases on balls. I figure Coach Righetti told him to "throw strikes, son" and so he did, 74 of them. I'm not sure if getting your strikes whacked all over the yard is a good thing, but the outs got made and that's what matters.

The weird part is that Jake Peavy gave up his FIRST EVER GRAND SLAM. To our number 8 hitter, The Rental, who had a big night. And the whole thing got set up by Travis Ishikawa's FIRST WALK of the season. (By the way, that sequence, walk-grand slam, saw our Win Expectancy go from 55.9 to 84.7%.) The weirdness is further compounded by that two-runners-at-the-plate deal in the fourth (a "bang-bang-bang" play?) in which Molina missed the first guy but got the second, saving Cain from a wretched inning. The relay throw was from none other than Mr. Ishikawa.

A nutty, nutty game. Nate Schierholtz appeared and delivered a ringing pinch hit. I could actually hear it ring on KNBR. Maybe Ol' Boch finally remembered that he had that extra guy and figured to let him play in a blowout. Maybe Ol' Boch'll give 'im a start or two. Nah, too nutty.

Matt Cain gets win number two and learns that with a little bit of bloomin' luck, he's movin' up.

Peavy vs. Cain tonight

The 2007 Cy Young Award winner takes the hill at PhoneCo tonight. This is Peavy's 8th season, he turns 28 at the end of May. He's made 202 starts in his career and has logged a career 120 ERA+. He averages 6.3 IP per start with 103 pitches thrown. Teams bat .232/.298/.375 against him.

Matt Cain is in his 5th season, turns 25 in October, and has 106 starts with a career ERA+ of 119. Matt averages 6.3 IP per start with 105 pitches thrown. Teams bat .231/.312/.370 against him.

Now let's look at the "peripherals" (*SO%, BB%, GB/FB):

PEAVY 24.1, 7.8, 0.74
CAIN 20.1, 10.0, 0.56

I think we all know what our young stud's bugaboo is--WALKS. This season he's got 6 in 13 IP. And we know what makes Peavy an elite pitcher--high strikeouts and lots of ground balls.

I'm looking forward to the match-up. Once again, Cain draws the short straw, having to face one of the best in the game, but I'll bet these guys love that. If Cain had the fans' concern over "Wins and Losses" he'd have gone nuts long ago. I imagine the desire to test yourself against the other team's ace is far more important to a world-class athlete than the statistical details. At least I hope so.

Go Matt! GO GIANTS!!

*strikeouts as pct. of batters faced, walks as pct. batters faced, ground ball to fly ball ratio

Monday, April 20, 2009

A dozen or so

We've played 12, the rest of the league between 11 and 13.

Here's how we stack up (NL):

LAST in team OPS. Second-to-last (15th) in runs scored (Houston is 16th).

That's hitting. As far as pitching goes, we are:

9th in runs allowed with 55 (best? Doggs-40, worst? 'Nats-75), 9th in WHIP, 9th in opponent batting average, and 9th in ERA.

Of course, only one statistic really matters, and that is the percentage of games won. With 4 wins in 12 games, our is 33.3%, which inspires much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth. CHONE* projects us to be a 77-85 team, which is good for .475, and if we play .475 ball from here on out that will get us 71-72 more wins. If we play .500 ball, we'll win 75 more games. It's a good thing we have a lot more baseball left, eh?

*q.v. Baseball Projection

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Your 2009 Giants

Worried about Tim Lincecum?


Worried about Randy Johnson?


Worried about our offense?

You should be.

The Win Probability chart is courtesy FanGraphs. They do this for all the games. They also keep a log, blow-by-blow, with the Win Expectancy expressed as a percent (in favor of the home team). Cool stuff, mis amigos, M.C. sez "check it out".

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Unlucky Tim

(do you think we would have caught a break if he only got 12?)

Our boy Tim came back in style with a masterful 8 inning, 5 hit, NO walk performance. Only one of those hits was well struck! And, of course, those lovely strikeouts. Once again, Tim closed out his day with a couple K's. Notice how often he does that?

Should he have been pulled? 96 pitches is up there but, as was just mentioned, he clearly still had dominating stuff. I think I would have left him out there. Here's why: (1) We have 2 days off next week, so Tim won't pitch for a week. If he went up to 115 pitches or so, at least you know he will get plenty of rest. (2) He had ZERO stressful innings and I think that is a HUGE consideration. (3) This team has nothing else going for it. I guess that last one is more of a fan's reason than a manager's.

Well I guess it is all academic when you can't score runs. Our offense is the same place that Nate Schierholtz is....That is his name, isn't it?

photo link: Interesting info about the number 13
. Watch out for dinners with twelve guests.

Stopper Sanchez

The team's #5 starter performed like an ace last night to stop a dreadful 6-game losing streak. Jonathan Sanchez threw 6.2 shutout innings at the D-Backs and allowed just 2 hits, with 4 Ks and 4 walks.
The bullpen did a fine job too. Wilson got the last 4 outs and got save #1 for the year.
So what's the deal with our starting pitching? Is Lincecum going to pull his shit together? Is Cain ever going to establish any consistency? Is Johnson indeed the second coming of Steve Carlton as a Giant? Will Zito ever stop driving us crazy? Can Sanchez stay as good as he's shown he can be?

Friday, April 17, 2009

No One Wants To Post After Zito Pitches

And neither do I.
At least Sandoval got off the schneid (sp?) with 2 hits and pulled himself back above the Mendoza line.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Saved by the bang, undone by the whimper

6 7 2 2 4 3

I was not happy when Bonehead left Cain in the game to hit in the 6th. It was a situation that screamed for a pinch-hitter (he'd thrown 99 stressful pitches at that point). Kershaw was blowing us away, and Cain, predictably, was K victim #10. But M.C. "nutted up" and got through the 6th without damage, so I guess it's "all good." But I'd have yanked him and put up our studly PH with pop, and then sent our long man out there to give me three and take the heat off the 'pen. You know, those guys on our roster who do that. You know, what's-his-name and that other guy.

Matt had a horrible first inning, and survived. He labored all night with poor control and had a hard time getting strike three. I was encouraged by the 7 ground balls, I think that's a key indicator for him. Ultimately, he only gave up two runs to a good, hot-hitting lineup. That could be attributed to luck, or to Cain's iron resolve and general awesomeness. Take your pick.

I'm willing to give Clayton Kershaw credit for his overpowering performance, after all, one hit and thirteen strikeouts is damn impressive. And we scored as soon as he was taken out of the game. Matt Cain was saved another "L" in Chavez Latrine by Gomer's big bomb. Boy, that was a thrilling moment. We had looked so bad all night, it was nice to get some redemption. (There's some fellers on our squad who need to spend some Time in the Cage with Carney, I won't mention any names.)

The enemy got two runs in the 8th to negate no. 33's heroics, which was a shame. It looked like we were going to steal a win there. Now it is past my bedtime (2200 PDT). I'll find out in the morning** how this one turns out.

**UPDATE 0639: I'm glad I turned it off. A blown DP and a WALK? I know, I know, our veteran savvy leaders will show us the way and guide the youngsters and lead us to the Land o' Milk & Honey. Unfortunately, the Lo'M&H looks a lot like last year.

(Four strikeouts for Mississippi Fred? Ugh. That's givin' me the blues, man.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Do the baseball gods hate the Giants?

I will not entertain the notion that Randy Johnson is old and over-the-hill and thus "ain't got it no more." He will right the ship and we will get some quality outings. Funny how he is giving up the Big Fly. Orlando Hudson had a huge day, I know JCP will be ranting and raving about how we "shoulda signed him," but LA is exactly the kind of team Hudson can help. They already have a solid lineup, his skills mesh perfectly with the team's needs. Yes, he's better by a long shot than any of our second basemen, but we need a bunch of real hitters first. But that's one of those things we beat to death in the off-season, eh? Today the baseball gods smiled most wickedly down upon us, forcing us to endure a humiliating loss in front of an Opening Day Smoggers crowd. And those cruel and petty gods opened every sore, teasing us with every one of our nightmares about 2009, most particularly our lack of punch. Or even the thought of punch. To paraphrase Fielding Mellish:

This offense is a travesty. It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.

OK, sorry, I'm flogging the deceased equine again, eh? Good thing the bullpen has an off-day tomorrow and that team ace Matt Cain is the next man to take the ball.

Uncertain Tim

For better or worse, the first six games have shown us that this season looks to be completely different from last season. Now that is probably a really good thing....I mean, we lost a lot, didn't we? And I love the young guys....Pablo and Travis are kind of the Obama versions of Will and Robby. What's not to love with that? This year's bullpen looks good as well as promising, last year's was just plain SCARY. So, ok, I am definitely in favor of a fresh start. HOWEVER....


All those Easter jokes are going to waste. Tim did not rise, he continued his poor start to the '09 campaign with a 5.1 inning, 4 run, 10 hit, 3 walk performance. This came at the hands of a team that Tim obliterated last year. Likewise, the fact that the puds swept the series by smacking Lincecum around is disheartening. What happened to "Stopper Tim?" Two low quality starts in a row? Have all of last year's footholds crumbled?

I know it is too soon to really worry. And I am not, especially not about The Franchise. He will be fine, I'm sure of it. But my mind is boggled by all the uncertainties. This year's journey looks to be a wild one. I am searching for some bearing and the usual rocks are slippery. What do we know to be TRUTHS for the '09 Giants? Is there anything FOR SURE?

Can I at least count on Barry Zito to suck?

(Recognize the image? you should! I found it when I googled "uncertainity" Check this out!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Season So Far

All five Giants starters have had their first turn, and the picture is confusing so far. The starting rotation was supposed to be our #1 strength, but only Matt Cain had a solid outing. Lincecum was apparently over-excited by the opening day vibes and couldn't control his fastball, Johnson was mediocre, Zito was Zito, running up the white flag in the first inning before settling into some decent innings, and then there was Sanchez.
Jonathan Sanchez's performance Saturday night in San Diego was pretty much a microcosm of his career. He came out dazzling, striking out 5 of the first 6 batters, no hits and no walks. You're thinking,"Wow this guy's got great stuff." Then, oh shit, he leaves a slider up and Blanco crushes it into the left field bleachers. Then he has some control problems, gets tagged again, and loses.
It didn't help that the Giants couldn't do much against Peavy, one of the best pitchers on the planet.
Which brings me to the other aspect of the first five games which confounds expectations. The Giants offense has been pretty productive. Going into yeterday's game 6 of the 8 starting position players were batting above .300. (Sandoval and Ishikawa both went hitlless against Peavy and dropped below.) Rowand is off to a good start, as are Winn and Molina. Mississippi Fred is doing great so far, batting .500 as of now.
I'm going to assume Timmy will be better today. If the other starters follow suit (although Matty could hardly improve on his start) and the offense continues to perform well, the team should stay close to the.500 mark or better for a while.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rally killer

Check out the swing in "win probability" from yesterday's game in the 6th inning. After three straight singles (and a baserunning blunder by Mississippi Fred that kept him at 3rd), Young Travis hit into a double play. Note that the Padres were cruising along, then we loaded the bases, thus "loading the dice" before "crapping out." This is not to pick on Ishikawa, everyone hits into DPs. But damn those DPs are serious rally killers! The Puds are throwing Peavy at us, which is no fun at all, but I'm still excited about Sanchez' 2009 debut. Go Giants!

The word on Joe Martinez continues to be encouraging. For even better news, check out MadBum's San Jose start.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


7 4 1 1 2 5

Matt Cain was "Da Man" tonight with a sterling performance, 90 pitches, 61 strikes, and a fookin' CURVEBALL that had a studly Brewers lineup bewitched and befuddled. My main man Mississippi Fred Lewis was PERFECT with 3 hits and a walk in 4 plate appearances. Lots of hitting for the bhoyos tonight, as M.C. enjoyed the very rare experience of RUN SUPPORT.

My lovely bride and I spent the day in the yard, schlepping dirt from one corner to another, me on the shovel and wheelbarrow, strip-mining chunks of State of Jefferson hardpan, she with rake and surveyor's eye, sculpting the gunky clay into graceful slopes, all in an effort to defeat the desert flash floods that pass for rain in this here landscape. Vox clamatis in deserto, O My Brothers, vox clamatis in deserto.

So, we seeketh the Balm of Gilead after our travails, and we hoof northeast-wise across our weird little burg to our little sanctuary, the Pub. Now Dave the Barman likes the Giants, and he knows we like the Giants, but for the life of him he can't find it on the tube. My Lovely Bride takes over, and station 696 comes to life on a plasma screen not six feet from my barstooled-frame, and I immediately ordered pints of Mossback IPA. It was game time!

I got to see every pitch and every player, and have Dave the Barman's laptop at my disposal for GameDay. Thanks, Dave. GameDay had a slower gun--pitch f/x said 92 when the ballpark said 95. Impressions? I just can't get enough of Mississippi Fred. Go, baby go. Make beautiful music! No Ishikawa. Bad, Bonehead, bad. Ishikawa only sits if he plays his way out of the lineup. The Codger Brigade was great, but I'm not interested. A great win, marred only by the horrid event: Joe Martinez struck on the head by a line drive from Mike Cameron. He appeared OK, despite the terrifying blow. Can you imagine how scary that must be? I hope he really is OK, there was nothing new on the Giants website, I'll try again and update the post.

Matt Cain rocks.

update: It is 2134 PDT, and I've found nothing new about Joe Martinez. I guess we'll find out in the morning.

update (Fri a.m.): Henry Schulman reports in today's SFGate that the Martinez news so far is encouraging.

"Yovani Gallardo is a good hitter"

That's what the KNBR boys said right before he jacked the game-winner. I was on the couch, sippin' some George Dickel No. 12 (mmm-mmmm!), and thinking "ol' Johnson's doin' alright" when the youngster from México spoiled things. Who wouldn't like to have that kid in their rotation? He's only 23!

He had a .743 OPS in 42 PAs in 2007 (he was hurt most of last season).

A hit and a walk for Mississippi Fred Lewis, and a nice outing for Merkin Valdez are my highlights.


p.s. FanGraphs has a post (Matthew Carruth, 4/8) on Lincecum and his "value" in long-term contract talks. This might be the most important thing the club does this year or next. You build championships around great players, no?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I'm still giddy

Fan Graphs has some very cool stuff.

Their signature item is the "Win Probability" chart. They do this for every game every day in the Scoreboard section. I first came across the idea of "Win Probability" or "Win Expectancy" in Jim Albert's and Jay Bennett's 2001 (revised 2003)book Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics, and the Role of Chance in the Game.

In chapter 10, "Measuring Clutch Play," they present Table 10-14 on page 291. The caption reads Probability of Home Team Victory Given the Score Difference (Home Team Minus Visiting Team) at the End of Each Inning.** They give most of the credit for the original research to a Canadian fellow named George Lindsey, and cite his 1961 paper "The Progress of the Score During a Baseball Game" in the American Statistical Association Journal. This idea has been taken up by several researchers and sabermetrically-inclined fellows, and I'm sure the original chart has undergone numerous improvements and revisions. Much discussion can be found following the links on FanGraphs. (Here's one.) Suffice to say, this view of the game is gaining traction, and like other sabermetric notions, is creeping into mainstream baseball talk. I won't bury you with math, I promise. But I'm giddy about the start of the season and the excitement of our big win yesterday, so I'm wallowing in all possible post-game enjoyment. I mean, when's the last time you saw a GRAPH with a trend line going up and ending with a GIANTS WIN? You don't have to be a nerd to think that's cool.

**You can actually see Table 10-14 by using Google Books preview feature. Go to Ch. 10 and click on the p. 291 link. You'll have to scroll around a bit. This is a cool thing but the interface seems clunky to me. (I tried to scan the page from my book and post it--way old school tech, I know--but it came out too faint.) Be sure you are looking at the revised edition. If I come across another source of this type of chart on the 'net I'll be sure to blog about it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Unsharp Tim

What a f@cking weird game!

With towering expectations hovering, the third youngest Opening Day pitcher ever for our Giants had a really shitty outing. Tim Lincecum never got command of his fastball. Seventy-eight pitches later...three tortured innings...and the defending Cy Young stud was done! How f@cking weird is that?

Well, the weirdest part of all is THAT WE WON!!! Three homers (from the gnarly vets) were featured in a TEN RUN attack. (Last year it took us the first 6 games to get 12 runs total.) The BIG HIT was delivered by Travis Ishikawa in the first, though - a clutch three run triple.

At least the bullpen wasn't totally weird today. In fact, I would pick the whole crowd (except Hinshaw) as my POTG. Howry was cool striking out the side, but I liked the quiet 1-2-3 inning that Medders delivered.

A victory is swell, but....that was too weird. My brain hurts. Did we learn something? Does Rowand have a chance? Will Pablo get two hits every game of his career? Will we turn 3 dp's every game?

Is Tim human?

Us 10 them 6

We're battin' a-thousand!

Stretch time!

The team flag is flying high today over RMC HQ here in the State of Jefferson, 300 statute miles from the ballpark. We've got Miller & Flemm on the Gameday Audio, and we've got Gameday, so I'm following the action and rootin' for the home squad. I'm on holiday and I'm feeling good. Señor Slow and Gomer have both gone deep today, which they oughta, being that they're the Savvy Veterans on the team. Young Travis showed his muscle (I got to see the highlight reel) with that booming triple, I say we need a nickname for that lad. Down the Klamath River they have a nasty Class VI rapid called Ishi Pishi Falls, and every time I hear "Ishi" I think "Pishi" but "Ishi-Pishi" is no kinda nickname for our burgeoning star. So help me out here, bras. Another big hit for the Gomer and we've got 9 on the board. That takes the sting out of Lincecum's start, doncha think?


Monday, April 6, 2009

. . . and they shall not be named

The actual season is upon us after this agonizingly long spring revue and the weird 25-man roster it engendered. I'm excited that we have a young first baseman. No one seems to think much of this guy, but I'll tell you what I like: he's a true Giant, signing right out of high school, and has logged 7 years in the system before getting his shot. Whatever else, Travis Ishikawa is a trouper--you have admire his persistence. I hope he mashes ML pitching! Across the diamond we have easily the most likeable and most talked about Giants prospect since, well, Tim Freakin' Lincecum. No one seems to know quite what to do with this kid, another true Giant, except to put a bat in his hands. A huge weight of expectations rests on Pablo Sandoval's rather large shoulders. Super-soph and true Giant Frederick Deshaun Lewis is my favorite position player, I'm really looking forward to watching his continuing maturity as a ballplayer. True Giant Emmanuel Burriss is the most interesting story, despite only 3 farm seasons (and a .684 OPS), he beat out the favorite for the 2nd base job. Who knew that "Manny-watch" meant this kid? That's FOUR, count 'em, FOUR farmhands, Giant signees all, in the lineup on Opening Day. That's pretty damn cool, eh? Two more make the list: true Giant Nate Schierholtz, my candidate for Most Screwed By The Old Guys Award, and Eugenio Velez (a 2005 Rule V guy), the winner of this years Weirdest Role Player Award. This isn't counting the pitchers, mind you, where young Giants are the stars. This club is, by degrees, transforming itself with youth and prospects. That's this year's story.

There's baggage of course, and the Giants Express will be burdened with this deadweight for a bit, well, some of it longer than a bit, but I'm going on a Lovecraftian "they shall not be named" jag in order to cope. I want nothing to spoil my fun watching The Youth Movement. Señor Slow (No. 1) will not be a Giant after this season, and maybe my prayers will be answered and he'll get shipped by the ASB. That Guy in RF (No. 2) is a fine fellow and a good ballplayer, so I can't work up the loathing I have for his CF neighbor. But fer chrissakes, can't we get Nate out there? Can't we move this guy? Rental (No. 16) serves as a daily reminder of the failure of our system to produce a major-league ready shortstop despite having one of the oldest players in the bigs man the position for THREE FULL SEASONS. What, we didn't see it coming? That one day even the beloved Omar Vizquel would get hurt and get that much closer to retirement? Did we think the guy would play into his 50s? Sheesh! I can hardly express the combination of fury and despair that accompanied the signing of Gomer (No. 33) for FIVE FREAKIN' YEARS. In fact, I can hardly write about it without an attack of the shakes. I cringe every time a ball is hit to center and every time he steps in the box. I cover my ears and close my eyes. I hum "me-me-me-me-me" real loud and run from the room. It's my nightmare and I'm stickin' to it!

Well, that's it, amigos. I'm stoked. Play ball.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Original Freak

Christy Mathewson's numbers are hard to believe.
373 career wins vs. 188 losses.
2505 strikeouts vs. 844 walks.
Career ERA of 2.13.
79 shutouts.
13 seasons with 20 or more wins.
4 seasons with 30 or more wins.

What "The Christian Gentleman" did in the 1905 Worlds Series was beyond unbelievable.
In game one he threw a 4 hit shutout.
Three days later he repeated that feat.
Two days later he threw a 6 hit shutout.

If there was ever a better pitcher than him I don't know who he would be.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Polo Grounds, Part 2

The Giants rented some land way uptown, at 155th and 8th, in an area beneath Coogan's Bluff, at the end of the line of the 8th Ave Elevated Train.

This is where it all happened.

The 30 years of legendary leadership from John McGraw.
The unbelievable brilliance of Christy Mathewson.
Merkle's Boner.
The Shot Heard Round the World.
Willie Mays' legendary catch in the "54 World Series.

I want to focus on the years 1921 through 1924. The Giants won the pennant each of those years. Every game of the World Series in both '21 and '22 was played in the Polo Grounds, because Ruth had not yet built his new house a mile east, on the other side of the Harlem River, and the Yankees still were sharing the Polo Grounds with the Giants.
The Giants took the '21 Series 5-3.
Then they took the '22 Series 4-0-1.
You could look it up.

I digress- My father was born in 1922, about 100 miles east of the Polo Grounds as the crow flies. He was a lifelong Giants fan. He mostly talked about the '30s teams with Bill Terry, Mel Ott, and Carl Hubbell. But he wasn't much of a story teller, truth be told.
I want to go to a field of dreams and have a catch with the ghost of my youthful dad, and ask him what it was like to go to the Polo Grounds. Did he go with his dad? Did they drive or take the train? Where did they usually sit? What were the crowds like? What did they eat? Did they go into town after games? Shit.

By the 1950s the Polo Grounds was pretty much a dump. It was always a weird ballpark. Yankee Stadium was way better.
Of course the Giants moved to SF in '58. The Mets played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds. That must have been something else- to watch a horrible expansion team in a nasty old relic of a ballpark.

I guess I'll end my magical history tour here. It's been fun.
Play ball!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


One of our newest Giants dazzled the Cactus League yesterday. Madison Bumgarner faced 10 batters and threw 45 pitches (33 strikes) in three innings. He gave up one hit and struck out four. MadBum was born on August 1st, 1989, meaning he'll turn 20 this year. He's got less than 150 IP of pro ball under his belt.

Matt Cain was born on October 1st, 1984. He threw almost 400 IP of minor league ball from 2002-2005, moving right up the ladder from rookie league to A-ball to AA and AAA before making his MLB debut a couple months shy of his 20th birthday at the end of the 2005 season. He was the youngest player in the majors that season. Cain was a first round pick (2002, 25th overall), like MadBum (2007, 10th overall). Both were drafted out of high school. Cain was 17 when he made his pro debut in the Arizona League.

So, mateys, when do we get to see this fellow--MadBum--in an SF uniform? Is it unrealistic to expect a September call-up? Tim Lincecum only threw 63 minor league innings, but he had NCAA experience (342 IP for the UW Huskies). And, well, he's Tim Freakin' Lincecum! Even if we don't see young Mr. Bumgarner this season, I expect he will be competing for a spot in the 2010 rotation next spring. Can you imagine--Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner? Wow. That's some serious young talent!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Polo Grounds, Part One

The first New York Polo Grounds was the only one where polo was ever actually played. It was located across from the northeast corner of Central Park. The Gothams/Giants played there from 1883 thru 1889. A highlight of those days was a mammoth homer by Roger Connor which cleared the right field wall and landed on 112th Street. Connor was the actual "big man" who inspired the new name "Giants." He stood 6'3'' and weighed 220 pounds, apparently huge for 1883. He hit 138 career homers, which was the record until Babe Ruth passed that number in 1921.
In 1889, after the Giants had won two consecutive championships, the powers-that-be who ran New York City decided to expand the street grid into that part of town, and without much advance notice, they tore down the first Polo Grounds. The Giants had to find a new place to play.

Re-arranging the deck chairs

Some wag over at McChronic used this phrase to describe the Giants lineup, but it seems equally appropriate to this 25-man roster thing. I want to get apoplectic about Frandsen getting sent down and no backup catcher and both Velez and Torres but I just can't. I'd bet most of those decisions came down to mundane things like this guy is out of options (Velez) and this guy isn't (Frandsen), and not about game tactics, roster flexibility, who is the better player, and building the club's future. In fact, the 25-man roster is a very fluid thing, and I think we will see a LOT of movement in the next few months. That being said, I feel bad for Frandsen, but the guy just does not seem to impress the brass. Burriss is a great story and I'm excited for him. In fact, if they are young and they are Giants I'm all for 'em. Ship out the dead weight and the old farts. If I'm going to re-arrange deck chairs on the Titanic, I want new, shiny deck chairs.