Sunday, May 31, 2009

Prince Albert in a can

Simple formula for success against the MMIX St. Louis Cardinals: keep Albert in the yard. No HRs Friday, Giants win. Two HRs Saturday, Giants lose. No HRs Sunday, Giants win. Pujols hits singles = victory.

Without Tim Lincecum we took 2 of 3, our only loss to Chris Freakin' Carpenter, finally pinning some ER on him. Not a bad weekend's work, I'd say.

Mississippi Fred only struck out ONCE on his way to 4 hits in the series with 2 runs scored, including a walk and an RBI triple. Pablito also had 4 hits and 2 runs, adding 3 RBI. Once again the 'pen stepped up with a stellar effort, bailing out an ineffective Sanchez.

Can we win on the road? We'll find out Tuesday.

Sunday Morning Service

"The baseball gods weren't in my favor tonight," Zito said.

Once again the great and mysterious "Baseball Gods" were invoked to explain the unexplainable, to forgive the unforgivable, to soothe the anguish of the multitude.

Praise be the name of the Baseball Gods.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Matt Cain = Winner

6.1 6 2 1 2 5

It took 27 batters and 105 pitches to get those 19 outs--it was a hard slog against a good team. Matt started the 6th by striking out Chris Duncan, got into a little trouble and had to battle, and then finished the inning with another strikeout. Boo-yah! Sit down! Albert Pujols got two hits--both singles--but stayed in the yard. The Game Score of 58 doesn't fully reflect the VSC our GMF had to flash last night. We got some strong relief work by an increasingly impressive 'pen, as well as some big hits by the Youth Corps, and that spelled win number SIX for Big Sugar. In ten starts this year, The Tennessee Stud has gone at least six innings EVERY TIME. That's what winners do, my friends. Even Ol' Boch knows it when he sees it:

"Matt has been locked in from Day One," Bochy said. "He's locating better and has that focus. He has a look about him on the mound."

There, you see? He's got that "look." That's what was missing in 2007 and 2008 when he only won 15 games versus 30 losses--the "look." Superstardom, here we come! And puh-leaze, no more idiotic talk about trading Matt. Unless the NYMs want to give up David Wright--and they are too smart to do that--I'd tell anyone inquiring about our boy to get stuffed. If that joke of a GM we have dangles Cain again he should be locked in his room without a phone or computer for the rest of the season.

Take a look at the B-R leaderboards (NL): Matt is 3rd with an adjusted ERA+ of 192, 3rd in actual ERA with 2.307, 3rd in win pct. with .857, tied for 4th in wins with 6, and 10th in IP with 66-1/3. Keep it going, my man, keep it going.

Friday, May 29, 2009

More on Matt

Baseball Prospectus is one of those fee sites, and they offer for free only a small portion of their work. Checking the Numbers: The Cain Mutiny by Eric Seidman is a tantalizing piece, but you only get to read the first page. He talks about the ERA-FIP split we've kicked around before. Matt's ERA is very low, but his FIP is high. In other words, he's putting guys on but not letting them score. Is this indicative of declining skills and good luck? Or is Matt just stepping up when the situtation is tough and getting the big outs? I don't know the answer, but I'm willing to put my faith in Matt's gnarly clutchness and savvy gamerissitude. "Strand rate" is the key number here: the league average, as Mr. Seidman points out, is about 72%. Matt's at 89% so far this year. He's likely to regress, of course, but what does that say? Here's Seidman's take (emphasis mine):

From 2005-08, only an Alfonseca-sized handful of pitchers have exceeded a strand rate of 80 percent, with Johan Santana's 82.6 percent in 2007 topping the chart. Suffice to say, the likelihood that Cain's impressive rate will hold is extremely low. Even with that caveat, such a high rate of marooning baserunners indicates an ability to bear down when runners reach base. Unfortunately, too many neglect to ask why or how this has occurred, simply reaching this point and dismissing the hurler's performance as a fraud. Keep in mind that over the last ten years the league-average slash line with the bases empty is .260/.322/.419, compared to .270/.336/.426 with runners on. Cain has been spitting in the face of those numbers so far this season:

Empty 134 .339/.403/.479 .402
Men On 110 .141/.236/.228 .145

Alas, you have to pay for the rest. Food for thought, though, don't you think? The St. Louis Cardinals are currently 8th in the NL in runs scored (217), 6th in the league in OPS (.750), and are playing .596 ball. That ought to be a nice test for our studly young righty.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Six, 299, & .500

When Randy Johnson's ERA was over the Big Six Line I thought "300 gonna take a while." Turns out the Big Six was innings pitched--not since the first of the month had The Great Old One pitched six full. In 10 starts, he has two 7-inning gems: the 1-hitter against the Snakes on April 19th, and the 4-hitter against the Crockies on May 1st, striking out 16 and and putting up all zeros. He's given up 7 earned runs three times, and 4 earned runs (in 5 IP) twice. Last night was his first straight six, and he has not given up a home run since the Nats took him deep three times on May 11th. After racking up 13 walks in his first 4 starts, he's only walked 6 in his last 6. He can still baffle 'em with that slider: 54 Ks in 53 IP. Last year Johnson managed 30 starts and 184 innings (11 wins), including two complete games. With 116 games left in this season, Johnson should get the ball another twenty times barring injury. I think the 300 gamble will pay off for the marketing department.

Another impressive home win--5 hits for the right side of the infield, you have to love that. Mississippi Fred is still singing the consistent contact blues but he managed another walk and a run scored--he leads the team in both categories. Captain Gomer has found temporary redemption in the leadoff role. He's got the highest career OPS and SLG of all the vets on the squad and he's the highest paid position player, yet we can't find a spot for him. This is why I shudder when The Brian Trust talks about trades. We have a real problem with assigning "value" to a player's skill set. We buy or trade for the wrong players and pay them so out of line with their worth, or give up too much for them, that Brian Sabean's competence is a running joke.

Meanwhile we are back at .500, and I'll admit I'm surprised. I didn't think we would get there so fast, but the starters have been tough and we've gotten some clutch hits. We are 16-8 at home, averaging 2 wins out of every 3 games. Let's see, we've got the first-place Cards coming to town with Albert P and his Very Big Stick, can we pull off two wins? Matt Cain Friday, followed by BZ and Sanchez. Too bad The Franchise won't get a shot at them--he goes Tuesday in the Capitol against the worst team in baseball.

Barcelona Wins 2-0

ROME- Patience, flair and a brilliant game of keep-away prevailed over force Wednesday night when Barcelona dominated Manchester United 2-0 to win the Champions League title, Europe's most prestigious club soccer tournament. (New York Times)

In other news, Giants lefty Randy "the big unit" Johnson pitched 6 strong innings to earn career win number 299.
Aaron Rowand continued his surprising renaissance as leadoff hitter with two doubles and some daring base running.
Travis Ishikawa also stayed hot, with two more hits.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Enlightening Tim

Each day that we follow our beloved team brings new enlightenment. That's really why we do all this blogging stuff, isn't it? I'm sure not contributing to this wonderful journal in order to preserve the details of the season for posterity. I do it to learn about MYSELF and my relationship to MY TEAM. So what did I learn? I yearn for the ability to predict performances, yet I'm too irrational to pull it off. Let me explain...
As always, I like to prepare myself before Tim pitches. With a little effort I came across these factoids:
1. Tim owns a perfect 6-0 record in May, with a .211 avg against
2. He is also perfect against Atlanta, 4-0 with a 2.70 era. Last year he won twice giving up 3 runs in 15.2 innings.

Based on this I was sure of one thing: Tim was going to LOSE!! Makes sense, huh? I guess it is reverse logic; if it looks too good it probably is too good. I suppose all I'm trying to do is protect myself from HUGE expectations. But COME ON, Tim was pitching! Didn't matter, I was sure we were in for trouble. Even I was impressed by my pessimism.

Of course, I was wrong. Tim was, well Tim. He dominated the Braves again: 8 innings, NO RUNS, 5 hits, 2 walks and 8 STRIKEOUTS. His ERA is down to 3.03 and his record stands at a nifty 4-1. His record when given 3 runs or more is a sweet 23-1. The guy is the real deal and we all know it.

His performance was, in fact, quite predictable. So why wasn't I capable? Will I ever get over my irrational fears and be able to prognosticate? Is my insecurity clouding my judgement? Does judgement even matter?

Comment Starter: What predictive indictators do you use? Anything scientific, or is just mystical (Zo?) and irrational? What's the BEST PREDICTION you have ever made? Any current predictions you would like to share? .....oh yeah, you can talk about the game too.
photo credit: ME! I took this on our last trip to Bandon, OR

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorable Day

Quite a day for Travis Ishikawa, don't you think? Quite a day for the club, too. I didn't think the Giants had this in them--13 hits including 3 doubles and a homer, and a string of curly numbers. What was it Earl Weaver said? "Pitching, fielding, and extra-base hits?" Something like that! It was a fine day to relax with Flemm and F.P. and listen to the Giants thump on the Braves. No place like home, I reckon, seeing that we are 14-8 at AT&T. Jonathan Sanchez had an early exit after seeming to unravel and failing to get an out in the 6th, but he still put up a Game Score of 54. Today, with the Giants flashing big wood, that was good enough for a win.

There didn't seem to be any more of that GM-buzz, that Sabean-news, that Candlestick eddy of hot dog wrappers we call swirling rumors. My take? Say it ain't so, Bri. Hands off the merch.

I like to quote famous baseball people when they make my argument for me. Here's Earl Weaver again, this time for real:

"You win pennants in the off season when you build your teams with trades and free agents."

(quotes from Baseball-Almanac)

Reading Recommendation

The Dickson Baseball Dictionary
by Paul Dickson
I loved this book review by Nick Stillman in The Nation magazine. Besides good left-wing analysis, the magazine is full of great cultural contents. Here's a juicy excerpt:

Baseball slang is an avalanche of skewed logic. The commonest words take on very precise meanings. "Stuff" refers quite specifically to the totality of a pitcher's arsenal: his array of pitches and the velocity and movement with which he throws them. A pitcher can easily have good stuff but not succeed if his "command"--the ability to locate pitches accurately--is erratic. Terms associated with dirt and filth are highly complimentary. A hitter respectfully calls an excellent pitcher "filthy," a term that evolved out of common adjectives from a decade ago: "nasty" and "dirty." "Dirtbags" and "dirt dogs" are consummate hustlers, guys with perpetually soiled uniforms and caps and batting helmets stained with sweat, tobacco juice and pine tar. Naturally, dirtbags and dirt dogs play "dirtball." A player who is "pretty" is the opposite of a dirtbag, as is a "muffin." Food references are as prevalent as the television announcers who longingly mention the hallowed postgame buffet in the players' clubhouse. The ball itself can be an egg, apricot, apple or stitched potato. "Jelly beans" are rookies and inexperienced kids, the type a veteran might relentlessly call bush for a year before acknowledging him properly. Reaching base for your team's big hitters is "setting the table." "Fat" pitches are hittable ones, almost exclusively delectable treats, my favorite being "ham-and-cheese." And then there's the colorful (although unfortunately out of fashion) term for pep or spirit: "jinegar." Forms of kinship lurk suggestively, with positive connotations only for the hitter. Batters aspire to find their "cousin," the pitcher they manage to hit inexplicably well. In the early 2000s the Yankees' weak-hitting utility infielder Enrique Wilson found an unlikely cousin in the Red Sox's masterful Pedro Martínez, and Pedro's tough luck against the Yankees culminated in his admitting in an infamous interview that the Yanks were his "daddy." It was a rare moment of hearing baseball slang invented in real time.

Time To Talk Trades

Also from Schulman's article:

"The Nationals are willing to deal first baseman Nick Johnson and the Indians have made infielder/outfielder Mark DeRosa available. Both are potential free agents. Others who could be moved include A's outfielder Matt Holliday, Texas infielder Hank Blalock and Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre, whom Sabean is known to like."

Links are fun.

Side rant: I hated the way Rowand made the last out last night. I've seen this over and over this season from the Giants and it's driving me friggin crazy. The three pitch strikeout. Take a good pitch for strike one. Take another good pitch for strike two. Then swing away at a piece of crap pitch for strike three. Lewis does it all the time, Ishikawa does it all the time.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

This is why I don't read the paper

Did you know the Sporting Green is green again? Not the kind of green that evokes images of PhoneCo's vast and beautiful outfield. More like public school bathroom green. But hey, it's something. Today I'm reading the Sporting Green, actually holding paper in my hands, the words embedded in newsprint, a strange and dated ritual to be sure, but a comforting one. Except for today, because here's what I read (Henry Schulman 5/24):

General manager Brian Sabean, acknowledging that the Giants need to acquire a hitter, said Saturday he is active in trade talks and, in a significant departure from his long-held philosophy, is willing to acquire a player who will be eligible for free agency after the season.

We need a hitter, Brian? Well, hello. We needed hitters last year. We needed hitters this off-season. We needed hitters in Spring Training. We need hitters right now. Wow, Bri, glad you noticed. And "hitter" should be plural, pal. Did he really believe this lineup would be better than it is? This lineup is doing just what we expected it to do, fer chrissakes! What scares you more, that Brian Fookin' Sabean just noticed that we are a little short in the hitting department? Or that he's "ready to deal"? Deal? This guy is the fookin' Willy Loman of deals! He's dead, he just doesn't know it yet.

O, Despair, thou art my mistress.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


9 10 1 1 0 7

That's right, The Tennesse Stud is NUMBER ONE on the San Francisco Giants in ERA, IP and WINS. Wins! Matt Cain! Big Sugar threw his first complete game of the season tonight in Seattle, taking 111 pitches and 34 batters to get those 27 outs. He got some ground balls, getting 2 DPs, and didn't walk anyone. That's right, 34 batters and nary a base on balls. The 7 Ks offset the 10 hits and he came up a winner. The Hurra-Cain showed some serious grit and gamerissitude, VSC was practically oozing from his pores. You had to love whiffin' the Griff in the 9th!

If there is a formula for the MMIX Giants, we saw it tonight. Maybe not the part about waiting until there were two out in the 8th (and Señor Slow batting) to show some batting life, but all the rest. We had TWO, yes TWO extra-base hits (we are last in the NL is XBH) in that very inning. We had an actual rally, getting a massive hit from Juan Uribe and thunderous coup de grâce from Mississippi Fred Lewis. Oh yeah, the formula: great start, big inning with curly numbers. I like that combination, it reminds me of that well-known Weaverism about pitching, fundmentals, and DINGERZ. I'm cool with 3-run dobles, you know, just as long as you get some curly fookin' numbers up there on the board.

A great win. After four agonizing losses, a win like this is very satisfying. Geez, we had three hits last night in 12 innings! That was hell. I have this recurring nightmare where I'm crawling across the desert, parched, boiled by the sun, and a tall glass of cold pilsener is just out of my grasp, pulled along by an unseen hand, and I keep reaching and reaching and never slaking my thirst. That was what this losing streak was like. Thank goodness Matt Cain got the GMF memo and played stopper. It's not even June and he's got FIVE in the W column. I'll drink to that.

I'm just sayin'

Randy Johnson:

9 starts, 46 IP, 53 H (10 HR), 32 R, 19 BB, 49 K, 6.26 ERA, 5.10 FIP

1 year/$8M

Kevin Correia:

8 starts, 43-2/3 IP, 42 H (4 HR), 22 R, 21 BB, 31 K, 4.53 ERA, 4.44 FIP

1 yr/$0.75M

Friday, May 22, 2009

Unmistakably Tim

With each game new questions arise. Some of these questions are scary: Can anybody hit? Is Wilson really a closer? Some are more pleasant: Is Jesus going to help? (tough debut: 5 LOB after a DP grounder and K) Just how good are our starters? But one thing about the 2009 Giants seems to be clear and unwavering: Tim Lincecum.

Last night was yet another example of what I am coming to expect every time out. Lets go through the check list:
1) Quality Start: Seven innings, one run. That run was off a bloop hit. Six of his last seven starts have been quality.
2) Strikeouts: Ten last night. This is the FOURTEENTH time he has gone double digits in his 67 career games. Since 2007, that trails only Peavy and Santana. His K/9 leads the league.
3) No Hard Hit Balls: Tim has given up one homer in over 57 innings this year.
4) Hardly Any Hit Balls: Four hits last night. Since 2008, only Matsuzaka has a lower avg with RISP. In the month of May (Tim's best month, 6-0 career) he has been hit at a .215 clip, before last night.

If you are like me, a post-Marichal Giants fan, then you have never seen this kind of high level of consistent performance. Thank goodness we have something on which to hang our hat. This year will test our patience and every game may bring more questions, but at least we know we have one answer.............#55!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Scouting Report

San Jose Municipal Stadium
May 21, 2009

Parking: $8
Ticket: $15 (row 2 right behind the plate)
16 oz. Budweiser: $5

Buster Posey was the DH today, so I can't report on his defense.
His stance- he bends his knees quite a bit and hold his torso very straight up. I almost detected a bit of Rowand-like leaning back, but no, not really. He holds his hands high and waggles the head of the bat lazily just off his right shoulder.
In the 3rd inning he hit a nice RBI single.
In the 7th he hit a no-doubt-about-it 2-run homer over the left field fence!
That was clearly the highlight of my day, as the Giants pretty much sucked otherwise and lost 8-4.
Angel Villalona CANNOT lay off the high and tight fastball. In his first AB the count was 0-2 and the next pitch, I thought it was going to hit him on the chin, but danged if he didn't swing away at it. His second AB ended almost identically, the final swing-and-miss being at a more routine high and tight pitch.
Nick Noonan got a hit, Conor Gillaspie did also, but basically they did not impress.
One guy I never heard of that impressed me was Roger Kieschnick, a big 22 year-old outfielder. He's got some nice numbers.

Sanchez On The Couch

Mike Krukow seems to spend more time psychoanalyzing Jonathan Sanchez than he does any other Giant. And then he's always talking about his "arm slot." I never hear him talk about anyone else's arm slot. Just what the hell is an arm slot anyway? I went and looked that up. In the age of the internet there need be no unanswered questions.
Actually Sanchez ended up with a pretty good performance last night. He settled down and got a couple of low pitch count innings. Unfortunately in one of those innings the first pitch was hit into the left field bleachers.
Last night was the first time the Giants scored first and lost. It had to happen.
Rowand as leadoff hitter seems like a dumb idea but it worked last night. Too bad nobody could ever drive him home.
Question: How many Giants games have had a final score of 2-1? It seems like a lot.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Do the Giants have good pitching?

I was having some fun with the Sortable Team Stats on the MLB page. I looked at the Giants team pitching with four statistics in mind: OBA against, SLG against, WHIP, ERA. How'd we do? The LAtriners are number one in all those categories (NL only). The NL West shakes out like this for OBA against:

(1)LA .315, (3) AZ .327, (9) SD .339, (12) SF .343, (13) CO .345.

For SLG against:

(1) LA .350, (8) SD .407, (10) SF .413, (12) AZ .420, (13) CO .427.

Double thirteens for the Crockies! But wait--there's more. WHIP:

(1) LA 1.26, (5) AZ 1.37, (10) SD 1.43, (11) SF 1.45, (13) CO 1.47.

They're lucky with ERA, they grabbed the fourteenth spot:

(1) LA 3.70, (8) SF 4.23, (9) AZ 4.37, (12) SD 4.65, (14) CO4.72.

Nice to see that we are moving up. I had to go to FanGraphs and check our FIP:

(1) Braves 3.82, (2) LAtriners 3.97, (3) Mets 4.14, (4) Marlins 4.23, (5) GIANTS 4.26!, (6) Crockies 4.31, (7) Cards 4.33, 8) Snakes 4.36, (9) Puds 4.51, (10) Brewers 4.53.

What does it all mean? We have good pitching. But the competition is pretty stiff.

The statistics glossary at The Hardball Times has this to say about FIP:

Fielding Independent Pitching, a measure of all those things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible. The formula is (HR*13+(BB+HBP-IBB)*3-K*2)/IP, plus a league-specific factor (usually around 3.2) to round out the number to an equivalent ERA number. FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded. FIP was invented by Tangotiger.

The Big O--not enough to go around

ShysterBall links to a USA Today article about the increase in offense this season. Seems that runs and HRs are up across MLB. This is where I become a baseball socialist and demand our fair share! (I realize it is early in the season, and the numbers could flatten out a bit.) Here's another tidbit:

Teams entered Tuesday scoring 4.88 runs a game, the highest total through a similar number of games since 2000, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, when they averaged 5.39 runs a game. The hidden secret is that walks also are up. Teams are averaging 7.40 walks per game, compared to 6.73 walks in 2008. Baseball has not averaged more than seven walks a game in a full season since 2000.**

Wow. I want some of that Kool-Aid. Carney, me bhoy, where are ye?


Dink-ball, take 2

When you can't hit, you have to make your hits count. We failed to do that last night and spoiled the first complete game of the year. Of course, if we'd been up 3-2 instead of down 2-1 we'd have played the 9th and Wilson would have come on for the save chance. BZ gets a CG but it's one of those 8-inning road-loss affairs, always tough to get excited about. It was brisk at least, only 2:35 on the game clock, so we didn't have to suffer. BZ comes in at 63 on the Game Score, not dominating but certainly effective. He got some fielding help and some luck, and was pitching in PetCo against an offense almost as bad as ours. Adrian Gonzalez (Bless me Father, I'm a sinner, I covet my neighbor's first baseman) was 0-3 with a walk, and he's the only real hitter on the team. Brian Giles, once a great hitter, doesn't have much left at age 38, Kevin Kouzmanoff is doing his best to impersonate Pedro Feliz, and Chase Headley has yet to show us anything. Scott Hairston is a part-time journeyman with .782 career OPS, which swells to 1.400 or so against us. In other words, this is a team we should beat.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Da Beezy

That well-paid fellow with the No. 75 on his back earned that sobriquet from me over the last two seasons. This season? Not so much. Here are BZ's Game Scores for his 7 starts:
  • 4/10 34
  • 4/16 35
  • 4/22 70
  • 4/27 50
  • 5/03 76
  • 5/08 55
  • 5/13 43

He's thrown 41-2/3 innings with 15 walks and 29 strikeouts. That's his highest K/9 and lowest BB/9 since he's been a Giant. FanGraphs has his FIP at 3.89, which is the lowest since his 2002 Cy Young season. That also puts him (starters only) at 19th in the NL, just ahead of the LAtriner's Clayton Kershaw, and the only other Giant on the top 20 list except for #1 Tim Lincecum. Matt Cain, despite his gaudy 2.65 ERA, is 39th with a FIP of 4.89, nearly a full run above his career 3.97 value. Zito's career FIP is 4.29, despite a 3.82 career ERA.

So, what's it all mean? Beats me. Just as long as we beat the Padres.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

(Son of) Matt Cain is one gnarly mo-fo!!

6 3 0 0 5 2

I know my readers come to RMC for wit, insight, and hard-hitting analysis that they can't get anywhere else. After Matt Cain's gritty outing, you expect a unique and original take. And here it is: M.C. is one gnarly mo-fo! How else do you explain the improbability of walking five guys--three in one inning--and throwing 114 pitches to 24 batters yet putting up six shutout innings? Not only did Matt deliver a studly RBI hit, he survived two, yes two, RVODs!! Twice Coach Righetti brought his Doom Visit to the mound, and twice Matt survived. That's gnarly.

Sure, I can give the young infield--Frandsen, Velez, and Ishikawa--a nod for fine fielding (especially Travis' 3-2-3 DP!), and I can give a hat tip to Sandoval and Señor Slow for some good hitting. I can even say M.C. was the luckiest SOB on the field tonight. But I'm not. Matt Cain had Gamer-ade for breakfast, and his pluck and perspicacity were totally responsible for the six zeros. Dare I say he showed VSC? After all, this is his fifth season in the bigs, so he's a veteran now, and he gets credit for savvy and clutchness.

MCain(GMF) .362 WPA 63 GSc
MPelfrey .050 WPA 52 GSc

If you split the 162 game season into 9 "innings" of 18 games apiece, tonight was the first game of the third set, or number 37. Our first "inning" we finished 9-9, recovering from a 2-7 start. Our second "inning" we finished 18-18 after reaching a high of 18-14 (.563). Two-ninths of the season is behind us. Our 54th game--one-third of the season--will be Saturday, June 6th in Florida. Let's hope we are still a .500 ballclub. If more guys embrace the power of GMF-ism, we just might be.

When David Wright was walked in the 8th, the WE for the home team stood at 67.7%. Affeldt got the DP from Pagan, and the WE shot up to 93.8%. That was the biggest play of the game in terms of a WE swing. Great work from Howry as well, bailing Cain out by getting three outs in the 7th. When you walk a lot of guys you aren't going to last. Wilson finally got it done and saved the win for M.C. Way to go, Giants!

UPDATE 0653 Monday: Andrew Baggarly suggests the nickname "The Tennessee Stud" for Matt Cain. (Hat tip to Big D at Giants Win.) According to Wikipedia, Matt was born in Alabama but "graduated from Houston High School in Germantown, Tennessee, where he earned the nickname Big Sugar."
(emphasis mine)

Game Scores

Game Score. Start with 50 points. Add 1 point for each out recorded, (3 points per inning). Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th. Add 1 point for each strikeout. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed. Subtract 1 point for each walk.

Thursday: JMaine 52, JSanchez 37
Friday: TLincecum 37, LHernandez 35
Saturday: JSantana 42, RJohnson 15

For perspective, the best "Game Score" by a Giant this year is 85--Tim's unlucky home start in April against AZ where he threw 8 scoreless and struck out 13. That's the 5th highest in the league so far. The NYMs have tagged us for 42 hits, 13 walks and 24 runs, with the starters accounting for 30 of those hits, but only 6 of those walks, and 16 earned runs. Let's hope Matt Cain has a big game tonight--we need it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Matchups #2 & #3

LHernandez 5 IP 8 H 5 ER 0 BB 4 SO -.334 WPA
TLincecum 6 IP 10 H 5 ER 3 BB 8 SO -.099 WPA

JSantana 7 IP 11 H 4 ER 0 BB 7 SO -.204 WPA
RJohnson 4 IP 11 H 7 ER 0 BB 3 SO -.492 WPA


Unimpressive Tim

In big need of their stopper after some tough losses, the Giants were sorely let down. Tim Lincecum gave up a career high TEN HITS ( for the second time this season! ), 5 runs, and three walks. He was staked to a four run lead after 2 innings and still couldn't seal the deal. Five of seven innings started with baserunners, three stolen bases given up, a wild pitch....these are not impressive. And before you start going on about how great the Mets' lineup is, go back and notice how many starters were being rested. Face it, Tim blew it.

Perhaps it sounds like I'm being overly harsh towards The Franchise, that I should consider all the other poor performances it took to actually lose the game. Oh, believe me, I'm well aware of the nightmares enacted yesterday. Aaron Rowand continues his bold march into the highest levels of fan hatred. Merkin Valdez was efficiently vile. Brian Wilson's "nasty" stuff continues to get hammered around the ballpark. The difference is all those other guys are meaningless compared to Tim. In some cases, incredibly well paid and used in crucial roles, but still just pawns to be traded or sacrificed. Lincecum is the team, our hope for respectability, the King upon which all focus is drawn. He knows this, we all know this. It is a lot of responsibility for one player on a team of twenty-five but those are the facts of the game. He is our Superstar. Last night we needed him to take charge...he couldn't. Sobering.

(Congrats to FredLew for the HUGE homer. He doesn't hit many but BOYHOWDY he hits 'em hard!)
photo credit

Friday, May 15, 2009

Matchup #1

JSanchez: 5-2/3 IP 9 H 4 ER 3 BB 5 SO -.212 WPA
JMaine: 6-2/3 IP 7 H 2 ER 4 BB 4 SO +.183 WPA

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Coming Attractions

We've got four coming up against the 18-15 Mets who are in a tight race with the Phillies, Braves and Marlins in the NL East. The only "underperforming" team in that division is the one we just played--the Nationals. Their "expected" or "Pythagorean" record is 14-18 but they sit at 11-21. We have scored 132 runs and given up 141, and the formula** says we should be at 16-17, so we are "overperforming" a bit, but I think we knew that intuitively.

Tonight it is Jonathan Sanchez and his 5.26 FIP going against John Maine. Sanchez' FIP last year was a very good 3.85 (lower than Matt Cain's!). This year he has 27 strikeouts in 26-1/3 innings, but he's killing himself with 22 walks in the same span. Let's hope he finds his groove. Interestingly, Maine's having a similar (though not as bad) problem--he's got 20 walks in 33-2/3 innings to go with his 25 strikeouts. Maine is a career 4.21 ERA/4.62 FIP pitcher. He's a righty so maybe we'll see Mississippi Fred back in the starting lineup.

Tomorrow Tim Lincecum gets the ball, and his counterpart is the one and only Livan Hernandez. Livan is like one of those skin diseases you can never get rid of. I'm amazed the Mets wanted him at all, but I guess "innings-eater" is like Veteran Savvy Clutchness, something GMs can't get enough of. He's racked up 33-2/3 IP in 6 starts and his FIP and ERA match at 5.08. Bring him on, I say. This is a mismatch, of course, and we've all seen those blow up in our faces. This time we have The Franchise, though, and I expect him to dominate. Not much more to add about Tim--here's another gushing piece. Tim has a 1.83 FIP, and that's just filthy (only Zack Greinke's is lower).

It is too bad that the marquee matchup didn't happen--Johan Santana pitches Saturday against the Great Old One. Like Lincecum, there's not much to add about Santana. His 2.08 FIP is 3rd in baseball, just behind Tim. He's one of the game's elites, and we will have a tough task. Who knows which Unit will show up? In 36-2/3 IP he has 39 Ks but has yielded TEN homeruns. Yikes. The FIP is just as ugly at 5.94.

My man Matt Cain goes on Sunday, and then we have a travel day. Despite Matt's 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA, his 4.85 FIP is worrisome. Let's hope he keeps his walks down and gets in a good ground ball groove. He's tough and smart and pitching at home, so that should work in his favor. Mike Pelfrey is 4-0 but doing it with a 4.89 ERA and a 5.55 FIP. He's got only 9 strikeouts to go with 15 walks and 40 hits in 35 IP.

This is a big test--a good club coming to our yard where we are 12-5. Let's hope our starters are up to the task. The Metropolitans are 2nd in the league (to the Nats) with an .804 OPS.

**The formula for X W-L is RS^1.82/((RS^1.82)+(RA^1.82)).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Z's

I'll admit that I was rooting for Ryan Zimmerman to keep his hitting streak alive. 30 games is a hell of a thing. The two guys in front of him accounted for 7 hits today, but the young third baseman went 0-3 with 2 walks in 5 trips to the plate. They have way too much lumber in that lineup and eventually they are going to put up some runs. We got lucky last night and so we managed to take two of three. Our own Z-man, No. 75, had a decent outing this afternoon, only to see it all fall apart in the 7th. We couldn't muster up another improbable comeback, although Mississippi Fred stroked a double and chalked up an RBI as a pinch-hitter in the 9th. It's the best of times and the worst of times, really. We are winning, which is great. We have the worst OPS in the league, which stinks. It's like some irritating zen riddle that's supposed to help me gain enlightenment. Screw enlightment. How 'bout some more 3-run HRs?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


7 9 4 4 1 4
I've invented a new statistic. Its major flaw is that I've no way of going back and accumulating the game-by-game data. No Retrosheet solution for this one, lads. You'll have to pioneer it with me tonight. Because it happened tonight, and I'm absolutely convinced it has happened too many times before. We all know it, we've all seen it. I'm referring to, of course, the Righetti Visit of Doom. This is beyond coincidence and random chance. This is a huge player, a major factor, a game-changer. "Coaching visit to mound" is all it says in GameDay, but oh, the portents. Oh, the weight of drama. Yessir, I'm on to your evil influence, Davey. You saunter out to the mound, acting all bad and stuff, and tell our boys nothing but lies. Lies, Ragman, lies! What'd you say tonight, eh? "Oh, no sweat Matty-boy, this Nick Johnson's a pussy. Your stuff will mess with his head. Just hit the glove, Matty, just hit the glove." A quick ass-grab and some more of that sauntering, and our boy is toast, I tell you, toast. Don't believe me? Explain this Dodger-blue hat, then! Poor Matt does what he's told, fires it target-ward, and Nick Johnson smacks it out of the yard. If anyone needed proof, absolute, unassailable proof of the RVOD, he got it tonight.

Other notes: Ryan Zimmerman took care of business right away. 30 games! That's something. Señor Slow WALKED and then SCORED FROM FIRST on a double. That right there was probably enough improbability to overcome the insidious effect of the Righetti Visit of Doom.

Cain-dicators: lots of batters (31) and baserunners (9 hits) but only one walk. Nine groundballs. Only four strikeouts. 100 pitches, 68 strikes. (The HR is entirely the coach's fault. RVOD! RVOD! ) Our Win Expectancy before the homer was 89.6%, afterwards it was 73.4%. It plunged to 51.8% after Belliard's game-tying hit off Howry in the 8th, and thence to 14.5% after Johnson's hit (Ishi's Boner). Alas, another ND for M.C.

But improbabilities started piling up again, and Manny B got it going with two outs in the 9th, setting it up for Sandoval after the walk to Rental. He then BLASTED THE FOOKIN' GAME-WINNER!!! As Jon Miller said: "what a finish!" Sandoval TOOK FOUR PITCHES before hitting the big bomb. That hit had a WPA (Win Probability Added) of .824, swinging the win expectancy from 17.6% to, obviously, 100%. Man, it has been quite a run with this team--they keep defying the odds and overcoming expectations. Can it last?

I sure love a three-run HR, don't you?

(a.m. update) Before Pablito's heorics, he'd fallen flat on his face in the 7th trying to stretch a double into a triple, and there was a moment when everyone thought he'd been injured. M.C. straightened us out (from Schulman's story this morning in the Comical):

"The Kung Fu Panda does not get hurt," Cain said.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Errant Tim

I know, I'm way late. A crazy weekend that just ended a few minutes ago cost me any chance at a timely posting. I fear that everything has been chewed over: Lincecum's capable yet flawed 6 inning, 3 earned runs, 6 hit, 1 walk and 8 strikeout performance, the wonderful defense and an inspiring bullpen showing. However, one tidbit may have been missed by some of you ( and if you are a Freak freak, you definitely need to know this).

Tim made his first career error.

I hear you out there..."No big deal"...yeah sure, easy for you to say! I had visions of a perfect errors! How cool would that have been on Tim's Hall of Fame resume. Seriously though, it did cause me to ponder the great fielding pitchers that we have seen over the years. My favorite from days gone by was Rick Reuschel...more recently Kirk Rueter. How about you guys?? Who was the best fielding Giants pitcher of all time? I adamantly hope that Tim joins the pantheon of Great Fielding Giants Pitchers.

I'm sure they all have at least one error, too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

13 innings: 4 hours and 44 minutes

That was quite an ordeal in Chavez Latrine today! Super Tim was not quite so super, but he got 8 Ks in 6 innings and kept the damage down. Emmanuel Burriss, in the immortal words of The I-Ron Man, is "serving notice." Maybe Ol' Boch knew something we didn't when he picked him over Frandsen. Our clutch, savvy vets stepped up to deliver some veteran savvy clutchness, and we got another improbable win. I'm having a hard time with improbability, you know? I'd much rather have 3-run HRs. But you can't argue with the facts, and the facts are we took 2 of 3 from the hottest team in the league, in their sacred yard no less, with our dinky-ball lineup that lives and dies on the productive out.

In other news, Tim Alderson looks good in his AA debut.

Did all of you call your mothers today?

Da Bums

The rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers is very real, ancient and intense.
In 1889 they were the only two major league teams in New York. The Dodgers switched from the American Association to the National League in 1890, and the rivalry was officially underway.
Charles Ebbets and John McGraw hated each other's guts, and this was played out by the men on the field and the fans of both teams. In 1940 an umpire was brutally beaten during a game by a Dodger fan who didn't like a call that went the Giants' way.
The two teams have had well over 2000 head-to-head meetings, more than any two rivals in sport. The results have been relatively even, the Giants with more success during the New York years, the Dodgers more since the move to California. Many seasons have had close dramatic pennant races between the two.
1951: The Dodgers held a 13 1/2 game lead over the Giants as late as August 11th, when their manager Chuck Dressen famously declared "The Giants is dead!" Led by rookie Willie Mays, however, the Giants charged through August and September to catch and pass the Dodgers; the Dodgers rallied to win the final game of the season and the season ended with the two teams tied and the pennant to be decided by a 3 game playoff. The Giants won the first game, the Dodgers the second, and the tie-breaking playoff was won by the Giants with a dramatic ninth-inning home run by Bobby Thomson, a play known as the Shot Heard 'Round the World.
1959: The Giants led the Dodgers by 3 games as late as September 6th. A late year three game sweep of the Giants provided both their elimination and allowed the Dodgers to catch the Braves who they defeated 2 games to none in a 3 game playoff en route to winning the World Series.
!962: The Dodgers blew a late season lead and Giants forced a 3 game playoff, which the Giants won with a 4 run rally in the top of the 9th in game three at the Latrine.
1965: The Giants went on a 14 game winning streak in early September to take 4 1/2 game lead, but the Dodgers responded with a 13 game winning streak and won 15 of their final 16 games to beat out the Giants by 2 games.
1966: A 3-way race between the Dodgers, Giants, and Pirates came down to the last day of the season. The Dodgers went into the second game of a doubleheader with the Phillies ahead of the Giants by one game. Had the Dodgers lost, the Giants would have been 1/2 game out and would have had to fly to Cincinnati to make up a game that was rained out earlier in the season. Then if the Giants won that game, they would have met the Dodgers in a playoff. But the Dodgers won the second game in Philadelphia to win the N.L. Pennant by 1 1/2 games.
1971: The Dodgers rallied from a 6 1/2 game September deficit to get within 1 game of the N.L. Western Division leading Giants with one game to play. But while the Dodgers were defeating the Astros, the Giants beat the Padres to win the division. (The Giants went on to lose to the Pirates in the first ever divisional playoff)
1982: The Dodgers and Giants were tied for 2nd, one game behind the Braves as they faced each other in the final 3 games of the year. The Dodgers won the first two games 4-0 and 15-4 to eliminate the Giants, then the Giants knocked the Dodgers out of the pennant race on the season's last day on an 8th inning 3-run homer by Joe Morgan, winning the game 5-3. Thus, the Braves finished 1st by one game.
1991: The Dodgers finished one game behind the Braves after dropping two of three in San Francisco over the final weekend. Trevor Wilson tossed a complete game shutout on the day in which the Dodgers were eliminated.
1993: Two Mike Piazza home runs and a dominant complete-game performance by Kevin Gross kept the 103-win Giants out of the playoffs in a 12-1 walloping on the final day of the season.
1997: A late September two-game sweep of the Dodgers at Candlestick highlighted by Barry Bonds' infamous twirl after a home run in the first game and Brian Johnson's home run in the bottom of the 12th in the second tied the Giants with the Dodgers for first place and eventually propelled them into the playoffs.
2001: The Giants finished two games behind the Diamondbacks as the Dodgers took two of the final three games of the year in San Francisco, despite Barry Bonds record of 73 home runs in the season. In the first game of the series, Bonds hit his record breaking 71st home run of the season off Chan Ho Park, but the Dodgers won the game, thereby enabling Arizona to clinch the division title.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Edit this post! Gameday Saturday:

1319 PDT, end of 2 in LA, bad guys 4, us nothing.
LA Win Expectancy 85.5%.
Sanchez can't throw a strike. I'm watching on Fox--I can pick up a weak signal off-the-air. All the things I hate about TV baseball are in full force: inane commentary (Eric Fookin' Karros!), lousy angles, too many close-ups. But at least I get to SEE it!

1352 update:
Such joy!

1421 update:
We look overmatched at the plate and clueless in the field. The blown run-down was pathetic. Señor Slow failed to cover 1st base! I hope this "let's extend his contract" buzz dies down soon. I think the Yanks need a catcher.

1522 update:
Nothing but zeros.
Let's hope The Franchise slaps 'em down tomorrow.

Friday, May 8, 2009

No one likes a math nerd

When Merkin Valdez struck out Matt Kemp for the second out in the 8th, the LAtriners Win Expectancy stood at 9.6%, the lowest point for them in the game. Merkin, as we know, walked the next two guys, raising the Win Expectancy to 16.3%. In other words, the walks were bad, but the game situation was still very much in the Giants favor. Ol' Boch summoned his gunslinger, Brian Wilson, who threw 13 pitches to Casey Blake before getting the called strike three. The Win Expectancy for the Smoggers then plummeted to 7.8%.

I have to tell you, I was a lot more nervous about that 8th inning than the Win Expectancy tables said I ought to be. I had visions of the killer three-run bomb ruining a great night.

And a great night it was! The Giants put on their pesky faces and out-annoyed, out-harassed, and out-irritated the Blue Goo. They had Their Young Ace on the bill, and we had The Barry Zito Triumphant Comeback Tour booked. I think I'd rather go see any hot young band, even if they were one of those throat cancer-growling metal bands, than a Fleetwood Mac reunion. Wouldn't you?

But the Giants showed me something tonight I thought they lacked--a killer instinct. The LAtriners not only lost their biggest star, but their historic home win streak. (NPR led off Morning Edition today with that story.) They were down. They were weak. They were ripe for the plucking. And we plucked their fookin' nose hairs! We beat them with some exceptional fielding--Manny B was the man with the golden glove tonight. And we got the "productive outs" Ol' Boch seems to love. We managed to get caught stealing--twice--which I absolutely hate, but when you are a pesky no-hit team, I guess you have to run like a meth-head with the DTs.

I know that no one likes a math nerd, but I want to take this time, in the afterglow of the biggest win of the year, to talk a little more about Win Expectancy. Now, this is not the be-all end-all of statistical analysis. But it gives you some food for thought. A the start of the 7th inning, the WE for the home team stood at 50%. After all the ups and downs, the game was tied, and both clubs had an equal shot to win. Uribe and Burriss (there he is again) had back-to-back hits in front of the pitcher's spot. The WE (for the home team) plunged to 35.6%. This was the critical time for LA--Billingsley needed outs. Naturally we pinch hit (imagine if we had a bopper instead of a flea here), and naturally we bunted. That bunt--everyone's favorite strategy--lowered the WE to 35.4%. That's right. The loss of an OUT was far more important there than the gain of a base. Sure, we were playing for one run, and the WE does not take that into account. But the point is that we gave up a more valuable commodity--an out--to gain a less valuable one--a base. Our chances of WINNING THE GAME were hardly improved at all. LA had no choice but to walk the next guy, Fred Lewis. Essentially, we took the bat out of his hands. Fortunately, Renteria got the sacrifice fly and not the double play grounder, and the WE dropped to 31.2%. Sandoval's hit with two outs pushed it to 17.6%, and we started to see a real chance at winning. Rowand made an out (22.5%), and Pierre led off the 8th with a walk. That gave them some life, raising the WE to 29.3%. This time we got the DP (15.7%) and, eventually, the win. I'm telling you, this shit is pretty cool, and it gets you to scratch your head and think about game tactics and situations.

But the most important thing is that this absolutely improbable ballclub got a HUGE, HUGE win against our most hated foe and division leader. Keep proving me wrong, I say, keep proving me wrong.


At 1910 hours PDT today the USS Giants will steam into Chavez Latrine for a 3-game series of now-epic proportions. The 50-game suspension of the Dreadman Himself, Manny Ramirez, has the Giants universe abuzz with hope and optimism. The 8-3 trashing of the Crockies in Coors Field, added to a big win in the Windy City, has us all thinking that we just might have exorcised our road demons. RMC readers know that I'm a skeptic about our MMIX club. Despite Señor Slow's spectacular power surge (13 XBH in 100 AB, .600 SLG), the logical side of my brain says "you can't win with that guy as your cleanup hitter." I don't need to go into the rest of it, mostly because the guys I want to talk about are the same guys I said "shall not be named."

But they still have to play the fookin' game! You can subtract and add VORPs, WPAs, OPS+'s and whatnot all day long and, in the end, the team with the most runs on the board wins. I know with absolute certainty that the LAtriners are NOT a .700 club. I know with absolute certainty that we've got one hell of a lot of baseball left. And I know with absolute certainty that NOTHING WOULD MAKE ME HAPPIER THAN TO BE COMPLETELY WRONG ABOUT THE GIANTS CHANCES THIS YEAR!!!

So GO GIANTS, goddamnit! Get some payback! Kick some fookin' ass!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Matt Cain is one gnarly mo-fo!!

6 1 0 0 5 7

How can you walk five guys (and four of the first six) in Coors Field and still win? Simple: be a gnarly mo-fo, that's how. Get some DP grounders (7 groundouts today, my favorite Cain-dicator) and retire 14 of the next 16. The 7 K's are also a dandy Cain-dicator. And he got a hit and scored a run! Dude! Gnarly! And now, The Mothers of Invention:

Motherly love
Motherly love
Forget about the brotherly and other-ly love
Motherly love is just the thing for you
You know your Mother's gonna love ya till ya don't know what to do
(weird guitar noises)

Well, I loves me some Matt Cain. That's one gnarly Mother!


Manny Ramirez suspended for fifty games!
Why? Who knows! Who cares!


The Big Ugly was U-G-L-Y last night. The Crockies whacked him all over the place. Our offense was, well, offensive. But we knew that.

Check our old guy's game-by-game log:

#1 start) 5 IP, 4 ER, loss
#2 start) 3-2/3 IP, 7 ER, loss
#3 start) 7 IP, 0 ER, win
#4 start) 3-1/3 IP, 2 ER, ND
#5 start) 7 IP, 0 ER, win
#6 start) 5-2/3, 7 ER, loss

Johnson's ERA is 5.86 and his FIP is 5.68. That's ugly no matter how you slice it. When he's good, he's very good, but when he's bad, he's very bad. If he can make 24 starts (he made 25 last year), and manages only 2 good ones in every 6, that's only EIGHT good starts. That means 300 could be a looooooong wait. Let's hope Randy rights the Good Ship Johnson and pitches well more consistently. I, for one, was not against the Johnson signing. I thought he had some quality starts left, and with Lowry down and Sanchez a question mark, we needed another guy. It never hurts to have an all-time great around, and the youngsters we had last year (Hennessey and Correia) didn't cut the mustard. I've been reluctant to brag about our supposed "pitching depth." Yes, we have God Himself every 5th day, and Studly Young Matt as well. But a "resurgent" Zito is still a huge question mark, and if any of the Five get hurt we will be in big trouble.

Here's an idea--let's make MATT CAIN our "number two starter." He deserves that, don't you think? At least he'll get the chance to show us today. Colorado is a tough place to pitch, and he probably won't get the action on his curveball, so he'll have to pound them with the fastball and slider and hope the changeup is working.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Windy City Tim

The Chicago Cubs had no illusions about their chances against Tim Lincecum. They had a lineup that featured Lee and Fukudome and nobody else. We are talking pinch-hitting depth today. I guess its a good day to rest when The Franchise's spot in the rotation rolls around, but this was ridiculous. However, I must admit that they were probably absolutely right as Tim ripped off his fourth straight quality start: 7 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. During this nice little run he given up 6 runs in 30 innings ( 1.80 era ) with 40 punchouts and 6 walks. On top of that, Lincecum now has a lovely 2-0 record ( 1.69 era, .167 avg) in 3 career starts at the Friendly Confines. It could be argued that the game was over as soon as "Big Money" Molina delivered a three run homer in the first, since Tim is an unearthly 23-1 when he gets 3 runs of support. That is a stat that never gets old no matter how many times you hear it.

Pop Giants Trivia Quiz!!

#1 The Cubs (16-16) are one of only three teams that are at or above .500 at our home field. What are the other two?

#2 Which current Giants pitcher has NEVER lost?

#3 Tim was the youngest Cy Young winner in either league since _____ won in ___ .

(Answers will be posted only if I remember somebody better remind me!)

Red Asphalt

Remember those Drivers Ed movies? Here's one on YouTube if you don't. Serious splatterpunk. And you gotta love the hardcore narrator and his rude cracks about artificial limbs! Check out the old Macs as well. The 16 mm flick we watched "back in the day" was from 1964--no computers in that one. And there's something about the clicking of projector sprockets and the rolling film reels that added to the experience. The Dolby/THX generation has no idea. Dude, that was authentic.

Speaking of road death, the MMIX San Francisco Giants just made the math easier last night. We've played 10 road games and won 2, and even a math teacher can tell you that's a .200 win percentage. The "beat 'em with pitching" model only works if you get a good start, and poor Sanchez was all over the place, walking six. The Cubs are a tough lineup even though they aren't playing up to expectations these days. They are vulnerable if you can score some runs. Thank goodness we had some youth at the top of the lineup, Mississippi Fred got a rally going with a walk and Pablito had two hits, but our VSC crowd were the walking dead. Señor Slow got rewarded for hitting a double play ball--he can pad his RBI stats for his free agency next year. Gomer is just about unmentionable. And that RF Guy needs a rest. Give Schierholtz the next few starts, eh?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Does Ol' Boch Really Believe

that Bengie Momentum Killer is a better hitter than Fred Lewis? That he gives us a better chance to win? Is he really that enamored with Veteran Savvy Clutchness?

You have got to be kidding me.

And even if Señor Slow is a better hitter than Lewis, Mississippi Fred had good at-bats all fookin' day, roping the ball while our hero sat on the bench oozing his gamer-issitude all over the coaching staff.

Jaysus, and it's a bloody trial watching this club. (Nice to see Manny B find his stroke. And number 75 pitch another good game.)

UPDATE 1552: Veteran Savvy Clutchness! Veteran Savvy Clutchness! Richie gets the clutch hit! I'm a Believer, yes I am!! Pinch-hit Old Fart of The Week any time you want, Bochy-Boy, there'll be no more carping from me!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Joyous Interruptus

6 7 5 5 4 3

A harsh mistress she is, this Lady Baseball, a harsh mistress indeed. Matt Cain threw a stinker today, and the feebleness of our offense was cruelly exposed by an efficient Jason Marquis. Here I was, gettin' all excited and everything, and then we go out there and look thoroughly limp.

Starters are going to have their rough spots--I can live with that. And Cain has gotten the results so far, posting quality starts and bagging a pair of W's. But I have to say that my worry-wart is coming to the surface, and some disturbing trend lines are emerging. I know, the Small Sample Size Demon is screeching at me, like I hope he screeches at all of you, but there are some concerns, mind you, some nagging doubts, some niggling niggles, to wit:
  • 2006 K/9 8.45
  • 2007 K/9 7.34
  • 2008 K/9 7.69
  • 2009 so far, strikeouts per 9 IP, 6.23

All the projection systems (courtesy Matt's FanGraphs page) have him getting at least 7.52 K/9 for 2009, this is across the board, CHONE, Bill James, Marcel, and ZiPS. To the stat-geeks, Matt is underperfoming on a crucial indicator. Another "peripheral" that has me niggled is one I've talked about a lot, and that is Matt's ability to induce GROUND BALLS. Let's take a look at his percent of all balls in play that are ground balls:

  • 2006 35.6
  • 2007 39.4
  • 2008 33.2
  • 2009 so far, GB% is 31.6

Today he faced 27 batters, threw 102 pitches, and managed only 3 groundballs and 3 strikeouts. I suppose the plus side is that he threw six innings--he didn't implode in the third and walk away with one of those Zitovian 2007-08 lines. And, of course, it is only his 5th start, he's got a couple dozen more to go this season before a jury can weigh in on the evidence. One thing is for sure, he's throwing his curveball (CB) and changeup (CH) more than ever, and relying less on his fastball (FB):

  • 2006 72.0% FB 14.1% CB 05.8% CH
  • 2007 64.5% FB 08.6% CB 10.4% CH
  • 2008 65.4% FB 10.2% CB 10.6% CH
  • 2009 59.4% FB 15.5% CB 11.7% CH

The rest of the time (12.7% career), Matt throws a slider. His average fastball velocity is down as well, from a high in 2006 of 93.2 mph, to a current 91.5 mph. I can't say I always enjoy my time on FanGraphs--it has a way of shoving unpleasant facts down your throat--but I sure learn a lot. I'm going to say "it's May, it's May, the lusty month of May" and assume Matt will throw a great start next time out, and that his performance will creep up to ever-higher levels of studliness as the year goes on. Regression to the mean, my arse.

And Young Mr. Sandoval smoked a dinger, so there's still some Joy in Mudville.

Muggsy, part two

To write about the career of John McGraw, both as a player and as a manager, is to write about an entire era. It's a huge story. If you want to read all the details, and I suggest you do, follow the links.
As a player he was known for his toughness. When he began, there was only one umpire per game. So when there was a chance when he knew the umpire had to be watching something else, he would assault any nearby opponent. Soon there were multiple umpires per game.
He always hit for a good average, playing in a lively-ball era, and he was able to draw a lot of walks, so his career OBP was .466, third best of all time, behind only Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.
He became player/manager of the Baltimore Orioles while he was still in his twenties. In 1902 he became a Giant. His playing career was essentially over, although he appeared in a few games now and then for a few more years.
He blew off the 1904 World Series. He thought the NY Highlanders (the Yankees' original name) were going to win the AL title and he had a major grudge against them and their owner, so he decide to not participate. (As it turned out, Boston ended up winning the AL pennant.)
Frank Deford described him thusly: he was "the model for the classic American coach--a male version of the whore with a heart of gold--a tough, flinty so-and-so who was field-smart, a man's man his players came to love despite themselves."
In thirty years managing the Giants he won 10 pennants and 3 World Series.
Topic for discussion: McGraw has been called the best player to become a great manager in major league history. Who are other candidates for that honor?

Friday, May 1, 2009


If I divide 11 wins by 21 games played on my trusty Casio I get 0.523809 and some change. That's a .524 win percentage, mis amigos, five-freakin'-twenty four! Count me as one who said it couldn't be done. There was no way I could imagine this lineup winning more games than it'd lose, no way. Tonight was a perfect example--we got FIVE freakin' hits!! But I'll be damned, we got it done, and it seems more and more that we've got some serious PhoneCo Home Field Mojo goin' on. We are 9-3 at AT &T, bras, nine-and-bloody-three. Chis Haft reminded us yesterday that:

The Giants' home surge, which they'll attempt to sustain during a three-game series beginning Friday against the Colorado Rockies, was offset by an 0-6 trip to San Diego and Los Angeles from April 10-16. To remain in the upper echelon of the NL West, they must improve on the road, where they'll play 13 of 20 games after the Colorado series.

Well, let's put a wee damper on things, eh? Thankee, Chrissie-lad, thankee ever so much. But he's got a point, me buckos, he's got a point. Can we take this act on the road? I have to say it is splendid to see young Mr. Ishikawa get some stroke back, and if he can hit towering bombs that oughta go out but don't in San Francisco, than he oughta pop some that WILL go out in Chicago and Colorado, or is my airtight logic poppin' a leak?

Nevertheless, a tremendous start by the Great Old One Himself, a little foul weather makes anyone tough to hit, but that crafty mo-fo probably has special pitches just for rainy nights. Got a little scary at the end there, but we squeaked through. Our Win Expectancy reached its lowest ebb--68.9%--when Wilson gave up the hit to Atkins (2 out in the 8th), but shot back up to 86.5% when he fanned Spilborghs to end the inning.

All in all, a fine May Day performance. Joyous Beltane* wishes to you all.

*The actual cross-quarter day occurs on the fifth this year, so you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Celtic Summer in one fell swoop. Corned beef enchiladas, anyone?