Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Molina Musings

You have to give Benjamin Jose Molina credit, he really does embody the pluck, grit, and fortitude of the "gamer" that Nuke & LarryB so desperately want to sell us. It was quite a display of VSC last night: four hits--two big bombs--and four RBI to lead the Giants past the D-backs for the team's 84th win. Señor Slow gets a lot of grief from me for his free-swinging ways, his mediocre fielding, and his frighteningly-low .285 OBA (an "out-percentage" of 71.5!!). He's slugged .440+ the last two seasons, well over his career average (.418), and a team desperate for offense can't ignore power hitting. Only Juan Uribe (.501) and Pablito (.547)--who had a monster game himself--outrank Ol' No. 1 on the squad. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if Bengie Molina hit 7th I'd love him like a brother. But there is NO WAY this team could realistically expect to win anything with a cleanup hitter whose .307 wOBA puts him in Pedro Feliz territory. Mr. Molina puts us in a quandary, though, as we really can't expect über-prospect Buster Posey to give us 1000 innings and 500 PA next year, can we? If it were my club, I'd throw him out there, and I've said that all along. But--and it's a big but--this version of Giants is a contender. That is not something I calculated. I figured we'd field a competitive team sometime around 2011, once all the old guys were cut loose and some of the young guys matured. Buster will be 23 next season, and it may not be realistic to expect much from him. I think we'll need another catcher to split the duties, somewhat like we did with Brent Mayne and Brian Johnson back in the day. Buster, of course, could prove me wrong and pull a Matt Cain/Tim Lincecum and be ready to roll as soon as he suits up, but that's not the most common scenario for ballplayers, especially in a demanding position like catcher. Bengie didn't get a full-time gig until he was 25, for example. The Giants love Bengie, and will want to lure him back, but will be reluctant (I hope) to give him anything more than a 1-year or 1-year-with-option deal. I don't see Molina wanting to take less or accept a reduced role (and puh-leeeze, no more talk of him "mentoring" Buster--why would a ballplayer cut his own throat by grooming his replacement?). I'm thoroughly ready to say "so long, thanks for the memories" to Molina, and I hope we realize that a 35-year old is not a sound investment. But we will need to find a capable day-to-day guy if Posey isn't ready for prime time. Take a look at the list of free agents and tell me what you think.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

MacDaddy puts up some zeroes!

8 3 0 0 2 8
Game Score 82

In his final home start, Matt Cain threw 8 shutout innings, facing only 5 batters over the minimum (3 hits, 2 walks), and racking up 8 strikeouts. Big Sugar finally got his career-high 14th win, pitching his best game since the first week of September (a 7 IP, 2 ER win in Milwaukee). In between he'd logged three ugly losses, allowing 15 ER in 14-1/3 IP. The 2009 Willie Mac Award winner ended his day with a flourish, whiffing the pesky Kosuke Fukudome (his second K of the day) on three pitches with two men on. The Tennessee Stud has been criticized for his failure to win the big matchups with LA and Colorado earlier in the month, and for the late-season drop-off in performance, so it was nice to see no. 18 put together an impressive performance for the Fan Appreciation Day crowd. Singling out one player for scapegoating in a TEAM sport is illogical, indefensible, and mean-spirited, but that's an argument for another day. Today the Giants got a satisfying win after an agonizing stretch of poor play, and that ought to be worth enjoying--at least until the next game.

Saturday Sucked

I was flipping back and forth between the Giants game and the Cal football game and they both kept getting worse and worse.
The Buster Posey era is not off to a good start. The team has lost both of the games he's started, and he's personally 0 for 7. Any opinions out there on how he looks behind the plate? I wasn't watching closely enough to make a judgment.
And the Bears- what an embarrassment! Not only did they lose to a team they should have beaten, they were dominated from beginning to end. They couldn't do anything right. WTF?
So forgive me, I know this is heresy in RMC Land, but I'm really looking forward to the 49er game which starts soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Agreeable Tim!!!

The Giants management appears to have done something correctly! No really...I'm not shitting you. In fact, if it works out to be true, the successful wooing of Tim Lincecum into a LONG-TERM relationship with the franchise would be their greatest "move" of our fandom.

He said "Yes." Can you believe it? Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! He even said the " It's where I see myself being for awhile." Be still my beating heart. "I definitely like San Francisco." That sounds like a declaration of love to me! It should be the new city motto!

Tim's wonderful proclamation could not have come at a stranger, or better, time. The Freak "earned" his seventh loss with a quality start of seven innings, 6 hits (one double), 2 earned runs, 3 walks and seven strikeouts. That fine job was not nearly good enough. Yet another example of the offensive nature of our offense. I mean come on! Tim got one of the two hits we got all night! How did he and Matt ever get so many wins with this load o' shit lineup in the first place? It is a real good thing that I am not Tim's agent...I'm not sure what I would advice him...

Which gets me back to my original point: Congratulations to to the frequently and deservedly maligned Giants front office. It looks like Tim wants to be a Giant for a long time. This is the best thing to happen in a rather great year. Whatever you have done or haven't done, it is all forgiven...if it is true.

Single most important Giants news story:


Molina Watch over - Posey starts

And danged if I didn't miss it - out with cousins in from Australia. Haven't seen the paper, I suppose Buster single-handedly won the game with an offensive outburst. Great!


Congratulations, Matt. You deserve it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

No. 38

FanGraphs has Brian Wilson's season worth 2.4 WAR, which puts him just ahead of JSanchez and Zito for 3rd most valuable pitcher on the squad, trailing only Matt Cain (3.0) and the ridiculous Tim Lincecum (7.8). For batters, only Sandoval (4.2) and Uribe (2.6) rank higher. I don't think it takes sabermetric wizardry to know that Mr. Wilson has been a huge contributor this year, and that he has been even better than his breakout season last year. In 71 IP he's given up ony 60 hits, and has 80 K versus 26 BB. That was only the THIRD HOMERUN he's allowed in 2009! It is always ugly when your closer blows a game, and it is particularly agonizing with 2 outs and 2 strikes, but Wilson has been up to the task in those "high-leverage" situations more often than not, so I can't get too upset at him. He's another one of those cheap ($480,000/year) youngsters that will be back next year to form the nucleus of the 2010 club. In the end, Penny pitched a great game, and John "Dirtbag" Bowker got some big hits, but our wretched offense (10 strikeouts!) continues to be wretched, and we couldn't put enough runs on the board to win. Atlanta and Florida are now as close to the Wild Card as we are--doesn't that change things a bit? Isn't it time to give Buster Posey a start? Or, at least, bring him in instead of Eli "You've Been a Fine Backup But . . . " Whiteside? Waiting for Posey: a tragic existential drama you can't stop watching even if you want to. Maybe Tim can be ridiculous tonight and strike out a dozen guys or something.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


According to Andrew Baggarly's blog, Freddy Sanchez knew he would need knee surgery before he was traded to the Giants. Presumably, although it is not stated, the Giants knew it, too. Incomprehensible! (Tip o' the tam o'shanter to Chris at BCB for story.) Mr. Baggarly goes on to say that he expects FSanchez to get a 2-year, $10 million deal from the Giants. Incomprehensible.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles chronicles the continuing incomprehensibility of the Buster Posey situation. I can't make sense of it. I've not been one to call for Bochy's ginormous head this season. Mostly, I don't think managers make as big an impact as we want to believe. Remember "Juggler Joe" Altobelli? He won a World Series. QED. Also, I can't think of someone who would step in and do more with our crappy lineup than has already been done. And the pitchers--starters and relievers both--have been great. Do Boch and Rags get some credit for that? I don't know. When Bochy got hired, I was hoping Ron Wotus would get the job--would he be better? I don't know. But the Posey thing has me starting to lean the other way. Play this kid! He's the best hitting prospect we have! Get his bat in the fookin' lineup! In defense of Ol' Boch, he may be taking orders from above, which is even more incomprehensible.

Nice to see the other Sanchez--the good one--pitch decently and pick up a W. Juan Uribe is "serving notice" that he should be back in 2010. Quick vote: FSanchez or JUribe at 2B for Los Gigantes next year? (I know how I'm voting.)

Read Baggarly's story in the Merc today and tell me what you think of Brian Sabean's "we'll see" bullshit. This clown needs to go. And the suits--Baer and Neukom--need brain douches (they have those, y'know). I'm increasingly convinced those two guys care only about the revenue stream, and not the least about winning the World Series. Can we get some baseball people to run our basbeall team, please?

(UPDATE: Baseball Musings quotes yours truly! Not bad, eh? Thanks to all my pals for the writing and commenting, and to all the blogfellows, guests, followers, friends, lurkers, and contibutors to this site as well. You've made RMC a happenin' place!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saving your worst for last

As it stands now, Matt Cain will get two more starts--Sunday at home against the Cubs, and the following Saturday, the penultimate game of the season, in San Diego. Tonight was the 31st time he took the hill for the Giants this season, and only the third time he's failed to go six innings. Everything seemed fine in the first, as Matt started the game with a 12-pitch, three-up-three-down inning (a strikeout and two groundouts). After his first career triple in the top of the second that drove in two to take a 3-0 lead, everything fell apart. A nightmarish batting-practice session ensued, and Cain left the game having allowed SEVEN earned runs. He faced 15 batters and only managed 7 outs. Matt has had his share of poor outings, especially late in the season, but this was something else entirely. It may be one of those random "shit happens" events that happens to everyone. Or it may be a sign that Cain has hit the wall this year--fatigue, or a nascent injury, perhaps. Whatever, he's running on fumes at this point, and it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for Ol' Boch to think about mixing things up. He's got a roster full of lean and hungry types, and it seems like time to use them. Would it kill us to give Madison Bumgarner another start? Joe Martinez? How about sitting down Molina and giving Posey a few games behind the plate? I don't think we are playing for much but pride anymore, and protecting next year's investment (Cain turns 25 in October and is signed through 2010) might be more prudent than pretending to be in a pennant race. Of course, he might be fine, and pitch brilliantly in his next two (meaningless) starts. But the whole staff has just gone-end-to-end with some ugly, ugly work, and after almost six months of a long, hard, slog with no help from the bats or the brain trust, it isn't all that surprising there would be a drop-off. Cain's had a great year, but his mojo seems to be slipping away here at the bitter end. Then again, you don't get anywhere in the bigs if you aren't man enough to take your lumps. If Cain's in a slump--just in a slump, mind you--he's a big boy and he'll have to ride it out all the way. (If he has some physical issue, that's another matter.) It might spoil his pretty numbers a bit, but that's just life in the big leagues, isn't it?

Half a game, half a game, half a game onward . . .

Our Valley of Death was that wretched trip to Chavez Ravine, but last night in the Valley of the Sun we resurrected ourselves, if only to keep the tease alive. Four games back with twelve to play is not a formula for success, but until the math says we are done (our elimination number is NINE) we have to run out the string. We've now completed a trip through the rotation that is perhaps our worst sequence of the season. Matt Cain's 6 IP and 4 ER vs. Colorado at home was the best of a terrible run of starting starting pitching. Neither Sanchez, Penny, Lincecum, nor Zito made it out of the 5th, and all of them gave up at least 4 ER. The fact that we managed two wins in that stretch is amazing. Last night Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson continued what they've done all season--get big outs in close games. Those guys--the whole 'pen, in fact--have been very valuable. Freddy Sanchez left the game with a mysterious knee ailment. Get this: he hurt himself after one of their guys hit a homerun. I don't know how you do that, and I'll admit I don't want to know. I hope, if we decide to keep this guy, we give him an incentive-laden one-year deal for a hell of a lot less than he makes now. Nice to see Mississippi Fred make a positive contribution. "Speed don't slump" is what they say, and it was true in last night. Maybe tonight Matt Cain can give us another one of those 7 IP 2 ER starts we got so used to in July, and the rest of the crew will get back on the beam as well.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Postmortem Tim

If you are keeping track, this is the about the sixth time this blog has presented a eulogy for the 2009 San Francisco Giants. What makes this one different is that is comes after Tim Lincecum took the mound.
I can't offer up any details (since I was gone all day and didn't hear a minute of it) and I'm not sure I would if I could. The doggers didn't need the win but they obviously wanted it bad. By pinning it on Tim, and giving him his worst start of the year( 4+ innings, 5 runs, 3 strikeouts ), they sent a clear message that they are ready for the next level.
And we are not.
And, I guess we knew that already.
And that doesn't make it any easier...

How about those Golden Bears!!! U$C lost !!!! Can you smell the roses yet???

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Buster busts out!

I got to see the first major league hit by our new wunderkind, Gerald Demp "Buster" Posey, on the Fox broadcast today. He took one from Jeff Weaver the other way, poking a single to right in the top of the 9th. I got to watch him catch a couple of innings, too, and he looked nimble and quick. It was the highlight of the day for the hapless Gigantes, and I endured three hours of LAtriners pasting our pitchers all over the fookin' LAtrine before that. Penny's game score? 18. The relief corps made it worse, giving up SEVEN more runs in their 5-1/3 IP. Joe Martinez had a rough time, and it looked like he and Posey couldn't get on the same page. The 8th inning, though, featured a three-up three-down, two-strikeout performance by Madison Bumgarner. Jesus Guzman got a hit in Bumgarner's spot after Ryan Rohlinger's single to start the 9th. Buster's hit wasn't enough to get an RBI, and the game ended two batters later with those three stranded. Ol' Boch used 24 guys, and it was some consolation to see the youngsters get a few reps. The Big Unit defied the odds and returned to active duty after his shoulder injury. That guy is a gnarly mo-fo. I thought his career was over, but he came back to play. It was more like batting practice than live action, unfortunately, but I have to admire the man's determination to keep going. I hope he can give us a few good stretches in these last few weeks--Ol' Boch is sure to use him. The Franchise goes tomorrow, we won in extras the last time he pitched in LA. Our resident Timophile, JCP, described that May 10th outing by Lincecum as "capable, yet flawed" in his Errant Tim post. Southpaw Randy Wolf pitches for the bad guys, and apparently it's a head-scratcher for Ol' Boch as to who to put in the lineup. So many choices! I think the kids have shown they can deliver the goods, let's keep them out there.

Note: 1st inning HRs by Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki have the Crockies up 2-0 in AZ after two.

UPDATE: Crockies lead 5-3 after 7 innings. Don't look now: the FloMars have 80 wins, just like us.

UPDATE II: AZ made it 5-4 in the 8th but the Crockies broke it open in the 9th, 10-4 final. We return to 3-1/2 back.

Slugfest in Chavez Latrine

The Giants survived J Sanchez' second consecutive bad start due to an offensive onslaught combined with great bullpen work.
It was a home run derby early for both teams, beginning with Eugenio Velez' leadoff shot to get the festivities started. Manny Dreadlocks got in on the fun, followed by the Kung Fu Panda.
Sanchez departed after 4.1 with the score tied 4-4. It turns out the Dodgers were done scoring for the night but our Giants had 4 more runs left in the tank. Rowand also hit a homer.
It's a beautiful thing when one of our starters can afford to give up 4 runs and the team can still get a W. Velez' contribution was excellent and it's refreshing to see Sandoval get a big hit. Since Aug 30 he had been batting .211 with only 2 RBI.
Today Big Brad penny gets a chance to SHUT DOWN the Blue Goo.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Death Bomb

6 5 4 4 2 4
Game Score

I was thinking when Matt finished the 5th (getting Helton to groundout after a long at-bat) that I'd be happy with three more outs. Six would have been ideal, but I would have taken three at that point, down 2-0 and looking pretty weak against De La Rosa. Maybe we could conjure up a couple of runs, I thought, and push the game to the bullpens. At home, I like our chances late. Alas, Sean Smith hit the Death Bomb. As it was, we got those late runs, but that was too little by then, and a little too late as well.

We played a horrid game for the most part, with fielding blunders, a spectacular baserunning gaffe, and wretched hitting to go along with the big 2-out mistakes from Cain. When Matt has trouble getting strikeouts, he's vulnerable, and the Crockies feasted on the cheese tonight. Cain has seen a big drop in strikeouts this year, with his K/9 dropping below 7, the worst rate of his four full seasons. He's cut down on his walks, always a good thing, but he managed to get burned on a 2-out walk tonight. September has not been kind to Big Sugar in 2009. "Mandatory" studliness was demanded, and "a shutout" as well (hey, this is a tough crowd), and that sure didn't happen. Sorry, Matt, the suitcase sticker with "no. 2" on it has to get peeled off and passed around, ol' no. 75 has been itchin' for it, and he's been looking pretty good lately, so give it up, amigo. (Psst, it's OK, we're still homeys. But I have to serve you up for a flaying, so suck it up and take your whuppin' like good boy.)

Rafael Betancourt--he of the Renteria grand slam--had to clean up Franklin Morales' mess in the 9th, and the usually reliable Troy Tulowitzki made an error to put him on the spot. Alas, Renteria was unable to produce the encore, and the Scheirholtz strikeout ended what turned out to be a last-gasp tease. I've written one obit for this club, and I won't write another. The numbers don't look good with 16 games left to play, but improbabilities have piled upon improbabilities this season, so you never know. You can flip "heads" ten times in a row, can't you?

UPDATE (0656 Thursday): It was Ian Stewart who hit the Death Bomb, as JCP points out, the no. 8 hitter. He's a funny duck, with a Renterivian BA/OBP (.231/.323) but slugs .483 (19 2B, 24 HR). It's not a Coors Field artifact: his splits are lefty-righty, not home-away. There is no "Sean Smith," only a "Seth Smith." (Memo to self: don't blog after late games.) There's a write-up at BtB re Seth Smith. Be nice to have an OF or two with his "upside." The venerable Rob Neyer (one of the few ESPN guys I respect) was at the Park last night (link via ShysterBall). Grant at McChronic and El Lefty Malo both offer thoughts on last night with their usual skillful mixture of humor and insight.

Déjà vu all over again

One of the consequences of blogging is that sometimes you have to eat your words. (Hey, I like eating, it's just that I worry about the lack of nutritive value.) The bi-polar Giants scored 7 runs on Sunday, 9 runs on Monday, and 10 runs last night. That's 26 runs in three games, about the same number of runs we'd normally score in a month. If you divide 26 by 3 you get 8.6666666666666-&-some-change. The Giants will score 8.6666666666666-&-some-change tonight, and, like George Zimmer, I guarantee it. You see, that's math, me buckos, and therefore it is true. Q.E.D.

Barry "Don't call me Beezy" Zito dazzled a potent Crockies lineup with mystical incantations, self-help aphorisms, and a devastating curveball. Look for him to offer a line of fair trade organic non-fat cottage cheese at the ballpark next year. All kidding aside, is this the Real Barry Zito? Has he turned the proverbial corner? I think it's great that he's pitching well after the black hole of the last two seasons, but, like the Giants new-found hitting prowess, is it sustainable? (I'm pretty sure the cottage cheese will be sustainably farmed, but that's a topic for another post, don't you think?) Can I pencil in Barry for 7 IP and 2 ER on a regular basis? Or, like the Giants, is he just toying with me? Will it all come crashing down AGAIN? What the hell, make me eat my words--I've always enjoyed a good alphabet soup.

Two back in the loss column right now, and a win tonight will make it one with a day off before the trip to LA. The lion will lie down with the lamb if we win tonight, world healthcare will be instituted, and all pollution will be cleaned up. If we lose, we'll be three back in the loss column and western civilization will collapse. Matt Cain has given up 25 earned runs in his last 10 starts (72-1/3 IP) and is 2-3 in that span. Of course, that's before we established our new baseline of 8.6666666666666-&-some-change runs scored per game. C'mon Matt, let's kick the Crockies when they're down. If you don't, I won't be held responsible for the "trade-Cain-for-a-hitter-now-that-Barry-Zito-is-a-god" blogs that will pop up like the dandelions in my neighbor's lawn.

Go Giants!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Therapeutic Tim

Finding a "lucky penny" is swell but having an "ace" in the hole is the best.

After eleven days off, Tim Lincecum returned to the NL Wild Card race by dominating the pesky Crockies. Tim didn't have a spectacular career record against Colorado over his first 9 meetings (3-3, 4ish ERA) but that all changed during this year's chance at the post season. His last outing against the rookies he threw 8 scoreless innings, this time he went 7 innings, one run on 6 hits, 4 walks and 11 strikeouts. Those numbers, though studly, don't really convey the true control he had of this game. Of the 6 hits, only three were hit hard, the other three were bloops and what sounded like an Ishikawa error (anyone see it?). The most impressive out was not a strikeout, but rather a limp tapper back to the mound by future HOFer Helton. (BTW Helton entered the game with a ton of success against Lincecum, .529 average). I admit I was worried for a second...silly me, Tim knew what he had to do and did it. Isn't that the true definition of "Ace?" Will I ever get used to having a Giant pitcher that almost always can't be beat???

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, modern medicine be damned. The cure for what's illin' you, whether its wild card letdown or injured ace paranoia, is Tim Lincecum!! (void where prohibited by law, offer good til 2013, then WE BETTER RE-SIGN HIM!!)

ps. Don't give up on the Cy Young! Leading in ERA, K's and avg against (not to mention the sabermetrics) is better than leading in wins.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I suppose because J Sanchez started I'm expected to post about the 9-1 loss to the Doggers.
I'll pass.

How about them Bears?
Two blowout wins to start the season. They crushed East Jesus, er I mean Eastern Washington 59-7 yesterday, following a 52-13 pasting of Maryland the first week.
Cal running back Jahvid Best had 144 yards on just 17 carries, so now his totals are 281 yards on 27 carries. I can't wait to see what he can do if Cal gets in a closer game and he gets a bigger workload.

How about that Tiger Woods?
Yesterday he shot a 62 in the BMW Championship and has a 7 stroke lead. Just how great is he? We're all privileged to be living in the Tiger Woods era.

Go Niners?
Nah, fuck that.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


The Giants played .500 ball in April. In May, they went 14-14, to leave their record at... .500. June was a good month, when they started to gel. They went 17-10 much to everyone's surprise and began to be treated with some seriousness. The Giants reached 10 games over .500 on July 11, just before the last game before the All Star break (which they lost). That was a goal that many a good blogger thought they would not achieve in 2009. Today, the Giants face blue goo at 11 games over .500, meaning that they have progressed only one game in two months.

July was, overall, barely a net positive, the Giants winning 7 of 12 before the All Star break and another 7 of 15 after. August was a good month, 16-12, although that hardly represents a move up in the standings (in fact, it was a move down, thanks to the Rockies). Of course, we are only 4 and 6 for September, and I fear that 10 games over .500 might be the best we can end the season with at this point, and even that will take work. Progress? I think not.

Here are a few other numbers to chew on: In June, the Giants scored 4.37 runs per game. Rowand hit .320 and Schierholtz, .375. The Giants allowed 3.29 runs per game. In August, they allowed 4.17 runs per game, although they were still able to score 4.39. In September, so far, only 2.9 runs scored per game while opponents scored 31 in 10 games. A fancy way of saying that our hitting sucks? Not entirely, as our pitching has been great, but not as great as it was earlier in the season. More: 5-8 against LA with 5 to play, 6-9 against SD with 3 to play, 8-7 against the Rockies with 5 to play. Thank god for the Dbacks. We are 8-4 against them with 6 to play (which may save our season). If you want to win, you have to be able to beat the teams in your own division. The Giants have not been able to satisfactorily do that. They can start in one-half hour to change that.

Post-season sayonara

6 7 4 4 3 5
Game Score 44

Hiroki Kuroda joined the swelling ranks of Cy-Young-vs.-the-Giants pitchers last night, smothering our hapless linuep with ruthless efficiency. Some fool with a blog opined recently:

" . . . we can get him out of the game with some smart, patient approaches at the plate . . ."

Whoever wrote that clearly has not been watching the MMIX Giants. Let's see how it went. First three batters--3 pitches, 5 pitches, 3 pitches, 3 outs. The next four batters managed two hits, an RBI groundout, and 3 outs on 8 pitches. In the third inning it was 3, 5, 3, and 3 outs. The fourth? 3 batters, 10 pitches, 3 outs. The fifth? Same story, but only 8 pitches. Then it was 3 up and 3 down on 4, 2, 3 in the 6th, and 3 up and 3 down on 3, 1, 5 in the 7th. In the 8th, things finally improved. Olympic Nate made an out on 2 pitches, but John "Dirtbag" Bowker roped a triple on his 3rd pitch, Ryan Rohlinger drove in the run after a 6-pitch marathon, and Buster Posey battled to a 5-pitch strikeout. Hey, that was BUSTER POSEY finally getting some action. Let's see some more Buster, eh? The contest was already decided, but Travis Ishikawa and Kevin Frandsen managed to put two hits and a run together in the 9th off reliever Ramon Troncoso, who needed 22 pitches to end the game. Mr. Kuroda only required 86 for his 24 outs. I have to give a nod to an improving Eugenio Velez. Even though he was 0-for-4 he managed to see 16 pitches. Considering that was almost 19% of Kuroda's total, I have to like it.

In all, a par-for-the-course display by one of the worst offenses in baseball. Matt Cain was not at his best either, in fact, the 109-pitch, 6-inning, 27-batter slog could be called his worst start of the season. I blame it on that hideous fucking red cap he had to wear. No matter. It was a big game in a big series and he didn't get it done. And, truth be told, you have to give the LAtriners credit for battling, working the counts, and getting the big hits with men on.

I hate writing an obituary for a team with 21 games left to play, but the long string of wonderful luck we've had this season is running out. We've never had the bats to truly be competitive, something that we knew going in to this season, but the pitching has been so good, even better than expected, and the team has done well. I'm happy about that, but I have the sinking fear that Brian Sabean will get credit for the work done by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Brian Wilson, and Pablo Sandoval, and our baseball-ignorant, bow-tied CEO will give him an extension. We'll trot out another offense next year of has-beens, hackers, old fogeys, and overpaid mediocrities to "support" our stellar youngsters, and we'll be writing this same fookin' obit a month earlier. Tell me it isn't so, O My Brothers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This is the time of year when hyperbole matches reality. These two series--the next six games--against our chief foes and the two teams ahead of us are the do-or-die, make-or-break games of the year. No joke, no foolin', and we ain't bullshittin' about the cuisine neither. (Sorry, gratutitous Silver Streak reference.)

The LAtriners bring a strong offense to San Francisco--they are 5th in the NL in OPS (just ahead of St. Louis) and 3rd in the league in runs scored. They don't hit a lot of HRs, only 125 (12th), not too far from the Giants, who have 104 (15th). The Giants actually hit more doubles, 250 (7th) to 244 (11th). They are 4th in walks (516), however, while we are last (328).

Where they really shine is where we shine--pitching. They have the best ERA in the NL, just ahead of us. The first four teams in FIP are the Braves, Giants, Cardinals and Dodgers, separated by mere percentage points (3.63, 3.78, 3.81, 3.82). The LAtriners have allowed only 530 runs , just behind us (517) and just ahead of St. Louis (545). The Giants have scored 39 more runs than they've yielded. The Dodgers have score 139 more runs than they've yielded. That sort of balance has paid off--they've been in first place since April.

But not all is rosy in La-la land. At the Break, the Smoggers were cruising at 56-32, 7 up on the 2nd place Giants and 9 up on Colorado. They are 83-58 now, 6-1/2 up on the Giants, but the Crockies have surged into 2nd place, only 2-1/2 back. They've gone only 27-26 since those high-flying days. The Giants, of course, are 27-25 since the Break. Imagine what we could have done if we had a decent offense! Nonetheless, the team we are facing is not the same team from earlier this season--they are vulnerable, and they know the Crockies are breathing down their necks.

Tomorrow Matt Cain goes against Hiroki Kuroda. He's lost time to injury this year, but he's good, sporting a 3.59 FIP and 3.84 tRA. His issue is stamina, only 93 IP in 16 starts. If we can get him out of the game with some smart, patient approaches at the plate, I think the matchup with Cain favors us strongly. Matt gives us 7 quality IP almost every time, and our Affeldt/Romo-Wilson combo is deadly. Let's hope the boys are up to the task.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This one really hurts

Wade LeBlanc got 21 outs with 94 pitches, facing 26 batters in his 7 innings of work. Our offense is regressing after that lovely 9-run display on Monday. Edgar Renteria continued his stellar season with a big, fat 0-fer. His $7 million 2009 line is .258/.316/.339 (BA/OBP/SLG). Yeah. That's the line--no joke. A .339 slugging percentage. And he gets a $2 million raise next year.

I actually thought we could get LEAGUE AVERAGE production from this guy. That's all I wanted--LEAGUE AVERAGE (.259/.331/.410). What we got was David Eckstein with more strikeouts. If you like the new metrics, The Rental's wOBA is .290, 6th worst in all of baseball, and he's worth about 0.6 WAR (about half of Andres Torres).

If you ever needed a reason to ignore ESPN and the rest of the goofballs who pen this sort of crap for the so-called "mainstream media," a gander a Jerry Crasnick's Barry Zito story will give you all you need to cut those ties. I'm glad Zito is pitching better this year (although not today!), but c'mon. He's been our 4th best pitcher all year, and now he's our fifth best. Get real, Jerry.

p.s. Here's a nice look at MadBum's debut on FanGraphs.

He left the lights on

I can't get too upset at Jeremy "Lights Out" Affeldt--he' s pitched beautifully all season. In 52-1/3 IP he's faced 212 batters and given up 40 hits, only 2 HRs, 11 ER, and whiffed 44 guys against 27 walks. His FIP and tRA are both career lows, 3.55 and 4.15, and he's added about 0.7 WAR. At $3M (plus $1M signing bonus) he's our highest paid reliever, and he's given us quality in return. Bobby Howry is getting $2.75 M on a one-year deal, and he'll have to fight for a job next year. Affeldt gets $4M for a second year, let's hope he can give us the same or better in 2010. Matt Cain, for example, is making $2.65M this season and $4.25M in 2010. Who do you think adds more value to the team?

In fact, the economic illogic of this team is staggering. We got another good performance from Eugenio Velez--somewhere the "take a pitch" light went on in his head. He worked Kevin Correia last night! He makes $0.4 M, and put on a display of mature batting that our $8M CF would do well to emulate. Randy Winn makes $8.25 M and can't produce anywhere near what Fred "I'm in the doghouse now" Lewis does at $0.4 M. Juan Uribe costs $1M, Freddy Sanchez $6.1 M. The old, overpaid guys can't deliver any better than the youngsters and the scrap heap guys. Bengie Molina? $6M. Pablo Sandoval? $0.4 M. Would you be surprised to know that Tim Lincecum is making $650,000 this year? He could make a case for being the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE even if he was paid 20 times that!

I know we aren't supposed to care about what they make. And I don't care, in the sense that ballplayers get a nice chunk of money to entertain us with their unique skills, and I'm fine with that. I care about the team, though, and the future. Time and again we overpay for aging, league-average guys and expect them to deliver us a championship. If we make the playoffs, it will be on the backs of Tim and Matt and Brian Wilson and Pablo Sandoval and maybe even Madison Bumagarner (who showed some poise last night--I hope the rush job doesn't hurt him). I'm really tired of old, overpaid, league-average mediocrities. I'd sure like to give a big, fat contract to someone who DESERVES it, who can actually deliver SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE. Barry Zito has pitched decently this year, but so has Kevin Correia. In fact, they are almost interchangeable. That tells me the brains behind this outfit don't have a clue how to put together a team. We are winning because we have some great young talent--what if they regress next year, even a little? Who will pick up the slack? Freddy Sanchez? Please.

We are 3 games back with 23 to play. At 3.98 runs scored per game (554/139), it is going to be a tough fight. Any slip-up in our pitching and our offense will be hard-pressed to overcome the deficit. It has been a great season. Let's hope we build on our youthful future for next year and beyond no matter how it turns out.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Scratched Tim!

Just a moment ago I read a headline that may have scarred me for life:

Bumgarner to start for injured Lincecum
Way too much going on in those six words. It starts out exciting, yet quickly turns horrifying. I must process this. Need info.

September, 1951

Everyone knows how the '51 pennant race ended, with Bobby Thomson's homer at the Polo Grounds to win a playoff against the Dodgers. Maybe some of you don't know how remarkable the Giants' season was preceding that magic moment.

On August 11 the Dodgers had 13 and a half game lead. The next day the Giants began a 16 game winning streak. They won 37 of their last 44 games, including the last 7 of the regular season, to force the playoff.

The Dodger team was an offensive powerhouse, leading the league in virtually every category. The Giants strength was in their pitching. Both Larry Jansen and Sal Maglie won 23 games.

Monte Irvin (pictured at right) was the hitting star for the Giants that year, leading the NL with 121 RBI.

Here's the transcript of Russ Hodges' immortal call: (Oct 3)

"Bobby Thomson... up there swingin'... He's had two out of three, a single and a double, and Billy Cox is playing him right on the third-base line... One out, last of the ninth... Branca pitches... Bobby Thomson takes a strike called on the inside corner... Bobby hitting at .292... He's had a single and a double and he drove in the Giants' first run with a long fly to center... Brooklyn leads it 4-2...Hartung down the line at third not taking any chances... Lockman with not too big of a lead at second, but he'll be runnin' like the wind if Thomson hits one... Branca throws... [audible sound of bat meeting ball]
"There's a long drive... it's gonna be, I believe...THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant and they're goin' crazy, they're goin' crazy! HEEEY-OH!!!'' [ten-second pause for crowd noise]
"I don't believe it! I don't believe it! I do not believe it! Bobby Thomson... hit a line drive... into the lower deck... of the left-field stands... and this blame place is goin' crazy! The Giants!
Horace Stoneham has got a winner! The Giants won it... by a score of 5 to 4... and they're pickin' Bobby Thomson up... and carryin' him off the field! "
P.S. On deck was the rookie Willie Mays.

Monday, September 7, 2009

No place like home

We've been singing this familiar refrain all season long. We looked like All-Stars at the plate today. Penny gave us another strong start, you have to like that. Anything we can get from this guy is gravy--I love reclamation projects! Eugenio Velez gave me an encouraging sign today with TWO walks (as well as a hit). If it ain't a strike, don't swing!** If he can take that to heart he will dramatically increase his value as a player. The Padres, I've no doubt, expected him to flail at crap, but he did not and got on base two more times because of it. He only had 9 walks in 209 plate appearances before today, and a .319 OBP won't cut it at the top of the lineup. That's an out rate of 68.1%, and the ML average is 66.8% (.332). We need a leadoff hitter, or I should say, we need fast guys who can get on base. Hell, we need ANY guys who can get on base. And then we need some real hitters. But that's another familiar refrain in another old song.

The Padres are hurting if Kevin Correia and Clayton Richard are their best pitchers. Richard--today's starter--was acquired in the Peavy deal, and the jury's still out on him, but when the Giants smack you around that does not impress the coaches. We get to play San Diego five more times, maybe we can thump 'em real good five more times.

Juan Uribe launched a couple of bombs today. Un-sung, un-heralded, and un-signed until the Giants gave him a minor league deal this spring. Where would we be without him?

**Ted Williams said his number one piece of hitting advice was "get a good pitch to hit."

UPDATE (0655 Tue): There's a piece about Dan Runzler on Fan Graphs.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Another Long Low-Scoring Loss

I can't get bummed about the final outcome of this game. Prince Fielder is an awesome hitter. I just wanted the game to end. I'm sick of all these endless low-scoring games. And it sucks to end a road trip this way.
A long time ago I declared Jonathan Sanchez an elite pitcher. Then he regressed and became quite annoying to watch. Now I'm on the verge of making the same declaration. He was excellent again today, striking out 9 in 6 innings and only surrendering one run. Yet he still doesn't inspire unbounded confidence. Why was he pulled after just 6 innings with less than 100 pitches thrown?
Velez was outstanding again today, at least early. He scored our only run, then made an amazing catch in left.
Sandoval improved his OBP today with a hit and 3 walks.
Today was my first chance to watch Runzler. He seems pretty special. Does any team in the majors have as many strong lefties as the Giants?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Luck o' the Irish

7+ 4 2 2 2 5
Game Score 64

Matty O'Cain brought his big heat and his VSC to Milwaukee today and gave us 21 outs and got charged with only two runs--the same combo that The Franchise delivered on Thursday--but this time the G-men prevailed, getting three runs for themselves instead of only one. Eamon O'Velez was the hero today, waving a mighty shilelagh and wielding a wizardly glove at second base. Matty owes you a corned beef sandwich and a pint o'Guinness, lad. Sean O'Ribe delivered another massive bomb--this guy is Willie Mac Award material.

Luck prevailed against a pesky Crew, along with grit, fortitude, and a heaping dose of gnarliness. That, and a sensational outing by closer Brian Wilson. He has certainly filled the role this season. Big Sugar finally gets win no. 13, which ties his career high. The bad luck was banished! The long stretch of no-decisions was certainly getting old, and mix in a couple of rocky starts in August and you wonder if The Tennessee Stud is wearing down. But he brushed aside those concerns--if they were there at all--with another excellent start. The first run he allowed would have been a flyout on a normal day. Winn lost it in the sun, and didn't go back far enough to catch it. It should have been an out, but I'll cut Randy some slack because of the tough afternoon shadows. I was impressed that Ol' Boch let Matty pitch the 8th, even though that didn't work out so well. He had a real shot a giving us another three outs, which was worth taking at that point.

The two starts by our two studly right-handers really tell the story of the season: losing 2-1 and winning 3-2. The margins are soooo close with this team, any small break or bit o'luck can decide the contest. Nonetheless, we march on, still in the hunt. When do we get to see Buster?

The new 4-hit, 7-pitcher formula!

I keep throwing in the towel on Ol' Bengie, but GMF that he is, he steps up with the big game-winning bomb. That'll shut me up. I still don't want to re-sign him. But I will give credit to Ol' Boch for diggin' deep into the VSC well and conjuring up some gamerosity for a much-needed win. You have to love Young Runzler getting a 1-2-3-&-done debut, and a clutch hit by another target of my wrath, Ol' Aaron. Tell you what fellas, I'll keep up the abuse and you keep up the production.

When do we get to see Buster?

The Cain Train rolls today, bringin' some country hardball and long stretch of starts without W's. Time to turn it around.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Polarizing Tim

(Note: written while listening to "Suck On This (Live) by Primus. This may be significant.)

This season is going to drive me crazy. I love it and hate it all at once. Every glorious shutout seems to be followed by humiliating disgrace. Guess which one happened tonight.


  • Tim was great; 7 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, and ELEVEN STRIKEOUTS. Which, of course, leads to loss #5, his third since the ASB
  • 18th career game with 10+ strikeouts, most in ML since 2007
  • 233 strikeouts, leads ML, on pace to break Christy Mathewson's 1903 franchise record of 267!!


  • Pedro was better (of course, he sure didn't have to face Utley - that was his 19th HBP, what a pro! - or Howard); career win #217. Damn, he got up to face Tim, didn't he?
  • we went 0-8 with RISP and once again put on a clinic on failed opportunities
  • Tim gave up his 9th homer (0.37 HR's/9 inning, 2nd in ML)

KEY FACTOID: The Giants are now 17-18 in one run games. Not great, but OK. However, the split is crazy: 12-1 at home and 5-17 on the road! Christ! Does everything have to be SO out of balance????

(in between songs, Les Claypool says "We're Primus and we suck." I love it.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Zero, zip, zilch

Jon Miller was giving the usual radio patter about the Phillies "taking advantage of their opportunities" as our reinforced road squad put up another quick 1-2-3-and-out, and my lovely bride burst out "that's what good teams do!" Exasperated with our feeble lineup, she looked at me and said "the Giants don't take advantage of sh--!!"

I thought it summed things up rather well.

Tim tomorrow.

Go Giants!