Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Those who ignore the future are doomed to repeat it

I received an intriguing e-mail yesterday from a fellow named Victor Chi. He had this to say:
Congratulations to you and your colleagues at "Raising Matt Cain" on producing a terrific site. We thought you might be interested in having it be a part of the SportsFanLive network. is a sort of Facebook for sports fans. It hosts blogs, aggregates news, assembles links, et cetera, all with the goal of attracting sports junkies. It has ads, of course, which I imagine is how it generates income. It has been around for about three years. Here's the Giants page. Lots of blogs are part of larger networks and run ads--just click on several on the blogrolls here and you'll see. I'll admit that kind of stuff is often annoying, but at the same time the content--the writing and unique perspective--doesn't suffer. According to Mr. Chi, RMC would still maintain full control over content. They (SFL) would be responsible for ads and the network linkages. It would generate some very modest income (of which SFL would take 50% "plus expenses").

At this point in my life, I don't need the income. Not that I don't like money. I do. It's just that I have a full-time job. RMC is an amateur passion. I've always hoped that it could generate a readership that could ultimately act as a springboard to "bigger and better things" for yours truly. I want to write full-time when I retire (not that far away), and RMC gives me a creative outlet and a great audience.

I wanted to share this information with all of you--fellow contributors, friends, commenters, guests, lurkers, casual observers, followers, and fans--because you've made the site what it is. I love to write about the Giants, and the fact that so many more people are reading these days is very, very gratifying. I suppose I just talked myself out of this "partnership" with SportsFanLive, only because I never imagined such an invitation would come along so soon! I started RMC on the 25th of September, 2007, so we have not even covered three full seasons yet. I still feel like a bumbling newbie most of the time. I expect the on-line world of blogging and news websites and ads and all that will continue to change and evolve and many new and exciting things will emerge from the vast virtual flea market we all like to be a part of. And one day something will come along and I'll bite. Then again, I may bite on this one, too. It's 0733 and I'll be late for work if I don't leave RIGHT NOW!


p.s. I'd appreciate any thoughts or comments by folks who have experience being a part of one of these blog networks.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Run scoring

A poor hitting team averages 4 runs per game. For a season, that's 648 runs. The Giants scored 657 runs in 2009. A good hitting team averages 5 runs per game. 810 runs in a season will put you among the league leaders. The 2009 Phillies scored 820 runs. The league average last year was 4.43, or 718 runs. Seven NL clubs managed to score more than 4.5 runs per game: Philadelphia, Colorado, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Florida, Atlanta, and St. Louis.

Baseball Musings has been running a series on team offense (see the Giants entry here). Mr. Pinto gives a breakdown of his procedure here. Mostly, he relies on Marcel the Monkey forecasts. The neat part is the Lineup Analysis Tool. You plug the player projections in to the lineup slots and see how many runs per game that combination creates. For the Giants, they score the most runs when the pitcher bats 8th! This, of course, will never happen. Tony LaRussa manages in St. Louis. But the following lineup projects to a little over 4.5 runs per game: DeRosa, Sandoval, Schierholtz, Huff, Rowand, Molina, Uribe, pitchers, Renteria. I can't argue with hitting DeRosa near the top, his lifetime .275/.343/.424 makes him our best hitter not named Sandoval. The Nate projections may be a tad optimistic, though. All of the idealized "best" lineups that compute to over 4.5 rpg involve Renteria hitting last, Molina no higher than 6th, Sandoval and DeRosa no lower than 3rd, Huff (mostly) at cleanup, and Rowand 3rd through 5th. And they expect a lot (.753 OPS) from Schierholtz. If the Giants score 4.5 rpg (or 9 runs every 2 games if decimal runs bother you), they will win the West.

This, though, is the Giants. And soon, it will be the real season and not the imaginary one. Aaron Rowand will lead off and Juan Uribe will hit second. This is because he is our second baseman, and our second baseman hits second. Please don't ask why, just accept. With Sandoval, Huff, DeRosa, Molina, Renteria, Schierholtz, and the pitcher following, LAT says 4.353 rpg. That's 705 runs, just about what the Cubs (707) scored in 2009, good for 10th place. Back in the real world, the team might get smart and put DeRosa at second base while FSanchez is out and bat him in front of Sandoval where his decent OBP skills will be of the most use. Since he's a "proven run producer" (Sabes-speak for "RBI guy") we will likely not see that. But it might be the best way to get either Fred Lewis (very unlikely) or John Bowker (certainly possible) into the lineup in left field. Uribe, despite his fine season last year (.824 OPS), is a Molina-like hacker and his low OBP (.298! lifetime) should NOT be at the top of the lineup. If we can find a way to get Mr. Upside Buster Posey into the lineup instead of Mr. Out-maker Bengie Molina, we just might have a league-average offense. Let's hope we figure out how to do that.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Return of Son of Four Foes

Who is one player we should look out for, and why?

Arizona Diamondbacks

If you know baseball, you know who it is. Who else in baseball gets compared to Willie Mays and Griffey Junior while signing the second largest contract in the history of a franchise yet has only a little over two years of service time in the big leagues? Justin Upton has the talent to become one of the greats of the game.

--Doug Franz, Sports 620 KTAR radio

Colorado Rockies

Jason Hammel has a chance to be a surprise player. He won 10 games last year and could win 15 this year. Also, Ian Stewart is a candidate to go 30-home-run, 100-RBIs if he hits .270.

--Troy Renck, Denver Post

Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Kemp is fast becoming a household name. He’s your basic five-tool player who possesses 40-40 skills and can hit over .300. He earned both a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove award last season and the Dodgers are looking at him to be the new face of the franchise. Kemp bounced up and down the batting order last season, mostly hitting towards the bottom of the order. Joe Torre figures to bat Kemp second this season, in front of Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez, and so a spike in production could result in Kemp having a monster season. Baseball Reference groups him with Andre Dawson, Carlos Beltran, and Vernon Wells through his age 24 seasons. The future looks bright for Matt Kemp. And the future is now.

--Robert Timm, Dodger Dugout

San Diego Padres

Kyle Blanks is a guy that could have the largest impact on this team. Although I would like to see him hit in front on Gonzalez to increase the likelihood of seeing more fastballs. Bud Black will probably hit him fifth. Blanks will probably hit around .265, but should have 25-30 Homeruns and 10-12 stolen bases.

--Steve Adler, The Friarhood

Four foes, four questions. Back to regular programming tomorrow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Son of Four Foes

What is the greatest area of concern this year for your team?

Arizona Diamondbacks

Starting Pitching…There are a ton of concerns but this is the number one. Will Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson have a second half as good as the first? When/if will Webb return—not just to the mound—to a CY Young caliber pitcher? Is Ian Kennedy a good pitcher who struggled in the lights of New York, or is he a great Triple-A pitcher that can’t handle the majors? Is Bill Buckner the pitcher of 2010 spring training or is he a middle reliever posing as a starter?

--Doug Franz, Sports 620 KTAR radio

Colorado Rockies

The bullpen is a question mark following Huston Street's injury. Can he return by May 1 and will he be effective? And Rafael Betancourt has dealt with shoulder problems. If Franklin Morales can close, they should be fine. If he can't, it will get dicey..

--Troy Renck, Denver Post

Los Angeles Dodgers

The starting rotation. The starting pitching has the potential to be the best in the NL West, one through four. It also is capable of being quite mediocre. (Interestingly, this looks to be the case for every team in the division.) Kershaw figures to be the most consistent going in to April, while Billingsley’s topsy-turvy season (3.38 ERA before All-Star Break, 5.20 after) cause many to wonder which version 2010 will bring. Hiroki Kuroda can be a solid No. 3, though it wouldn’t surprise a single peanut vendor if he found himself on the DL for most of the season. Was Vicente for real? Padilla posted a 3.20 ERA in 39.1 innings down the stretch for L.A. last year, well below his career ERA of 4.33. We all know that pennants are won and lost on pitching. The Dodgers are capable of falling on either side of that fence.

--Robert Timm, Dodger Dugout

San Diego Padres

The young players. It’s unrealistic to think all of these young guys will produce, and Petco won’t help them the first part of the year. If these young guys get off to slow starts this will be a very long season for Padres fans.

--Steve Adler, The Friarhood

Extra Baggs says Matt Cain's new contract means no change for 2010, but a raise to $8M in 2011, and then the big jump to $15M in 2012.

Take a look at the spreadsheet on Cot's Contracts Giants page. The 2010 payroll is just over $90M. In 2011, the Giants will spend $77M for 8 guys (Zito, Lincecum, Rowand, Cain, Wilson, DeRosa, FSanchez, Affeldt). In 2012, Lincecum is eligible for arbitration. Zito, Cain, Rowand, and Wilson will cost $56M. I hope we win the whole thing by then because the world comes to an end that December.

Return of Four Foes

What are two reasons for optimism for the upcoming season?

Arizona Diamondbacks

1) 2009 is over.

2) An entire spring training and regular season with every player knowing the coaching staff is fully in charge and completely on the same page with management.

--Doug Franz, Sports 620 KTAR radio

Colorado Rockies

They are deeper and more talented than they have ever been, and Jim Tracy's leadership style mixes perfectly with this group.

--Troy Renck, Denver Post

Los Angeles Dodgers

1) Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp are developing into superstars. The duo could be serious Cy Young and MVP contenders this season.

2) The Torre Factor. While many ‘experts’ have slotted the Dodgers to finish 2nd or 3rd in the division, they seem to forget that Joe Torre has led his teams to the playoffs in 14 consecutive seasons. He is, quite simply, the best manager in the NL West (sorry, Jimbo). Toss in that no team in the NL West made a humongous splash in the off season and it’s hard to believe that Joe Torre won’t take the Dodgers deep into October again, even if the race goes down to the wire.

--Robert Timm, Dodger Dugout

San Diego Padres

1. This team finally has started to develop some arms! Petco is a favorable pitching park, but you still need guys that can throw. The team now has young developing arms that are within a year of pitching for the team.

2. This is the first team that will be able to play to the Park. Expect to see this Padres team run, run, and run some more. With the exception of Adrian Gonzalez this team will be able to cover ground in the field and on the bases.

--Steve Adler, The Friarhood

Rob Neyer discusses John Bowker.
Mychael Urban says Fred Lewis will be "cut loose."
(h/t to MLB Trade Rumors for both links)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Four Foes

How is your team significantly different this year from last?

Responses in alphabetical order:

Arizona Diamondbacks

Impossible question to answer because most of the changes are mental or based on hope. If Brandon Webb is healthy, the D-Backs will compete for a division championship. If he’s not, the D-Backs will field a very competitive team that will not come close to winning the division.

The Adam LaRoche signing is significant. D-Back first basemen had the worst fielding percentage in the league. Being last doesn’t take into account how many errors incurred by the rest of the infield because AZ first basemen weren’t good enough to make the scoops necessary to save errors.

There is also a completely different attitude in the spring so the question becomes how will that affect the team. There was a feeling last year of “management versus players.” The veterans had a lot of loyalty towards Bob Melvin and none to AJ Hinch. However, since Hinch was the minor league director, all the young guys felt very comfortable with him. This dynamic combined with the collapse of Chris Young, the inability to replace Webb, the death of a player’s wife and Connor Jackson’s valley fever, put the team in last place. Do not judge this team by last year or 2007. They’re somewhere in the middle.

--Doug Franz, Sports 620 KTAR radio

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies have made some slight adjustments, strengthening its bench with the signings of Jason Giambi and Melvin Mora. Other than that, the team is a carbon copy of the 2009 club.

--Troy Renck, Denver Post

Los Angeles Dodgers

This is, essentially, the same team as last year. The most notable goners: Randy Wolf, Orlando Hudson, and Juan Pierre. Depending on how you look at it, Vicente Padilla replaces Wolf in the rotation, re-opening another spot for a fifth starter battle. Blake DeWitt looks to take over from Orlando Hudson and Ronnie Belliard at second base.

Another aspect that might be viewed as ‘significantly different’ is the McCourt divorce. It’s probably safe to assume that the ongoing drama of the owners impacted the Dodgers maneuverability in free agency, despite what they themselves say, but it should not impact what the team does mid-season. GM Ned Colletti’s typical M.O. is to make cash neutral trades near the deadline (see: Blake and Manny in ’08 and Thome, Belliard, and Garland in ’09). Look for L.A. to do the same to shore up any holes in 2010.

--Robert Timm, Dodger Dugout

San Diego Padres

• For the most part this Padres team is the same that ended last season on a hot streak. A few minor changes should have a nice impact.

• Chris Young healthy and a rubber arm in Jon Garland will finally allow some stability in the rotation.

• The trade of Kevin Kouzmanoff finally opens up 3B for Chase Headley. Headley has a lot to prove and the Padres organization is very deep at the position.

• Scott Hairston is back! One of the most successful hitters in Petco Park history returns to platoon in CF. Hairston’s RH power will be welcomed in the lineup.

• This is the year of the youth movement. The Padres have a lot of young guys such as Blanks and Cabrera that are on the cusp of stardom. For other players such as Tony Gwynn Jr, Chase Headley, Will Venable and Nick Hundley this year will determine the direction the organization moves in.

--Steve Adler, Friarhood

Baseball Musings takes a look at Kevin Frandsen.
Hardball Talk covers the cut on Lincecum's finger.
FanGraphs evaluates the Brian Wilson deal.
Baseball Analysts visualize the divsion races.
The Hardball Times questions the Giants.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Know Thy Enemy V

The final preview piece is up at Dodger Dugout. There's a lot of talent on that squad. They've won the West two years running, with 84 wins (2008) and 95 wins (2009). It's hard to believe, barring injury, they won't win 90 games in 2010. I'm hoping for some cruelty by the baseball gods, some regression, and lots of Vicente Padilla being Vicente Padilla. I do believe the West is wide-open this year, and there are big question marks on every team. I expect the race to be close and every fookin' game to matter. I'd like to believe that the McCourt Saga will hurt the Dodgers, but that's too nebulous for me to put much stock in. The whole mess just seems like a tug-o-war between a couple of world-class douchebags. I'm not so sure they're much different than a lot of the über-rich fucks who own sports teams, though, so I don't see the impact of it on the field. Perhaps there will be some inflexibility in the payroll, and they won't be able to make a big move mid-season, but that's a very wealthy franchise so I doubt it. They are still paying Jason Schmidt, Nomar Garciaparra, and Juan Pierre fer chrissakes! Frankly, I'm amazed the Dodgers don't win every year. Their brand is recognizable world-wide, the LA market is the richest in the country, and they own the stadium and the land outright. They should be the west coast Yankees! Fortunately, they aren't, and they haven't won a pennant since 1988. Let's hope it stays that way long enough for Herr Bow-Tie and his Troupe of Twerps to learn how to properly construct an offense.


p.s. I really enjoyed being a part of the "Know Thy Enemy" series and I'd like to give a shout-out to Robert Timm at Dodger Dugout for picking little ol' me to chime in. Since all the contributors answered the same six questions, I thought I'd run them and the responses as six separate posts. That way you can look them over without having to tread in enemy territory. I'm sick of Spring Training stories anyway, and the only thing left to do is whine about roster decisions. I want to think about the race and the upcoming season!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Know Thy Enemy IV

The Rockies preview--by Troy Renck of the The Denver Post--is up. Mr. Renck also has a piece on his blog where he talks to the ESPN guys (Rick Sutcliffe, Orel Hershiser, and our very own Jon Miller) who all say the Rox are the team to beat. Talk is cheap, eh? The regular season has a way of making fools of everyone, doesn't it?

Silly me, I did not realize the Giants were still negotiating with Jeremy Affeldt. He signed a 2-year, $8M deal before last season, this gives him a raise to $4.5M for this season and adds an option year (2011), which bumps up to $5M or a $0.5M buyout. Affeldt was brilliant last season and a huge part or our success in close games. My red flags are (1) relief pitchers show a lot of variation from year-to-year, and (2) he walks a lot of guys (35 in 62-1/3 IP). In fact, Affeldt averages about 4 BB per 9 IP for his career. His success last year was due to his ability to get ground balls. His career GB% is 48.8, but the last three seasons look like this: 53.0, 54.4, 65.0. Affeldt coaxed 102 ground balls from 248 batters, only giving up 29 fly balls and 26 line drives. (Note that GB% is GB per balls in play.) He also stranded 86.4% of the runners he inherited, an astonishing figure (career 70.2%), and one that seems very difficult to repeat.

I'm not sure why the Giants felt it necessary to extend a guy who was under contract already and being paid a premium (for a reliever) wage, but they did. Then again, I'm often bewildered by our front office.  Nonetheless, expect to see "Lights-out" Affeldt in lots of high-leverage situations in 2010, just like 2009. CHONE projects a 3.61 FIP, very close to his career-lows of 3.66 (2008) and 3.59 (2009). His career mark is 4.17, so maybe this is a case of a fellow learning to pitch to his strengths and getting better with age and experience. If Sergio Romo and Dan Runzler can complement Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson, we could have a very good bullpen.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Know Thy Enemy III

Steve Adler of Friarhood gives his take on the San Diego Padres in the continuing NL West preview on Dodger Dugout. He picks the Giants to win the West. Not only that, Friarhood ran my entire piece on their siteThat was very cool, and I should have thought to do the same. After all, Robert Timm (the Dodger Dugout webmaster) has so far mailed out the previews in advance to all the participants. I'll post the set here on RMC when the series is done. I know I did a long series of prognostication posts in mid-winter, but that was so long ago that everyone forgot. This is the blog world, after all, where the only rule is "update, update, update." Things have shaken out a bit now that Spring Training is nearly over, and our appetites are whetted. Some guest contributions will be welcome, don't you think? And they'll beat the hell out of reading the fecking Chronicle.


P.S. Fred Lewis' days are numbered, according to Extra Baggs. Chris at BCB gives his take, which I think most of us can agree with.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Know Thy Enemy

Robert Timm, the webmaster at Dodger Dugout, e-mailed me this weekend and asked if I'd supply a post about the Giants for his NL West preview series. I'll be representin' RMC in enemy territory! Look for it this week, probably Thursday. Today the D-Backs are covered by Doug Franz of Sports 620 KTAR radio in "Know Thy Enemy." This should be fun. Be sure to check it out.

What do you think of the Joe Mauer deal? Is it possible to consider such a thing for a pitcher (er, Tim)? The Giants have four more years and $76 M committed to BZ (not including the 2014 option), so I doubt we'll ever see a deal of that scope again. Then again, I never imagined the Twins would spend this kind of scratch. Carl Pohlad is turning over in his grave!

Todd Wellemeyer or Kevin Pucetas? Ol' Boch likes 'em grizzled--as does his boss--so the odds swing to T.W., I think. Having K.P. ready in AAA for a quick call-up if/when T.W. implodes would be smart. We all hope to see MadBum get that job in the end, anyway, so I'm not sure it's much to fret over. Marc Hulet thinks teams ought to re-think the whole notion of a "no. 5 guy" in his two pieces for FanGraphs (A New Approach to the Fifth Starter and Fifth Starters Don't Exist). In 2009 the Giants got 17 starts from Randy Johnson, 6 from Ryan Sadowski, 6 from Brad Penny, 5 from Joe Martinez, and 1 from Madison Bumgarner. If the three we have now split up the duties for the season (MadBum a late call-up), I can live with it.

The dream dies--Cal gets thumped by the No. 1 seed. No shame in losing to Duke, I suppose, that's a great basketball team. It was a fine season for the Golden Bears, with their first-ever outright Pac-10 title. The old enemy coach worked his magic on the other side of the Bay. Maybe the guy does know what he's doing. The good thing about the loss is now the NCAAs won't distract me any more.



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Golden afternoon

Blue sky, golden sunshine, vernal equinox, Giants baseball on TV . . . what could be bad?

No Buster, for one. Have to watch Molina and Whiteside--tell me why? My CSN-BA broadcast said "HD" but it looked a hell of a lot like "Lo-D" to me.

Those are quibbles, though. The good stuff?  Bengie actually took some pitches and Eli roped a two-run double. Big bombs by Resurrected Renteria and Hopeful Huff. Brandon Crawford looked good stroking one to RF. Todd "5th-man" Wellemeyer made his pitches and made his pitch . . . will MadBum get the bus ticket to Fresno? Alex Hinshaw showed some good form.

Let's get this season started!

Oh, almost forgot--


Gotta love that.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Half full, half empty

Dave Cameron over at FanGraphs profiles the Giants in the on-going "Organizational Rankings" series. We come it at #23. Seems low, even for a skeptical fellow like me. But you should give it a look nonetheless. Marc Hulet chimes in a with his take on our "Future Talent." It's not a particularly positive spin, but worth a read. It never hurts to have some glass-half-empty folks question the wisdom of the glass-half-full crowd, since most of this is guesswork anyway, at least for us amateurs.

THE GIANTS ARE ON TV TOMORROW! Looking forward to that--baseball on the vernal equinox. Now if we can just get Spring Training over and done with and get on with the season I'll be even happier.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Bring me the head of the nearest GM

Take a look at this article by Alex Speier ( on baseball's GMs (h/t to Harball Talk). His point--mainly--is that GMs aren't any younger or any more educated than they were 10 years ago, despite the high-profile success of wunderkinds like Theo Epstein in Boston. There are only four guys on the list who have been with the same team from 2000-2010, and one of them is Brian Sabean. The other three are Dan O'Dowd (Rockies), Billy Beane (A's), and Brian Cashman (Yankees). Mark Shapiro, GM of the Indians, discusses the state of the job (emphasis mine):
“When I say the quality, intelligence, aptitude and capability of front offices across the board has increased, it’s not just because some guys from Ivy League schools have become general managers. It’s because the standards have been raised, the competition is greater and people are adapting.”

Here's my question for you long-suffering Giants fans--is our FO adapting? Has it raised the standards? Does it recognize that the competition is greater today than it was yesterday? Or is there someone on that list you'd rather have manning the helm? Sabes gets his share of lumps here at RMC--does he deserve it? When I see a lineup like this one I can get pretty excited about our future. But then I remember that this lineup is the one we are going with, and my balloon deflates. What say, mates?


(quote from Profile of a GM in 2010 by Alex Speier)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The HOF Senator of No

Senator Jim Bunning (R) KY has been in the news recently as a conspicuous dick-head who single-handedly obstructed the payment of unemployment benefits to millions of struggling Americans. It turns out he's consistently ranked as both one of the most conservative US Senators and as one of the worst US Senators.
As I'm sure anyone who'd be reading this blog would know, Bunning is a Hall Of Fame pitcher. So I asked myself, "Just who is this guy and what kind of a ballplayer was he? Were there any portents of dick-headedness apparent early in his public life?"

He pitched 17 ML seasons, 1955 thru 1971, with a won-loss record of 224-184 and a career ERA of 3.27. His 2,855 career strikeouts was #2 all-time at the time, now ranks as #17 all-time.
A perusal of his career stats page shows that he was a "workhorse" pitcher during his peak years, roughly '63 through '67, eating up 300+ innings and recording complete games in the teens annually.
In 1958, as a Detroit Tiger, he threw a no-hitter, and on Father's Day in 1964 he threw a perfect game for the Phillies.
The '64 season is notorious for the great "Phillie Phold."

"Bunning is remembered for his role in the pennant race of 1964, in which the Phillies held a commanding lead in the National League for most of the season, eventually losing the title to the St. Louis Cardinals. Manager Gene Mauch used Bunning and fellow hurler Chris Short heavily down the stretch, and the two became visibly fatigued as September wore on. The collapse of the 1964 Phillies remains one of the most infamous in baseball history. With a six and a half game lead as late as September 21, they lost 10 games in a row to finish tied for second place." (from Wikipedia)

Bunning and Mauch feuded. Mauch was experimenting with the idea of the manager calling pitches from the dugout but Bunning always shook off those signs.

Maybe that's what Senator Bunning has been doing lately, stubbornly shaking off the signs, signs from the American people, that change is a welcome thing, that we selected a president and a congress to get certain things accomplished, to make the world a better place. Instead he's standing up for some obsolete notion of the way things ought to be. And he's doing it all for a losing cause.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It Must Be the $

OH MY GOD!! ooops, I meant

Ever since getting a $23 million contract, Tim Lincecum has given up 8 hits and seven runs (four earned) in 3 2/3 innings. When I first read this I thought,"That's bad, like Barry Zito bad." This immediately made me cringe thinking about how much we pay him. That made me think about all the money we give really bad players...I mean we GO OUT OF OUR WAY to throw big dough at some of these guys. And they all suck. And now Tim......


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

.857, baby!

It's been a long time since I thought much about Spring Training records. Figures, then, that this is the year we are a smokin' hot 6-1 in the desert after another win today (FreddieLew and Buster go back-to-back!). Sky Andrecheck recently posted a story at titled "Spring training games aren't as meaningless as they may seem", and it got me thinking about whether a good spring indicates a good season. Here's a snippet:
Does a team's spring training record really tell us anything? Surprisingly, it does. A team's spring training record is a statistically significant predictor of its regular-season record, even when taking into account its pre-season projection.
Dude. That's awesome. I'm down with statistical significance! Here's more:
In a nutshell, if your team is having an extremely surprising spring training (for good or for bad), you would do well to adjust your expectations accordingly by about three games.
Only three? We aren't going to play .857 ball this year? Damn. Only statisticians like Mr. Andrecheck (and hopless Giants junkies like me) can get excited about such significance. Three games in the NL West could separate three teams in 2010. I'm on record as liking the Rockies as the favorites, but I don't see any runaway clubs.

I love this game. Just when you think you've made up your mind about something, someone comes along and makes you re-think it. Mainly, I'm thinking about an .857 win percentage. That's 138 wins.



Sunday, March 7, 2010

Surprise rainout

Today's rainout in Surprise, Arizona was a big disappointment. I was so looking forward to drinking a beer and sitting outside and listening to the radio. It is beautiful--sunny and 60s here in the State of Jefferson, although the forecast says it will drop below 20 ºF tonight. Hard to believe as I sit here in shorts and daub my nose with sunscreen. The potential Lincecum-Posey battery was whetting my starved baseball appetite. The gods--again--conspired against Buster. We'll see if Ol' Boch recovers and pencils in our Golden Boy next time out. Let's hope there's a lot more of Thomas Neal and Brandon Crawford and Matt Downs and Conor Gillaspie and John Bowker and Forgotten FreddieLew and the rest of the Young Turks in the coming days. I keep thinking we could have the best (and most expensive) bench in the NL with Molina and DeRosa and Huff and FSanchez. Be nice to find a spot on the pine for Rowand and Renteria as well! I can dream, can't I?

p.s. Emmanuel Burriss' second foot injury news was a real shame. I always thought he was a great story, even if it looks like he'll never be a major-league hitter.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Spring Training means EVERYTHING!!!!!!

Matt Cain is THE BOMB!!!

3-and-0 baby!!!!

We are going all the way!!!!!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rookies, part 2

Yesterday I quoted Marc Hulet, and today I'm going to do the same. He's over at FanGraphs this time, and he does a work-up of the Giants Top 10 Prospects. One of the things I like is his "ML-ETA" line for each guy. What surprised me was the bit on Thomas Neal (#3 behind Posey/Bumgarner)--Mr. Hulet expects him to get a late-season call-up. Now THAT is good news and I hope it happens. The sooner we can get young bats in the lineup the better. Take a look:

3. Thomas Neal, OF, Double-A
DOB: August 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 36th round – Riverside Community College
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Neal just keeps getting better. In fairness, his ‘09 numbers may have been helped by a good hitting environment. Even so, the 22-year-old outfielder hit .337/.431/.579 in 475 at-bats. His ISO rate jumped from .168 in low-A in ‘08 to .242 in high-A in ‘09. Neal has also shown solid patience at the plate over the past three seasons, topping out at 11.6 BB% this past year. He did a nice job of trimming his strikeout rate by 4% over ’08’s 24.1%. It will be hard for Neal to improve upon his .444 wOBA from ‘09 but he has the talent to be a star corner outfielder for the Giants. Defensively, his range is better suited for left field but he has the arm strength to play right field without embarrassing himself.
(emphasis mine)

Not much to complain about there. Let's hope the kid has a good spring so Boch & Sabes will put a sticky note next to his name with "gamer" on it. All of us are also excited by Young Dan Runzler. So is Hulet--he has him pegged at #4:

4. Dan Runzler, LHP, Majors
DOB: March 1985 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2007 9th round – UC Riverside
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-93 mph fastball, slider, curveball
A former ninth-round (under the radar) pick, Runzler has found a lot of success as of late thanks to his solid fastball – especially for a lefty – and his outstanding ground-ball rates. Playing at four minor league levels in ‘09, the southpaw produced an eye-popping 64.7% ground-ball rate, as well as an incredibly-low 5% line-drive rate. After all that traveling in the minors, Runzler was rewarded with a trip to the Majors where he posted a 1.04 ERA (but 4.14 FIP) in 8.2 big league innings. He struck out 11 batters but showed that he still has some work to do with his control by walking five batters. The former UC Riverside hurler has gone from little-known middle reliever to a potential MLB closer down the road.

With Brian Wilson getting more expensive every year it makes sense to look for a younger and cheaper alternative. Unless your guy is as good as Mariano Rivera there is no sense in being "loyal" to a relief pitcher. I like Wilson and thought he had a great season last year and was very valuable to the club. He has three arb years left and hits free agency in 2014.

The first Spring Training game is today at 12:05 in Peoria vs. the Mariners. The Franchise gets the start!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Our rookies

Marc Hulet does a round-up of the 2010 rookie crop and TWO GIANTS make the list. We all know Stephen Strasburg in Washington and Jason Heyward in Atlanta are "A-list" prospects, but our very own Buster Posey is sandwiched between them in the article:

Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
2009 Peak Level: The Majors
2010 Roadblock: Management and Bengie Molina

The Giants club saved Molina from a chilly free agent market, but who is going to save general manager Brian Sabean from himself? The club's man-crush on veterans is once again showing its ugly face, as the MLB-ready Posey is in danger of A) beginning the year in the minors, or B) seeing his development stunted by playing multiple positions. Yes, the kid is athletic enough to play a number of positions, but he hasn't been catching all that long so he needs to keep polishing his act behind the dish. Long-term, his value is at its highest by wearing the tools of ignorance.

I really hate the idea of using Posey anywhere but catcher. I really hate the idea that Bengie Molina is the starter and not the backup. I really hate--although I'm resigned to--the idea of Buster starting the season in AAA. Teams don't give $4.5 M to catchers to sit on the bench.

The other rookie, of course, is Madison Bumgarner:

Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco
2009 Peak Level: The Majors
2010 Roadblock: Todd Wellemeyer

There has been a lot said about Bumgarner's drop in velocity in '09 but velo, although important, is not the end-all-and-be-all for a pitcher's success. With that said, the lefty could probably use a little more seasoning in the minors if you consider the fact that his FIP has risen (3.56 FIP in double-A, compared to his ERA of 1.93), while his K/BB has dropped (to 2.30 BB/K), with each promotion. Bumgarner still has the ceiling of a No.2 starter for me, but he's just 20 years old. However, the fact that Wellemeyer is the other option for the fifth spot worries me.

Bumgarner is only 20 and I have no issue with him getting some more minor-league seasoning. Then again, I think I'd rather have 20 starts from him than from Todd Wellmeyer. I'm not worried about the 5-slot. I'm worried about Matt Cain's BABIP and LOB% if you really want to know. I don't worry about Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa, Freddy Sanchez, and Edgar Renteria. We KNOW what we are getting with those guys. I worry about Jonathan Sanchez being able to throw 180 innings (he never has). In other words, I worry about our team strength being at its best all year long. The team weaknesses are what they are, and we are sticking with them, by gum.