Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sabotaged Tim

The defense of the World Championship by our San Francisco Giants started with a decided lack of defense and The Franchise, Tim Lincecum, got pinned with an Opening Day loss.

Although Tim pitched very well - 7 innings, 5 hits (all singles), no earned runs, 3 walks , 5 strikeouts - he probably wishes he that he got a few more outs on his own. Strikeouts eliminate the middle man, and letting the ball go in play can lead to scary things, as Tejada demonstrated with a key error in a crucial situation. Of course, if your teammates really want to give it away they don't have to wait for you to let it get hit, as Posey (shock!) demonstrated moments later with a horrible throw that was a really BAD IDEA (turns out it was Sandoval's idea, but still...Buster, what happened?) Unfortunately, the disgustingly impressive Kershaw did not make the same "mistake" as Tim by getting nine strikeouts with only one walk. Kid's good, what can you say?

"Tip of the Hat" to Brandon Belt on hit #1...kinda ugly but it counts. More importantly, congrats on a bunch of high quality at bats against a super tough lefty. I can't wait to see what you can do!

"Wag of the Finger" to Santiago Casilla, who looked like he wasn't ready to go when called upon. Maybe it was nerves, but it took him until pitch #15 before he had any velocity or command. Needless to say, by then the doggers had the run that ended up being the winner.

Trumpets are a-trumpeting!

And flags are a-flying! It's Opening Day!

Big test for the defending champs right away with six games on the road (four in Chavez LAtrine and two in Petco). Then it is six at home--three vs. St. Louis and three vs. LA. Then it is on on the road again for six against division foes Arizona and Colorado.

The Giants only play nine home games in April. That's with seventeen road games. In May they play twelve home games against seventeen road games. It evens out in June with sixteen at home and eleven on the road. It's even in July--thirteen and thirteen. August is when the payback comes with only ten road games and nineteen home games. The longest homestand of the year (twelve games) is August 23rd to September 4th. The Giants finish at home in September (with three against the Rockies) but play ten road games right before that! The final count for the month is twelve home, thirteen away.

I think the schedule gods have thrown down the gauntlet. The Giants will have to play well right out of the gate. Last year they dug themselves into a huge hole by losing the first seven games to the Padres. It all worked out, of course, but digging out of holes is a lot more fun when the hole isn't too deep.

At 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time today the talking stops and the season gets underway. I'm excited and I'm confident the Giants will be up to the challenge. I'm very excited about Brandon Belt. Check out Rory Paap's column at Bay City Ball for more on our new phenom.



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I could use a Belt about now

Wow. The Giants went all brave and bold on us and cut loose Travis Ishikawa and promoted Brandon Belt to the major leagues. I knew that if they kept Belt then Ishi would get the axe. He had no other position and was left-handed, like Belt. So long, Travis, you were a good Giant. You are forever part of the World Series Champions.

But, wow. Brandon Belt. He's 23 years old and has 595 professional plate appearances. Of those, 223 are AA and AAA. Correction: Belt will be 23 on the 20th of April. He has 136 games of pro ball under his belt, no pun intended.

I think this is great news. Shocking, actually. But I love it. I love that the Giants are going all-in. This is for the title defense, man! The organization must think Belt can deliver the goods. I love their willingness to take a chance with this kid--he must really be that impressive. I'm sure a lot of it is demeanor, maturity, and work ethic, all the stuff you can't see on TV. His spring batting line (.282/.338/.479) isn't as interesting as the fact that he played in the most games (28), had the second-most at bats (71), and saw the most pitches (172). They were clearly fast-tracking him and he responded.

Is Brandon Belt the next Buster Posey? I don't think so. Will he be an effective and capable major-leaguer who adds wins to the club? I think so. And I'm really excited about adding another young climber to a team full of young talent.

Like I said, I could use a stiff belt. It'll calm my nerves. Here's to ya, lad, welcome aboard!

OPENER TOMORROW IN LA! Big Time Timmy Jim vs. Clayton Kershaw--should be epic!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Cain

Matt Cain threw only 13-1/3 innings this spring, with 5-1/3 coming last night. It looked like he had good command of his fastball but maybe not all of his velocity. He used his change-up with two strikes and Krukow thinks we will see a lot more of that from him this season. My only concern would be his stamina--it seemed like he got a few pitches up in the zone at the end. It may be a few starts before he's at full strength since he had the abbreviated spring. One of the concerns we all heard about this off-season was the extra IP all the guys put in due to the 15 post-season games. Matt threw a career-high 223-1/3 in 2010 and added an extra 21-1/3 in the playoffs and Series. Good thing he is a big, strapping country boy and all of 26 years old. He's never missed time due to injury. Let's hope that continues! Sergio Romo looked good in the closer role. I also liked watching Brett Anderson (the Oakland starter) pitch. He has a devastating curveball and looks like an emerging star.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

The 2011 25

Andrew Baggarly gave a rundown of his roster spots on his blog yesterday. Here they are:

Rotation (5): Lincecum, Sanchez, Cain, Zito, Bumgarner
Bullpen (7) Affeldt, Casilla, Ramirez, Romo, Lopez, Mota, Runzler
Catchers (2) Posey, Whiteside
Infielders (7) Huff, Sanchez, Tejada, Sandoval, Fontenot, Ishikawa, DeRosa
Outfielders (4) Torres, Burrell, Rowand, Schierholtz
Disabled list: Wilson, Ross


Here's my rundown:

Lincecum, JSanchez, Cain, Zito, Bumgarner. Well, duh. The Big Five are the Big Key to the Big Title Defense.

Affeldt, Casilla, Ramirez, Romo, Lopez, Mota, Runzler. Makes sense. I like what Dan Runzler is showing us this spring. We liked this guy last year and let's hope we get to see him do some damage. Guillermo Mota just cannot be kept down. You have to love the guy's intensity and persistence. Of course, he had to beat out Ryan Vogelsong, Marc Kroon, and Jeff Suppan for the last spot, and  I'm not sure any of those guys get more than a minor-league deal from anyone else. Mota would get picked up if let go by the Giants. You never know, though, and I love stories about guys who were given up on making good somewhere else.

 Posey, Whiteside. Uh-huh. Surprise me.

Huff, FSanchez, Tejada, Sandoval, Fontenot, Ishikawa, DeRosa. Travis Ishikawa gets an injury reprieve. Neither he nor Nate Schierholtz have options left. Ishikawa plays one position and that would make him the first to go. Let's hope Mike Fontenot can play an adequate SS if Miguel Tejada gets hurt. Mark DeRosa will see time at 3B and 1B, I think, and be the emergency SS. Pablo Sandoval needs to play everyday and be productive. I have a feeling he will put a good season together.

Torres, Burrell, Rowand, Schierholtz. Pat Burrell probably doesn't have much left. He could be great for a month or two but I expect that eventually Aubrey Huff will replace him. When Brandon Belt gets the call-up, Huff will move to left and that will be Pat the Bat's swan song in the majors. We'll see, like I said I love stories about guys who keep it going when everyone else gives up on them. Speaking of those guys, there's the continuing Aaron Rowand saga. He will fill in adequately in the outfield (I'd like to see him play the corner spots more and not move Andres Torres from center, but thats' a quibble). Chris at BCB thinks Rowand is done as a player. That means the Giants eat some serious bucks. I like Nate Schierholtz a lot. He was an excellent backup last season and he will be again this season. He can play all three spots, has a great arm, moves well on the bases, and is left-handed. Those things will keep him on the roster.

Brian Wilson won't be out for long, if at all. If he does start the season on the DL, I vote for Sergio Romo to take over closing duties. Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt could do the job, too. Santiago Casilla throws hard and strikes guys out, but also gives up a lot of walks. Walks are bad enough, but in the 9th inning they are really bad.

Cody Ross will eventually be the everyday right fielder. He's got below-average on base skills, but his speed and defense are useful, and I think he can deliver what the team needs. His Veteran Savvy Clutchness cup runneth over, and you can never have enough of that.

The team will live and die with the Big Five and the Bullpen. And Buster Posey. Buster is the glue that attaches the rest of the team to The Pitching Staff. Let's hope Buster, The Big Five, and The Bullpen stay healthy all season long.


UPDATE: Monday 0636 PDT
Andrew Baggarly's SJMN column.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gettin' serious

OK, OK, the party's over. It is time to get back on the wagon. No more binges. No more celebrating. There's work to be done! The Giants are the defending champs and it is going to be a long and difficult season. Time to get some game-face going on and start playing ball for keeps!

Tim Lincecum did not look sharp in his final Cactus League start. He gave up two homers (one to Fred Lewis!) among his eleven hits. But he got in his work (25 batters over 5 IP) and threw around 90 pitches (I lost track when they interviewed Sergio Romo). I'm not worried about Tim Lincecum. When the gun goes off to start the race he'll be setting the pace all season long.

The Giants break their 5-game losing streak by smoking Aroldis Chapman for 5 runs in the 6th. He didn't get anyone out. Buster Posey worked three walks and Andres Torres had three hits and four RBI. The Giants are on CSN Monday night in San Francisco. Since Jonathan Sanchez goes tomorrow, I expect it will be Matt Cain getting the nod against Oakland.

Back to work!


Thursday, March 24, 2011


It was the Vernal Equinox--the first day of Spring--when we saw The Trophy in Mt Shasta. Looks like spring, eh? I've been having a hard time getting excited about the news from Spring Training and at first I thought it was just the lingering hangover from the months-long celebration of the Giants winning the World Series. Then I realized it was more about living up here in the north state where IT IS STILL WINTER!! My local ski area, Mt. Ashland, got THREE FEET of snow in the last seven days. The thermometer outside my window says it is just about freezing. The wind is blowing hard from the south. It will rain on me when I walk to work this morning. I'm not complaining--I love living in Siskiyou County. But I'm not quite convinced it is spring.

In other news, Matt Cain pitched poorly yesterday.


p.s. That's me on the left and JC on the right with our lovely brides in front of the Recreation Center in Mt. Shasta City Park. Yes, that's the TrophyMobile taking up the handicapped parking spaces. Note the fellow in the safety vest spying on us from the doorway. I think his job was to keep an eye on the fancy Toyota.

p.p.s. Photo credit: Brother Bob!

p.p.p.s. Link to article in Mt. Shasta paper.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Through the Fence

Jamie Shoemaker, founder of Through the Fence Baseball, contacted me a while back about contributing something to his site. I'm working on that part, and will let y'all know when it happens. In the meantime he "sat down" for an e-mail interview. Here are his answers to my questions:

(1) What led you to create TTFB? Tell us about your background and your connection to America's Greatest Game.

I love baseball with a passion. I seem to never get enough of it and baseball revolves around me 24/7. I played baseball from age 7 to I graduated from college, so I've been around it for the better part of my life.
(2) There are a plethora of baseball websites--how do you get noticed? How will you draw people to TTFB?
We have some unique aspects on TTFB. For starters, one of our staff writers is playing in minor league ball for the Toronto Blue Jays. He's writing about his baseball experiences and what its like to play ball in the minors. It's interesting and he draws a lot of traffic. We also have around 20 other writers that are from across the nation that offer a different perspective on teams. We have everything covered from minor league baseball all the way to history. 

(3) There is a lot of good baseball writing on the internet and most of it is free. Is this sustainable? How do you see the landscape of baseball writing evolving for both amateurs (bloggers and whatnot) and professionals (beat reporters, staff, etc.)? What will TTFB be like in two years? What does the future of baseball writing look like?

You know, I get that question all the time, and you would think I could come up with a fresh answer. Personally, I don't think it would change much in two years. It's the internet, anything can happen though.
(4) If asked at a party--what do you say? Are you a blogger . . . web developer . . . journalist . . . entrepreneur  . . . crazy fan . . . ??
Crazy Fan! 

(5) What are you looking forward to this MLB season? Is there a club, a player, or a baseball personality that you want to hear more about? What would be your dream 2011 story and why?
Well, I'm a Braves fan. But I'm most looking forward to the season because I'm eager to see our site bloom! My dream story would obviously be the Braves winning the world series while I'm there.

Thanks, Jamie! Here's wishing you well on your new venture. And I can say from personal experience that writing every day about your favorite team winning the World Series is indeed a "dream" come true. I would like to be gracious and wish the Braves "good luck" but I have a feeling the Giants will be playing them in the playoffs again this season. So, my friends, be sure to check out TTFB!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Glory, Hallelujah!

A half a foot of snow fell on Mt. Shasta City late last night and early this morning. Interstate-5 had chain restrictions and we drove over Black Butte Summit in a line of cars trailing the plow at 35 mph. The snow would swirl and stick and then turn to slush, but the grip was adequate with four-wheel drive and we made it through the storm at a steady pace. Most days I wouldn't drive in that kind of mess--unless of course I had to be somewhere. And somewhere today was Mt. Shasta City Park. We braved the rain, snow, and sleet of a Siskiyou Spring to get up-close-and-personal with The Trophy. And thanks to the weather, we got at least 15 minutes of glory today. The Recreation Center had been organized with tables forming a snaking line to the photo area, and the sidewalk up to the entrance had been roped for a line. Alas, no lines were necessary and no lines formed. We encountered a couple of dozen hearty souls who'd braved the elements, but that was it. Lots of opportunity to see The Trophy, be photographed, and take photos as well. The Park & Rec staff were out in force with big smiles and had coffee and food ready for the attendees. It was truly a small-town affair. Everyone was giddy about making it through the foul weather and having The Trophy all to themselves. Hero of the day for RMC was Parks Administrator Mike Rodriguez who organized the event. That's him in the middle with me and my mate JC. Note the TV in the back with Giants highlights. That's me with The Trophy below. More to follow!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

15 seconds of glory

If that.

My "Trophy Tour presented by Visa" official Giants "fanphotos" business card tells me I was at event number 56. Andres Torres is number 56 so I'm cool with it. We were in line at 10:30 and saw the Trophy at 11:30. There were probably 100 people in front of us, maybe 150 tops. Considering the viewing was scheduled to open at 11:00, I thought that was fairly brisk. And brisk it was, prompting mutterings from the group in front of us about "Candlestick weather." Southern Oregon's lively and loyal Giants fan base turned out in all their gear for the big event. We saw lots of vintage jackets (it was cold) and sweatshirts as well as many of the new World Champs caps. We had our caps on, and our vintage jackets. There were two toddlers running around wearing oversized black uniform jerseys. They charmed half the line and people were taking candids. The massive shirts were like these awesome ponchos that kept them warm but weren't confining. I wanted an adult one.

Medford's US Cellular Community Park Softball/Baseball Complex filled up fast--multiple Little League games were happening at the same time. There were no signs or obvious directions to where the Trophy would actually be, but the orange & black contingent had a rough line of sorts that was pulling in all similarly-clad citizens, drawing them in inexorably, so we followed. Turned out to be a pretty simple affair. The Trophy was in a cordoned-off area behind an opaque heavy fabric fence. Then a little foyer was roped off and a security guy asked "how many in your party?" He'd send you into the tented area (the photographer and her lights and etc. were under cover, but the Trophy was not) where you got to pose and SNAP and it was over. I think I remember breathing. You could mill around behind the cordon, and look through a cyclone-type barrier and see the Trophy and watch people getting their turn. They let you take pictures as long as you were outside and out of the way. They have a guy saying you can photograph the Trophy but not anyone and the Trophy. It was a relaxed scene. There were probably 300 people behind me in line and more people were on their way when we were done. The cold weather was turning to rain and snow as we drove back over Siskiyou Summit to California. The Trophy was supposed to be viewable until 2:00, but I have a feeling some precipitation shortened their day.

The Rosetta Stone was bigger than I thought it would be when I saw it in the British Museum in London. The Trophy seemed smaller than it should have been. But that's consistent with my Law of the Universe No. 27 (or was it 28? I forget): things are always smaller in real life. Admittedly, I barely had time to glance down at the thing when I had to look up and smile. I made a point to give it a good look from the back of the pavilion and it seemed about right for a ballplayer to hold it up over his head and act goofy with it. Mostly, I just wanted to feel the glow. I'm glad we left early and got in and out before the weather got worse. This was really a recon mission--tomorrow the Trophy will be in Siskiyou County. The Mt. Shasta City Park is hosting a viewing from 10:00 to 1:00. That's the big event for us. This trip up north was an insurance trip. A have-to-go-it-is-too-close-not-to trip. I'm glad we went, even if the actual moment of glory was a bit of an anti-climax.

So. Major goal accomplished. Trophy viewed. Relief palpable. Joy brewing. Tomorrow it will be even better. More time for mere basking. Of course, there's one complication (this from the NWS):

Sunday: Snow. High near 33. Breezy, with a south southeast wind 8 to 11 mph increasing to between 21 and 24 mph. Winds could gust as high as 36 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.

Good thing we've got four-wheel drive. And Candlestick-tested foul-weather gear.


Thursday, March 17, 2011


Daniel Shoptaw of C70 At The Bat asked several Giants bloggers (including yours truly) to contribute to his "Playing Pepper" series. Take a look at it here. He asked us about last year, the off-season, Buster Posey, and how we think the team will do this season. It was fun putting something together and I enjoyed being lumped in with the rest of the Giants crew. Read my thoughts and those of Ranting On, Paapfly, The Crazy Crabbers, 22Gigantes, The Giants Cove, The Giants Report, and Splashing Pumpkins.

It's a great time to be a Giants fan.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pitching, pitching, pitching

Rory Paap (of Giants blog Paapfly) has an article today at The Hardball Times on pitching and championships. Yup, pitching does win championships. Check it out.

Here's a quote:
Returning to our question: Does great pitching win championships? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. History has shown that it’s not only preferred, but very nearly an absolute necessity to have, at the very minimum, a league-average pitching staff. Beyond that, a quality offense helps, but pitching is king.

With this in mind, I think the 2011 version of the Yankees is once again in trouble, the Phillies have one heck of a shot at winning it all, and the Giants absolutely have to be considered a threat to return to the Fall Classic. Those teams that can’t throw a team ERA+ of 100 out there are probably better off packing it in then heading to October.

Taking a look at the team stats for 2010, there were ten NL clubs with an ERA+ over 100. The Giants (121) were on top, followed by the Rockies (112), Braves (110), Phillies (110), Cardinals (110), Padres (108), Mets (105), Cubs (103), Marlins (103), and Reds (100). I think it is interesting that San Diego pitching doesn't rate that high in this metric. I suspect it is mostly because they played in run-suppressing Petco Park. I also think the Rockies will be the chief competition for the Giants in 2011 as they are a better pitching team than their 2010 ERA (4.14) suggested.

In the AL there were nine teams with an ERA+ over 100. The Athletics (116) led the way, followed by the Rangers (110), White Sox (107), Yankees (106), Twins (105), Red Sox (104), Rays (104), Angels (101), and Mariners (100). Paapfly says look out for Oakland in 2011--he may have a point.

Here's a little more from Mr. Paap (emphasis mine):
I also took the liberty of averaging each teams OPS+ and ERA+ to determine how much better than average they were overall. I then averaged all of those numbers, whereby I discovered the average World Series champion has graded out at 108.7, or about eight percent better than league average.

If you take the most recent champion, the San Francisco Giants, and add their OPS+ (95) and ERA+ (121) from 2010 together, you get a grade of 108. This goes to show their World Series title in 2010 shouldn’t be considered lucky or a fluke, rather, they were a perfectly average champion. What’s more, their excellent ERA+ fulfilled the pertinent requirement of at least adequate pitching.
Like I said, you should check it out.

I suppose the upshot is that all the Giants have to do to repeat is be perfectly average! For them, that is, which means pitch like hell and hope the offense is journeyman-esque.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Freaky Must-Read

A really BIG thank you goes out to "Giants Win" - one of our favorite blogs - for the heads-up on this little tidbit. Trust me, its a great way to start your weekend.

A few of my favorite lines :

“'I mean, it’s supposed to be fun, right?'”

"Lincecum gave me a tour of his place, a version of the man cave: the dude aerie."

“'Was Bob Gibson cool?' he asked innocently. 'Or was he just a...' — and here Lincecum used a colloquialism that’s synonymous with a part of the male anatomy that is unprintable in this magazine."

“'Boom!' Lincecum said, watching Renteria’s bat meet the ball. 'That was so awesome, so awesome.'"

“'Sorry, Nolan...'”

p.s. Anybody impressed by the punctuation? Besides me, I mean?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Giants beat Rangers

Nothing new this week. The best part of the telecast tonight was when Kruk & Kuip talked to Dave Righetti in the 5th inning. He was both interesting and informative. Intriguing, as well. Did you know that Tim Lincecum's famous late-season slider is really "more like a shuuto" than a true slider? That's according to Rags. Intrigued? I was. He kept talking about how Tim got "on top of it" and that was what made it look like (and be mis-identified as) the change-up. The shuuto is like a screwball, like a split-finger, like a two-seamer, and like a change-up. It breaks down and in on right-handed batters when thrown by a right-handed pitcher. All this time we thought it was just another slider. Well, better than most, but still a slider. Little did we know it was the dreaded shuuto, the one Tom Selleck (Mr. Baseball) could never hit. Righetti also praised Jonathan Sanchez for his good outing (in the inning he gave up the run he also struck out three) and mentioned that Sergio Romo is looking good with his fastball-changeup combo. Sergio "Slider" Romo is now a fastball-changeup guy. Like I said, informative. And interesting.


p.s. Posey signs one-year deal with Giants (q.v. Henry Schulman, The Splash).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Someone else noticed The Streak™

Roger Schlueter of
For 18 straight contests, Giants starters Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito and Sanchez went to the post, did their work and finished their day without allowing any more than three runs. Perhaps inspired by that level of work, Giants relievers maintained the dominance, keeping every opponent under the four-run mark. That 18-game streak of allowing three runs or fewer -- the longest for any particular team since 1917 -- vaulted San Francisco into first place, legitimized talk of the Giants having perhaps the best starting rotation in the game, and presaged a magnificent run through the postseason that concluded with a World Series title. 

Some folks just catch on a little later.


Cain's pain

Matt Cain never gets hurt. At least, never until yesterday. He's scratched from today's start because of elbow inflammation.

Good thing the Giants have The Jeff Suppan Backup Plan ready for implementation.


p.s. OGC looks at Zito's value.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Bless me, Father, for I have sinned . . . (peccavi, peccavi)

Yes, I actually read words written by Bruce Jenkins, Chronicle Scribe. He says the Giants are ready to give up on Barry Zito. Uh, OK, thanks Bruce. Mr. Jenkins goes on to say the Giant would be willing to eat Zito's salary to move him off the roster. Yeah, we've all heard talk. But here's the clincher--the Giants are looking at Jeff Suppan to replace him.

Jeff Suppan.

So. Here's the plan. Spend a huge wad of cash to unload an aging, mediocre veteran in order to replace him with an aged, mediocre veteran. Zito is owed something close to $60M. If I understand the economics (never my strong suit), the Giants think spending $60M on Jeff Suppan is a good idea. And you thought the Aaron Rowand contract was bad.

Figure me for the "better the devil you know" side of things. If the Giants are going to spend $60M anyway, I'd take Da Beezy in a heartbeat. Todd Wellemeyer, anyone?

 . . . forgive me. (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa)