Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye to 2013

It was indeed a year for the Giants to forget. Like most fans of the team, I had high hopes for another playoff run. It seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and they spiraled into mediocrity and never recovered. So, I'm excited to turn the page and get a fresh new number. "2014" looks pretty good. It's strange that the Giants have mostly the same team--they added starting pitcher Tim Hudson and left fielder Mike Morse--but otherwise the same crew that did poorly last season is coming back for another go-round. I suppose we expect ball clubs to make big changes every year in the volatile world of pro sports, especially when needing to improve, but San Francisco is taking the conservative approach. They already have a large payroll, and a star-studded cast, but the talent base is still mostly under thirty, and with a couple of rings already there's confidence that the core has another real shot left. The minor leagues aren't quite ready to produce the replacements, but appear to be on target for 2015 and 2016, so the Brian Trust is putting all its chips in the pot on their current 40-man roster. The battle for the final 25 will take place in Spring Training with maybe three spots up for grabs, and with possibly a yet-to-be-acquired lefty reliever also in the mix.

Should make for a dull time, and I'm not complaining. I want fit and healthy ballplayers who can deliver 500+ plate appearances or 30+ starts. The talent is there, it just has to be on the field and in shape to play. The only thing I'm worried about, besides one of our guys getting seriously hurt, is Masahiro Tanaka. If he signs with LA, that's bad. Otherwise I don't care. So, let's hope the Cubs or the Yankees or the LAnaheimers grab him instead.

The 49ers played their last game at Candlestick, and they are tearing the old place down some time in the near future. A lot of Giants folks have been writing about the old days in the concrete beast, and I thought I might do so as well, but I feel like I'm tapped out on that topic. We put our time in at that place, and had a lot of fun and good memories, but the best things that ever happened to the Giants have happened since the new park was built, so I'm fine with leaving the old stomping ground behind. I thought the 49ers should have fixed up the 'Stick rather than move to Santa Clara, but I really don't care. I put too much time and energy into RMC and the boys in orange-and-black to have any left for other sports or teams. El Lefty Malo has a particularly good column if you are in the mood for reminiscing. He's younger than me (he mentions being in the second grade in 1977 and that's when I graduated from high school), but he caught the vibe. Check it out.

Happy New Year to Everyone!


Saturday, December 21, 2013


I'm a big fan, if you haven't noticed, of Baseball-Reference. It's my go-to site, and almost all the images on the blog link to B-R. I've always made a point to sponsor a page or two, starting with the likes of Billy Sadler and Brad Hennessey up to Conor Gillaspie and Nick Noonan. I would prefer to only sponsor Matt Cain's page, and have in the past, but because he's now a big star his page costs a lot--currently $195. I like to pony up some cash when I believe in something, but that's a bit much. I considered hitting up my blog-mates to kick in a little, and even thought of asking the hecklers in the peanut gallery as well, but it was just too tacky. After all, this is supposed to be fun and not cost anything except your monthly internet fee, am I right? Long story short--I decided to sponsor Brandon Crawford's page. He's my lovely bride's favorite (after Buster Posey, but she has a thing for catchers), but that's no surprise, just about every female I know thinks B-Craw is the hottie of the club. I think B-Craw is a terrific player, and I have high hopes for a big year from him.

Here's his OPS+ for the last three seasons: 67, 86, 96.

Here's his wRC+ for the last three seasons: 68, 80, 91.

Trending upward, wouldn't you say? I think B-Craw has shown he can pick it with the best, despite logging fewer than 3000 innings in his brief career. In the minors he was a .266/.331/.403 hitter (.734), and last season he managed a .248/.311/.363 line (.674), all career highs. With his superb range, soft hands, and rocket arm, he's immensely valuable to the club even if he never leaves the 8-spot in the lineup. I think he's going to hit damn close to league average in 2014, maybe even a little better. When you do that at a premium defensive position you are one of the elites. For the record, the NL average line last season was .251/.315/.388 (.703). In fact, B-Craw was pounding out an .800 OPS the first week of June in 2013. He sprained two fingers on his right hand a little later in the month and saw his numbers drop as the season went on. With improved health and a little more experience under his belt I don't see why he can't hit well all season long. Last year I wrote that I was looking forward to watching him play more than anyone else on the team. Not that the Giants don't have lots of wonderfully watchable guys, but a 25-year old lefty-hitting shortstop with a World Series ring and a bright future is hard not to fixate on. So, bring it on, Brandon!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

12 and 13

If the Giants go with 12 pitchers, that means 13 position players. Ten are easy: Brandon Belt (1B), Marco Scutaro (2B), Brandon Crawford (SS), Pablo Sandoval (3B), Buster Posey (C), Mike Morse (LF), Angel Pagan (CF), Hunter Pence (RF), Gregor Blanco (OF), and Hector Sanchez (C). That means three spots for the backups. Veterans Joaquin Arias and Tony Abreu seem the most likely to be picked and that suggests to me a fifth outfielder (like Juan Perez*) for the final spot. Ehire Adrianza, Nick Noonan, and Roger Kieschnick will wait in the wings under this scheme. Brett Pill looks like the odd man out. I suppose Adrianza, being a true shortstop, might have an inside track to displace either of the older utility guys. He'll turn 25 in August, and has eight seasons and 708 minor-league games under his belt. If not 2014, then when?

Twelve pitchers also means only three spots up for grabs. The starting rotation (Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson, and Ryan Vogelsong) is set, and the lefty-lefty righty-righty four-headed beast (Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, and Sergio Romo) is in place as well. Jean Machi, George Kontos, Yusmeiro Petit, Eric Surkamp, Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar, Jake Dunning, and Mike Kickham are all on the 40-man roster along with Erik Cordier, Jose De Paula, Kendry Flores, and Hunter Strickland. The Giants are supposedly still looking for bullpen help, so it will be a battle royal for a seat at the table.

I think the Giants need another lefty. Last year it was Jose Mijares, but he's been cut loose. Escobar, De Paula, Surkamp, and Kickham are all southpaws, but all have been starters in their careers. Escobar and De Paula are too young, and Surkamp and Kickham have yet to impress in their short stints. I don't think a reliever is coming from that bunch. Perhaps that's what the Giants will pick up between now and Spring Training. For the other spots, the experienced Petit is hard to ignore for long relief and occasional starts. Machi had much better results last year than Kontos--both were in similar roles and faced about the same number of hitters. If two of those three are named and the Giants scoop up a lefty that leaves the much-hyped Hembree and the promising Dunning still on the outside looking in. Should be interesting. Considering how much of the team is set, there's still a lot that needs to be figured out.

What does your 25-man roster look like?


*that's Juan Carlos Perez not Juan Pablo Perez

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Vogie's Back

The Giants reached a deal with Ryan Vogelsong for 2014 and he seems to be the final piece of their starting rotation. With Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner at the head and the Tims in the middle, the fifth spot might have been a free-for-all among Yusmeiro Petit, Eric Surkamp, and a host of minor-leaguers. I think the only thing preventing Vogie from taking his turn will be his health, that is, I don't expect he'll be fighting for a job. (Chad Gaudin, I believe, is a free agent, and it doesn't seem like the Giants are interested.)

I'm happy with the move. I don't understand why they didn't just pick up his option instead of re-negotiating, but that's why Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans, and the rest of the crew run the roster, not me. Things look good, don't you think? Cain will be Cain again, like he was in the second half, and Bumgarner is only 23 and still getting better. That's a formidable 1-2 punch, and newly-acquired Tim Hudson is a perfect fit. This guy is a ground ball/quality start machine. Tim Lincecum is the big question mark for most people, but I'm not one of them. Last year I saw a guy recovering his form and mastery of the game. He may never again be The Franchise, but he'll be really good, and may even be great. The way this team works, any one of the four front men could be the ace for a series or a stretch--they've all been in that role and all have it on their résumés. And lest we forget, in 2012 Ryan Vogelsong was the best of the bunch in the post-season! It's almost always about injuries, and if the Big Five are healthy all year long I don't see why they can't be among the best in baseball.

I'm not worried about the rest of the pieces. They'll add some depth in the outfield and the bullpen, but the guys they got is the guys they got, and they're the ones they're going with. Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro, and Brandon Crawford will all be there, as will Gregor Blanco, Joaquin Arias, and Hector Sanchez. Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo will be back, too.

What say you, mates? What do the 2014 Giants need to do before Opening Day on March 31st?


Monday, November 18, 2013

We Have 80% of a Great Starting Rotation!!!!!

"The Giants have agreed to terms on a two-year deal with right-hander Tim Hudson, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle."

I consider this to be excellent news.  Lots of $, but a short deal, for a perennial thorn in our side.  Having him on our team, instead of on another team, alone is worth something.  He's always been a top-notch pitcher, & Atlanta disintegrated when he got hurt last year.

This is a big deal - next up, Bronson Arroyo, I hope.

Giants in 2014!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Money Matters

An interesting article over at MLBTR got me thinking about those things I really don't like thinking about, namely, economics and finance. The game--that is, professional baseball--has always been a business despite our best attempts to disguise it as a pastime. Being a fan is a pastime, but running a ballclub is serious business. The San Francisco Giants, despite a poor 2013 season, are big-time players in the business of baseball. This ain't your mid-market team no more, buckos, the Giants are in the upper echelon and plan to be there for a while. We like to think of Los Angeles and New York as the centers of gravity when it comes to baseball Benjamins, but the Giants are no slouches with payroll. The Giants spent about $136M last season, up from $131M in 2012 and $118M in 2011. The 2010 bill was a mere $96M, which was a $14M jump over 2009. The team has already committed $110M to 2014 with several roster spots to fill and arbitration cases to settle, and $109M to 2015. Only five players are signed for 2016, but those five (Matt Cain, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, and Madison Bumgarner) have a hair over $80M coming. Those five become four when Pagan's deal is up in 2017, but they will still cost over $70M. Only Buster is left by 2019, and he's in orange-and-black until at least 2021 with an option for 2022, all to the tune of $20+M per year.

For better or worse, that's the core. The team is "all in" with the guys they have. This is The Window. If the Giants are going to win another World Series ring, it's going to happen with these guys. This season and the next is how long the band stays together. After that there are some huge obligations and a hell of a lot of holes. We've seen the Giants bring in the young studs and win championships, but now those young studs are well-paid veterans. With the possible exception of Brandon Belt, the team is counting on richer, older guys to deliver the goods. That may work, but it's not like it was before. Take a look, like I said, at the article on MLBTR by Jeff Todd. He has a graph showing which teams have the most money committed going forward, and to no one's surprise the Dodgers lead the way by a lot. The Giants, despite being $100M short of LA, are right up there in third place. And that got me thinking, which isn't always a good thing.

The good news is that the money is flowing into the game at an unprecedented rate. Fox and ESPN are ponying up huge bucks for the TV rights, and every team stands to benefit. Wendy Thurm at FanGraphs has an article worth your time that looks at revenues and payrolls. Again, the Giants stand out as big spenders. I'm not saying that's bad, just weird. I never thought my team would be one of those rich ones! And big expenditures come with big expectations. I mean, here we are. This is The Window. The money has been shelled out for the guys we love, and some more money will have to flow before the team is set, and by god we will be damn disappointed if they don't kick some NL West ass and take another playoff run. And we will be equally disappointed if the brain trust can't conjure up some serious young talent to take the open spots and keep up the new standard of excellence the team has set for itself. It's a long way from frigid nights in Candlestick, ain't it lads?

Tell me what you think.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

The 2014 Season Starts Now

The World Series is over, thus marking the end of 2013. Hope springs eternal for 2014. The Giants have a piece of unfinished business, and that's signing Javier Lopez. The guy has been lights-out in his role of Super-LOOGY, and despite being 37 years old shows no sign of slowing down. His walks per nine (2.7), strikeouts per nine (8.5), and his hits per nine (6.9) were all career bests. He's faced 605 batters in his San Francisco tenure, striking out 121, walking 54, hitting three and giving up two, yes two home runs. In 147-1/3 innings, he's allowed 120 hits and 42 runs. According to Baseball-Reference, he's been worth 3.5 WAR since his 2010 debut in orange-and-black. We all know this guy's a stud, and even though he's a specialist, he's a very, very good one, one of the best in the game. Let's keep him in the fold.

The Boston Red Sox, possessor's of the game's mightiest offense, won the World Series scoring a mere 27 runs with a paltry .621 OPS. But their pitchers allowed only 14 runs to the NL's best offense, giving up just 10 extra-base hits and striking out 45 in 53-2/3 innings. Two superb starts apiece by cagey veterans John Lester and Jon Lackey and excellent bullpen work from Brandon Workman, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and regular-season starter Felix Doubront neutralized Cardinals bats. St. Louis featured a spectacular quartet of flame-throwing youngsters, starter Michael Wacha and relievers Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez, and Trevor Rosenthal, as well as a legit ace (Adam Wainwright), but it wasn't enough. In a short series, anything can happen, and Boston had everything go their way in Busch Stadium after losing Game Three on the now-famous obstruction call. I thought, after blowing Game Two in Boston, the Sox would likely come home down 3-2, but the dramatic wins in Games Four and Five sealed the Cards fate. It was a weird series with some sloppy play and odd, hard-to-defend managerial moves, but in the end none of that matters because flags fly forever.

Boston went from last to first, and that's the lesson. Things change quickly in the modern game. Whether it's the meteoric rise of rookies, the impact of free agents, or the comebacks from injured players, last season means less and less in the big scheme. What the Giants (and everyone else) do now is what matters most. The team obviously has some holes to fill and moves to make, and I think we will see some action this winter. What do you guys think the team should do? Let's get the discussion started!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Timmy's Back!

I have no problem with the Giants signing Tim Lincecum for two years and $35M. "It's an overpay" is the meme o' the day, and there's no doubt the contract comes with a risk. The man they call The Freak has generated negative WAR in the last two seasons, according to Baseball-Reference, and only 2.5 WAR if you go by FanGraphs. But the Giants are going with the "he sucked a lot less last year than the year before" logic here, and I'm OK with it. Timmy is a unique case. This is a guy who turned down a 5-year, $100M deal because he didn't want to make any long-term commitments! I liked what I saw last season, and I do believe that Lincecum is going to improve and continue to improve. He may never be the 7-WAR beast he was in those Cy Young seasons, but I think he will be at least a 3-WAR pitcher in each of the next two years. And what if he does rediscover the magic and rack up 5 or 6 WAR? He'd be a bargain then, wouldn't he? Timmy, like I said, is a special case. He's an unusual athlete and I think the Giants value Tim for being Tim and aren't falling into the trap of trying to replace him with some imaginary pitcher that doesn't exist. Take a look at the rest of the free agent list and tell me if you'd prefer Matt Garza, Ricky Nolasco, or Ubaldo Jimenez instead. Obviously a guy like Hiroki Kuroda would be highly prized, but he's 39 years old. (I think the Giants should take a chance on Josh Johnson.)

Welcome back, Tim!


p.s. What's a win cost these days? I'll bet it's creeping up toward $7M. Salaries are going up--guys cost more than they did and we are lucky the Giants have the resources to compete. I'll say it again: welcome back, Tim.

p.p.s. I'm looking forward to enjoying the World Series but if I have to hear again about "The Cardinal Way" and all that crap I'll turn the shit off. They've done a great job drafting talent, no argument there, but there is no "right way" to play the game, so please, no more. There are lots of ways to win, fer chrissakes. I think Boston has the edge, mostly because it is an AL year for home field. Otherwise, it's a tossup. I don't really care about the outcome, but my mom is from Boston and is a Sox fan from way back, so I'll probably lean that way. She's the one who taught me to love the game.

Glad to Say ... You Were Wrong, Jon!!!!!

Tim is back for 2 years - a good move, I say!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dodgers Lose, Moral Center of Universe Holds

The Cardinals will be in the World Series against either the Detroit Tigers or the Boston Red Sox.  The Cards have played the Tigs 3 times before, winning 2.  In 1934, Paul and Dizzy Dean of "the Gashouse Gang" won two games each defeating the Tigers 4 games to 3.  In 1968, the Tigers beat the Cardinals, 4 games to 3.  The Cardinals were the defending World Series champs, and 1967 MVP Bob Gibson started game 1.  I remember this game, because I was listening to a transistor radio in junior high as Gibby threw a complete game shutout, striking out 17, a World Series record that still stands.  In game 4, Bob Gibson threw another complete game, winning 10-1.  Then, to top that off, he pitched another complete game in game 7, overshadowed by Mickey Lolich's 3rd complete game for a 4-1 Tigers victory to take the series.  Two opposing pitchers throwing 3 complete games each!  Mickey Lolich started games 2, 5 and 7, won by the Tigers by scores of 8-1, 10-1 and 4-1 respectively.  1968 was also the year that Denny McLain of the Tigers won 31 games, only to lose to Bob Gibson in games 1 and 4.

In 2006, the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead in World Series victories over the Tigers.  The Cardinals won in 5 games, with Adam Wainwright won 1 and saved 1 and Justin Verlander lost 2.

St. Louis has also faced Boston 3 times in the World Series, winning 2.  None of those match-ups were the St. Louis Browns against the Boston Braves.  In 1946, the Cardinals beat the Sox 4 games to 3, led by Harry "the Hat" Walker and Enos Slaughter.  In 1967, the Cardinals beat the Red Sox in 7 games.  Guess who pitched 3 complete games for the Cards?  Bob Gibson again threw in games 1, 4 and 7 and allowed a total of 3 runs.  Finally, though, the Red Sox won against St. Louis in their 2004 sweep of the Cardinals, effectively ending the "curse of the Bambino." 

Good thing, I was afraid I was not going to be able to stomach watching at all.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

162: All bad things must come to an end

The Giants settle for a third-place tie with the Padres, and I settle for a headline that I stole from 'Breaking Bad.' For those of you living in a cave, the much-hyped (and quite excellent) AMC TV series ends this evening. Giants baseball, alas, ended this afternoon. At least they made it exciting. When Gregor Blanco got hurt with two outs in the top of the 9th, 40th man Francisco Peguero took his spot. Sure enough, the long-tenured farmhand blasted a game-tying homer (his first in the bigs) off San Diego closer Huston Street in the bottom of the 9th. A hit, a wild pitch, a walk, and another walk loaded the bases for the man of the hour, Hunter Pence, who whacked a 3-2 pitch into center field for the game-winner. The Padres had employed five infielders and two shallow outfielders, a scheme that you only get to see in those walk-off situations, but it was to no avail and the Giants pulled off a fun comeback win.

Barry Zito got a curtain call when Bruce Bochy summoned him with two outs in the 8th to pitch to Mark Kotsay. Bud Black played along and left in the veteran lefty, who obligingly struck out to give the home crowd a thrill. Kotsay took his final cuts today--he's retiring after 16 years in the majors. That's a hell of an accomplishment. The Cal State Fullerton grad was the 9th pick (Florida Marlins) of the 1996 draft.

The final tally is 76-86 or .469 ball. LA (92-70) wins the West by 11 games over Arizona (81-81), who just break even despite a strong showing in the first half. San Diego (76-86) matches San Francisco, but claim the high ground only on alphabetical order. The Giants won the season series eleven games to eight and thus merit the tiebreaker. You know it's been a bad season when your favorite team has to have its best month (16-11, .593) just to pass the Colorado Rockies (74-88) and stay out of the basement.

But have a good month they did, and that's something. I like ending the year on an up note. And speaking of notes, the Giants will send ninety million or so Pence's way for the next five years. It's a lot and a long time, Rowandian in scope, but I like the deal. I think he'll earn his pay. This will be an interesting off-season. We should have plenty to talk about. By the way, I put twenty on Timmy. Blog-mate JC and I have a wager: I say The Freak will be on the Giants next year, he says not. We'll see!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Giants Avoid Cellar

The win last night assured the 2013 San Francisco Giants of two things: they will not finish in last place and they will finish with a winning record against all the teams in the NL West. Hunter Pence, not surprisingly, was the recipient of this year's Willie Mac Award. He certainly deserved it. The Giants and Pence are supposedly finishing off a 5-year extension** to keep him in orange-and-black. I'm happy to have him back, although I'm a little surprised by the length. But he's a good all-around player--speed, glove, pop--and he gives the team a solid middle-of-the-order hitter. Yeah, he can be a little frustrating when he grounds out on the first pitch in six straight at-bats, but over the long haul he's a positive (5-WAR this year) contributor. With a couple of more hits this weekend he'll reach 300 total bases for the season. He's currently 9th in all of baseball with 298. He's obviously respected by management and his teammates, and the fans have really warmed to him, so the extension seems like a no-brainer, much like the situation last season with Angel Pagan.

Ryan Vogeslong pitched well and got the win, giving him a nice finish to an otherwise forgettable season. It seemed, not long ago, that the Giants would pick up his $6.5M option for 2014, but his recent struggles have changed the calculus a bit. If he's a 2-WAR pitcher it's cheap, but at age 35 there may be concerns about his fitness for another go-round. Maybe they will offer him an incentive-laden, lower-base salary deal instead. I'd be OK with either one, as long as he's part of the mix. I have faith in Vogie, and think the Giants should keep him.

Yusmeiro Petit today, Guillermo Moscoso tomorrow in Matt Cain's spot.



**looks like $90M, probably an overpay, but that's the Giants

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Final Tim

In the seventh inning, Tim Lincecum used six lovely pitches to dispatch the top of the dogger's lineup. Then he walked off the mound and, quite likely, into Giants history.  The Freak is probably my all-time favorite Giant, so to be honest, I'm not at all ready to process his departure. Not sure if I ever will be. But I have a feeling it is over ...

An eighth inning homer by Angel Pagan (shortest possible, but it counts the same!) turned out to be the difference as the Giants downed the smog suckers, 3-2. Too bad it didn't mean a thing. Funny how well we did against the West, 42-31 so far! Seems like that should have helped more. Oh well.

My gut tells me Tim is gone.  Of course, it is also reminding me that I had a tasty chicken chipotle burrito for dinner, so what do I know?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Exercise His Option!

Well, maybe not.  But Barry Zito, in his final start of 2013, and probably his final start of his Giants career, pitched well, and I couldn't be happier.  I always rooted for Zito, I always hoped he would just somehow magically become a curve-ball throwing, opponent-mowing, winning machine like he was in his Cy Young year.  It wasn't for lack of trying.  He worked hard throughout his contract, and I don't believe he ever got lazy for all the money.  The results weren't there, except every now and then, they were.  More on that later.  Tonight Zito got his first credited win since May.  He went 5 innings, gave up 2 runs, and 1 of those was the result of an error.  He was the first batter in the 5th inning, and Roger Kieschnick pinch hit for him.  Final score, Giants 6, Los Angeles 4.  That gives the Giants a winning record this year against that team, regardless of tomorrow's outcome.  You know what else?  Pablo Sandoval hit his first home run at ATT Park since May.  Tony Abreu had a career-high 4 rbi.  Barry Zito, for all his failings, had some very good games for the Giants.

Dodgers Dingers Sink Cain, Giants

Matt Cain gave up two solo home runs to two power-hitting Dodgers outfielders, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, and that was enough for LA to take the opening game. The Giants got a solo homer from an unlikely source--Tony Abreu--and that took care of their scoring. Hyun-jin Ryu had the rest of the team befuddled for his seven innings, allowing only four hits and one walk. Brian Wilson pitched a perfect 8th, just to rub salt in the wounds, and looked sharp doing it, throwing only ten pitches and striking out two. Like last week, my takeaway from this game is that Matt Cain is back to looking like Matt Cain. After the worst April of his career, the big righty has gradually righted the ship and that bodes well for 2014. His September numbers tell the story of the season for the Giants: 28 IP, 27 H, 7 R, 18 K, and the team goes 0-4 scoring only 8 runs. If this was indeed Cain's last start, and I hope it is, he finishes with exactly half the pitcher-wins (8) he had last season (16), and twice (10) the number of losses (5).

Take a look at FanGraphs. Matty threw his slider in 2013 more (28%) than ever before, and and his fastball less (49%) than ever before. His home run rate (1.1/9) and home run to flyball rate (10.8%) are his highest ever. Interestingly, his xFIP (3.88) is in line with the last few seasons: 4.16, 4.00, 3.78, 3.82 since 2009. He was about half a run higher than that for 2005-2008. His walk and strikeout rates have been pretty consistent, and his 2013 BABIP of .260 is right at his career mark (.264). So, what happened? Why did we see so much "Bad Matt" this season? I like to think it was fatigue--both mental and physical. The burden of expectations is a heavy one. After a near-perfect 2012, a little "regression to the mean" is not surprising. The wear-and-tear of innings pitched and batters faced is also a big one, and I hope the Giants address that with their starters next season. Cain has pitched better since he was on the DL--maybe skipping a start or two now and then throughout the year could become a regular practice. Looks like they are shutting down Madison Bumgarner for the season (Barry Zito gets the start tonight). I find it hard to argue with that.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Little Things Go Giants Way

Reader Romano sent me an email yesterday saying today's Yusmeiro Petit vs. Andy Pettitte matchup would feature "small" ball. Certainly a lot of little things worked out in the Giants favor, but all the scoring was the result of extra-base hits. Rookie Ehire Adrianza tied things up with a solo shot (his first big-league bomb) in the 6th after Mark Reynolds had hit a solo homer in the 3rd. It stayed 1-1 until the 8th when two doubles--one by Pablo Sandoval and one by Tony Abreu--gave the Giants a 2-1 lead. It looked for all the world that Santiago Casilla would give it back in the bottom of the inning, but a baserunning mistake by Zoilo Almonte saved a run, and a fine throw by Juan Perez to nail Robinson Cano at the plate saved another. In all, Casilla gave up three hits, but two putouts by Hector Sanchez kept the Yanks from scoring. Almonte, with no outs, broke for home on a grounder to Nick Noonan at third and was out by 20 feet. Cano, who had doubled, stayed at second base on the play. He then tried to score with two outs on a single to left. He was clearly out on the bang-bang play to end the inning. It was a nice piece of teamwork from the two youngsters.

Petit pitched another fine game, strengthening his bid to be the fifth man in 2014. After a walk and a bloop hit with one out in the bottom of the 7th, Javier Lopez was summoned in relief. Both runners moved up on a passed ball, but Lopez got two strikeouts to save the day and was rewarded with the win after the Giants scored in the top of the 8th. (I sure hope the Giants keep that guy around.) Pettitte only allowed two hits in his seven-plus, but was charged with both runs and got tagged with the loss. New York is now four back in the Wild Card with six to play, and stand a good chance of missing the post-season for only the second time in 19 years.

The San Francisco squad comes home for their final six, facing West winners Los Angeles on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and fellow also-rans San Diego for the weekend. "Pass the Padres" is my new rallying cry.



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Yanks Thump Giants

Ryan Vogelsong had another bad outing. Just when I was getting excited about him rediscovering his winning form, he runs off a bunch of mediocre-to-bad starts. Baseball is a reminder that we are all full of shit. The Giants are now, once again, tied for last place. If they win three more games, and finish 74-88, they will be the 2013 version of the 1991 Cincinnati Reds. The 1990 Reds (91-71) were World Series Champions. The 1991 Reds finished next-to-last with a 74-88 (.457) record. Oh, the things we fans cling to!

The Yankees are fighting for a Wild Card spot. They have to run the table to have a chance as the Rays, Indians, and Rangers are ahead of them, and the Royals are in a virtual tie. They probably won't make it, but weirder things have happened. The Giants are playing to stay out of the cellar. Wild card aspirations >> not finishing last. Goddamn, it is painful to watch our boys. Buster Posey looks terrible. That finger injury has really hurt his play. Hunter Pence has cooled off. Pablo Sandoval can't stay healthy. I could go on, but you already know the rest.

Yusmeiro Petit gets a matchup with the ageless wonder Andy Pettitte. I should be able to do something clever and funny the name thing, but I'd have to be clever and funny. Pa-TEET and PET-it. Hmmm. C'mon, me buckos, help me out here. You could make a Hall of Fame case for the big southpaw from Baton Rouge. He says he's going to retire after this season.

Let's go, Giants. Win at least one goddamn game in Yankee Stadium!


Friday, September 20, 2013

No Call Back for Tim?

The Giants continued their road trip into Yankee Stadium tonight, but failed to keep up the winning as they dropped the series opener, 5-1. The difference was a grand slam by none other than Alex Rodriguez.  To which I say, gag me with a spoon.  Oh well, just throw this on the pile of nasty losses in 2013.

Given that the Yanks are likely suitors, I'm thinking that Tim may have blown his audition tonight.  Hard to say. What do think?  It started well, Soriano was all over him but Cano looked pretty bad.  Sabathia was matching Lincecum inning for inning, almost like it was five years ago. Tim may have simply run out of gas, the 120 count is well above his average. I thought he was coming out about three batters earlier. Still, it all came down to Alex Rodriguez and that ridiculous HR swing. Does that happen a lot at that stadium?

 Or was it THE DRUGS? That's it, isn't it?  It was a steroid aided grand slam.  Had to be.  So that's what one of those look like.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Maddy Surprisingly Wins

The Giants got a victory today with Madison Bumgarner on the mound.  Unlikely, I know, but it happened.  Yeah, Maddy had to be good, holding the Mets to 1 run to do it, and the relief had to be tight enough not to let it slip away.  Outside of Madison, it was a bunch of rooks.  Joaquin Arias and Hector Sanchez scored, Juan Perez and Ehire Adrianza got rbis.  Madison went 7, struck out 10 (!) and allowed 4 hits.  Jean Machi threw up 0's with 1 K for in the 8th and, after a Santiago Casilla out and BB, Javier Lopez chalked up the save.  Giants again take a series.  Too bad they couldn't have started doing this much, much earlier.  And guess who clinched a division?  That's right.......Boston.

Bullpen Meltdown Cains Giants

Santiago Casilla was popping 95 mph but couldn't throw a strike when he needed to. Sergio Romo was snapping sliders but couldn't get anyone to bite. The Mets were patient and made good swings on pitches in the zone and got the job done in the 9th inning, ruining a perfectly nice ballgame. They almost pulled off a similar comeback in Tuesday night's game, but the 'pen managed to hold the line. Not last night, though, the dam burst and the Giants walked off losers. Matt Cain had another great start--it looks like what was broken earlier might just be fixed. That's the takeaway for me, after all, what's another loss in a lost season? If this game had been part of a pennant chase, I'd be in sackcloth and ashes pouring forth lamentations of the most lamentable variety. The only really regrettable thing about the loss is that the Padres are now 1-1/2 games ahead of the Giants in the battle for third place.

The Giants have ten games left in the season. I hope last night was Matty's penultimate start. I love the word "penultimate." In theory he could pitch twice on the final homestand: the first game (9/24) vs. LA and the last (9/29) vs. SD. I think they should give the final game to Mike Kickham. And it would be nice to see Heath Hembree or Jake Dunning get a shot at closing a game or two. The Giants know what the major-leaguers can do. It's time to see what the youngsters can do.

Madison Bumgarner goes this afternoon (10:10 a.m. Pacific) in the rubber match.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Four in a Row

The Giants continue their strong play of late (10-6 for September) and win the opener in New York. Zack Wheeler walked six in five innings of work and wound up with one of the worst starts (Game Score 42) of his impressive rookie season. Yeah, it would be great to have his arm in the mix, but that's ancient history. The Mets looked bad tonight, but they hope they've got two young aces (the other is Matt Harvey, if you haven't yet heard of him) to build a new club around. We'll see. The Giants have to be happy that Yusmeiro Petit is hanging tough, he looks like a legit 5th starter for 2014. Angel Pagan seemed happy to be back in Citi Field, banging out a single, a home run, and a triple to lead the offense. Oh, he also walked twice, scored three, and drove in three. Not bad. His current .289/.344/.423 line would look very nice at the top of the lineup for a whole season, don't you think?

Matt Cain goes tomorrow against Aaron Harang. Tonight I only caught the last two innings as duty called and had me stuck in a room until almost 7 p.m. PDT. Tomorrow I got some personal chores, man, and will likely miss most of Matty's start. But I'll knock out a few thoughts later on, don't you worry. Not much season left to write about, eh?



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Giants Take Series

Hunter Pence had another big day, hitting two home runs and driving in three, and Brett Pill added a late tie-breaking pinch-homer to best the Dodgers in the getaway game, 4-3. It was a little tense in the 9th, but Sergio Romo got Yasiel Puig to ground out with the bases loaded and preserve the victory. Ryan Vogelsong delivered a quality start, and zeroes from Jean Machi in the 7th and Santiago Casilla in the 8th helped it to stand up. After losing narrowly in ten innings on Thursday night, the Giants ran the table and now lead the season series 9-7 with three to play. It is small consolation, but it is consolation nonetheless. The Dodgers will eventually clinch the NL West, but with Arizona's victory today their magic number remains at four. The blue-clads have lost three straight for the second time this month (they got swept in Cincinnati) and are 3-8 since their ridiculous 53-13 stretch. I'm not usually one for schadenfreude, but I think I'll indulge this time.

Pence's spectacular play of late puts him in the club's history books: 19 RBI in 6 games is a Giants record, held by none other than Mel Ott. His five homers in the four-game series puts him in elite company as well, as the last Giants player to homer in four straight games was Barry Bonds, and the last Giants player to hit a homer in all four games in a Dodgers series was Willie Mays. It seems even more obvious now that the Giants should retain Plastic Man's services.

The team travels to New York City tomorrow for the final two road series, three apiece with the Mets and Yankees. Yusmeiro Petit gets an intriguing matchup with Zack Wheeler in the opener.



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Big Hitting Tim

MOST RUNS. EVER. @ dogger stadium. ANY TEAM. EVER.

Even though he pitched well, and the offense had a night for the ages, I can guarantee you that Tim Lincecum (10 -13) will be talking about his night at the plate. A blistering 2 hits and 2 runs scored! That has to be a personal record.  OK, maybe that isn't as impressive as the team SCORING MORE RUNS than any team EVER has before at Chavez Latrine. Nineteen big ones!  Yep, that's right. We kicked their butts, 19-3! And I'm pretty sure they can't clinch against us anymore, which is a minor, but appreciated bonus.

When a team gets TWENTY TWO HITS, it gets rather hard to pick out the highlights.  Hunter Pence has given himself a real chance to reach 100 RBI's by collecting a personal record of seven. His big hit was a grand slam during the fifth inning, the Round Table 5 grand giveaway inning (which Jon Miller completely spaced until the next inning!).  Brandon Belt keeps up that sweet swing with FIVE HITS and SIX RBI's. It would seem that his confidence is at an all time high. Blanco, Pagan, Sandoval ... lots of good swings and line drives. Even career first hits for Adrianza and Monell.  Congrats, boys!

MOST RUNS. EVER. @ dogger stadium. ANY TEAM. EVER.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dodgers Edge Closer

It's the only thing left, the only thing I want from this lost, miserable season, and without a couple of wins from the orange-and-black, it won't happen. I'm talking about the Dodgers inevitable clinching of the NL West. It's going to happen, I have accepted that, that's been a reality since the All-Star Break. I would rather they not clinch by beating the Giants. I think that's a reasonable request. The baseball gods have seen fit to punish us this season with, well, you've watched it, I don't need to tell you, whatever 2013 SF baseball is, it is certainly a penance. So please, O Great American Pastime Deities, grant us this one small, small thing.

Matt Cain pitched superbly, one of his best outings of the year. Only one ball was really hit hard off him and that was Yasiel Puig's double in the 7th that broke the tie (and my heart) and sent me to bed. The Giants had a Keystone Kops 2nd inning, and a bad throw from Matty on a comebacker (and what should have been a double play) led directly to the Dodgers first run and tied the score at 1-1. Zack Greinke kept the Giants off the board through six (Hunter Pence hit a homer in the 2nd to start the scoring) even though he threw a lot of pitches and worked a lot of long counts. It was one of those 2013 Giants things where you just knew they weren't going to score a run unless the LA fielders decided to play hop-scotch instead of baseball. It doesn't seem to matter who is pitching or what the situation is, the Giants cannot deliver the big hit or the big run. The fact that they tied the game in the 9th (clutch hit by Gregor Blanco, his third of the night) is the exception that proves the rule. That's, like, the stupidest, most meaningless phrase ever invented, but I'm so bereft of inspiration this morning I had to use it.

In the 7th, with Cain cruising along, a leadoff blooper to right from A.J. Ellis was apparently misjudged or lost in the lights by Pence and it fell for a hit. Pinch-runner Dee Gordon promptly stole second and was sacrificed to third by Mark Ellis. Grienke was pulled for pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston, Jr. who Cain whiffed with some nice, brisk work. The slider to end the at-bat was a thing of beauty. Up strolled the Phenom from Cuba, and I thought for sure they'd slider him to death, and let him walk if he didn't bite (they'd walked him earlier in a RBI situation). Instead, Buster Posey called for the fastball inside, and Cain threw it right to the glove. Puig's eyes popped out of his head and he delivered a "thank-you-very-much" swing that split the outfielders and drove in the go-ahead run. I guess you have to go after guys sometimes, even if they are hitting .400 or so. It's not like the game has playoff implications for the Giants. Still, it was strange that our battery decided to throw that pitch to that guy at that moment--it seemed like a doomed move as soon as I saw Buster set the target. Oh, did I mention the Dodgers won the game in the 10th?

Tonight it's the lefties--Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. The Giants have never hit Kershaw, so MadBum will have to be damn near perfect.

Let's go, Giants. Win the goddamn game!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Giants Get 4-3 Math Right, Win Ballgame

We talked about this score four and give up three thing before, right? The lads must have gotten the memo this morning as they clawed back against the Rockies this afternoon and closed the homestand on a happy note. Yusmeiro Petit didn't do anything spectacular, but he didn't implode either, and the 'pen held on to give the lineup a chance to rally. And rally they did, getting four singles and two runs in six batters off Matt Belisle to take the lead in the 8th. It was much like the Colorado rally in the 6th that chased Petit--four singles and two runs in six batters. No fireworks today, but it should have been a Giants blowout. They received eight walks from Rockies pitchers, in addition to the nine hits, but were only 3-for-11 with RISP and left 13 men on base. It's that "death-by-thousand-paper-cuts" offense I love so much. As long as they pitch well, it works OK, but it's not exactly inspiring. An occasional long ball here and there is nice. At least an extra-base hit or two. Or three. Two doubles is all they got today, with the seven singles, but it beat the other guys, whose nine hits were all singles.

I would really rather not see the Dodgers clinch against the Giants this weekend. Push it back to Monday, I say.



Rockies Move Coors Field to San Francisco

The Giants 3-2 win on Monday night was the 144th game of the season, the end of the eighth seasonal inning. Last night's slugfest was the first of the final 18 game stretch of this miserable 2013. How miserable, you ask? This miserable:

1st inning: 11-7
2nd inning: 10-8
3rd inning: 8-10
4th inning: 8-10
5th inning: 3-15
6th inning: 9-9
7th inning: 7-11
8th inning: 9-9

And they've opened the ninth with a loss. Only 17 more games to go. Ryan Vogelsong had one of those nightmare innings in the 5th where he turned a 6-0 lead into a 6-5 lead. To be fair, Michael Cuddyer (who also hit the game-winner) is having a monster season, and giving up bombs to guys like that is going to happen sometimes. Those ugly innings have been a curse all season long--our pitchers have thrown a lot of them. Hunter Pence had a career night with six runs batted in, all for naught as the pitching couldn't keep the Rockies off the board. In the 1st, when the Giants had two on and Pence up, I kept hoping and praying for that rarest of animals in AT&T Park to appear--the three-run homer--and sure enough, it did. He hit one that was obviously deep enough, it just had to stay fair, and it clanged off the pole to make it 3-0. Careful what you wish for, eh? Cuddyer's was also a three-run homer. When the Giants get good work from the hurlers, they can't hit. When they hit, they can't pitch. It's not a winning combination.

Yusmeiro Petit gets the ball this afternoon in the rubber match, then the team hits the road for four in Los Angeles. A strong showing down there would be a small consolation for this wretched year. At least the Dodgers can't eliminate the Giants--that's already happened. Their magic number (13 games ahead of Arizona, 18 remaining for both) is six. In theory they could clinch the West this weekend as they've got one more game against the Diamondbacks at home tonight. After the Giants leave town the Dodgers go to Phoenix for four. Let's hope they settle it there. At least there is some comfort knowing they won't clinch in San Francisco in the penultimate series at the end of the month.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Re-sign Tim

Now that the season is fading into the sunset, our beloved Giants are showing signs of their old self. I know, too little, too late.  But at least they are fun to watch again! Last night's 3-2 tenth inning victory over the pesky rookies is a great example. I will admit that exhaustion kept me from seeing the end, yet I had a good feeling when I turned it off. Strange, a " good " feeling is not the norm for 2013.

A high quality start from Tim Lincecum ( 8 innings, 2 runs, and a strong finish ), combined with high quality clutch hitting by Brandon Belt made for a nifty win. I am not a huge Belt fan but I have to give him his props. His streaky hitting is hard to live with but it looks like the adjustments are making that less obvious. His future looks bright, indeed.  Master Lincecum also seems to be on the right track, however it is much harder to be optimistic about his future. It is my feeling that we should RE-SIGN Tim. I realize that may be tough ( especially if he wants many years ) but we have so many holes already, a missing starter would be huge. Tim has morphed into a good #3 starter and that is a hole no one can afford.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Last game against Arizona for 2013

I didn't see Madison Bumgarner pitch today, I was at Golden Gate Park for free Opera.  I did get home in time for the Giants to win the thing, though, as Ehire Adrianza, running for Hector Sanchez, dashed home for a 3-2 victory in 11 innings.  Here is what I know about Madison.  He threw 6 innings, and was removed.  Not that he was struggling, probably just to make sure he does not wear down in the dog days.  Maddy gave up 4 hits, no walks, no runs and struck out 9.  He threw only 89 pitches.  The Giants spotted him 2 runs, one by Buster Posey who played first today, but Santiago Casilla gave those runs back in the eighth.  Javier Lopez got the win.  Ehire Adrianza has no plate appearances, but 1 run to his credit.

Two runs is pretty good support for Madison Bumgarner, and it was nice to see him not take a loss.  In his last 10 games, including today, the Giants have scored 14 runs when he has been on the mound.  In that time, he has picked up 1 win, with 4 runs of support (leaving 10 spread across 9 games) and 3 losses.  He ranks 74th among 80 pitchers ranked in 2013 run support, worse than Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum.   But better than some people, like Steven Strasburg.  Maybe it was hubris on my part, for talking up Madison as Cy Young-like so early in the season.  Perhaps the baseball gods looked upon Madison and said, "Oltre quel' limite."*

After the game, the announcers were talking about how happy the Giants were to get a split.  Happy to win the game (on an Angel Pagan single) yes, but happy to get a split?  Have we fallen that far?  It seems to me that yesterday's game should have been won and wasn't.  They should have won 3/4. All in all, we did manage to go 12-7 against the snakes.  Kind of surprising.

Giuseppe Verdi "Attila"  He also lost. Attila, not Verdi.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I'll Have My Usual Caining, Please

I thought Madison Bumgarner had taken over the role of hard-luck pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, but Matt Cain returned from the DL tonight to reclaim his place at the top of the heap. I must admit I wanted Matty to spend more time re-habbing before getting back to work--I think his struggles early this year could easily be attributed to fatigue. I know he would never claim that, but after 1500+ innings and 6300 batters in seven full seasons, wear-and-tear on the pitching arm is a legitimate concern. Nevertheless, Cainer was reasonably Cainian tonight, going 6-1/3 and allowing just two runs despite eight hits and four walks. It wasn't, I imagine, very pretty, but it was effective enough to keep the team close. Brandon McCarthy had other ideas, though, dominating the Giants over eight innings to secure the win for the Diamondbacks. A clutch hit, a bloop and a blast, something, anything, and the Giants could have pulled it out. Alas, that is not this team's métier. Last year they won the World Series even though Tim Lincecum was the worst starter in the league. This year Matt Cain is the broken one, and this year they are in last place. I don't know how to make sense of that.

MadBum gets the ball tomorrow for the rubber match.



p.s. I was out tonight at a fundraising dinner and missed the telecast. I had a lot of fun and a great meal with good friends. I do have a life outside of Giants baseball, believe it or not!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Almost Perfect

Baseball nobody Yusmeiro Petit threw the game of his life tonight and became only the twelfth pitcher in major-league history to lose a perfect game on the 27th batter. The well-traveled Venezuelan was dropped from the Giants 40-man roster twice this season before crafting his one-hitter. Among his many stops on the journeyman trail was Oaxaca, Mexico. The smiling, beardless picture of me you see when you click M.C. is from Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos in the city and state of Oaxaca, home of the Guerreros. I still have the O.G. jersey I'm sporting in the pic. The fateful hit came off the bat of Eric Chavez on a 3-2 pitch--I wonder how many of the eleven previous guys got two strikes on the batter before losing him. Chavez has been in the bigs for 16 seasons and has always been a tough out. The Diamondbacks are his third team. He spent his first 13 years with Oakland, their longest-tenured player next to Rickey Henderson (14 years). He almost had to hang up his cleats due to back injuries but managed to get healthy and get a second chance with the Yankees. He spent only two seasons in the minors before his call-up at age 20. Petit was a bit of a phenom himself, reaching The Show at age 21, but lost his job in the majors by age 24. He had to get cut by two clubs in two seasons before the Giants resurrected him last year.

Hunter Pence looked like he might have had a chance for a spectacular play on that stroke off the bat of Chavez, but it fell just short of his reach, and that's saying something. Hunter "Plastic Man" Pence gets to most balls, so you know it was a clean hit. It was, alas, a great night of baseball. The Giants won the game, in a large part, because Pence (who scored all three runs) and catcher Hector Sanchez got three hits each. And Juan Cruz made a great catch in left after being inserted for defense. Yusmeiro Petit came oh-so-close to baseball immortality, and it is a shame he lost it on the last batter. A damn shame. But it was one hell of an effort.



p.s. Matt Cain--he of perfect game fame--is listed as tomorrow's starter.

Home Cooking Comes Up Short

The Giants, fresh off a power surge in San Diego of all places, can't find that groove again and fall to the Diamondbacks. The guys seemed to hit the ball hard and have some good at-bats against Trevor Cahill, but the sequencing didn't work out. Gerardo Parra threw out two guys at the plate, one was called safe, though, gifting the Giants a run. Ryan Vogelsong looked great through four but could not get the last out of the fifth. Paul Goldschmidt got two hits, neither of which left the yard, but they were the difference. Pablo Sandoval hit an amazing ball that hit the wall in right-center and had to settle for a triple--of course that's a homer in every other park. It's nice to see him swinging the bat well and looking good in the field. If he can stay in shape in the off-season he could be an MVP candidate in 2014.

Heath Hembree threw 13 pitches, eight for strikes. Let's see more of that guy.



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Panda-rama Tim

Pablo Sandoval hit THREE HOME RUNS in a luscious slugfest and the Giants beat the puds, 13 -5. That's right THREE HOME RUNS for the Panda! How often is THAT every going to happen? Gee, can you name the LAST TIME he did that particular feat?  Mmmm, yeahhhh. I bet you can.

Pence, Crawford and Sanchez went deep too.  Crazy, huh. Tim was kinda shitty .... so, what's new, right?  But it didn't really matter because ... you know what I'm going to say ... Pablo hit THREE HOME RUNS.

Sorry, I guess I'm a little fixated. It just that the flashback has been so sweet. That night last October is a treasure. It can never be taken from us. I highly recommend everybody spend some time reliving that thrill.

A Rather Sad Ode to George and Ira Gershwin

Summertime, and Maddy, he's throwin'
Bases full of runners, but no runs are nigh
We saw this before, and we'll see it more later
Hush little baby, now don't you cry.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Petit Is Grand

The Giants find their way today and beat up on the Diamondbacks 8-2. Patrick Corbin has seen his fortunes change in the last two starts, giving up 14 runs in 10 innings after a complete game win at Cincinnati two weeks ago. The young Arizona lefty is having a great season but might be hitting a wall as he approaches 200 innings. The Giants had a big day, rapping out 15 hits with a new-look September lineup. Yusmeiro Petit had a career-high 10 strikeouts, and is making a pitch for a spot in the rotation. Chad Gaudin is going to have some competition, and that has to be a good thing for 2014. Fifth starters don't have to be very good, and if they are close to league-average, or at least better than most team's fifth starters, they can be valuable pieces.

The Giants need to start stockpiling pitchers as there is a new arms race in the West. The Dodgers have the best pitcher in baseball (Clayton Kershaw) and a healthy number two (Zack Greinke) who would be the ace on most clubs. A resurgent Ricky Nolasco (I guess you were right about him, Ron!) has put together perhaps his best stretch ever, and MLB-rookie Hyun-jin Ryu gives them another formidable southpaw. I note that even with Chris Capuano holding down the 5-spot, they still picked up Edinson Volquez as insurance. And they still have two veterans on the DL who will likely be back next season, Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley. The LA team has been dubbed "The West Coast Yankees" for their otherworldly payroll, and this season their depth has certainly paid off. They are winning at an historic pace since their early-season woes. It will be interesting to see how the Giants will try to match up with the new front-runners in the off-season.

Believe it or not, Barry Zito is listed as the starter for tomorrow's game in San Diego.