Thursday, October 31, 2019

The End

The Washington Nationals take the crown in the 115th World Series by winning both game six and game seven in Houston. The Astros won all three games in D.C. and the Nats won all four games in the Astrodome. That's the only time the visiting team has won all the games in World Series history. I'm reminded of the 1987 Series when the Minnesota Twins and the St. Louis Cardinals won all their home games and lost all their away games! The Twins had home field advantage and thus prevailed four games to three.

The Astros were a heavy favorite. A -200 moneyline is the same as 2:1 odds, that is, the favorite is expected to win 67% of the time. I have a hard time believing any World Series matchup is that lopsided. I think the teams are generally closer in talent. I could see giving a stronger team a 55% chance to win (-120 or 6:5) in a seven-game series, but anything over 60% (-150 or 3:2) seems like a reach. The Nats beat a 106-win team (LA Dodgers) and a 107-win team (Astros) to win the title.

The long baseball season is over and we have to suffer for several months without our favorite sport. The Giants should have an interesting off-season as they have a lot of work to do. I'll keep you posted.


Thursday, October 24, 2019


David Ross gets the job in Chicago and Joe Girardi the one in Philadelphia. Jayce Tingler is the new manager of the San Diego Padres. His playing career topped out at AA but he has been in a variety of coaching and front office positions, most recently for the Texas Rangers. An intriguing choice, someone without Ross' name recognition or Girardi's résumé. (Joe Maddon was hired by the LA Angels in case you missed that story.)

Joe Espada is a name that keeps showing up. Apparently he is using his off-day (he's the bench coach for the Astros) to interview with the Giants.

I didn't think I'd see the Nats up 2-0, and especially not with a blowout win. Washington's 'pen was supposed to be the weak link, and Houston's starters the difference-makers. We'll see if the underdog can finish it out at home. I think the entire post-season has featured some gripping baseball, even in the lopsided contests. If there is any decline in the audience for these games, it is not because the players and teams aren't putting on a good show. I should note that the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks completed their sweep of the Yomiuri Giants to take the Japan Championship (a three-peat for them). The Doosan Bears are up 2-0 over the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korea Series.


Monday, October 21, 2019

The World Series

The Astros and the Nationals face off tomorrow in the 115th edition of MLB's World Series. Houston is a big favorite, the moneyline currently between -187 and -200. You would have to bet that amount to win $100. Washington lists at +162 to +180, that's the payoff for a $100 bet. So you can see that oddsmakers favor the Texas team. The Nats have some really good starters--Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, Sanchez--and if they match up with the 'Stros big three--Cole, Verlander, Greinke--it could be a close contest. The Astros are probably deeper in talent, especially on offense, but we saw the Yankees neutralize those bats for long stretches. If the Nats can keep the scoring down they could pull off a big upset.

This being a post about the World Series, I would be remiss not to mention two other baseball contests happening at the same time. The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks are up two games to none over the Yomiuri Giants in the NPB Japan Championship Series. Meanwhile the KBO League features the Doosan Bears against the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korea Championship. Both are best-of-seven affairs.



Saturday, October 5, 2019

The New Manager

Don't forget, the Giants are hiring a GM as well. That presents a chicken-and-egg problem, as FZ put it recently (from Andrew Baggarly on The Athletic):
Ordinarily, the general manager would be working hand in glove with the president of baseball operations in a managerial search. The GM is the primary quartermaster for day-to-day roster needs, so it’s imperative that they have a close and communicative relationship with the skipper.
Except the Giants are hiring a GM, too.
“You want to know how the GM is going to work with the manager, but you also want to know how the manager is going to work with the GM,” Zaidi said. "So it’s a little bit of a chicken and egg. But, you know, we will very much have that in mind that those two are going to have to have a close relationship, and we have to have confidence they’re going to be able to work together."
I suspect the lists for both jobs might have some overlap. A lot of the personal qualities are similar. Zaidi has said that managerial experience is not a prerequisite for the field job (Aaron Boone had no experience coaching at any level before the Yankees hired him), so the same might be true for the desk job.

So how do you replace Bochy? You can't. You can hire a new manager--not a replacement. Identify the things you want from a manager and find that person. Giants fans will have a hard time viewing the new guy in a new light--they'll want to subject him to a checklist of Bochy comparisons. Farhan can't do that. Obviously Boch possesses many of the personal qualities needed to succeed at the big league level, but Boch is Boch. I don't want an ersatz Boch. I want a new person with their own story.

I really think Buster Posey should be the Giants manager. I've no idea if he entertains the idea, but it seems like he has all the experience, skills, knowledge, and gravitas necessary. So the Giants should hire a guy for a few years (Bam-Bam?) until Buster quits playing and takes the reins.

But that probably won't happen. He'll go back to Georgia and run for Senator. In the real world the Giants will hire a guy no one has heard of. Don't be surprised if the guy they get is a surprise. I don't keep my nose that close to the industry buzz so I have no real insight. DrBGiantsfan, who blogs at When the Giants Come to Town, has a breakdown of names you might look at. He's always thorough and thoughtful.

Baggs made the point in another article that if you want to know what kind of guy the Giants will hire look no further than the one FZ helped hire in LA: Dave Roberts.

Managing in MLB is hard. There is a small pool of people with the skills and passion needed. Even guys with all the goods on their résumés fail at the task. FZ is known as a process-oriented person and likes to "trust the process" and go with the outcome it generates. Roberts, for example, was not considered a favorite going in, but he came out as the number-one guy.

I can live with that. I was happy when the Giants hired Farhan Zaidi and I think it will be fun and interesting to see how he goes about creating the next-gen manager and general manager for the franchise. I want to be open-minded and not have a preconceived notion of who these people "ought" or "ought-not" to be. Frankly, I don't know any of the people involved and can only get the same information all of us get who are not part of the business. So it makes no sense to form opinions based on other peoples' opinions.

A lot of other teams (Mets, Padres, Pirates, Cubs, Angels, Royals) are looking for a skipper, that could make the process take a while, and of course many people won't be available until after the post-season. The Winter Meetings are scheduled for December 8-12, so I'd like to think the Giants would have at least a GM at that point. We'll see!


Thursday, October 3, 2019

9th inning: 8-10

1st inning: 8-10
2nd inning: 8-10
3rd inning: 5-13
4th inning: 10-8
5th inning: 11-7 
6th inning: 13-5
7th inning: 8-10
8th inning: 6-12
9th inning: 8-10


If you prefer to look at months:

Mar/Apr 12-18
May  10-16
June  14-13
July 19-6
August 11-16
September 11-16

It comes out the same: three winning innings out of nine, or two winning months out of six, that makes one-third of the season they played .500+ baseball. If you spend two-thirds of your season below .500, you aren't doing well. Note that all the good stuff happened in the middle third. If you go by innings they were 21-33 in the first third and 22-32 in the final third. Bleah. By months it is 22-34 through May and 22-32 in August and September. A poor start and a poor finish means a lot to make up in the middle. 34-20 (or 33-19) is damn good but certainly not enough. But we knew this already.


p.s. I felt bad for the A's (I like Bob Melvin, I think he's a good manager) as they got beat by home runs by the team that--of all ten playoff teams--hit the fewest homers! And I felt bad for that guy in right field for the Brewers who let the ball hit by Juan Soto (who's 20!) turn into the game-winner. He tried to be a hero, a classic rookie mistake, and it blew up in his face. Baseball is full of things, if you are a fan, that twist your guts into knots! Why do we do this to ourselves?