Monday, November 29, 2010

Juan Uribe Signs With the....Dodgers?!

Today, Juan Uribe has signed with the Dodgers, yes THEM, for 3 years and $21 million. Uribe is no Giants legend, who after spending his entire career in San Francisco is ending his career by playing for the enemy. But after his home run sent the Giants to the World Series, he'll be a Giants postseason hero forever and that is why it's a little painful to think of him in Dodger blue. Nonetheless, it's a good thing the Giants didn't match the offer.

Three years and $21 million is too much for Juan Uribe. That amount of money isn't as much today as it used to be, but giving a low OBP player, who is coming off a season that was WORSE than the year before, that much money and that many years just doesn't seem like a good investment (Not that I care if the Dodgers are handing out bad deals). Uribe is a hacker. He swings at tons of pitches outside the zone, so he strikes out a lot, but it also means he doesn't walk much, and will always have a low OBP. His career on-base percentage is .300 and his best OBP for a single season was .329 in 2009 with the Giants. He actually had the highest walk rate of his career in 2010 (7.8%), and his OBP was still just .310. And he'll be 32 on Opening Day 2011. He does have the ability to hit some huge home runs, but that's not a player I want to commit to for 3 years.

Uribe does provide value defensively because he can play three infield positions (2B, SS, 3B) and plays them all at least decently. According to UZR he's been a plus defender for the most part. But he's no defensive wizard, and at age 32 and looking at his body type, it's likely he'll lose some range. On a good team, he should provide above-average defense and be hitting towards the bottom of the lineup. So again, I'm not sure that warrants $21 million over 3 years.

I was never a huge Juan Uribe fan, but after the World Series, I appreciate the hell out of what he gave the Giants. In that sense, it's too bad the enemy gave him the best deal. On the other hand, losing Uribe shouldn't be a huge loss for the Giants, and they would have been idiots to give him a better deal than he got from the Dodgers. It'll be interesting to see how he's greeted when he comes back to San Francisco. I've heard things like he's a traitor or he's not loyal. This isn't about loyalty. He played for with the Giants for 2 years. He deserved to go out and find the best deal he could, as it was likely his last opportunity to really cash in. I have to hate him now, but I will never forget how important he was to this team. When he gets his World Series ring, maybe I'll give a little cheer for just him, but after that, I'll be booing. It's just business, gotta keep the rivalry alive. Here's to hoping that Uribe works out about as well for the Dodgers as Jason Schmidt did.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giants Re-Sign Aubrey Huff

As first reported by Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, the Giants have re-signed Aubrey Huff to a 2-year, $22 million deal with a 3rd year club option. My first reaction was probably similar to yours: Wow, $11 million a year is a lot of money for Huff, probably too much. But I'm okay with this deal for a couple of reasons.

The key part of the deal is the years. The Giants only signed him for 2 years, which is huge. Huff wanted 3 years and there were likely teams that would've given it to him, but the Giants got him for just two, likely because they gave him more money per year.

Most reasonable Giants fans know it would be a miracle for Huff to repeat his 2010 numbers. This year he was a .290/.385/.506/.891 hitter with a 5.7 WAR. But in 2009 he was just a .241/.310/.384/.694 hitter with a -1.4 WAR. It's what makes him such a weird player. He had such a terrible year in 2009 and then when most people thought his career was pretty much over, he comes back with a great 2010. It's hard to know or even guess what he'll give you in 2011. In addition to the possibility that Huff's 2010 was mostly a fluke, he's not getting younger, his 2010 defensively was very likely a fluke, and he did post more mediocre numbers on offense after August 1st (.255/.360/.426/.786). I don't know how he'll do next year, but considering his age and slight regression towards the end of 2010, it's likely that the Giants overpaid for him. But the worst case scenario is that he's a player really not worth his salary at all, who the team hasn't made a long-term commitment to. The more likely scenario is that he provides average production at the position. But if that worst case scenario presents itself, his contract won't be a pain in the ass for a long time.

If we just want to focus on the Giants competing next season, it's quite possible that the Giants had no better option than to bring back Huff. With top prospect Brandon Belt hopefully being ready to start on Opening Day or at least come up midseason, the Giants are basically paying Huff to be their left fielder. According to Keith Law's Top 50 Free Agents list (Insider), Huff would be the 3rd best option for a team looking for an outfielder, behind just Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. The Giants were not going to get Crawford or Werth; they don't have enough money and would have had to commit to long-term deals with them. I imagine Law ranked Huff as the 15th best free agent assuming he would be a first baseman, and maybe Huff's below average defense makes him less valuable in the outfield, but still, the next best free agent outfield options include guys like Manny Ramirez, Magglio Ordonez, and Johnny Damon. I'd rather have Huff. Maybe the Giants could have replaced Huff through the trade market? Maybe, but I find it unlikely that they'd be able to acquire a player better than Huff, without giving up some pretty good prospects. They also don't have many internal options that could replace Huff's production. Nate Schierholtz? Not enough offense. Darren Ford? Hellll no. Thomas Neal? Maybe later, but he's not quite ready. Of all the realistic possibilities, Aubrey Huff is probably the best option for the Giants in left field.

Today, Aubrey Huff probably got more money than he should have. He was a great player last year and an important leader in the clubhouse, but it's unlikely he'll have such a great year again. However, the deal given to Huff is not terrible. Really, it's not hard to imagine another team offering him 2 years and $20 million. Normally, I might say if that's what Huff was looking for, the Giants should move on and look elsewhere. But it's doubtful that the Giants could find another player in their price range more likely to produce than Huff. At worst, the Giants have a mediocre player or worse who they only have to pay for 2 years. At best, they have a player who is definitely worth the money. Huff's value will likely fall somewhere in between. A 2 year, $22 million contract is not going to drastically limit the team financially; the Rowand and Zito contracts have already done that. I don't love the deal, but I definitely don't hate it either.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giants Free Agent Profile: Aubrey Huff

When I think of the 2010 World Champion Giants, I think of Aubrey Huff. In his first season with the team, Huff always felt like the leader, the man in the center. After all, he hit 3rd most of the season. He led the team in most offensive categories. On a team that had mostly hackers, Huff and Torres (and later Burrell) added an element of patience at the plate that hasn't existed in the SF lineup since, well, maybe since Barry Bonds left. He was on fire most of the first half, dropped off slightly in the 2nd, but was still good, and had some big hits in the postseason, notably his HR in Game 4 of the World Series. Now the Giants have to decide whether Huff is worth bringing back, because he is likely to get some attractive offers from other teams.

Huff had by far his best season as a major leaguer in 2010. Huff came up to the majors in 2000, and from 2002-2004, he was consistently good offensively for Tampa Bay, but his value was hurt by poor defense. He then had a down year in 2005, was traded midseason in 2006 to Houston, and had a mediocre season for Baltimore in 2007. Huff then had a great season for the Orioles in 2008, with a .387 wOBA. After a terrific 2008, and going into a walk year in 2009, Huff was suddenly horrible. A lifetime .287 hitter at the time, his average dropped to .241. His walk and strikeout numbers stayed about the same, but for the first time since 2001 he slugged below .400 (his career slugging at that point was .483, a hundred points higher than his 2009 slugging). It was a disaster for Huff, and it looked like 2008 had been a fluke. After all, he had been going downhill since 2004, and maybe he finally reached the bottom. Then he ended up with the Giants, had a remarkable 2010 season, and now we are left to wonder if 2009 was the fluke year.

Looking at his 2010 stats, one thing clearly stands out: Huff was more patient than he's ever been. His career high 12.4% walk rate led to a career high .385 OBP, and that mixed with a few other things gave him his career highs in wOBA (.385) and WAR (5.7). In his seasons in Tampa, Huff got on base at an above average rate, but it wasn't anything spectacular (.360-.370). Huff's slugging in 2010 slightly exceeded his career average, but it wasn't as high as some of the power numbers he put up earlier in the decade.

Is it really possible that a 33 year old veteran was able to suddenly become a more patient, better hitter out of nowhere? It certainly isn't normal, especially on the heels of such a massive the previous year. But another part of Huff's 2010 season is even less normal, and that was his very competent defense. Huff was bad defensively pretty much his whole career. This year, he was asked to play 1st base, left field, and right field, and played them all without hurting the team. Interestingly, Huff's buddy Pat Burrell also had a fine defensive year, while holding a reputation as a poor fielder. I don't know whether we can expect either to have as a good a season next year in that department. Should Huff return to the Giants, there is a question of where he would play. His best position is 1st base, but the Giants do have to keep Brandon Belt in mind for 2011, even if he starts in AAA. Huff showed in 2010 that he can move around, but it's not ideal at all to have him in right field if the Giants can help it. Either way, if the Giants want Belt to possibly play first base, the outfield corner spots would have to be flexible for Huff to move there.

I think it's clear the Giants would like to bring Huff back, and that he would like to come back. But Huff would also like to cash in on his career year, and there's a certain limit that the Giants will have to set on what they'll give him. I think more important than the actual money is the length of the contract. It simply can't be more than 2 years. You don't want to make that kind of commitment to an older player who has had years of failure in the past, especially when you have a young player who looks about ready to take over his primary position. But it would make no sense for Huff to agree to just a 1 year deal. We can only hope that Huff's desire to stay with the club that brought him so much joy this year will be able to sway him just enough towards taking a little less. But if a noticeably better offer is on the table, the player, quite fairly, almost always takes it. I worry that tempting contract will be on the table. But if it is, the Giants would do very well to say no, and not match it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Giants Free Agent Profile: Juan Uribe

Juan Uribe is so easy to love. The huge home runs. The jazz hands. The voice that can barely be understood. But now he's a free agent and it's entirely possible that we won't see the postseason hero in a Giants uniform again.

When thinking about Uribe as a free agent, my first thought was that I'd love to have him a utility infielder. For the last 2 years, the Giants have signed him to be a utility guy, but he's mostly been a starter because of injuries to guys like Edgar Renteria and Freddy Sanchez and ineffectiveness from Pablo Sandoval. He's a good option off the bench because he can play 3B, SS, and 2B and plays them well defensively. But mostly I didn't feel like he should be a starter because his offensive numbers seemed a little underwhelming. Uribe will always be a guy who can hit a ball really, really far but he's kind of an all or nothing guy. He doesn't hit for high average and doesn't walk very much, so his on-base percentage (OBP) is always pretty low. In fact, his OBP of .329 (which isn't very good) in 2009 was the highest of his career. His plate discipline is terrible (he had a pretty bad O-Swing % of 36% this year) and he strikes out a lot.

It should also be noted that Uribe's 2009 was, in many respects, better than his 2010. Sure his HRs and RBIs went way up, but the things that matter like OBP, SLG, OPS, and wOBA all went down in 2010. He had 150 fewer plate appearances in 2009, but still his numbers were better across the board. Coming off of that 2009 year, all he got was a 1 year/$3.25 million dollar deal. Now after a worse year, he's likely to get, at the minimum, a 2 year/$12 million deal. Because of a weak free agent shortstop class and improved home run numbers, the Giants or any other team may be overpaying a player who may already be declining.

But a quick look at 2010 major league shortstops makes me wonder if Uribe is the Giants' best option. Basically, there aren't very many good ones and Juan Uribe was probably one of the top 6 or 7 shortstops in all of baseball in 2010. He was certainly better than any other shortstop available now. The only guy who I'd rather have that might be available is Stephen Drew, and that probably won't happen. Also, there is no one in the minors who is close to being able to contribute except maybe Brandon Crawford, who has a long way to go offensively. Uribe is probably the best option the Giants have unless they can swing a deal for Drew.

The Giants are, like many teams, the victims of a weak shortstop market. Good shortstops are hard to come by and as a guy who has a lot of power and is good defensively, Uribe is an okay option at the bottom of the order. He's just not great, and the Giants should be looking to upgrade offensively at any position they can. But if there are no upgrades, I think I've made myself okay with giving him a 2 year/$12 million deal, but I'd be hesitant to go any higher than that. So there are still many questions. Can he get more than $6 million per year from another team? It wouldn't surprise me. Could he get more than 2 years from another team? Again, it wouldn't surprise me. But as time goes by it's looking the Giants may NEED Juan Uribe. Or else...Stephen Drew? Oh baby. Or more likely, Orlando Cabrera? Alex Gonzalez? Mike Fontenot? Edgar Renteria? Brandon Crawford? Yikes.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome and appreciated.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Giants Free Agent Profile: Pat Burrell

This week, we'll look at 3 current free agents that all played a large part in bringing a World Series trophy to San Francisco. Today's player is Pat Burrell.

Burrell had a miserable World Series, failing to make contact with the ball most of the time. This shouldn't take away from the productive season he had at the plate for the Giants when he was acquired in June. Burrell carried the team at times, being one of the most patient batters in the lineup, and hit some of the more memorable HRs of the 2010 season. Burrell's resurgence in San Francisco came after nearly 1.5 horrid years in Tampa Bay as a DH. So the question becomes: which is the real Burrell? As usual, it's probably somewhere in the middle.

Burrell was the first overall pick by Philadelphia in 1998 and made his debut in 2000. From 2000-2004 he was off and on, ranging from average to great to below average. In 2002, he was good enough for a 146 OPS+, only to come back the next season and post a 90. Burrell then posted 4 straight consistently good seasons from 2005 to 2008, with an average 126 OPS+. It's possible that this offensive production had something to do with the emergence of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the Phillies lineup (having good hitters around you CAN make you a better hitter, because all hitters are better when other men are on base), but that effect is likely minimal. He was a very dangerous hitter in Philly, and part of their World Series team in 2008.

Burrell has always been a classic 3 true outcomes guy. He has good power, a good eye, and strikes out a lot (players with good plate discipline strike out more often because they get into deep counts, but they make up for it usually with the walks). He also played pretty poor defense in left field for Philly. This is why he seemed like an obvious DH option for an AL team as a free agent after 2008. And that's exactly what happened, when Burrell signed with the team he had just beaten in the World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays. And nothing went right in Tampa. His walks and strikeouts went slightly in the wrong directions, but it was mostly his sudden inability to hit the ball well that was a problem. His power was cut in half, and his average dipped about 40 points, bringing his OBP along with it. And when his struggles continued in 2010, Tampa Bay had no choice but to get rid of him. So the Giants picked him up, brought him to the National League, and suddenly Pat Burrell was once again Pat Burrell. The idea is Burrell "can't" DH, that he has to play in the field to hit. A similar player who is a free agent this winter, Adam Dunn, is a perfect candidate to DH for an AL team, but supposedly is hesitant, perhaps because he just has to be a butcher in the field to be able to mash in the box. It pains me to think this is true, but it's something many fans and commentators have accepted. When Burrell regained his stroke with the Giants, it likely had a lot more to do with facing a somewhat weaker league (same could be said of Aubrey Huff). Either way, there was a difference between his performance in the NL and AL.

But can we expect him to continue that next year? Not as a starter, I believe. Burrell had positive UZR numbers in 2010, but his whole career points to him being a bad left fielder. A full season in 2011 would likely see that. And while Burrell hit very well for the Giants in the regular season, his numbers do show a decline from his prime years in Philly. His strikeout numbers are about the same, but his walk numbers are down, although still good. One of the numbers that surprised me was his O-swing percentage (swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone). Most of his time in Philly, he was around 13-16%. Last year in Tampa, it was 23%, and this season with the 2 teams he rose to 24.5%. I'm not educated enough to interpret what this means exactly, but it certainly isn't positive, and could hint at a decline that is occurring.

Still, we know Burrell is patient at the plate, and that's why I think he is a fine candidate for a bench role with the Giants, which is mostly what has been reported so far. Going against the notion that he has to play everyday in the field to be effective, I think a limited role could help keep Burrell fresh as he gets older. The Giants might end up with an outfield next year that focuses on matchups and platoons, and Burrell is a guy who could start when it is advantageous, and be a dangerous threat on the bench late in games. Going back to his patience, I think that quality is one of the most important for a pinch hitter (it's important for everyone, really). Since the pinch hitter will often be hitting in the 9th spot of the lineup, the chances of him coming up with the bases empty are greater, since the hitters in front are less likely to get on base. Therefore, the pinch hitter often needs to be the one to start a rally, rather than drive in the runs. It is somewhat strange to have an outfielder on the bench who can only play left field, and not very well, but the Giants have a few more options than most teams, because Mark DeRosa is an infielder and corner outfielder.

Because of the concerns that still linger from his days in Tampa, and the horrendous showing he had in the World Series, Burrell is not likely to be offered multiple years the way Aubrey Huff is. He is from the Bay Area, grew up a Giants fan, and just won the World Series. And he has said he'd accept a smaller role. If the Giants want Burrell, I think they have him, for not too much of a commitment. The larger question is whether his University of Miami teammate Huff will stay. As insignificant as it might be, the 2 of them brought a lot of chemistry to the team, and would be a lot happier if they were together (I know this is starting to sound "weird"). But Huff is a player for another day, so check back this week for posts about him and Giants postseason hero Juan Uribe.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Case Against Dan Uggla

As of now, Dan Uggla's name is not really being connected to the Giants. But the Giants have had rumored interest for a couple of years now and all of a sudden Uggla is in the news. It's being reported that Uggla turned down a 4 year/$48 million extension from the Marlins mostly because he wants a five year deal worth something around $58 million. Just a couple of months ago, when I was thinking of potential Giants' lineups in 2011, or rosterbating, as we baseball types like to call it, Uggla was one player I wanted. Now, the Giants have Cody Ross, who is best friends with Uggla, and a report from a couple of months ago said Ross was telling him how much he loved playing for the Giants and how Uggla should join him in San Francisco. That combined with the Giants' need for offense and a middle infielder has Giants fans wanting Uggla. But I've settled on the idea that trading for or signing him in free agency next year would NOT be a good idea for many reasons.

Uggla would be a lot more valuable if he was good defensively, but he's not. In his career he's only had two UZR scores above average: 5.5 in his rookie year, 2006, and 0.7, which is barely above average, in 2008. Otherwise he's always been a very bad defender, finishing with UZR scores of -9.9 and -7.6 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The stats suggest he will not be able to stay at second base as he gets older, which is a problem. Uggla's value comes from being a great hitting 2nd baseman. In 2010, he had a career high .877 OPS and his OPS has never dipped below .800. Those are very good numbers for a second baseman. But if he's forced to move to first base or left field, he's a good hitter but not a GREAT hitter. So, if the Giants were to acquire Uggla, they'd have a terrible defensive 2nd baseman for the first couple of years and then just an okay-hitting 1B or LF for the next few years. And that's assuming his offensive production doesn't drop off drastically as he ages, which is a real possibility.

Uggla's contract demands coupled with his age would also have to be considered concerning. He is already 30 years old and will be 31 on Opening Day 2011. And he wants a 5 year deal worth about $12 million per year? I'm not necessarily saying Uggla doesn't deserve it. He's been one of the best offensive second basemen in the game for a few years now. But that just would not be a good long-term investment for the Giants. Not to mention the fact that the Giants probably don't even have the money to pay Uggla because they are already financially burdened by the terrible long-term investments in Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand.

If the Giants were to trade for Uggla now, they'd probably have to give up a good starting pitcher (Sanchez?) and a pretty good prospect. Then they'd have to give him the huge contract extension that he wants. Do not want. If they wait to sign him in free agency next year, they have a 32 year old second baseman who is still bad defensively, whose best offensive years are probably behind him, and he still wants that big contract. Do not want.

Dan Uggla is tempting. In the first couple of years of a deal, he'd be a huge help for the offense. And hey, if Cody Ross can convince him to sign next year for 4 years and $20 million, I'm all for it. But that won't happen. Ultimately, it would be a bad idea. Whether it's this year or next year, just say no to Dan Uggla.

As always your comments, opinions, and disagreements are always welcome in the comments section.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Giants Decline Renteria's $10.5 Million Option

It has been announced that the Giants have declined Edgar Renteria's $10.5 million club option. The decision is not surprising. Despite being named the World Series MVP just a couple of days ago, Renteria's career has been on the decline for a while and he is not even close to being a $10.5 million player. The real question is whether or not Edgar Renteria comes back at all next year.

First of all, Renteria did state during the season that he was mulling retirement and has continued to say that, although he hasn't made a final decision. Secondly, all Giants fans love and appreciate what Renteria did for the team during the World Series. But the fact is, he was a player most fans loved to hate during the regular season because he's just not very good anymore. Offensively, he has very little power and doesn't get on base particularly well and defensively, he's lost range. It's clear that he is no longer an everyday player.

The only reason bringing back Renteria is even an option is because the free agent shortstop class is incredibly weak. Juan Uribe is probably the best shortstop available, and even he's not an ideal starter. Additionally, Uribe will probably be able to get a starting job somewhere and will be looking for a good amount of money. Beyond him, there's Orlando Cabrera? Mike Fontenot? Some pretty unflattering options. Renteria has shown that he can be effective at times and he'd be cheap. But as I stated before, he is not an everyday player, so the Giants would need to have someone else for the position.

It's hard for me to see him coming back. The Giants need to improve the offense and shortstop is one of the areas they should look to find it. To do this they'd have to go through the trade market but it's clear that they could use an upgrade at shortstop. As Renteria is mulling retirement, I see the Giants looking to improve the position. If they're unsuccessful, maybe they offer Renteria a 1 year/$1 million dollar deal or something like that at the last minute. But Giants fans should hope the team will have a better option come 2011.

I'd be curious to see what you guys think. Should Edgar stay or go?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What It All Means

Not sure you heard, but the Giants won the World Series yesterday. No, actually, they dominated the World Series. It almost doesn't seem right. When Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz on a 3-2 pitch and when Buster Posey jumped out of the squat and the mid-diamond brawl began, all I could do was smile. And yell. I ran up and down my dorm room hallway just yelling, wanting everyone to hear me, to feel the same way I did. But that would only last a couple of minutes; most of all, I just smiled.

And I'm not sure it'll ever hit me more than that. I'm not some fan who has waited 56 long years for this to happen; I've been a loyal fan since 2002. It's not all that uncommon for a fan to go 8 years without seeing his/her favorite team win a championship. So, there was no 56 year long wait being lifted off my back. I'm not trying to say that this doesn't mean a ton to me. This feeling, this moment is the only reason you become and stay a sports fan. There's no reason to put yourself through all the torture, disappointment, and stress that comes with being loyal towards a team unless it eventually pays off in the form of a championship. No more is "The San Francisco Giants suck because they've never even won a World Series" taunting from fans of other teams. No more do I have to feel depressed about what happened in 2002. And ultimately, because I can't claim the long, painful wait for this feeling, this World Series victory that so many others have waited an eternity for, what I take away the most is how much I love and will always love this friggin' team.

So many Giants fans were upset that the media deemed this team "misfits". But to me, that's not an insult, and it's kind of the perfect way to describe the 2010 Giants. In some sense, you could say "misfits" is completely wrong because the reason we love this team so much is because their personalities fit together so well. On the other hand, the Giants are made up of so many different parts from different places, they are misfits. And that made this team more fun to root for. This team was not supposed to do this. A team with Cody Ross batting cleanup in Game 5 of the World Series should not dominate the World Series. But they did, and all of us Giants fans knew they could do it. That's where the media got it wrong. No one thought this team had a chance. They overlooked the pitching and mostly judged the Giants on their lack of hitting. But that's okay. It doesn't matter. The Giants are a bunch of misfits. The Giants are World Champions.

I will remember this postseason primarily for the pitching. I will remember Tim Lincecum pitching one of the best games in postseason history in the NLDS, a game that, according to Game Score and according to us, was even better than Roy Halladay's no-hitter. I will remember Matt Cain not allowing one single earned run in these playoffs, all the while proving to the national media that he's way better than just an average innings eater. I will remember Madison Bumgarner for being the 21-year old rookie that absolutely shut down the American League's best offense in a must win game. And I will remember Jonathan Sanchez for being Jonathan Sanchez. A pitcher who frustrated the hell out of Giants fans, but also a pitcher who was capable of dominance, as he showed in Game 3 of the NLDS.

I will never forget knowing that in the late innings, Josh Hamilton, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jason Heyward had no chance to do anything against us because of Javier Lopez. I will never forget Brian Wilson, his fantastic beard, and his pal, The Machine. I will never forget Jeremy Affeldt coming in with runners on base and 0 outs after a disastrous start for Jonathan Sanchez and shutting down the Phillies lineup on the way to an NLCS clinching victory. I will never forget that while Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, and Ramon Ramirez struggled at times, at least they kept the torture alive. I will never forget how incredibly happy Guillermo Mota looked while celebrating a World Series win, even though he barely played.

How can you not love Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell? Pat Burrell struggled mightily in the World Series, but he and Huff brought a great clubhouse energy to this team all year that can't be overstated. Aubrey Huff wore the now infamous red rally thong that coincided with the Giants' success. And their punching of each other after their teammates did great things? Purely awesome. I will never forget that.

I can't forget Buster Posey and I won't have to. I'll remember his fantastic rookie year, carrying the Giants' offense from the moment he was called up. That guy is gonna be around for long time and will hopefully experience many Giants World Series victories.

I won't forget the top 2 hitters in the order, Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez, coming up huge for the Giants in the World Series. For never failing to get to a flyball in the outfield and for having a completely unexpected, great season, I will always love Torres. I will always remember Freddy Sanchez's 3 doubles off Cliff Lee in Game 1 and his great defense all year.

Nobody will ever forget what Cody Ross did for the Giants. No Giants hitter was hitting well against the Phillies in the NLCS besides Ross, who carried the offense on his back. He became the face of the misfits. The waiver wire pickup earned himself a probable starting job next year, all because of one helluva postseason.

Juan Uribe. How many crazy, game-winning home runs did he have? It seems like a lot. The one that stood out was the go ahead 3-run homer off Jonathan Broxton in Dodger Stadium. Or how about his 3-run bomb in Game 1 that pretty much sealed the victory? But the one that he'll be remembered forever in Giants history for is his opposite field solo shot that sent the Gaints to the World Series.

The man who was so easy to hate. He made too much money, he just wasn't very good, and I couldn't wait for his contract to end. All of that is completely gone. If I ever remember Edgar Renteria for one thing, it won't be any of that stuff. It'll be his 3-run homer off Cliff Lee in Game 5. Of all people, Renteria did that. Clinched the World Series. World Series MVP. A Giants World Series hero forever.

I will remember all of the guys who didn't do much, but were important nonetheless. Pablo Sandoval barely played and lost his starting job. But I will remember his opposite field double to give the Giants a lead in Game 4 of the NLCS and how pumped up he was when he got into 2nd base. Nate Schierholtz didn't look like he did much, but just having him in the outfield was huge, late in games. Eli Whiteside and Mike Fontenot didn't play in the World Series and Travis Ishikawa didn't do anything too significant, but I will always remember them for being a part of this team.

I have a whole new appreciation for guys like Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito, veterans who had to deal with extremely reduced roles. Rowand has been dealing with it all season, and we've never heard the slightest complaint from him. Zito was left off the postseason roster in favor of guys much younger and less experienced than him. Never heard any negativity from him. Both were always cheering their teammates on and excitedly participating in the many celebratory champagne showers.

And it's amazing how much my opinion of Bruce Bochy has changed. Bochy had an incredible postseason. And I realize that he's not a great manager, but considering the offense he had to work with, I appreciate the job he did. And seeing what some of the other postseason managers did, I came to the conclusion that Bochy is not all that bad. It's easy to criticize a manager and I'm sure I'll do it many times, but Bruce Bochy made great decisions at the most important time in his managerial career. I feel for good for a guy who's been in baseball for 35 years and finally has a World Series ring.

This feels sweet because it was so unexpected. I hated the signing of Huff. I didn't care for bringing up Pat Burrell so early after he was signed. We re-signed Bengie Molina at the beginning of the year. Todd Wellemeyer. I came into this year feeling the same way I've felt for the last couple of years. We were going to have a great pitching staff and a terrible offense. I'll be honest: I did not see the Giants getting to the playoffs unless they acquired a big bat. But they acquired Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Javier Lopez and called up Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. They got great seasons from Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres. And this is the end result. World Series Champions. This specific team will never be the same. Let's savor it. Let's enjoy it. We deserve it. The Giants deserve it. It's been a great season and an even better postseason. And while I enjoy this feeling, I'm already counting down the days until Spring Training. Let's do it again.

Monday, November 1, 2010

2010 World Series Game 5: SF 3, TEX 1

This will be a short game recap. You can be assured that Mack and I will have a lot to write about this coming week, but now is not quite the time for analysis or remembrance. Now is simply the time to savor and celebrate.

The 2010 Giants have brought home the first World Series championship to San Francisco. Game 5 turned out to be the classic pitching duel we expected in Game 1, with both Lincecum and Lee putting up zeroes through 6 innings. Lincecum was at his best, the kind of Lincecum we saw so many times in 2008 and 2009, the kind we saw in April and September of 2010, and the kind we saw in the playoff opener against the Braves. He could not be beaten tonight. Every pitch was working for him, and his velocity was strong. The Rangers simply had no chance. The only damage was a late solo HR from Nelson Cruz. Even then, the game felt over. Because the Giants did what they had to do with Lincecum throwing a gem. They got to Cliff Lee. Again.

Cliff Lee is a great pitcher. But he isn't everything he was made out to be, and that's no knock on him at all. He just isn't Sandy Koufax. He pitched quite well tonight, but the Giants once again weren't baffled by him the way other teams have been in the playoffs. They had hit the ball somewhat hard, but had nothing to show for it until the 7th inning. That was when 2 of the biggest playoff contributors, Ross and Uribe, hit back to back singles up the middle. Aubrey Huff sacrificed them over, getting his first sacrifice bunt of his career. An odd play, but I can't say I disagreed with it. Even though he is one of their most important hitters, the run environment tonight was low, and the smart play was to trade outs for runs. Huff also nearly reached, so it was a good call by Bochy, again. After Pat Burrell struck out, Edgar Renteria came up, and the Rangers had the opportunity to walk Renteria and pitch to the potentially much easier out, Aaron Rowand. But Cliff Lee, the proud, somewhat arrogant pitcher that he is, didn't want to walk Renteria. And I commend him for that. But I'm sure he wishes he had pitched around Edgar. On 2-0, Lee threw a fastball down the heart of the plate, and Renteria swung.

On the swing, the ball went straight into the air towards left center. It didn't really look like Edgar had driven the ball. But as it kept carrying and carrying, it became evident that this ball was not going to be caught. The outfielders were just too far. I thought it would land near the warning track, scoring 2 runs. But then it kept going, until it slipped over the left field wall for a 3 run HR. It looked very much like the NLCS winning HR by Uribe. The ball just found a way to get over that wall. Notice that it didn't hit the top and bounce back.

And that was all they would need to win the only thing that matters in baseball, the World Series. Lincecum pitched 2 more innings. He finished with 10 Ks in 8 innings, only giving up 3 hits and walking 2. Wilson finished off the 9th easily against the heart of the Rangers order. That's all I can really say now. Wasn't that short of a recap after all. Look for more posts this week about Game 5, the series, and the season as a whole.