Saturday, July 31, 2010

Game Recap: SF 2, LA 1

I always wanted the Giants to sign Pat Burrell. When he was DFA'd by the Tampa Bay Rays and the Giants expressed interest, I was super excited while everyone else was ready to gouge their eyes out over the thought of him on the team. I always knew that he was a difference maker, a guy still in his prime no matter what everyone say. That is all a lie. And all I can say is, I am smarter than everyone else. Where's the "Lynch Pat Burrell" Crowd now?!?!

So Pat Burrell hit the go-ahead home run in the 8th inning. Against the Dodgers. Basically making Casey Blake's solo home run meaningless. The crowd was electric. Perfect game.

Nevertheless, Chad Billingsley and Hong-Chih Kuo combined shut down the Giants offense through 7 2/3 innings and it was depressing. Anyone who said the Giants didn't really need another hitter is just wrong. The offense is still capable of putting up terrible numbers. On that note, it's also good that we acquired two bullpen arms today, because Denny Bautista needs to go. One time I was at a game, and I was in the stands and I was about 200 feet from Bautista. Cool, huh? He seemed like a nice guy based on the eye contact we made, but he's not a good pitcher. He walked Kuo, a guy who never hits, on 4 pitches and Podsednik on 5. Luckily for him, Mota bailed him out, but he's still going to get DFA'd. I still don't know why Bochy goes to him so much. What about Chris Ray or just anyone else?

Mota was awesome. 1 2/3 innings of perfect pitching to close out the game. Keep doin' that.

Burrell stole the show, but Barry Zito had himself a game. In 7 innings he gave up just 3 hits and 1 ER while striking out 6. His control was spot on all day, with the exception of the pitch to Blake. Anyway, Zito didn't get the win because the runs came too late, but he looked really, really good today.

Obviously the Trade Deadline was today. Look out for our Giants Trade Deadline Review very soon!

Barry Zito only asks to get to 10 wins. Just 10 wins, guys!!!

Game Recap: SF 6, LA 5

Sorry for the late game recap guys, the internet was down. Anyway, I'm starting to think our bullpen needs fixing.

Seriously, this was a game where pretty much everything about the Giants looked good until the 9th inning. First Sergio Romo tried to close out the game. But he allowed a run scoring triple to Scott Podsednik, so he was replaced by Denny Bautista. Don't ask me why, I would've rather kept Romo in. Bautista did his usual act, getting ahead in the count, but ultimately walking the batter, so he was out. Now, at this point it was a save situation and Brian Wilson wasn't even warming up. We found out after the game that he had back spasms, so he couldn't be used, and as a result the Giants brought in Jonathan Sanchez to face two Dodger lefties in a row. He struck out Ethier but then hit James Loney. Now Sanchez was out of the game and it was Chris Ray's turn. Ray allowed a single up the middle to Matt Kemp, scoring Rafael Furcal and cutting the Giants lead down to 6-5. Luckily, Ray got Casey Douchebag Blake to groundout, ending the madness.

There was something else pretty interesting about this game. I think I may have been the only one that noticed it, because I'm generally a pretty observant person, but Tim Lincecum had a new delivery. He brought his hands over his head, which he's never done before. You're welcome for the heads up. I'm not really sure how the new delivery is going to affect him. In the first three innings he was wild, but he settled down and ended up going 7 innings with 9 K's, 2 BB's and 7 hits. Not a bad outing at all.

Aubrey Huff is good. That is all.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A LONG Response to Ray Ratto

I’d like to thank for alerting us to the Wednesday blog post from brand new CSNBA insider Ray Ratto, formerly of the Chronicle. In this article, Ratto calls out the “lunatic fringe” that so often blame GM Brian Sabean for the Giants’ woes. I read the article, took issue with a few things, and decided that it was time for 8thInningWeirdness to do what was inevitable: a style post. I proudly acknowledge that what follows is more than inspired by Ken Tremendous and the rest. It is pretty much a copy of their format. But why not, when their format was so beautiful? So here you go: in bold and larger font are Ratto’s words, with my response in regular text. Yes, a couple walrus jokes thrown in, but walruses are just too fun not to bring up.

Ratto: Where’s the ‘Lynch Sabean’ Crowd Now?

Strange that Ray would choose this as his title, as if to implore the lunatic fringe to come out of their hastily dug holes and accept defeat. But in the very first paragraph, Ratto himself proves, through personal experience no less, that the ‘Lynch Sabean’ crowd is alive and well, and speaking. So what was the point of that title, Ray?

Someone who should have known better declared with near-metaphysical certitude that Brian Sabean had screwed up on Buster Posey.

“Someone who should have known better”? What did you do to that person, Ray??? Just for expressing an opinion? You didn’t have to use both tusks, Ray! Okay, enough of that silliness. I do actually give you a lot of credit for metaphysical certitude. In fact, you’ve inspired me to work as much obscure Catholic terminology into this post as I can. Don’t be offended by obscure. Not obscure to us, Ray, scholars that we are, but maybe a little obscure for your readers. Anyway, back to your blog.

Waited too long, he said. Should have been up in April, and Bengie Molina should never have seen a dime or a game, he said. Another Sabean failure in a long line of Sabean failures.

And that’s when ya gave him the old double tusking! He should have known better!

Ok, sorry, I promise the rest of this post will be completely substantive. Except for the obscure Catholic term, if I ever find a place for it. Your “friend” makes a very valid, if oft-repeated, point. The Giants had a catcher that was a top prospect, spent 3 years in college, had hit well at every level, hit well in the spring, and above all, and you’ll appreciate this, had a certain confidence about him that assured me he was a major league caliber player. You could even call his confidence sanctifying grace. Yes! I did it!

Many scouts and baseball insiders believed if Posey were to join the major league team, he would instantly become the 2nd best hitter after Sandoval. So what did the Giants do? They spent $4.5 million on Bengie Molina and his .285 OBP. Seems pretty obvious to me that the Giants screwed up here, and the FIX was when Molina was traded. They realized that they could not justify keeping a terrible, slow catcher on the team when Posey was hitting so well. But according to you, it was all part of the plan, right? Shall we say, divine providence?

Sabean the mud-catcher has had by any definition of general manager evaluation a superb year, and anyone who wants to argue that is not only wrong but pigheadedly so. Someone who doesn’t want to come off a position because his or her friends are watching, or because rethinking that position is too much work.

My computer is telling me, with a squiggly green line, that that last sentence has some structural and grammatical issues. But that’s okay. I’m the king of poorly phrased, long winded sentences with way too many commas. It’s the substance of that sentence that bothers me. “His or her friends”? Are we in middle school? Seriously, what the hell are you talking about?

In short, they’re wrong. Period. Full stop.

That’s unnecessary, and kinda silly, Ray. It certainly isn’t clever.

But let’s look at the roster to see why.

Let’s do it!!!

Posey has been, well, Posey, and the argument that he would have been Posey had he started the year with the big team is unsupported by facts.

Know what else is unsupportable by facts? That God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all One, yet completely separate from each other at the same time (Trinitarianism). But even that I find easier to wrap my head around than whatever that was you just wrote. Posey has been Posey, but he may not have been Posey? If I understand you correctly, Posey has been what we always knew he would be, but there's no guarantee that he was going to be...oh God, I give up. Let’s continue:

One can say starting the year in Fresno was helpful because it seems to have been, but one cannot make the claim that it would be the same had he started the season in San Francisco because there is no proof to back that up.

So its inappropriate to speculate on what might have happened, simply because it didn’t happen. Philosophically, I agree wholeheartedly with you Ray. You seem to have hit on something I have pondered before, that it is impossible to conceive of a past that was any different than what it was, because if so, we would not be where we are to conceive of it. But let’s put our philosophical meditations aside. It is conceivable to say that Buster Posey would have played as well as he has if he had started the year catching the Giants. Of course it can’t be proven, but it is conceivable. Look at him. The guy has a natural ability to RAKE. Two months in Fresno, tearing up the PCL, while Bengie Molina blogged about ESPN making fun of his running, that was Sabean’s master plan for the catching position this year? Sabean made a mistake signing Molina, and trading Molina was him correcting it. It was not all part of the plan. But excuse me, you wanted to speak about the rest of the roster.

Freddy Sanchez has become healthy and a more than serviceable 2nd baseman and No. 2 hitter.

Now that is just wrong. Sanchez’s defense has been great, but he’s not Bill Mazeroski. Taking his defense into account, I could stand to hear you call him a “serviceable 2nd baseman”. More than serviceable? Come on. And don’t say he’s a good 2 hitter. He was recently demoted to the 8th position in the batting order, and only returned to the 2 hole because Edgar Renteria’s bat is as flaccid as his. Sanchez’s hitting has been extremely disappointing this year, so much so that I’m expecting it to improve in the final 2 months. He can’t be this bad. You do realize how bad he is right now, right?

Nobody remembers right away who the Giants gave up for him (Tim Alderson, who is struggling in the Pirate system).

I remember Tim Alderson. I remember he was a 1st round pick by the Giants in the 2007 draft. You should too. And you are correct that Alderson is struggling in the Pirates minor league system. He may never be a good major leaguer. Nothing about that changes his VALUE at the time of the trade. His value was not an injured, free agent 2nd baseman with a lifetime OPS of .751. But that’s what the Giants got. And how did Brian Sabean describe Freddy Sanchez when he came to this team: all star, batting champion. Enough said.

Shortstop Edgar Renteria remains what he always was, a placeholder until the Giants develop a shortstop.

Edgar Renteria remains what he always was. God is dead. God remains dead. When I said stop with the philosophical meditations, I didn’t mean paraphrase the author of Untimely Meditations. Thus spoke Zarathustra.

An expensive placeholder, but you pay what you must when you have nothing of your own.

I don’t exactly disagree with this. I didn't want Renteria, but I also didn’t really envision the signing being this much of a waste. It is unfortunate to pay $9 million a year for an injured shortstop who doesn’t hit and is slow. But you do have to have someone play. So that’s not that bad. Ratto then say Sandoval has had a tough year, and it has nothing to do with Sabean. And he’s right. Then he brings up Aubrey Huff, who is having a surprisingly great season. According to Ratto, Sabean saw this coming all along, and it was a genius move. Forget that Huff was HORRIBLE last year, and there was no way to see this season coming. Also forget the 20 1st basemen the Giants courted before settling on Huff. So that argument is flawed, but you also can’t not give Sabean some credit for Huff; he got him, and Huff has been great. Point taken. But now we come to the gamer himself, Aaron Rowand.

Aaron Rowand remains Aaron Rowand,

Oh, not this again

Aaron Rowand remains Aaron Rowand, but the Giants got a month out of him early when they needed it.

That doesn’t mean anything. You don’t give a player a $60 million contract for a month of production, even if he remains what he is. It's weird how you're letting the Giants off the hook for giving a guy a huge contract just because he hit well for a month. Aaron Rowand is a huge disappointment. But what else could you expect from a 30 year old outfielder coming off a career year in a small ballpark? Gotta say Sabean screwed that one up, right?

Besides, and this can’t be stressed enough, Rowand was not Sabean’s signing, but Peter Magowan’s, as he handled every big-ticket signing in his time as owner. Sabean takes that hit as he takes every other, because he grew up in the Yankee organization, where Rule One is, “The owner is always right”, and Rule Two is “When he is wrong, the employee shuts up and consults Rule One.”

This is very interesting. So you are saying that every major signing was the work of Magowan, and not Sabean. I’d say that is hard to believe, but perhaps you know something I don’t. Sabean therefore should take zero criticism for big money signings, but credit for every other transaction? Hmm… Also, if this is true, what’s wrong with Sabean? How about growing a pair? Forget the rules you learned in New York. You shouldn’t have let the Safeway guy make you look stupid, Brian. And definitely not the bowtie guy.

Andres Torres and Juan Uribe have been hot and cold but by any measure very useful.

Now I’m wondering if you even watch the games. Yes, Juan Uribe has been hot and cold, and his power could be described as “useful”. But Andres Torres does not fit that description. Torres has probably been the most consistent Giant since late April. His 4.1 WAR, a product of his patient approach, unprecedented power, and great defense, is worthy of more than the word “useful”.

Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa have proved to be at their best as defensive replacements and general all-around fill-ins.

I agree with that. No issues here. Actually, a refreshing bit of realism in light of all the Ishikawa hype recently.

Madison Bumgarner. A strength got stronger.

Agree again. It was a good and somewhat gutsy decision to bring up the 20 year old Bumgarner. And it has certainly helped the team this year.

…those who want Sabean’s head on a pike resist doing so simply to avoid having to change their minds on their erroneous position. And avoiding embarrassment is no reason no to change one’s mind.

We’re back in junior high. Does Ratto really think that Sabean’s detractors are worried their friends will laugh at them for changing an opinion based on reason? I think many of Sabean’s critics have given him credit for fielding a winning team this year, while also pointing out the mistakes he has made and continues to make. Maybe there are some people who’s passionate hatred of Sabean is without logic. But their position isn’t any more intellectually dishonest than this blog post of yours, a post that is as opportunistic as it is analytically suspect. Were you defending Sabean 2 years ago? I don’t know, but I’m gonna say probably not.

Part of being a fan, apparently, is never having to say you got it wrong, that you are getting it wrong or that you will probably continue to get it wrong.

Part of being a sportswriter, apparently, is saying things like “Freddy Sanchez is more than serviceable” without noticing that reason, objectivity, and most of all STATISTICS, show the opposite.

But have a fine Wednesday and enjoy that beer during the Dodger Series, and next week, be sure to return for our next exciting installment: Why you’re wrong about Bruce Bochy, too.

Thank you, Ray. I genuinely appreciate the kind wish to have a good day. It makes me feel a little bad about the stuff about “tusks”. And if you’re serious about the Bochy installment, I’m more excited than you could imagine. I can’t wait for you to defend Eli Whiteside pinch running for Buster Posey. What will it be? Perhaps Whiteside’s entrance into the game could be interpreted through the eyes of replacement theology, that it was Bruce Bochy’s fulfillment of the promise he made to all subpar, replaceable catchers like himself?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Game Recap: FLA 5, SF 0

Jeez. The Marlins really love splitting a series.

Well that wasn't good.

So can we now stop talking about hitting streaks? They are silly until you get to 30 games anyway.

The Padres got Miguel Tejada. I hear the Giants are looking into Morgan Ensberg. Maybe even Carl Everett.

Jorge Cantu is going to Texas. Good.

Bumgarner wasn't great. But he was okay. Nice.

That's all for now. Maybe tomorrow a response to Ray Ratto's horseshit blog post from yesterday. Cue some NWA for the angry, merciless writing session.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Game Recap: SF 10, FLA 9

There's so much to talk about from today concerning the Giants, so let's begin at the end. Andres Torres "singled" in the 10th inning with the bases loaded and 1 out, to give the Giants a 10-9 victory. In the 10th, Rowand, Renteria, and Schierholtz singled to load the bases, and Torres hit a fly ball over the heads of the drawn in outfielders. This came on the heels of Brian Wilson blowing a two run save in the 9th inning. Wilson gave up a game tying ground rule double to Dan Uggla on a 3-2 fastball. There was a lot of discussion on Twitter about Wilson and Posey's pitch selection, but if hindsight tells us anything, it's that Uggla should have just been intentionally walked.

Of course, Wilson should have never entered this game. The Giants took an early 4-0 lead in the first inning, when 6 Giants collected singles. They increased the lead to 7-1 when Juan Uribe tripled in 2 runs, and then scored on a wild pitch. Then, in the 6th, Andres Torres hit a 2-run splash hit to make the score 9-2. Up to that point, Jonathan Sanchez had pitched well, but he fell apart in the 7th inning. After a 3-run HR, Denny Bautista came in to relieve Sanchez, and promptly gave up a 2-run bomb to Dan Uggla, to make the score 9-7. It felt like one of those games where the Giants had scored early and fallen asleep, only for the Marlins to come storming back. When Wilson faced Uggla with the tying run on base and Wes Helms on deck, it should have been obvious to walk him. In 3 games, he's hitting .500 with 4 home runs.

But the Giants won the game, and they can thank Andres Torres. Torres, who looked like he might have been cooling down last week, went 4-5 with a long HR and 3 RBI's. Jonathan Sanchez's meltdown in the 7th inning did not help his trade value, although it probably doesn't matter. The Giants don't appear poised to make any big deals before Saturday. Bullpen help is likely, and maybe a mediocre hitter is Sabean has steady phone reception. The Giants were apparently in on the Scott Podsednik negotiations before he was traded to the Dodgers. Thank God we didn't get him. If you need to know why we don't want Scott Podsednik, just visit the now-defunct and search his name. However, Jorge Cantu is still a threat to join the team.

Last thing: On Andres Torres' game winning hit today, Kruk & Kuip mentioned that the Marlins were wondering if Schierholtz had safely reached 2nd base. By rule, if there is a runner at first, he must touch 2nd base before the winning run counts, otherwise the opposing team can get a force out at 2nd, nullifying the run. This is interesting because there is an infamous situation in Giants' history involving this very rule. In 1908, the New York Giants and Chicago Cubs were in a pennant race, and played each other on September 23. With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th, 19 year old Fred Merkle singled, moving the winning run in Moose McCormick to 3rd. Al Bridwell singled on the next pitch, scoring McCormick, and winning the game for the Giants. But Merkle, who was on first, went to the plate to celebrate instead of reach 2nd safely, and the Cubs shortstop complained to the umpire. The umpire ruled in Chicago's favor, and play continued until the game was called due to darkness (remember, 1908). At the end of the season, the 2 teams were tied for the pennant lead, and replayed the game, the Cubs winning 4-2. They would go to the World Series and beat the Detroit Tigers. The Cubs have not won since. But the Giants believed they were robbed of a pennant because of an umpire enforcing a rule that was often overlooked in those days, and it remains one of the most controversial plays in baseball history.

Game Recap: SF 6, FLA 4

It's not often these days that Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria are the reason the Giants win. I mean, Uribe did have a grand slam the other day, but still, he has been slumping hard. 8thInningWeirdness was at the game tonight, and what a game it was. Let's dig into the details.

Josh Johnson is the leading contender for the Cy Young at this point, so I wasn't expecting the offense to do much against him tonight. I gave myself low expectations, and as a result I was pleasantly surprised that the Giants were able to score first. In the 3rd Inning, Andres Torres doubled, of course, and Aubrey Huff proceeded to hit a double that would bring him home. The next batter, Buster Posey, blooped a single to score Huff and extended his hitting streak to 20 games. It was nice to see our 3 best hitters this year combine to score against the league's best pitcher.

Matt Cain was solid tonight giving up just 4 H and 3 BB in 7 IP, but he threw 2 pitches that he probably wishes he could take back. A 2-run homer by Cody Ross tied the game in the 5th inning, and after the Giants scored in the bottom of the 5th on a Freddy Sanchez RBI single, Cain gave back the lead again on a solo home run from Dan Uggla in the 7th. Overall, giving up 3 ER in 7 IP isn't bad but the Giants probably weren't going to score many runs against Johnson, so Cain needed to be flawless to get the win, and he wasn't.

The real fun started in the 8th inning. In a 3-3 tie, Juan Uribe belted a deep home run to left center field to give the Giants a 4-3 lead. The atmosphere was exciting and there was a buzz in the ballpark. Like I said when he hit his grand slam, the Giants could use an improved Juan Uribe. A couple of batters later, Edgar Renteria hit a 2-run homer down the left field line to give the Giants some insurance runs and a 6-3 lead. Edgar's game last night was brutal, but I felt good for him after all of the fans in the ballpark booed him before the game today.

Also notable: Andres Torres was 3-for-4 with a BB tonight. He's good, real good.

Really fun, exciting game to be at tonight. Always feels good to win against the best pitcher in the league.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Value of Prospects in Trades

As you probably already know, it's trading season in baseball. Yesterday we posted a Trade Deadline Preview, and today we're going to focus specifically on minor league prospects and the value they have in trades.

When teams are trading away their proven major league hitters, what do they normally want in return? Prospects. Everybody loves prospects. They are young, cheap, and have the potential to be great someday. Prospects are the most valuable commodities in a trade in baseball. Teams want them and teams don't want to give them up. But to get something good, you have to give up something good, and many times there is a reluctance to trade prospects because of the potential they have.

I understand the reluctance. Even I am fascinated by the draft and the potential of minor league players and I think developing a deep farm system should be a top priority for teams. I understand how exciting it can be to think about how a prospect will impact your team in a few years. But one of the benefits of having a deep farm system is that it also gives you so much more ammo to improve your big league team through trades. The key word with prospects is potential. It's important to realize that prospects are unproven players at the major league level. No matter how good their numbers in the minors are, they are no guarantee. They do have value, but they shouldn't be a deal breaker if it means acquiring a proven, game-changing major league player.

It was amazing to me that about a month ago over at McCovey Chronicles, there was a thread on the topic of trading Prince Fielder for Jonathan Sanchez and Thomas Neal, and the overwhelming majority did NOT want to do that trade for the Giants. Now, there are other concerns about acquiring Prince Fielder, mostly his weight and contract status, but it seemed that most people would trade him for Sanchez, they just didn't want to include Thomas Neal. Neal is probably one of the Giants top 3 prospects along with Brandon Belt and Zack Wheeler, but he's struggled so far in Double-A and is high prospect status is mostly based on the HUGE numbers he put up in single-A. Last year he hit 22 home runs with a 1.010 OPS, but this year he has a .779 OPS. Double-A is a much tougher league and maybe he needs another year to adjust, but he was also a 36th round draft pick. I don't know the success rate of 36th round draft picks, but I can tell you it's not good. So, it seemed like Giants fans didn't want to trade for one of the Top 15 hitters in baseball who has proven himself because they wanted to hold onto a prospect struggling in Double-A. I do really like Neal, but this is a case of overvaluing prospects based on what they MIGHT do in the future.

To show how much of a non-guarantee prospects are, we can look at some trades that involved "top prospects" at the time. You know who the Mets had to trade to get Johan Santana? Top prospect Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey were traded to the Twins. Gomez is now a terrible No. 8 hitter for the Brewers, Philip Humber is a 27 year old pitcher struggling in AAA, Guerra is also struggling in AAA, and so is Mulvey. So, the best player out of that group is probably Gomez because he at least plays good defense, and the Mets got one of the top pitchers in baseball. All of those prospects were considered to be pretty good, but none of them ever worked out. In the same year, we can look at the deal that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers for a package of 6 prospects, the main ones being "top prospects" Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller. Maybin has bounced between AAA and the big leagues for a couple of years now and hasn't really shown anything in the big leagues. Miller is a 25 year old pitcher struggling in AAA. None of the other prospects worked out either. Both of these trades show you how prospects are never a sure thing and there shouldn't be such an unwillingness to trade them for good, proven major league players that can help a team win a World Series now.

Obviously, different prospects have different values. If you're going to trade your No. 1 prospect and one of the best prospects in baseball, you need to be getting something really, really good back in return. Guys like Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner were pretty much untouchable to me, but Thomas Neal is not nearly the prospect that those guys were. It's all about maximizing the value of prospects. I might be reluctant to trade Brandon Belt because he's dominated minor league pitching in just his first year of professional baseball. But I'd trade him for one of the top hitters in baseball. I would include Thomas Neal in a trade for Fielder but I wouldn't necessarily want to trade him for 2 months of Jayson Werth. I wouldn't want to trade a top 5 prospect in our system like Tim Alderson for Freddy Sanch...oh, wait that already happened. We now know that Alderson is no good, as he's struggling in A ball, but he had value that probably could've gotten something better than Freddy Sanchez in return and the Giants didn't maximize that value.

The point is, the art of evaluating prospects is tricky. They are completely unknown, unreliable, unproven, uncertain, whatever you want to call it. More often than not, prospects won't pan out. Some prospects you trade might go on to have great careers with other teams, but if it means that you acquire a proven hitter that could help you win just 1 World Series, it should all be worth it. Being reluctant to trade unproven players with potential for proven, game changing hitters in the major leagues just doesn't make a lot of sense.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Game Recap: FLA 4, SF 3

It's interesting that even when the Giants are hot, they never go on winning streaks. Even during this stretch where they've won 16 of 21 games, their longest winning streak has been 5 games. Maybe that's a good thing because it means they've been consistently good. But tonight, they were not very good and it was mostly the fault of the offense.

Specifically, the offense was terrible in the first 6 innings, never even getting close to scoring a run. Ricky Nolasco shut them down. But as soon as Nolasco came out of the game and I tweeted this, magic was in the air. Aaron Rowand came in to pinch hit for Travis Ishikawa, which seemed like a questionable move to me, but he proceeded to hit a two-run homer to cut the Marlins lead down to 3-2. Let me break it down for you: Aaron Rowand saved the day. Amazing. The Giants were still losing, but there was hope.

Unfortunately, the bullpen was not very good again. In the top of the 8th inning, Guillermo Mota allowed a run scoring double, giving the Marlins a 4-2 lead. It'd be nice to solve that problem. Soon.

In the bottom of the 9th inning the Giants tried really hard to come back, but ultimately failed. Andres Torres grounded out to bring a run home, but then up came Edgar Renteria. Up to that point in the game he had been 0-for-4 with 2 K's. Well, he struck out to end the game with a runner on 3rd, so make that 0-for-5 with 3 K's. Ouch.

Barry Zito didn't pitch great: 6 1/3 IP, 8 H, 3 ER with 1 BB and 3 K's. But he wasn't terrible either, and when a pitcher only allows 3 runs through 6 innings, a good offense will get that pitcher the win. You've gotta feel a little bad for the guy, and Zito's hard luck continued as he fell to 8-6.

A win would've been extra sweet tonight because not many teams have beaten the guy who is pitching for the Marlins tomorrow. Josh Johnson has a 1.61 and a WHIP under 1 and he is the leading contender for the Cy Young Award this year (screw Ubaldo Jimenez). Fortunately for San Francisco Giants fans everywhere, 8thInningWeirdness will be at the game tomorrow night and we have an impeccable W-L record. Believe it. Even though it's not true.

Giants Trade Deadline Preview

The trade deadline is less than a week away, and with the Giants 3 games back in the division and leading the wild card, it's pretty clear that a move or two will be made to improve the team. With the injuries to Dan Runzler and Jeremy Affeldt, and the overall shoddy performance of the bullpen recently, talk of dealing for a reliever has been hot. But it's hard to really know which relievers are available out there, or how good they are. Plus, middle relievers are boring. So while I hope the Giants can patch up their bullpen, my eye is still on the offensive upgrades they could make before the deadline. Here are names that the Giants have been tied to, along with my opinion on them, and what it might take to get them.

Note: The stats listed are as follows - BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, and wOBA. wOBA is courtesy of It is a stat that attempts to weigh all offensive outcomes with their proper value, to show the overall offensive output of a player. The number value is calculated to be on the same scale as OBP. For instance, a .400+ wOBA would be considered an MVP type season. Babe Ruth has the all time highest career wOBA, .510.

Adam Dunn - .281 / .369 / .565 / .935 / .396
If Washington will trade Adam Dunn for Jonathan Sanchez plus prospects, the Giants should do it. Here's why: unlike Fielder or Werth, it appears that Dunn would be willing to sign a contract extension rather than enter the market this winter. Dunn has been one of the most underrated sluggers of the past decade. He was a butcher in the outfield with Cincinnati, killing his overall value in the past, but he has been much more average at 1st base this year. With his hitting ability, you really wonder why an American League team didn't sign him as a DH in 2009.

Josh Willingham - .273 / .401 / .479 / .880 / .391
Willingham is a very attractive player. His OBP, in relation to his BA, is nothing short of arousing. At 31, he's in fact older than his teammate Dunn, but he isn't a free agent next year. His offense is pretty consistent year to year. Would I give up the Dunn package for Willingham? I'm not sure. He had a red hot month of May, and since then his power has dropped.

Jose Guillen - .273 / .334 / .460 / .794 / .347
Before he was sidelined for the rest of the season, David DeJesus was one of the names most often linked to the Giants. Looking back now, it would have been nice to get DeJesus if the deal didn't include Jonathan Sanchez. He'd have been great hitting behind Andres Torres in the 2-hole. Now fellow Royal Jose Guillen is on the Giants' radar. I'm against such an acquisition, really no matter what it costs. Guillen's power numbers this year are a little intriguing, but what's the point when you already have Pat Burrell, who gets on base much more efficiently? He's no real upgrade on defense, and he has a history of clubhouse problems. This would be a pointless acquisition.

Prince Fielder - .262 / .399 / .506 / .904 / .394
It's going to be pretty much impossible for the Giants to acquire Fielder, but it's still fun to think about. They won't trade Cain or Lincecum for him, and they shouldn't. They should trade J. Sanchez/Bumgarner and prospects for him, but they won't, and it's unlikely the Brewers would be satisfied with that. I'm surprised by people that think Jonathan Sanchez is worth more than even just 1.5 years of Prince Fielder. Try naming 10 hitters under 30 in baseball that are better than Fielder. Hell, forget the under 30 part. It can't be done.

Corey Hart - .292 / .349 / .568 / .917 / .389
Corey Hart is the name most linked to the Giants this year. His recent injury is very minor apparently, so he's still on the trading block. Hart hasn't cooled down from his great first half, and you can't deny his offensive production this season. I'm wary of giving up anything good for him though, because of his 2 previous seasons, in which he OPS'd .759 and .753. To be fair, in 2007 he had a year comparable to this season. But he's just not a sure thing offensively like other players on this list. And his defense, contrary to popular belief, is not very good. Definitely not worth Jonathan Sanchez.

Jorge Cantu - .260 / .309 / .412 / .721 / .315
Cantu is probably the worst player on this list that the Giants are interested in. He would be a DOWNGRADE from the players he'd be replacing. Nothing about him is interesting or good. He will not help this team. It's disturbing that he's being mentioned in Giants' rumors recently.

Luke Scott - .296 / .363 / .576 / .939 / .402
Luke Scott is the most interesting name on this list. He's really under the radar, and has been his entire career, but this year he is just as productive as anyone the Giants have been linked to. He's the left-handed bat they are looking for, and his above-average but unspectacular previous seasons make him cheaper than Dunn or Fielder. The Orioles also have a lefty reliever, Will Ohman, that the Giants are interested in. A package deal of both could be very helpful.

Derrek Lee - .251 / .338 / .391 / .729 / .323
Lee will be a free agent after the season, when he will be 35. He is the definition of rental, because it's unlikely the Giants would want to resign him. Lee has had a few great offensive seasons, but also a lot of simply good ones. I don't see the point in acquiring Lee and banking on him turning it around, when the players he would be replacing (Burrell, Ishikawa) are performing better this year. Another name that has been mentioned for the Giants in connection to Lee is SS Ryan Theriot. That is absurd. I have no idea how Theriot could possibly help the Giants. He has as LITTLE power as anyone in the NL. He sucks. How do people come up with this stuff?

Lance Berkman - .236 / .360 / .420 / .781 / .345
Where I don't see the upside in Derrek Lee, I do in Lance Berkman. He's having his worst season ever, but the guy has been one of the best sluggers of the past decade. This is the kind of rental I would approve of, as long as it didn't cost the Giants too much. I could see him raising his performance on a contending team. Unfortunately, Berkman hates AT&T Park. Maybe former teammate Aubrey Huff could convince him it's not as much of a pitcher's park as he thinks.

Jayson Werth - .286 / .379 / .506 / .885 / .382
Werth is a very good player. He walks, he hits for power, and he plays defense well. He's a free agent this offseason, so his bat can be gotten for cheaper than usual from the Phillies. However, is he worth the contract he'll ask for this winter? No, probably not. So if the Giants want to trade for Werth, they have to ask themselves: do we want to trade for just 2 months of him, can we resign him, and is he worth resigning?

Jose Bautista - .242 / .355 / .548 / .903 / .386
Bautista would seem like a good pickup for a team needing offense. His numbers this year are very similar to Adam Dunn's, and he has more positional versatility than Dunn. Here's the problem: Dunn has a career OPS of .905. Bautista's is .758. Before his offensive explosion this year, the dude was simply not good. A below average player. It's really quite stunning how well he's hitting this year. And it's very likely that at some point he will regress. And regress a lot. Take a chance on him if he's cheap, but he's not worth anything valuable.

Adam LaRoche - .255 / .331 / .450 / .781 / .340
LaRoche is almost as much of a non-difference maker as Jorge Cantu. I worry that he's exactly the kind of left-handed bat that will shrivel at AT&T Park. His defense is annoying to watch. On the other hand, his teammate Kelly Johnson is very interesting, if only we didn't have the singles hitter installed at 2nd base. It'd also be nice to have a young shortstop, and Stephen Drew, while not helping this year, would fit the bill. After the Dan Haren trade, Arizona's front office has shown that they WANT to be used and abused. They're asking for it. Let's steal some of their guys for next to nothing. Do they know Kevin Pucetas has a .698 W-L percentage?

Carlos Zambrano - 55.2 IP, 5.66 ERA, 1.689 WHIP, 2.12 K/BB, 1.0 HR/9
Carlos Zambrano is having a terrible year for his standards, but I never felt it was bad enough for the Cubs to move him to the bullpen. Now he's persona non grata in Chicago, and available for any team that wants to risk dealing with his temper and the $44 million left on his contract. It has been suggested that the Giants could swap Aaron Rowand for Big Z, as Rowand is another player not living up to his contract. I believe Zambrano, as a former ace, has a lot more value than Aaron Rowand. If the Giants trade one of their starters for a bat, they'll need someone to fill that spot. Zambrano could be the one. Sure his numbers this year are bad. But there's nothing wrong with having a former ace who is 29 as your 5th starter. Think of Joel Pineiro. Carl Pavano. Pitchers can always have comebacks.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Game Recap: SF 3, ARI 2

After a 4 game sweep on the road, a 6-1 road trip, and a 16-6 beginning to July, it's only fair to be positive about the Giants. If you're looking for Bruce Bochy to meet his end like Savonarola of Florence, skip to the last paragraph.

This was a very dangerous game, and yet the Giants were able to skate through it and win 3-2. It's hard to call Tim Lincecum's afternoon a great performance, though he did end up going 8 innings, giving up only 2 runs. He had a couple innings that looked disastrous, but was able to escape. He gave up 2 runs in the 2nd inning when the 7 and 8 hitter reached base after 2 outs, and Arizona pitcher Barry Enright doubled them in, his first of two hits in the game.

No surprises in the RBI department for the Giants today. Andres Torres had a bad game, striking out 3 times, but the rest of the constants all contributed. Buster Posey had 4 hits, raising his average this year to .371. Aubrey Huff singled in the 5th inning to tie the game at 2. And Travis Ishikawa came through in the 10th inning to give the Giants the winning run, singling in Eli Whiteside.

When Tim Lincecum left after the 8th inning, Sergio Romo got himself into a terrible jam, but found a way out. Brian Wilson closed the game out quietly in the bottom of the 10th. What stands out in this game? Buster Posey had 4 hits. Tim Lincecum pitched a good game. Travis Ishikawa had another big hit. But there was something else...

Bruce Bochy managed like a fool today. In the 8th inning, with the game tied and two runners on, Bochy elected to have Tim Lincecum hit. Lincecum struck out. While I understand Bochy's mistrust of both the bullpen and the bench in that situation, you have to take an opportunity that late in the game seriously, and send up a real hitter. In the 10th inning, Buster Posey got his 4th hit of the day, a double to right field. Bochy immediately sent in Eli Whiteside to run for Posey. We already know that Posey is in fact faster than Whiteside, so what was Bochy's reasoning for replacing his star hitter in an extra inning game with a replacement player. Mike Krukow gave the explanation that Posey's "catcher legs" were tired. This isn't irrational, but it disregards the strategic blunder Bochy made by replacing Posey. By running Whiteside for Posey, Bochy leaves himself with 0 catchers on the bench in a tied, extra inning game. That is not the situation to replace your 23 year old catcher because of "catcher's legs". But Bochy's biggest blunder came a batter later, when Whiteside was on third, with Nate Schierholtz on first and Ishikawa at the plate. Suddenly, Schierholtz ran toward 2nd base, and was caught stealing easily. There are 3 ways to understand this play: Schierholtz got the sign to run, he ran on his own, or Ishikawa missed the sign for a hit and run. Anyway, Bochy loses. Nate Schierholtz should not have a Jose Reyes green light in extra innings with the go ahead run at third. And if Bochy called either a steal or hit and run, maybe he needs to be enlightened by the wise words of Earl Weaver:

" get damned little fleas on the fucking bases, getting picked off trying to steal, getting thrown out, taking runs away from you..."

Nate Schierholtz should not be stealing bases. Most of the Giants should not be stealing bases. Their SB rate this year is 64%, which means they are actually hurting themselves by calling for steals. At least they don't do it too often. And the hit and run is kinda stupid. Almost as stupid as trading Dan Haren, one of the best pitchers of the last 5 years, for a 29 year old with one good year and a 1.5 WHIP this year. It's no mystery why the D'Backs suck.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Game Recap: SF 10, ARI 4

Madison Bumgarner is really, really good. Tonight he led the Giants to a 10-4 over Arizona giving the Giants their 3rd win a row and their 8th win in 10 games. The win was Bumgarner's 4th in a row as he went 7 innings and gave up 5 H, 2 ER, and 3 BB with 7 K's. It's been said before, but he's been incredible for a 20 year old. The Giants would like to limit his innings down the stretch to preserve his arm, but that might be difficult to do if Bumgarner keeps pitching this well.

Through 6 innings the Giants were up 3-1, but the big hit came in the 7th inning. With the bases loaded, Juan Uribe hit a grand slam barely over the wall that gave the team a 7-1 lead. Uribe needs to get going, as he's gone cold over the last couple of months, so a few more homers from him would be greatly appreciated.

This game also included a very scary moment when Eugenio Velez was hit in the face in the dugout on a bullet off the bat of Pat Burrell. Velez was on the ground for several minutes before being carried out on a stretcher to the hospital. During the game we learned that he never lost consciousness and was alert. Now it's been reported that he has an apparent concussion. Considering how hard he was hit, that is very good news.

Again, the bullpen was shaky. Tonight it was Guillermo Mota who came in and gave up 2 runs. Before the game we learned that Jeremy Affeldt is going on the DL with an oblique strain, so fixing the bullpen has to be an even greater priority now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Game Recap: SF 7, ARI 4

The sleeping Giant awoke from his light slumber, as Aubrey Huff hit two HR's, raising his season total to 19. But the big hit in the game came in the 7th inning, when the best leadoff hitter in the NL, Andres Torres hit a booming triple that gave the Giants the Giants a 6-4 lead, a huge momentum change after the bullpen gave up the lead in the bottom of the 6th. In the top of the 9th, the Huff-Torres tandem gave the Giants an extra run, when Torres hit a double that was scored an error, and Huff singled him in. That, and a couple of Travis Ishikawa hits, accounted for pretty much all the offense tonight. Congratulations, Giants. You managed to survive without Posey in the lineup.

Jonathan Sanchez ended up only with one earned run in 5 innings, but this was not a pretty start. Sure, he struck out 10, but also walked 5 while giving up 4 hits, and was constantly in trouble. Santiago Casilla was no better, giving up the Giants' 3-1 lead. Chris Ray was able to get out of the 6th inning, and Sergio Romo, while a little shaky, didn't give up any runs. Brian Wilson got another 4 out save to end the game.

During the game tonight, we learned from Henry Schulman that the Giants may have been very close to acquiring David DeJesus before he injured himself. This potential deal apparently didn't involve Jonathan Sanchez. Knowing that, I have to say I'm a little disappointed that DeJesus got hurt. For some unproven minor league outfielders, it would have been really nice to have DeJesus replace Freddy Sanchez as the Number 2 hitter in the lineup. Looks like now the Giants are going to focus on strengthening their bullpen before the deadline.

Lastly, I'll say without shame that I was overjoyed when Miguel Montero cluelessly threw Kelly Johnson's "cycle ball" into the stands. He must understand, deep down in his unconscious, how silly the cycle is.

Is Pablo Sandoval Really Back?

No, this is not an overreaction to Pablo Sandoval going 0-for-7 in his last 2 games. Ever since the All-Star break, he has been hot, and many people, including me, have proclaimed that Pablo is back. This post is going to tell the world if Pablo Sandoval is in fact back.

Pablo was expected to be the leader of the Giants offense in 2010, but as everyone knows by now, his first half numbers were pretty atrocious. His .263/.322/.382/.704 line seemed more like Freddy Sanchez numbers than the Pablo Sandoval we saw in 2009, who looked like a star while hitting .330/.387/.556/.943. His struggles this year have been attributed to many different things. He's been impatient, swinging at the first pitch many times. Maybe the league figured him out and he didn't know how to adjust. He's been swinging at terrible pitches, even though he kind of always does that, and has hit into 20 double plays, the second most among all players in baseball. And perhaps the most troubling part of Pablo's first half was that he stopped slugging. His slugging percentage this year is more than 150 points lower than last year's. Whatever the reason, Sandoval has not produced as expected this year.

You know, I've always thought the idea of a player being a good "second half player" was kind of ridiculous. I mean, just because a guy gets 3 days off, he changes his whole approach and is reborn into a new player? Knowing me, I'm probably not considering some vital piece of information, but the All-Star break just always seemed like an excuse for why a player began playing better or worse. But Pablo Sandoval has certainly looked like a different player since the break.

In 8 games after the All-Star break, he has been on fire. He's gone 9-for-29 with 5 doubles, 7 RBI and 6 BB while having a much better looking swing. He's been more patient and hasn't been swinging at terrible pitches (at least not as much). His attitude has also changed. He's always been a very happy, cheery guy, which is great, but sometimes when a player is struggling you'd like to see them get frustrated with themselves and Sandoval never really showed that. Now he's getting fired up when he hits a run scoring double and he could be seen excitedly pounding on the dugout when the Giants came back to beat the Dodgers in that crazy game. You know the one I'm talking about. So, Sandoval has certainly given Giants fans a reason to be encouraged.

What I'm about to say is going to shock you. I even shock myself when I think about typing it. We really can't know whether or not Pablo Sandoval is back. What, that didn't shock you? Damn. It may seem like a really obvious thing to say, but I can't tell you how many times in the first half he would hit a home run to deep center field or blast a double in the gap and Kruk and Kuip would say something like "He's really staying back on pitches now, he's starting to heat up". Next thing you knew, he was back to going 0-for-4 and hitting into double plays. So it's probably a little soon to suggest that Pablo is back or that the Giants don't need another hitter because Sandoval is heating up. Eight games simply can't tell us that, considering his struggles this year. He has looked better, but there have been other times this year where he looked like he may be "back". I hope he is back. Nothing would make me happier than to see the 2009 version of Pablo Sandoval. But I care about all Giants fans, you see, and I don't want anyone to get their hopes up, only to see them crushed. I'm a cautious man, and you should be too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Game Recap: SF 3, ARI 0

Matt Cain is back. He pitched a gem tonight, going 8 innings, giving up no runs, only 3 hits, while walking 3 and striking out a season high 9 batters. And before you chalk this performance up to fact that he was pitching against the last place Diamondbacks (vbgirlie!), realize that the D-Backs are in fact a pretty good offensive team. They are 5th out of 16 NL teams in OPS, and are 2nd in walks. They've also got a lot of power throughout their lineup. Cain's two magnificent starts this season against Arizona are anything but a product of a weak opposing offense.

It's actually pretty lucky that Cain pitched so well tonight, because the offense had a lot of holes in it tonight. Freddy Sanchez, to put it bluntly, needs hitter's viagra. He is just not swinging a powerful stick right now. And while he's going through this stretch, there's no reason for him to stay in the 2-hole. And so much for Sandoval's magical comeback, huh? But Uribe got a couple hits tonight, so that's good. Do it again, Juan. I want to believe.

At least the Usual Suspects are still producing. Andres Torres, featured early in the day on this very blog, had a Bonds-like HR to center field, and then made a beautiful catch in left field. Buster Posey gave the Giants their first run of the game, and extended his hitting streak to 16 games. I'm happy for Posey, but can we all remember for a moment that hitting streaks are kinda stupid? Until you get to about 30, they're about as gimmicky as the cycle. Or an unearned runs streak. Actually, unearned runs streaks are pretty cool. Can anyone tell me the longest streak of a pitcher not giving up an unearned run? That would be awesome to know.

Andres Torres: The Most Valuable Player in Baseball

Okay, Andres Torres isn't the MVP of both leagues, but isn't he the MVP of the NL at least? Okay, probably not, but before you declare that a ridiculous overstatement, consider for a moment that no player other than Joey Votto gives his team as much production in contrast to his salary. Torres is tied for 7th in WAR (wins above replacement), with 3.4. This year, he is making $426,000. The other 9 players in the WAR top ten make an average of $8.8 million this year. These players include Pujols, Dunn, Votto, and teammate Aubrey Huff. It could be argued that Torres is more important to the Giants this year than Huff, Posey, or any of the pitchers. As the lead off hitter Torres is vital, because he is one of only a handful of Giants' players that is patient at the plate. Torres, while certainly possessing great speed, has only stolen 17 bases this year. But he's also been caught only 4 times, a very good rate of 81%. Speaking of SB rate, would you like to know Matt Kemp's? 57%. That guy is killing the Dodgers with his baserunning. I knew I wasn't crazy when I said there was something weird about how he runs.

Anyway, back to Torres. A big part of Andres' WAR stat is his defense. He plays well in any of the outfield spots, with more than enough range to play center field (he's better than Rowand) and an arm that you can put in right. But the most amazing thing about Torres' season so far is the power he's shown. He may be ripped, but I still don't know how a guy who's kinda small is able to make the ball jump off his bat the way he does. Torres' .211 isolated slugging percentage should shame 6'4" Oakland A Ryan Sweeney (.89 iso slg) into retirement.

Torres has been a great player for the Giants for almost a year now. In September of 2009, when he started to get more regular playing time, Torres hit .302/.353/.619, with 4 HR's. He never stopped this year, improving his obp and showing the same pop in his bat. Torres stands, as of this moment, with a .274/.370/.483 line. That's an .853 OPS. And leadoff hitters always get a little burned on OPS because speed isn't factored in. Don't believe me? Carl Crawford's OPS this year is only .884. So Andres Torres is one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball. But how? Even after his September last year, who could have expected this? I bet there are some of you who don't even know that this guy is 32 years old. For awhile I just assumed he was some 24 year old prospect who had surprised everyone. What's fascinating about Torres' success this year is that in the rest of his career as a ballplayer the guy has been completely unspectacular.

Torres was drafted by Detroit in the '98 draft, and came up in the Tigers' system. While he showed the patience at the plate that we see now, the power was completely absent. When he got called up to the Tigers in 2002, he did nothing, and when he went back down his OBP disappeared. He went from farm team to farm team, performing well some years, being patient at the plate again, but barely getting at bats in the majors and failing to produce. Then, in 2009, Torres was called up to the Giants, mainly because of his speed, and since he started getting at bats last September, the dude has RAKED. Don't ask me.

50 years from now, these will be the 2 most sought-after baseball cards on the market.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Game Recap: LA 2, SF 0

I thought you had changed, Giants offense. You really made me believe that our relationship had improved. Sure, you've gotten a little better, but every once in a while you mess up, and tonight you disappointed me. You're sleeping on the couch tonight.

This game was absolutely brutal to watch. The offense never got anything going against Chad Billingsley, and the Giants didn't score enough to support Barry Zito's fantastic start, an all too familiar story. Zito almost pitched a complete game loss, going 7 1/3 IP, allowing just 6 H and 2 ER. The only flaw in his performance was a home run allowed to Casey Blake in the 2nd inning on a curveball down and in. His other ER scored when Sergio Romo came in and allowed a single, scoring the a runner that Zito was still responsible for. It's always maddening for Giants fans to watch a starting pitcher go without run support and Barry Zito was clearly frustrated as well.

Some could argue that Chad Billingsley deserves credit for a great pitching performance, but I'm not buying it. It's very possible that I just refuse to acknowledge any accomplishment from a Dodger, and if that's the case, I'm okay with it. Sure, he was good, but he got a lot of help from the Giants, who looked like their old selves tonight. They were impatient and constantly swinging at bad pitches, while going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The series in Arizona is not going to be easy. The Diamondbacks are in last place and 19.5 GB of first place in the NL West, but if you'll remember, things didn't exactly go well the last time the Giants visited Chase Field. Our pitchers were terrible and the Diamondbacks always have some dangerous power hitters. We'll need a better performance this time if the Giants want to stay near the top of the division.

Even with the loss tonight, it was a good series, taking 2 of 3 from the Dodgers in LA. Boy, a swept would've been satisfying though.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Game Recap: SF 7, LA 5

What a demoralizing loss for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But really, who cares?

Despite a less than stellar performance from Tim Lincecum, that was the best Giants vs. Dodgers game I have seen in a long, long time and maybe ever. Hit batters, pitchers getting ejected, managers and bench coaches too, and most importantly, a Giants win. So much went down in this game, let's see if we can dissect it all.

- Lincecum was maybe the worst he's been all year. Just three batters into the game, he had already allowed 3 runs and in total gave up 7 H, 5 ER and 3 BB in just 4 2/3 innings. The main issue was his fastball. Tonight for whatever reason it topped out at just 87-88 mph, so it was basically an ineffective pitch. When he left the game, the Giants were down 5-1.

-In the top of the 6th, the Giants finally scored some runs, thanks to Xavier Paul. With runners on first and third, Pat Burrell hit a deep fly ball to the warning track that Paul dropped, bringing in one run and leaving runners on 2nd and 3rd. The next batter, Pablo Sandoval, stayed hot, roping a double down the line, scoring both baserunners and making it just a 5-4 Dodgers lead.

- The tension in this game started in the 5th inning when Lincecum came in with a pitch high and tight to Matt Kemp. On the next pitch, he hit Kemp. Kemp was visibly angry, taking a couple of steps toward the mound, before the home plate umpire intervened. In the 6th inning, Denny Bautista also came in high and inside to Russell Martin, prompting a swift ejection of Dodgers bench coach Bob Schaefer. It was pretty comical how upset the Dodgers were and how sure they were that these inside pitches were intentional. Maybe they were intentional, but Lincecum's command was off all day and Bautista always has problems throwing strikes, so it just seemed like some unintentional wildness from Giants pitchers to me.

-But like I said, the Dodgers were angry, and sure enough, Clayton Kershaw retaliated by plunking Aaron Rowand in the top of the 7th. Really, they were doing us a favor by putting Rowand on base. Kershaw and Joe Torre were both ejected and Kershaw will probably be suspended. Perfection! Ah, to bask in the failure of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

- The biggest and most bizarre moment of the game came in the bottom of the 9th inning. The Giants are down 5-4, one of the best closers in the game, Jonathan Broxton, was pitching, and the Giants had the bases loaded with just 1 out. Don Mattingly, who was the acting manager for the Dodgers, came out to the mound, presumably to talk strategy with Broxton and his infield. Mattingly started to head toward the dugout when he turned around and came BACK towards the mound. It's all very confusing, I know. Anyway, Bruce Bochy rushed out to tell the lead umpire that Mattingly had visited the mound twice. Per MLB rules, if a manager visits the mound twice in 1 inning, he has to take his pitcher out. BRUCE BOCHY, YOU SLY DOG. He really caught the Dodgers off-guard with this one. All of a sudden, they have no one warming up in the bullpen, and they have to bring in a pitcher who hasn't warmed up to replace their All-Star closer. It was quite a turn of events.

- So, the Dodgers bring in George Sherrill, one of their worst relief pitchers this year, without having warmed up. Andres Torres proceeded to make Bruce Bochy look like the smartest man in the world, and it's almost impossible to make Bochy look smart in any way. Torres hit a double in the gap to score two runs and give the Giants a 6-5 lead. They added one more run and Jeremy Affeldt closed it out in the bottom of the 9th.

What a game. It's almost exhausting trying to comprehend everything that just happened. The Giants beat the Dodgers even with their ace struggling. The Giants came back to win in the 9th, and made the Dodgers look like absolute fools at the same time. Oh, how sweet it is.

We would also like to cordially invite Matt Kemp to the 8thInningWeirdness Hate List. Although, he has to come, he doesn't really have a choice. What a pompous jerk.

Buster Posey: The Best Player in Baseball

He's irresistible.

Let me clear something up really quickly so that people don't get all crazy and hysterical. I'm not saying Buster Posey is the best player in the game, but he has been the best player in baseball in July. Maybe I could have come up with a better title to express what I was trying to write about, one that wasn't quite so misleading, but hell, that title just sounds too great. The point is that Buster Posey is playing like the best player in all of Major League Baseball right now.

Everyone knows that Buster Posey is on a tear right now. He had that crazy roadtrip where he just embarrassed major league pitching, driving opposite field home runs like it was nobody's business. And so far on this homestand, he hasn't cooled off. So, yes it is obvious that he has been really, really good, but I was shocked to see just how great he has been. Let's take a look at some of his numbers in July and where he ranks during that time.

AVG - .450 - 2nd
OBP - .493 - 1st
SLG - .883 - 1st
OPS - 1.376 - 1st
HR - 7 - 1st
RBI - 19 - 1st
RUNS - 16 - 1st

Keep in mind, these aren't NL rankings, they are ML rankings. He is 1st in every single major offensive category besides average, and average is the least important stat out of all those! I may be falling in love all over again.

And we haven't even discussed Posey's defensive game. Hint: It's good. Real good. The whole reason Posey came up and played first base while Bengie Molina and Eli Whiteside handled the catching duties was because he "wasn't ready to catch". He couldn't handle a pitching staff, wouldn't know what pitches to call in pressure situations, people said. I think he's doing alright. The starting staff has come out of the break on fire, with each starter having a good performance, and who was catching? Buster Posey. Posey was the one who must have called the right pitches yesterday to get Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson out of bases loaded situations. And remember at the beginning of the year when baserunners could steal a bag in their sleep against the Giants? No longer a problem because Buster Posey has a gun and he loves to shoot people. That's a metaphor, don't take it seriously. While Posey's offensive game has been the best in the majors in July, his defense has been spectacular as well.

It's fun having a guy like Buster Posey come up from the minors and dominate major league pitching. It's kind of like how fun it was when Pablo Sandoval came up and was really good, but it's even better than that. Buster feels like one of our own, and he's a guy who may be the key to the Giants getting to the postseason. He obviously doesn't have to play as well as he's playing right now; those are unreasonable expectations for any player. But the Giants need him to play well and not hit some sort of rookie wall or slump. That might be an unfair burden for him, but he's shown that he may be able to handle it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Game Recap: SF 5, LA 2

The Giants tried their hardest to lose tonight, but despite giving it 110% they weren't able to come up with the loss. It's really a shame because I know they wanted it so bad! They should have lost, they really, really deserved it. Wait....what's that you're saying? Teams don't like to lose, they want to win? Well, the Giants certainly could've fooled me.

This game was pretty much the polar opposite of yesterday's. On Sunday, they should've won, but lost. Tonight they made way too many errors and deserved to lose, but they won. A win is a win, so maybe I should be more positive, but I can't help but feel troubled after so many mental errors. Let's see, how many were there? There was Pablo Sandoval choosing to tag the runner heading to third instead of going for the force out at 1st to end the inning, allowing Jamey Carroll to score before he applied the tag (Carroll didn't score before Pablo tagged the runner headed to 3rd, it was a terrible call, but still a big mental error by Pablo). How about walking Garrett Anderson, who is hitting .187 this year, with 2 outs? If that wasn't enough, Sergio Romo walked Jamey Carroll, who doesn't have a home run this year, to load the bases for Andre Ethier. Ethier grounded out, but walking guys like Anderson and Carroll with 2 outs in the inning is just not smart. Ahhh, and finally, Andres Torres forgot how many outs there were and ran on a shallow flyout with just 1 out. That can only be described as a Pablo Sandoval/Eugenio Velez type of baserunning mistake.

Oh yeah, Eugenio Velez is back. Be happy.

A pairing that Giants fans hope to see producing for a long, long time, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, got the scoring started in the 3rd inning. Posey singled up the middle to bring in a run, and Sandoval proceeded to smoke a double into the left field gap, scoring Posey. It was rather beautiful. Sandoval had another good game with the bat, going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Later in the 4th inning, Nate Schierholtz added a 2-run homer, giving the Giants a 4-0 lead.

Bumgarner had a good start despite only lasting 5 2/3 innings. He was pulled early, mostly because of his high pitch count but gave up just 6 H, 1 ER, and 2 BB with 3 K's. He continues to impress for a guy who is just 20.

A win against the Dodgers always feels good, but the Giants got lucky. They'll have to play better if they want to beat Clayton Kershaw tomorrow night.

Also, the bottom of the 9th turned out to be pretty awesome. Brian Wilson managed to load the bases with 2 outs, and up came Casey Blake. Remember when Blake mocked Wilson's tribute to his father that he does after every save? Well tonight, Wilson struck him out. It was a pleasure to watch.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

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Phil Cuzzi: Douchebag Extraordinaire

Forget that the Giants didn't hit for 8 innings. Forget that Freddy Sanchez really should have been able to hit something better than that weak grounder. Forget that they had a chance to tie the game in the 10th inning. This game today was won, and then taken away, by umpire Phil Cuzzi. But it wasn't just Cuzzi's blown call at home that put him in the spotlight today. Throughout the game, both benches were not happy with the strike zone. After a couple close pitches were not called the Mets' way in the bottom of the 9th, Cuzzi suddenly, and bizzarely, took off his mask and started screaming at God-knows-who. After the Ishikawa debacle, Aubrey Huff hit a fair ball that was called foul by the third base ump, and Cuzzi saw no need to overturn it. His awful strike zone continued into the 10th inning, against both Brian Wilson and K-Rod. Clearly this is a man who does not like his judgment to be questioned. Yet throughout Cuzzi's umpiring career, his ability and judgment has been questioned often. Phil was a minor league umpire from '91 to '93, until he was fired. Yes, you heard right: Cuzzi was fired as a minor league ump.

How did he make it to The Show? In 1996, Phil the ump was Phil the bartender, working at the Short Hills Hilton near Philadelphia. It was there that he came across Leonard Coleman, then supervisor of the National League. Somehow, Phil was able to get the supervisor to let him back into minor league umpiring. Why did Coleman do this? Had he gone crazy? Perhaps he was wearing a burgundy coat, and would eventually attempt to murder his wife and child with an axe (Coleman was quoted as saying to Cuzzi: "Phil, you're the best goddamn umpire from here to Portland, Maine, or Portland, Oregon for that matter").

Phil discusses his hopes for a second chance with Leonard Coleman.

When Phil finally made it to the Bigs in 1999, what began was a long stretch of confrontations with managers and controversial calls. Here are some notables:

June 25, 2010: Phil rings up James Loney of the Dodgers, ending the game, the culmination of a long night of questionable strike calls. As Loney walks back to the dugout, Cuzzi walks with him, and when the exchange gets heated, Cuzzi throws out Loney. That's right, he threw a guy out when the game was ALREADY OVER. Not to mention he did the worst thing an umpire can do, which is engage a player or coach in argument, baiting them into getting thrown out.

August 8, 2007: Cuzzi once again showed his tendency to engage managers, when he jawed with Ozzie Guillen till Guillen came out of the dugout and was thrown out. Guillen was quoted as saying: "From 1985 to now, I don't see any umpire disrespect players and managers the way that guy does".

Game 4, 2005 NLCS: Jim Edmonds was up in the 8th inning with the tying run on base. With the count 3-1, Edmonds took a pitch and started toward first, only for Cuzzi to call it a strike. When Edmonds turned around to ask where the pitch was, Cuzzi tossed him. The Cardinals would lose the game and the series.

2003: In his 2nd to last game of the season, Roy Halladay was pitching for a Cy Young and a team record 22nd win. When Halladay threw a pitch inside to Rocco Baldelli, Phil decided it was intentional, and threw Halladay out of the game, a shocking move based on the circumstances. No one, including Baldelli, thought Halladay was trying to hit him.

Game 2, 2009 ALDS: Ah, Phil's masterpiece, his 9th symphony, his Hamlet. In a tied game in the 9th inning, Joe Mauer hit a ball down the left field line, which hit off Melky Cabrera's glove in fair territory and went into the stands. Phil was the left field umpire, and despite being no more than 20 ft. away, looking right at the play, he called the ball foul. The call was so easy, it has been cited since as a great example of the need for instant replay in baseball. Perhaps baseball should just fire Phil Cuzzi.

Did you know one of 'ol Phil's hobbies is taxidermy? Second only to shitty dancing.

Game Recap: NYM 4, SF 3

The Giants won this game. Except they didn't.

After Travis Ishikawa came up and hit a 2-run single to tie the game at 3-3 in the 9th, Andres Torres was up. On the first pitch he drilled a double down the line, sending Ishikawa to third. Ishikawa went home on a groundball from Freddy Sanchez, and on a play at the plate, Phil Cuzzi called him out. It was a close play, but looking at the replay, Ishikawa was clearly safe. Had he scored, the Giants would have had a walk-off win and a sweep. Instead they are left with a frustrating, much less satisfying loss and a 3 out of 4 game series win instead of the sweep.

This is obviously an extremely demoralizing loss for the Giants. A sweep would've given them a ton of momentum heading into a very important series against the Dodgers. With a loss like this where they did everything they needed to do to win and still couldn't get the victory, it might be easy for them to lose that momentum. Hopefully they can put it behind them, realize it's something they can't control and stay hot during the second half of the season. They are on a roll right now and a bad call can't interfere with that.

In the end, details of the game don't really matter. It doesn't matter that after the terrible call, Brian Wilson gave up the go-ahead run in the 10th. No matter how dead the Giants offense was through 8 innings, they put themselves in a position to win, and an umpire's blown call beat them.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Game Recap: SF 8, NYM 4

Matt Cain continued the great pitching by Giants' starters tonight, going 7 innings, his only blemish toward the end when he gave up a triple to Carlos Beltran, followed by an Ike Davis HR. It got a little close towards the end, but The Man came in for the last out. Thank God those orange abominations will not be worn on his feet in the 2nd half.

Andres Torres put the Mets in a hole early with his 3 run HR in the 3rd inning, and when the Mets scored later in the game, the Giants returned the favor, and New York was never really close until the 9th inning. The Giants have hit 82 home runs this season, 8th in the NL, a big improvement over their 2nd to last ranking last year, when they hit 122 the whole season. As unhappy as we all are with the Giants' offense still, this year is a big improvement over 2009. Andres Torres' surprising season is a big part of this. He is very valuable to this team. How valuable? His 3.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is good enough for 8th in the NL, tied with teammate Aubrey Huff. Keep in mind his salary this year is under $500,000.

Forget Bengie Molina and his cycling ways. If the Giants make the playoffs this year, it's because Buster Posey started catching everyday. Who hits that many opposite field HR's anyway?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Game Recap: SF 1, NYM 0

It's a good thing Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito decided to have their best starts of the year back to back, because the Giants' offense has not exactly come bursting out of the gates to start the 2nd half of the season. 4 double plays, 12 men left on base, and a very clutch .143 avg. RISP in the 2 games to start this series. But enough of that.

The New York Mets had zero chance against Barry Zito tonight. He completely steamrolled them. Zito's 10 K's, along with only 4 baserunners allowed, makes for probably the best start by a Giants pitcher since, oh, yesterday. 2 years ago, this kind of start would have been unthinkable for him. Now if we can just get him un-banned from the Unicorn Club.

Let's never see Buster Posey play 1st base again, alright? He's got a cannon, and I think he'll handle this pitching staff just fine.

The D-Train Has Arrived

Dontrelle Willis signed a minor league contract with the Giants on Thursday according to the team. Willis, a Bay Area native, is a well-known name around the league because of his outgoing personality and extremely odd pitching delivery, but the reality is that he's never really been too good. Nevertheless, it's an interesting move with absolutely no risk involved.

A common misconception with Willis is that he used to be so good and all of a sudden imploded. But he's only had one very good year, in 2005, when he was second in the Cy Young voting and went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.134 WHIP. His numbers in 2003 (when he won the AL Rookie of the Year), 2004, and 2006 were okay, but he always allowed too many baserunners, which is never a good sign. His 2007 campaign was not very good, and his 2008 was a disaster. Willis battled injuries and in limited innings he posted a 2.208 WHIP and 13.1 BB/9, pretty terrifying numbers. Things haven't gotten any better and in 15 games played this year with Detroit and Arizona, Willis has gone 2-3 with a 5.62 ERA and a 1.949 WHIP.

When this move was first announced, I thought it was a good move to make in case Jonathan Sanchez was traded and we needed a fifth starter. Apparently though, Willis will be pitching out of the bullpen. I don't know how effective he'll be there considering his control issues and high walk rates, but maybe if he improves, he'll be able to start a few games. There is some hope for Willis. He's just 28, his K/9 rate is still pretty much in line with his career average, and he wants to get better.

Like I said, Willis was never really as good as everyone thought he was, but he did have a noticeable decline beginning in 2007. For whatever reason, no one has been able to fix what is wrong with him. Detroit tried putting him on the disabled list in 2009 with "anxiety disorder" but that didn't seem to help. He's had injury issues, but his sudden lack of command can probably be explained by a mechanical flaw. He came to the Giants because he wants to work with Dick Tidrow, who's known as a pitching guru, and if Tidrow can get anything out of him, this is a great move.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Game Recap: SF 2, NYM 0

Tim Lincecum absolutely shut down the New York Mets tonight. A complete game shutout is always a beautiful thing and tonight the Mets just couldn't get anything going against him. Certainly, Timmy has started to look like the wonderful being that he is.

The offense was no powerhouse against the knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey, but 2 runs were all that was needed. Pablo Sandoval hit a rocket off the right field wall with 2 outs and a runner in scoring position to score the first run and Buster Posey added an RBI fielder's choice in the 8th. The fact that Sandoval's RBI came with 2 out and RISP is huge because in that situation he was just 5-for-35 during the first half of the season. It looks more and more like the Giants won't acquire a real difference-maker at the deadline, so maybe the biggest boost to the offense will have to come from Pablo.

It's so encouraging to see Lincecum getting back on track. He is the key to the rest of the staff. If he can get it going maybe Zito, Cain and Sanchez will follow suit.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All-Star Game Recap: NL 3, AL 1



You know, I've always loved that the winning team in the All-Star game gets World Series home field advantage. That extra home game is really going to help us in October.

The NL won for the first time since 1996. That's actually pretty amazing. The only thing that matters is that Brian Wilson came in and was awesome. He should've won the MVP just for his orange shoes. Timmy didn't pitch, which means he'll pitching on Thursday. I'm going to that game. Perfection.

I'm ready for some real baseball. And check out those shoes.

The 81st Major League All Star Game

Monday, July 12, 2010

How The AL All Star Roster Should Look

1B - J. Morneau, M. Cabrera, K. Youkilis

2B - R. Cano, T. Wigginton

SS - A. Gonzalez, D. Jeter

3B - A. Beltre, E. Longoria

OF - J. Hamilton, J. Bautista, B. Boesch,
JD Drew, C. Crawford, T. Hunter

C - M. Napoli, J. Buck

SP - J. Weaver, D. Price, J. Lester, C. Lee, T. Cahill, F. Hernandez, C. Pavano, J. Niemann, A. Pettite, C. Buccholz

RP - N. Perez, J. Papelbon, M. Rivera, J. Valverde

DH - V. Guerrero, P. Konerko, V. Wells

It's so disappointing that Brennan Boesch was overlooked for a perrenial guy like Ichiro. But that's the fans for you. Jered Weaver was selected as an injury replacement, but he should have been the first pitcher on the roster. Yes, Joe Mauer is missing from this roster. While he is one of the top 5 players I would select to start a franchise with, he had 3 HR's at the time voting ended. Mike Napoli was more deserving. By the way, do we need any more proof how much more valuable Buster Posey is to the Giants at catcher than 1st base? Look at the players at 1st base; it is THE premier hitting position. Great hitting 1st baseman are dime a dozen. Even the Giants have one.

How The NL All Star Roster Should Look

1B - J. Votto, A. Pujols, A. Gonzalez

2B - M. Prado, K. Johnson

SS - H. Ramirez, R. Furcal

3B - S. Rolen, D. Wright

OF - A. Ethier, J. Willingham, C. Hart
C. Rasmus, A. McCutchen, J. Werth

C - M. Olivo, B. McCann

SP - J. Johnson, U. Jimenez, A. Wainwright, M. Cain, R. Halladay, R. Oswalt, M. Latos, T. Hudson, Y. Gallardo, C. Silva

RP - J. Broxton, B. Wagner, H. Bell, B. Wilson

DH - A. Dunn, A. Huff, P. Fielder

Please remember that these selections were made almost a week ago, when the true rosters were announced. I felt that some of the biggest snubs in the National League were starting pitchers. Mat Latos is arguably having the best season of anyone. Roy Oswalt's record is terrible, and his ERA isn't terrific, but his other stats prove he is back to his ace status. While Miguel Olivo is a disgusting purple dinosaur, he is also the best catcher in the league this year, and arguably in the majors. The outfield selections could have gone in many ways. Andrew McCutchen may surprise some people. He has recently gone very cold, but at the time he had very good numbers, which don't even take into account his speed.

The All Star Game Is Quite Useless

The All Star Game is quite useless. The game is given the awesome power of deciding home field advantage for the playoffs, yet at the same time it is possible for a player to leave the game and reenter in case of an injury, a rule change that can only render the game an exhibition, a showcase, not a serious baseball game. So, disregarding the joke of home advantage, is the All Star game a good showcase for the best players in the game? Any look at this year's roster shows that many of the best players this season are not playing. Why is this? Because All Star selection is a popularity contest. Some might think this is okay, that fans should vote for who they want to see, because the game is for them. Well, let me just say to anyone that is interested in a popularity contest: I don't understand you, and I never will, so please, stay away from me. The manager's and player's picks are also a joke. They really don't have any idea who should be in the All Star game, and they shouldn't have to worry about it. So who should select the teams? Baseball writers? They seem the best choice. Unfortunately many of them are still living in the Middle Ages. Let's also not forget that selection to the game gives recognition for HALF a player's season. Of course, afterwards, all star selection is used to evaluate a player's career. Multiple All Star appearances end up being used by self-conscious GMs to explain the trade of a first round pitching prospect for a 2nd baseman with a career OPS of .749 (Yes, I know Tim Alderson sucks now). Why was Freddy Sanchez selected to the All Star game 3 times? Because he was on the Pirates. I won't even go into that little rule, that states every team must have a selection. Fascism like that hasn't been seen since Franco died in 1975. I can just imagine, a few years ago, when Freddy Sanchez stepped to the plate in the All star game, that a certain commentator said something to the effect of: "Freddy Sanchez is unknown nationally because he plays in Pittsburgh". No, it's because he's not that good.
Having said all of this against the All Star game, I'll admit, I don't think there's anything wrong with recognizing who have been the best players at each position so far this season. But who should decide the players? Me, of course. Keeping in mind how useless the All Star Game is, I have constructed my own rosters for the NL and AL. I admire baseball too much not to.

The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it greatly.
-Oscar Wilde