Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
A lot happened in that 9th inning, so before we dissect it all, let's appreciate the gem that Jonathan Sanchez pitched tonight. 8+ innings, 5 hits and 2 walks, with 6 K's. He was fantastic. It was the fourth start he'd made it through 8 innings, each time giving up 1 ER or less. He's not near perfect, but damn can he dominate sometimes. One of those starts was quite recent, August 19th in Philadelphia. As he would in this game, Bruce Bochy decided to let Sanchez go out for the 9th inning, in a 5-0 game. Sanchez allowed a single, and was promptly taken out of the game.
I think I'll try to second guess Bochy and defend him on his decision to let Sanchez go out for the final inning. Should he have surmised, from past experience, that Sanchez just isn't cut out for the 9th inning, and that sending him out in a 1-0 game was especially dangerous? Maybe. On the other hand, Sanchez had been dominant all night, and Brian Wilson had thrown 30+ pitches yesterday. I don't think I can disagree with Bochy taking Jonathan out after the walk to Fowler. After getting ahead 0-2, he missed BADLY multiple times. He looked terrible suddenly.
Apparently the broken bat on Carlos Gonzalez's flyball fooled Cody Ross. Whatever. Still gotta make the catch. He had trouble with another flyball later in the inning that turned into another triple. Right field at AT&T Park is apparently tricky to play, and it is tricking Cody Ross. Still, no excuses. Makes you appreciate Randy Winn all of a sudden.
There, of course, was a 2nd part of that play that got screwed up. The Giants looked to have a legitimate shot at getting Carlos Gonzalez at 3rd base. Instead, Freddy Sanchez bounce passed the baseball over to Pablo Sandoval, and it went into the dugout, allowing CarGo to score. Shocking. Like I said, Freddy Sanchez just can't field and hit at the same time. Apparently Wilson may not have been backing up the play, but I haven't been able to verify that. My MLB app refuses to play the Gonzalez "triple". Who knew smart phones understood and practiced mercy?
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
And then there's Barry Zito. Yeah, not good. 13 base runners in 3.2 innings. I remember reading an Atlanta Braves blog back when the Giants were visiting them, and the author was going over the Giants starters. He said that the more advanced numbers showed Zito was pitching just about the same as he ever had with the Giants. It was hard to see it that way, but maybe he was right. Maybe the breaks just aren't going Zito's way now, and that's gonna equal bad pitching overall.
I'd talk about the offense, but there isn't much to say. Andres Torres hit a triple. He's so damn cool. Jose Guillen not so much. Hard not to think of this when he dropped that fly ball in the 1st inning:
Ah, 2003, a time when a team of 23 mediocre ball players could win 100 games on the backs of the greatest hitter of all time and the "shouldabeen" Cy Young winner.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Too bad for him that this week he decided to write about Freddy Sanchez on his CSNBA.com blog. I have a special radar for bad Freddy Sanchez opinions, and it often ends in you being featured on Fire Joe Morgan Friday. Don't worry, Mychael, nobody reads these posts anyway, they are for my own sick satisfaction. So, imaginary readers, remember: Mychael's writing in bold, my response in regular text.
And finally, it's time for the "Why" of the day: Freddy Sanchez not hitting 2nd.
The answer to that "Why" question is easy. Bruce Bochy has 8thInningWeirdness set as his homepage. Freddy Sanchez has been terrible offensively this year. He is the only regular starter with an OPS below .700. Having 2 back to back 4 hit games is a VERY good sign, don't get me wrong. But it doesn't erase a nightmare season at the plate. If Sanchez continues to hit the ball, I am perfectly fine with him hitting 2nd. Not ideal, but I'd concede. But it takes more than a single series to determine that.
He has every imaginable skill you need for the role, and some of those skills help you win games even when you're not getting hits.
I'm aware of these "skills" that a 2 hitter is supposed to have. Contact guy, bunting, moving the runner over, all that happy horseshit. None of it is relevant. It's pretty obvious to me that the only skill a 2 hitter really should have is the ability to hit and get on base. Maybe some speed on the bases. That's what you expect out of the guy getting the 2nd most at bats on the team. Now, Freddy Sanchez has an OBP that is about league average. Because of his complete lack of slugging this year, it is NOT ideal to have him getting a lot of opportunities. If his OBP were higher, that lack of power would be easier to deal with. But the combination makes for an embarrassing season long slump. A "contact guy" does not mean "good player".
If Sanchez is in the lineup, he should bat 2nd, with Huff, Burrell, and Posey to follow.
Wrong. If Sanchez STAYS really hot, then he can hit 2nd, in which case I'm fine with that order.
Burrell sees more fastballs that way, trust me.
I don't trust you. You have given me zero evidence to support that claim. As far as I know, there isn't much research to back up the "protection" theory of lineups. It's just as likely that Burrell would see more fastballs if there are players ON BASE in front of him. Having a player protect another in the lineup really only applies if you've got Barry Bonds or Albert Pujols doing the protecting. Buster Posey is gonna be great, but he isn't and won't ever be close to those guys. Speaking of Gerald Demp, one more thing in Urban's blog this week caught my attention, and this time it wasn't Mychael that was speaking nonsense.
...Buster Posey or Kurt Suzuki over the next 5 years? I asked 14 personnel people that question over the past 10 days, and was stunned that 3 people picked Suzuki. Why? "Simple," said one NL GM. "Track record." Can't say I agree with the man, but he's the one with the big corner office.
Whoever that man is that said that, he should be moved from his corner office to the basement immediately.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Most Giants fans know who Brandon Belt is by now. Tons and tons of articles have been written on him. This is a very basic scouting report: good hitter, patient, above average defensively, profiles to hit 20-25 HRs and lots and lots of doubles at the major league level. He's a candidate for Minor League Player of the Year, maybe one of the most surprising prospects in baseball, gone through 3 minor league levels in one year, etc. We hadn't written about him yet because it seemed like a lot of sites were and we figured we'd wait a while, maybe give him some time to struggle, but that never happened. Seeing as he was promoted to AAA yesterday and had a home run and two walks in his first game, now seemed like as good a time as any to write about him.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Freddy Sanchez has had quite a series. He has 8 hits so far, including a very impressive HR tonight. Good to see. Like I said, the conversation surrounding him is complicated and full of illogical thought patterns, so for now, congratulations, Freddy. I DO hope you stay hot for a long stretch of the season.
More power from Pablo Sandoval. This is a good thing. Slugging percentage is up to .416. We've already asserted that he's back. Is he REALLY back? Maybe...
Cody Ross was the one who started it all off for the Giants with a 2 out base hit in the 1st inning. He's got a kind of Ryan Braun swagger in the batter's box. I'd hate him if he wasn't a Giant. But he is, so I love him.
Left handed hitters should be ashamed for complaining about AT&T Park after what Buster Posey has been doing. He's hitting HRs to right center in places Adam LaRoche can only dream of. Juan Uribe and Andres Torres also had multi-hit games, and the Giants as a team had 18. I'm expecting 21 runs tomorrow.
into an exclusively pinch hitting role. We have some new
people coming in, and we need all the space we can get, mmmkay?
Cody Ross is Guillen, plus actual value. Offensively, they are nearly identical. Medium power (17-25 HRs) and they both don't get on base nearly enough. But we'll take what we can get. Unlike Jose Guillen, Cody Ross actually has platoon value. He rakes lefties, slugging just below .600, with a .945 OPS. He has hit 43 career HRs against lefties, 40 against righties, despite having only about 30% of his at bats against lefthanders. Unlike Jose Guillen, you can be confident with Cody Ross in the outfield. His defense isn't great, but it's good enough, and he can play anywhere. Jose Guillen, on the other hand, is a DH guarding Triples Alley. A quick look at their WAR numbers (fangraphs.com) since Ross' first full season tells it all:
2008 Guillen: -0.1 Ross: 3.7
2009 Guillen: -1.9 Ross: 1.9
2010 Guillen: 0.9 Ross: 1.9
Seems pretty clear to me which guy should be getting the majority of at bats between these two. The whole point of getting Jose Guillen was his "power potential". Any power potential Guillen has, Ross has also. I understand that Guillen is hitting well for the Giants right now, but he's only got 30 at bats (also only 30 plate appearances, hasn't taken a walk yet). I don't think we are going to see another Pat Burrell situation. Why? Because he's never been as good a hitter as Burrell anytime in his career. He'll be a pretty good option as a pinch hitter late in games. Certainly better than Schierholtz or Rowand. Meanwhile, Cody Ross needs to start against lefties, pronto. We just happen to be facing a lefthander tonight. And avid 8thInningWeirdness reader Bruce Bochy has Ross starting in right!
Monday, August 23, 2010
We've decided to put Barry Zito's rendezvous with Powder the Unicorn into comic form for the second installment of the 8thInningWeirdness Comic Strip Series! You can see the first comic on Bengie Molina and Blackmail here. The writing is done by me and Reza and the illustrations are created by the great artist/HTMLer and loyal Giants fan, Niki(Follow her on Twitter @Zaphaire. Follow us too while you're at it). We realize that the Unicorn Club story was told a long time ago by now, but in our opinion it never gets old. Please understand that this is not an original 8thInningWeirdness story, but just an interpretation of the original. Enjoy!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Time to welcome Aubrey Huff back to the land of the living. Not only did he hit an impressive HR today, but he also got another hit and walked twice. Buster Posey doubled twice. No biggie. He does that every night. And Pablo Sandoval hits a HR every night now. It really does feel like he has turned a corner, because he is hitting the ball with force and authority. Very encouraging.
While the Cardinals lineup might be surprisingly inadequate, their starting pitching is not. It might be the best overall rotation behind Philly in the NL, with the 2 aces in Carpenter and Wainwright and a great rookie named Jamie Garcia. The Giants will have to face Carpenter and his cleat-marked back tomorrow. Apparently Tim Lincecum noticed something wrong with his delivery and fixed it this week. I hope so.
Among the many well-meaning amateur theories to explain Tim Lincecum's struggles this season, one appears to have some statistical merit.
Statistical merit? I like it. Hopefully statistical merit means more than just listing overall ERAs and W-L records. Didn't I promise I wouldn't be sarcastic?
Does Tim Lincecum miss throwing to Bengie Molina?
Maybe. But if he's really letting it get to him, then he's much less of a player than we thought. I don't think he's letting it get into his head. I just think he's going through a rough stretch. As all great pitcher do. In 1989, Roger Clemens had a 3.13 ERA and 1.216 WHIP. That season was after 3 great years for Clemens, 2 in which he won Cy Youngs. Clemens' age in 1989? 26, the same as Lincecum this year. After 1989, Clemens went on to post a 2.34 ERA in his next 3 seasons, winning another Cy Young and finishing 2nd and 3rd.
(Lincecum) was at 8-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 16 starts with Molina...Lincecum is 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 3 pairings with backup Eli Whiteside. In his past 7 starts with rookie Buster Posey, Lincecum is 2-3 with a 4.85 ERA.
I'll ignore your use of wins and losses, as if those were statistics with any meaning behind them. The use of ERA is okay, and tells us something to an extent. But it ignores the timeline of Tim Lincecum's season so far. Lincecum was great from Opening Day to the middle of May. Everyone who has watched the Giants this year would agree that his dropoff began May 15th, the 1st of 4 straight starts in which he walked 5 batters. He looked as lost as ever back in May as he does currently. The catcher in all of those starts? Bengie Molina.
Bengie Molina can't be the key to Tim's success as a pitcher, and at the same time be the catcher during his worst stretch of the season. It also just isn't fair to Buster Posey. 16 starts against 7 starts? Big sample difference. I won't even mention the offensive upgrade Posey brings every time Lincecum is pitching. Oh wait, I just did.
Lincecum didn't completely reject the effect the catching change has had on him, but he made it clear it wasn't an overriding factor.
Then I really just don't see the point of this article.
Lincecum: "I've had good games with Bengie and bad games with Bengie. I've had good games with Buster and bad games with Buster. I'll get used to throwing to Buster. It's been totally fine for me, working with him.
Sorry Baggs, but the Bengie Molina Theory is as amateur as any other, and I'm afraid it doesn't have much statistical merit.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
8th inning weirdness, anyone?
That was ugly. Chris Ray ended up allowing 4 ER without getting an out. A double error play by Mike Fontenot. Any time you thought the damage was going to be limited, it just got worse. This whole game ended up a lot like the SD disaster on Sunday, where hitters seemed to get a bloop single on an off balance swing.
Barry Zito was pretty good until the 5th inning, but he couldn't get out of the 6th. What ever he was doing right just came to an end. Even without Ryan Howard, the Phillies lineup is pretty good, thanks to annoying little gnats like Polanco and Victorino.
Aubrey Huff is going through a really bad stretch, but remember: he's 1st among all NL position players in WAR (baseball reference). Ever since Bruce Bochy bookmarked us and started listening to our advice, Buster Posey has been hitting very well in the 2 hole. You're welcome. And Pat Burrell definitely belongs hitting cleanup.
I'm starting to wonder about Jayson Werth. He's gonna get a big contract in the winter. Should the Giants give it to him? I'm moving towards "yes". More on this later in the week.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Hey San Diego Padres: Does BABIP mean anything to you? You guys suck, okay? Your lineup is a disgrace. You have, like, at least 5 or 6 hitters on a given night with an OPS near or below .700. You should not be able to score 8 runs on a day Tim Lincecum pitches. Yet you did.
Let's look for a moment at Tim Lincecum's stats, to see if we can decide just how much worse he is this year than the last 2. Keep in mind these numbers are pre-apocalypse (today's game).
His K's per 9 are down about one full strikeout. In 2008 and 2009, he was at 10.5 and 10.4. This year he is at 9.4, still quite impressive, but his walks are up to 3.4, from 2.7 last year. In his 1st Cy Young year, he was also at 3.4, and managed to pitch a great season. But this year he is allowing double the amount of HR's he has averaged in the past 2 seasons, 0.4 to 0.8. He allowed 7.2 hits per 9 in 2008, and a remarkable 6.7 in 2009. This year, he is at 8.3. All of this has combined to give him a WHIP of 1.304. Last year he was right near 1.0.
Lincecum has a career BABIP of .300, which is pretty normal. This year, he is 16 points over. That isn't a huge difference, but it is at least to be noted. Today we know he had some real bad luck, although he didn't pitch well either. But he's not unlucky like Dan Haren. By the way, his groundball/flyball ratio is the same as last year. Also, he is stranding runners at pretty much the same rate as last year, so he's not getting unlucky in that department.
There's been a lot of talk about Lincecum's loss of velocity. Is it possible he is tired? The Giants have ridden him the last 2 years, and he had some questionable pitch counts. Lincecum might be throwing some fastballs around or even below 90. But I think it's silly to ever expect him to throw 95 or above like he did when he debuted against the Phillies 3 years ago. Don't we all remember that he didn't become a great pitcher UNTIL he dropped back on his velocity. In the low 90's, he was able to control his fastball better, and that was the difference between rookie year Lincecum and Cy Young Lincecum.
This is what I think is the key to his struggles this year. It appears he has lost his control, and that is why his velocity is down, because it's necessary for him to throw softer in order to get the ball into the strike zone. As a consequence, HR's and hits are up. And maybe that's how a lineup like the Padres is able to get 8 hits off of him.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Buster Posey in the 11th inning looked like Josh Hamilton from last night. He hustled to turn a ground ball up the middle into a double, forcing the Padres to walk Sandoval and pitch to Juan Uribe. Thankfully, Bruce Bochy must have read my recap from yesterday and realized how bad an idea bunting is. So instead of asking Uribe to lay one down, he let him hit, and Uribe blooped a single into right field on the 1st pitch. Buster Posey read the ball beautifully, and the play at the plate wouldn't have been close even if the throw had been on line.
Good game from Mike Fontenot. 2 hits, plus some nice plays at 2nd base. Still shouldn't be hitting 2nd. I'LL NEVER STOP SAYING IT! Jose Guillen also got his 1st at bat as a Giant, grounding out as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning.
I keep thinking to myself: This Padres lineup has to be one of the worst first place offenses ever. So why do they keep hitting the Giants? This better stop tomorrow with Lincecum going. I think he'll have a good game. He has to. He's too good.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Just try and sleep tonight after one look at this tool. He's pitching tomorrow, by the way.
Tonight I want to talk about small ball. People will say that the Giants could have won tonight if they had properly played small ball. The 2nd inning comes to mind. Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand both singled, and pitcher Jonathan Sanchez came up. He tried to bunt, and failed, causing Juan Uribe to be out at 3rd. Then Aaron Rowand was picked off of 2nd base. Within minutes, the Giants had gone from 2 men on and nobody out to 1 man on 1st and 2 out.
The bunt makes sense. It's actually the only situation where bunting makes sense, with 2 men on and the pitcher up. But why was Aaron Rowand running? He does not run well, and it was the 2nd inning. Is the 2nd inning the time for a team to play for 1 run? It's not that the Giants played small ball incorrectly, it's that they played it at all. Small ball is terrible. I really have nothing more to say about it. It sucks. Always play for the 3 run home run. Long live Earl Weaver.
I think Pablo Sandoval is really hurting this team at 3rd base. I worry that he can't even play 1st adequately. But I also worry about the mental aspect of his game. Today's rundown of Adrian Gonzalez between 3rd and home was a great example. It should have been executed like a normal rundown, back and forth until the out is made, because it will be made. Instead, Sandoval got the ball and decided it to dive for the tag. He barely got it, but in the process fell flat on his face and remained on the ground for what seemed like 5 minutes, allowing the other baserunner and batter to move to 3rd and 2nd. Awful mistake. Pablo may hustle, but he doesn't think quick enough when he's out there. It's like his batting. He feels such an immediate need to do everything, that he ends up hurting the team by not playing carefully. The Giants don't need to play small, they need to play smart.
PART OF PLAYING SMART IS NOT HITTING POSSIBLY YOUR WORST BATTER 2ND. I AM TALKING TO YOU BRUCE BOCHY AND I WON'T STOP SAYING THIS TILL THE LINEUP IS CORRECTED. THE EVIL, MORONIC, PERVERTED BASEBALL TRADITION OF GIVING YOUR BEST HITTERS LESS AT BATS ENDS TODAY. TORRES POSEY HUFF BURRELL. 1-4. IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?
Whenever the Giants win, their roster looks just fine for a postseason run. Whenever they lose, panic sets in, and it's time for an additional bat.
Actually, it's reality, not panic, but whatever. What's your week old opinion of Jose Guillen, who the Giants just acquired?
Jose Guillen: Good hitter, probably more consistently productive than Pat Burrell, but not worth the trouble.
Interesting that you would say that Jose Guillen is a more consistently productive hitter than Pat Burrell. You present no evidence to back this up, but I'm sure you at least did a little research to come to this conclusion, right?...oh dear, I'm afraid you did not.
Guillen, Career Numbers: .270/.322/.441/.762 / wOBA: .329 / WAR: 7.0
One of these players is clearly the more productive one. I'll give you a hint: It's not the guy you thought. This only took about 5 minutes by the way. Couldn't you have spared 5 minutes and done the research, as opposed to just making up the erroneous conclusion that Jose Guillen is more productive than Pat Burrell? Anyway, you wanna talk about Manny Ramirez now, huh? Why? It's not like the Giants have any shot at getting him. But I'm fine with it, because it's another opportunity for you to make an ass of yourself!
Manny Ramirez: He can't stay healthy (3 stints on the disabled list this season)
True, and a valid point
he's avoiding the press
and he carries a stigma - female fertility drug - that will dog him forever.
Sure, that's kind of embarrassing, but I don't think that anyone thinks about that too much when he's performing like one of the best hitters of all time. And if you simply mean that the PED connection will dog him forever, then you are wrong. Some day, it will be understood by the majority of baseball fans that PED's have a negligible effect on performance, and the great hitters of the "Steroid Era" will get the credit they deserve. I'm serious. If you feel like screaming at me, please just read this website.
Plus, he's nowhere near the hitter the Dodgers rode to glory 2 years ago.
So completely wrong, but at least you're sticking with today's theme: Blanket statements about a player's production that are easily proven wrong with one look at the numbers.
Manny Ramirez, 2008 with LA: .396/.489/.743/1.232
Manny Ramirez, 2010: .317/.409/.516/.925
Okay, so technically you are right. He isn't anywhere near the hitter he was for 2 months in 2008. But for those 2 months in 2008 he had one of the hottest stretches for any player in the past decade. You can't ask a hitter even like Manny to keep that up. His numbers this year, when he's been healthy, are great. They are potentially MVP numbers. I would LOVE to have that in my lineup. Now Bruce is gonna talk about Pablo Sandoval.
Never doubt someone who hit .330 on pure, natural instinct and can throw as hard with his left arm as his right. It says here he bounces back with a big September...
Sorry, where does it say that? Here? What the fuck are you talking about? Also, I don't think Sandoval being able to throw hard with both arms has ANYTHING to do with what we are talking about. But I agree, you can't give up on Sandoval. He was way too good last year. Finally, Bruce's thoughts on the division leading Padres, who the Giants are facing tonight.
Miguel Tejada is flat-out raking for the Padres, but defensively, they can't afford to play him (at shortstop).
No. NO. NO! Miguel Tejada's numbers with SD are bad enough right now, but I'll be fair and only give his Padres numbers as of when this was published, the 7th of August.
Flat-out raking indeed! Move over Buster Posey, Miggy's gonna be the NL Player of the Month for August!
You said Miguel Tejada is "flat out raking". He's OPS'ing .633. That's sad, Bruce. Really sad. It makes you look EXTREMELY unintelligent.
Hilarious: The San Diego Padres hang a Yoda doll in their dugout for good luck. On ESPN, Jim Rome countered that Yoda was a "coward and a "quitter" in "Star Wars," and the Pads had better wise up.
Hilarious? I don't think Jim Rome's "Yoda" comments about the Padres are quite at the level of Inspector Clouseau and "ze parallel bars" scene. But that's just my sense of humor, which must always have a little pain involved. That's why I like doing this to you every week, even though nobody else really cares.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
If this is true, now we have to consider 2 things: was it a good move by Brian Sabean, and how will Jose Guillen fit in. The first can't be totally analyzed until we know what Brian Sabean gave up, but for now we will assume it was either a very unspectacular minor leaguer, or nothing at all. In that case, Jose Guillen does improve the team. He is a better hitter than Nate Schierholtz, and probably Travis Ishikawa. When he isn't playing, he is probably the best pinch hitting option on the bench. It's easy, in fact, to see him as another Aaron Rowand. Not a great hitter by any means, but at least a moderate power threat. And like Rowand, his defense isn't great, although he supposedly has a cannon of an arm. Unlike Rowand, he doesn't cost $60 million. He probably costs nothing, so in that case he's perfectly fine to have on the team. Looks like when he starts he would play right field, with Huff moving to 1st base to replace Ishikawa.
Here are some of Guillen's numbers:
Clearly not great numbers, especially when you consider his average at best defense. But the Giants are hoping he can hit for some of the power he has in previous years, such as in '03, '04, '05, and '07, when he hit 31, 27, 24, and 23 Hr's respectively. It's a hope, but so were Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell, and they have been fantastic. This season, Guillen has 16 Hr's, but that's accompanied by his 2nd lowest OBP of his career.
So Guillen is not the bat the Giants really could have used, but he's useful given our current options. His main downside is in fact his attitude. He is considered by some to be almost as volatile as Milton Bradley. That's a concern, because the Giants clubhouse does not need any disruption. However, you have to think that a player coming over from the Royals to a contending team in August isn't going to immediately stir the pot. You'd think...
Now for a little negative: if I'm willing to put 1 foot on the Panda bandwagon, I refuse to go near the Freddy Sanchez one. He still shouldn't be hitting 2nd. And Aaron Rowand shouldn't be leading off. By batting him leadoff, Bochy guarantees more at bats for the player who makes more outs than anyone else on the team. I know I repeat that over and over, but it's necessary until some sense is brought to the way a lineup gets configured. Dream lineup for the SD series: Torres, Posey, Huff, Burrell, Sandoval, Uribe, Ishikawa, Sanchez, Pitcher. Burrell is killing the ball right now. Sure his BABIP is kinda high for him, but not drastically so. He's just hitting the ball HARD all the time, and his patience at the plate is as good as it's ever been. How can we account for his amazing turnaround in SF? I don't know.
Matt Cain did not have a great start today. His pitch count went way to high early, a product of Cubs hitters fouling off pitches and then hitting weak singles. But even with his high pitch count, he only walked 1 batter while striking out 9. With just a bit of luck, his line could have looked much better.
The bullpen did not have a good day, and it was mostly Guillermo Mota, who has been pretty good lately. Chris Ray gave up a single run in the 7th. Lopez walked the 1st batter of the 8th and was removed. That's the problem with having a guy who's only safe pitching to lefties. Mota was clearly not on, giving up rockets to the outfield. Sergio Romo came in and successfully limited the damage as best he could, setting up the Giants for their walkoff in the 9th.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Lastly, one negative comment: Freddy Sanchez is back hitting 2nd. I don't know why.
Mike Fontenot has been traded by the Cubs to the Giants for minor leaguer Evan Crawford.
There's really no reason to criticize this deal. It's the same as the other trades that Sabean made at the trade deadline. Injuries occurred, creating a hole, so Sabean filled it with a thoroughly unspectacular player. They gave up a total non prospect, so it doesn't really bother me that Fontenot's WAR this year is below zero. He's just a replacement. He'll do nothing, but he also won't do much worse than our other middle infielders. Oh, and he's from Louisiana and was on the LSU championship team in 2000, so I love that.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Buster Posey had a good night, going 3-5 with 2 doubles. He really should be hitting 2nd, not 4th. Why Bruce Bochy insists on guaranteeing more at bats for sub-par hitters (F. Sanchez, Renteria) is beyond me, but then again most of baseball hasn't realized how to configure a batting order yet. We've only been playing for 150 years or so.
I truly DESPISE Ryan Dempster's glove flip that he does when he winds up. It's oh so flamboyant.
Pablo Sandoval is not back.
Monday, August 9, 2010
It was a welcome bit of timely hitting in a game in which the Giants left 15 runners on base. Carlos Zambrano, making his first start since returning from the restricted list, was very erratic, walking 7 men, but the Giants didn't manage to score against him till the 5th inning. Madison Bumgarner was good if not great, working through a strange 1st inning in which he somehow gave up 2 runs. This game was very frustrating for the Giants in the beginning, when it seemed like every line drive they hit was being caught and every popup by the Cubs was falling. But, they managed to tie the game in the 6th inning, and you felt that at home, no matter how many times they failed, the Giants would eventually get that 4th run across and win the game.
Andres Torres had another multi-hit game, as did Travis Ishikawa. Aubrey Huff got on base 3 times, and his double in the 11th helped set up the Burrell sac fly. And the bullpen was good again for 5 1/3 innings.
There's been a lot of discussion about Aubrey Huff's possible return to the Giants next season, and now Pat Burrell is being mentioned as well. I'd have to see more from him to truly believe he can still hit consistently. His time in Tampa Bay was TERRIBLE. But then you remember he was an integral part of the lineup on Philadelphia's World Series team just a couple years ago. Suddenly his "Water Buffalo" range in left field doesn't look so bad. One thing is for sure: he's carrying the team offensively right now. Jose Guillen: no thank you.
Todd Wellemeyer has been designated for assignment. His return was short-lived to say the least. He failed to even get a single out.
In his place, young middle infielder Emmanuel Burriss will be called up from Fresno. This means the Giants will go back to a 12 man pitching staff and have Burriss available off the bench, although he's not exactly the guy you want pinch hitting. Burriss was called up in 2008 from low A-ball, a strange move. He didn't really do anything, and you wonder if the Giants rushed him. He was a 1st round pick in 2006, but he has done very little hitting in his minor league career. You don't expect any power from him, but his OBP is also somewhat disappointing. Then again, it's good for Bochy to just have another position player to work with.
Mark DeRosa was supposed to be done for the year after his wrist surgery, but apparently there's a long shot chance that he could came back towards the end of the year. In the Chronicle today, DeRosa was quoted saying "I hope to work toward getting a bat in my hands and helping us down the stretch. I'd like to give myself a goal to work with while being realistic about it." This is very unlikely, but it's nice to hear DeRosa wanting to help the team. He's been forgotten this season, but he'll probably have significant playing time next year.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Todd Wellemeyer did not look good at all in his return. He gave up four hits and didn't get an out. But Santiago Casilla looked strong, going 2 innings, giving up only one hit.
Freddy Sanchez, the 6 million dollar man, was hitting 7th today. It was good to see him finally out of the 2-spot, but his replacement, Pablo Sandoval, didn't make much more sense. I don't like this practice of placing a very mediocre hitter in between Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff. My suggestion: load the lineup towards the top. Go with Torres, Posey, Huff, Burrell, Uribe, Ishikawa as your 1-6. Or something similar.
Interesting quote from Jonathan Sanchez after today's game. Sanchez said "We are going to make the playoffs...San Diego has been winning series all year...But we're going to play San Diego now and we're going to beat them 3 times. If we get to 1st place, we're not going to look back." I have no problem with this. I actually like to hear it from a guy who is often perceived as being too quiet and accused of looking uninterested on the mound. Sanchez has good reason to think that he'd do well against San Diego this Friday; this season he has a 2.57 ERA and .714 WHIP against the Padres.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Everyone needs to stop with all the doom and gloom. How can you ask the Giants to win a game when the opposing team doesn't make 2 errors in the 9th inning? There will be plenty more games like last night, don't worry. And there's no reason to think that the Giants are gonna continue hitting like this. They are showing all the signs of a team just getting ready for the stretch run.
Freddy Sanchez has an OPS of .640! 64% is good, right? What do you mean it's not a percentage?
Pablo Sandoval had a hit today. I'm gonna be the 1st one to say it: He's back!
I don't know about you, but I've grown to love when Aaron Rowand whiffs on a slider outside. It's the kind of love that a serial killer's parents must have for their son after he is caught.
Hey! I know what this game needed! Bunting!!!
Friday, August 6, 2010
Sorry to all the enthusiastic Giants fans out there, but I just can't really get excited about this game. I'll try to start with the positive, which all took place on the mound tonight. Barry Zito had a great start, striking out 10 and walking 2 in 7 innings. His only runs were 2 solo HR's. The bullpen pitched 4 innings of 2-hit ball, and new Giants Javier Lopez ended up getting the win. Romo pitched well, as did Ray, as did Wilson of course. All good news.
But it's games like this that make you realize this team still can have a lot of trouble scoring runs. The Giants only managed 4 hits tonight; 2 by Torres, and 2 by Pat "why am I hitting 7th" Burrell, who also walked twice. Everyone else did almost nothing. August has come, and it appears more and more likely that both Pablo Sandoval and Freddy Sanchez are going to be cold the entire year. Travis Ishikawa was hot for awhile, and earned himself more playing time, but he has gone cold of late, and it was to be expected. Juan Uribe is Juan Uribe. His power is valuable. But you can't expect him to act like a true 5 hitter, cause he isn't.
The Giants' offense tonight was very bad. Yet with help from the Braves, they were able to tie the game in the 9th inning. Huff was hit by Billy Wagner on the 1st pitch. Posey hit a groundball that turned into an error. Juan Uribe, hit a flyball that advanced Huff to 3rd base. Then Pablo Sandoval hit one of the ugliest, wimpiest groundballs ever, so ugly that Chipper Jones was unable to look at the ball, and let it get by him, allowing the Giants to tie the game. The Giants were helped again in the 11th inning, when the Braves inexplicably walked Pablo Sandoval to load the bases with 1 out so they could pitch to Pat Burrell. And Burrell drove the run in with a sacrifice fly. He better play tomorrow, and he better not hit 7th.
We'd really benefit from another hitter. But not Jose Guillen. Please no.
Our first piece is from his Saturday section in the Chronicle, the "3 Dot Lounge". I don't know what that means or where it comes from, but it's about as douche-chill inducing as "The Adande Lounge". This article is titled "You Can't Count on Caution". Here, Jenkins is talking about Stephen Strasburg, and decides it's the proper place to defend his buddy Dusty Baker.
Remember: Jenkins' words are in bold, while my response is in regular text.
It was a week of bitter frustration for the pitch-count fanatics. A very important pitcher hurt his arm, and there was no one to blame.
I don’t think there are any “pitch count fanatics”. In fact, It’s likely that Bruce’s belief in them is all a product of his own bitter frustration with advanced statistics. There are simply people who believe that it's smart to manage a young, expensive investment carefully. Part of that is keeping a pitch count and monitoring it.
(Strasburg) didn’t have a single 100-pitch outing in his nine starts for Washington, nor did he ever pitch into the eighth inning. Still, down he went, with an aching shoulder. The Nationals played it by the modern-day book, and discovered that in the realm of a pitcher’s arm, there are no rules.
This is very dishonest Bruce. Just because Stephen Strasburg has been handled carefully, and still injured his arm, Bruce is declaring all caution with young pitchers to be a waste of time. He seems to be promoting a fatalistic approach. Let what happens happen, and do "as little as possible". Well, Bruce, baseball ain't Chinatown, so this won't fly.
Mark Prior had what appeared to be a smooth, stress-free delivery, and he blew out his arm not from overwork – don’t ever believe that nonsense – but because he had only so many bullets to fire.
Bruce brought up Mark Prior, and said blaming his nightmare of a career on overwork is “nonsense”. He of course is talking about the well documented theory that Dusty Baker, manager of the Cubs in 2003, overworked his young pitcher, leading to injury problems that never went away. Bruce, you brought it up, so I’m gonna talk about it, and guess what? I am going to cite pitch counts.
Mark Prior was the 2nd overall pick for the Cubs in the 2001 Draft. He was going to be picked No. 1 by the Twins, but they worried that they wouldn’t be able to sign him, so they took Joe Mauer (worked out pretty well, huh?). Prior signed with the Cubs for $10.5 million, a record until Stephen Strasburg was drafted. Much like Strasburg, Prior came up to the big leagues the next year. In 2003, he had his first full season as a major leaguer. It was a great one: he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA and 245 K’s. It would also be the last full season he would ever pitch. Prior has been plagued with injuries ever since the 2003-2004 offseason. Many believe that Dusty Baker is partly to blame for this, because of his disregard of pitch counts. Let’s look into it:
In 2003, Prior was 22, and in his first full season. He was a $10.5 million investment for the Cubs. Prior that year averaged 113 pitches per start. Yes, 113. That is obscene, but it is nothing compared to the number of pitches Prior threw per start in September, the month when most young pitchers feel fatigue because they are not used to working a full 6 month season. How many pitches did Prior average during this time? 126. 126. One. Hundred. Twenty. Six. Such things are unheard of. It’s almost hard to believe that it happened. 126 pitches per start in September, and you say that it’s “nonsense” to blame Prior’s injury problems on overwork in this season? Just for a little perspective, we will look at some of the best pitchers of this past decade, and how many pitches they averaged per start in their first full year:
Johan Santana, 2004: 101 / Roy Halladay, 2003: 103 / Roy Oswalt: 101
Barry Zito, 2001: 101 / Tim Hudson, 2000: 101 / Dan Haren, 2005: 99
John Lackey, 2003: 100 / Carlos Zambrano, 2003: 107 / Mark Buerhle, 2001: 103
All of these pitchers have been relatively healthy most of their career. It should also be noted that all of them had close to or the same amount of success in their first year as Prior did, so this is not a case where Prior simply deserved to throw more pitches because he was so good. It’s clear that Dusty Baker overworked him, because he didn’t understand the danger he was a 22 year old, $10.5 million investment in.
Here is a specific case from that horrible September. On the 1st of that month, Prior pitched against the Cardinals. By the 5th inning, the score was already 7-0 Chicago. Prior finished the 6th inning with a pitch count of 103. At that point, it might have made sense to take him out, but Baker let him go back out for the 7th. And Prior finished that inning with 112 pitches. So Baker decided to let him go out for the 8th inning, even though he had a 7-0 lead. With one out, Prior gave up a single and a walk. At this point his pitch count was 121. Dusty left him in to get the next 2 outs, and it took 10 more pitches, raising his total to an unheard of 131. 131 pitches for a 22 year old phenom in a 7-0 game. It’s indefensible. And that’s why we count pitches.
Bud Black had a great answer about Mat Latos. The kid has become the Padres’ ace, much sooner than anyone expected, and they wonder if they’ll have to expand the innings-pitched limit established for Latos in spring training. “A lot of it will be based on what we see with our eyes and what he tells us about how his arm feels,” Black said. And that friends, is the book – start to finish.
That is a big part of the book, yes. I'm not for a strict 100-pitch count or anything like that. It depends on what the game situation is, how the pitcher looks, how he is feeling. That all deserves a place in the good book. You know what else is in the book, Bruce? Don't have your young star pitcher throw 131 pitches in a blowout. Moving on, you have a few thoughts on the Wild Card I see. Ooh, and they are beyond dumb! Jackpot!
The Phillies…could win the NL East in a runaway – and the Giants need that to happen. You don’t want Philadelphia anywhere near the wild-card race.
I know this might be nitpicking, but I couldn’t help but dissect this sentence, and you know what I found lacking? All logic. Follow me for a second, okay? The Giants need Philly to win the division, because if they don’t, then they’ll be competing with the Giants for the Wild Card. That’s Bruce’s wisdom. As I see it now, there are 2 teams that could win the NL East: the Braves or the Phillies. Both are close to each other in the division race, and also close to the Giants in the Wild Card race. So no matter who runs away with it, won’t the other one be there to challenge the Giants for the Wild Card? If Atlanta wins the division, Philly will have a chance at the Wild Card. And if Philly runs away with it, Atlanta will be right there with the Giants. Does Bruce think that Philly running away with the division will demoralize Atlanta so much that they completely fall out of Wild Card contention? See, whoever wins the East, the other team will have a chance at the Wild Card. The only way Philly not running away with the division could hurt the Giants is if BOTH Philly and Atlanta got really hot, and Atlanta won the division, and Philly won the Wild Card easily. If the division race in the East is close, and the records of those two teams are close to the Giants, the 2nd place team will contend for the Wild Card, whether it’s Philadelphia or Atlanta. I hope I explained that in only a semi-confusing fashion. I know it doesn't really matter, but I think when a sportswriter makes a completely inane, meaningless, false statement, it's fun to pick apart.
Now time for the "3 Dot Blog", the internet version, and just as douche chilling.
It was hardly surprising to see Toronto hang onto Jose Bautista. The man has 31 home runs, for heaven’s sake, and he’s under contract through next year.
Jose Bautista, before his power surge this season, was a below average baseball player. Toronto wanted to trade him, but the right deal wasn't there. They wanted a good return for the league leader in HR's, but other teams were too wary of Bautista's high probability to regress drastically. Toronto now has him for next year, but they also have to deal with him earning a lot more money, and it's a dangerous investment. The man had a .729 OPS before this season, for heaven's sake.
The shocker is that nobody landed Adam Dunn, although it’s likely he’ll go in a waiver deal over the next few weeks.
No it isn’t.
Skip ahead to Wednesday of this week. Bruce wrote a piece on the Giants, and you had to know it would suck big time. His whole point in this article was how the Giants do the "little things". His example of foing the little things? Well, they don't just hit home runs. They also hit singles! When I think of a team doing the little things, I think of taking the extra base, or making a smart play defensively, or all the really stupid little things you can do, like bunts and hit and runs. I don't think hitting like a regular, good major league player amounts to doing little things.
Torres is a man of immense strength, but he’s too smart to let occasional bursts of power go to his head. So there he was Tuesday night, leading off a very important game against Colorado, singling up the middle to start a four-run rally. He lined out hard to left field in the second inning, and he went to the opposite field again with a single in the fourth. This is exactly what the Giants need from their most authentic leadoff man since Brett Butler. (Interesting that with Tuesday’s game well in hand, Torres homered in the ninth.)
Bruce Jenkins wishes Torres were a slap hitter. That’s just insulting. Andres Torres is slugging .500. He is at the top of the leaderboard in doubles. Just because you want him to be Juan Pierre doesn’t mean he will be. His power and patience in the leadoff spot has been invaluable to the Giants, and you have to focus on him hitting singles? It’s great that he hits singles, but everyone does that. Torres is great this year BECAUSE of his power and patience. And what does that crap in the parenthesis mean? So because the game was well in hand, he decided it was okay to hit a HR? You mean earlier in games he TRIES to not hit HR’s? If that’s the case, Bruce Bochy needs to talk to him. But of course that isn’t the case, because, as you said, Torres is too smart.
Now Jenkins is going to describe how Matt Kemp is someone who doesn't do "the little things". I hate Matt Kemp. I don't want to defend him. He's a terrible baserunner. But this is too much.
(Kemp) did get five hits, as it turned out, but a separate moment defined him. In the first inning of what turned into a 10-5 loss, Kemp ran at three-quarters speed heading to home plate on a single by Casey Blake – so much so that James Loney, sliding into third, was called out before Kemp touched the plate. The run was erased. Kemp hadn’t learned a thing.
As I said, I hate to defend Matt Kemp, but this is just ridiculous. Bruce Jenkins must really hate Kemp. All we have to do is look at a replay of the play in question, to realize that Kemp was running at a perfectly fast, earnest speed. But it shouldn’t even matter, because wasn’t it Loney who broke a fundamental baseball rule when he made the final out of the inning at 3rd base? It’s Kemp’s fault because he didn’t score before Loney was tagged out on a foolish attempt to take an extra base? Looks like Bruce, in however many years of watching baseball, hasn’t learned a thing. Or maybe he forgets everything he’s learned if it doesn’t support the point he’s trying to make.
And finally, Bruce's small section on page 2 of the Sporting Green from yesterday:
Bouncing A Few Thoughts Into The Dirt
Gotta give Jenkins credit for that self deprecating title. That is what it’s meant to be, right Bruce?
Easily one of the worst deals ever made: Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street from Oakland to Colorado for Matt Holliday in November ’08.
It’s very justifiable to criticize Billy Beane for his revolving door of prospects. He traded Mark Mulder for Dan Haren. After getting 3 productive years of Haren, he flipped him for a truckload of prospects from Arizona. One of these players, Gonzalez, was traded to Colorado for Matt Holliday, who was traded to St. Louis for Brett Wallace, who was traded to Toronto for Michael Taylor. You’d think at some point Beane has to stop this and let his blue chip prospects at least do something in Oakland. And Gonzalez is having a great season in Colorado. Oakland might wish they still had him. But one of the worst deals ever? Easily? How? Oakland’s eventual return in the deal, Taylor, is a top prospect who hasn’t done anything yet. That is, he hasn’t shown what kind of major league player he’ll be, nor has he proven to be a bust. This is a trade that very well could go wrong for the A’s, but it’s completely beyond analysis at this point. You know what one of the worst deals ever is? Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young from the Rangers to the Padres for Adam Eaton. How do we know this? Because it happened 5 years ago, and all the players have shown their major league ability. If Michael Taylor turns out to be a bust, and Gonzalez is Torii Hunter, then it will be a terrible trade. But that hasn’t happened yet.