Thursday, December 22, 2005
Yeah, that'd be about right.
I like saying "Steve Finley, 4th outfielder" about as much as I like saying, "Edgardo Alfonzo, 3rd baseman". Which is to say, not at all. But oddly enough, I feel better. I mean, if Sabes wants to pay his 4th outfielder more than his starting centerfielder and his starting right fielder, more power to the guy.
Hey, does anyone think that he even looks at any free agents under the age of 30? Sorry, rhetorical question.
It'll take me a bit to digest all this, at which point I'll try to address the issue of whether or not the Giants are significantly better with all the moves they've made this offseason. Offhand I think they're better, but significantly better is the part that worries me. I mean, if you just put the names side by side...
Brett Tomko/Matt Morris
Scott Eyre/Tim Worrell
LaTroy Hawkins/Steve Kline
Edgardo Alfonzo/Steve Finley
J.T. Snow/Mark Sweeney
Let's really think about that. If you want to say the names on the right constitute a significant upgrade, I'm fine with that -- but I'll talk about you behind the front of your back when you're not looking in a mirror. Or something.
Hm. That list is just beggin' for some good ol' fashioned new-fangled statistical a-nalysis, which I just ain't got the time to do at the moment. But, I'm guessing if y'all didn't feel like waiting, you could mosey on over to that thar sidebar and find some folks who might have an extra minute or three to have done it.
Otherwise, gimme 7-10 business days.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Instead, I'll go for a wince. Of consternation. And a little hand-wringing, too.
Three years is the length of the contract given to former St. Louis Cardinals starter Matt Morris, which is a length I fully expected.
Twenty-seven million dollars is the value of the guaranteed portion of the contract given to Mr. Morris, which is a number I would've thought possible over a three-year span, but also would've thought silly.
I wanted Morris in the starting rotation, but methinks that salary figure is just too much. Did the Giants and Brian Sabean have much choice? Probably not, but we've seen how much Sabean covets proven veterans, "winners", and their ilk. He simply overpays veterans whenever possible, although whether that's because of a lack of negotiating skills, market pressures, or other circumstances is beyond my feeble ability to ascertain.
But while Morris was the "best of the rest" of the starters on the market not named Kevin Millwood or A.J. Burnett (which reminds me...Toronto!? What the heck is Burnett doing going to...nevermind), he just isn't worth nine million per year. His contract is valued at about three and a half times the annual salary Brett Tomko made last season, yet Morris isn't anywhere close to three and a half times as good. Better, yes, but is he going to give the Giants an extra 6.5 million worth of pitching over Tomko? No, not unless he duplicates his 2001 Cy Young, which saw him run up 7.7 k's per nine innings, a 2.01 g/f ratio, and a .685 OPS against, all of which are fantastic numbers, and none of which are numbers he came close to duplicating in his last two seasons pitched.
But, will he help? Yes, I don't think there's much doubt he adds stability to the rotation, which could run into potential issues with the youth and inexperience of Noah Lowry and Matt Cain, a possible skills decline in Jason Schmidt, and a fifth spot that has yet to be determined. I can see Morris being a rock of consistency in the rotation at the third spot. I can also see him experiencing a bit of a resurgence in SBC/Mays Field, as the left-handed lineups many opposing managers will throw at him should have trouble taking him deep -- most of Morris' pitching history has seen him give up few long balls (with the notable exception of 2004), and with him now in a park that kills most left-handed hitters chances of hitting home runs, I expect to see him continue that habit.
Interesting to note that as the Giants part ways with J.T. Snow and his Gold-Glove defense at 1st base, they bring in a pitcher who will end up having a lot of ground balls head to the right side of the infield. Not to say this was a good enough reason to bring Snow back, but...well, the platoon combo of Lance Niekro and Mark Sweeney had better hit enough to make up for the loss in defense, at the least.
So, with this large contract done, one can't help but think the Giants are all but done making any kind of major changes in their roster. I'm assuming they don't really have any money left after signing Morris, so big names are out. I'm expecting perhaps one more relief pitcher's name to pop up (who I'm assuming will be over 35 years old), and a 4th outfielder of some sort. I don't rule out another starter to take the 5th spot, but I tend to think that the job will end up falling to Brad Hennessey in some way, shape or form.
Take care, all.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Wisdom just oozes from my very pores, I tell you.
My new job is going fine, but the commute I've picked up along with it is free-time prohibitive, to say the least. My eight-to-ten hour workdays have been puncuated on either end by an hour and a half worth of travel by truck, bus, and BART train (and about two blocks worth of walking, too).
Working in downtown San Francisco has its perks and is a nice experience, but I cannot wait until January when I will be working in a different location. If my commute was something like 30 minutes each way, I'd be fine with it. As it stands now...
All of this means, of course, that the precious little free time I've had has not been spent here or on my Warriors site (which was a decent enough idea, but ended up being poorly timed). But, not gone, and not considering stopping writing, but I am for all intents and purposes simply too busy at the moment to do more than one entry per week.
So for those who still are visiting, thanks, and bear with me through the next month or so.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Was there for four days, and the most exciting time I spent up there was the time training for my new job -- looking at instructional videos, taking little mini-quizzes on the training modules I studied, and getting to know some of the products we sell.
What about gambling, you ask? Well, I gamble down here enough, thanks. Slots have always bored me to tears, and I've never been into roulette, craps, Pai Gow, Let it Ride, Keno, etc., etc., etc.
Of course, being pretty much broke could have influenced my feelings about gambling on this little trip. I would've at least played some blackjack, but I know better than that.
No, just waking up, going to work/training, eating lunch, finishing work/training, going back to the hotel, eating dinner, and going back to the room to read a book or study.
In any case, that's a large part of the reason posting has been non-existent this past week, so hopefully that ought to change a bit in the next day or three. I'll throw in my two cents on Ned Colletti's hiring by the Dodgers in a couple/few days, although I will tell you that his defection doesn't exactly evoke strong emotions in me on way or another.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Tino Martinez is a free agent, and the sinking in my gut is paralleling Martinez' rise to the top of the Giants free agent 1st baseman list, I think.
Hey, you might call guessing, but I call it divination.
He's hits lefty. He has some power. He won't be expensive. He's old. He's won World Championships. He's from New York.
He's a veteran. He's savvy. He's salty. He's crafty. He's handsome. He was a Yankee.
And there is no way on God's green Earth that you could convince me that Brian Sabean won't covet him on some level.
Don't get me wrong -- it wouldn't be the worst move Sabean could make. If Martinez was guaranteed to put out the same production as last season (.249/.328/.439 with 17 homers, 49 RBI in 303 at-bats) in a platoon role with Lance Neikro, then I really don't think it'd be too bad. I'd rather have those Tampa Bay numbers from 2004, but then, I'd also like to win the lottery, too.
But he is 37, going on 38 within a month. While I realize Sabean has faith in the Fountain of Youth that has apparently been renamed McCovey Cove, I don't share the same faith, and I bite my nails whenever he signs anyone north of 35 years old.
(sigh) As long as he was cheap, I guess. Oh, yes, cheap. Think baby chickens. Cheap. The Yanks declined a three million dollar option they had on Tino, and the Giants should decline to pay him that much, too.
Two million, do I hear two? Sold! To the native East Coaster with the perpetual goatee!
You heard it here first, never forget.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Oh, and it's very nice being right. The Cubs and Neifi Perez agreed on a two-year, five million dollar deal on Tuesday, proving that every now and then, I'm spot-on (I made note of the timing of Neifi's improved play earlier this year -- just as opportunity presents itself, Neifi starts playing better ball until he hits a payday and is exposed). Neifi's pattern of pay-and-play is eerie. Let's follow along:
- Starts in Colorado, where he seemingly hits well in a big-time hitter's park. Before the year of his highest yearly salary to that point (4.1 million), he's traded to the Royals, who played in a pitcher's park. Neifi sucked, his numbers dropped, and he was waived.
- Picked up off waivers by the Giants, Neifi put up some decent offensive numbers (at least, for him) for a while right as Rich Aurilia was going through some injury troubles and the Giants had no real 2nd baseman. Nevermind that his numbers didn't end up good at all -- he had made himself useful and started off hot with the bat, impressing Giants GM Brian Sabean enough to...
- Give Neifi more money. Going from a four-year low of 1.5 million in 2003, Neifi parlayed his spurt of hitting and usefullness into a one-year, 2.75 million dollar deal. After almost doubling his salary, Neifi sucked, his numbers dropped, and he was released.
- Picked up as a free agent by the Cubs, Neifi put some decent offensive numbers (at least, for him) at the end of 2004 and for a while in 2005 right after Nomar Garciaparra was going through injury troubles and the Cubs had no real SS. Nevermind that his numbers didn't end up good at all -- he had made himself useful and started off hot with the bat, impressing Cubs GM Jim Hendry enough to...
- Give Neifi more money. Going from a six-year low of one million in 2005, Neifi parlayed his spurt of hitting and usefullness into a two-year, five million dollar deal. After more than doubling his salary...is there an echo in here?
- (we'll leave this bullet-point for 2006)
But, c'mon folks. Isn't that...eerie? The guy keeps saving himself by hitting a little at the exact right times -- when his new team needs it most. He hits a bit, makes himself useful defensively, and gets a raise, after which his promptly starts sucking again.
And the Cubs fell for it.
Monday, November 07, 2005
The Los Angeles Dodgers interviewed their first candidate for the vacant GM position yesterday. Let's break down some facts about this candidate, along with my shock level:
- The candidate isn't White. (shock level of 5.1)
- The candidate is Vietnamese. (shock level of 7.9)
- The candidate is a woman. (shock level of 12...must...release...pressure...argh!)
The story behind Kim Ng's interview is here, and you'd better believe it's required reading. There will be a quiz later.
None of those three points above should be taken to mean I am against any of those three things in a MLB GM. Far from it. They are simply to illustrate my utter and complete surprise that all three of those things were true about one candidate at the same time.
It isn't as if she's come out of the blue -- she was Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Yankees from 1998-2001, apparently, although this tidbit of interesting information must have somehow slipped by my network of informants. I've never heard of her before yesterday.
All of this causes me to root against her ever so slightly, however. Why? Because if she gets the job, I'll find it extremely difficult to root against her. I would want her to succeed. Thus, she can't get this job, but another one would be just fine and dandy -- outside of the NL West, please. This is the Dodgers we're talking about, you know. Wishing for the success of their GM would pose philosophical and moral conflicts within my being that I would be hard-pressed to overcome without risking my sanity.
At this time, the realist in me cannot see this as more than a PR move on the part of the Dodgers, what with bigger, more experienced names out there. However, the fact that she has been interviewed could be a gateway further down the line for either her or another woman to try for this type of position. It's only a single drop of water in the lake, but the ripple-effect is going to reach out and affect other things -- at least, one would hope.
Good job, Miss Ng.
Update: For those who might wonder what Miss Ng looks like, as well as wondering if there are other women in the pipeline to possibly become a GM down the road, go to this article, which was written at the time of Ng's hiring in Los Angeles. I now know there are two other women could become candidates in the near future.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
It's illegal in about 45 states to look this good.
Since I'm spending most of my blog-time currently over at my other site, Way of the Warriors, I'm obviously not spending as much time here.
But I don't want to neglect this site, so...Jessica Alba. Jessica Alba looking good. Enjoy!
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Check it out, Way of the Warriors is another place I'll be doing some sports writing. And since it's brand new, please feel free to use the comments section to let me know what you think about how it looks -- and, of course, any comments about anything I've written. I've put up direct links to player stat pages for a little extra convenience, and plan to eventually link to all mainstream Warriors info, so that after reading an article there you can jump to any point to delve further into the team or check on something Warriors-related.
See ya there!
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
But I did not know about Red Sox GM Theo Epstein resigning.
I'll touch on the former first. Firing a GM nowadays can't be seen as that big of a deal, especially after losing 90 or so games in a season. But this is the epitome of not only impatience, but has a hint of betrayal, too. What owner hires a guy, watches the guy build a division winner, then fires him after the very next season, disappointing as it may have been?
Sure, DePo made a lot of acquisitions that may have been head scratchers. But the Dodgers poor play this past season was not simply a function of having the wrong team -- rather, it was a function of not having the team DePodesta put together on the field together for long enough. Consider:
- J.D. Drew playing all of 72 games. Now, Drew's durability is something many of us (including myself) wondered about, but as far as the player himself goes, Drew put up the numbers he was supposed to. But it's hard to overcome the team's best overall hitter missing 80 games, right? Giants fans know a skoche about missing their best hitter for a while.
- Milton Bradley missing most of the season. Another player that was hitting well, but could do it for enough games to help the ballclub. Behind Drew and Jeff Kent, Bradley was the next best hitter -- and he missed about as many games as Drew did.
- Cezar Izturis missing time. While I'm not about to say this was a season-changing occurence in any way, Izturis too missed a large chunk of the season, and I'm sure that wasn't in DePodesta's plan.
- Eric Gagne making 14 appearances. I mean, are you starting to get the picture? While I'm not one of those who says a closer can make or break an entire season, Gagne is one of the best relievers around, period, and is one of the few who actually makes a significant contribution in terms of wins out of the bullpen. Well, at least he could've, if he was healthy.
- Odalis Perez both being injured and regressing. He missed 10+ starts, and wasn't the same pitcher as last season.
I could go on, but isn't that enough? While nary a tear has ever been shed by yours truly on behalf of the Dodgers, I'll give the DePodesta situation a confused headshake. One year removed from a division title, and with all of those huge injuries from their top players to contend with, there simply is no way he should've been fired. Couple this move with the firing of manager Jim Tracy only a couple weeks earlier, and there isn't any doubt that man at the helm of the Dodgers, owner Frank McCourt, has decided that he'd rather have the winds of fate guide his team than anyone with a plan. For any of us who've ever thought Giants ownership was poor in this or that situation, heh, complain no longer. At least we don't have that guy.
Epstein's situation is baffling as well. He walked away himself one year removed from putting together the team that won the World Series, and after a season that saw them reach the postseason to defend their title. Why?
Epstein and the Red Sox were in the middle of negotiations for a contract extension, apparently, but due to negotiation problems and other issues between the Red Sox front office and Epstein, couldn't come to an agreement.
I can't help but think that this is not only bad news for the Red Sox, but very bad timing, as well. They've got some flaws on their team to fix, a new trade-me-now rumour going around about Manny Ramirez, and now they're without a man to spearhead the efforts to solve those problems right as the offseason is starting to kick into gear.
The former Red Sox GM won't have the slightest of problems finding a new gig, I'm sure. Even if he doesn't take a job this season, I think it likely there will be another two or three vacant GM spots after the 2006 season.
Let's all hope the Dodgers don't pick up Epstein. That'd be...ewwww. Not good.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
At least one is pretty much certain, as the vibes from the organization at the end of the season towards Brett Tomko seem to indicate he will not be offered a new contract. That isn't the worst thing, although I've dedicated some space in this blog explaining why bringing him back isn't a bad idea, either. Nevertheless, I'll work on the assumption he's gone.
But will the Giants go for another? That would depend on what the team feels about Brad Hennessey, what with the other three rotation spots being locked up by Jason Schmidt, Noah Lowry, and one would hope and assume, Matt Cain.
I'll make it simple, and just list the pitchers that I think would be worth it to go after, and worry about the rest later. I'll also throw in a few other pitchers that I think the Giants may take a look at for various reason, for variety's sake.
- Matt Morris - I've said this before, but while Morris might just be the most sought after free agent starter out there (making the assumption that pitchers like A.J. Burnett and Kevin Millwood might be out of many teams' price range), he isn't really much better than Brett Tomko. However, on thing I really like about Morris is his k/bb ratio (3.16 for 2005) -- his k rate is middling, but he simply doesn't walk many batters. I wonder about the price tag, though. Morris made about the same as Tomko did last year at 2.5 million, but again, with the dearth of quality starting pitching available, and with the aforementioned Burnett and Millwood liable to command double digits millions, I'm sure Morris will get at least about five million or so per year. In any case, this is the pitcher I think the Giants should go for first and hardest. He ought to fit into the middle of the rotation nicely. And guess what? he just filed for free agency on October 29th, meaning he knows it's unlikely the Cardinals will offer him a new contract.
- Paul Byrd - Another guy that walks very few batters, Byrd is an interesting possibility. I wonder at how much he'll command dollars/years wise (five million last year), but I doubt it'd be more than Morris. After an up and down career, he seemed to find something with the Royals in 2003, because he's been a decent pitcher since. But perhaps he'll be looking for something multi-year -- those last three season of decent pitching have been done with three different teams. However, a multi-year contract is just what the Giants should avoid with Byrd, not only because of the team situation payroll-wise, but because Byrd will turn 35 this December. If there isn't any other options, though, I suppose a two-year contract wouldn't hurt too much.
- Jeff Weaver - Pitching-wise, a very good option as well, as long as he comes way down from the large contract he just finished -- likely, but not guaranteed. But really, folks -- if the Giants sign this guy, I'll end up throwing up in my mouth a little. He's a decent pitcher, but I just...don't...want...him.
- Kevin Brown - Just throwin' this one out there. Brown just can't command too much money or much more than a simple one year contract at 40+ years of age, and coming off two years of sub-par performance and injury-shortened seasons. So...how much would be worth the risk? Two million? I'm mentioning this mostly because I can't help but think Brown, at a lower cost, would be a tempting lure for proven-veteran-hungry Brian Sabean. I don't really consider him much of an option.
- Jason Johnson - Another one I'm just throwing out there...the only upgrade someone like Johnson is over Tomko is that he's a different pitcher. As a 5th starter, sure, but he isn't even better than Hennessey. But in this free agent market, he's actually one of the better options if one is looking for a 5th starter to eat some innings, which says a lot about the free agent market. Still, not somebody I want to see in a Giants uniform.
- Al Leiter - Exact same situation as Brown. Exact. Except that he's a left-hander, of course. And his name is different. But they're both 40, both have Proven Veteran tatooed on their keisters, and Sabes can never have enough old guys.
- Jamie Moyer - Second verse, same as the first. He signs, I whine. Really, though, can any of us not see Sabean looking hard at all the 40-plus guys, if the price was right? I really want to just predict it right here, that one of the Three Old Amigos in Moyer, Leiter, or Brown will end up in the Giants rotation. But I won't, so don't ask.
- Really, I'm not going to predict it. I mean, yes, I want to, and it fits with Sabean's pattern of player acquisition from last season, but I'm going to let it go. No more old guy comments for me. Cold turkey. Now. Right now.
- Kenny Rogers - Must...not...make...comment...about...age. HE'S FORTY! (pant) (pant) Alright, another option that isn't an option. Oh, he pitched very well up until he punked out and bullied a cameraman that was half his size, and he did it in a hitter's park, which was very impressive (the, uh, pitching, not the bullying of the cameraman...ahem), but he's is a punk. Don't want him, at any price.
- Jerrod Washburn - The first real left-handed option I've mentioned, but Washburn may well prove to be too expensive. He pitched very well in the final year of his contract, and is at an age (31) where he'll probably be looking for at least a three or four year deal.
- Shawn Estes - Heh, just kidding.
And that does it, folks. Matt Morris, Paul Byrd, and Jerrod Washburn. All the others I mentioned are very old and risky, or just undesirable. As it stands, I'm not sure what the Giants can afford, but I'm making the assumption that Burnett and Millwood are more than what the Giants can afford. Even the three I've mentioned may be looking for more money in total contract dollars rather than a per year basis, but with Byrd this should be avoided.
On a sidenote, is anyone planning to go see the movie Jarhead? I'm thinking about it, but it strikes me as one of those movies that will either be pretty good or very disappointing, without a middle ground. I'm worried most about Jamie Foxx in that supporting role (as a sargeant, I think). He's a very, very good actor, but after the pinnacle of having Ray do so well, in addition to critical acclaim in Collateral, he's made one poor decision already with Stealth, which bombed, and could be on the verge of another with Jarhead. I can just see him overacting in this movie too easily.
Friday, October 28, 2005
I expected Brian "the Brain" Sabean to bring back veteran ballplayers Jason Schmidt and Randy Winn, exercising both players' options for 2006.
What I didn't expect was for Sabes to re-sign veteran Jeff Fassero.
Should I have expected it? Oh, yes, of course. Why did I not do this? Because I held out hope that the Giants GM would have an epiphany of brain activity and realize that while Fassero was uber-useful last season, the Giants cannot reasonably expect him to repeat last year's performance. Reasons?
- The first reason is broken down into 44 parts, one part for each year of age that Fassero wil have accumulated by Spring Training in 2006.
- Since 1998, Fassero has had two decent/good seasons: 2001, and 2005. Leading up to 2005, Fassero had been poor for three straight seasons. If the trend is poor for three straight seasons, then all of a sudden turns decent again at 43 years of age, do you really think this last decent season is a harbinger of Fassero's 2006 performance?
- Overuse. Fassero was used too much last year, and in some games it showed. At his age, I can't help but think similar use in 2006 will lead to time on the DL for the ol' left-hander.
Combatting all this is the slim possibility that the Giants management will use Fassero exclusively as a long man and spot starter out of the bullpen, in which case things might not be too bad. But with Father Alou, he who is inficted with the rare disease, Usus Too Muchus Bullpenitis, this is a longshot. Fassero will likely find himself pitching well-nigh 100 innings again next year in a myriad of roles, straining his arm to the breaking point again.
While I'd still have rather seen Sabean thank the stars he got as much out of Fassero as he did last season and cut bait on Fassero while the memories were good, if they can keep the old dude down to about 50-60 innings, it could work out.
But you know what they say about expectations...
Thursday, October 27, 2005
It's not that I'm not...happy...for the White Sox -- if at least one defines happy as the same feeling as being told you've won 100 million dollars, only to be told afterwards that to keep the money you had to go celibate for the rest of your life -- I mean, I'm sure they worked hard for their championship, blood, sweat, tears (mostly mine as they got closer), etc.
But, well, perhaps it's my continued agony in Royals fandom, and that 90% of my interaction with White Sox fans as a Royals fan have been...poor...and that the same 90% of interaction with those White Sox fans had to have been the most unintellectual pieces of conversation I've ever had the displeasure of having.
Perhaps it's the North Side/South Side hype that has gotten to me, and the White Sox's perceived persona -- bad guys, wearing black, rowdy fans, their stadium of U.S. Cellular One that's nicknamed "the Cell" -- that put them on my short list of Most Hated Baseball Franchises.
Maybe it's the fact that they picked up Dustin Hermanson, and got a lot of very good relief pitching out of him that could have been to the Giants' benefit early in the 2005 season, had they re-signed him. Maybe it's picking up "Double Play" A.J. Pierzynski, and having that rat bastard on their team while they won a World Series, with him taking center stage in the LCS against the Angels with his "savvy" play on that strikeout, running to 1st base after the caught strikeout pitch was rolled away (it was savvy, and it was smart, but it's smart and savvy like running all the way around the bases on a close but obvious foul ball, just in case the umps change their minds -- yeah, you're smart and savvy, but there's still no way you should get away with it).
Or, finally, maybe it's watching the first two games of the Series and realizing how flawed the Astros were, and thinking that despite the fact that they outplayed the Cardinals in the LCS and deserved to go to the World Series, that the Cardinals would've matched up much better than they did to Chicago. I mean, there's no way that the Cardinals would've allowed the White Sox to walk them 12 times in a game and not win. Albert Pujols, by himself, would've driven in more runs than the Astros scored in that game.
But this in no way hampers my ability to see what the White Sox are; a very good team that was simply better than every team they played against in the postseason. You don't whip through October only losing one game for nothing. Whatever Ozzie Guillen is doing, I hope some of it rubs off on Felipe Alou and Buddy Bell.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Yes, very smooth. I was recently treated to a jazz show at Jack London Square in Oakland by my Pops, at Yoshi's Japanese restaurant and jazz house this past weekend. The show starred some well-known names in the jazz circle: Christian McBride (String Bass), John Clayton (string bass), Russell Malone (guitar), Greg Hutchinson (drums), and last but definitely not least, Benny Green from Berkeley (piano).
Now, as a few of you may know by the names involved, this is not modern jazz, something which is nice, but to me a bit lacking in personality. No, this was classic jazz, all in tribute to string bassist Ray Brown, who passed away about three years ago and whose birthday was on the 14th of October.
The show was incredible. All of the musicians knew each other, and have played together in some capacity before, a couple of whom have played together extensively. The common thread was Mr. Ray Brown, and the fact that all the musicians were either pupils of Brown, or had played with him many times before (they called it "graduating from the Ray Brown school").
Imagine a reknowned guitarist like Russell Malone cocking his head curiously as the Amtrack train rolled by, causing a bit of feedback. Turning to pianist Benny Green (on this particular song it was only the two of them), he shot him a look of inquiry (and all of this while both men are still hitting every note). Green shrugs his shoulders, smiling in amusement. Malone stops playing briefly to reach over and pound his amplifier with a fist, shoots the audience a little smile (his smiles were rare, but golden), and continues right where he left off, right back into the rhythm like nothing ever happened.
Imagine Christian McBride and John Clayton doing a little SuperBass competition at the start of the show, both men's hands flying over the string effortlessly, playing the entire instrument from top to bottom. Playing a game of "Can you top this?", McBride finally cuts loose a simply nasty and unmatchable string of chords, both hands weaving a blurry pattern of music. After he finally stops, Clayton, watching all of this with a huge grin, simply reaches down to his bass and plucks about three amusing chords, shrugs, and says, "That's about all I can do after that."
Imagine Greg Hutchinson, simply keeping pace for most of the show...that is, until the drum solos where he went ballistic, dredlocks twirling in unison, and his wrists putting out percussion like a man possessed. All the other musicians would simply watch, or in the case of Benny Green and Russell Malone, turn fully around so that they could watch the man do what he was born to do.
The ad-libs the musicians put on were two parts inspired and two parts hilarious. I saw the show twice, and while they didn't replay any songs from the first to the second show, if you paid attention you could tell where a player would throw in a little wrinkle into the music. An extra little smile here, a wink there, a short laugh, a quiet exclamation of "Alright now", or "Mmm hm!" was all that was needed to confirm that these guys had no need or no desire to do it all by the numbers -- they are masters of their instruments and the music, and they could play the same song a hundred different ways if they wanted. Malone put on the funniest one, throwing in three quick funky strums at the end of one of his solos, turning and looking back at the McBride and Clayton on the bass. McBride returned the look with a head shake and a grin, and Malone shrugs, turned back to the audience, and favored us with a wink and a smile.
Inbetween songs, they told stories of Ray Brown and how he influenced them in their careers. During songs, they smiled and told stories with their hands and fingers. At both times, we in the audience listened with rapt attention, and ready applause. I've never listened to a jazz show before, yet I instinctively knew when a solo was over, and knew when it was worthy of audible appreciation (as it so happened, that was every, single time a solo was over).
All in all, I would have to say I was most impressed with Benny Green, the local product. The only White guy in the band, he showed that he has more than enough soul to play this music. Short, slim, with hair hanging just below his ears, he spoke just like he looked -- the ultimate cool cat. He'd often turn 3/4th of the way away from the piano, while playing, to look at one of the string bassists, Malone on the guitar, or Hutchinson on the drums, never missing a key. When he wasn't playing, he was at ease. When he was playing, he was just stupid good.
To summarize, if you aren't into classic jazz at all, then Yoshi's is a good place to check it out, as they constantly have shows there. If you are into classic jazz, but haven't heard much of the music of the musicians I've been mentioning, then you need to acquire some. I myself don't have any, but I got the hook-up, with Pops on the job burning me copious amounts of the stuff to peruse at my leisure.
If you don't have hook-up, well, then get yourself hooked-up.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I've temporarily deactivated my Insta-Boycott of Fox TV and watched all of the LCS games broadcast on free TV (I'm one of those weirdos who refuses to pay for cable). My pathetic attempts to apply all I've learned this season into meaningful predictions over on Small Ball have done only one thing: made me look incredibly stupid. That doesn't mean I'm not having fun.
When the White Sox blew through their series with the Angels, I was regularly on the horn with my peeps in Chicago, people I knew during the 7 years I lived there. I wondered if Fox's representation of the explosive celebrations was accurate (questioning Fox's accuracy is, like baseball, a national pasttime). I was pleased though not shocked to learn that the fervor for White Sox successes isn't quite as pandemic as Fox would have you believe. The traditional north-side/south-side tension between Cubs fans and White Sox fans is in full force. The Cubs, for reasons no one really understands, evoke a frenzy of loyalty that makes religious fundamentalists look like lazy non-believers. White Sox fans, on the other hand, appear as if summoned by magic whenever the White Sox seem to be doing well.
My favorite TV moment occured in a nondescript Chicago sports bar the night the Sox took the pennant. While the cameras lingered on girls gone wild and drunk guys hootin' and hollerin', one guy in the background who was wearing a White Sox cap tore it off when he saw the lights and cameras pointing in his general direction, and replaced it with a Cubs cap. That hilarious gesture revealed so many things. As my friends have confirmed, Cubs fans who want some--any--gratification this year are throwing their dashed hopes in the White Sox's ring so they at least can say they live in a championship city. Which makes me wonder what that very same bar scene would have looked like if the Cubs and Sox positions were reversed. Would it be empty because the White Sox were out of the picture? Would the exact same patrons be there, wearing Cubbie colors instead? At what point in a 2-team city do the fans of one team throw up their arms and hitch to the other team's wagon? Even I'll admit that for about three weeks this season, I was an As fan (don't disparage me...what else did I have to root for?)
I found the ALCS monumentally boring. There's no there there. Rooting for the White Sox is like rooting for Chevron or Dell Computers. I found in my heart a little California lovin' for the Angels, but that was an empty, callous love fueled only by my desire to see the Sox fail.
The NLCS? Now, that's some baseball. Exciting at nearly every turn, with heroes and villains out of the best pulp fiction. My mom and I were talking about the differences between the National and American Leagues. Why, I asked, does she, like I do, feel so strongly about NL teams, but nearly nothing for AL teams? She said she always felt like a participant in the goings on of the National League, and simply a spectator for "that other" league. So, it's entirely possible that my fascination with the Cardinals/Astros struggle and my indifference to the Angels/White Sox struggle boils down to a matter of what feels warm and toasty to me.
The Astros and Cardinals, although I'm not a fan of either, are kind of warm and toasty.
Last night's gut-wrenching turn of events for the Astros was better than anything Hollywood can pump out under the auspices of drama. Two three-run homers, one by each team late in the game, turned the contest into an offensive tennis tournament. Astros were down by a run, then up by two, then down by one again too late to get back up again. As I sat there stuffing my face with chocolates, I realized after the Pujols homer in the top of the ninth that, yeah, it's cool that St. Louis won, although I would have prefered to see Houston win. And saying that is more excruciating than I have time to describe.
So, here we are. White Sox going to the World Series. White Sox probably winning the World Series. More Cubs fans masquerading as Sox fans turning into deluxe girls and guys gone wild. Two Curse Reverses in a row. The return of baseball might to the midwest. Ozzie Guillen for governor. AJ Piersomething-something's ego seen floating over Lake Michigan on a collision course with the John Hancock building.
Or they could lose. And wouldn't that be warm and toasty?
Monday, October 17, 2005
Assessment tests, you ask? Well, you know, they're like psyche tests -- you answer 350 multiple choice questions, many of which ask you the same general question as a bunch of other questions, only worded differently. For example:
- I have no problem speaking in front of a large group of people.
A) Agree, B) ?, C) Disagree
50. I was always shy as a child.
A) Agree, B) ?, C) Disagree
147. I don't have any reservations in speaking to a total stranger.
A) Agree, B) ?, C) Disagree
You know, something like that. I took two tests on Thursday, the first of which actually was about 360 questions long and multiple choice, and the second of which was about 150 questions long and true/false. I told my interviewer that if they offer me the job, I'll consult them before making my decision, because after reviewing those tests they'll know more about me than I do myself.
So, in any case, these things have left me feeling a little down on writing on a daily basis, hence the 11-day gap between entries. While I'm not going to do anything everyday until at least after the new year begins (and the winter meetings have finished and some new things are happening), I do at least want to do a couple/few per week.
As far as the playoff races go...at least the Yankees are out of it, but the White Sox are still around, and now have a chance to win a World Series, which'll probably make me vomit as soon as the final out is recorded...check that, I'll vomit if they even come within one game of winning it.
With Houston up three games to one, it looks like they're my only hope of not chalking up 2005 as one of my worst baseball season ever as a fan. Both the Giants and Royals were poor (the Royals being absolutely horrible) and...the White Sox as World Series champs?
Let me just stick hot pokers in my eyes now, rather than endure that pain later.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
I'm warning you, it's really dumb. I am in no way suggesting that I think it should happen, but I'm entertaining the notion that it could happen.
The Philadelphia Phillies have a 3rd baseman in David Bell who made 4.7 million in 2005 to hit a crappy .248/.310/.361 and play acceptable defense at 3rd base.
The San Francisco Giants have a 3rd baseman in Edgardo Alfonzo who made about 7 million in 2005 to hit a crappy .277/.327/.345 and play acceptable defense at 3rd base.
No, no, NO! I'm not suggesting a swap. What I'm suggesting is that both players are paid a large amount of money to suck a lot, and thus have initiated an extreme desire on the part of the ball clubs that pay them to get rid of them in any way they can.
The Phillies have another contract on their hands that is large, has turned horrible, and probably makes the Phillies want to get rid of it -- Jim Thome's contract. He was paid 13 million + to be injured most of the year, and suck something fierce when he did play.
Do you think that Brian Sabean would gamble and trade Alfonzo for Thome? I don't know if this could be done straight up, but I actually think it could be, given that Thome's a larger waste of money at this point than Fonzie is, although he has obviously had a much better career -- in other words, Thome's a much larger risk/gamble to take, which makes me think that a straight-up trade involving those two could be done.
Thome's old, old, but his dropoff in production this year is nothing short of astounding. No middle ground, no gradual loss of skill -- it all hit rock bottom, baby. Which may lead somebody like Sabes to think that it was a fluke (even I think there's got to be some fluke in that big of a dropoff), and perhaps want to give Thome a whirl -- with the caveat that he could get rid of one of his problem children in Alfonzo.
Like I said, it's pretty stupid from about eleventy-seven angles, but for some reason the thought that it would be an alluring option for Sabes has grabbed ahold of my imagination. Just remember, if something like that happens, you heard it here first. If it comes nowhere close to even being a smidgen in the general vicinity of eventually gravitating towards the miniscule germ of an intention, then you've never heard of me, and in fact, my name is Mortimer Bartholomew, and I run a horticulture blog, not a baseball blog.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
The kind that tries to figure out which free-agent starting pitcher the Giants should go for (since from all I've heard, it seems Brett Tomko definitely ain't coming back), and tries to figure out how next year lineup should be contructed, since it looks like the team will largely remain intact as far as position players.
I'd also like to extend a tip of my cap to Joe Giovannetti over at Giants Cove for plugging a couple of pieces of work I did on Randy Winn and Brett Tomko on one of his pieces on the site.
It also seems congratulations are in order, as a sports website called Deadspin has ranked the top three Giants blogs, and Joe and Nick Cannata-Bowman took 2nd -- just in front of Grant at McCovey Chronicles, and just behind John Perricone over at Only Baseball Matters. If I had my druthers (normally I do have them, but I lost my druthers just the other day -- I blame the hole in my pants pocket), I would have found a way to include Lefty and Anthony, but last I checked I wasn't the one who put that article together for Deadspin. Plus, putting together an article on the top three Giants blogs while including five probably isn't the best way to do things.
But I'd have done it anyway.
And oddly, I didn't get a mention as the best Giants blog whose writer also like the Kansas City Royals, which ought to have come up somewhere. I mean, where's my sympathy vote? It's all rigged, I tell ya.
BTW, Deadspin also ranked the top three Royals blogs, however, either it wasn't the same writer as the one who ranked the Giants blogs, or it was the same writer and he suffered a brief fit of stupidity. None of my favorites were on his list, and one of the ones on his list was Rob Neyer's site, which is in no way a Royals blog -- Neyer and Rany Jayzareli exchange e-mails about the club about twice a month and put it on the site, which doesn't, to me, qualify it for anything. I also disagree with his selection for first place (kind of like a nuclear bomb disagrees with all life surrounding its blast), but I won't mention any names or reasons -- ambiguity is the word for today, boys and girls.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Randy Winn had better not lead off, for the same reasons that Ray Durham doesn't lead off anymore -- if the Giants want to believe that a good portion of the pop Winn is displaying is for real (some of it is) and that Winn will continue to be an extra-base machine next season, then they have to put him into a position where he'll be able to drive in some runs. Leading off, especially for a National League team, isn't going to cut it.
Lemme show you why this is. Winn has hit 14 home runs for the Giants, including the two he hit last night. The breakdown of how many he drove in with those round-trippers go like this:
Solo - 12
2R - 2
3R - 0
GS - 0
You can't hit all multi-run shots when you hit a home run, of course, but don't you think having 12 of your 14 total home runs be solo shots is a bit of a waste, not to mention the two that aren't be of the two-run variety?
The Giants' offense is still pretty poor without Barry Bonds, of course, but the Giants burying their best hitter over the last couple of months in the leadoff spot just because he's a "leadoff-type hitter" is asinine, and it cost the Giants runs, and perhaps victories (two of the three losses in games where Winn homered were by one run, and the other was by two runs).
This does not include doubles and triples, which are perfectly capable of scoring men on-base as well. But when you have the pitcher's spot and a guy in Mike Matheny who, at best, runs a .300 on-base percentage (and isn't exactly fleet of foot on the basepaths, either), there just aren't going to be many ducks on the pond for Winn to drive in if he happens to hit a double, triple, or home run, something he's done with great frequency since joining the club. Again, the Giants, through ignorance of common sense, have left a lot of runs out there unscored.
Old dog Father Alou, please learn a new trick next year. Just because he's supposed to be your leadoff hitter doesn't mean you have to bat him leadoff all the time (you seemed to learn this with Ray Durham) -- let Omar Vizquel handle that, and you can bat Winn 2nd, or even 5th, since Winn and Durham seem fairly similar hitters, especially from the left side.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Thing is, I know, but I don't really know know, ya know?
So, this entry is specifically for anyone who reads this blog on a semi-regular/regular basis, and would like me to look at something, anything, more in-depth. It could be something you want a second opinion on, something you don't feel like looking into yourself, something you feel is going to be important next season -- anything, really. And you don't have to limit it to the Giants -- it can be any team in the majors.
I want to make sure I don't become more boring than normal in the offseason, and that I can always have something fresh to put up -- and yes, I'm picking your brains for that. I have no illusions that I'll be posting baseball content daily, so if I'm only going to post a couple/few times a week, it may as well be something that's worth reading (also, I am still going to try and keep up a Golden State Warriors blog, as well).
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Okay, I'm not at a failure to understand why, but I am at a failure to understand why the feelings are so strong.
Let's look at facts:
- Tomko isn't very good.
- Tomko is mediocre.
- Tomko had been very good for a string of starts unexpectedly, allowing the Giants the opportunity to have a shot at the Padres for this four-game series.
- The aforementioned shot was extremely small in the first place. Did we all really expect the Giants just to go out and sweep the Padres in four in San Diego? Folks, I think the Giants are a slightly better team than the Padres at this time, but San Diego has won half of their games this year. At home, they stood a good chance at taking at least two of four.
I'm reading a lot of fans saying that last night cost Tomko a spot in next year's rotation. That could well be true, what with how much Brian Sabean loves those "clutch" performances and all, and seems to jettison all those who make big mistakes in late-season contests.
But let me tell you why that's silly.
- Again, Tomko's run of quality starts before last night is what allowed the Giants to have a chance in the first place. He could have simply sucked in any one of those previous games and the Giants would have been in the same position as they are today.
- Tomko is what he is -- an inconsistent, mediocre pitcher. He was brought in this season from last year's late season surge he put on, where he was as "clutch" as you wanted to be in September. He was given the mantle of #2 starter in a fit of stupidity (despite the surge, his stats last year were only decent, not good), and he failed that utterly...or, did he? Look at the numbers. Tomko really isn't that much different a pitcher than last year. Don't believe me?
2004: 194 innings, 196 hits, 98 runs allowed, 19 HR's allowed, 64 bb's, 108 k's, 5.01 k/9, 1.69 k/bb ratio
2005: 183 innings, 199 hits, 98 runs allowed, 20 HR's allowed, 57 bb's, 110 k's, 5.45 k/9, 1.93 k/bb ratio
Yes, folks, that's right -- he's the same damned pitcher, really. The only differences are that he's allowed more extra-base hits this year (.414 SLG against him last year, .455 this year), his ERA (4.04 last year to 4.66 this year), and his won/loss record (11-7 in 2004 to 7-15 in 2005).
So while one can make the case that Tomko was a better pitcher last year, he was only better by a little bit. But the "show me" stats of his won/loss record and ERA will have the imbeciles thinking he was much, much worse this year when that obviously wasn't the case. He's basically the same, and in fact, 2004 was a fluke. Look at his career numbers here and you'll see what I mean.
The bad move wasn't trusting Tomko with this start vs. the Padres, it was in thinking that Tomko was much good in the first place after last year, and thinking that since Tomko had strung several good starts together recently, he'd do the same yesterday.
As far as I'm concerned, with the starting pitcher free agent market being the out-of-the-Giants-price-range A.J. Burnett, and just-a-little-bit-better-than-Tomko Matt Morris and Jeff Weaver, and a bunch of miscellaneous dudes after that -- I really don't see why it'd be a surprise if Tomko would be brought back next season, but as a #4 or #5 starter instead of a much overrated #2 starter.
Except for the one more difference for Tomko between 2004 and 2005...last year, Tomko got "clutch" and stayed "clutch". This year, he got "clutch", but didn't remain "clutch". This year, he had the nerve to not be "clutch" in every, single start all the way until the end of the season, only "clutch" in four of his last five starts.
For shame, for shame. Only 80% "clutch" this year, instead of 100%? Here's the door, Mr. Tomko. You're not good enough for our team, who are composed of nothing but "clutch" players. So "clutch", in fact, that we've won 47% of our games this year.
At the least next season, barring some major change in the Giants personnel, I'd suggest that Omar Vizquel and Winn flop places in the order, and that Ray Durham bat 3rd instead of either Pedro Feliz or Snow. That way, the order could look like this:
Vizquel (.339 OBP this year)
For some people, I'm sure they flip-flop Feliz and Snow because of Feliz's advantage in power, but I put Snow ahead of Feliz simply because he stands less of a chance of getting out than Feliz does. Feliz (and Matheny, for that matter), are feast/famine hitters, and putting a better OBP guy in front of them means that when they do hit their extra-baggers, that there's more chance of someone being on base to drive in.
Of course, I'd rather have a new slugging 1st baseman next year instead of Snow, but that's a discussion for another time. I'm working under the assumption that Snow's "veteran leadership" and his "defensive wizardry" will be enough for Brian Sabean to re-sign him for one more year.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
As if Brad Hennessey turning in a gutsy performance wasn't enough, having Barry Bonds send tremors throughout the Giants fanbase by tweaking his knee...
...the Giants and Randy Winn decide to pull a miracle outta their ballcap. As Duane Kuiper said, "They got the Padres thinkin'."
More than just thinking, the Padres have to be shaken and stirred -- the Giants beat their ace Jake Peavy and got perennial door-closer Trevor Hoffman to blow a save in the 9th to take the game.
After something like this, I find that I'm losing faith in having no faith. One advantage for the Giants is that their path is clear: sweep the Padres if at all possible and tie them for the division lead. The pressure is most definitely on San Diego, with the odds in their favor and at home. They've been true to themselves for a while, going 14-14 in their 28 games before yesterday, but stumbling at this point would be a bigger choke job than the San Diego football team pulled off in 2002. You're just not supposed to lose a lead of this size with this few games to go.
But isn't that just a theme this season? Coming back to make it a race? The Indians have done it, the A's have done it, the Yankees did it (ugh), and perhaps the Giants will do it tomorrow. Because if they win, it really will be a race.
Going back a bit, I'm curious as to what everyone thinks of Bonds continued play last night. After he tweaked his knee running full-out after a fly ball in the gap (nice catch, but couldn't come to a stop like he normally would), I wouldn't have been surprised if he came right out. He didn't, and had an at-bat where he obviously was uncomfortable. I would have thought that he would've come out at that point, but he didn't, and had an uncomfortable-looking play in the outfield along with another uncomfortable-looking at-bat before finally being replaced in the field by Jason Ellison.
Question: is this season, with still another couple of miracles needed simply to have a chance at the postseason, worth Bonds continued play?
Monday, September 26, 2005
- He may easily be ready right now, and the extra time in the minors might not do him a whole lot of extra good.
- The Giants need him in their rotation badly next year.
Let's compare Cain's debut this year with Noah Lowry's from last year (stat definitions at the end).
Lowry, 2004 (16 starts):
3.82 ERA, 92 innings, 91 hits, 1.33 WHIP, 7.04 k's/9, 2.57 k/bb, .728 OPS against
Cain, 2005 (6 starts):2.03 ERA, 40 innings, 18 hits, 0.88 WHIP, 6.08 k's/9, 1.59 k/bb, .526 OPS against
Lowry, with a much larger sample size, had a higher strikeout rate and a lower walk rate, which are good signs. Cain is somehow doing a marvelous job of simply not allowing hits (to the tune of a .133 BABIP), but that is something which can't and won't last over the course of a full season. For perspective, the ERA leader in the NL, Roger Clemens, has a BABIP of .236.
So in reality, our young Cain is getting lucky at this point, to some degree. I'll be looking for him to raise that k rate some next year, closer to seven per nine innings, and cut that walk rate down (it's currently pretty close to four per nine innings, which is higher than you want). Once he starts regressing to the mean as far as hits allowed, those extra baserunners due to walk will eventually cost him runs. Even though there's a large difference in their ERA's and OPS against, I look at Lowry's numbers as a bit more promising than Cain's in the comparison between Lowry's 2004 and Cain's not-quite-finished 2005.
However, there is still a bunch of obvious potential in Cain, and I think he is good enough to pitch in the big leagues next season -- although I wish he could put in one more year in the minors to really nail things down.
Stat Definitions: WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched), k's/9 (strikeouts per nine innings), k/bb (strikeout to walk ratio), OPS against (on-base percentage + slugging percentage opposing hitters have earned against the pitcher), BABIP (batting average on balls in play)
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Since Bonds' return (not including today), the offense is scoring at about a 4.2 runs/game clip, which is slightly higher than their season clip of about 4.07 runs/game.
Small sample size, yes, but they only have about eight more games to evaluate this before season's end. The offense will obviously be better next season with Bonds, but:
- There's no guarantee he'll remain as good as he's been.
- There's no guarantee he won't miss significant portions of the season with injury and/or time off needed for rest.
- The starting rotation is competitive now, the offense is still poor now, so why assume to spend any extra money on the stronger portion of the team?
Something else to realize, too, is that 1st base isn't the only place on the team to upgrade. If the Giants realize not only the intense need to jettison Edgardo Alfonzo, but also the lack of need to keep Pedro Feliz, they can make trades to replace those two with a slugger. First base is the biggest need position to upgrade offensively, but 3rd base really isn't far behind.
UPDATE: Doesn't really prove my point, but it reinforces it a bit -- it's the 7th inning, in Coors Field, against an unremarkable pitcher in Sonny Kim, with Bonds in the lineup, and the Giants have yet to scratch the scoreboard. It happens to the best offenses, of course, but my point is that the Giants offense is not good, and isn't even adequate.
Of course, the Giants scored five runs in one inning last night, so I do suppose it's possible they could score six over two innings tonight. But let's just say I'm doubtful.
In both broadcasts, the Giants announcers have made comments about the speed of various pitchers' fastballs.
They said Barry Bonds was late on a 91 mph fastball as if it was 95 yesterday.
They said a Rockies reliever was normally a few mph faster than what he was pitching yesterday.
Today, Noah Lowry seems to be a few mph short of what his fastball normally is.
I'm thinking the culprit is the radar gun being used in Denver. Has anyone else noticed this?
My prejudice is coming to the fore -- I really hope the Cleveland Indians catch the Chicago White Sox, because I hate the White Sox. I really hope the Boston Red Sox retake the division lead from the Yankees, because I really hate the Yankees. I'd be just fine if the Atlanta Braves somehow didn't make playoffs, too.
As you can see, I like wanting things I can't have.
I'm currently watching the Michigan/Wisconsin college football game. Perhaps it's just me, but was there any doubt that Notre Dame was going to win that game vs. the Wolverines a couple of weekends ago? The Irish have been hanging early-season National-Championship-hopes-crippling losses on Michigan for years, now, and it makes me wonder why Michigan doesn't try to get out of scheduling those bastards. Oh yes, I hate Notre Dame, too, along with Florida, Florida St., Miami, Ohio St., Michigan St., UCLA, USC, Washington....
...what was I talking about? Nevermind.
This is really one of the most pointless entries I've made on the blog, and I've made some pretty pointless entries before. You've completely wasted about two minutes of your time.
Friday, September 23, 2005
What in the name of Supercalafragalisticexpialadocious does Brett Tomko think he's doing, gettin' all good an' stuff all of a sudden?
Now, yesterday's line wasn't exactly great, but it was solid, and has added to the...uh, Tomko mystique. For the month, he's done the following: 27 innings pitched, 22 hits allowed, 19 strikeouts, 4 walks, and a 2.33 ERA. Compare that to his September of 2004: 35.1 innings pitched, 20 hits allowed, 33 strikeouts, 11 walks, and a 1.78 ERA. Not quite as good in 2005, but close enough that I'm sure Brian Sabean is noticing.
Did anyone know that Tomko's average game score (a stat that measure the quality of a start - higher numbers are better) is 48? For comparison's sake, let's look at the game scores for Jason Schmidt, Noah Lowry, and Brad Hennessey, two of whom are locks for next year's rotation, and one who is a big-time hopeful: 52 for Schmidt, 53 for Lowry, and 45 for Hennessey (by the way, Matt Cain's is 65). Last year, Tomko's average game score was 50.
So, what I'm trying to say is, Tomko is indeed in the process of saving his job like I mused about back on September 7th. While I cannot help but have mixed emotions about this, the practical side of me says that bringing him back may just be the best move the Giants could make when we consider the value of his performance. He's basically the same pitcher as 2004.
The following is a list gleaned from mlb4u.com, which is a funky name but a very useful site. It has a list of free agents for next season, including starting pitchers. I've truncated some of the list to exclude some of the more obvious non-options for Sabes next season, but I've left most of it intact:
Elmer Dessens (Mutual Option)
Jason Schmidt (Team Option)
Jeff Suppan (Team Option)
John Thomson (Team Option)
Steve Trachsel (Team Option)
Joe Mays (Team Option)
Esteban Loaiza (Mutual Option)
Tony Armas Jr.
Tom Glavine (Mutual Option)
Mark Redman (Mutual Option + Player Option)
Now, you look at those names and think about how much it would cost to bring in some of those more tantalizing names, like A.J. Burnett or Kevin Millwood. More than the Giants can afford, I think. After that, there's a 2nd tier of names, like Matt Morris or Steve Trachsel, but there's no guarantee that guys like that won't simply re-sign with their current teams.
After that, folks, it gets pretty thin. If Tomko can be brought back for around the same salary as he's making now (2.5 million), it may be the best option for the money available.
Now Rafael Palmeiro wants to deflect about .000000078% of the blame off of him by saying Miguel Tejada gave him some B12 vitamins a while back. Raffy, buddy ol' pal, it's over. Done. Kaput. Don't bring up any other names, any other situations, because even if you're telling the truth, it won't make any difference. Pick up your last paycheck, move back to Cuba, and let your accumulated wealth buy you a nice, comfortable life after baseball.
Although, I wonder how they feel about him in Cuba? Hm.
And not to be outdone, the ever-present yet never-wanted Skip Bayless has decided, like uber-moron Dan Wetzel, that not enough has been said about steroids and Barry Bonds. He pens an article here which sounds an awful like about 40 articles he's written before about Bonds. Here's a quote from the opening paragraph:
He continues to astonish, with his bat and his mouth. At 41, Barry Bonds is again proving to be the greatest hitter and biggest jerk in baseball history.
Skip, buddy, is this really astonishing to you? You're so astonished at being astonished that you just had to write about this again? I mean, this is no revelation, no ground-breaking epiphany -- you think Barry Bonds is a jerk, and the greatest hitter you've ever seen. It's been that way for about five years, Skip. This is about the most superfluous article I've ever started to read. Admittedly, I didn't finish it. I've got better ways to spend three minutes than reading Bayless' continued love affair with stating the obvious.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Okay, moving onto other things...
Okay, moving onto other things...
Is there anyone more frustrating to the rest of the country than Bonds?
Road Crowd: Boo! Boo!
Road Crowd: Uh, boo...kinda...well, yay! Er, wait a minute. BOO!
Is there any more enigmatic pitcher than Hennessey? Oh, yeah, Brett Tomko. But, besides Tomko, is there any more enigmatic pitcher than Hennessey?
Putting Tomko and Hennessey on the mound every 5th day is like playing Texas Hold 'Em and going all in after the flop whenever you have the nut flush draw. If you catch your card, it's more than likely a winner, and you'll rake in mucho chips. But if you don't, you're left with absolutely nothing.
Just for grins and giggles, the San Diego Padres magic number is down to...seven, I believe, after last night's victory over the We-Used-All-Our-Runs-Up-Yesterday Colorado Rockies. There are 11 games left. The Padres will pretty much have to go about 3-8 for the Giants to have a chance, and of course the Giants will at least need to take 3 of 4 from the Padres in their series next week.
There I go, talking about the Giants playoff chances after I said that I wouldn't. I must severely punish myself with...a bottle of cream soda.
Mmmmmmm. Cream soda.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Draw what conclusions you will -- all I will say is that given some recent incidents with the Giants and KNBR, when I saw this item I just had to share it with everyone.
There have been some rookie phenoms that have gotten some press in the last month or so, like Jeff Francouer or Zach Duke, and rightly so -- they started their major league careers off with a bang. But Francouer's cooled off and Duke was injured for a while, so perhaps it's time for Cain to shine, eh?
Duke and Cain are very, very good to compare at this point (heck, they even both have 8 letters in their first and last names combined), and to throw in a little curve into the situation, I'm going to include the numbers of Zack Grienke's 2004 season as a point of reference (definitions for the statistics will be at the end of the entry).
Zach Duke, 22 years old:
1.84 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 6.79 k/9, 2.67 k/bb ratio, .644 OPS against, 3.82 p/pa, 15.3 p/ip
Matt Cain, 20 years old:
2.12 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 6.09 k/9, 1.64 k/bb ratio, .534 OPS against, 4.88 p/pa, 14.9 p/ip
Zack Grienke, 21 years old (20 in 2004):
3.97 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 6.21 k/9, 3.85 k/bb ratio, .752 OPS against, 3.82 p/pa, 15.2 p/ip
Interesting, no? Imagine anchoring a rotation with those three kids. I could include somebody like Dontrelle Willis, but then, I could include a lot of other young pitchers, too. But no, I think these three will suffice.
Has anyone noticed one large piece of information out? Sample size, of course. There's a reason -- mostly because I don't want the fluidity of the numbers to get clogged up, but also because the stats I've presented on these three represent a couple of nice little checkpoints for a young pitcher's first year: the debut (Cain's five starts and 34 total innings pitched), settling in (Duke's 11 starts and 64.2 total innings pitched, and a near full season (Grienke and his 24 starts and 145 total innings pitched from 2004).
Duke and Cain are pretty damned close. I'll ignore ERA, thanks very much, but Cain's got Duke in the WHIP category, as well as OPS against. Duke's got Cain in the k/9 category, as well as a nice k/bb ratio.
I'm not going to try and go any deeper, or try and figure who has the brighter future -- I'd need some minor league data for that. However, they both obviously have bright futures...or, do they?
You see, caution comes in the form of Mr. Grienke, whose numbers weren't too shabby, either, after the longest tenure of the three youngsters. His k/bb ration showed phenomenal control in one so young, and he had a decent k rate, too.
Grienke this year? Well, he's looked much, much better in September this year, but try these numbers on for size in Zack's sophomore season:
5.81 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 5.49 k/9, 2.10 k/bb, .873 OPS against, 3.86 p/pa, 16.9 p/ip
His WHIP has soared, his strikeout rate went down, his walks rate rose, opponents started teeing off on him, and it was taking him more than a pitch and a half more per inning to get out of the inning.
Now, while some of you may scoff, saying, "Grienke's numbers didn't look quite as good as Cain's and Duke's anyway, so that doesn't mean anything. Duke and Cain are just better", let me remind you that Grienke put his numbers up over 24 starts and over twice as many innings as Duke, and over four times as many innings as Cain. If anyone would've been trusted of those three, most would go with the guy who has shown the most over the longest period of time -- which would've been Grienke.
So, while we should definitely be excited over Cain, and should rightly hope that he's able to have a chance at the starting rotation next season, we should also display a little caution before thinking he's going to do nothing but get better with experience.
But for now? Heh. Wheeeeee!
Stat Definitions: WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched), k/9 (strikeouts per 9 innings), k/bb ratio (walk to strikeout ratio), p/pa (pitches per plate appearance), p/ip (pitches per inning pitched)
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
In the article, located hee-yer, Wetzel does a beautiful job...making a complete fool of himself. Not only does he call Giants fans a bunch of imbeciles (using that exact word), but for reasons unknown he decides that not enough has been said on the subject of Barry Bonds and steroids, and that his voice and opinion is wanted and needed on the subject.
Wrong on both counts, Mr. Wetzel, and your mother wears combat boots.
As little as I like to get childish...okay, as little as I usually like to be childish, Wetzel does that exact thing in the article, sounding like a petulant, spoiled child. Apparently not hip to the ways of the world, he seems to think that Giants fans should've booed Bonds upon his return from injury. Why, you ask? Simple: because that's what they did to Rafael Palmeiro in Baltimore, and because that's what Wetzel thinks we ought to have done.
Such a waste of brain matter here on so many counts. First, somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Palmeiro suspended for steroid use? Didn't Palmeiro fail a drug test, and fail this test after MLB had banned the substance?
Do any of the above things apply to Bonds? Have they ever applied to Bonds?
The situation with us fans here in the Bay Area is the same now as it was last September with Barry -- he plays for our team, and he hits better than anyone else in the game. Sure, suspicions have been heightened surrounding the man, but they have always been fairly high. Sure, evidence was leaked from a Grand Jury testimony (still astounds me as to how regularly that happens in high profile court cases) where Bonds admitted taking some at one time unknowingly, making the circumstantial evidence even stronger, but what else?
Has anything else changed? Oh, wait, a few players other than Bonds have been suspended for steroid use, including Palmeiro. Yes, yes, I see it now -- because those other players were morons and were caught messing around, we should simply apply that to Bonds, and immediately start to hate him, right?
Which passing comet did Wetzel fall off of to land on this planet? That logic is so flawed that George W. could easily spot it.
Some of us, Mr. Wetzel, wait for this little thing called proof before ensuing in mass boo-hysteria. If Bonds fails a drug test and is suspended for steroid use, or is otherwise proven to have taken the drug knowingly over a long period of time in order to get an edge to play professional baseball, then...
...well, you still won't get any boos outta me. You'll get silence, because I will truly be hurt and disappointed, but I won't boo the man after all the entertainment he's provided me. And seeing as how Jason Giambi (who Wetzel also commented on in his embittered article) seems to be smacking the ball around with great authority post-steroids, I also doubt the drug's ability to make Bonds into something he wouldn't have otherwise been.
Here's my response to Mr. Wetzel, pointing out a another flaw in his commentary:
Something you didn't seem to think of, Mr. Wetzel, and a reason why you should think before you write.That chain of logic makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
You laud Baltimore fans over San Francisco fans for the booing of Palmeiro, and say Giants fans should boo Bonds over the strong suspicion of steroid use.
Okay, but let me ask you this, Mr. Wetzel -- what do you think of Baltimore's treatment of Ray Lewis? I don't think I hear any boos when he steps onto the field, and...wasn't he a suspected MURDERER at one time?
So San Francisco Giants fans are imbeciles for cheering a suspected steroid user, but Baltimore fans are great for booing Palmeiro, and cheering a suspected murderer.
I have an idea, Mr. Wetzel...why don't you go and take some length-enhancing drugs for your penis, and when it gets nice and long...
...go fuck yourself.
Monday, September 19, 2005
2) Pedro Feliz hitting in front of Barry Bonds.
The bunts have been problematic all season. Ray Durham bunted early in the game yesterday, and even Mike Krukow expressed displeasure with that move, although he seemed to think that Durham did it on his own and it wasn't called from the bench. Hard to tell with the way it went down whether or not Durham was bunting for a hit or sacrificing, and hard to tell, if it was a sacrifice, if it was called from the bench. Still irritating, though, and with Father Alou's propensity for sacrifices, I can't rule out the possibility he was just being silly again.
Feliz is an odd one. He doesn't have a particularly high ground ball to fly ball ratio (1.13 this year, 1.18 for his career), but it doesn't seem to stop him from hitting into a lot of double plays. Eighteen last year, and he's topped that with 19 this year. Not as much as "Double Play" A.J. Pierzynski or Marquis Grissom, but still too many to put him in front of Bonds (he's like a Baserunner Eraser). I would much, much rather have Durham in front of Bonds -- but Durham's hit into 17 dp's himself this year, and his g/f ratio has jumped up to its highest level since 2002 (1.41). Still, Durham is simply a better hitter than Feliz.
Very nice game yesterday. Splash hit by Bonds, another big home run and RBI from Mike Matheny, nice performance from the Giants pitching staff, and the Giants ended all hope for the Damned Dodgers to come back. 5-3 Giants, and they won the season series from the Dodgers, too, as the win put them at 9-8 against those SoCal jerks for the year.
I'm gonna do the Damned Dodgers Outta the Race Dance. Here I go...
(pointing at nothing)
(couple of old MC Hammer moves)
(Pulp Fiction two-fingers-in-front-of-your-eye dance thingy)
If anyone wants dancing lessons, they start at 150,275 pesos/hour.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Stuff, in this case, can be classified as:
- Sitting around, scratching my unmentionables when I wasn't working
- Playing a new video game I bought
- Playing poker (live and online - winning, too)
- Talking with a beautiful young woman
- Hanging out with the aforementioned beautiful young woman
- Other stuff
I've been catching the Giants games when I can, and I've come to a conclusion. Brett Tomko is going to be a Giant next year, because he's pitching well when it "matters". Nevermind that it doesn't really matter, because the Giants aren't in a race for the division. They were in a race to get into a race for the division, but they never quite made it. Also nevermind that had Tomko pitched better earlier, when apparently it doesn't matter as much, the Giants might actually be in it right now.
Think about it. Had Tomko not gotten bombed in, say, three previous games back in May or June somtime, the Giants could be 2.5 games back instead of 5.5.
Anybody wanna tell me about how September "matters" more than the other months?
Nevertheless, he's doing his tease again, and the fact is that the Giants don't stand much of a better chance for getting a better pitcher for the money. Tomko should be happy to re-sign for another year for the same money, although I think it likely that another team will bite onto the Just-Maybe-Tomko-Can-Be-A-Good-3rd-Starter Bandwagon (tm) and pay him more than the 2.65 million he's making this year with the lack of sure things in the starting pitcher free agent market this upcoming offseason.
If Tomko is re-signed for, say, 3 million, would that be a bad move? I'll let that one simmer in its own juices before answering that one myself (a fancy way of saying I haven't the damndest idea at the moment).
Oh, and whatever the heck Randy Winn is eating, I want some -- just hold the steroids, please.
I jest, of course, but the saddest thing is, I bet it that thought has taken root in the fertile fields of some a few thousand dumb schmucks' minds. At least, those dumb schmucks who have taken note of Winn's well-nigh 1.000 OPS since coming over to the Giants.
Dumb Schmuck: Wow, look at Randy Winn's number since joining the Giants! He's slugging well over .600 in 173 at-bats!
Dumb Schmuck's Mind: You do realize, of course, that Barry Bonds is on the Giants, and he takes steroids every five minutes, and Benito Santiago was on the Giants, and he took steroids -- so, without a doubt, Winn must have starting taking steroids, too, as soon as he joined the team.
Dumb Schmuck: Yeah, you're right! He must've started taking steroids when he joined the team, and they had immediate effect! He wouldn't have hit for the cycle if it wasn't for those steroids!
Dumb Schmuck's Mind: Of course I'm right! How could you ever doubt me? Now quick -- go back to that porn site. I want to see that girl do that thing with the leather belt, ferret, and car battery again.
Well, yes, but Jason Ellison slugged over .600 in his first 73 at-bats of the season. He's slugged about .00000000029 since, but Winn won't be this good next year, either...right? I mean, I'd like nothing better than the Winn from 2002 to patrol CF next year for the Giants. If that turns out to be the case, Brian Sabean will end up having made a decent trade. I will remind everyone, however, that Winn has had no impact on the pennant race...excuse me, "pennant race".
- On July 30th, the Giants were 5.5 games back of the Padres.
- On September 17, the Giants were 5.5 games back of the Padres.
Now, to be fair, the Giants are a slightly better team. On July 30th, the Giants held a .437 winning percentage, and as of September 17th, they have a .459 winning percentage. But ask yourself, is this because of Randy Winn, or because of the near-complete turnaround in the Giants pitching staff since the end of July?
Ah, well, I've run my course for today. Enjoy thyselves today, whether you'll be watching baseball (like me), football (like me), playing in a poker tournament (like me), or cruising the Bay in a 50-foot yacht (like me).
Monday, September 12, 2005
We are going to get a glimpse of the possibilities tonight, and for some of the 20 some-odd games left in the Giants season. How is Bonds' health? How has his skill suffered for being off for more than five months? Can he stay healthy? Can he regain the monstrous form we've grown accustomed to?
Many seem to think that he's back, and thus all will be fine. The Giants should spend any extra money (if, indeed, there will be any) on starting pitching to solidify the rotation, and the offense will go back to its 2004 form which saw the team place 2nd in the NL in scoring. It is definitely a possibility, and one that I would hope for.
However, there are several realities which intrude upon this dream, and they lie in the possible answers to the questions I posed above. Can the Giants really count on Barry to be Barry and for everything to go back to the way it was? I don't think they can.
Add in some other factors, like:
- Moises Alou, the best hitter on the club presently, will be older next year right along with Barry. Can he be counted on to put up a 900 OPS again? He ought to see better pitches with Barry in the lineup, but can he stave off skill regression due to age for another season?
- Randy Winn, bless the guy's heart, won't hit like this next season. He's been almost single-handedly driving the Giants' current pitiful offensive output -- if he doesn't hit like this when he came over, the Giants likely sit 10 games or more out instead of just seven.
- Ray Durham's also going to be a year older, and he, along with Winn and Alou, has been the only other guy that has truly produced this season.
- Mike Matheny's had a career year at the plate, and has hit fairly well for a catcher. Next season, back to a sub-700 OPS you go, Mike. I'd like to put more faith in the guy, but since he's never produced near this level at any other point in his career (and he's going to be older, too), I simply can't do that.
What do these things make me believe? It isn't time to get more pitching, which currently is the Giants strength. It's time to get more offense. But where, really? Next year's team is pretty much set. There may be some positions open, to be sure, like utility infielder (it seems that if the team can't jettison Edgardo Alfonzo, this will be his role), backup catcher (can we really trust Yamid Haad?), and possibly the 4th or 5th outfielder (dunno if Brian Sabean will trust either Jason Ellison or Todd Linden), but other than that...
...except for 1st base.
There's another trust problem at this position: 1) Sabean obviously won't trust in Lance Niekro to play the position full-time next season, and 2) I think it's obvious Sabean would like nothing more than to bring J.T. Snow back for one more year, if he can.
This is a huge problem. The team didn't give Niekro enough of a chance to see if he could be trusted playing full-time, and they're giving Snow every opportunity to maybe get a little hot and secure a spot next year. It's been mishandled, and now the Giants really, to me, only have one choice -- go out and get a 1st baseman.
A 1st baseman that can hit.
This, too, is a huge problem. The free agent class for 1st basemen next year is sad, really. A listing of the potentially available players is here, so you can take a look if you'd like. But it boils down to Paul Konerko and a bunch of dudes. It isn't just a problem because of that, it's a problem because there are some older veteran players on that list that I think will tempt Sabean if he actually decides to get a free agent (John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro, Julio Franco, Frank Thomas, and Tino Martinez). I'm only joking a bit with those names -- they're all in their late 30's to their 40's, and as he's already picked up drug-policy violator and known problem-child Alex Sanchez, I can't eliminate Palmeiro from that list (betcha he'll be cheap - snort, laugh).
Trade is a possibility, too, but I haven't a clue as to what Sabes could accomplish there.
How much would Konerko, the only true option in the free agent market, cost? Egads, I know not. He already makes near 9 million this season, so I would have to think he'd go after Carlos Delgado-type money (around 12 mil per). The Giants couldn't afford this, I don't think, unless they are able to dump Alfonzo and his 7 mil per somehow. They'll already have salary raises with Mike Matheny (1.25 million more), Armando Benitez (1.5 mil more), Jason Schmidt (about 2 mil more), Omar Vizquel (1.5 mil more), and...Winn in CF will likely make 2 million plus more than Marquis Grissom did, LaTroy Hawkins' extra millions will be totally on the team's payroll next year, and Scott Eyre will receive a pay raise, too.
Offsetting this will be Kirk Rueter's 7 mil or so, Bonds' slight pay drop of 2 mil, and hopefully the aforementioned dump of Alfonzo, although I'd imagine the Giants would have to pick up a large chunk of his salary to seal any deal involving him.
In part 3 I'm going to take a look at the rotation, and why I think that Sabean's best bet is to gamble with what he's got now instead of going out and getting a free agent or two.