Thursday, March 31, 2005

Levine Intervention

What's a 0.00 ERA usually mean?

In many cases, it means that a pitcher hasn't pitched yet, or he's pitched in very, very limited duty without giving up a run.

In the case of Al Levine, it means, "Thanks, but no thanks."

The Giants have released Levine as well as Wayne Franklin, two moves that were generally expected. Levine's release could be viewed as a surprise by some, as he had not allowed a single run in nine innings of work, with a couple of saves to go along with a few wins.

Levine pitched for the Royals a bit during their surprise 2003, where I found him to be one of those "gets it done somehow" sort of pitchers. None of his numbers, except ERA, might suggest that he's any good: he's never had a high strikeout rate, never had a particularly low walk rate, never had a good k/bb ratio, has never suppressed power...he has, however, managed to have a sparkly, shiny ERA below 3.00 twice in the last four seasons, and he was something short of poor in the other two seasons, so it's not beyond belief that Levine could hook up with another ML team within the next week or so. I wish him luck, but I don't think he'll need it. He'll find another job.

Franklin, on the other hand, has never managed to do anything in his career outside of being an "innings-eater" for the 2003 Milwaukee Brewers, giving up 36 homers in 194 innings pitched. Innings-eaters have their uses, but as Franklin is a reliever now, that innings-eater tag turns to "long reliever", and a poor one at that. The Giants have a plethora of candidates for this job, all of whom are either younger or better. Franklin is, by all accounts, a great guy, but a great guy who needs to pitch a lot better if he wants to stay in the league. I wish him luck because he really, really needs it, otherwise "non-roster invitee" and "minor league contract" are going to be some other phrases that'll apply to Franklin in the near future.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

By the way...

I now feel it safe to complete my Kansas City Royals 2005 Infield Preview (for the few of you who are actually interested), as the team has made some definitive moves over the last few days in regards to who exactly will be playing where.

I have the two way-too-lengthy parts of the outfield preview here and here, although that is already out-of-date with the news that Royals are going to keep Emil Brown, He of the Hot Spring, not only just on the team, but possibly as their everyday right fielder. I factored Brown in not at all, as I assumed incorrectly that he couldn't do enough to stay on the team. Well, apparently enough was running a .378 batting average with 5 home runs in 45 at-bats, so Emil will take his 30-year old self and play some Major League ball with the Royals this year. Matt Diaz played so horribly this Spring that he was assigned to AAA Omaha, where I hope he can get his stuff together, as Brown, at best, is going to be the 2005 version of Aaron Guiel. You can sponser either Brown or Diaz' web page on for $5 apiece, which probably is an indication that I've talked about this far too much already.

In regards to those infield moves, Ruben Gotay has been named the starting 2nd baseman over Tony Graffanino (who, by the way, is a $10 sponsership at baseball-reference), Mark Teahen will be the starting 3rd baseman on Opening Day (he ain't even on the site yet), and...

As announced by Kevin Agee, Calvin Pickering has been freed. All-Star Ken Harvey -- or, if you prefer, "All-Star" Ken Harvey -- has been sent to Omaha to work on his hitting approach, and Phat Calvin will be free to do some DH-ing, play a bit of 1B, and pinch-hit for the Royals in 2005. Here's to hoping he gets those 500 ab's to see what the man really can do.

So, with the infield set, I can now do some unnecessary analysis on what all this means for the Royals chances to go for 1st in the AL Central (still terrible), or better yet, see if these moves mean the Royals may actually run the Kansas City version of the Indianapolis .500 (record).

Take care, everyone.

Little Bits of Stuff

News on some former Giants...

  • Andres Galaragga has retired from baseball. I haven't seen a confirmed reason why as of yet, but I'm assuming for the moment it was the Big Cat beating the Mets to the punch -- whether that "punch" was releasing him or assigning him to the minors, I'm uncertain. I still think Galaragga would have been a better hitter than Doug Mientkiewicz, but I'm not sure by how much, and obviously Mientkiewicz is much better defensively than the chunk-over-40 Galaragga could be at his age. Here's to hoping that an AL team with a need for a DH picks up Big Cat sometime this season so he can whack his 400th career home run. It wouldn't really mean much overall, but if it's what Galaragga wants, then it's what I want for him. Good luck, Big Cat.
  • Armando Rios is a free agent. Again, I'm unsure -- in this case, I don't know if the Minnesota Twins released him, or he refused their minor league assignment...doesn't matter really. For those teams who want an acceptable defensive right fielder who can draw a walk with a little pop in his bat on the cheap, I'm sure Rios is available. He actually had a three season stretch where he posted a well-over .800 OPS in about 700 at-bats, so it's not as if he's never done's just that the three season stretch was over three years ago, that's all.
  • Tom Goodwin was released by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which is enough insult in and of itself, so I'll refrain from any wisecracks.
  • Chad, he wasn't released, merely sent to the minors by the Cleveland Indians. This is the Silver Lining in the Dark Cloud of this entry. Zerbe's still got a team, at least.
  • Last, and definitely least, it looks as if ol'Sidney Ponson just can't stay out of the bad news for long -- now it comes out that he was the recipient of a DWI back in January. By itself, I don't consider the DWI to be a big deal, but when coupled with the fights...well, one is an accident, two is a coincidence, three is a trend. I'm just surprised Ponson didn't try to fight the cop that pulled him over and get himself clubbed with a nightstick for his trouble. I think Ponson ought to consider diving headfirst into a wall in order to improve his intelligence level.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Guest Post: Kevin Agee

By Kevin Agee, of Kevin's Royals Blog:

I’m beginning to think the steroids "scandal" in baseball is quickly becoming the sports equivalent of people looking at a car crash. For example, just like we as humans are drawn to insensitively stare at two or more cars in a piled heap and the emotional people involved, baseball fans can’t stop exploring every last aspect of one of the biggest wrecks in the history of professional sports. I’m certainly no exception to that. It’s frustrating, really. Even though I know I shouldn’t look at or write about the issue anymore, I just can’t help but constantly respond to other people’s opinions, especially when I think they’re flat-out wrong.

Thanks to an Associated Press poll that produced some very interesting results, this week’s ‘roids debate has extended to Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds’ chances of making the Hall of Fame. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, the AP sent a survey to every member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, simply asking if he (or she) would vote for McGwire, Bonds, both, or neither in the aftermath of the steroids era. Of the roughly 500 polled, 155 responded. Among those voters, only 55.6 percent said they’d vote for McGwire’s induction, leaving him about 20 percentage points shy of the needed percentage for actual enshrinement. Oddly, Bonds – the poster boy of the issue – received support from 80 percent of the respondents.

A poll such as this one is about as unscientific as a poll can get, especially because about 70 percent of the people who’re going to vote for or against McGwire and Bonds didn’t bother to respond. However, it gives us a sample of the way things might go when McGwire’s eligible for the Hall in 2007. Frankly, it really bothers me that only 55.6 percent of the respondents said they’d support Big Mac making it to Cooperstown.

Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t the thought of McGwire not getting in that makes me angry, it’s the reason why. When he chose to not discuss his past when speaking before The Panel of Lazy Suits at the congressional witch hunt, he instantly became condemned in the court of public opinion, despite a total lack of existing evidence that he used illegal anabolic steroids. To illustrate this, take a peek at what Los Angeles Times writer Bill Plaschke said about McGwire:

"It's obvious from his own statements he used some form of performance-enhancing drugs and it's obvious from his statistics he did not become a Hall of Fame-type player until he did so."

And another quote from Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti:

"He had a chance to help himself, help his sport, a chance to help kids and the parents sitting behind him and he just whiffed," said Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times. "It might as well be a guilt admission."

I don’t completely disagree with either guy, because I can get with the school of thought that McGwire’s reluctance while under oath to deny steroid use looks really, really bad for him. However, at this point, all anybody has on the suspected steroid users – Bonds, McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, among others – is nothing more than suspicion. The only way McGwire’s statements would make it "obvious" he used "some form of performance-enhancing drugs" would be if he said, "I used steroids." And the last time I checked, using his right to invoke the Fifth Amendment in no way makes it "a guilt admission." Again, does it look bad and sound some alarm bells? Yes. However, like everything else involved in this dark cloud that’s threatening our game, we just don’t have enough information to throw accusations at individuals, and we really don’t have enough information to keep a qualified guy out of the Hall. At least not yet.

I’m absolutely protecting the players I grew up watching, just as the geezers in Washington, D.C. are doing whatever they can to ensure that the person who breaks Henry Aaron’s home run record does so cleanly. But what I’m also doing is making sure the players – even those who probably did it – are treated fairly, even in the court of public opinion where, evidently, nothing more than Jose Canseco’s word, big muscles, and a defiant attitude are enough to convict Bonds, McGwire, Jason Giambi, and others of using steroids. Making assumptions is a dangerous, dangerous thing to do. Until we KNOW that McGwire juiced up, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. (end of article)

(Daniel) I will chime in with just this: whatever anyone else thinks, the Hall of Fame is for the best baseball players who have played Major League Baseball. The "Fame" portion of it can be attributed to their stature as figures in baseball history, as well as their contribution on the field, much of which can be measure statistically. Nowhere in that is there a measure of character and morality, each of which would keep someone like Ty Cobb out of the Hall in an instant -- which is worse, the possibility Bonds and McGwire used steroids, which wasn't even illegal, or Cobb, who was a bigot, asshole, and racist for all to see?

If they keep McGwire out of the Hall because of this, then Cobb, and others in the Hall like him, need to be summarily ejected. Otherwise, it's all a sham.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Musical Mayhem - Lavish Green

I hate following. But sometimes, when an idea is cool, not following along is dumb. I hate following, but not as much as I hate being dumb. So, I'm going to follow along with a cool idea.

A few baseball blogs I've run across (including two on that thar sidebar: Aaron Gleeman's site, and Kevin Agee's site) have including music into their posting in one way or another. Gleeman went so far as to pose a challenge to bloggers to put their I-Pods on shuffle, and to list the first 40 songs that came up on their blogs, like he did. It may not seem like much to some of you, but listing 40 songs out of what one listens to can tell people a bit about you, and in some cases (with some songs or artists), be a little embarrassing.

I don't have an I-Pod, so I did not take Gleeman's challenge -- also, I don't think I'm on his blog-reading list. However, my friend Kevin had a decent idea a while back for his blog -- he simply listed a bit of his musical taste on his sidebar. It's a good idea, so I think I'm going to follow along, although I hate following.

From left to right: John (drums), Joel (lead guitar), Sanchez (lead vocals, trumpet), and Rob (bass, vocals)

I'm going to start with the band pictured above: Lavish Green. No, most of you haven't heard of them, but we have to realize that it isn't always the most talented artists that sign record contracts and hit the big time.

Why these guys? Well, they're my favorite band. Why? Well, their music isn't any better than a couple other bands I love like Tool, Sevendust, or Chevelle, but it's just as good, and...well, I know these guys, and they're as cool as they come.

They're based out of South Lake Tahoe, and are often doing shows in Nevada, the Sacramento area, the Bay Area, and points south. They play hard rock, funk, ska, a bit of reggae, and when they do a show, people shake their booties (including me). They've had some of their songs featured on the t.v. show Monster Garage, ESPN, MTV, a snowboard video or three, and was featured on the FOX Sports show 5,4,3,2,1...which I'm assuming is still going, and I'm assuming is still hosted partially by Leeann Tweeden.

See how it all ties together? My favorite band was featured on a show hosted by my favorite babe-I'll-never-have? I'll spare you the suspense -- she wasn't on the scene when they were interviewed, so they didn't get the chance to meet her. Drat, and double-drat!

In any case, you can head over to and learn a little more, specifically when and where they're playing so you can figure out a day and time to check them out. Bring some open ears and some enthusiasm with you, and a willingness to shake that booty (or, perhaps mosh a depends, you know?).

Oh, and fellas, I missed you at Time Out, but I WILL be in Concord to see you on 4/20 -- I mean, how could I NOT be there to see y'all rock the f*** out on 4/20, of all days? But um, I don't know about being in the Pit and all, if one forms...I'm getting a little old for that s***, ya know?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

All According to Plan

A few of you may remember, about a month and a half ago I made a naked...well, maybe not naked, but scantily-clad power grab by putting up pics of Eva Longoria and Leeann Tweeden on the blog here. Part of the reason for this was to test my new little toy to see how posting pics on the blog would go, and the other part was to experiment a bit with pics of hot chicks and seeing how that would affect my blog traffic, even if only for a moment.

Well, it didn't do lots for blog traffic, as expected, but I did finally succeed in catching an search-engine reference today, and I followed it to It turns out, if one were to happen to put in "Leeann Tweeden baseball" into a search string, good ol' Orange & Black Baseball comes up 2nd in the results. If one puts in "Eva Longoria baseball" into the search, this blog comes up 4th. Haven't the slightest clue why anyone would put that into a search string, but the knowledge is still strangely comforting.

If you're reading this caption, you need to get your priorities straight. Look a little higher. There you go.

The reason for the picture this time? Well, Josh Beckett, to my knowledge, is still dating Leeann Tweeden (lucky bastard), so there's a baseball-related reference for you to qualify putting another HOT, HOT pic of Miss Tweeden on my blog.

As if I really needed an excuse.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Skip Bayless on Bonds

I read this Skip Bayless article on Bonds on earlier today, and I formed an opinion on the article. Then I e-mailed Mr. Bayless my opinion on the article. I'll tell you all about it in...oh, let's say no later than Monday.

In the meantime, the article is here, and I would like to ask some of you to read that article, form your opinion on the article, and feel free to e-mail me or leave your opinion in the comments section.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Fights I'd Like to See, Part 2

I propose a new statistic to track for Major League Baseball players: stupidity factor.

And if PECOTA were to project this stat? Sidney Ponson would rank first...or last, depending on how one views these things.

Ponson was involved in another altercation recently. Teammates say he was defending himself, but...

Let's get this straight here. By the time the season begins, there will be about 650 major league ballplayers in MLB, and in training camp this spring, that number is much closer to 1500.

Of all these players, it just so happens that Sydney Ponson, the Judge Puncher, would happen to get attacked and need to "defend himself"?

Color me skeptical.

Fights I'd like to see? The Judge Puncher vs. The Crotch Kicker, yes folks, Ponson vs. Pierzynski! The Battery of Pain!

Hey, wouldn't it be cool if Ponson was pitching to A.J.? A.J. would be calling the pitch, but Ponson would keep shaking him off, so then A.J. would put his middle finger straight down like he was calling the next pitch, and then Ponson would get mad and charge home plate? Like, wouldn't that be so cool?

Ponson needs to invest in a DSD (dumb-shit detector). It might get a bit annoying for him, since it'd always be going off, but at least he'd have a clue.

See, I told you here that Ponson holds the Champion's Belt, ready to take on all comers, be they Pierzynski, Milton Bradly, or Ron Artest.

All we need is Jim Lampley, Mills Lane, and a $60 surcharge.

Sidebarus Updateus

I realized there were a few things I was enjoying that a few of my readers might not know about. I wrestled with my innate selfishness for a while, before deciding to share. Sharing is caring, you know.

First up, all-around good guy Jim McLennan has done his George Jefferson imitation, and is movin' on up to some new Internet digs. Sure, you enjoyed the writing on his old site, But It's a Dry Heat, but you decided after a while that the pale yellow backround reminded you a little too much of bile, and thus visited less frequently than you would have liked. Well, have no fear! AZ Snakepit is here! It's got a pretty layout, and a pretty picture of a pretty diamondback on home plate, and pretty Arizona Diamondback colors all over, along with all sorts of other goodies! Jim's writing has went downhill since, but who cares!? The new site is PRETTY!

Alright, jokes aside, go there and enjoy Jim. His site now reflects the quality of his stuff, and even if I can't get him to concede that the way Barry Bonds is pitched to is the equalizer against any possible steroid boost. :)

Another site that is part of the Sportsblog family that Jim is now a part of, is John Sickel's Minor League Ball. John was formerly writing for, until they suddenly became idiots and parted ways with him. Their loss is our gain, because now we don't have to pay any freaking money for that stupide ESPN Insider (of which it seems Rob Neyer is the only baseball participant) to check out some of John's great insight and analysis on minor league prospects. He's even knowledgeable about the Royals farm system -- astonishing as it is that he even bothered to check to see if the Royals still had a farm system, it's more astonishing that he comes off as if he actually cares about their farm system. 'Twas enough to bring a tear to my eye, I tell you. He's also wrote up a piece on the Giants system, and was even kind enough to write things about their hitting prospects, such as they are. Dude, check it!

Next, we have the Baseball News Blog, which, oddly enough, is exactly what it says. That's it. It's a great launching pad for your Web-surfing baseball day, because it has links to what seems like just about every blog out there (curiously though, my friend Kevin Agee isn't on there, so I'm guessing the site isn't omnipotent). I dunno exactly who takes the time to put the site together, because I don't see any names or e-mail links, but nevertheless, they were kind enough to link me, so I'm gonna link 'em back. Remember, sharing is caring.

Last, and definitely not least, I'm not sure if I ever did any sort of write-up on Steve Shelby's Giants News Diary or not -- if I did, well, read another, because I'm your friend and I amuse you. Steve's site has something I can't really emphasize enough: everything. Well, pretty much everything Giants-related, at least. If you want to make sure you are keeping up with the team, go to Steve's site first and save yourself some mouse-clicking calories.

Steve also plays Texas Hold 'Em, which makes him A-Okay in my book. Here's to hoping you get that four-of-a-kind, Steve, and here's to hoping you get it when someone else is unfortunate enough to catch a full boat on the same what happened to me the other day on Party Poker. How was I supposed to know the guy had pocket five's?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Equal Ground

A point I just thought of, which strangely, I haven't heard/read brought up before in regards to any possible use of steroids by Barry Bonds, and any possible help this may have given him in regards to his home runs totals vs. Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.

Has any of you ever heard of the "Aaron shift"? No? How about the "Ruth shift"? No again?

How about Aaron or Ruth getting intentionally walked 60-70 times? Or, 120 times in one season? Still nothing? 604 career intentional walks?

Well, let's throw in 198 or 232 walks in one season? (crickets chirping)

Wow, this is getting difficult.

How about Aaron or Ruth getting walked every, single time first base is open with men on base? How about Aaron or Ruth getting walked even with nobody on base, but two outs in the inning?

How about Aaron or Ruth getting walked with the bases loaded?

Though not proven, steroids could have very well helped Barry Bonds get to the lofty 703 home runs he has in his career. However, there can be absolutely no doubt that if the rest of the league let Bonds play baseball the way they let Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth play baseball, he'd have a chunk more than 703 right now, steroids or no steroids. There was no running from hitters in those eras like the league runs from Bonds now.

Bonds: 604 career intentional BB's (and we'll just ignore all the unintentional/intentional walks for now)

Aaron: 293 career intentional BB's

Ruth:, data unavailable on intentional walks, but I'm sure he had quite a few...but 604? Possibly. We'll never know.

Alright! Down you go!

Pour out a little liquor for the homies, Brad Hennessey has been sent back to Fresno, along with Todd Linden, who suffers from an inability to play centerfield and not being a left-handed hitter.

That's too bad for they-selves.

I would expect Hennessey back before too long -- when an injury crops up, or just a bit after the Giants figure out that Jeff Fassero is 40, and he sucks like a 10 year-old at a Lollipop Convention.

On another note, I'm wondering if Brian Dallimore might find a way on the team as Feliz logs more outfield games, taking Feliz' place as Super Utility Man. A few things are in his favor, like his .500 batting average in the spring, and the fact that he's over 30 years old.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Royals 2005 Preview: the Outfield, Part 2

To finish up the outfield, let's have a look at Eli Marrero, Matt Diaz, and David DeJesus.

Eli Marrero, 2004, Braves: .320/.374/.520, 10 HR, 250 at-bats

Aren't those just the prettiest percentages? Basking in the glow of an almost .900 OPS can make you miss the important things, like the fact that it was by far Marrero's best year in the bigs, the OPS is about 180 points above his career average, and that Marrero is already 31 years of age. And that stuff is very important, because it tells us that that performance isn't likely to be repeated. Adhering to the splits will help, as I believe Marrero could be a plenty fine hitter against left-handed pitching. His outfield defense is decent, though not spectacular by any means. Better than Stairs he is, says Yoda.

Matt Diaz, 2004, Devil Rays: .190/.292/.476, 1 HR in...21 at-bats

Only 21 ab's, so not enough to tell us much, though Diaz did manage to hit for the cycle through those ab's with a double and a triple thrown in. Let's throw in his AAA numbers from Durham:

.332/.375/.575, 21 HR in 503 at-bats

Alright, that certainly explains why Allard Baird picked this guy up. In my world, with the Royals' list of corner outfield candidates, I'd make sure this guy got at least 400 ab's with the big club. Terrence Long, Matt it a mystery as to what these guys will do? Marrero had a breakout season last year, but has nothing in his history to suggest a repeat. Diaz? He's got 30 major league at-bats, and a well-over .900 OPS in about 750 ab's at the AAA level. He's 26 years old, and plays decent outfield defense. He's also got base-stealing ability, having stolen 60 bases in three years of AA and AAA ball, nabbing 15 of 19 last year at Durham, good for over an over 75% success rate.

Sounds like he's ready for the big-time to me. How Baird continues to rack up these type of players for next-to-nothing is beyond me, but until Diaz it looked as if his powers only extended to pitching prospects -- Diaz proves this may not be the case. With Tony Pena at the managerial helm, however, I don't put Diaz much past 250 ab's, unless injury or extreme circumstance dictate otherwise. Here's to hoping the guy shows off.

David DeJesus, 2004: .287/.360/.402, 7 HR in 363 at-bats

No, not Carlos Beltran, but duplicating those numbers over 600 at-bats would be extremely nice. It's also very possible that DeJesus is better than those numbers, as he was clearly out of sorts when he was first called up to the big club, going 0-fer his first 21 at-bats, if memory serves correctly. His slugging percentage isn't too bad for a centerfielder at .402, but there is some minor league data that could be used to suggest that number projects to be higher -- his SLG % totals from the minors in the last three years read: .443, .472, and a nice .518 at triple A Omaha last season before getting the callup from Kansas City. His OBP is usually better than 73 points above his average, too, as DeJesus has been nothing less than an on-base machine throughout his minor league career.

So while a .762 OPS in a centerfielder's rookie season isn't bad, DDJ stands a good chance at settling in somewhere over .800, which would just be dandy for the Royals this season. The Achilles Heel on offense would continue to be his questionable base-stealing ability, as for his career DDJ stands about a 50/50 chance of successfully stealing -- meaning, in other words, he needs to figure it out or leave it alone. His defense could use some work as well. While not possessing great range to begin with, he was often cited as taking poor routes to the ball last year with the big club, something that could be attributable to learning the dimensions of Kaufmann Stadium. He'll likely never be more than a solid centerfielder anyway, but if he hits his offensive ceiling (he held close to a .900 OPS in the minors), it won't matter as much.

Alright, there you go -- unasked for, yet given -- the way-too-lengthy look at the 2005 Royals outfield.

As I originally promised this 2nd part on Saturday, and here it is Tuesday, I won't make any promises on the infield preview, though I should...should...should have it on this page within the next 3 days.

Love, Peace, and Hair Grease!

A Test

Here it is, a test for us all. Are we Giants fans first, or do we go to watch the Barry Show?

If he does indeed miss the entire season, the Bay Area fanbase will be exposed for what it is: loyal to the team, or just a bunch of bandwagon riders, ready to jump off as soon as the ride gets rough.

This is a bad blow for Barry, as the only real way to quiet the steroid critics was to go out there when most would assume he's clean, and put up another 1.300 OPS season. Giambi will be watched for this, as well, but the attention would have paled in comparison to the microscope Bonds would have found himself under. Now, we'll just have to wait. What will we do in the meantime?

Me? I'm going to still go to the ballyard, still tune in to FOX and KTVU, still wear my hat, jersey, still blog...

What will everyone else do? How many of us were watching the San Francisco Bonds and not the San Francisco Giants?

We're about to find out.

Monday, March 21, 2005


I don't like the word "indefinitely". It's an uncertain word which, unfortunately, allows me to exercise my pessimism to the fullest. So, I go about preparing for the worst in regards to Barry Bonds' 2nd knee surgery, which is going to keep him out...yes, indefinitely. The thing is, how do you prepare for the worst in regards to this? The worst has already happened, and will continue to happen if the man misses more than a month of real baseball games.

It obviously means Pedro Feliz gets more time in the outfield, but whether that's left field or right remains to be seen. I'm thinking Father Alou will move Son Alou back to left field, where I imagine he'd be more comfortable, leaving Feliz in right field -- at least Pedro Happy has a right field-worthy arm, though he hasn't played enough games out there to see if he can use it effectively. We may find out very soon.

It also lines up Jason Ellison for a roster spot, possibly along with Tony Torcato, who's left-handed-ness ought to merit him great consideration. Michael Tucker now stands as the only left-handed bat in the outfield if we exclude Torcato, leaving Father Alou with less options later in games. I would think that Feliz and Tucker would platoon in right, with Son Alou moving into left, and Dustan Mohr chuckling just a little, wherever he is.

Ellison, by the way, is among the top five defensive center fielders, according to PECOTA's projected Fielding Runs over at Baseball Prospectus. That would be interesting, except that he won't be playing a whole lot of centerfield, and it isn't proven that Ellison can hit major league pitching. Calvin Murray, v2.0, in other words. If age seems to be catching up with Marquis Grissom, however, here's to hoping Felipe gives Ellison a shot to at least save the team some runs defensively here and there, and perhaps see if something can "click" offensively. Hey, at least some of those AAA numbers from Fresno ought to mean something, right?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Poker Night: I really, REALLY hate 4's...

What are the odds?

How many times have you found yourself asking that question? Myself, a few times here and there. It's tough to separate the real bad beats from the hands where someone simply catches a card -- people like to think that if someone only has one out and catches it on the river to take the pot, they're the victim of a bad beat.

Uh, no. Try me on for size.

Twice tonight I found myself the victim of running 4's on the turn and river. Twice. Same card. Turn and river.

The first time was the worst -- it came during the first game, where I was pimpin' Donnie out of his chips going heads up after everyone else was bumped out. I'd call the big blind, he'd raise, I'd go all-in, he'd fold. He'd call the big blind, I'd go all-in, he'd fold. I was beating him up, and he was getting pretty short-stacked after having a significant chip lead going in.

Then, kind of like the title from a few days ago, I caught some cards -- and sometimes, catching cards is bad.

I'm in the big blind and get 7/3 suited clubs. I figure I'm in deep doo-doo, but at least I'm suited, plus I'm in the big blind. Donnie calls, and let's me limp into the flop. I check. Out comes the flop: club, club, club. I've got a freaking flush. A sucky flush, but I have it right now and figure with Donnie on the ropes and, at this point, on the short stack, I want to bet him out of the pot, especially if he's got one club. So I go all-in. Donnie calls.

I turn over the flush, and Donnie turns over two cards, neither of which is a club. He's got king/4 offsuit. Yes, one of the clubs on the flop was a four, so he had a pair, but who freaking cares? He'd need running kings or running fours to beat me.

Turn. 4. River...4. We all kind of let out one of those "just maybe" oooohs when the first 4 hit on 4th street, but it's one of those "nah, not really" oooohs, you know? Figuring that there's noooo way another four comes out. We figured wrong. So, he wins that pot, but I've still got chips. I'm still in it.

I few hand later, we're about evenly stacked, as I pimped Donnie a couple of more times to even up the chip stack. I get king/9 suited spades while in the big blind, Donnie hesitates just a skoche before calling, so I go all-in -- he hesitates a bit more before calling. I turn over my cards, and Donnie turns over...pocket 4's.

Do you see where this story is going?

Yep. Pocket 4's held up, I lose. Not one spade even hit the board. Shame about that.

Two games later (I won the middle game), I'm going up against Luis, who's a known bluffer, but who's also known to check a full boat or an ace-high flush all the way to the river. Unpredictable, in a word. It's just he and I when the flop hit (he was small blind, I was in the big), and I flop two pair, 10's and 6's.

I peek at Luis' chip stack and see I'm well ahead of him, so I go all-in for intimidation. Luis calls with king/4 off suit (yeah, king/4 offsuit...again).

He's got nothing -- no draws, no pair -- why did he call in the first place? There was nothing but crap on the flop, so maybe he thought I had a low pair or something, but nevermind that.

What are the odds? I mean, I already got beat by running 4's once, and pocket 4's won the first game facing two suited overcards, but again?

Yep, again. 4 on the turn, 4 on the river. Trip 4's beats two pair.

I found a way to win a game, come out $60 bucks ahead for the night, and still feel screwed over.

What a game. I oughta kick the guy who invented it.

So next time you're playing some Hold 'Em and you've got your trips and go all-in, and the guy calls you with an inside straight draw and catches his card -- before you get too upset, think of me, and think of running 4's twice on the same night.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Royals 2005 Preview: the Outfield, Part 1

Boy, talk about your comparison and contrast.

Your 2005 San Francisco Giants outfield can be described very well with one word: established.

The 2005 Kansas City Royals outfield can be described very well with one word as well: unsettled.

Oh, it isn't that Allard Baird, the GM of the Royals, or Tony Pena, the Royals manager, don't know who is going to play in the outfield this year. David DeJesus will be the starting center fielder on Opening Day. From there, well, it's...unsettled.

The corner outfield positions have been a worry for the entire offseason. It was nothing less than a mess in 2004, with six different players logging at least 93 at-bats or more at those positions. This year will not feature the skills of Carlos Beltran, nor the "skills" of either Dee Brown or Ruben Mateo, who were released (ours is a merciful God).

The incumbents for right field and left field are Abraham Nunez, Aaron Guiel, and Matt Stairs. The fresh faces will be Terrence Long, Matt Diaz, and Eli Marrero.

That's six players for two positions, meaning there are two we need to cut out of the equation.

Abraham Nunez will be the first to get my nomination, although he possesses decent defensive skills, good on-base ability and some power -- it's just that he can't really hit much to show that power, and having on on-base percentage 80 points above your batting average is great, but not terribly effective when you're hitting .226.

If things were a bit different, I wouldn't mind Nunez on the team to see if he can put it all together as he is currently in his prime at 28, but the problem is that two of the other six candidates -- namely Terrence Long and Eli Marrero -- are getting paid multiple millions of dollars, meaning they're going to play unless Nunez is lights out. Um, Nunez ain't lights out, and I don't even know if the lights have ever been on to put out in the first place. His career OPS is .596 over 300 career at-bats. 'Nuff said, all that.

From there, it becomes a question of Matt Diaz vs. Aaron Guiel, as Matt Stairs is also a fixture. Guiel had a rough season last year after a break out in 2003.

Guiel, 2003: .277/.346/.489, 15 HR over 356 at-bats
Guiel, 2004: .156/.263/.296, 5 HR over 135 at-bats

A lot of that might be attributable to an eyesight problem that kept him out much of the year, but the fact is that Aaron is now 32 years old, and just isn't going to get better. He is scrappy, hustles, possesses decent range and a good arm defensively, but just can't really be included in the Royals future for any length of time.

Matt Diaz? Well, he's done nothing in the major leagues, but had a .950 OPS in AAA for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays over 500 ab's. He's decent defensively, and he's only 26 years old.

Diaz wins.

So what are we looking at? Platoons, of course, freaking platoons. Marrero and Diaz both bat right-handed, and Long and Stairs are lefties. Mix and match to your hearts content.

For my evil purposes, I'm going to pair Marrero and Stairs in right, with Diaz and Long in left.

Stairs, 2004: .267/.345/.451, 18 HR over 439 at-bats.

Stairs makes me think of a quote from any one of several Popeye cartoons.

"I am what I am and that's...what I am."

Stairs' home run totals over the last five years? 21, 17, 16, 20, and 18. Durn consistent, no? However, one interesting difference those years was the number of at-bats Stairs had respectively: 476, 340, 270, 305, and 439. The two bookend years had his most at-bats, but had his lowest two slg % out of the five years, while the middle three had the lowest at-bat totals, yet his slg % rose, and one part of that percentage, home runs, stayed steady.

Sounds like the ideal number of at-bats for the 37 year-old Matt Stairs is probably around 300 -- any more than that looks to be overusing him a bit. When we factor in Stairs' treadmill range (he's running, yes, but not really going anywhere), it's obvious Stairs should not be receiving near a full season's worth of plate appearances.

Long, 2004: .295/.335/.420, 3 HR over 288 at-bats

Almost there...just about...I can make it...a little more...

That seems to be what Long's career OPS is saying in regards to getting to a fairly productive .800, something Long has yet to do. But consistency reigns here as well: Long's OBP is always within about 50 points of his batting average, and his ISO power is usually about .120 to .150 above his average. That is worth something, which is a 4th or 5th outfielder position. Michael Tucker-type stuff. Except that Long makes a couple million plus more than Tucker for having a worse career OPS by 40 points (.730 to .769). How, exactly, do these things happen?

So Long is way overpaid, but is going to play for the Royals. He's still in his prime at 28, but it seems the San Diego Padres were the first team to figure out that Long shouldn't play full-time in the outfield, as last year was the first time that Long logged less than 486 at-bats in a season (he had 288 in 2004). Hopefully that number holds since Long enjoyed his most productive year for the Padres in 3 years last season. He won't totally stink defensively, but can't really be counted on for much else.

Note: I'm posting this partially because I just had some kind of jdkas;djakda; (which means effing crap in Swahili) with my computer, and I lost Eli Marrero's and Matt Diaz' stuff, and I'm too damn lazy to redo it at this time. I'll find a way to post it tomorrow along with a look at David DeJesus.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Change of Plans

After careful consideration...which took me all of 45 seconds, I've decided to not do the position-by-position competition analysis and instead simply do a broad overview of the Royals for 2005.

I'm going to break it down by: outfield, infield, starting rotation, bullpen, and then take a collective look at them offensively and defensively.

I'm figuring it will be much less boring for you all that way, especially those of you who are not Royals fans (gee, what are the chances of THAT?).

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

My Other Team

I've been feeling a bit guilty in the last week or so, as there just hasn't been a lot baseball-wise that I've found interesting enough to write about -- sure, spring training is underway and Real Baseball is just around the corner, but the Giants don't really have any compelling competitions going on. We know what the Opening Day lineup will look like, we know who will be on the bench, we have a pretty good idea of what the rotation will be, and we know how the bullpen will look for the most part.

So, I thought I'd take put up a couple/few entries about my Other Fave Club, the Kansas City Royals. Yes, I hear the groans, and shush yourselves. It won't hurt you.

The Royals, in counterpoint to the Giants, do have a few competitions going on amongst the position players and in the starting rotation. I'm going to cover the infield in the next few days: 1B/DH, 2nd base, and 3rd base. The shortstop position is covered with Angel Berroa, who thankfully is having a good spring. While spring training stats mean about as much as the gum underneath my shoe, for Berroa a good spring can be a...spring-board to some early season success, as his struggles last year after his 2003 Rookie of the Year campaign were daunting, in addition to winterball difficulties. It's nice to know Berroa can still hit.

The oddest thing about the infield of the Royals is that there really shouldn't be any competitions. The reasons for the competitions at 3rd and 2nd are simply because of the youth of hopefuls Mark Teahen and Ruben Gotay -- the timing of their promotion to the big club is delicate, as the Royals organization has to consider not only if they are actually ready to start in the majors, but also whether it would simply be more prudent to bring them up later in the year as to avoid counting 2005 as their rookie season. The competitors at those positions -- journeyman minor leaguer Chris Truby, and utility-man turned starter Tony Graffanino -- aren't more than stopgaps until it is deemed time that Gotay and Teahen are ready.

The 1B/DH position battle is between "All-Star" Ken Harvey and stat-boy cult figure Calvin Pickering. This one is particularly interesting because it seems to put Royals fans on polar opposites regarding the two players. Harvey, dubbed by myself and Kevin Agee as the "Big Contact", completed his 2nd full season last year and "earned" a trip to the All-Star game. Pickering, dubbed "Phat Calvin" by Kevin and myself partly because of his weight and possible offensive prowess, came to the club in August of last season and promptly smacked a bunch of balls around the yard like Captain Caveman, but ended the season with a fairly low batting average and high strikeout rate along with a high walk rate and slugging percentage.

See you tomorrow, where I'll start with 3rd base.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sometimes Catching Cards Is Bad

Well, I accomplished 2 out of 3 of my Poker Night missions.

I won one game, which unfortunately was the first game -- our first games are usually the warm-up games where we only have the $5 buy-ins and many times are waiting for 1 or 2 more people to show up. So I ended winning just enough money to basically mean I was playing for free the whole night if I didn't win another.

I didn't win another.

Catching the cards you want is sometimes the worst thing that can happen. My worst play of the night was after I was dealt queen/ace offsuit, and jack, jack, 10 hit on the flop, meaning I was a king away from a straight to my ace. Sure, I was on a straight draw, but it was an inside draw and there were still 5 other people in after the flop, meaning chances were good that one or two of them already had a king. Plus after that flop, I already knew I was likely facing trip jacks. Nevertheless, after a modest bet by Marcos after which 3 other people folded, I called it and stayed in.

4th street was an ace. So now I have two pair, aces and jacks. However, worsening my predicament was the fact that the ace was a diamond, meaning there were now 3 diamonds on the board. I've got two pair, and I'm facing possible trip jacks and a possible flush (I didn't have a diamond, myself). Did I fold? Oh, no -- I called another modest bet made by Marcos, the same person who bet after the flop. Dumb? Oh, yes.

The river? Guess what? It was a king! Yay, I've got a straight to the ace! Now feeling like I pulled one out of my ass, I'm waiting to see what Marcos bets.

Another modest bet, so I'm thinking he's got the trip jacks and I've just burned him on the river. Do I call him, hedging my bet in case he's got a flush? Oh, no, I go all-in and come over the top of his bet to see if he'll fold.

He called me and turns over the 6 and 8 of diamonds for the flush.

Now, I could go on and on about how odd it was of him to bet the flop when he didn't even have a jack or any overcards, and still was one diamond away from the flush, but that's neither here nor there. I should've known I was facing a flush, and I should've just called his bet instead of going all-in. D'oh!

In the next game, I finally get a wish fulfilled -- I get pocket aces in a live game. Oh, I've got 'em several times on Party Poker, but after about 5,000 hands live, I had never gotten them. What do I do? I go all-in of course -- and get 3 freaking calls. Three of 'em. My buddy Dave really wanted to call, but didn't -- after folding, he showed me he was holding Big Slick suited.

So after I get called by three freaking people and he shows me his Big Slick, I start to get that sinking feeling in my stomach that my pocket aces won't hold up. The three people that called me turn over king/5 (don't ask me why he called), king/queen suited, and pocket 7's (he was the last person to call, don't ask me why he called, either). I immediately start thinking I'm going to lose to trip 7's, but it turned out that a 10, 9, and jack (on the river) hit the board, so I lost to a straight. Guess who had the king/queen suited and got the straight? Freaking Marcos, again. Marcos, who beat me with that stinking flush after staying in (and betting) with 6/8 suited, and the same Marcos who, earlier in that game, got pocket aces twice in three hands (but he won with his).

So yep, now I hate pockets aces, and I hate Marcos, too.

What a game. I oughta kick the guy who invented it. :)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Poker Night

Alright, it's weekly Poker Night, and I'm fired up.

I haven't won in the last 3 sessions, with only one 2nd place to my credit. This is unacceptable.

Therefore, my mission tonight is twofold: 1) Win at least once, 2) come in no worse than 2nd, and 3) do not let my buddy Dave win.

I know what you're saying. "Dan, you said your mission was twofold, but you rattled off three points."

Sure I did, and that should let you know the seriousness of the situation.

Dave wins entirely too much, as he lives and breathes poker -- if he's not playing live, he's playing I could use the excuse that he plays a lot more than me, but I've played plenty and I am plenty good.

I'm gonna kick ass and take names...and win money...and drink some beer...and...other stuff.

Note: In addition to my intense hatred of Big Slick, I also now hate suited cards, as I get flushes more often with offsuit cards than I do with suited cards. I think I run about 1 flush for about 500 occurences of getting suited cards -- and that isn't really an overestimation. If I get suited cards, I will get no more than one more on the flop, though usually the suits just run from me completely. Got clubs? Heart, diamond, heart on the flop. Got hearts? Spade, club, diamond on the flop.

Not that I should expect flushes with suited cards, but most often I don't even get end up with a flush draw after the river...frustrating stuff, I tell you.

Just gimme some freaking connected overcards and I'll be runnin' thangs.

Wish me luck! A Real Entry on Saturday or Sunday, as I'm OFF FOR THE WEEKEND! WOO HOO!

Thursday, March 10, 2005


See, this is my plan.

I figure if I keep adding quality blogs on that thar sidebar, then my own blog will seem a quality one simply by association. Sound good?

Pops, don't answer that.

Anyhow, I have linked another Giants blog called On the Waterfront. Joe's writing is good, but what puts it over the top is the killer pic of Mays Field on his sidebar, a pic that I'm planning on stealing and using for my own nefarious purposes at the first opportunity. Mwaaaa haaa *cough* *cough*...haa haaaaaa!

Go visit. It'll cost less than a calorie's worth of energy to move that right hand and flex that middle finger on the mouse -- why not do

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Why The Heck Not?

It looks like Rick Ankiel of the St. Louis Cardinals will be giving up his career as a pitcher to attempt a career as an outfielder.

It seems a wise move, as Ankiel's had problems with wild pitches dating back to his infamous postseason of 2000, after having a fabulous regular season at the age of 19. After injuries and surgeries, he still could never find full control of his pitches consistently.

As a hitter, Ankiel has enjoyed good success or has hit poorly, depending on whether one thinks of him as a hitting pitcher, or just a hitter. His athletic skills are his best asset currently.

According to ESPN, the Cardinals don't mind sending Ankiel back down to the minors, despite the fact that he has no options left. St. Louis believes that since he's undergoing a pitcher-to-hitter change, that he will be safe going through waivers.

This will never happen, but I would like it if Brian Sabean were to attempt to pick Ankiel up if indeed the Cardinals try and pass him through. Why?

Well, why the heck not?

What exactly does Sabean have to lose? The Giants outfield hopefuls for the future are well-noted for being few and far between -- Torcato and Ellison are 4th outfielders at best, and Linden...well, if Linden can ever translate his minor league hitting success to the majors, he'd be decent, but he's yet to come close.

So why not pick up Ankiel and give him a whirl? In limited major league ab's, Ankiel's numbers really don't look any worse than any other young outfielder prospects the Giants have tried in years. In 2000, in 68 at-bats, he carried a .674 OPS. Granted, that's not much, but Giants outfield prospects have barely had that kind of OPS when hitting full-time -- Ankiel did it while starting 33 games.

It isn't really that I think Ankiel will do much, or become much more than a 4th outfielder himself. But he has some minor-league hitting data that also supports he may be able to swing a good stick, and at least he's had a couple major league home runs to his credit. So with the dearth of young outfield prospects and with the need to at least think juuuuuuust a little of the Giants future P.B.B. (post-Barry Bonds), this is the type of move that, in my opinion, needs to be made.

Go get 'im, Sabes. Zero-risk, small chance of a decent reward. That's good business.

If not, well, here's to hoping my other team, the Kansas City Royals, picks him up.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Having Mastered Hitting, What Else Is There For Him To Do?

I suppose it all just got to be too much for Barry Bonds, and this is a logical conclusion. Tiring of all the media scrutiny and questions of alleged steroid use, Bonds decided to make a position change: relief pitcher.

This from Quick, go here before they fix it!

Or, you can just look at the ESPN's box score pasted below:

J Anderson (L,0-1) 2 6 3 3 0 0 0
S Randolph 2 4 3 1 0 1 1
R Novoa 1 2 0 0 0 0 0
W Ohman 1 1 1 1 0 0 1
C Fox 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
M Wuertz 1 4 3 3 0 0 0
K Rueter (W,1-0) 2 1 1 1 0 0 0
J Brower 1 1 0 0 0 1 0
B Bonds 2 1 0 0 0 1 0
M Herges 1 0 0 0 0 2 0
S Eyre 1 0 0 0 0 2 0
T Walker 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
B Cooper 1 0 0 0 0 1 0

As you can see, Barry only gave up one hit over 2 innings of work in relief of Jim Brower, with no walks and one strikeout. It's been reported that Bonds' deadliest out pitch is his circle change.

I'm going to make a guess that Matt Cain is the name that is supposed to be in the place of B Bonds in their boxscore, as Cain, curiously, had the exact same pitching line as Barry.

Funny stuff. How could an editor miss something like having B Bonds as a relief pitcher?

Friday, March 04, 2005


You've reached Daniel at Orange & Black Baseball.

I can't get to my blog now, so if you please leave your name, e-mail, and a brief comment telling me how much I suck for not making an entry today after the beep, I'll get back to you as soon as I feel like it. Which'll probably be never.

Thanks, and have a nice day.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Alright, here we go!

The Giants first spring training game has been played, and it was a success.

They edged out the Anaheim Angels...uh, the Los Angeles Angels...

You know, I've come to the realization that I ain't gonna be typing the freaking Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim anymore this season. They're the Anaheim Angels, or they're the Angels. That's it. No other city names, and certainly no words like "of", which is simply the last word that should ever be the part of any major sports franchise. Arte Moreno can get all defensive if he wants, but he's going to be called a stupid idiot for doing this all season long, and for the rest of the time the Angels sport that stupid moniker.

'Kay, I'm done.

Anyhow, the Giants edged out...the Angels, 9-8, finally getting revenge for the 2002 World Series defeat they suffered at the Angels hands. Bonds called this victory "triumphant", even though he didn't play, and Felipe Alou shaved his mustache in honor of the achievement.

Hey, forgive me for pulling crap out of the air, but it IS just a spring training game, although it almost gives me wood to finally see live play starting.

Both Brad Hennessey and Armando Benitez were roughed up, which means nothing for Benitez, of course, but isn't a good harbinger for Hennessey. The young pitcher allowed 3 runs and 3 walks in one inning, only getting two outs. Yikes.

I'm going to try for a real post sometime later today, just as soon as I think of something to post about. Anyone got any ideas?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Start Spreadin' the News

All of you social Giants fans won't want to miss this.

On April 9th, the folks over at Mays Field are puttin' on a get-together in San Francisco at the Brickyard, just a couple of blocks from Mays Field itself (yes, I know, SBC park officially, but to the hand).

If you'd like to go, I'ma suggestin' thatcha mosey on over ta here and git yurself all tha details, reeeeeeeeal quick-like, hear?

The neat thing about running my own blog is that I can type any dangfool thing that comes to my mind, and NOBODY CAN STOP ME!

Anyhow, I'm gonna be there with my Mays Field gear on (you get a discount on beer just for wearing it, and if that isn't endorsement enough to buy thestuff of Mays Field, then you will wake up tomorrow morning to see flying, pink space elephants gliding in V formation over your home...and again, I can write ANY dangfool thing that comes to my mind here). If you're looking for me there to chat baseball, or to throw your cute, female self at me for no particular reason other than you dig bald guys, then remember to check my picture on the sidebar. If you're looking for me to collect on some debt, criticize my writing in person, steal my beer, or to expound on the virtues of peanut butter as an alternative to lotion as a skin moisturizer, then please ignore the sidebar, that is me before the operation.

Once again, anything. I can write literally anything here. Beetlejuice. See?

Sidenote: Yesterday's rant about Jason Christiansen not only applies to him, but Wayne Franklin, too. What the heck happened to Sabean's tried-and-true method of, "If you screw up in the playoffs or in important games leading to the playoffs, you will not return to the Giants the next season."

He did it with Jose Cruz, Jr., and he did it with Dustin Mohr, yet he didn't do it with Wayne Franklin, who also happened to suck a lot more than the aforementioned players did,and allowed the Steve Finley grand bomb last October that truncated the Giants playoff contention. Perhaps that formula only applies to right fielders...

Ah, nevermind.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I know he pitches for the Giants, but what does he actually DO?

There's a player I've always tended to gloss over. He's a pitcher. A relief pitcher, to be more precise. As a job description, the relief pitcher -- well, he provides relief for whichever pitcher he's replacing. Right?

Jason Christiansen. What relief, exactly, does he provide?

Others have mentioned this as well, so I'm not nearly the first with this thought. However, this is the first time I've really, really thought about it. I looked around the Web a bit, and became a little confounded.

Why is he still with the club?

Yes, yes, I'm hearing a few answers: he's a lefty reliever, and a successful bullpen needs a lefty reliever, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...blah. Blaaah.

What a bullpen needs is good relievers, and Jason Christiansen is not a good reliever. Furthering my issue here is the fact that he's made about 6.5 million dollars over the last three seasons to be a not-good reliever...that is, when he's been available. He's really good at being injured, missing almost all of 2002 after having Tommy John surgery on his elbow on May 30th of that year, coming back on June 3rd -- of the next year.

After coming back in 2003, he started to do his thing against lefties. That year, lefties posted a measly .547 OPS against him for the season. However, righties pounded him to the tune of a .920, meaning it was pretty much like Christiansen was facing Carlos Beltran every time he pitched against a right-handed hitter. These were some of his stats at the end of the season:

5.19 ERA, WHIP of 1.38, 2 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio

So...that ERA is hard to ignore, but perhaps it could be ignored if we attributed it to the misuse of Christiansen -- by misuse, I mean letting him face right-handed hitters. There are some, I'm sure, who are questioning me at this point, saying, "How could Christiansen have been misused by having him face righties? He's a relief pitcher, right? Using him in relief is his job. He's got to be able to face at least some righties."

What, holding a relief pitcher on your staff that only faces lefties all season isn't worth it? What garbage. Christiansen should be able to stay on the team all season, facing only lefties, and earn over 2 million dollars in a season while only pitching about 20 innings all year.

Doesn't it sound dumb when it's spelled out like that? It should.

So while Christiansen, again, "did his job" against lefties in 2003, he stunk against righties. After two full seasons with the club at the end of 2003, we have a relief pitcher who has missed a full season worth of play due to injury, and when he has pitched, did well against lefties but poorly against righties...and was due to make another 2.43 mil in 2004.

Sounds like a good time to abandon ship to me, but Sabean was either encouraged enough by the lefty splits to keep Christiansen, or unable to trade him -- I can't remember which, and am too lazy to try and research which it was (I'd have traded him for an piggy bank full of pesos at that point, but that's just me). In any case, Christiansen was brought back...or, allowed back for 2004, his final contract season.

What did he do last season? Well, something's might be up with Christiansen and the month of June, because the first day after his Tommy John surgery was June 1st, 2002, he came back from it on June 3rd, 2003, and then in 2004, he went on the 15 day DL on June 21st.

Besides being hurt again, he pitched...well, in a word, mediocre. His OPS against facing lefties was .736, which isn't what you want from your left-handed relief specialist. His OPS against facing righties was .708, which would go great with his OPS against lefties from 2003 of .547, but not so well with the .736. These aren't horrible numbers, per se, but remember -- the man is a relief pitcher making almost two and half million dollars, so they aren't really acceptable.

He did one thing very well last year, and that was to dampen power -- he only allowed three HR's in 136 at-bats against him, and opponents slugged a Mike Matheny-ish .346 all season. Great, right? Well, yeah, but then he had to go and screw up somewhere else. Remember that nice, shiny 2 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio he had from 2003? Hope you enjoyed it. Christiansen walked 26 batters last year vs. only 22 strikeouts. Let's trot out the 2004 numbers:

4.50 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 1 to 1.18 strikeout to walk ratio.

Are you starting to become confused? After his injury-lost 2002, his mediocre-at-best 2003, Christiansen actually got worse. The only thing that saved him was that he didn't allow a bunch of extra-base hits -- laudable, to be sure, it doesn't mean much if you allow a host of baserunners. Those walks and singles will turn into runs eventually, or you'll end up leaving a bunch of ducks on the pond for the next pitcher to deal with. Defininitely not one of the ways to Make Friends and Influence People.

Yet again, however, Brian Sabean saw something in Christiansen he liked, and he will again try to fail to be bad in 2005. Sabean will be paying him much less, only about 1.15 million this year, but after two seasons of poor pitching, I'm thinking that money could have been used to get some other lefty, one without a mediocre ERA, a huge WHIP, and a horrible K to BB ratio. Surely those exist, right?

Matt Herges may be using the same petrol that Jason Christiansen is using. Christiansen, after being traded to the Giants in 2001 from the St. Louis Cardinals, was lights out for the remainder of 2001. He's yet to even approach that level of pitching since, but three years and 6.5 million dollars later, he's still here. Herges was traded from the San Diego Padres in the middle of the 2003 season, was lights out for the remainder of that year, has been horrible since, and...(gulp) will Herges still be a Giant in 2007?

Somebody pass me the Pepto.

Interesting note, by the way. When you type "Herges" into the ESPN search box on their player page, the next page to come up has this phrase near the top of the page...

Did you mean: herpes?

Well, no I didn't, but yes, I did. Kinda.