Sunday, July 31, 2005
As I've said, it's well-known and 1/2 that Winn has trouble in CF, but they're doing this anyway. Also, as O&B reader Aaron pointed out, Winn's leadoff pedigree is questionable, but I really don't see them putting Winn anywhere starting out except leadoff -- he's an outfielder with some speed and not much power, and those guys are leadoff hitters, period. Right?
At least, he is according to the Old Schooler's Guide to Lineup Construction, which ignores things like on-base percentage and walk rates, which for Winn really aren't too impressive.
Are you kidding me? There's still a day to go, yes, but tell me this isn't our blockbuster deal for this season!
Randy Winn? The epitome of replacement level? Winn, whose numbers have done nothing but decline the last three years? Winn, who isn't anything to write home about defensively?
You just knew "Brain Sabean" was going to trade some young pitching, but...for Randy Winn? Jesse Foppert wasn't exactly a top-notch prospect anymore, but I'd have questioned this move even if it was just Foppert for Winn straight-up. But by the time you add in Yorvit Torreabla, and it's plain to see Sabean has lost it.
Even if Foppert and/or Torreabla do nothing the rest of their careers, this is a stupid trade, because Winn just cannot do anything to help this club. He's just not good enough.
Let's see how stupid this trade was by breaking down all the things that Winn can't do.
- First of all, a team that leads the majors currently in GIDP's (grounding into double plays) should not go out and get a guy with a 1.77 g/f ratio (ground balls to fly balls). It's just silly. It means that the Giants will now be even more likely to hit into double plays. What, Sabes, are you missing A.J. Piersynski or something?
- Winn can't play centerfield. Oh, he can play the position, technically, but he won't be any better out there than Michael Tucker. It's very, very well known Winn has problems anytime he does more than spot duty in CF. He's an adequate corner outfielder defensively, but c'mon folks -- we know Sabean is looking for an excuse to replace Jason Ellison in center. Again, it's not that Elly is great out there, but Sabean keeps bringing in players who simply are not any better, whether one wants to use scouting or performance analysis as your barometer.
- Winn cannot hit for power. Carrying a SLG percentage of less than .400 is our first clue that he just doesn't have a lot of pop. I'd take Pedro Feliz in LF over Winn, and I'd take Tucker in RF over Winn, which shows what my opinion of Winn's ability is.
- Winn can't get any better. In fact, he's getting appreciably worse every, single year. Let me break it down to you from 2002 to 2005: batting average (.298, .295, .286, .275), and SLG (.461, .425, .427, .391).
Now comes the rub for me. Is Winn a better player than Jason Ellison? No. He's a little better offensively (his being a switch-hitter helps, and he's better against right-handed pitching than Elly easily), but he doesn't have near the raw ability defensively Elly has. Elly did have a problem with errors, but hasn't made any in quite a while -- he seems confident in CF, and there just isn't any question he has more range and a better throwing arm than Winn. So a slight edge offensively I can give to Winn, but it's nullified by Elly being more useful in the outfield.
Do you see why I think this move is stupid? It could have some merit if...IF Sabean moves Edgardo Alfonzo somehow tomorrow, so that Feliz can just play 3rd base and he can just throw Winn into LF full-time. But ther merit wouldn't be a better baseball team, it would be the merit of getting rid of Fonzie's contract. The team wouldn't be any better.
I'm assuming this means that Alex Sanchez really, really (oh Lord, please, REALLY) is on his way out as soon as his "injury" time on the DL is over, and perhaps it spells the doom of Marquis Grissom, too, I don't know.
This move depresses me. It's just one that didn't need to be made, because it does nothing for this team. I wish Winn well, of course, and will be cheering him on every at-bat he gets (he's a very, very nice guy from all I've heard and read), but I just don't like what this tells me about Sabes -- it tells me I've had him pegged for a while now, and that more silly moves may very well follow. The future of the ballclub is in the hands of a man who just doesn't get it.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Should you pick him up? Well, no, not really. But then, you picked up Alex Sanchez, so I began to wonder just how useless a player would have to be before you picked him up.
Cruz is a frustrating player because he has four out of five tools, but the fifth tool is a glaring weakness: batting average. Sanchez is a frustrating player because he has two out of five tools, yet can't even take advantage of one of the two tools he does have - speed. Yet he's still employed.
Cruz's tools are easy to spot. He has a very good throwing arm (if I remember correctly, he led NL outfielders in assists while playing for the Giants in '03), decent range (good for a corner outfielder, barely adequate for a centerfielder), hits for power (206 ISO power for his career), and is normally a very dependable outfielder, usually having a fairly low error rate.
Sanchez's tools are easy to spot as well. He hits for average (.296 career batting average), and has speed (once stole as many as 44 bags in one season).
As far as a comparison of the players, defensively the nod easily goes to Cruz -- he can actually catch the ball, and if someone is tagging up, will have a chance to throw the runner out. Sanchez could be considered to have more range because of an edge in speed, but absolute defensive incompetence renders that slight advantage null and void, in addition to the fact that there just isn't any certainty that Sanchez has the ability to catch the ball if he manages to get there.
Offensively? Honestly, despite the fact that Cruz has only once held a batting average above .253, it's not even close. Sanchez holds a huge edge in career batting average (.296 to .248 for Cruz), but that is literally it. There's not one other thing he does offensively better than Cruz.
Despite the huge lead in batting average, Sanchez actually gets on base less frequently than Cruz for their careers (.330 career OPS for Sanchez, .336 for Cruz), showing that Cruz has a huge edge in plate discipline. How about power? Well, Sanchez has none. Perhaps it's a product of his over-reliance on the drag-bunt, but he holds a 76 point ISO SLG for his career, indicating he probably has to drag bunt to get on-base, because he certainly won't be hitting too many doubles, triples (despite the speed), and home runs (six homers for his career).
Cruz's power numbers are very good. Over an average 162-game season, Cruz hits 27 home runs and 30 doubles. Despite hitting only .213 for the Diamondbacks this season, Cruz's SLG was .454, which is very, very good for such a low batting average.
How about some other stats? Despite being a leadoff-type hitter in the physical sense, Sanchez runs about a 3:1 strikeout/walk ratio for his career, while Cruz's is at a more tolerable 1.8:1 ratio.
Cruz is a lot more patient at the plate than Sanchez, seeing 3.8 pitches per plate appearance for his career, while Sanchez is at a I'm-in-a-rush 3.25 per plate appearance.
Sanchez is an extreme groundball hitter, pounding groundballs vs. flyballs at a 2:1 clip -- something you really want to see on a team that already leads the majors in double-plays hit into. Cruz, for his career, is almost exactly on an even 1:1 ratio, meaning he's generally a line-drive hitter.
How about steals? Heh. Sanchez, for his career, steals bases at a 54% clip, which means it's really kind of stupid when he attempts one, given that half the time he's gunned down. Cruz really isn't much better, but at least he's at 65% -- still not what you want, but heck, it's better than 54%. Sheesh.
Where the heck am I going with all this? Absolutely nowhere. I'm wasting both mine and your time, because this, of course, is something Sabean would never do. Why? Because the only stat he'd pay any attention to of ALL the ones I listed above would be...(drumroll)
Batting average. The only thing Sanchez does better than Cruz is hit for average -- nevermind that that advantage is almost nullified by the fact that Cruz walks at three times the rate of Sanchez, and that quite a few of Sanchez's hits are bunt singles -- but it IS a small advantage. Every single other thing that is done on a baseball field is done better by Cruz.
But, if Brian Sabean felt compelled to hold a extra outfielder on the team for any reason, would he take Cruz over Sanchez?
Nah. 'Course not. He would deem that Sanchez's uselessness to be more valuable than Cruz's uselessness, because he doesn't look at stats.
Seven innings pitched, only three hits allowed (one a double), only one walk issued, and seven strikeouts? That's great anyway, but adding to that is that he was facing a decent offensive team playing in their home park -- which is a hitter's park.
Performances like this one don't raise Hennessey's stock, and shouldn't make anyone change their opinions on him. However, that he is capable of turning in this kind of performance under these circumstances is certainly encouraging. This is the exact reason why the young players should be getting as much playing time as possible.
Since coming back up in July, Hennessey's had three good-to-great starts and one horrible start -- and I'm liable to give him a pass on the game vs. the Marlins because the Marlins ended up scoring 16 runs in that game, leading me to believe perhaps they just weren't to be stopped that day.
Like I said, encouraging, and Noah Lowry's recent outings have been encouraging as well. The rotation is starting to build some confidence -- well, except perhaps for Kevin Correia, but he just seems to need to find a way around the gopher balls, and he may be as well as can be expected.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Has anyone realized, in looking at the Giants remaining schedule, that there are only two teams that they play that have a worse record than they do? One is the Rockies, who occupy the rankest part of the smelly armpit that is the NL West. The other is the Cincinnatti Reds, who are worse than the Giants by...1/2 of a game.
Let me break this down to you. First of all, forget all the talk of "these are the kinds of games that they should win", because only the Rockies fit that category for the Giants. The Giants have the all-but 2nd worst record in the NL for a reason, and remember, they have the 2nd worst record in the NL while playing in the worst division in all of baseball.
What this means, folks, is that even the Giants poor record is deceiving. Their best record vs. any division is against...you guessed it...the NL West, where they stand at an even .500. The Giants have gotten clobbered vs. the NL East (4-11), almost held serve against the NL Central (11-12), and of course got clobbered in interleague (6-12). So, in reality, the Giants would likely have a worse record than they do now if they happened to play in any other division in baseball besides the one they are in.
And we think these guys have it in them to come back from 7.5 games down?
If every single game the Giants had remaining was against the NL West, I'd give 'em a shot. But the Giants play tough opponents almost all of August (Astros, Cardinals, Mets, Phillies, Braves), and although they do play the Rockies and Reds, we must remember: 1) the Reds have about the same record as the Giants, and 2) the 4-game set is in Cincinnatti, where the Reds have a winning record.
On top of that, there isn't any safe haven for San Francisco. Did you know the Giants road winning percentage (.438) is actually better than at SBC/Mays Field (.423)? I mean, it's supposed to be a good thing to have a long home stand if you want to make a run -- for the Giants, being at home isn't any better than being on the road.
The Giants would be very lucky to not fall further back in August, nevermind making a run. Being totally honest, I don't really think the teams ahead of the Giants in the division are really significantly better than the Giants, but it doesn't matter. They played better baseball in the first half of the season, and that alone is enough to seal the Giants fate for '05.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
- He uses four relievers in one inning on Sunday, switching everytime in attempt to get the lefty-on-lefty or righty-on-righty pitching matchup, even to the point of using bullpen stud Scott Eyre for only one batter, despite the fact that Eyre has suppressed righties as well as lefties this year. On Monday, he leaves LaTroy Hawkins in for an entire inning despite Hawkins having major issues, then puts in (and leaves in) Jason Christiansen in the 9th vs. the heart of the Cubs order -- which includes two right-handed power hitters in Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Right-handed hitters are batting .306 vs. Christiansen this year. Is anybody scratching their heads? No? Well, it worked out, of course.
- Despite everything I expected, F. Alou did not play Marquis Grissom a 2nd day in a row in CF.
Today's game is already in progress, so while there are a bunch of positives from last night's game I'd normally point out, I'd feel kinda stupid if I pointed out those positives only to have the negative of a loss follow up this post within two hours. And I don't like feeling stupid.
I won't talk of the Atlanta/Nationals game on your site, Daniel, other than to say that it and the rain delay in Chicago put me in a black mood for the Giants/Cubs game. I was tired, stuffed with too much pizza and chocolate cake, and really just wanted to curl up with a good Hardy Boys mystery.
When the bottom of the 8th arrived and Chicago tied the game 2-2, I shook my head. "Wha? Am I streaming last night's game?" You see, I often talk to my computer. At that hour of the night, it sometimes talks back. "No, Andrew, you are not watching last night's game. This tying run was produced not by Neifi, but by Michael Barrett." I fully expected the Cubbies to then score another run in the bottom of the ninth, thus closing that flying door and trapping me in the Twilight Zone for good. But Glendon Rusch(ed) in, producing a dizzying 3 hits, 1 run, 3 strikeouts, and an error in 34 pitches. I think I made the mistake of going to the bathroom (hey, it was late!) and missed Deivi Cruz coming home to score in the 25th.
On Small Ball, you talk about LaTroy Hawkins playing the unfortunate role of despised returning son. I was a little embarrassed for Cubs fans, since I've railed at length about how poorly mannered Padres and Dodgers fans are, and expected better of Chicago. The collective chanting unnerved me, and I wasn't even there! Good thing Hawkins wasn't bleeding—somebody might have thrown salt on his wounds.
If you could award "wins" to batters other than the game-winning run-producer, I think the Giants should thank J.T. Snow for stepping in and, with an 0-1 count, pimp-slapping the ball to center. Go J.T. (but not too fast, we wouldn't want you to hurt yourself)!
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Watching last night's game was an experience in frustration, which had little to do with the game, actually. A friend was over, a friend oblivious to my zombie-like stare when a game I want to watch is on. He talked and distracted me through much of the game, stopping only long enough during the bottom of the 8th for me to watch an exquisite shot from behind the plate of Neifi's smoking line drive to center, right past Munter's (or was it Christiansen's) head. The slow motion they applied to the replay gave me the willies because it revealed how poorly the Giants infield was placed for this bases-loaded threat. Omar and Deivi, mouths agape, watched that rascally Rawlings blow by them. Little Neifi, why didn't you pull moves like that when you were a wee Giant?
So, that slo-mo line drive was one of the cooler objects in motion. Another was the 8th inning play by Omar, where he pulls one of Trinity's Wushu levitation tricks, hanging in the air to throw to 1st while Derek Lee of the planet Krypton dives into 2nd. Beautiful stuff. Do you think if Omar took steroids, he'd be a better hitter? That'd be cool.
Another great object in motion was actually several motions...the way Chicago small-balled Cedeno around the bases in the bottom of the 9th. That was well worth all the distractions. Thank you, Jeromy Burnitz.
So, did Felipe think that nuking the bullpen by trotting every one of them out was going to help his cause today and tomorrow? This could get embarrassing fast.
Oh, the biggest disappointment for me this series is Nomar Garciappara's absence. He's so damned good defensively. I'd have loved to see Omar and Nomar jockeying for the coolest infield plays.
I can't speak to what effect I'll have on his site, however. But I'll try. Honest. (ba dump crash!)
I kid. I joke. I perform lap dances for free, too, but none of you want to hear about my last visit to the hospital, so...
Onwards, forward, towards...THIS. It's my attempt over at Small Ball to call it all like I see it, y'all. The Giants' effort appalls, and while their won/loss record falls, Brain Sabean seems to just stall for time.
Sabes. Trade, waive, do something, man. Looking like John Kruk's brother with different color hair isn't enough anymore.
Look out for Andrew's posts in the near future. You could just read the name at the end of the post to see who wrote it, but after reading the first paragraph of the entry and realizing it makes sense, you ought to know it's Andrew and not me.
I'll forgive you if this freight train of a game, complete with myriad angles of payback and revenge, was something you...overlooked. I overlooked it a bit as well. Cubs. Giants. One team is Good Mediocrity on the verge of being Solid, the other is Bad Mediocrity on the verge of being Poor. Happens all the time, right?
Yes. Until Sunday night, that is.
No, it had nothing to do with the Giants loss to the Marlins. But it had everything to do with the Cubs win over the Cardinals.
This series was already trouble enough. The Cubs are better than the Giants to begin with. Their offensive is better than the Giants (hitting in a hitter's park helps, but still, they're better), and their pitching is much better than the Giants. They have an actual heart of the order -- you know, real 3-4-5 guys, instead of one aging ex-Cub trying to do everything, a 6th place hitter, and the 3rd-Place-Hitter-Du-Jour.
But when you really start adding up the personnel swaps: Dusty Baker, LaTroy Hawkins, Moises Alou, and Neifi Perez, there's a little bit of story behind the game.
Can any one of you, honestly, tell me that when Neifi came up in the 8th with the bases loaded and his team down by a run, that you did not think he was going to find a way to at least tie the game? Was the stage not set? Were the players not in full costume, playing their roles to the hilt?
Pardon me, everyone, I've got to take this annoying dagger out of my heart. Stings a little.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Today, they hit into four dp's against the Marlins. The culprits? Deivi Cruz, Pedro Feliz, Lance Niekro, and Edgardo Alfonzo. Bonus points if you can figure out a common thread in three out of those four hitters.
If you said Absolute Lack of Plate Discipline, then pat yourself on the back.
It turns out that I'm just too lazy to find out a firm correlation between the Giants' tendency to hit into double plays and Brian Sabean's admitted disregard for statistical analysis -- which leads him to not mind having players like Cruz, Feliz, Niekro, Pierzynski, Marquis Grissom, Alex Sanchez, Neifi Perez, et al, who do not see many pitches, do not walk, and who pretty much try and pull everything...leading to the aforementioned double plays.
This should be almost criminal with the example of Barry Bonds in front of his face every day, and how powerful it is to have someone simply be on-base as much as possible.
It isn't simply that the Giants shouldn't have any players on their team without good on-base skills, plate discipline, and willingness to go the other way with the outside pitch, however, it'd be nice if so many of these players didn't happen to bat in the middle of the Giants order game after game. We've seen enough innings ended and rallies killed by these kinds of players hitting in the 3-5 spots in the order, don't y'all think?
By the way: Feliz, 3rd in all of MLB in GIDP/Niekro, 2nd among all MLB rookies in GIDP/Ray Durham, 5th among all MLB 2nd baseman in GIDP.
Niekro I will give a pass to, because his SLG makes up for his lack of OBP. If you're ISO SLG (Isolated Slugging percentage -- true indicator of how powerful a hitter is) is well above 200 points, well, you can be a free swinger (Niekro's is 251). Nobody else on the Giants has an ISO SLG of even 200 points.
He apparently was placed on the 15-day DL when Marquis Grissom was activated for an elbow strain.
Besides the idioticy of simply not releasing the buffoon, how could Sanchez possibly strain an elbow? The strain of not being able to catch a damn thing catching up to him?
Well, fine. As long as he's not around to tempt Father Alou to play him once every five days, I'll take it. The "The Count-Up of How Many Days Late Brian Sabean is in Letting That Useless Hunk of Protoplasm Alex Sanchez Go" Campaign will continue, however, until he is OFF the ballclub altogether.
Off, Sabes. Opposite of on.
For all of you who are worried that I may be obsessed with this, don't worry.
And, while I'm at it, is "Miguel Cabrera" Spanish for, "Get used to it, Giants fans, because I'm going to wear out your pitching for the next 15 years or so"?
Correia has to, I dunno, stop giving up long home runs. It's bad, I think. Three in his last start, two in this start -- perhaps Woody isn't long for the bullpen after all. The worst thing is, Correia's struggles will just goad Brian Sabean even more into trading some youth for some mediocrity.
And as far as Cabrera...just getting this guy out in any way has got to be considered some kind of bonus. On the Giants, he'd be 3rd on the LF/3B depth chart behind Edgardo Alfonzo and Pedro Feliz. Sabes would probably think, at 22 years old, that Cabrera could use another 10 or 12 years of seasoning.
UPDATE: Corriea finally got Cabrera out, but then had to make up for it by giving up another homer to Juan Encarnacion. Everybody sigh with me, now.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Hilarious stuff. Moises Alou makes a great diving catch one out later to end the inning, and Sanchez runs up beside him and puts out his fist to give Alou some credit for the catch. Very, very easy to tell -- Alou gave Sanchez the pound back grudgingly.
Sabes, look. I've told you 20 times already, this guy doesn't belong on this team. Your keeping him on the team is only making you look terrible -- it was already a bad enough decision in the first place, but you're compounding the error by not admitting it and hoping that he earns his keep.
Please stop, and think. Once you do those two things, it will become apparent what the right move is here.
I'm thinking Brett Tomko will have to pitch seven innings, at least, to keep the Giants in it. I don't anticipate them scoring more than three or four runs tonight
Yeah. Tomko pitched six innings, and the Giants scored eight runs. Looks like the rust and dust that was on the ol' Reverse Curse (tm) wasn't enough to stop it from working. Predict, expect, loudly anticipate the worst, and the reverse will happen. Gotta be careful with the Reverse Curse (tm), though, as it can only be used about once a month. Use it too often, and then you invoke the Vice Versa Reverse Curse (tm), which means that not only will the worst happen, but it will find a way to be worse than even you anticipated at first.
But anyhow, onto my plethora of wrongness:
- Can somebody tell Tomko to...I dunno, stop throwing his fastball four times in a row to dangerous hitters? That's what he did to phenom Miguel Cabrera, and Cabrera smacked a bomb to centerfield. Somebody in the Giants blogosphere mentioned Tomko's stubbornness with his fastball -- he often seems to believe it unhittable, relying on it too much, then getting it roped somewhere as soon as he makes a location mistake. Oh, well.
- Dontrelle Willis' trouble pitching in San Francisco continues. I had conveniently forgotten that he has never pitched well here -- when factored in with his two poor starts before yesterday's game, I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised he had troubles.
- Go figure. I beat up on Pedro Feliz, and the guy gets hot. This bears watching, as it could be an offshoot of the Reverse Curse (tm). Since I ragged on the guy on July 18th, he has gone 6 for 12 with three home runs, including one last night. He was all over the ball last night, pouncing as soon as something came into the zone. Nice. (now trade him while you have the chance, Sabean)
- Edgardo Alfonzo with a nice comeback game. (now trade him while you have the chance, Sabean)
- Well, on 2nd thought, I suppose one of those guys has to play third, huh?
- Bullpen was again solid. LaTroy Hawkins is starting a little streak -- since coming off the DL and giving up a run in his first outing back on July 4th, Hawkins has pitched 7.1 innings without giving up a run, and only giving up three hits. His ERA has went from 5.79 down to 4.40. Neat.
- .301/.381/.436 is the line that Ray Durham is currently running. Looks like he's back to form. (now trade him while you hae the chance, Sabean)
- Speaking of Durham, he and Omar Vizquel hooked up twice something fierce last night for a couple of double plays that were really only single plays -- but given the calls that the Giants have gotten jobbed on in the week previous against the Dodgers and Braves, heck, they were owed those calls. I really wish Durham made four million per instead of over seven million, then I'd really want to keep him. He just makes too much money to miss 40+ games every season. That being said, he's on pace to play about 136 games this year, which would easily be the most he's played in one season in a Giants uniform.
I like how the top three hitters in the Giants order all didn't manage a hit, but drew a walk apiece (even...gasp!...Lance Niekro!).
Onto other things, Lefty was mentioning a trade rumour involving Merkin Valdez and Colorado Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings, who, besides sucking, doesn't have any discernible quality I can fathom. He does pitch for the Rockies, so let's see if we can find something in Jennings' road numbers over the last three seasons:
51 starts, 307 innings pitched, 331 hits, 213 strikeouts, 130 walks
No, I still don't get it. Jennings. Isn't. Any. Good. He's perhaps a decent #5 starter, and that's it. But, if the rumour was true (it apparently doesn't matter since Jenning's hurt his finger and is out for the year), then there really isn't a limit on how stupid Brian Sabean can be. Trade promising young talent for not-promising young-ish no-talent? Yeah, that makes sense.
I'm starting to hold no hope that Sabes will actually get good value in return for anyone he trades, and I have even less hope than that that he'll get someone...youthful. This would be another case where I would just love to be wrong, though...
Friday, July 22, 2005
Marty Cortinas over at Across the Seams recently chimed in incredulous over a piece written by Bruce Jenkins a couple of days ago. The article is here, and Marty's reaction is here. I am in total agreement with Marty -- Jenkins thinks Palmeiro is Hall worthy, and good for him, but his reasoning behind why Palmeiro is worthy is very, very flawed, and is indicative of what is wrong with HOF voting and MVP voting, as well.
To summarize, Jenkins gives himself and other baseball writers significance over statistics as a measure of whether or not players are worthy of those honors, which is complete and utter balderdash. Statistics, to me, are about 75% of what makes a player worthy of these awards, plain and simple. The stats are a record of what the player has accomplished, with no room for embellishment or the nuances of opinion and hearsay to negatively or positively affect the player's production.
This isn't to say that stats are everything -- defensive statistics are still spotty at best, and there are always intangibles some players have to help them rise to the occasion when it's important or when the pressure is on. By all means, rely on the baseball writers to determine these things and judge them significant or not. But to use those factors to overwhelm the stats and render them less significant is idiotic, self-serving, and arrogant.
Here's my reply to Marty on his site:
See, Marty, this is why most of these sportswriters shouldn't be entrusted with voting for MVP's, HOF, etc. Because with their infinite wisdom (read: EGOS), they believe they can ~feel~ their way to figuring out who should win what, rather than relying on the numbers to tell the majority of the story (like it should be).
Using the stats, I'm sure, seems like some sort of non-intellectual cop-out to them. They don't want their vote handed to them on the silver platter of OBP and SLG, WHIP or k/9. They want to philosophically figure these things out, when those types of arguments should only be used when the numbers are borderline, or when there are two candidates with fairly even numbers.
Joe Morgan is the prime example, using won/loss record to figure out his Cy Young candidates rather than simple ERA, and heaven forbid something as "deep" into the stats as k/bb ratios.
It'll be better in about 10-20 years when some of these old-schoolers aren't in these positions. God Bless Peter Gammons, though -- he isn't afraid of the numbers.
How does everyone else feel about these things? It comes up for us Giants fans almost every season, as writers and such try to figure out a reason to not give the MVP award to Barry Bonds year after year. Fortunately for him, the numbers have been overwhelming, which I think would keep most writers from voting for another player out of sheer shame. Sure, you want to vote for another player, but you just can't vote for another player. The numbers haven't allowed the voters, as a group, to vote for someone else.
Time to use that thar comment section, people.
I should, and do, get excited when I have the chance to see pitchers like Roger Clemens do their thing. But there is a subtle difference between the marvel of a Clemens, a pitcher like Jason Schmidt (pre 2005 difficulties), and Willis.
With Clemens, the amazement comes from watching him perform like this at such an advanced age. Now, I could be an a-hole and wonder aloud why it is that people jump on position players with regards to alleged steroid use and not pitchers, but I will let that pass (oh, too late).
However, I don't really care. Clemens is amazing, he's been amazing for many years, and it's hard to envision when the wheels will actually fall off.
Someone like Schmidt is different. I don't think any of us think Schmidt will still be capable of putting up seasons like 2003 or 2004 when he's 40 -- we've seen the best he can be, and it'll only likely get worse. However, when Schmidt's on, he's one of the best around. When I see him start to put it together, it's not really wonder, it's more like...anticipation.
Willis...well, it gets back to the wonder and amazement like with Clemens, but the subtle difference is the knowledge that we are possibly seeing a future Hall of Famer build his resume. The kid really does have it all -- velocity, plus breaking stuff, and the personality, both in his face-to-face personality (fun loving) and his personality on the mound which personifies itself through his pitching motion. None of us need to see Dontrelle's motion to know it's him -- just give us a silhouette and there will be no mistaking that full body twist and super-high leg kick. I've always likened Willis' pitching motion to Hideo Nomo's, only about five times faster. Willis twists quickly, throws that leg up, and unleashes towards the plate. Nomo almost looked as if he was still deciding what pitch to throw while winding up.
It ought to be fun to watch, despite Willis' recent troubles. His last two starts vs. the Cubs and Phillies have been forgettable, but unfortunately this just sets up our Giants to be Willis' get-right team. I'm thinking Brett Tomko will have to pitch seven innings, at least, to keep the Giants in it. I don't anticipate them scoring more than three or four runs tonight.
But, as Chris Berman is wont to say, that's why they play the games...
Thursday, July 21, 2005
I'm trying out a way to put some audio files on the ol' blogyard for entertainment purposes, but I'll need you guys to let me know if that link works or not (it's a .wav file, so it should play in Windows Media player, Realplayer, etc.). Just leave me something in the comments section, please.
If it does work, that little clip is from my favorite animated series ever, Invader Zim, and the little character speaking is Zim's sidekick, GIR. Hilarious show, and if this little trick I'm trying works, I'll be using GIR to help add a little punch to my commentary.
...alright, I'm just trying to find a way to put GIR on the blog because I think he's funny, that's all. I'll use any excuse to try this, even knowning 90% of you won't find it funny or just won't get the joke.
UPDATE: Apparently, my trick didn't work. Hate when that happens.
UPDATE, PART DEUX: I really suck, but perhaps it'll work now. Maybe. Try again. Or don't.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
It looked like another game of Domination By Superior Force at first, with the Atlanta Braves taking advantage of having a better bottom end of their rotation than the Giants have at the top. Well, maybe that's a bit harsh, but when we couple the Giants generally poor starting pitching and their generally mediocre offense along with the Braves strong rotation and decent offense, it really isn't that off.
That being said, though, our Giants are a scrappy bunch. Jason Schmidt showed us a flash of the old...wait a minute. He didn't just flash, he mooned us with the old Schmidt. He was the old Schmidt, cranking up as high as 96 on the gun, putting his fastball high in the zone, and racking up the strikeouts (10 total in seven innings pitched). He used his breaking ball a bit more than normal as a strikeout pitch, but this was an inspiring performance.
What else was inspiring?
- Jason Ellison, that's what. A very nice three-hit game, including the game-winning soft single into left field that scored the winning run.
- Pedro Feliz is something else. I think his proper nickname is Feast or Famine. Looked horrible in the first game of the series, but came back with a two-hit performance yesterday, including the three-run homer that gave the Giants their first lead. I'm a bit mystified as to why Horacio Ramirez would pick to throw a first-pitch fastball anywhere close to the zone to Feliz, who, last I heard, is a first pitch fastball hitter, but perhaps the Braves scouting report isn't up to snuff on Feliz -- he's only been that type of hitter for his whole career, after all. Heh. I'll take it, though.
- Props to LaTroy Hawkins, because he is trying very hard to be useful. An inning of scoreless relief.
Not so good? Tyler Walker, who is trying to change my recent change of heart as to the strength of the bullpen. I've always known he can be shaky, but so can Armando Benitez. No, no, I'm not saying Walker is as good as Benitez, but I am saying that I thought he was capable of doing the closer's job. Now...well, it may not matter for this team anyway. May as well stick with him for now, but if he does another hatchet job on a Giants lead, I'm thinking Hawkins may well gravitate into the role.
Oh, and something else...
Hey! Umps! Get a freaking call right, will ya?
They blew another call last night in the 9th inning, a blown call that ended up putting Deivi Cruz on 2nd base. Cruz would end up scoring the winning run, but he should've been on 2nd base with Feliz on 3rd -- Feliz was supposedly tagged out on the way to 2nd base after Cruz' grounder to Rafael Furcal, but since Furcal didn't even have the ball in the glove that he tagged Feliz with, it's a bit difficult to call him out -- but that didn't stop this umpiring crew from doing just that. Furcal's throw ended up in the Braves dugout, allowing Cruz to 2nd base, but that was the only saving grace to a piss-poor call by an umpire who was looking directly at the play.
Ah, well. Nevermind. Victory is ours!
This also puts the Giants in a tie with the Dodgers -- they lost on a walkoff home run to the Phillies (did I ever mention the Phillies are my 3rd favorite team? I didn't? Hm, perhaps it's because I don't have a 3rd favorite team...but if the Phillies do this to the Dodgers all the time, I could make them my 3rd favorite team). The Padres also lost on a walk-off home run...hmmmmmmmmmm.
Omens? Nah, course not.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
The following was written on this blog just a week ago:
"Not trading anyone, I think, will change by the middle of this month. The Royals do have some attractive pieces to some team's puzzle. Tony Graffanino is one, a utility player who is swinging a decent bat..."
Well, I guess saying the middle of the month could be stretching it, but I think the 19th is close enough.
The Boston Red Sox was, apparently, one team interested in Graffy's services (utility infielder, is capable of hitting in some slight measure, veteran...you know). They traded minor-league left-handed pitcher Juan Cedeno and outfielder Chip Ambres for him, just one of three deals the Red Sox pulled off today.
Cedeno is a 21 year old left handed starting pitcher out of the Dominican. I don't know anything about his stuff, but I do know that he was about to be 22 years old and still in A ball, something that can't be considered good, along with the fact that his numbers in A ball are forgettable: high WHIP (1.54), mediocre k rate (5.83 per 9), and a mediocre ERA (4.64). Perhaps he'll be good enough to pitch out of the bullpen one day, I dunno -- I'm assuming he was the best starting pitcher the Royals could get out of the Sox.
Ambres is a 25 year old outfielder who was playing double A ball at the time of the trade. His minor league numbers don't stand out (his batting average is unimpressive), but he does seem to possess good on-base skills (.105 ISO discipline throughout his minor league career), and just enough pop to say that he has some (.167 ISO power through the minors). He has decent speed...at least, that's what I'm assuming seeing that he was 26 for 35 in stolen bases at AA before the trade, and he runs a 72% minor league career stolen base percentage.
Neither of these players seem to be anything special, but then neither is Tony Graffanino, so I'd call this trade an even swap at this point. The Royals do get to save just a tad bit of money, and get young bodies to stock their farm system, so I'd have to say that GM Allard Baird got what he wanted out of the deal. I'm hearing Cedeno has a live arm...Baird seems to covet these fireball-throwing youngsters after having a few years with nothing but soft-tossers on the big club -- at least Cedeno has shown decent control so far in his career.
Not that either can't win or do well, but...it's just not as strong of a possibility as them being poor or mediocre.
Loud contact early and often, and early missed opportunities characterized yesterday's 6-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves hit three home runs in the first three innings (none of them cheapies), and the Giants left eight men stranded in the first four innings.
Worst offender? Easily Pedro Feliz, who showed exactly why he isn't a middle-of-the-order hitter in looking lost and horrible at the plate vs. a starting pitcher in Jorge Sosa who, while having a good year under the tutelage of Leo Mazzone, has never done anything earlier in his career. Sosa does possess a very nice slider and changeup, however, and those pitches are all you need against Feliz, who is just unmanned by everything except fastballs and hanging breaking balls.
(and for all of you who are just itching to point out Feliz hitting a double off of Sosa, let me scratch that itch for you -- nobody was on base when he did it, so it hardly matters, eh? Perhaps he should've hit that double in his first two at-bats when six people were on base.)
It wasn't just Feliz, of course, but he's my posterchild for chastising for this game. Correia, as I alluded to earlier, must've been calling his pitches out to the Braves hitters before throwing them.
Kuip (with the call of the game): The windup from Correia, and here's the pitch...
Correia (while delivering): "88 MPH BATTING PRACTICE FASTBALL ON THE INSIDE CORNER!!!"
Andruw Jones: I am going to hit this one farther than the one I hit last time, and I will puncuate the force of the contact by having the ball carom off of the foul pole, making a loud clang, shocking and dismaying the fans of San Francisco. (all said before the swing, of course, and probably said in Spanish)
One positive? Kirk Rueter came in and pretty much shut the Braves down. Another positive? Alex Sanchez' OPS has dropped below .700 with his 0-fer pinch-hit appearance yesterday.
Sanchez out, Todd Linden in. Say it with me now...
Monday, July 18, 2005
A game apiece on Saturday and Sunday, one full of triumph and the other full of frustration. Guess which one I saw from start to finish, and guess which one I missed completely?
In Saturday's game...well, who am I kidding? It all comes down to the blown call by 1st base umpire Adam Dowdy, saying that Jason Phillips checked his swing on a 1-2 pitch when he didn't. Unfortunately Tyler Walker's two out walk came back to haunt him -- he cannot totally avoid blame here, as the game was tied under his watch. But it would've been nice for the Giants to have an opportunity to win the game, instead of handing the victory to a team in the Dodgers who clearly are in a tailspin.
Other notes from Saturday:
- While our initial reaction might be to perk up a bit at Brett Tomko's outing, we must remember the state of the Dodgers' offense -- which is, that the Dodgers don't really have much offense. I will allow you all to enter a state of guarded optimism, but that's all. Only allowing six hits through six innings can't be considered bad, however, and only allowing one extra-base hit (a double) through six is very good.
- Nice two-hit game by Jason Ellison, but he is still 8 for 45 in the month of July at the plate. On the flip side, his fielding has calmed down quite a bit, and he now stands 3rd in the majors among CF in zone rating at 2.97. Still dead last in fielding percentage, though.
Sunday's game was missed by myself due to myself not missing an opportunity to go wine-tasting. Sipping on different types of zinfandels and various other red wines doesn't really rank up there in preference to seeing a Giants game, however, seeing the various intoxication levels of the other 16 people I sipped zinfandels and various other reds with, well...that just can't be missed. Throw in a nice little barbeque action after we got back, and that adds up to myself not regretting missing the Giants game...much.
Hey, how's this for a snappy comeback? Snippet of conversation between my buddy Donnie and Sarah, a pretty young lady that was with us on the tour bus (she was pretty drunk, too, but nevermind that):
Donnie: Damn, girl, how'd you get that tan?
Sarah: I'm Mexican.
Perhaps you had to be there, but it was something like seeing a dog not noticing a clean sliding glass door, and running into it full steam. You feel bad for it, but you'll still laugh your ass off.
As far as a few other things I'm gleaning from this weekend's action:
- As down on the LaTroy Hawkins trade as I was (and still am), Hawkins is making every effort to become as useful as he can. Since coming back from injury, he's pitched 5.2 innings, giving up only one run and four hits while striking out seven.
- Michael Tucker is making the most of the fact that he's a better baseball player than Alex Sanchez in just about every way...except, possibly, bunting (Tucker is a pretty good bunter in his own right). While I suffer no illusions that Tucker is a starting outfielder, he's still easily a better and more useful player than Sanchez. And since they both bat lefty, there's no reason to ever play Sanchez ahead of Tucker in right field unless Tucker is hurt, or Father Alou goes temporarily insane. After running a .997 OPS in June, he's running a .918 OPS in July.
- The grain of salt I told you to take when evaluating Brett Tomko's performance Saturday? Take another one with Bran Hennessey's start Sunday. However, it's still encouraging to see one of the young guys putting up some quality starts.
- It's starting to become official -- after being a wreck just about a month ago, the Giants bullpen is rock solid...unless they're just on a good run and yanking our chains, of course. (sigh) Bullpens are so unpredictable.
That's all I have. I'm going to take a pass on the Giants/Royals Links of the Day for now. I'm realizing I already have to know what they are before I put up an entry, rather than during. Silly me.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
- I stated that Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew would replace the offense lost by both Shawn Green and Adrian Beltre leaving the team via free agency and trade. Thus far, Kent and Drew are running an .891 and .931 OPS respectively, while Green and Beltre finished last season with an .811 and 1.017 OPS. Looks like I'm right about on there.
- I stated that the Dodgers had added pitching, although they paid too much for it. Looks like I was wrong about that. While Brad Penny and Jeff Weaver have pretty much put in a status quo performance for themselves, Odalis Perez has fought injury and mediocrity, and has not earned the $8 million/per he signed for (I actually thought that contract wasn't too bad). Derek Lowe has fought mediocrity as well, and he's not nearly earned the around $9 million/per he signed for (I thought his contract was ludicrous). Lowe's ERA is a competitive 4.27, but he had better hope he keeps his walk rate below 2.00/9 (2 walks per 9 innings pitched), because it's his only saving grace right now, as he's given up 17 home runs already, and 144 hits in only 124 innings pitched. I pretty much ignored the bullpen when I had said they added pitching, and that was a mistake. Injuries to Eric Gagne has not helped, but it's easy to see that even with him, the Dodger bullpen is light years behind last season -- mainly due to the regression of Giovanni Carrara and Yhency Brazoban.
I also said Buster Olney was an idiot for ranking the Dodgers behind teams like the Rangers, the Indians, and the Mets in his preseason rankings. Well, it's hard to say for sure exactly how wrong I was with all of the Dodger injuries, but at least at the moment...I'm wrong. I think that if the Dodgers were to be healthy they'd be right around the winning percentage of those teams, which is right about where I thought at just at or just above .500, but as that has not happened, we can only go with the Dodgers current performance -- that of a poor team.
Of course, if I say I'm wrong, that's like saying that Olney isn't an idiot, which is true regardless of my correctness in predicting how good/bad the Dodgers would be.
If the Giants add some more black to the Dodger blue today and win the 3rd game of this series, they'll take sole possession of 3rd place in the division and really begin to breathe down the neck of...the Arizona Diamondbacks. For 2nd place. Which doesn't really matter, because the Giants are still a few Galactic Parsecs behind the Padres.
We can forget the wildcard, folks, unless the collapse of the Nationals is as...inevitable (that's for you, Nick) as it seems to be given their runs allowed is more than their runs scored, and that they keep making questionable roster moves (like trading for Preston Wilson, for instance). If the Nationals do collapse and the Braves take over 1st place, then the wildcard would be contended for by teams with something like a .520 winning percentage -- and the Giants could do that, though it'd still be miraculous.
As for now, the wildcard rests with the Braves at a .560 clip, and there's no way, by the nose of Snuffuluffugus, that the Giants could do that.
Actually, nevermind. Before any of us can talk, the Giants need to get to .500, which would still be a titanic feat in and of itself.
They can however, get a bit closer by walking over the Dodgers some more in the next two games...
Friday, July 15, 2005
The punishment? I link them back, so that some of you wackos that read my regularly (if you happen to read me regularly, then you are clinically insane, you know) can go over there and spread your wacko-ness to them as well, so I don't have to take the full brunt of your wacko-aura.
All kidding aside, the site is Cardnilly, authored by Scott (insert last name here), and the portions I've read of it so far are pleasing to the parts of my brain that want/need to be pleased by such things. I forgive him for being Cardinal fans (go ROYALS!), and hope that his apparent intelligence will allow him to see the light and convert over to Royal blue instead of Cardinal red. I mean, why would he let the miasma of Royals depression stop him? They're rebuilding project will be a success just as soon as it's done...whenever that is.
I'm a Royals fan. Somebody hug me.
- Jason Schmidt didn't have a bad game.
- The Giants bullpen was solid, other than an excusably bad outing by Scott Munter. I say excusable because he's been pretty damned good thus far -- he had to capilulate to the inevitable sooner or later and have a poor outing. Hey, how come nobody ever says that something is "evitable"? Things are always "inevitable", aren't they?
- Despite the overall good performance by the pitching staff, the Giants still had to have their bacon saved by an unlikely-at-best (or, perhaps it was "inevitable"?) 3-run home run by Omar Vizquel. I'm not even talking about Vizquel's lack of home run power, per se, I'm talking double-unlikely because it was an 0-2 count on Omar when he hit the homer...Vizquel isn't the kind of hitter that's still swinging freely when he's down in the count like that. He's usually all arms and wrists in that situation, but I guess he found a way to get "both cheeks" into that swing, as Kruk would say.
- This bullet point is really unneccessary, but it feels like I'm cheating you guys by only putting up three non-informative bullet points before this. It does however, give me the "inevitable" opportunity to say, Dodgers suck! Oh yeah, baby! Oh. Yeah. Baby.
I'm going to attempt to start something new starting...uh, whenever I feel like it, really, but hopefully on Monday. I'm going to have a Giants Link of the Day, which will be, oddly enough, exactly what it says. It could be a story on a Giants blog, from a sports website, a player statsheet that has an oddity to it, a Giants-related picture...you get the idea. Some of you, I know, get around so much that this will end up being superfluous, but I'm sure a few of you will be able to make use of it.
Chances are I'm going to do one for the Royals, too, because I know how happy that makes most of you. Hey, they won a game yesterday, too!
Thursday, July 14, 2005
I am remiss in putting up a quality link on that thar sidebar, and have cost dozens, perhaps millions of you the opportunity to check out a new, funky fresh blog I stumbled across courtesy of Aneel over at Trapped in L.A.
It's called Small Ball, and...hey, I just rhymed. It's called Small Ball y'all.
It's a one-two combo blog of H. Andrew Lynch and Erik Secker, who cover the Cubs, Giants, Nationals, and anything else that comes to mind -- including a fascination with pinching and an apparent maniacal dislike of the White Sox (which makes me like them all the more, of course).
The only two things I don't like is the feeling that they are both smarter than me, and the fact that their blog is prettier than mine. Which leads to feeling of fear. And fear leads to hate. And hate leads to suffering. And suffering...leads to the Dark Side. Just ask Yoda.
I bet Yoda reads Small Ball, too. As should you.
- The All-Star game, for the 2nd straight year, hit a record low in ratings. Hey, MLB, perhaps you should listen to my Internet brother Anthony Di Giorgio and stop letting FOX just run willy-nilly with their marketing and promotion of the game. I know I speak for some fans when I say the dumbing-down of the game by FOX, in addition to their over-the-top, aimed-at-eight-year-olds promotion, turns me the heck off. By the time I see Roger Clemens throw a pinball, while smiling, at Derek Jeter, who, while smiling, hits it out of a pinball machine for a "home run" (and Clemens is still supposed to smile about it I guess)...well, I'm ready to toss my cookies. And I haven't even eaten any cookies, either.
- Idiots disguised as baseball analysts still seem to want to lend more weight to teams' won/loss record when determining an MVP candidate (Joe Morgan, Jayson Stark, I'm looking at you two). Guys, listen. If the stats are about even, then by all means, use that as a tiebreaker, but not to determine who is more valuable before you've really compared the numbers. This isn't close -- Derreck Lee is smoking everyone right now. Yes, Morgan Ensberg is having a breakout season for the resurgent Astros. Yes, Andruw Jones is carrying the Braves' offense while Chipper Jones is re-habbing (even though, honestly, Jones really isn't that much better than he's been before). But Lee can only do what's within his power, one play/at-bat at a time. And he's playing stellar defensive 1st base as usual, and he's killing the ball at the plate. Again, it isn't close. Stop creating a race for this award from nothing, please.
- Stark is on the money, though, when speaking of Juan Gonzalez. This man has robbed two teams two consecutive years of more than 4.5 million dollars. No one will pay him anymore, but then, the Indians shouldn't have paid him this year. They didn't need him, but I'm sure they'd like to use that $600K on something that'd be more useful...like, say, buying enough eyeblack to last them for the next 592 seasons. Yeah, that'd be more useful than Igor, I'd say.
And just to add onto the All-Star thing, allow me to point out a silly contradiction. MLB wants things to be fair in the All-Star game. Statement of...well, I guess it could be fact. Here's another. MLB wants there to be the perception of fairness in the All-Star game. I think that's more accurate.
Let's think about something. They force a rep from every team down the throat of fans every season. The Royals, if not represented by Mike Sweeney, just don't have an All-Star player. Neither do the Pirates, Brewers, and Devil Rays most years. But, to be "fair", they get a guy from every team, hope he has a winning record and a below 4.00 ERA (pitcher) or a .300 batting average (hitter) to make the selection seem worthy.
But let's be real here, right? You force those players onto the All-Star game, but then you let the fans run willy-nilly (2nd time I've used that term in this entry...proud of myself) with the voting process, voting 25 times for pick-a-Yankee if they feel like it.
Is that really fair? Of course it isn't, because the big market teams obviously have a huge advantage. So if one part of the process isn't fair, why bother to attempt to balance it with the team reps?
Here's the rub of it -- MLB just doesn't have balls. Brass balls. Big brave balls (you know, like Bullet-proof Tony from Snatch) . If they did, they'd simply go for the bucks and allow the fans to decide everything, from the starters to the reserves. Because you know what? Those fans voting are the exact people who'll be watching the game, tuning in to watch those big name players from those big market teams they voted for in the first place.
As much as it'd sicken me to see some of the mistake selections the fans would make, it definitely wouldn't be any worse than now, where mistakes are still made by the fans voting, and on top of that the mandatory rep from the undeserving teams compound the mistakes. How many more mistakes could fans make if they chose the reserves as well?
And meanwhile, folks, MLB would see improved television ratings, because they're letting the fans control it all, so the fans will tune in. Everybody wins (well, except me...I still wouldn't watch).
If not that, then let's make sure the selections are as right as they can be -- eliminate the mandatory team rep crap, and then balance the fan voting with selections made by the following groups: managers, players, and sportswriters/media guys. Let each category count equally, with the fan vote being a tie-breaker if necessary. That way, if the ratings are going to suck, then at least we got the composition of the actual All-Star game as right as we can.
Get something right, Mr. Selig.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
(and now that Elly has fallen back to Earth at a speed that would make planet-smashing meteors jealous, it seems a good time to take that off)
So, now I reveal the new Campaign Title: The Count-Up of How Many Days Late Brian Sabean is in Letting That Useless Hunk of Protoplasm Alex Sanchez Go.
Let me explain things. Firstly, it's not a countdown to Sanchez' departure, it's a count-up of the days since Brian Sabean first should've let Sanchez go -- which, oddly enough, was the same day as Sanchez' first game in a Giants uniform on June 24th, where he came into the game as a pinch-runner.
The count-up shall begin at 19 days and ascend upward from there. Each day the count rises, Sabean looks even more silly for keeping this limp fish on the roster.
But nothing has changed.
Has it really been over a month since I've talked about my favorite American League baseball team? Yes, it has.
Since June 2nd, the Royals have:
- Went 14-20.
- Had a five game winning streak.
- Had an eight game losing streak.
- Continued to let Jose Lima occupy a roster spot.
- Brought up J.P. Howell.
- Not traded anyone.
So, in other words, nothing really newsworthy except for Howell, who has been underwhelming in his six starts thus far. He's not ready, and won't just magically "get it", either. His remaining time with the team will mirror that of Lima, as both should not be on this team, and the longer they stay, the more embarrassing the situation gets for Royals GM Allard Baird. I like Baird a lot, but despite there really not being any alternatives for the rotation that inspire much hope, my money would be that anyone replacing these two would stand a decent chance of not sporting an ERA of 7.33 or 8.65 (Lima and Howell, respectively). It's PR time, Allard, get Lima out of Kansas City any way you have to, and send Howell down to AAA Omaha to work on...well, everything.
Not trading anyone, I think, will change by the middle of this month. The Royals do have some attractive pieces to some team's puzzle. Tony Graffanino is one, a utility player who is swinging a decent bat -- actually, a very good bat for a utility player. His current line is .309/.387/.409, and while he's no great shakes defensively, he can play every position in the infield...as a matter of fact, he's played every position in the infield already this year. And while he's never been much with the bat, his numbers this year aren't so out of line that he couldn't continue to put out solid production, if he's not relied upon too heavily. Odd thing about his numbers this year? Graffy's OPS against right-handed pitchers is 150 points above his production against left-handed pitchers, something that isn't likely to continue given that he's never done that at any other time in his career (even including this year's number, his OPS against lefties is about 160 points higher than against righties over the last three seasons). So, don't expect his numbers to stay quite this good, but in limited at-bats they may not drop too far. At 1.1 million this season, I'm sure a bunch of teams will inquire about his services.
Another interesting piece is Royals reliever Mike MacDougal, he of the occasional triple-digit fastball and hardly-harnessed breaking ball. Mac's numbers this season are the best in his career, topping his 2003 All-Star (ahem) season in a few different categories: a higher strikeout rate, a better k/bb ratio, a lower WHIP, a slightly better ERA, and a lot less hit batsmen. Does this mean Mac's got his control down, finally, at the age of 28? No, he doesn't really have it down, I think, but this could be as good as it gets -- and it's really not too bad. With that arm and the strikeouts, he's definitely a valuable commodity. And, get this, he makes less than $400,000. If that doesn't get some queries from other GM's, I don't know what will.
Interesting that around the Royals blogosphere I see little mention of Emil Brown in trade rumours/suggestions. Like MacDougal, Brown brings one big factor into the mix: cheap-tivity. His line of .286/.357/.451 isn't spectacular, and isn't all that great for a corner outfielder. But there's plenty of teams who have players who are hurt and/or ineffective, and wouldn't mind seeing Brown's bat in their lineup hitting 6th or 7th -- especially for the mere pittance of less than $400,000. Ahem. His defense, too, leaves a lot to be desired, but to reiterate -- I'm not preaching Brown's overall mediocrity as a selling point, but Brown's mediocrity at that price as a selling point. One small boost in his value is, that his production holds steady vs. left and right-handed pitchers (.802 OPS vs. lefties, .810 OPS vs. righties). As a right-handed batter, I find it extremely interesting that his power drops vs. righties (33 SLG points less than against lefties), but his batting average and plate discipline is better vs. righties (28 points better batting average, 14 points better ISO discipline). Ought to be a few teams interested, I would think.
Other names that are likely to come up are Matt Stairs, Jeremy Affeldt, Terrence Long, and...yes, Mike Sweeney. Stairs' allure is the same as it always has been -- left-handed power bat off the bench. Affeldt's arm and left-handed-ness could be attractive. Long...well, um, I suppose some team's could want a veteran 4th outfielder, but if they ask about Long before they ask about Brown, they're on crack. I'm going to side-step the issue of any potential trade of Sweeney, just because it's been beat-up so much in...oh, the last couple of years among Royals fans.
Monday, July 11, 2005
He's already made two errors in about 13 chances, but can easily have been charged with at least one, if not two more. I'll buy the sun getting in his eyes on the first one yesterday, but the liner that broke him down later in the game was imminently catchable for a competent outfielder, at least if that outfielder doesn't start crab-walking to the ball when he gets near it. And remember the error that was charged to Jason Ellison in Sanchez' first game where Sanchez was interfering in the play? He also misplayed a ball off the wall in that game, too, dropping it twice before he could get it back into the infield.
Admittedly, a lot of this extra angst is because I like Elly, and don't like Sanchez. His post-game comments after his very 1st game with the club simply backed up his behavior in Tampa. I don't care about any drug suspension -- he's just a jerk. I'd much rather see Michael Tucker in RF than Sanchez, seeing as how Tucker has a better arm than Sanchez, doesn't drop routiners most of the time, and has more ability at the plate (on-base ability and power).
Sanchez might be useful to some team. He's a great bunter, and does seem to be able to hit for average. He's fast...doesn't really seem to help him too much, what with his 68% career stolen base success rate, but still...he's fast. So let him go to another team and show off his wares -- he doesn't have enough ability to help the Giants in any way, and he's not better than any of the Giants current outfielders.
C'mon, Sabes, let the guy go. You tried, but I'm extremely tired of seeing this guy in a Giants uniform.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Now saying "into statistics" shouldn't get anyone's anti-sabermetrics ire up, because that isn't quite what I'm saying. Baseball is a game of numbers and percentages, and thus the statistics that keep track of these numbers and percentages are a large part of the game. It doesn't have to be a unabashed love for stats -- it could just be being awed by Tony Gwynn's career battting average, or marvelling at how good Mike Schmidt's 1981 would've been if not shortened by injury.
So, with that, I'm going to have a look at some oft-overlooked statistics of some Giants players, and I'm going to do it in a random and chaotic fashion, because I know that turns you on:
- Mr. Consistency - Michael Tucker is most definitely not like life, or like a box of chocolates, because you always know what you're going to get with him. Just have a gander at his OPS from year-to-year, and you'll see what I mean. I don't know if you can be more consistent than that. He had one spike in 2000, but really, you can mark it down in stone what he'll contribute to your ballclub. Not a lot of variation in his other statistics, too, when looked at over the course of his career.
- As much as we (well, okay, ME) gripe about Ray Durham's fragile-tivity, to create a word, he's well ahead of his normal Giants pace for games played this year. In 2003, Durham played in 110 of 162 games, or 68% of the team's games. In 2004, he played in 120 games, or about 74%. So far this season, Ray-Ray has played in 72 of 86 games played, for 84%. So you see, he's really stepping up his game year after year. Ahem. Also, looking at his batting average and on-base percentage for this year and the two previous gives us some more consistent-ness, too (to create another word). Batting average: 2003 (.285), 2004 (.282), 2005 (.284). On-base percentage: 2003 (.366), 2004 (.364), 2005 (.365). He's light in the SLG department, though, which accounts for his sub-par season to this point.
- The Giants have two pitchers in the top 40 in the majors in the top 40 in strikeouts -- Jason Schmidt and Noah Lowry. Of those 40 pitchers, there is only one (Oliver Perez of the Pirates) who has a worse ERA than Lowry and Schmidt. Both pitchers being in the bottom 30 in total walks allowed certainly could help account for this.
- But for a short 17 game stint in Toronto in 2001 where he played in 17 games pitching 15.2 innings, many of Scott Eyre's career stats are at a career high level so far this season, including: k/9 (strikeout's per 9 innings), k/bb ratio (walk to strikeout ratio), ERA, and OPS against. Nice job, Scott.
- Jason Ellison's OPS has dropped the last 18 of 20 games. Hurts my heart even to type that out. He's still better than players like Doug Glanville and Endy Chavez, who have carved out years in the bigs being worse than replacement-level. The thing is, as much as we all knew Elly's 1.000+ OPS into the middle of May was a fluke, his current slump, too, should be viewed as a fluke. He wasn't that good, but he isn't this bad, either. Batting .195 in his last 22 games is just as much of a streak as batting .392 in his first 29 games. Neither indicates his true ability.
I think that's enough for now. In the meantime, let's all hope the Giants find a way to take the series from the Cardinals today -- Lowry's got the ball and the chance to give us all a little spring in our step going into the All-Star break.
Go get 'em, Noah.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
...that despite being my birthday, it just wasn't my night. Of course, there isn't many night where it is my night, so I humbly remain the unluckiest poker player all of you know.
In regards to the Giants 3-1 loss, it being my birthday, of course, would you care to guess at which small portion of the game I saw?
If you guessed just enough of the 1st inning to see Larry Walker's 2-run water-bomb off of Jason Schmidt, then you know me well, and are correct.
I think the night would've actually been better if I had come home from work, gotten kicked in the balls, and went straight to sleep. It would've saved me the agony.
Friday, July 08, 2005
I'm 31 today, but the good news is I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico, plus I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
All of which, of course, makes for a neat transition into the Giants victory last night by the count of 5-1 over the Cincinnatti Reds.
I'm not going to bother with my normal hail of bullets, as the game can be summed up thusly:
What in the name of all that is Good & Holy is up with Mike Matheny in these clutch situations? as unlucky as he was with RISP last season, he is the polar opposite this season. It's almost as if the guy is...
...clutch. Nah, that couldn't be it.
Bullpen did well again, as Jason Christiansen was used in the LOOGY role by the book, coming in and getting the left-handed uber-scary Adam Dunn out with the bases loaded and nobody out. If I didn't know better, I'd say that was clutch, too. Especially anti-clutch was Scott Munter coming in after Christiansen to get Wily E. Pena, Super Genius, to foul out, and then getting the last out of the inning on a liner to short.
Bases loaded, no outs, no runs for the Reds. That's...gotta hurt.
I also should give some props to Brett Tomko coming in and holding the Reds down through five innings, although he did leave that mess of a bases-loaded-nobody-out situation in the 6th for the bullpen to deal with.
Lance Niekro also gets a tip of the cap for again coming in to pinch-hit and again getting an extra-base hit to drive in a run. The guy is slowly but surely convincing me that he can hit, and that his SLG percentage isn't all that big of a fluke.
Next up is three games against the St. Louis Cardinals, and it is to be hoped that the Giants don't allow double digit runs in two of those three games.
That's all I have for now. Y'all come back now, ya hear?
Thursday, July 07, 2005
When the Cincinnatti Reds come into your city and smack you around in the first two games of the series, it's easy to see them doing the same in the 3rd game. Didn't happen, however, and our scrappy but undertalented Giants gave out a whoopin' of their own last night, taking it 7-2 over the Reds last night.
Let's talk about it, shall we?
- Kevin Correia wasn't great, but he got the job done. He reminds me of Brett Tomko a bit at the moment, in that he hasn't got a lot of strikeouts despite having pretty good stuff. His current k rate is pretty poor at 3.6 per nine innings, but his career average is over six per nine, so I'm sure he'll bring that up. He's got to cut down on the walks, too.
- LaTroy Hawkins, despite giving up a very loud double, was looking quite filthy. As there probably isn't much chance that he'll be going anywhere, I hope he stays that nasty. The Giants bullpen was very good last night, and I'm starting to think that this current group is a solid one. Scott Munter is starting to simply be a money guy. Comes in, gets ground ball outs, leaves, all without saying a word. Laconic is the perfect adjective for him.
- Alex Sanchez went 2 for 5 at the plate, and still sucked. A bad strikeout with a man on 3rd with only one out, and getting nailed trying to steal 2nd after getting a leadoff single. With the Giants out of it, there isn't any reason on Earth for this guy to get starts ahead of Todd Linden, but then that's probably why Brian Sabean got the guy -- he was anticipating needing another oufielder after he inevitably sent Linden back down. The team isn't going anywhere, Sabes, give the guy more than 17 games to see if he can cut it. You let Neifi suck for over 300 at-bats last year, after all.
- Lance Niekro still slugging away -- at a .571 SLG percentage, he's taking full advantage of his at-bats vs. lefties. Versus lefties, Niekro is well-nigh Barry Bonds....if you don't believe me, check out the .879 SLG vs. lefties. Lefty-killer, indeed.
- Mike Matheny continues his ridiculous hitting with RISP, running a line of .362/.443/.638 with runners on 2nd and/or 3rd base. With all the talk of him by bloggers and Mike Krukow, among others, did you know that Michael Tucker has been just as good? Tucker's got a line of .341/.446/.659, and they've had about the same numbers of chances, with Matheny having 54 plate appearances with RISP and Tucker having 52.
Hopefully the boys in orange & black can salvage a series split tomorrow. Tomko's going to toe the rubber again in the starting role, after his brief exile to the bullpen. He'll either throw a complete game 5-hitter or he'll give up five runs in the first four innings. Unless he does something completely different, of course. Mark it down, you heard it here first.
sidenote: My agony of defeat in Hold 'Em continues, as I managed to just fall short of qualifying for the final tournament leading to the UltimateBet.net weekly poker show on FOX. No bad beats, really. I was at the 2nd to the last table with only 6K chips, and turned it into 50K. Two hands broke me -- both were because of a combination of bad reads and lack of cahones.
After getting the 50K I was fine, I could've tried to coast, but I ended up trapped in a hand where I had an ace and the flop was king/queen/jack. The other guy in the hand kept betting minimum, and I called him all the way to the river looking for an ace or a 10 (figuring he had mid or bottom board pair), not realizing his bets were just feeler bets and he was weak. Sure enough, after he checked the river, I checked right back -- he had pocket 4's and took the pot. I should've recognized the feeler bets and came over the top big, and he would've folded. I lost about 8K on that hand.
The 2nd hand was one where I had ace/jack suited, and raised. Getting two calls, I flop top board pair. As there was two clubs on the board and I was suited diamonds, I kept my bets small to avoid losing too much. I got calls all the way to the river on my minimum bets, which was a sure sign that they were chasing a hand. After the river didn't change anything for me, I again bet minimum and had a guy with about the same amount of chips come over the top and go all-in. The other guy in the hand folded, and I had a decision.
After thinking for a bit, I decided he had an ace and hit two pair along the way somewhere, and I reluctantly folded. Turns out he was bluffing, and was chasing a straight. That hand left me with only about 23K, and the blinds soon raised to 1500/3000, forcing me to go all-in a few hands later with king/5 suited. I got called by a guy with big slick and lost.
Sigh. At least I didn't lose by a bad beat this time.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
And she can drive, too, fellas! SHE CAN DRIVE, TOO!!!
Is she better looking than Orange & Black hotties Leeann Tweeden or Eva Longoria? No, not really. How about dreamgirl Jessica Alba? No, she falls short of that. Overall, really, she's just very cute, but not a big-time knockout.
But, like I said, she can drive -- and drive better than ALL of us. Yes, I'm talking to YOU, too, dude. I bet there are still guys out there who'd try and say that they could outdrive her or outrace her, despite her qualifying 4th for the Indy 500, finishing 10th in a race just a week or two ago, and took the pole at Kansas Speedway, eventually finishing 9th. She's tenth overall in the IRL standings.
But yeah, you could take her. Sure.
That driving factor is, admittedly, a large turn-on for me. Way more than it should be, but I don't think I care. And neither do you, do you?
I'm realizing it'll be difficult to make this a baseball-related entry at this point, but I really don't feel like trying. Just slobber a little and thank me later.
Monday, July 04, 2005
While there have been many players on this year's team that have put out great effort in trying to help the team stay in contention, none have combined that effort with results like Moises Alou. His line:
.323/.413/.515, 12 home runs, 39 RBI, 2 stolen bases
He's hitting for average, getting on-base at a high rate, and hitting for power. The 12 home runs and 39 RBI don't seem like great numbers, but Alou did miss a couple of weeks due to injury. He's played an inspired defensive outfield, and although he's missed a few plays, he's hustled on every single one -- and made a few great plays because of that hustle, too.
Another thing that I like about Alou is, that one can easily tell that he takes the team's lack of success personally. You can see his disgust whenever he doesn't contribute, despite the fact that he's contributing more offensively than any other player.
So, while I wistfully think of what the Giants' lineup would've looked like with both Alou and Barry Bonds in it, I also can only appreciate Alou all the more for what he's done while being the only obvious threat in the Giants lineup day-in and day-out.
Congratulations, Moises. You're a good Giant.
Had us going there for a second, winning four in a row like that. Almost made us think they might be able to scratch back into contention.
The starting pitching, really, is the Achilles heel of this team.
The bullpen isn't very good, but it hasn't been horrible for a while, now. Jack Taschner, and Scott Munter have both been about as good as any of us could expect. Tyler Walker has held the opposition scoreless for 12 of his last 13 outings, and now holds a k/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) of 8.49 -- a pretty good strikeout rate. Jason Christiansen, as much as I wanted him off the team, isn't as bad as his ERA would suggest (5.70). If the Giants would only use him against lefties (59 at-bats against, .589 OPS against) instead of continuously giving him substantial work against righties as well (57 at-bats against, .909 OPS against), he'd fit in just fine as the team's LOOGY. Scott Eyre's been the best reliever in that pen for a while. Jeff Fassero's been useful, but obviously is overmatched as a starter, accouting for some of his uglier numbers. This bullpen isn't really any better with LaTroy Hawkins.
So yes, it's the starting pitching. The offense isn't great, but it's middle of the pack in runs scored per game at about 4.5 runs per contest -- all without you-know-who.
What to do about it? Nothing, at this point, because the Giants aren't going to contend. Trading Jason Schmidt seems like a foregone conclusion, now, although I'll hate to see him go. Brett Tomko has been an obvious disappointment -- unless we all just admit that he got hot at the end of last year, and he was doing alright for a time this year, but simply isn't a frontline starter. Yes, yes, velocity, blah, blah, blah...so what? He's...not...a...good...pitcher. He's a 4th starter, at best. The Giants could hang onto him, but they already have a bunch of 5th starters. Kirk Rueter should be in the role that Tomko is currently in -- long relief. Another player that I love to have on the team, Rueter will find a way to pitch decently in about half of his starts, but will be utterly horrible in the other half. Noah Lowry gets a bit of a pass from me, but he's got to find a way around the home runs to right-handed hitters. He's allowed 15 home runs this season, with 14 of the 15 coming against right-handed batters (with a 263:102 disparity in at-bats respectively between righties and lefties). Every other starter the Giants have thrown out there (Fassero, Jesse Foppert, Jerome Williams) hasn't fared well, either.
This is where Brian Sabean has got to earn his keep. He's already made a useless move towards getting the starting pitching better by trading away a copule of younger prospects, and likely is attempting to trade away the Giants best starter (yes, oddly enough, despite his struggles Schmidt is still the Giants best starter). So where will the starters for next season come from? Free agency? The minors? Definitely not the latter, because Sabean will slit his own wrists before trusting a rotation of youngsters. After this past offseason of overspending for mediocre starting pitching, the market this winter may be a bit more tolerable, but it's still a minefield that'll be tough to navigate. The Giants don't just need one starter, or even two.
Far be it from me to suggest a gamble, but it seems obvious to me that the Giants must seriously consider giving Matt Cain a shot. Bring him up late this year, have him start, and then look at him again in Spring training next year. Sabean just can't count on finding three decent starting pitchers in the free agent market, and he really can't afford the cost of bringing in three starting pitchers through free agency that might be decent. So, turning to the minors is both smart and necessary.
What do all of y'all think?
Friday, July 01, 2005
Sweep Arizona, I said. Well, they have answered, by completing the sweep last night. Let me express my newfound optimism over this.
Yay. Go Giants. You can do it.
Exclamations points may be added if the Giants do the 2nd part of what I said they must do, which is sweep the Padres in San Diego. Meantime, I'll hand out some kudos:
- Noah Lowry looked pretty good. Couple too many walks for my taste, but allowing only one run through six innings is good, and it's great for Lowry.
- Todd Linden is beginning to look a little less lost at the plate, but I am glad Father Alou keeps putting him in the lineup.
- Ladies and gentleman, Ray Durham has cleared the .400 mark in SLG! Stay hot, Ray Ray, and perhaps the Yankees will pick you up in a couple of weeks. I still think, by the way, that the Phillies could take a stab at Edgardo Alfonzo when he gets healthy again, provided the Giants pick up about half the tab for Alfonzo's salary this season. Call it a gut feeling...or, you can call it taking a look at the Phillies and seeing that if they want to stay in contention, they need an upgrade at 3rd base. Fonzie wouldn't be a huge upgrade over the guy currently playing most of the games at 3rd for Philadelphia, David Bell, but he would definitely be better.
- Lance Niekro impresses me -- no, not with his ability with the longball, but in his ability to be the walking, living, playing Anti-Walk. He seems to be retaining his power, though, so I'm starting to come around to the position that perhaps he simply has the ability to SLG .500, at least if he hits against lefties whenever possible and keeps his plate appearances vs. righties down to a minimum. It's tempting to the Giants, I'm sure, to play him everyday to see what they've got.
Sorry for the relatively light posting this week, but the new job has me coming home fairly beat after my new, traffic-packed commute. Once I get used to it, I should get back on a just-about everyday schedule.
Today is Poker Night, by the way -- wish me luck....and this time, wish me GOOD luck. I have luck by the barrelfull, but all of it's bad.