Saturday, September 30, 2006
So...what now? Is your world rocked yet? If so...why?
C'mon, did any of us really think that Barry Bonds was going to be the only guy to villify? It's unfortunate, because a player like Clemens has an escape clause much like Mark McGwire's -- retirement. If Clemens simply doesn't bother to try and pitch in the majors again, this will serve to dim any potential scrutiny, although I imagine it will still be intense.
But, just not as intense as it could be, or should be, just because he won't be playing anymore.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want to see Clemens go through exactly the same things that Bonds has gone through, because I see Clemens in the same type of light that I see Bonds in -- an incredible athlete, in whom the greatness resides to be considered one of the best players of all-time, regardless of whatever types of drugs they took.
However, forgive me if I wonder at how this will be handled, as well as any other evidence that may come out to point the finger at the future Hall of Famer. While I'm sure the media will jump on any juicy bits of news and shoot it to the top of the broadcast, the public's reaction to any building of circumstantial evidence and testimony will be the thing to watch.
Many people who are dead-set against Bonds qualify their remarks by pointing out all the "tainted" records, saying Bonds is ruining the game's integrity, etc.
Hm. I'm thinking Clemens would "ruin" the game just as much, only he'd be doing it on the pitching side of things.
But still, it's all moot. Let's you and me both be realists -- there isn't any way this side of Heck that Clemens will be villified, scrutinized, and hated on as much as Bonds, because just about everyone likes Clemens. Think about it -- one of the only players I can think of off-hand that both Yankee fans and Red Sox fans adore, not to mention the entire state of Texas, and probably anyone above the age of 40. No matter what evidence, no matter if it's proven beyond doubt that Clemens took PED's, it will never reach Bonds' level.
We shall see how it turns out. I have had the attitude of ignoring much of the news carousel around Bonds over the past couple of years, but I readily admit I will not be doing the same with this story.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Onto other, more prevalent things...
I've decided that though it doesn't make a whole lot of economic sense, I want to see Ray Durham return on a two-year contract. Should the Giants re-sign him? More to the point, should the Giants sign him to a multi-year contract?
Probably not, and definitely not, but I still want to see Durham hit one more season, while realizing that Durham won't want to sign a one-year contract at this stage of his career -- especially with the numbers he'll have behind him coming out of this season. I don't see any team signing him for more than three years tops, regardless, but the two-year is a feasible thing, and may not even hurt too badly -- depending on the total payout, of course. I'm thinking his current salary level sounds about right (7 million per), but I can see him getting some team to pay him eight or nine million per, because there's always a team or two that will overpay.
But neither here nor there. It makes the most sense for the Giants to let Durham go, given that they've never really gotten full value out of him due to the games he's missed due to injury while with the Giants. It's a nasty coincidence that the best offensive year he's ever had comes in the final year of his contract, but that's the way the cookie crumbles...as he'll be 35 years old by the time next season rolls around, it's unreasonable to expect him to repeat this production.
Still want him back...on a one-year contract...but since that won't happen, a two-year contract. One more good season of 130 games played, very good offense for his position, and barely acceptable defense at 2nd base (I think Durham's double play savvy makes up a bit for his otherwise mediocre play defensively). Meanwhile, Kevin Frandsen backs him up, gets some significant playing time filling in for Durham whenever he's injured and playing a bit more around the infield and pinch-hitting, and hopefully is ready by 2008 to take over full-time --at which point the Giants trade Durham over the winter of 2007/2008.
Yep, got it all figured out, I do.
I also don't want to see Shea Hillenbrand back. The little home run tear he went on a bit ago was nice, but he's been here for 50 games now and still hasn't done squadoosh overall. I'm going to beat the Craig Wilson drum over the winter again, and hope that this time Brian Sabean dances to the rhythm. This is assuming that the Giants aren't going to spend big money at 1st base -- which they actually shouldn't be able to, because the free agent market for 1st baseman in 2007 is thin.
The only palatable free agents at the position over this winter, to my mind, are Wilson, Wilson, and Wilson. Every single other player is in their 30's, and many in their mid and upper 30's, and either declining, or no good to begin with. The only problem is that Wilson could be in high demand...but given that the Pirates took Shawn Chacon in exchange for him perhaps bodes well. Wilson isn't really good enough to get into a bidding war over -- I'm thinking something in the five million-per range would probably be both palatable for the Giants and a realistic price tag.
While I'm at it, I also wonder if Pedro Feliz will be brought back. I think it likely for five reasons: 1) although his offense still stinks for a 3rd baseman, he's basically the same offensive player the Giants have been smitten with these past couple of years, so there isn't really any reason the Giants will think differently of him now, 2) his glove and durability are both good, 3) the free-agent market for 3rd base looks just as bad as the 1st base market, 4) meaningless milestones like this year has seen Feliz hit career highs in both HR's and RBI, and he may top 100 RBI total for the year, and finally 5) the Giants really ain't got jack-shit behind Feliz in the minors.
He'll probably be back, and they'll probably sign him for another couple of years -- I'll throw up in my mouth a little, and attempt to fortify my psyche against another couple of years of watching Feliz flail away at the dish.
In any case, enough aimless rambling for now. I got some sleeping to do.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
If anyone follows the Wolverines at all, you know what they're problem has been in many recent years has been -- early season losses, and specifically, early season losses to the Irish. It's always a test, because many of the teams that usually start the season ranked in/around the top 10 don't play anybody in the first couple games -- play so-so teams, blow them out, protect their ranking. Michigan always has that early season test, and they've failed it more often than not in recent years.
Not this year. Heh. 47-21 Michigan.
Gotta figure this will catapult Michigan deep into the top 10, depending of course what the other top 10 teams do today -- but none of the other top 10 teams will have as impressive a win as this, a blowout of the 2nd ranked team in the nation on their own home field. So...we'll see.
On another college football note, I'm also getting a good guffaw over the troubles of Miami, a program which I can't stand -- I think the Hurricanes are probably the most suspect program the nation has had in the last 20+ years. Now, I don't mean suspect in the sense that their teams haven't been good, I mean suspect in how their program has been run.
But my laughter is because of the annihilation they suffered at the hands of Louisville today, 31-7.
Not only was this the FIRST EVER time that Louisville has beaten Miami, but they were blown out after stupidly stomping on Louisville's insignia at midfield -- firing the Cardinal up, and also firing up their funeral pyre at the same time. The arrogance of that is ridiculous, and to see them get open-hand slapped after such an idiotic move is so satisfying it borders on the...okay, it isn't quite that good, but it's very nice.
Perhaps now Miami will shut up, and play football. Perhaps now the people who rank the division 1-A teams will realize that Miami just isn't any good, and stop giving them a ranking based on history rather than reality. The way Miami ended last season should have been a harbinger of this (their offense has been almost non-existent for a while against division 1-A opponents), and when I saw their pre-season ranking I almost retched.
Ah, whatever. Michigan blew out Notre Dame, and Miami got smacked around -- only thing missing would've been if Ohio State got upset, but you can't have everything.
Do you know where I'm going with this?
Don't do it, Brian Sabean. Just...just don't do it. It's an unlikely move at best, but still, I feel it's necessary to say it. Gonzo is simply a Sabes type of player through and through, and that scares me...of course, anytime any formerly-good 35-plus player hits free agency, it scares me. But Gonzo's won a World Championship and brings such an abudance of good clubhouse vibes, it's often seen falling out of his pockets as he walks down the street. His veteran savvy is so puissant that passerby often say things like, "You know, Gonzo has some really puissant veteran savvy". And that really speaks volumes, because people don't just walk around the street using words like "puissant" everyday, you know.
Or, something like that. Sometimes my metaphors fall a bit short. You get the idea -- just deal with it.
The move for Gonzo to make is the American League/DH move, because his throwing arm...that is, if we can actually call it a throwing arm...is a huge liability for any NL team. He'll also probably need a hitter's park, because playing half of his games in Arizona has helped his offensive stats to some degree over the years.
But, enough on that. The Giants have two more games with the St. Louis Cardinals, both of which they must win. With only 15 games left to go, the Giants will soon be in a position where they'll simply have to win out to stand a chance. They do have the three games with the Dodgers remaining at the end of the season, so it's also imperative that the Padres take their remaining two games vs. Los Angeles, because that will better the Giants chances overall (the Giants don't play the Padres again, so the "control their own fate" thing is out of the window with San Diego).
Well, I digress. it all starts with the Giants winning, anyway, and they'll have to at least do something like go 11-4 the rest of the way to stand a chance -- and that'd be a fairly slim chance, too. Everytime they lose from here on out, it's another nail or three in their coffin.
Friday, September 08, 2006
- Find control panel on thigh, on the left side of left leg
- Unscrew control panel door
- Find "Care" button
- Switch to "Off" position
I think I'd better call the Help Desk, because although I flicked that switch to the "Off" position a couple of weeks ago, it hasn't worked yet.
I still care.
Caring, however, is one thing. Hope is altogether something else. By now, I've found that I've completely exhausted my supply of that particular...
...hey, what's that? Laying on the floor over there...got some kind of inscription or lettering on it...I think it reads:
Wait, there's a bit more...
Alright, just kidding about that last part. The Giants previous too-many-teams-in-front-of-them-to-overcome syndrome has vanished, leaving them with one, single team in front of them, only a tantalizing two and one-half games in front. Just imagine if Armando Benitez had simply not blown one of those saves earlier in the season...well, while we're at it, let's imagine world peace, too, and short lines at the DMV.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Looks like I should be picking up something this week, so my quality of life ought to improve enough from that to make writing something not be such a chore. I will acknowledge that the Giants got just hot enough that I suppose writing off the season isn't really possible, as they're only a couple games behind in the race for the wildcard...or, as I call it, the mildcard (none of the teams in the hunt for this spot are particularly impressive).
Oh, and if you value your sanity, don't buy Everquest. The nickname for that game is Evercrack, and that's not without reason.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
(I really hate that expression, but it just seemed to fit.)
As the season wears on and he continues to run a SLG over .500 and a decent batting average, it's becoming harder to figure out what the Giants might do next season at the catcher position. Alfonzo isn't as good as Mike Matheny defensively, but when you can hit 40 points better and SLG about 150 points better, that doesn't matter as much. For all intent and purposes, I'd have to say that I can't believe that Matheny calls a better game than Alfonzo, either.
Unfortunately, the Giants are in one of those positions with Matheny where I don't see Aflonzo unseating him next season, assuming Matheny recovers from his problems stemming from the concussion he sustained. Admittedly, it'd be a bit cold to hand Matheny's job to Alfonzo after Matheny's missed all this time with as serious an injury as he has had. We've all heard many professional team sports athletes talk about losing a starting position while injured, and it's usually a semi-taboo thing to do.
Well, unless the Giants believe Alfonzo is that much better than Matheny. It's good that Alfonzo's used the last couple of games to throw in some clutch hits, because the main thing he's going to have to build in the next month plus to solidify any claim he might have on the position next year is reputation.
Matheny's got it, he doesn't.
This also would be assuming Alfonzo can keep these numbers going through the end of the season. He's had over 200 plate appearances now, so it's becoming a bit harder to write it off as a streak, or him playing over his ability. He's still got plenty of offensive holes (like a veritable ton of strikeouts and hardly any walks) that have me worried, but again, as long as he can hit for a decent average and hit for power like he has been, it's worth those problems -- just keep batting him in the 8th position.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Okay, I was wrong about that.
However, the Giants part of my ill-conceived theory is happening now. A sweep of the Padres and the taking of the first game vs. the Dodgers in this series has given them their second five-game winning streak of the year, the first of which was right before they proceeded to lose 13 of 16...meaning that if you combine all those streaks the Giants are 13-13 in their last 26.
The script now dictates that the Giants go ahead and sweep the Dodgers, more for confusion's sake than anything else. It would muddy up the division again, just when it looked like a clearer image was coming into focus. It looked like the Dodgers were putting themselves forth as the class of the division (right after it looked like they were putting themselves forth as the dregs of the division), and it looked like the Giants were putting themselves forth as the dregs of the division (right after it looked like they were putting themselves forth as the class of the division).
Confused? Yep. Ya oughta be, cuz I am, too.
What other division you've ever heard of has a team win five in a row to take the division lead, only to lose 13 of their next 16 and fall into last place, while the team that was in last place, losers of 13 of 14, turns around and wins 17 of 19 and takes the division lead?
How is it that the Giants have take seven of the last eight games vs. the Padres, yet the Padres are still two games ahead of them?
I'm wondering how the oddsmakers are figuring out any odds on any of these team in the NL West to win the pennant. Then again, I'm wondering why anyone would be silly enough to make a bet on which team is going to win this division.
UPDATE: Hm. I turn on the game, it's the 2nd inning, and it's 8-0 Dodgers with a man on 3rd and no outs. I'm guessing the theory is in a little danger of not becoming true. Shame 'bout that.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
But, oddly, a oh-so tiny seed of joy has crept it's way into my brain, and found the soil there just fertile enough to extend its roots -- the Giants finally designated Jose Vizcain'to for assignment yesterday, recalling Kevin Frandsen from Fresno.
Thus ends the Let's Waive Goodbye to Jose Vizcaino Count-Up, which began on May 23rd, and should've ended on May 24th...instead ending on August 14th, 83 days after its inception. A few of you noticed I stopped updating it around day #45, because it became too depressing -- every time I updated it, I was reminding myself that he was still on the team, breathing and stuff.
All in all, the Giants wasted 135 plate appearances on him. I am not certain how much time I wasted watching him, but it was a little bit more than Too Much.
Here's something to think about: if Ray Durham keeps up his current pace in both offensive production and playing time, he'll end up around 135 games played and a little over 500 plate appearances. Do the Giants re-sign him? Do they even attempt to re-sign him? If not, what do they do for a 2nd baseman?
Thursday, August 03, 2006
The win finally came, as we all knew it would...eventually. But if the Giants have been the epitome of mediocrity this year in most areas, one thing they do very well is steal the joy out of a win -- this time with a near-meltdown in the 9th inning, for once not caused by Armando Benitez (though in true team spirit he did contribute a walk to the only batter he faced). The meltdown was courtesy of Brad Hennessey, student closer.
I'm not quite understanding the reluctance to give a greater role to Kevin Correia, whose done every bit as much as Hennessey this year, and actually more in a sense -- Correia's big improvement is a bit more believable than Hennessey's to my mind by virtue of the 10 more games he's pitched in, and the fact that Hennessey's success is largely attributable to his newfound ability to not allow hits...and allow me to be skeptical that that will continue. Matt Cain had a lot of success at the end of last year, mostly due to not allowing hits, and we've seen what that "ability" has gotten Cain this year.
In any case, I am at least mildly pleased at the win. It isn't a loss, of course, which helps. Shea Hillenbrand went deep, and Moises Alou's bat woke up. Those are nice things. Will it help the Giants make a run at the division? I don't think so, but the division doesn't seem interested in leaving behind any of the teams. The Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Rockies have had some horrible stretches in the last month and change of baseball, and the division (okay, the Padres) just refuses to put any distance between themselves and the slumping team-du-jour.
Three and a half games back. No matter how you slice it, that isn't a large lead. No matter how you slice it, with this team, it's both right around the corner and miles away at the same time.
Monday, July 31, 2006
And today is the trading deadline.
But man, it's a good thing Brian Sabean got Shea Hillenbrand and Mike Stanton, because otherwise things would be worse.
Oh, wait a minute...getting swept by two of the worst teams in the NL is about as bad as it gets, isn't it?
And wonder of wonders, Armando Benitez figures prominently in the loss last night to the Pirates.
...if anyone needs me, I'll be kicking small, cute animals and taking lollipops from small children in an attempt to balance the scales.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
There may have been a few of you who came by here after the Giants won their 4th and 5th games in a row recently, looking to see if I had anything to say about the team. After all, in winning the third game of the series against the Padres the Giants had not only won that series and catapulted themselves into 1st place in the NL West, but the five wins in a row qualified as their best winning streak all year, the first time they had won more than three in a row at any point this season.
Yes, well, I had a few things to say, and most of them complimentary, too, only I have been working some extra hours lately, have been messing with my new Dell computer, and had a wedding to help with and attend.
And, to be quite honest, I wasn't convinced the team had turned some magic corner.
A sweep against the Padres might have done it, but even after Armando Benitez added his unmistakable nine-million-dollars-per-year touch to that series and put the kibosh on the sweep, I still would've been counted amongst the believers with a series win against the Nationals.
I believe, alright -- in the power of gravity, and in the fact that the Giants are the moon, and .500 is the Earth.
Benitez, of course, was front and center again this time, ending all hope of winning this series with another blown save. Now, if you saw the game, you could be one of those who want to throw Ray Durham in the fire along with Benitez, as Durham wasn't able to make a play on a grounder that could possibly have resulted in an inning-ending double play. That's fine, but the leadoff walk and single given up by Benitez had just a bit more to do with it...plus, Durham's been carrying the team offensively lately.
Benitez? He's just been offensive. I'm so tired of him, even if he looked like this I wouldn't want to see him on the mound.
(That's a bald-faced lie. If Armando Benitez really looked like Elsa Benitez...nevermind. That'd just be freaky, come to think of it.)
I admire the Giants in their quest to get their money's worth out of Benitez, but enough is enough. A 1.65 WHIP is enough. A 68% save conversion rate is enough (and we all know it could've been worse). His pedestrian 1.31 k/bb ratio is enough. His lowest-in-his-career 6.92 k/9 rate is enough. His highest-in-career .816 OPS against is enough.
Enough. This isn't the pitcher you signed, and he's pitching the worst he's ever had in his career since 1995 -- that is, unless you compare his first injury-filled season with the Giants in 2005, that is, which was almost as bad.
Enough. He's bringing down the team, and no spin you can put on it makes it better for his teammates or the fans of the franchise. His velocity and break on his pitches is back...so what? He stinks. Whether he'll continue to stink like this the rest of his career is up for debate, but the Giants cannot afford to find that out. Since they've shipped off Jeremy Accardo for Shea Hillenbland, they've got two options for closer: Kevin Correia and Jonathan Sanchez. Personally, Correia gets my vote because he seems to have much better control this year than in previous seasons.
In any case, although I haven't a clue as to what they could do with Benitez, if they are serious about trying to keep this team in the race, it's time for some good ol' addition-by-subtraction. He's fleeced you and the team, Brian Sabean, and now it's time to cut bait. I think we all want off of the roller coaster.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
However, I can't help but think it's a bit disconcerting that the Giants have run up a 3-3 record after the Break so far, with the deficit in the losses being: eight, four, and nine. The margin of victory has been: two, one, and one. The scoring in the Phillies series was 23-12, in case you were wondering.
I'm thinking if that trend continues, the Giants won't be a contender in the NL West for long, even if all the other teams are still doing the Mediocrity Dance.
Now we come to another one of those important stretches. Twenty-three of the team's next thirty-two games are against divisional opponents, with the nine games that aren't being against the Pirates and the Nationals, two of the worse teams in the National League.
Any takers on the Giants record in those 32 games? I'm going to go out on a limb and say they'll compile a 16-16 record.
In what probably is the weirdest thing is that even with the Giants as ho-hum as they are, they aren't only in the divisional race, but they're second in the wild card race, too, behind the Cincinatti Reds and their .526 winning percentage (Giants are two games back).
Sidnote: This should be my last entry on my old computer, what with UPS's attempted delivery of my new one yesterday. I'm expecting them to try again today, and I'll be ready and waiting for them. I think the odds are about 2 to 1 that regardless of how easy the setup is, I'll have trouble getting it started.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
But, as usual, the NL West can't get away from itself -- the Diamondbacks are the only NL West team that won yesterday. The AL West and NL West just ought to randomly re-arrange the teams within the division, just for kicks...except that I bet that whatever the new arrangement would be, the teams still wouldn't be able to get too far away from .500.
An interesting discussion is over on Grant's site, where several people are chiming in on whether the Giants should take Craig Wilson or Sean Casey, both of whom have come up in the rumour mills as players Brian Sabean could be pursuing.
I don't necessarily think that Wilson is a better overall player than Casey, but I do not doubt that given their current salaries and the Giants specific needs, Wilson would be the better selection.
Casey is the better hitter in terms of accumulating hits. If my team only needs a single, well, he's darn good at that. However, the Giants have quite a few guys that are quite capable of hitting a single. It's not as if Casey has zero power, but being a left-handed line-drive hitter going against the wall in right field definitely won't improve his power numbers, not to mention that Casey doesn't really have the speed to take advantage of balls hit to Triples Alley.
So, Casey, I think, would end up as a J.T. Snow with a higher batting average and somewhat less defensive abilities. Is that what the Giants want? Is that what they want for 8.5 million dollars, which is what Casey is making this year?
Wilson hits right-handed, so his power stroke shouldn't suffer much here, if at all, and his large advantage in power is the biggest reason why I prefer him to Casey. Wilson isn't quite a slugger, but he's close enough. Wilson also makes only 3.3 million, which is 5.2 less than what Casey makes, and could be an easier, cheaper acquisition for Sabes. Wilson also can play outfield, 1st base, and even catch if need be.
And, if we keep half of one eye on the future, Wilson is a younger player and should the Giants be interested in retaining his services past this year, he would have a few good years left in him.
Call me ye of little faith, but I'm making the assumption that Sabean won't have some better deal in the works for Miguel Cabrera or Justin Morneau, and that other, premium-hitting 1st basemen would cost the Giants more than they have to give (like Nick Johnson) -- even if they were available.
So, get Wilson, and bat him in front of Barry whenever possible to see if there's still some of that hitting-in-front-of-or-behind-Bonds-will-net-you-many-more-hittable-fastballs magic left.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Acquiring Huff would've put Mark Sweeney in a bit of a twilight zone, as there'd be no real reason to have Sweeney on the team -- Huff plays all of the positions Sweeney plays, bats lefty, and is a better hitter overall. That is, unless the team DFA'd Jason Ellison, and used Sweeney as a 5th corner outfielder...they do have both Steve Finley and Randy Winn to play center, after all. But still, a left-handed bat at 1st base isn't really what the Giants need, unless it's a really, really good one.
So, what I'm saying is, although something might have been worked out, I wasn't really miffed that the Giants didn't get Huff.
That is, I wasn't until Huff runs out and hits an important, game-breaking home run in his first game with his new club, the Houston Astros.
I shouldn't really be mad -- there are other opportunities out there for Brain Sabean, although those don't seem to be many (psst...still Craig Wilson). The Giants still have time, after all -- they were in a worse position last year and still made a race of it at the end. And after all, this was just one game.
Then I thought about it for a sec. The Astros are one of the few teams in the NL with an offense just as bad as the Giants, and their situation in their division is undoubtedly a worse one than the Giants', what with two teams in the Cincinatti Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals that are not only further ahead in the division, but definitely look like better teams (the Cardinals' strange recent losing streak notwithstanding).
But, well, the Astros are doing something about their offensive problems, and they're doing it now. They aren't waiting for their fortunes to change, they weren't going to wait and see if Jason Lane regained his 2005 form, to see if Preston Wilson could match his numbers in Colorado (heh, don't hold your breath, Houston), etc., etc.
They went out and got somebody who will help. Huff likely isn't the answer for the Astros, either, as Houston's biggest problems occur outside of the friendly confines of the Juice -- their offense suddenly turns into a much improved version of Jose Vizcaino on the road, which incidentally, still sucks (.761 OPS at home, .694 OPS on the road). Huff isn't the kind of player that will change that all by his lonesome little self.
But can he add a win, maybe even two over what Lane was producing so far this year? Yep. Can the Giants us someone who will add a win or three over what Mark Sweeney and Lance Niekro would produce?
Like I said, Houston didn't exactly solve their problems with Huff, but at least they're moving in the right direction. Better.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
It's Orange & Black Baseball, not Orange & Black Speculation & Gossip.
Besides, plenty of other folks are going to talk about it, and most of them are either better writers or smarter than I, so I am quite comfortable letting others say all that there is to be said.
Monday, July 10, 2006
...that it isn't this piece of crap I've had for six years.
I've been fighting with this thing for the past couple of weeks. It seems to have this preternatural sense that a new computer was in the works and is doing its darndest to go down in flames. Battling with the thing to simply boot up correctly has been a big part of why my number of entries in a week has dropped off recently.
Oh, and I'm also da laziest basstad whut eva did write his own blog-ting dere.
I'm planning...hoping...to take an hour or two and put something nice together to break down the 1st half for the Giants, but I want to make sure I'm putting out some new information along with some of the stuff I've been finding throughout the 1st half. The day that would happen would be Wednesday.
Meantime, might I suggest some reading? Lefty always has an interesting thing or three to say, and he muses on the Giants 2nd half chances here. John Perricone, in a fit of...something a bit unexpected from him, thinks the Giants didn't do too badly in the 1st half over here.
Grant talks a bit about the rumours that Jason Schmidt could be on the trading block here, and Big D does some All-Star reflecting down yonder.
I'm making the mistake of actually listening to the ESPN guys talk about All-Star game strategy, and why one team has an advantage over the other.
Listen, fellas, it's the All-Star game. There's really good players on both sides, and both the NL and the AL are capable of crushing the other team provided they have a good day. They seem to think the AL has a big advantage.
Yes, guys, I wholeheartedly ag....I totally ag...
Thursday, July 06, 2006
The Royals no longer have the worst record in baseball. That particular distinction now belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates -- at least, for however long it takes for the Royals to go on a losing streak at the same time the Pirates play a little .500 ball.
Whatever. This is, without bullshit, the happiest I've been looking at the standings all year. No joke. I've avoided talking about Kansas City for fear that I might instinctively open my veins at how horrible there were...and still are.
But the fact is that they've played some decent baseball lately, powered mostly by a winning record in interleague (what does that say about the National League?), and some smattering of wins before and after interleague. They're offense now actually exists, albeit on the scale of amoeba and other single-cell organisms.
And I've got to give some props to three players on the team: David DeJesus, who has simply sizzled since coming off the DL in late May, John Buck, who isn't on fire or anything, but is...productive, and fueling a lot of hopes that he might actually be as good as they were hoping he'd be when they got him in the Carlos Beltran trade, and Mark Teahen, who was demoted to triple A Omaha with the following line: .195/.241/.351, and since being brought back up has done some raking and is now at: .263/.316/.431 -- oh, and he also came over in the Beltran trade.
Oh, there's still plenty to work on -- Teahen and Buck still have pretty horrible k/bb ratios, and DeJesus is still managing to be fast yet seemingly have no real base-stealing ability, but with the career paths that Teahen and Buck were on last year it's simply wonderful to see them being productive enough to be major leaguers. And DeJesus is a stud whether or not he steal bases.
I just wish that they had taken DeJesus for the Royals' All-Star instead of Mark Redman -- at least David has All-Star numbers, even if he's only played in about half the team's games this year. Heck, they could've taken Jimmy Gobble or Elmer Dessens out of the bullpen before they took Redman, but...
...of course the move to make was to somehow find a way to make the Royals a bigger laughing stock than they already were, so they took Redman. Genius.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
See, I don't normally do too much talk radio. I usually find that whomever the host of whatever show is on misses a lot of points on whatever team he's covering, and over-emphasizes many other points for the sake of all that time the poor guy's got to fill with talk. Also, I think at least 2/3rds of the people that call into the shows to make a comment aren't worth my time to listen to -- a few "Yeah, man, they gotta do better 'n stuff"s and a couple "see, they never shoulda traded whozizface back in 2002"s, I become impatient.
So, after listening to host Damon Bruce for a bit, he had a caller that was venting about wanting a six or eight-game winning streak, or something.
Ding! Light, chimes...several small, annoying (yet attention-grabbing) devices went off in my brain, letting me know this was a chance to inform, what with my obsession...yes, I admit it...with wanting the Giants to have a single four-game winning streak this year, which they have yet to do.
So, I called, got an answer immediately by the staff, told them want I wanted to say, and waited about 10 minutes (I ended up catching one of those incredibly long commercial breaks). After the wait, I got on and talked with Bruce for about two or three minutes about the lack of even a four-game winning streak (which, of course, astonished him), the lack of offense, and the lack of options Brian Sabean had to fix the lack of offense. We chatted a bit about the NL West in general, too, and by the time we were done, he told me I was informative, but sounded depressed.
And he offered me tickets. And I graciously accepted the tickets. (and you will never hear a bad word out of my mouth about Damon Bruce)
So, courtesy of KNBR, I (along with Pops) am going to the July 17th game, where the Giants will be hosting the Brewers, and probably scoring something less than five runs in eight or nine innings of play.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
In a random check to see where people were coming from before coming to this site, I've found out that if one happens to be on Google Korea for some strange reason (being Korean and needing to find something on the Internet pops up as a decent reason), and happens to type in "baseball disaster" into the search box...
...this blog comes up first. Over the official MLB website, over a NY Times reference, over MSNBC, over...
Should I celebrate, or kill myself? Perhaps I should celebrate by killing myself?
One odd thought comes to mind...would I, personally be considered the baseball disaster, or the team this blog is based upon?
Yes, feel the symmetry. Feel it. Live it. Be it.
And speaking of symmetry, the stars seem to be aligning for Ray Durham, who has had a hot power bat lately -- slugging .643 in his last seven games, and hitting some very important, multiple-run shots in the mix. The only thing missing from this being one of Sugarman's most productive season is some points on his batting average, and as long as you believe Ray-Ray's historical averages will find a way to right themselves, it's easy to see he's about 20-40 points below what his batting average usually sits at.
And whether or not you believe his scorching-hot hitting will continue against left-handed pitching or not (.364/.444/673, but only 55 at-bats), his hitting against righties is starting to come around a bit -- .685 OPS currently.
And I must mention Pedro Feliz as well, who is on pace for career highs in plate appearances and home runs. The Giants just won't take the guy out of the lineup, so unless injury or an extended slump happens, I don't see why those things wouldn't come to pass. I've backed off my normal trade-Pedro rhetoric for a while now, because: 1) it ain't gonna happen unless there's just an incredibly sweet trade offer for him...and I don't know what would constitute an incredibly sweet trade offer for Brian Sabean (hint, Sabes -- it would involve Miguel Cabrera), and 2) for the salary, he's a productive player when you add his defense into the mix (which, coincidentally, has faltered just a bit lately).
No, Feliz isn't Scott Rolen, and he still isn't quite as productive as I'd want my 3rd baseman, but the fact is that he's earning his salary (unlike quite a few Giants) and he can be counted on to smack around a bunch of cripple breaking balls and 0-2 fastballs (I've seen him hit two home runs on fastballs thrown around the plate in 0-2 counts, including one last night, and I've yet to figure out what on God's Green Earth would make a battery throw Feliz a fastball in an 0-2 count).
And, finally, we come to two pitchers passing each other in the night -- Matt Morris and Jamey Wright. Morris had a month of June where he had better than a 3:1 k/bb ratio and a 2.19 ERA, allowing less than a hit per inning pitched (1.19 WHIP) compiling a 3-1 record in the process.
Wright had a month of June where his k/bb ratio was almost 1:1, carried a 5.79 ERA, and had a WHIP of 1.58 in compiling an 0-3 record.
Now, there isn't really a problem with Wright at this moment, to me -- I just see this as being the pitcher that he is, which isn't a very good one. He's only making 500k, so to expect anything more than this over the long haul isn't very realistic. He's a fifth starter in ability, and he's pitching like a fifth starter.
The question becomes, if this continues, when do you make a change? The obvious change would be to turn back to Brad Hennessey, who has pitched well this year...but is also fifth starter material. Both Wright and Hennessey have had quality starts in exactly half their opportunities this year (3 of 6 starts for Hennessey and 8 of 16 starts for Wright), but the main difference from there is that Hennessey has avoided the disastrous start and has pitched well out of relief to pad those numbers.
I don't think a change needs to be made at this moment, but they ought to watch Wright closely going into and coming out of the All-Star break. Another two or three poor starts might do it.
Tonight, let there be fireworks not only from pyrotechnics, but from the bats of the Giants offense!
...aw, heck, I'll just settle for the win and the four-game winning streak.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
The Giants reeled off a sweep of the Rangers after I wrote that piece on the 27th setting themselves up for the four-gamer, but ran into a brick wall named Father Alou.
Felipe doesn't seem to mind doing unorthodox things with his position players, whether it be starting Jose Vizcain'to at first base, or starting Mark Sweeney in left field several times over Jason Ellison. He's hit many of his players three or four different places in the lineup, not always paying attention to whether a hitter was hot or not.
That's fine. I can deal with that.
But for some strange reason, he refuses to alter his set roles for anyone in the bullpen. When he makes up his mind on a role for a bullpen pitcher, that's what they're going to do.
It's possible this type of thinking has already cost the Giants a few wins this year, including last night's 6-5 loss to the Padres.
A couple of Felipe's patterns is obvious -- he overuses pitchers that he trusts, and doesn't mind warming up relievers multiple times to be ready for various scenarios. The only problems are, sometimes those trusted guys become too tired to be effective, and those over-warmed pitchers end up being more taxed than they should be.
Case in point from last night:
- Kevin Correia warmed up three seperate times. Once, to possibly relieve a faltering Jamey Wright. They left Wright in, and had to warm Correia up a second time to possibly relieve a faltering Wright -- but then decided to put in Jonathen Sanchez instead. Third time was the charm, as Correia finally came in after warming up again in the 8th to relieve a faltering Sanchez.
- Correia faced one batter. He struck him out to end the 8th.
- Felipe, meanwhile, was having Jeremy Accardo warming up around the end of the 8th and inbetween innings to close out the 9th inning of the then one-run game. Only problem was, this was to be Accardo's 7th appearance in nine days.
Now, I'm not a major league manager, but with a double header being played against the Padres the very next day, why put yourself into a position where you heavily tax three relievers? And make no mistake, Correia's one batter appearance was much more than that with all of the warmups.
My move would've been to leave Correia in the game to close the 9th in order to save Accardo for the next day's two games. But no, Felipe apparently was doing the Accardo-is-the-closer-and-it-is-a-save-situation-therefore-in-comes-Accardo dance, and in came Accardo, and out went the victory.
Could the Padres have won anyway even if Correia had stayed in? Well, of course they could've, but give me a choice between a loss with three tired relievers as opposed to a loss with two tired relievers, and I'll take the latter...unless I'm 72 years old and set in my ways.
So, out goes the four-game winning streak, and now a losing streak is set up to be extremely possible if the games today and Sunday just happen to be close...and with the Giants, close games are a given, it seems.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The Giants are managing to not be anything. While this isn't necessarily unexpected territory for a .500 team, perhaps it's a bit more obvious to me now that it's happening to the Giants.
- The offense is poor. However, a run of health by Moises Alou and even just a semi-resurgence from Barry Bonds could change that -- fairly easily, too, I'd say. Odds of it actually happening? I'll give it about 40% in favor of.
- The starting rotation has been competitive overall, but from day-to-day you don't really know what you're going to get out of four of the five starters: Matt Cain, Matt Morris, Jamey Wright, and Noah Lowry. The only consistent starter is Jason Schmidt, which probably shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.
- The bullpen has been much better since the jettisoning of flotsam pitchers Tyler Walker, Jeff Fassero, and Scott Munter, but still has it's moments of inconsistency mostly due to the continue usage of Tim Worrell and Armando Benitez, both of whom have WHIPs in the 1.70 range. Allowing tons of baserunners isn't what you want in your closer and setup men, but due to their veteran/contract status, these two will be allowed to ride until the wheels fall off.
- The defense has been pretty good this year overall, but unfortunately gets worse everytime their offense gets better -- when Bonds and Alou are in the lineup helping the offense, they're also in the field hurting the defense (although I must say that Alou gives absolute maximum effort while out there).
The turnaround would give this team the division lead without much issue, I think. Despite all the struggles, the Giants are only 2.5 games behind the divsion lead. I've said a few times before that a .500 record will keep a team in contention in the NL West, but I'm not so foolish as to think a team will win the division with a .500 record. I believe .550 would be plenty, but for the Giants this would constitute a turnaround and a run -- perhaps one of those...what are they called...starts with a "w"...consecutive...
A "winning streak", that's what it's called.
The Giants have had winning streaks this year, but unfortunately two and three games won in a row technically constitute a winning streak. They have yet to win more than three games in a row (they've done it four times). Folks, even the Royals have had a four game winning streak. The other teams in the NL West, meanwhile:
- Arizona has had winning streaks of seven, five, and four games, but unfortunately for them they've also had a losing streak of seven (following the Jason Grimsley affair), and they've lost five in a row on two different occasions.
- Colorado has had four winning streaks of four games, but have countered that with losing streaks of six and five games.
- The Dodgers (hm, I just threw up in my mouth a little) have had winning streaks of seven, five, and four games. Their losing streaks (just saying "Dodgers" and "losing" makes me feel better) have been five games long, occuring twice. They do, of course, currently barely have the division lead (again, in my mouth...just a little) over the...
- San Diego had the biggest winning streak of the divsion at nine games along with a five-gamer, and losing streaks of five, and two of four games.
Giants losing streak, you ask? Two of those, lasting four games apiece.
What's my point? Heck, I dunno, really. I suppose it's that every team in the division has managed to play good enough baseball to reel off at least four games or more in a row except the Giants.
Kinda makes them seem due, doesn't it?
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I've decided three things about soccer: 1) I don't mind watching it, and could even grow to like the action, 2) I cannot stand watching fouls, and 3) I cannot stand the way the referees can take over a game.
Fouls and what comes with them are likely one of those "just part of the game" things to other countries who know a lot more about soccer than I ever will, but watching some of these players go down without getting hit, go down in apparent agony even though they have barely been hit, and writhe on the ground in pain whenever they hit the grass to waste time when their team has the lead is enough to make me retch.
One simple rule change. If injuries stopped the clock instead of the clock continuously running, most of that goes away. Sure, it slows the game down, but the rule to balance the injury time loss (referee's discretion on how much time to add) is worse. Stopping the clock will make the fakers get their asses off of the grass, and cease most of the dramatics -- although some will still remain as players try to turn regular fouls into yellow cards, and yellow cards into red cards.
The referees just seem to affect things too much. I've only watched about 3 1/2 soccer games total from this round of the World Cup, but I've already seen the referees directly affect four goals and alter three of those games all by themselves with questionable (or just plain incorrect) calls.
In games where sometimes no goals are even scored, that's ridiculous. That's too much influence.
Despite that, it's pretty obvious the U.S. team just wasn't good enough to advance. There was funky refereeing in the Italy game, but the U.S. still didn't really deserve to tie that game. There was funky refereeing in the Ghana game, but it didn't cost the U.S. a win -- the score should've been tied. Their record should have been 0-2-1, and even if they could have won the game today I couldn't see them doing anything but getting annihilated in the next round.
So, fire Bruce Arena or let him walk, I think the main problem is the lack of talent in the current crop of players. The MLS should help, but I don't know if we'll see the results of that anytime soon.
I think if we equate U.S. professional soccer to Japanese baseball of perhaps 10-15 years ago, we might be on the right track. I believe 8-12 more years of professional soccer in this country would do wonders for our World Cup aspirations.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Friday through Sunday of last week myself and seven friends of mine headed up to Reno for a bachelor party (I'm not the bachelor, I'm the best man), and I've been in recovery mode for the last couple of days. I would tell you all about the trip, but you know -- what happens in Reno, stays in...
...okay, there really isn't all that much to talk about. We had fun, drank alcohol in quantities that caused extreme inebriation, gambled, tackled each other, danced a little, etc. Pretty much the norm.
Anyhoo, I've watched some/most of the last couple of Giants games, and I've come to a couple of conlusions:
- Armando Benitez isn't going anywhere. He's going to pitch at least well enough to stay the closer, and may even pitch well, period. His arm looks as good as it will likely get, as far as velocity and break on his pitches, so we should honestly hope that the man can earn all that money on his contract.
- The Giants will not win this division without an offensive upgrade. I've written before as to why this must come at 1st base (because I just don't see Brian Sabean making moves anywhere else), but it needs to happen soon. In June, the Giants have scored three or less runs in 10 of the 18 games played. The Giants are 3-7 in those games. For the month, they're averaging 4.17 runs/game, and 33% of the 75 runs they've scored for the month is wrapped up in two games (a 14-2 win and an 11-4 win).
The pitching is looking great, do the statistics support that?
- The Giants have issued the 4th most walks in the NL, while striking out the 2nd fewest. That isn't a very good combination. However, they have the 4th lowest on-base average, mostly due to their opponents' low batting average...also 4th best in the league.
- Along with those walk and strikeout stats is the worst strikeout rate in the NL and the 2nd worst k/bb ratio.
- They have the 6th best ISO SLG % against (meaning they're 6th best in the NL in dampening power). 5th fewest home runs given up.
Basically, the Giants pitching is all about not giving up hits, and try to make sure they aren't extra base hits when you do. I'd rather have more strikeouts and less walks, overall, because that indicates more ability and talent in your pitching staff, but the other isn't bad.
Just finished watching today's game, and whaddya know? The Giants score a total of three runs and lose. They have to realize they're lucky to only score eight runs in this series and win two of three, so I hope they don't hang their heads too much over the loss.
I also hope Sabean has had about enough of this lack of offense, and does whatever he needs to do to get a good hitter.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Odd as it is with the Giants struggling as little as two days ago, poof! and they're streaking.
I really kind of mean that, too. There are a number of players headed in the right direction after rough starts this season:
- Matt Morris is on. He's had three starts in June, and they've all been from competitive to very good. His line so far in this month: 23 innings pitched, 22 hits allowed, 4 bb's, 17 k's for an ERA on the month of 3.13. Much, much better.
- I've heard plenty of people down on Ray Durham, but it's to the point now where those grumblings should stop. Durham's OPS in April was .527, but in May and June it's been .888 and .873. He's been his normal, fragile self this year already missing 19 of the team's 66 games, but can the team really trade him and find a way to get better? That is unlikely at best, I think. Oh, and just to remind you, I invoked the Jersey Mojo for Durham back on May 26th, and you are seeing the results of that now. Be thankful.
- Pedro Feliz, lather, rinse, repeat. Horrible April with the .557 OPS, but a great May and June with a .900 and .931 OPS, respectively.
Now it's interleague, and the Giants have a slew of divisional games right afterwards, so it'd be nice to at least hold their current position for the next couple of weeks. The NL West is turning out to be the clusterfu-k that I thought it would be, with everyone within two games of the divisional leader, the (*dry heave*) Dodgers.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Smacks of a missed opportunity.
Back from the land of Tangent I bring you news of a great victory -- a complete annihilation of the opposition, down to their last mean molecule. 11-4 Giants.
...and yet, Armando Benitez still managed to suck. Two baserunners allowed in a single inning of work.
Neither here nor there, though, as the story revolves around a few successful players, a couple of whom I'd like to recognize post-haste: Steve Finley, and Steve Kline. It's the Steve Show, folks, and I'm your host, Steve Stevenson.
Finley became the 6th player in major league history to have 300 home runs and 300 steals in yesterday's game (the others are Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, and Reggie Sanders).
This is an odd pairing for me: Sanders and Finley both achieved their feats while playing for my two favorite ballclubs in the Royals and Giants, but both are anything but long-tenured -- the two of them are in their first year with the teams (Sanders a bit of an odd case, as he did play for the Giants as well as the Royals).
It's a huge achievement, and attests to both players' consistency, longevity, and all around prowess...five-toolish players, one might call them.
Kline is a bit of a comebacker -- I should have mentioned the job he's been doing a while back, but neglected to. After last night's action, he's running a 2.21 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP, both pretty darn good, and the thing I like best -- no home runs allowed. He seems to have been a very solid acquisition by Brian Sabean (there, I said it).
In any case, the aforementioned 11-4 win over the DBacks was a nice win to have -- I can't help but think a blowout win after a losing streak has got to be better for morale than a squeaker, but I suppose we'll have to see if any momentum's being built in today's game, with it's oddly scheduled start time.
Oh, and by the way -- Omar Vizquel needs to be in the All-Star game, starting at shortstop...period. Let's make it happen.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Read that link, then tell me whether you think the Edgardo Alfonzo signing or the Benitez signing was worse. Too close to call for me, but I think I'm leaning towards the latter overweight, overpaid player. Big D seems to share that sentiment, too.
In other news, the Giants Cub-like inability to score remains both annoying, and thought-provoking. The 2-1 loss to the Diamondbacks shows just who is the sadder team right now -- the Giants couldn't find a way to score 3 runs against a team who had lost seven straight.
In four straight games, they've wasted a decent-to-good start from each member of the rotation: Matt Morris, Noah Lowry, Jason Schmidt, and Jamey Wright...is Matt Cain next?
Brian Sabean has got to start making moves of some sort soon to remedy...something. Dunno what, exatly, and I don't care all that much -- Sabes, do something to let us knew you're paying attention.
Anyhow, I thought I'd throw out a comparison between Mike Matheny and his backup catchers.
Todd Greene/Eliezer Alfonzo: .337/.388/.554
Mike Matheny: .231/.276/.338
Matheny's had twice as many plate appearances as the other two combined (171 to 85), and that's of course only since he's been on the DL -- that gap would be larger otherwise.
The question is this -- regardless of a players general standing, contract, etc., if you are the major league manager of a club that is struggling offensively and facing the prospect of bringing back Matheny and playing him everyday with that large of a disparity in offensive production, would you do it anyway? Would it make any sense if you did?
Now, obviously Greene and Alfonzo aren't going to keep that pace up, sure, but there's something called "riding the hot hand". Felipe Alou doesn't seem to put much stock in that, as I've noticed several occasions where a player does extremely well with the bat on a particular day or has been hitting well for a period, and doesn't get rewarded with extra at-bats.
We'll see how things are handled, but if the Giants offense continues to hibernate today against another unremarkable pitcher in Claudio Vargas, it's going to be red-flag time.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
The Giants need a shot in the arm, and they need it badly. While yesterday's game was lost primarily by the bullpen, the bullpen isn't my main concern -- a large part of what might ail the bullpen, if anything, could likely be solved by removing Tim Worn-ell. It wasn't his fault that when he came in the bases were already loaded, but: 1) Jeremy Accardo has had a pretty good season thus far, and should be allowed a bad day, and 2) giving up a run or two given the situation would've been acceptable, but Worrell decided to follow the sign that read...
DISASTER THIS WAY ----------->
When you see a sign that reads...
DISASTER THIS WAY ----------->
...trust me, you probably shouldn't follow it. At this point, that sign probably leads directly to Worrell himself. I give him about one more of these home-run laden performances within the next week, and predict the Giants give him his walking papers should that happen.
Anyhow, my concern is the offense. It's taken me some lengthy statistical analysis to figure out the problem, but I think I've put my finger on it...
Honestly, the problem is the same thing I wrote about at the beginning of May -- lack of power. The Giants lead the league in triples, thanks to Triples Alley, but are 2nd to last in the league in doubles and 3rd to last in the league in home runs. Add in the fact that the Giants are dead last in the league in steals and steal percentage, and the problem becomes even worse.
Being a station-to-station singles-hitting team is not a good combination. In fact, it leads to things such as leading the league in double plays hit into (which, surprise! the Giants are).
In looking at the club, it's difficult to see where any positive change would or could occur besides 1st base. The outfield won't be touched, I'm sure -- Randy Winn won't be traded, Barry Bonds and Moises Alou are fragile, but won't be traded and are productive overall, and Steven Finley can't be moved because of that contract (besides, replacing your 4th outfielder wouldn't have much impact, anyway).
The infield is largely set: I doubt if they move Pedro Feliz because he's perceived as valuable, Omar Vizquel isn't going anywhere and actually is valuable, and Ray Durham's contract probably dictates he stays.
Catcher is another one that won't be changed because of perceived value -- on a team where the offense struggles, Mike Matheny is going to hurt a bit more than he helps. Doesn't matter, though, because we all know Matheny is locked in, despite the fact that at this point, both backup catchers are hitting much, much better than he is.
But who at 1st base? In looking at the league, the only real option I see is Craig Wilson of the very same Pirates that just opened up a hermetically sealed container of whoop-ass on the Giants. He doesn't make much (listed at 3.3 mil per), isn't very young (29), is on a team with no postseason aspirations this year, and looks as if he is on a one-year contract, too.
In related news, the Cardinals have reportedly already asked the Pirates as to Wilson's availability.
I won't say anything, but I'll just hope Sabes sees that he can't keep hoping to see some consistency out of Lance Niekro (not to mention he's been injury-prone), and Mark Sweeney's swooning shows that he isn't any sort of answer, either. Hopefully, Sabean doesn't follow any signs that read...
DISASTER THIS WAY ----------->
...because that would be unfortunate.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
To paraphrase the Giants' rally cry from the Roger Craig days, Ho-Hum Baby.
The Giants seem to have a tendency to play to the level of their competition. While the Pirates aren't as bad as their record indicates (they're 7-18 in one-run games after last night's 3-2 win), they are horrible on the road (6-25).
So, after barely beating the Bucs in a game they didn't deserve on Thursday, they lose a winnable game on Friday. Normally I'd be a little down on the team, but I'd like to see the silver lining around the loss in Matt Morris' fine start.
And a win today with Noah Lowry on the hill still means the team will have taken two of three games vs. Pittsburgh with Jason Schmidt slated to start on Sunday. And that can't be a bad thing, can it?
Sidenote: Oh, and about those worries over Moises Alou coming back too soon and not being able to make an immediate impact? Er, nevermind. Since coming off the DL, Son Alou is a solid 5-14 with two walks, a home run, and only one strikeout. You would think that with the offense struggling to score, Alou coming back and coming back swinging a good bat would help things, but in this very early going it hasn't.
Still pretty obvious that despite not being who he was, Barry Bonds is still the straw that stirs the drink of the Giants offense.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Well, wait. (teaser)
Before I get into the comparison, Niekro's last 13 games are weird. In five of those games, Niekro put up a total 0-fer -- no hits, no walks, no contribution to the offense in 20 at-bats.
In the other eight games (including last night), he's World Beater. 19 for 35, 3 walks, 3 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 home runs.
What does it all mean? Nothin'. And that's kind of the point. It should mean something, but with Niekro a home run and a strikeout can come at any point...and none of us have clue in the first as to when those points will be from at-bat to at-bat.
Onto the meat of this here entry. Here are some career stats for Feliz and Niekro, Feliz's stats first and Niekro's 2nd:
Pitches Per Plate Appearance (P/PA): 3.37/3.49
Walks Per Plate Appearance (BB/PA): .48/.59
Walk to Strikeout Ratio (BB/SO): .27/.37
Isolated Power (ISO SLG): .185/.186
Career Line: .257/.292/.442 vs. .254/.298/.440
Ground Ball to Fly Ball Ratio (GB/FB): 1.14/.99
Secondary Average (Uh, no abbreviation): .237/.245
At-Bats per Home Run (AB/HR): 25.2/26.6
That's about as close as you can get, folks. Niekro's numbers are tempered somewhat by having a lot less career at-bats, but if you think he's going to become some vastly different hitter sometime soon...well, let me have a hit before you smoke it all up -- me wanna see da pritty cullers, brudder.
Thus, I dub them Feast or Famine Feliz and All or Nuttin' Niekro.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Move along, nothing to see here.
Oh, and by the way, I'm going to implement a couple of fixes to my production vs. salary formula that I made up a few days ago (thanks to Josh). I'm going to crunch the same players using the new formula and make the comparison between the old and new formula...but I'm not going to do it right now, man. It's late. I'm sleepy.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
how long will I slide
Separate my side
I don't believe it's bad
Slittin my throat
It's all I ever
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Other Side
I'm not sure exactly what Anthony Kiedis was talking about when he wrote those lyrics*, but I was musing on how long the Giants should let Tim Worrell pitch if he keeps being this horribly, and for some odd reason that seemed to fit.
Martin from Obsessive Giants Compulsive commented yesterday that Worrell's had a bit of a Jeckyll and Hyde season, and we should reserve judgement. I don't think there's anything wrong with that stance, and given that Worrell has only had about a month and a half's worth of pitching, it isn't inconceivable he could turn things around in a hurry.
Hurry. Now there's an apt word if ever there was one.
Worrell needs to make that turnaround in a hurry. To eventually make a charge at the division title and one last run at a Series ring with Barry Bonds, the Giants need to have solid pitching all around because this team ain't built to win offensively. One thing I like about this year thus far is that Brian Sabean hasn't been afraid to cut bait on bullpen non-performers this year, as evidenced by the demotions of Jack Taschner and Scott Munter, and the expulsions of Jeff Fassero and Tyler Walker. As far as the bullpen is concerned, Sabes ain't screwin' 'round, folks.
So. How long for Worrell? His first appearance post-DL was...uninspiring, to say the least. While Martin is correct that Worrell has had numerous appearances this year where everything's went just fine, his line this year is still reads more like the Amityville Horror than the Brady Bunch.
Worrell, 2006: 17 appearances, 15.1 innings pitched, 20 hits allowed -- 7 of them home runs.
I'm sorry, but if more than 1/3rd of the hits you've allowed are home runs, you are having a problem fooling hitters. Adding to this is the measly k/9 rate (strikeouts per nine innings) of 4.4 -- more proof that there is something missing this season. The last time Worrell's strikeout rate was that low was his rookie season in 1993, and his career k/9 rate is 7.0.
Could the home runs be an anomaly of sample size? Of course they could. Could the low strikeout rate be an anomaly of sample size? Of course it could. Do the Giants have time to wait for Worrell to work out the kinks and regain form? Of course they don't.
But the question is, how long can they afford to wait?
* Honestly, I probably understand less than half of any of the lyrics of all of the music on my mp3 player, so not understanding the Chili Peppers is pretty much the norm. Doesn't stop me from shaking my ass and bobbing my head when it comes on, though.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
...this would be one of the very few times that injuring yourself in anger would be appropriate. I only saw the last few innings and I'm pissed off that I missed the rest.
But that last inning was the most impressive, regardless. With men on 2nd and 3rd, up by a single run, and nobody out...let me repeat that...nobody out, Schmidt struck out the side -- including the Marlins uber-slugger Miguel Cabrera.
I'm just going to slowly simmer in the joy of seeing even part of that game. If there was anyone ahead of Schmidt in consideration for the Cy Young before this game, hopefully this game can even things up a bit.
Moises Alou is back, but I'm wondering a bit if this will be a good thing in the short term. Now, work with me -- Alou's batting line is nothing to sneeze at (but bless you anyway, my child, bless you), however, I can't help but thinking this might not be a good thing right away.
The report has him at 90%, with swelling still in the ankle, and Alou himself admitting he'll have trouble moving in the outfield. That makes me worry more than usual about Alou's defense in right field (although I know he hustles his ass off out there), and given the long layoff from hitting, I can't help but think he won't just pick up where he left off (.378/.436/.671).
The Giants are 16-12 since Alou went out, and are facing an easier portion of the schedule at the moment -- their next six games are all at home vs. the Marlins and the Pirates, the two worst teams in the National League. While I want him back, too, might this not be a time to rest him just a little bit more and get him fully healthy? Why not bring him back in five games, where he can maybe have a tune up game vs. the Pirates and be ready to go in the important series vs. the Diamondbacks?
Well, far be it from me to 3rd and 4th guess on top of my second-guessing. Has anyone noticed Barry Bonds' movement in left? Although I still shudder when he has to go full speed, he doesn't seem to show ill effects after every hard run anymore, and was even a bit nifty the other day getting to his feet after charging hard after a ball hit down the left field line. I mean, yeah, he hit #716 last night, and it was an absolute blast, but I'm saying...the movement in the outfield is neat. At least he's less of a detriment out there than he was.
Oh, and how could I forget? Tim Worrell is almost back, too, and...
...alright, this one I'm a little more certain of. I doubt if Worrell will make the bullpen any better than it is now. There just isn't any way that Jonathan Sanchez stays here, but Worrell's numbers have been so absolutely scary this season (and almost as scary in his short time last season with the Phillies...really, go look), that I just can't really have too much confidence in him.
There isn't anything in Worrell's previous years pitching that doesn't point to a decent pitcher, but the one stat that keeps getting overlooked is age...he's about to turn 39, and those numbers do mean something sooner or later. I'd rather the Giants not throw another 20 innings on Worrell finding that out, a la Jason Christiansen, Matt Herges, and Jeff Fassero.
As far as last night's game, which the Giants won 14-2:
- With the Bonds home run and the big offensive days from Lance Niekro and Randy Winn, it might go overlooked that Todd Greene is still raking -- he had two hits and was robbed of another by Marlins outfielder Reggie Abercrombie. I mean, take your time, by all means Mr. Matheny.
- I'm done talking bad about the aforementioned Niekro and Pedro Feliz. The situation doesn't seem likely to change, because both of them have the knack of having a huge game just when it seems like they're in an inescapeable slump. They're both big-time feast or famine hitters. Feliz, however, does add some darned solid defense at 3rd base -- there isn't a guy I have more confidence in making a long throw across the diamond than him. I'd even go so far as to say Feliz is...gulp...earning his salary. There. I said it.
- I continue to be totally amazed at the season Omar Vizquel is having. Did you know that for players who qualify for the batting title (3.1 plate appearances per game), Vizquel is the hardest guy to strike out? After he cooled off in May, I thought he'd settle into more normal production, but he messed 'round and got hot again.
- Noah Lowry didn't look his best, but his changeup was working well enough, and he seemed to be getting a decent number of swing-throughs if not strikeouts. His strikeouts are down this year, but he's held his walks down, too, so it ain't so bad.
So today it's the reigning Pitcher of the Month, Jason Schmidt, vs. the Marlins' Josh Johnson, who's been darned good this year. Ought to be good, but I'm going to miss most or all of it while attempting to sell lots of massage chairs and Tempurpedic beds at work. If I can't watch the game, then selling about 10 of those things might mollify me a bit.
No, probably not.
Monday, June 05, 2006
If you type the words "seven hundred fifteen" into Google, good ol' Orange & Black Baseball comes up first. I'm so happy I could just...breathe and blink.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Sweeping a doubleheader is always an uplifting thing, even if you're team is horrible. Searching for a win? How 'bout two in one day?
Double your pleasure, double your fun. We got two wins, and you got none. Get it? Two wins, Doublemint twins...two wins...twins...
...alright, at least it rhymed.
Losing both in a doubleheader usually screws me up for a day or two beyond the actual day it happened. Insult to injury. Like being late to pay your registration, then getting pulled over by the police on the very day you're going down to the DMV to pay it.
Not that that's ever happened to me before. Just giving an example.
Although Cain didn't have the best line in that first game, I'm still encouraged -- only one walk and six strikeouts through five innings. Good 'nuff. And the bullpen, as I've mentioned before, is becoming pleasant to watch...with the exception of Armando Benevolentez, who loves his fellow man so much that he can't help but let a couple opposing hitters on base every, single time he takes the mound. I'm beginning to wonder how good he is with his ABC's, because as far as innings go, he doesn't do 1-2-3's.
(guffaw! guffaw! snort!)
And when would any of us have predicted seeing the name E. Alfonzo homer for the Giants? Heh.
It's Eliezer, not Edgardo, these rhymes are Darryl's, the burgers are Ronald's! (sorry, Run DMC flashback)
The 2nd game saw good things from the pitching staff, with Jamey Wright again doing his job, but seeing the offense fail them again. If I told you the offensive fireworks were supplied by none other than Jose Vizcaino (who, sadly, has three hits in his last four at-bats, which will cause more unwarranted playing time), then you should get the drift.
It's the Battle of the Old and Old-Looking as Matt Morris and Steve Trachsel square off today...I made the mistake of reading Rich Draper's game preview for today, where he listed Vizcain'to as the Player to Watch because of his Law-Of-Averages home run on Saturday. Rich, Vizcaino is only the Player to Watch because after you watch him for a while, you go, "How's this guy have a job?"
Then you go on to more important things, like tracking the movements of clouds over five hour periods or watching ants swim in the toilet.
Now that I've said that, the Reverse Curse (tm) is in full effect, and he'll likely collect another couple of extra-base hits, after which Brian Sabean will sign him to an extension through 2008.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I lied. Two nods to yesterday's game: Jeremy Accardo is nasty, and the Giants ought to be thinking of a bigger role for him. No, not now, not after only 50 innings pitched in the bigs, but...soon.
Odd. I was hating the 'pen as soon as a month ago, and now I kinda dig it. Interesting that the 'pen now has several very good arms in it after Brian Sabean was forced to bring up some of the younger guys.
What I'm hoping is that I can loosely (yes, LOOSELY) figure out a player's production in comparison to his salary, and use both old school performance gauges (runs scored and RBI) in conjuction with newer metrics (OPS and total bases), and come up with a number to bounce off of a player's salary.
(Runs scored + RBI + Total Bases/3) x OPS/Salary (in millions)
What I'm hoping this will do is take into account a few things: 1) While runs scored and RBI are mostly a function of opportunity, they are of direct help to the team, plus you cannot rack up big totals of these if you are hurt a lot of the season. Total bases are thrown in to balance possible lack of opportunity to score runs and drive them in, and to factor in things like stolen bases and walks (as a raw number). 2) OPS is the sabermetric which will help out players who might not be in prime run scoring or RBI places in the lineup (leadoff, bottom of the order), yet are being productive.
Bear with me. I really do think this makes sense. What I want to do is throw up a few different player types into the mix to see what comes of this. Players who are productive making higher salaries, players who are productive making lower salaries, and players who have missed a large number of games while making a high salary.
Adding the runs scored, RBI, and total bases and dividing them by 3 will basically make it an average score, then multiplying it by the OPS (which is essentially a percentage) will determine how much of that average score the player will get to keep to divide by their salary. Dividing it by their salary will come up with a productivity number per million dollars. Higher numbers are obviously better.
My 1st experimental players to do this on will be some Giants: Ray Durham, Pedro Feliz, and Barry Bonds (three different salary grades), and I will do it for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, collectively, for Feliz and Durham, and do it for 2003 and 2004 for Bonds.
Ray Durham (2004 and 2005): 162 RS + 127 RBI + 441 TB = 730/3 = 243.3 average score
243.3 x an average .817 OPS for 2004 and 2005 makes for a total score of 199
199 / Durham's combined salary for '04 and '05 ($14.4 million) = 13.8 productivity score per million dollars for 2004 and 2005
Pedro Feliz (2004 and 2005): 141 RS + 165 RBI + 484 TB = 790/3 = 263.3 average score
263.3 x an average .754 OPS for '04 and '05 makes for a total score of 199 (believe it or not, same as Durham)
199 / Feliz's combined salary for '04 and '05 ($3.175 million) = 62.7 productivity score per million dollars for 2004 and 2005.
Barry Bonds (2003 and 2004): 240 RS + 191 RBI + 595 TB = 1026/3 = 342 average score
342 x an average 1.350 OPS for '03 and '04 makes for a total score of 461.7
461.7 / Bonds' combined salary for '04 and '05 ($33.5 million) = 13.8 productivity score per million dollars for 2004 and 2005.
I don't know if that's a satisfying result, so let's take two examples of abnormally high production with a lower salary: Albert Pujols for 2003 and 2004, and Miguel Cabrera for 2004 and 2005.
Albert Pujols (2003 and 2004): 270 RS + 247 RBI + 783 TB (yes, 783) = 1300/3 = 433.3 average score
433.3 x an average OPS of 1.089 for '04 and '05 makes for a total score of 471.9
471.9 / Pujols' combined salary for '03 and '04 ($7.9 million) = 59.7 productivity score for 2003 and 2004
Miguel Cabrera (2004 and 2005): 207 RS + 228 RBI + 653 TB = 1088/3 = 362.6 average score
362.6 x an average OPS of .912 for '04 and '05 makes for a total score of 330.7
330.7 / Cabrera's combined salary for '04 and '05 ($.69 million) = 479.3 productivity score per million dollars for 2004 and 2005
One more type, just for fun -- high salary and low production. Let's go with Adrian Beltre and Jim Thome of 2005.
Adrian Beltre (2005): 69 RS + 87 RBI + 249 TB = 405/3 = 135 average score...yech.
135 x a .716 OPS for 2005 makes for a total score of 96.7
96.7 / Beltre's salary for '05 ($11.4 million) = 8.5 productivity score per million dollars for 2005.
Jim Thome (2005): 26 RS + 30 RBI + 68 TB = 124/3 = 41.3 average score...ow, that hurts
41.3 x a .712 OPS for 2005 makes for a total score of 29.4
29.4 / Thome's salary for '05 ($13.167 million) = 2.2 productivity score per million dollars for 2005.
Okay, I'm done. What I think I ought to do with this is comparisons by position to get an idea of where a player stands in comparison to his positional peers, but for now I'm just throwing it out there to play around with.
Boy, am I a nerd. If you've somehow lasted until this point, tell me what you think, and I will take requests to apply this formula to any two players you want to compare...but I'm only going to do complete seasons at this point, so that means no 2006 comparisons. I don't want to tackle dividing salaries by games played on top of all that other stuff.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
If you told me the way these series would have the Giants and A's down two-to-zip, I'd have doubted you.
The A's, I suppose, are doing their yearly swoon, which'll inevitably be followed by their yearly tear. Guess I ought to be happy the Royals are beating a team that isn't the Cleveland Indians.
The Giants just can't be bothered to score runs. To use a couple of words I made up while watching the game and chatting on Grant's site, it's causing me a lot of frustrativocity watching the feeblenessivity of the offense.
Let's be real, here -- missing Barry Bonds and Moises Alou cannot make us feel confident that the Giants are going to pound out a 15-hit barrage, but scoring more than three runs in two games against arguably the worst team in the National League would be pretty darn cool.
Power is still the overall missing link from the offense, as the team is tied for 3rd to last in the NL in SLG percentage(again, Bonds and Alou missing so many games hurts terribly), and are tied for 2nd to last with the Padres and the Marlins for least home runs in the NL (the Cubs are worst...in their hitter's ballpark? Ouch).
Lance Niekro actually hit two bombs in the Giants 5-3 loss to the Marlins, but with somebody like Pedro "Feast or Famine" Feliz batting in front of Niekro, it comes as little surprise there were no baserunners either time Niekro went deep. See, walking more than once about every 21 plate appearances has its uses, doesn't it? Miguel Cabrera had two runners on base when he hit the only home run Florida hit all game...
A couple of Giants are slumping, among them Randy Winn (who, honestly, looks a lot like I'd thought he'd be when he first came over...very average), and Steve Finley (perhaps the super-sub role fit him better, and he's not as good playing everyday).
A very odd comment by Mike Krukow at the end of the game (and I'm definitely paraphrasing). He talked about Winn perhaps being gassed from playing everyday, and that when Alou comes off the DL Winn could get a day off.
Exactly what the heck is Jason Ellison on the team for, then? There's a few things, when take together, that show the incompetence of how this team has been built and run in regards to Ellison occupying a roster spot:
- Despite being the fifth outfielder and both Alou and Bonds missing 38 games between them, Ellison has started in exactly one game in the outfield this season. One. Mark Sweeney, on the other hand, has started six in the outfield despite being brought in as a 1st baseman.
- Ellison has somehow played in twice as many games as he has at-bats (42 to 21). Despite playing in those 42 games, Giants pitchers Matt Morris, Jason Schmidt, and Jamey Wright have more at-bats than Ellison does despite only playing in 9 to 11 games overall and not playing the entire game in the vast majority of those games.
- Winn has, indeed, started all 52 games so far, and hasn't gotten a single day off despite having a 5th outfielder that can play all three defensive outfield positions.
- Travis Ishikawa, bless his heart, was called up and immediately acquired triple the amount of starts Ellison has while being with the club the entire season.
I mean, I suppose it's a job that we'd all like to have -- to get paid well over $300k to spend some late innings playing defense, and only have to get in the batter's box in roughly 40% of the team's games...but c'mon, what did you keep the guy out of Spring for?