Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I'm waiting

For...a turnaround. Or, a complete collapse.


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:

  1. 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.
  2. Colorado has had four winning streaks of four games, but have countered that with losing streaks of six and five games.
  3. 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...
  4. 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

So Much for That

No more World Cup for me.

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

Admissions and Reiterations

Haven't written in a few days, but there's a good reason: Reno.

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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

Sigh of Relief

Whew. Took two of three, and the towers have stopped falling.

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

The Bengay Game

No, dangit, not that Ben Gay, I mean the analgesic cream. However, I do wonder -- if you had that as your name, wouldn't you try and alter it to Benjamin Gay or something? It's too bad he didn't become a star in the NFL, because who knows to what lengths Pfizer would have gone to get Ben Gay the football player to endorse their product.

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.

Congrats, gents.

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

Clubhouse Stomach Virus

Cancer often kills. So it seems a bit extreme to call Armando Benitez a clubhouse cancer. Clubhouse stomach virus is much more appropriate, as his recent pitching and even more recent bitching makes me want to throw up.

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

Buc Shot

This sucks like 10-year olds at a lollipop convention.

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...

...they suck.

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

You must remember this...

...a loss is just a loss.

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

Feliz and Niekro...separated at birth

Pedro Feliz. Lance Niekro. These two really are the exact same hitter. Really. I mean it. Read on!

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

The Giants won

How, I do not know. I'd post the link to the boxscore like I usually do, but then if you hadn't seen or heard about the game, you might become confused -- trying to link the win to the boxscore would be like trying to link sex appeal to Calista Flockhart. Difficult, to put it mildly, and likely to induce a headache before any conclusion could be attained.

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

Sense of urgency

How long
how long will I slide
Separate my side
I don't
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


If you were doing anything short of having mind-blowing sex instead of watching Jason Schmidt's 16-strikeout performance tonight vs. the Marlins, well...

...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.

Getting Healthy

I type out that title, and realize that Mike Matheny still has a bit of recovery time before he comes back from his concussion, but the title is team-themed...and of course, Matheny's a team kind of guy.


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

Like, cool

The Giants have taken 2 of 3 from the Mets on the road, and just opened up their series against the Marlins by pounding the Fishes. But you know what I just found out?

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

Make Like a Banana and Split

There can be nothing, but nothing in baseball that is as annoying as a split of a doubleheader.

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

One nod to yesterday's game

Jason Ellison finally gets start #2, and he goes 2 for 4 and cracks a homer. It means nothing, less than nothing, really, but it's still hilarious.

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.

Releasing My Inner Nerd

Let's make up an experimental productivity stat. This is going to be very long and kind of complex, so if you don't have enough time or aren't into stats, thanks for stopping by...but come back another day.

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.