Thursday, August 24, 2006

One eye on next season

Eliezer Alfonzo. Nuff said.

(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, now I'm just confused

At the point last week when the Giants had lost 13 of 16 games and were playing the red-hot Dodgers, I put forth my theory on the ebb and flow of the Giants fortunes to my friend Lucky Luis as that series began. I told him that a sweep of the Dodgers was in the making -- not because of anything to do with the rivalry between the teams or because I thought the Giants were any better than the Dodgers, but because the Dodgers were red-hot and the Giants were ice-cold -- a reversal of fortunes was due each team.

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


I was trying to figure out, a bit before I wrote this, whether my desire to was stronger than my desire to write that single word of finality to drive home the last nail in the Giants' coffin for the season. Both were pretty strong desires, as I haven't written anything in a week and a half (sorry, for those who care), and I've been waiting for the moment to come where I could, at last, give up on the team.

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

Anatomy of a win

Trying to figure out the Giants and the NL West is an exercise in futilitism and frustratocity.

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.