Friday, October 21, 2016

Thanks, Joe Blanton!

Dodgers manager Dave Robert is sure looking like a dumbass these days, according to ESPN's Doug Padilla.

LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Cubs are on the brink of a trip to the World Series, cutting a path into the Los Angeles Dodgers' central nervous system through the bullpen of all places.
The second-best bullpen ERA in baseball this season belonged to the Dodgers, yet the permanent high-wire act it has inherited in the National League Championship Series has proved too delicate of a balancing act. Joe Blanton's ineffective slider has been the biggest issue, getting hammered for Miguel Montero's grand slam in a Game 1 defeat and for Addison Russell's go-ahead home run in the sixth inning of Game 5 on Thursday. The Russell shot started an avalanche that ended in an 8-4 Cubs victory.
Relief has been anything but in the Dodgers' consecutive defeats at home, when the bullpen was teed up for six runs (five earned) in Game 4 and then seven runs (three earned) in Game 5. It left the Cubs with a 3-2 lead in a series that is headed back to Chicago for Game 6 on Saturday, and a Game 7 at Wrigley Field, if necessary.
"It has been a battle," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said about the bullpen's body of work this postseason, especially in the NLCS. "Those guys over there, they compete and don't give away many at-bats. They spoil pitches, they run counts. When you do make mistakes, these guys can slug. These are the guys we have, these are the guys that got us here. I'm not going to shy away from any of these guys."
The bullpen is the reason the Dodgers got this far, so Roberts will continue to trust the group. The Dodgers led baseball in relief innings with 590⅔ and appearances with 607, both numbers eclipsing previous franchise records.
Roberts was not going to alter the plan now. Thursday was the fifth time in 10 playoff games that a Dodgers starting pitcher has not recorded more than 12 outs. Kenta Maeda had his third such occurrence in three postseason starts, recording only 11 outs before Roberts went the bullpen route again. It has not been an effective strategy, as the Dodgers are 1-4 in those games, winning only the deciding Game 5 of the NL Division Series at Washington last week. The Dodgers have lost all three games Maeda has started.
"I think Kenta is fine physically," Roberts said. "For me, I felt that at 3⅔ [innings], he was around 75 pitches and I felt that he was starting to lose that fastball command. I thought the breaking ball wasn't as sharp."
Even though none of that could be argued, Roberts still went to his bullpen with Cubs pitcher Jon Lester coming to the plate. If his previous decisions to remove Maeda did not signal an apparent lack of trust in Maeda, this one seemed to suggest it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Dodgers "manager" Dave Roberts outsmarted himself by leaving the terrible Joe Blanton in to give up a grand slam tonight after walking the bases full intentionally.

My guess is that Roberts believed all the sportwriter BS written about what a genius he is.

All I know is that having Joe Blanton pitch with the game on the line is a gas-can move. Not sure what he's saving the other pitchers for....

Here's what happened in the bottom of the 8th per --


Sure enough, the Cubs answered in their half. Ben Zobrist doubled off Joe Blanton, and one out later, Jason Heyward was intentionally walked. Blanton got Javier Baez to fly out, and Chris Coghlan was intentionally walked to load the bases. Montero then drove an 0-2 slider into the right-field bleachers for a 7-3 lead, and his first career postseason home run. Fowler followed with his blast.
"This is what I'm playing for right now," Montero said. "I try to take full advantage of whatever at-bats I get, and that's what I said at the end of the year to [manager] Joe [Maddon] -- I never got used to pinch-hitting, but I'm trying to get better because even though I'm not playing, I'm working hard to become a better pinch-hitter. And if you give me opportunities to pinch-hit, I feel like I can help the team from the bench in the playoffs. And sure enough, today I helped the team."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Go, Nats

They are up 1-0 in the 4th. I can't enjoy the postseason at all until the dodgers are done

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Let's go, Giants (get a closer)

I'd sure love it if the front office could find a decent closer for  2017.

I believe that the Good Guys lost an MLB-leading nine games this year in which they had led going into the ninth. That's how they ended the season Tuesday night.

I don't know how to explain what happened other than Jeremy Affeldt's retirement

Let's go, Giants! Get a closer

Monday, October 10, 2016

The 10th straight victory in elimination games

That's what should happen tonight. The SF Giants web site says so. 

 - The Giants will rely on their resilience and Madison Bumgarner's excellence as they strive to subdue the Chicago Cubs and extend their season in Monday's Game 3 of the National League Division Series (6:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. CT on FS1 and FOX Deportes).
But San Francisco's unspoken fear is that the Cubs are immune to the lapses that befell the Giants' recent postseason opponents.

Consider the Giants' nine consecutive postseason victories in elimination games. This streak is impossible to disparage, though some have tried by calling the club lucky. The simple fact is that nine postseason games is more than just a representative sampling. San Francisco's success in these games is legitimate.

 However, the Giants must conjure the magic of that streak. They won't make a dent in the 2-0 series deficit they face entering this game unless they begin to hit.
For instance, in NLDS Game 4 at Cincinnati in 2012, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco each homered. Such a lift in this series is hard to envision.
Then, as every Giants fan remembers, Buster Posey belted a grand slam off Mat Latos in the Game 5 clincher. San Francisco might need a similar lightning bolt to stimulate its offense.
Taking a commanding early lead has become a rarity for San Francisco. But in the 2012 NL Championship Series against St. Louis, the Giants quickly established themselves in each elimination game. They led, 4-0, after four innings of Game 5, went in front, 5-0, in Game 6 and built a 7-0 edge after three innings in Game 7.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

One down, 11 to go

Conor Gillaspie. Here's what David Pinto said at Baseball Musings after mis-spelling Conor in the headline with King Kong Connor -- 

Conor Gillaspie homers in the top of the ninth off Mets closer Jeurys Familia. Gillaspie is not much of a home run hitter, averaging a home run every 33 at bats this season. Familia started the inning, giving up a double and a walk. The Mets crowd is stunned into silence.
Note that bringing closers into tie games doesn’t always work out, either.

Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles had some fun with his post tonight --

For the next 50 years, you'll see video of Travis Ishikawa Conor Gillaspie hitting a home run to send the Giants to the  World Series Division Series. Every time it comes on, you'll smile. Every time you think about it, you'll remember why you follow sports, why you care so much about something that's supposed to mean nothing. On a bad June day, when the Giants have lost their eighth straight, you'll click on a video of Ishikawa's Gillaspie's home run to cheer up and remind yourself that baseball weaves haphazardly toward a target that's three miles off the paved road.
Literally  Travis Ishikawa Conor Gillaspie.
There are different ways to root and cheer for a team. I used to be an angry fan. Everything was Scott Spiezio. Everything was Benny Agbayani. This bled into every move, every roster decision. When the Giants signed a defense-first catcher who couldn't hit back in 2005, it made me so danged mad. When the Giants traded for this guy or that guy, giving up Can't Touch Prospect or Absolutely Can't Touch Prospect, it ate holes in my stomach for weeks.
If the Giants made the playoffs in those years, and they were forced to start an ex-prospect who was sleeping on the couch because he had nowhere else to go -- playing for an injured player, no less -- it would have sent me over the edge. This is your solution? You went through an entire offseason and trading deadline, and this is the depth you're calling on in the postseason?
That fan is long gone. Maybe he's grown soft and fat. Maybe he's wiser. Maybe he's progressively dumber, or maybe the sense of entitlement just shifted over by a few degrees and morphed into something the old me wouldn't recognize. But I was into the Ishikawa Gillaspie experiment. It was ridiculous. It was comical. Ishikawa's Gillaspie's contract was printed in comic sans for a team whose story will be written in wingdings. It didn't make any sense, but neither did anything else. I was in. If the Giants are going to troll the world, let's pick a funny player to do it.
Not even joking: That player was  Travis Ishikawa Conor Gillaspie, replacing an injured player.
Ishikawa played Gillaspie almost played with Barry Bonds. He was a semi-prospect on a team that needed real prospects, and he became an odd backup for the Giants -- a third baseman replacing a fan favorite. After 2010, I thought he would be the last song on side four of the 2010 double album. "Remember That Prospect." It would be 2:09 and catchy as all hell, but it wouldn't get any radio play. Aficionados and enthusiasts only.
Except it wasn't so funny when he took an awful route in left to give the Cardinals an early run in Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS was starting in a Wild Card Game. You suddenly remembered: That guy shouldn't be here. Wait a sec, he ... that's not a good defensive infielder. He doesn't hit enough to pretend to be a good defensive infielder. Isn't he almost in his 30s now? Why is ... how did ... what happened?
Ishikawa Gillaspie is a part of the lore now. Mays going back on a ball, his hat falling off, spinning around and throwing the ball in. Will Clark up the middle off Mitch Williams. David Bell sliding home. Edgar Renteria off Cliff Lee. Marco Scutaro, arms wide, taking in the rain. Miguel Cabrera looking for a slider that never came. And Travis Ishikawa Conor Gillaspie sitting on a 2-0 fastball 1-1 sinker, and hitting it as hard as he could.
The Giants won the pennant Wild Card Game. The Giants ... this team of confusing, amazing bozos ... won the pennant Wild Card Game.
We've seen a lot of ridiculous things over the last few years. This is probably the most ridiculous, which, by the laws of baseball-god physics, makes it one of the best. Travis Ishikawa Conor Gillaspie hit the home run. Literally Travis Ishikawa Conor Gillaspie.

Monday, October 03, 2016

The 25 men on the postseason roster -- Wild Card

Here's what Grant Bisbee at McCovery Chronicles posted --

Before you get too worked up about the Giants’ 25-man roster for the Wild Card Game, remember that Gary Brown was on the 25-man roster for the game in 2014, and you didn’t notice.
Juan Perez got an at-bat.
Joaquin Arias made an error as a defensive replacement.
You don’t remember any of this.
Which is all to say that it’s easy to make too much about the exact roster, especially considering it’s easy to load up on the bench players because you know you’re not going to need all of your starting pitchers. If you want speed, there should be room for speed. If you want defense, there should be room for defense. If you want power, you should follow the Orioles.
Let’s take a look at what the 25-man roster should look like.

Pitchers (11)

Madison Bumgarner
Sergio Romo
Will Smith
Derek Law
Hunter Strickland
Javier Lopez
Cory Gearrin
George Kontos
Santiago Casilla
Ty Blach
Jeff Samardzija
They took 10 pitchers in 2014, and this would follow the same format, just with an extra pitcher. Ty Blach would be there in case the game gets out of hand early. Jeff Samardzija would be there in case the game goes long — think Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS. And Casilla would be there to remind you of your own mortality and sense of general hopelessness.
Also, it’s my opinion that Madison Bumgarner should make the roster.

Casilla would seem to be superfluous here, but I’d also guess that Bochy would remove either Blach or Cueto before ditching him. I’m not sure if Casilla makes the NLDS roster, if needed. But they’re not going to poke him in the nose here.

Position players (14)

Buster Posey
Brandon Belt
Joe Panik
Brandon Crawford
Conor Gillaspie
Angel Pagan
Denard Span
Hunter Pence
Trevor Brown
Gorkys Hernandez
Kelby Tomlinson
Jarrett Parker
Ehire Adrianza
Eduardo Nuñez

If he (Nunez) is not there, go for Gregor Blanco or Tony Sanchez. There’s no way a third catcher is going to make it onto an NLDS roster, but it’s a nice comfort zone in the Wild Card Game for a team that’s carrying so few pitchers.
Omissions with this roster? Steven Okert, who pitched well. Josh Osich, who didn’t. Matt Moore and Johnny Cueto, who would start the next series. Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, who probably won’t make any of the rosters, though it’s possible that Peavy takes the long-relief slot that I’m assuming will go to Blach. Blanco, who’s been limited by injuries and given ground to Gorkys Hernandez. Albert Suarez, who can’t compete with the Blach party.
And Joe Nathan, who didn’t allow a run in seven outings with the Giants. I could see him on the roster over Blach, to be honest, at least for this round. Next round would be a stickier question. I could imagine Bochy sticking with Casilla over loyalty, but I also remember Barry Zito missing the roster entirely in 2010, so there are never any loyalty guarantees.
There shouldn’t be a lot of surprises, though. The Giants used just 45 players on the roster all year, and a lot of them are hurt or gone. There aren’t a lot of close calls or hard decisions, which is a benefit of carrying 10 or 11 pitchers instead of 13.
If the Giants win, though? That’s when the roster crunch will get extraordinarily messy. Start sharpening your pointy sticks for that battle. Should be fun.

Sweeping the Dodgers

Yes, that happened

The Giants won the series by outscoring the dodgers 19-4