Friday, November 17, 2017

Carlos Beltran as a Giant

If you're reading this, you are probably an actual Giants fan. Grant Bisbee at McCovery chronicles has a good post on the 3 months the now retired Carlos Beltran spent as a Giant in 2011. 




Carlos Beltran announced his retirement on Monday, and that gives me a good excuse to talk about his time with the Giants. The Mets traded Beltran to the Giants on July 28, 2011, at a point when the Giants, despite a historically terrible offense, had a record of 60-44 and were up by three games on the Diamondbacks in the NL West. He came over, immediately hit badly, the Giants had a terrible August (even worse than the August of the 2017 Giants, if you can believe that), and they fell out of the race while Zack Wheeler, the prospect traded to the Mets, had multiple increasingly impressive seasons that put him on prospect lists and made Giants fans bitter.
For this, Giants fans booed Carlos Beltran for years. And they shouldn’t have.
Let’s start with the chronologically first complaint. Carlos Beltran did have 11 very poor games immediately after he was traded and the Giants played poorly in those games. Here is his game log from that period; you, the savvy baseball fan, can notice that these numbers are bad. The Giants went 3-8 in that period; you, the savvy baseball fan, can notice that that record is bad.
That wasn’t Beltran’s fault. Well, it wasn’t entirely his fault; he did hit poorly, which is the opposite of what a hitter wants to do, but how much can one guy be expected to do when his team is starting catchers, second basemen, and center fielders who can’t hit, as well as the desiccated husks of Orlando Cabrera and Aubrey Huff? And more importantly, are we really judging him based on a bad week and a half? That’s just absolutely nutty.
So, on August 7, after those 11 bad games, Beltran injured his wrist on a check swing against the Phillies — not something you should be mad at him for — and then, after the team took way too long to put him on the DL — not something you should be mad at him for — he went on the DL on August 16. When Beltran got injured, the team was up half a game on the Diamondbacks, and when he was activated from the DL on August 23, the Giants were trailing Arizona by two games.



And then Carlos Beltran started hitting. He didn’t start the day he was activated from the DL, but he started the next five games, and he got multiple hits in four of them. In that time, the team dropped from two games back to four games back. Then in September, he had, by raw OPS, the second best month of his career. That September, Beltran hit .378/.434/.700. He and Pablo Sandoval carried the offense to previously unseen heights of league averageness, and if you remember 2011, you’ll know just how big of an upgrade that was.
It didn’t help, of course. The Giants were six games back at the beginning of the month and eight games back at the end, and that was it for the 2011 Giants. Carlos Beltran, all in all, ended up hitting .323/.369/.551 as a Giant, which translated to an OPS+ of 159. He was a phenomenally productive hitter who, even after having gotten off to a poor start, had the best offensive stretch of his Hall of Fame career. It’s hard to complain about that.
And yet Giants fans complain about that. Some of it is the cost for the trade — while Zack Wheeler’s ended up struggling with injuries with the Mets, he also used to be a big time pitching prospect, and so even though Wheeler’s star has dimmed considerably, there’s a sense that the Giants gave away something good for nothing. Some of it is the fact that Beltran didn’t singlehandedly fix the team, which is a silly expectation to have of any player, especially one who’s only around for two months. Some of it is that he got hurt, which is, as I said before, a dumb thing to blame a player for. Some of it is that he didn’t re-sign with the Giants, which is especially silly, because, well:
"They never called,'' said Beltran, who signed a two-year, $26 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Carlos Beltran trade didn’t work out, but it wasn’t because of any failing of Beltran’s, and it didn’t really cause any long term damage (in fact, after Beltran left, the Giants won two thirds of the next three World Series). This is not a situation like the Mike Leake trade or the Casey McGehee trade where, boy, not only was that guy bad but the Giants sure could have used one of the guys they traded for him, ha ha, oh darn. Carlos Beltran was an extremely good baseball player for the Giants. He did what he was supposed to, even as the rest of the team didn’t.
So think kindly of Carlos Beltran’s time with the Giants. For a month, he made a wretched, unwatchable offense — significantly worse than the 2017 Giants offense, which is saying something — decent. That is an almost superhuman feat, and something to be lauded. Carlos Beltran never should have been booed in San Francisco after he left, and you shouldn’t think poorly of his time here. He had a very good half season here as part of a great career. That’s something to be celebrated, not maligned.
He led the 2011 Giants in triples, you know.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Rick Schu in the Orange and Black

The Nats hitting coach Rick Schu has replaced Hensley Meulens for the Giants

I've never understood why Meulens wasn't fired long ago. He's been proven incompetent year after year. Well, now he's bench coach. So he can say, "Bench, do this."

Schu sounds like he's an improvement. Here's the mlb.com story --

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants completed their coaching-staff overhaul Thursday by naming Rick Schu as their assistant hitting coach.
The appointment of Schu, 55, was atypical; unlike many coaches the Giants hire, he has no prior ties to the ballclub or the Bay Area.
He has, however, become adept at his craft. Schu has taught hitting for 20 seasons across the Major and Minor Leagues, including a banner year as the Nationals' hitting coach in 2017.
Last season, the Nats topped the National League in slugging percentage (.449) and OPS (.782), ranked third in runs scored (812), hits (1,477), doubles (311) and batting average (.266), and seventh in home runs (215).


Schu spent 12 years in the Diamondbacks' organization before going to Washington in 2013.
Primarily a third baseman during his playing career, Schu hit .246 with 41 home runs in 580 games for the Phillies, Orioles, Tigers, Angels and Expos from 1984-96. He also played in Japan for the Nippon Ham Fighters in '93 and '94.
Manager Bruce Bochy's 2018 coaching staff consists of Schu, bench coach Hensley Meulens, pitching coach Curt Young, hitting coach Alonzo Powell, third-base coach Ron Wotus, first-base coach Jose Alguacil, bullpen coach Matt Herges and Major League assistant and replay analyst Shawon Dunston.
Schu, Young, Powell and Herges are new to the staff. Alguacil is the only coach who has retained the same title he possessed last year.
Schu replaced Steve Decker, who was reassigned to a special assistant's role in the baseball operations department.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Johnny's coming back

Johnny Cueto has decided to stay a Giant. That's fine with me. When he's on, he's really on. 

Here's the MLB story --


 
Right-hander Johnny Cueto decided Saturday night to not opt out of the final four years and $84 million of his contract with the Giants.
Cueto, 31, went 8-8 with a 4.52 ERA for San Francisco in 2017, dealing with a forearm injury that sidelined him from mid-July through August. In 2016, the two-time All-Star went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 32 starts.
Prior to being traded to the Royals and helping Kansas City win the World Series in 2015, Cueto posted a 3.21 ERA with a 7.5 K/9 rate in eight seasons with the Reds.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Dodgers do not win World Series for 29th consecutive year

That's the headline on Grant Bisbee's McCovey Chronicles.

So the 2017 season is finally over. Pretty dreadful for Giants fans although the final play of the year for the Giants was Sandoval homering and the final play of the series was a weak groundout to MVP Jose Altuve.

Here are the first two graphs --

For the 29th consecutive year, the Los Angeles Dodgers did not win the World Series. They will. Soon. It’s coming. They will eventually win the World Series, and we’ll just have to wear it. They’re too rich, too talented, and too smart not to win. I don’t even like writing these any more because it feels like I’m poking a bear.
This year, however, they got all the way to the end of Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins before dying at the final boss. They are out of continues. They will have to start all over.


I do not agree with Grant that the Dodgers will win a Series soon. They are too self-entitled and too self-righteous to do so. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Clayton Kershaw gags again

With a chance to win Game 5 of the World Series tonight, Clayton Kershaw gagged, as he usually does in a big game. What a beautiful thing. It's the taint of the Dodgers.

Yuli Guriel delivered a crushing 3-run homer off Kershaw tonight. 



HOUSTON -- If Saturday was one of the most difficult days of Yuli Gurriel's life, Sunday had to be one of the most satisfying.
World Series Gm 6: Tue., 7:30 p.m. ET air time | 8 ET game time on FOX
Having dealt with the backlash from his inappropriate gesture in Game 3 and Major League Baseball's ensuing discipline -- not to mention a rough night at the plate in the Astros' Game 4 loss -- Gurriel bounced back in Game 5, thumping a three-run home run against Clayton Kershaw in the fourth inning that helped erase Houston's early four-run deficit against the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner.
• Dress for the World Series: Get Astros postseason gear
Gurriel's home run helped the Astros get back into the game, a task that seemed bleak as they headed to that fateful fourth.
"Bedlam. Crazy," George Springer said, trying to describe the atmosphere in Houston's dugout as Gurriel's home run landed in the left-center-field seats. "That's arguably the game's best pitcher. For us to claw back against him was absolutely huge. He's got great stuff and our team didn't quit. We just kept fighting. Gurriel's homer there was absolutely huge."
Six innings later, Alex Bregman's RBI single gave the Astros a dramatic 13-12 win over the Dodgers, the 10-inning, five-hour, 17-minute affair leaving Houston one victory from the first World Series title in franchise history.
 Very happy and anxious," Gurriel said in Spanish. "We know we're very close to winning the championship, but we've still got one more step to go. We can't get overconfident, since we're going to their place and they play very well there. The Dodgers are a tremendous team."
The fourth-inning rally started innocently enough as Springer -- who struck out three times against Kershaw in Game 1 -- drew a leadoff walk against the southpaw, who had faced the minimum nine batters and allowed just one hit through the first three innings.
Bregman flied to left field for the first out, then Jose Altuve singled to left, putting runners at first and second. Carlos Correa got the Astros on the board with an RBI double to left, cutting the lead to 4-1 to inject some life into a crowd that had been stunned by Dallas Keuchel's abbreviated 3 2/3-inning, four-run performance.
The fans had barely settled back into their seats when Kershaw delivered a first-pitch slider to Gurriel, who launched it high and far into the left-field seats, stinging the ball for an exit velocity of 101.3 mph and a projected distance of 389 feet.
"I haven't looked at what Gurriel hit," Kershaw said of the pitch. "I know it was a slider, but it must have stayed up because he put a really good swing on it."
Gurriel pointed to the Astros' dugout as he jogged out of the batter's box, circling the bases to a raucous ovation from the sellout crowd of 43,300. It was his second home run of the World Series and third overall this postseason.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hunter Pence is here to stay

Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles explains why the Giants are probably going to run him out to right field next season

 Very interesting post -- Here is part

At the trade deadline this year, the completely awful Giants were quiet. They had traded the only player other teams wanted (Eduardo Nuñez), and everyone else was old, bad, or expensive, unless they were old, bad, and expensive.
Hunter Pence was one of the latter. On July 31, his OPS was .637. His on-base percentage was .290. His defensive metrics were unkind. He had just eight doubles in 345 plate appearances, which is one of the lowest percentages from a corner outfielder in recent memory. He struck out about three-and-a-half times more than he walked. He was 34 and owed $18.5 million in 2018. I’ll guess there wasn’t a single team that called about him, unless they were willing to be bold enough to ask that the Giants pay his entire salary. Of all their broken players, he might have been the most brokenest.
At the beginning of September, I wrote about his historically discouraging season, and that’s when the Giants started saying that there were no guarantees about any of the incumbent outfielders. It looked like that was the end for Pence as the de facto starter. It was a great run, but it was over.
However, digging through some splits, I finally saw what Pence did after the deadline. For two months, Pence hit .289/.361/.457. He had six homers and three triples in 194 plate appearances, and perhaps more impressively, he walked 20 times to just 34 strikeouts. That was a much better ratio than the previous three months, and it reminded me of someone: It reminded me of Hunter Pence when he was right.
You’re skeptical, and I can understand that. He’s still going to be 35, which isn’t usually an age in which players overcome the struggles of the previous season.
What I keep coming back to, though, is that he’s a sunk cost, and I don’t mean that negatively this time. The Giants are going to pay him $18.5 million, regardless of what happens. That means their options are roughly ...
Pay another team to take him
I cannot possibly imagine this. If the Giants pay $17 million of his contract, I’m not sure if they get a C prospect back. Not worth it.
Make right field an offseason priority and put Pence on the bench
The Giants would consider this if some very specific dominoes fell, I would think, but they wouldn’t actively make it a priority. Center field, third base, and left field are a higher priority. There’s no sense spending $10 million to get Jay Bruce or Carlos Gonzalez, which would add up to a nearly $30 million right fielder, especially when those players have had their ups and downs, too.


Lorenzo Cain in the Orange and Black?

Speculation from MLB Trade Rumors: 

The outfield is the clearest area of concern, as left field was a revolving door all season and Denard Span and Hunter Pence combined for just 1.9 fWAR as the regulars in center and right field.  Defensive metrics haven’t been kind to Span’s center field glovework for years, while Pence’s work in right field has traditionally received above-average UZR/150 grades but below-average marks in terms of Defensive Runs Saved.  Since neither player has a strong throwing arm, the Giants are in a tough spot of having two high-priced outfielders best suited for a move to left field.
A free agent like Lorenzo Cain would be a great fit for the Giants’ needs, as the long-time Royal brings a major defensive upgrade to center field and some right-handed balance to the lineup.  Even if a big name like Cain is brought in to handle center field, however, simply going with Span and Pence in the corners may not be a recipe for success.  The outfield mix could be shaken up entirely with a big trade or two.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

An Awful season in review

Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles does the review 


The 2017 season is over, thank goodness. All 30 teams packed up and went home, and now there is no more baseball at all. This gives us time to focus on some of the finer points of the year, and one of my favorite parts is that we don’t have to use words like “on pace” or “has a chance to.” These are the stats. They’re the stats for all time. None of them will change, except when I use a pen to add a home run to Brandon Crawford’s total in next year’s media guide.
As such, let’s take a quick spin around the final stats and see if there’s anything interesting in there. There are interesting things! But your definition of interesting might differ from mine.
Anyway, here are some 2017 Giants stats:

Buster Posey hit .320

Start with a positive note, that’s my motto. Buster Posey is good, and we should be thankful that he wasn’t as horrible as the rest of the season, because that would have made the offseason unbearable. I keep meaning to write a full article about that, but this will do for now. This is the fifth time Posey has hit over .300 in his eight-year career, so even though he hit a career low in home runs, he’s still pretty, pretty good.
His career average went up, too. From .307 to .308.

The Giants had three position players worth two wins or more

In stat-ese, a two-win player is a solid starter starter. More wins are always cool, but two is a little bit of a threshold. The players who can do it are the players you want to keep around.
The Giants had three of these players: Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Buster Posey. They’re the kinds of players you want to keep around.
If you’re wondering if this is something of a low total, historically, it is. But it’s not a record. Both the 2008 and 2011 Giants had just one player like that (Randy Winn and Pablo Sandoval, respectively). 


If you’re wondering what the San Francisco record is, that belongs to both the 1962 and 2012 Giants, who had eight position players with two wins or more.
Those teams were good.

Gorkys Hernandez was the only player in baseball to get 300 plate appearances or more without a home run

The last Giants hitter to do that? Ryan Theriot in 2012.
That’s “DH in a World Series clincher” Ryan Theriot to you.

Brandon Crawford led the team with 77 RBI

That’s sad. Is it the saddest RBI total for a team leader, though? It is not! The 1985, 1992, and 2011 teams all had a sadder RBI leader.
Of note: The 2012 and 2014 Giants had just one player with more than 77. It’s possible that this team might not have to score 900 runs to win baseball games. Will investigate later.

Brandon Belt led the team in walks

Brandon Belt played 104 games.
Maybe the Giants should walk more and get themselves into better hitters’ counts, but I’m no expert.

Hunter Pence finished with 13 doubles, even though he qualified for the batting title

That’s not a lot of doubles, alright. It’s actually the fifth-fewest doubles for a Giants hitter who qualified for the batting title in the San Francisco era, behind Johnnie LeMaster, Hal Lanier, Jose Pagan, Juan Uribe, and Don Blasingame, all of whom played middle infield.
Pence played right field. That’s actually the fewest doubles for a right fielder with more than 500 plate appearances since Kirk Gibson in 1986. But Gibson had 28 home runs, which helps explain it. Pence did not. If you limit the search to right fielders with fewer than 20 homers, it’s a rough list.

Matt Moore was not the worst Giants starting pitcher to qualify for the ERA title

He was the eighth worst. So, uh. Look, I don’t know.
But there is hope! Mark Davis was the very worst, and he ended up winning a Cy Young (and a pennant for the Giants, if you give him credit for Kevin Mitchell). Vida Blue came back strong the next season and made the All-Star team. And, of course, Mike Krukow not only won 20 games and two Willie Mac Awards after his awful season, but he became one of the most beloved broadcasters we’ll ever know.
Just don’t look at the fact that Moore’s season was worse than any one that Barry Zito had in his Giants career. I SAID DON’T LOOK.

Cory Gearrin was the second-most valuable pitcher on the Giants

I ... was not expecting that. If you would have told me that before the season, I either would have said, “Wow, I can’t believe they let Gearrin throw 110 innings!” or “The Giants lost 98 games, didn’t they?”
If you go by FanGraphs, which uses FIP-based WAR, Gearrin wasn’t very good at all. But while I don’t trust his walk rate, I do trust his funkiness. I’m proud of the Giants’ sneering, funk-laden creation. And it’s aesthetically pleasing that he got his ERA to 1.99 on the last day of the season.
There are more stats. But I’m tired of looking at stats. Find your own stats. If you don’t want to, you can take these stats. Goodbye, 2017 Giants. It sure was something.