Saturday, January 31, 2009

George Carlin explains it all

Friday, January 30, 2009

Here's what to do at the Super Bowl party

Patrick Smith at Bugs and Cranks has an inspired post called Your Sunday Television Plans, which involve the MLB Network's counterprogramming efforts during the Super Bowl. I probably won't try this myself, since I'm lucky enough to get invited to a pretty darn good Super Bowl party every year -- the football's often boring but the company and food are great. I ignore the halftime and play catch with a softball, usually with a Mets fan. However, if you find you can't stand any more football, here's what to do -- switch to the the MLB Network, which is programming an awesome event AKA Game 3 of the 2005 Series.

The Cubs and Cards in the lead

That's for the number of national telecasts on ESPN and Fox this season. Awful Announcing (Love the name!) has the games and compiled this result --

Cubs- 12
Cardinals- 11
Mets, Dodgers, Twins, White Sox, Braves- 10
Angels, Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox- 9
Indians- 8
Astros, Tigers, Rays- 6
Giants, Brewers- 5
Rangers, Diamondbacks- 4
A's, Mariners, O's- 1
Blue Jays, Marlins, Padres, Nationals, Pirates, Reds, Rockies, Royals- 0

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another Uribe in the Orange and Black?

Ivan Ochoa signs with the Bosox

The offense-free shortstop lucks into another gig. He's still looking for a homer in the MLB after sucking up 120 ABs last season.

It's amazing to think how little offense the Giants got out of the shortstop position last year between Omar, Ochoa, Burris and the immortal Brian Bocock.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Welcome back, Will

The Thrill's back as a special assistant in the front office. Here's the last of Chris Haft's story -- Clark enjoyed his best season in 1989, when he hit .333 with 23 homers, 111 RBIs and a league-high 104 runs scored while finishing second in MVP voting behind teammate Kevin Mitchell. He eclipsed that in the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs by hitting .650 and lining the tiebreaking single in the Giants' Game 5 triumph that sent them to the World Series.

Here's a nice sharp lead from Henry Schulman at the SF Chronicle -- Fifteen years ago, the Giants made a heartbreaking financial decision to let Will Clark go. Now he is back, and will work with young players to instill the ethic that made him so popular among fans when he played.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Thrill is no longer gone

The Giants are holding a news conference on Wednesday to introduce Will Clark in some kind of official position. Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News blogs that it's a PR coup.

I could not agree more. What Giant fan didn't have serious affection for The Thrill? As much as I blast away at the front office for their mistakes with the current roster, they are also masters of celebrating the past.

I would be remiss not to note that he's only 44 years old and could probably still outhit many of the active firstbasemen in the bigs.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A vote for Frandsen

Paul Rice at Bugs and Cranks believes Kevin Frandsen has a far better upside as the starting second baseman than Eugenio Velez or Emmanuel Burriss -- more power than both and a better fielder than Velez. His take on Kevin --

Pros: Lifetime .849 minor league OPS. He never hit below .300 in AAA. Some doubles power that could, if we grab hands and wish upon enough shooting stars or 11:11’s, translate into high-teens home run output. He’s a terrific contact hitter. He hit .370 in September 2007 when getting regular playing time (Back, sample size nazis! Back, I say!).
Cons: The Giants seem to hate him, for some reason. He’s coming off a year lost to an Achilles tear, so who knows how that’ll go. He shows very little plate discipline and could be a double play machine (he grounded into a whopping 17 in 264 at-bats in ‘07).

He's right, I think. BUT -- Velez had one truly great game on Sept. 10. He drove in all four runs in one of the year's best games, a come-from-behind 4-3 win. After Wilson had blown a save in the 9th and given up two runs, here's what happened in the bottom of the 9th --

Bottom of the 9th, Giants Batting, Behind 2-3, Brandon Lyon facing 3-4-5
P Sandoval Groundout: SS-1B (Weak SS-2B)
B Molina Single to LF (Ground Ball thru Weak 3B)
Ryan Rohlinger pinch runs for Bengie Molina batting 4th
T Ishikawa Groundout: 3B-1B (Weak 3B); Rohlinger to 2B
A Rowand Walk
E Velez Triple to CF (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF); Rohlinger Scores; Rowand Scores

Five names to watch in Scottsdale

Trevor at Giants Baseball Blog does a nice job of re-capping the five non-roster invitees that he believes have the best chance of making the big club this year: batters Jesus Guzman and Josh Phelps and pitchers Kevin Pucetas, Justin Miller and Brandon Medders. My guess is that Jesus is going to make it. Here are some comments from Trevor on each:

3B Jesus Guzman: He has tremendous momentum heading into the spring and should have just as good a shot at making the team as the likes of Travis Ishikawa.

RHP Kevin Pucetas: Any chances of him becoming the fifth starter in '09 went out the window with the signing of Randy Johnson, but the '08 Cal League Pitcher of the Year winner could get a strong look as a long-reliever/spot starter this spring.

1B Josh Phelps: Phelps looked like a rising star after hitting .309 with 15 hr's and 58 RBI in only 257 at-bats as a rookie in '03, but has never been given a full-time job, at the big league level, since then.... This is another guy, like Guzman, who could really end up being a steal for the Giants if he makes the team out of spring training and ends up contributing anything to the team.

RHP Justin Miller: The 30 year-old Miller has actually pitched pretty well over the last 2 seasons with the Marlins....Miller looks like a little more effective version of Tyler Walker and if the Giants had the same bunch down there as last year, Miller would likely get a look as a set-up man to Brian Wilson.

RHP Brandon Medders: His first two seasons were solid as he posted era's of 1.78 and 3.64 from '05-'06, but over the last 2 seasons he has struggled and been bounced between AAA and the majors. At 28 years old though, he's still relatively young for a reliever and has the arm to improve.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Welcome back!

Just on a hunch, I checked on one of my favorite blogs, Giants Jottings -- which has the distinction of posting great coverage of the Giants spring training every year. Great news -- Giantsfan9 is back and getting ready to go to Scottsdale for what he calls "Spring Training 2009 - Youth Movement Phase II."

Despite my pessimism about how poorly the front office is run, I am still getting amped up.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Barry and Brian's winter workouts's Chris Haft has a decent story in which Brian Wilson says he persuaded Barry Zito to increase the intensity of his workouts this winter -- including long-tossing 230 feet across a canyon. Maybe Wilson knows something. He wasn't perfect, but he was one of the few Giants to perform above expectations last year. Given how often Zito has run out of gas since he donned the Orange and Black, I figure this can't hurt.

Cluelessness on display

Bruce Jenkins of the SF Chron is at it again, delivering insight-free commentary that fails to mention the serious damage that his darling Jeff Kent delivered during his career -- "I was amazed at his candor, his utterly forthright nature....And here's a nod of admiration to someone who truly gave his life to the game."

Yeah, Bruce, Kent was all about candor and winning -- like when he broke his wrist in a motorcyle accident and missed half of 2002 and lied repeatedly about it to the team or when he got into pointless and unproductive feuds with multiple teammates along the way. How can the editors of the Chron publish a piece that gushes about Kent's conduct and not mention those details?

Instead, we get a bunch of whiney excuse-making from some long-ago interview that Kent's dad was rough on him. Let's not forget amid all this misguided praise from dingats like Jenkins for Kent's character that he also decided that it would be a good idea to donate to the ballot initiative to ban gay marriage. Jenkins didn't think that was worth mentioning either. But when I think of Jeff Kent's character, I think of a lying self-serving hypocrite who thinks it's OK to take away people's rights.

Sabean ranked at the bottom

Alex Remington at the Chop and Change blog covering the Atlanta Braves is out with an extensive post ranking 20 of the 30 MLB general managers (ranking only those who have at least a year in their current post). Brian Sabean (WITH FOUR STRAIGHT SEASONS BELOW .500) is at the bottom along with the Dodgers Ned Colletti (Sabean's protege) and the Nationals' Jim Bowden --

The dregs. Coletti is a worse version of Hendry -- the spend-and-suck variety -- and Sabean has been a shadow of his former self for years now, completely inept at putting together a major league team. Both of them lead teams with money that have resolutely underperformed where they should be, given their financial resources and fan bases. I may not be giving Coletti enough credit for getting Manny Ramirez, but before Manny came along, his outfield was a mess, with two good players, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, and two of the worst contracts in baseball, Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones. The upshot: they ate $20 million of Andruw's contract to make him go away, and they'll still have to hand Pierre hundreds of useless at-bats next year. The image of the Giants is on a slight upswing thanks to the respective 2008 breakouts of Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner, and the extraordinarily weak division combined with the acquisition of Randy Johnson makes them look like they may have a pitching staff, if nothing else. While the farm is looking pretty good thanks to a nice top 4, the major league lineup is still outrageously thin.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Aurilia back in the Orange and Black?

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Merc-News thinks so: I’m hearing that the Giants still consider Aurilia their top option for a right-handed bench player, above other names on the board like Kevin Millar or Ty Wigginton. Unless a trade happens that changes the structure of the roster, I’d expect Aurilia will return on a one-year contract.

Aurilia also told him that Jeff Kent became a better player because of Bonds: “I think Jeff fed more off Barry, because Barry got the attention,” Aurilia said. “That was great for us. Barry was unfazed by everything. He always was and probably always will be. But Jeff, you could say he got No.2 billing and he used that to motivate himself and become the great player that he was. It was amazing to see them going back and forth driving in runs, driving each other in. It was fun to play with those guys. It really was a great era in Giants history and I think it’ll always be remembered that way.”

The Mad Bum is No. 1

Is that a silly headline or what? It means that Madison Bumgarner has come out as the top Giants prospect, according to Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus. He also says Angel Villalona and Buster Posey are 5-star prospects. Tim Alderson is a 4-star prospect.

Paul Rice at Bugs and Cranks has a very astute take on all this, which is that as wonderful it is to have fresh talent on the rise, there are no guarantees to be had -- Lest we get too excited about these guys, though, and crown them as the saviors who will lead the Giants into the promised land, we should probably remember that prospects have a way of sometimes not panning out, and it’d be ridiculous to assume that all of these top four guys (and those following) will live up to their full potential, or even make an large impact in the majors.
Giants fans should know all too well about the perils of pinning too much hope on prospects. It seems like ’twas only yesterday that all Giants fans were ready to bestow God-like qualities upon the Kurt Ainsworth-Jerome Williams-Jesse Foppert troika. Then Ainsworth cracked his shoulder blade, Williams gorged himself out of the league, and Foppert showed up in the majors throwing in the low-90’s with no control. Funny how your young star-studded rotation can change from the
1971 Orioles to the 1996 Mets in a heartbeat.
Obviously, the top four in Goldstein’s list look like can’t-miss prospects, but how many times have we seen phenoms, you know, miss? It’s a lovely situation to be in, and even if half of these guys pan out, it’ll give the Giants seemingly championship-level players and a deep roster. What the Giants can’t do is let the youth on the horizon goad them into a false sense of security that leads to dumb stuff like
trading Jonathan Sanchez for Jorge Cantu. Geez, I can’t believe that rumor’s still floating around.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Omar goes to Texas

Vizquel's signed a deal with the Rangers. Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News blogs appreciatively that Omar's very grateful for his four years in the Orange and Black and has probably figured that the Rangers offer him a better shot at making the roster than the Padres. He's willing to play 2B or 3B and could be the starting shortstop if Elvis Andrus doesn't live up to his hype.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jeff Kent -- one of the best Giant trades

photo by dennisjones. Omar starts to complete a double play over Kent in the 9th on Opening Day on April 5, 2005.

Jeff Kent is retiring on Thursday. Rather than talk about his stupidity in breaking his wrist in the spring of 2002, I'd like to remember a pivotal moment in Giants history when Brian Sabean executed this trade six years earlier --

November 13, 1996: Traded by the Cleveland Indians with a player to be named later, Julian Tavarez, and Jose Vizcaino to the San Francisco Giants for a player to be named later and Matt Williams. The Cleveland Indians sent Joe Roa (December 16, 1996) to the San Francisco Giants to complete the trade. The San Francisco Giants sent Trenidad Hubbard (December 16, 1996) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade.

It was a great trade that triggered a great six-year stretch for the Orange and Black. Unfortunately, it was also the start of Sabean's reputation exceeding his talent. Here's the last decent trade he made -- eight years ago for Jason Schmidt --

July 30, 2001: Traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates with John Vander Wal to the San Francisco Giants for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong. (He signed as a free agent after the season).

Eight years later, Giant fans are still suffering for the long string of subsequent Sabean stupidities -- Zito, Nathan, Tomko, Blownitez, Hammonds, Pierzitsky, Alfonzo, Roberts, Klesko, Accardo, Hillenbrand, Ledee, Rowand, Jose Castillo. When will it ever end?

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Merc-News uses his column to take his usual lame potshots at Barry Bonds but he does make the point that Kent's lie about the motorcycle accident in 2002 led to the disastrous Edgardo Alfonzo signing and the complete absence of any infield power hitters (except for Durham's fluke 2006) in the subsequent years for the Orange and Black.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jon Miller gets bogged down

Have you ever had a task at your job that you managed to do adequately despite being saddled with having to perform the task with an idiotic co-worker? Then, just to make things worse, your boss brings in a second idiot? That's what just happened to Jon Miller, who now has to put up with the dingbat rantings of Steve Phillips in addition to Joe Morgan on ESPN's Sunday night telecasts.

Posters at Baseball Think Factory are pretty unimpressed.

As the dozens of readers of this blog will attest, the Giants' front office has done plenty of things wrong in recent years. To its credit, though, the front office has assembled an excellent broadcast team that can bring entertainment and insight to even the most agonizing lossses.

Taschner signs

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cantu in the Orange and Black?

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports deep in a roundup column that he doesn't know what the Giants will do about Manny (probably nothing) but adds that the Orange and Black have had serious talks about trading Jonathan Sanchez for a power hitter to Marlins -- Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, 26, appears to the pitcher that the Giants are most willing to trade for a hitter, but one such possibility — a deal for the Marlins' Jorge Cantu — remains stalled. The Marlins are reluctant to subtract Cantu's 29 homers and 95 RBIs when they've already parted with Mike Jacobs' 36 and 119.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What price for Tim the Enchanter?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

No rush for a Giant bat

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bruce Jenkins = dingbat to the max

Never has anyone written so much about baseball and gotten it as wrong as the SF Chronicle's Bruce Jenkins. The latest idiocy is a declaration deep in a time-wasting column that Maury Wills belongs in the Hall of Fame ahead of Tim Raines, who received recent support as a good Hall of Fame candidate in a pretty well-supported column by ESPN's Keith Law.

Here's the problem -- Jenkins simply doesn't bother with the facts and declares that Wills "changed the game" in 1962, when equally stupid sportswriters succumbed to the hype and gave Wills a very undeserving MVP award over Mays, Aaron and F Robby. As for Wills' Hall of Fame "credentials," here's what one poster said:

I get the argument that Wills changed the game in a different era. But Wills wasn't much of a great player beyond the stolen bases. He didn't get on base that much (a true benchmark for a leadoff hitter) and his hits were mostly singles (he never had 30 extra-base hits or 50 RBIs). Tim Raines was a great all-around player -- he could hit doubles/triples/homers and he was on base a lot (.385 career OBP). And as for "stealing with caution" and avoiding outs, Raines stole 808 bases and was caught just 146 times -- an 85% success rate that surpasses Wills' 74%. Whatever hazy pictures memory holds of the old days, they shouldn't make up for vast disparities in player quality. Wills was no Raines.

Jenkins just flat out lies in the story: With Wills, on a team lucky to score two runs a game, every steal was a necessity. A poster at Baseball Think Factory had this to say --

Just to pile on a little here: the 1962 Dodgers scored 842 runs, which was 5.10 runs per game. They were second in the league in raw runs scored, but first in runs on the road. The only real weakness anywhere in the lineup was the Darryl Spencer/Larry Burright combination playing whichever of 2B or 3B Junior Gilliam wasn't playing that day. Wills' SB did contribute runs - and contribute to the fact that Tommy Davis had an astounding number of RBI for a high average but mid-power hitter. But he was hardly the only thing going on in that lineup.Here are the runs scored by Montreal in the years 1983-1987, which was Raines's peak: 4.15, 3.68, 3.93, 3.96, 4.57. Not a single one of those teams came anywhere close to the 1962 Dodgers.In 1962, Wills scored 130 out of 842 team runs, which is 15.4%. That's nice.In 1983, Raines scored 133 out of 677 team runs - an astounding 19.6%

Jesus (Guzman) wins the MVP...

...of the Venezuelan League. Sounds like this Giants prospect can really hit!

I'm sure you're wondering -- "How many guys named Jesus have made it to the bigs?" As best I can tell, the answer is 10. Jesus Alou is probably the best known. Three played last year -- Jesus Colome, Jesus Delgado and Jesus Flores.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fred Lewis saying all the right things

I must admit that one of the reasons why I get a kick out of baseball is this kind of story -- Fred Lewis coming back from foot surgery and sounding like he can't wait to get back to it.

But my optimism faded as I came across this depressing news -- he's going to be batting in the No. 5 hole, according to what Bruce Bochy tells Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle. Fred had 9 HRs and 40 RBIs in over 420 ABs, a .351 OBP and a .440 SLG last year, which was third on the team after Pablo Sandoval at .490 and Bengie at .445.

It looks like we'll have another team finish with under 100 HRs (last year's had 94 -- the first to turn that trick since the Phillies in 1995). Fred seems like a good guy who would be a nice fit on a team were he slotted 7th in the lineup. Again, Brian Sabean is constantly asking guys to do things that they're not equipped to do. Why he thinks Fred's going to become the second coming of Jack Clark all of a sudden is beyond me.

RIP Frank Williams

Victoria's newspaper has a sad story about the former Giants sidearmer passing away at the ago of 50 while homeless on the streets of one of the more lovely cities in North America.

Williams was a pretty good pitcher for his three years in the Orange and Black. He had a 1.20 ERA for them in 1986, one of my favorite years for the team, then was traded with two minor leaguers for Eddie Milner. Commenters at Baseball Think Factory noted that Williams had one career start and one shutout -- a five-inning 7-0 game in 1984 against the Cards. It was a bad team with a 66-96 record so this was probably one of the few highlights of that season. Look at the box score and see how recognizable that lineup is. Every guy in it (except for Williams) had a LONG career. Unfortunately, none of them had a career year in 1984 (Clark was injured and only got 203 ABs, but still had 11 HRs and 44 RBIs!):

C Davis CF
M Trillo 2B
A Oliver 1B
J Clark RF
D Baker LF
J Youngblood 3B
B Brenly C
J LeMaster SS
F Williams P

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Estes in Dodger Blue

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hasta la vista, Noah?'s Chris Haft has a decent analysis on why the Giants are more likely to trade Noah Lowry rather than Jonathan Sanchez for a big bat. He believes that if the front office can't sign a free agent hitter (who can move Bengie out of the 4 hole) and if Lowry looks decent in Cactus League, he'd be the better choice to trade.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rickey and Jim Ed -- HOF

Henderson and Rice make it in. Rickey was an obvious choice but Jim Ed's career wasn't long enough to make him an automatic member. I do remember in March 1987 seeing him hit a homer unlike any other I'd ever seen against the Orioles in a spring training game in Miami. It was a line drive to left that was still GOING UP when it hit the light tower 60 feet up. I've never seen anything like it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pitchers and catchers report in 33 days

photo of the Willie Mays statue by laughing squid

A good excuse to post this comment from a few days ago in the San Jose Mercury-News -- “I just read that the oldest man in the U.S. died today at the age of 112. My question is, who are the Giants going to sign to replace him?”

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why Manny won't be in the Orange and Black

A Sonoma State student named DP who has a well-titled blog -- "I'm Right, Everyone Else Is Wrong" -- reviews in an entertaining fashion why the Giants probably won't sign Manny (they're not as stupid as they were 2 years ago). DP had just read Jayson Stark's report that the Giants probably don't have the money for this deal.

Here's the key part --Manny to the Giants was never serious. I'm not sure what it is with this hot stove season. I guess it was just that there was a dearth of teams with available money this offseason, so each and every big free agent has been connected to each one at one time or another. The other factor at play here is that Scott Boras represents a good number of these available players. He notoriously leaks falsehoods to random newspapers (probably for cash) in hopes of creating inaccurate fantasy markets for his clients. He most famously did this in 2006 when he bluffed the Giants into outbidding the New York Mets (and themselves) for Barry Zito to the tune of $30-40 million. Fortunately for us in the real world, people have wised up to Boras's BS and the Manny Ramirez market is extremely slow.Like Boras, Manny is a guy we love to hate. He's an incredible talent, a surefire hall of famer, a malcontent, a ticket seller, and a conundrum. He won two World Series titles, had a (Red Sox) Nation of adoring fans, made $20 million a year, and still found it in him to be a divisive jerk. The guy quit on his teammates and his fans. And like his impeccable timing in left field, he picked a horrible time to take his dive.

DP then concludes that there are really only 4 teams left that would take on Manny -- the Dodgers, the Rangers, the Yanks and the Nats. I would bet on the Dodgers. I'm also laughing about DP's description of himself -- I'm a student at Sonoma State and would rather not do anything. I'm a big time sleaze.

RIP Dave Roberts (relief pitcher)

Sad news, since he managed to stay in the MLB for 11 seasons. He died too young at 64 from lung cancer due to asbestos exposure from a job he worked during the off-season.

I really did not remember that he played with the Giants until I looked him up in the Baseball Reference. (There are a total of four Dave Roberts that have played in the MLB since 1962 -- including an infielder who spent most of his career in San Diego playing on the same team as this Dave Roberts, but only after the pitcher Dave Roberts had been traded away in this deal -- December 3, 1971: Traded by the San Diego Padres to the Houston Astros for Derrel Thomas, Bill Greif, and Mark Schaeffer. )

He was signed as a free agent after the 1978 season and pitched 26 games in 1979 for the Orange and Black before being shipped off to the eventual World Series winners in this deal -- June 28, 1979: Traded by the San Francisco Giants with Bill Madlock and Len Randle to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ed Whitson, Fred Breining, and Al Holland.

Roberts is one of those guys who played long enough to have a reputation -- but mostly as a San Diego Padre and Houston Astro. He came and went so quickly in SF that it was a surprise yesterday when I saw his obit on the team page. I actually do remember guys that you would not automatically remember as having been a Giant -- Warren Spahn, Dick Groat and Duke Snider -- ending their careers in the Orange and Black. But there are some well-known guys that I barely remember being Giants -- Doyle Alexander, Norm Siebern, Cory Snyder, Mel Hall and Dave Henderson. Even Eric Davis, who ended his career in 2001 as a Giant, seems a bit hard to remember as having worn the Orange and Black.

Guess who's coming to camp?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Swisher in the Orange and Black?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Here's where your money goes, Dodger fans

The wife of owner Frank McCourt just bought two side by side mansions in Malibu for $46 million. Something to think about the next time you pay $10 for a dog and a coke.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hasta la vista, Tyler Walker

Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle blogs that Tyler Walker, who just signed with Seattle, is a pretty good guy who went to Cal. Responses to the post mostly recall the agony of watching him blow leads for the Orange and Black. Like this one last May 18 against the Chisox:

Top of the 8th, White Sox Batting, Tied 6-6, Tyler Walker facing 4-5-6
J Dye Groundout: 3B-1B (Weak SS)
P Konerko Single to LF
J Crede Single to CF (Line Drive); Konerko to 2B
A Ramirez Single to LF (Line Drive); Konerko to 3B; Crede to 2B
B Anderson Strikeout Swinging
Nick Swisher pinch hits for Matt Thornton batting 9th
N Swisher Double to LF (Line Drive to LF Line); Konerko Scores; Crede Scores;
O Cabrera Groundout: SS-1B (Weak SS)
3 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB. White Sox 9, Giants 6.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Richie back in the Orange and Black?

Chris Haft of reports that Rich Aurilia's a much more likely signing than Manny.

Jayson Stark of ESPN thinks rumors of a Manny-Giants deal are nonsense: And the Giants, according to multiple sources, have no interest in pursuing Ramirez or any other free agent looking for large dollars and multiple years. Even reports connecting them with free-agent third baseman Joe Crede, another Boras client, have been exaggerated, sources say.

UPDATE -- Bill Shaikin of the LA Times files a contradictory report late Tuesday: that the Giants' interest in Ramirez is "real." Frankly, I'm guessing the Times is so desperate -- thanks to massive layoffs and Sam Zell's mis-management -- that its reporters may be reaching just a tad.

Monday, January 05, 2009

No. 99 in the Orange and Black? "Ain't gonna happen"

Lefty Malo offers a sensible argument as to why Manny won't be coming to the Giants. He notes that the Giants would have to dump several of their outfielders along with offering a two-year deal with heavy incentives to Manny: In other words, ain't gonna happen. Scott Boras would rather eat termites. And as others have noted, Manny on the cheap wouldn't be Manny at his friendliest. He might solve the Giants' need for a cleanup hitter in 2009, but unless -- even if -- he signs on the Giants' terms, he adds far more problems, short term and long term, than he solves.

Three months and two days

Photo of Matt Cain winning a game in August by artolog

The Giants' home opener is April 7 against the Brewers. I was inspired to post this after watching the very telegenic Michelle Beadle host a "Cathedrals of the Game" segment on MLB Network about Mays Field.

The brutal truth about the Orange and Black

David Pinto, who runs the respected Baseball Musings site, projects that the current version of the Giants will finish with 75 wins but adds that Manny would make them a .500 team.

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters linked to Pinto's piece and notes that it illustrates these points about the Giants --
1. We have nothing even remotely like a conteders level of offense.
2. If the addition of a true superstar like Ramirez only adds .3 runs per game to our team, and something like 10 wins, expecting Edgar Renteria could make any kind of impact whatsoever is laughable.
3. Planning a season based on the premise that a substantial number of our pitchers will be as good or better than they were last season is absurd.
4. And even Tim Lincecum is all but certain to regress, at least a little.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Catching up with Shea Hillenbrand

Riding the Boras Hate Train

Tim Kawakami of the Merc-News has an odd post, saying that signing Manny's a bad idea because he's a Scott Boras client and will cost too much. He does make some good points, such as this -- Considering how much $$ the Giants have wasted with Dave Roberts, Rowand, Ray Durham, Rich Aurilia, Zito and others over recent years, $18M or so per year for a proven 1.000+ OPS guy is a bargain.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Riding the Bonds Hate Train once more

That would talent-free San Jose Mercury-News columnist Anne Killion, who wastes everyone's time by writing about the upside of the Giants signing Manny. But it's really just a pathetic excuse of a column, with the real agenda being to remind everyone how EVIL Barry Bonds is with such sparkling prose as this: The Giants already fumigated their clubhouse after 15 years of kowtowing to Bonds.

This hack misses the obvious point: the Giants are very unlikely to sign Manny. The Dodgers are probably going to sign Manny, now that they've convinced Andruw Jones to defer most of his 2009 salary. Additionally, Scott Boras reps both players. These are widely known facts that Killion conveniently ignores. Why? Well, incompetence may be the answer but I would guess that it's more because her hatred of Bonds is just that deep. As I said previously, I hope the Giants DO sign Bonds again for a number of reasons -- partly just for the spectacle of driving losers like Killion and Bruce Jenkins crazy.

Conversely, Martin Lee at Obsessive Giants Compulsive has an intelligent post about Manny's attributes and concludes that a short-term deal would make sense for the Giants but notes that it's a real longshot now that the Dodgers have dumped Jones.

Crede (not Manny) is probably the next SF signing

That's part of SI's Jon Heyman's evaluation of the top 20 remaining free agents -- that the Giants appear the most likely landing spot for Crede. He rates Joe as the 5th best among the 20. He also disses the Renteria signing in his discussion of Orlando Cabrera, who he says is the fourth best among the group: Someone recently posed this question to me: What's the difference between Cabrera and Edgar Renteria? The answer, besides the $18.5 million miraculously given to Renteria, is that Cabrera currently is the better player. And it's not close. The A's, Royals, Jays, Twins and Padres look like they could use a shortstop.

Friday, January 02, 2009

One of the great Dodger chokes

That would be Game 5 of the World Series in 1974. This occurred to me as I watched the second day of MLB's new cable channel, which included the Mets game 6 win over the Bosox in 1986, when Billy Buckner couldn't field Mookie Wilson's easy grounder.

Because that play is so notorious, Buckner's not at all known for another egregious screw-up 12 years earlier when he ran the Dodgers out of their final rally of the year. Mike Marshall had just given up a homer to Joe Rudi in the 7th at the Colisseum to make the score 3-2. Buckner led off the 8th with a single to center and Billy North had the ball get past him. Rather than hold at second -- remember, there are no outs and you're only a run down -- Buckner got thrown out at third and the Dodgers didn't get another hit.

One of the reasons why Marshall gave up the homer -- Buckner had shot his mouth off like a Lasorda-trained Dodger idiot (full of youthful entitlement) and said that only three A's (Rudi, Bando and Jackson) could start for the Dodgers. So when he came out to left field in the 7th, the bleachers threw all kinds of junk at him, resulting in a five-minute game delay. I read somewhere that Rudi noticed that Marshall didn't thrown any pitches during that interval and reasoned that the first pitch would be a fastball, which Rudi hit over the same left field fence.

What would Barry do?

Strangest moment in a strange SF season

Jayson Stark of ESPN has a terrific column about the strangest moments of the 2008 MLB season and concludes that Bengie Molina hitting a home run without scoring the run on Sept. 26 was the pinnacle of strangeness:

We've always thought that nobody was a bigger threat to stretch a home run into a single than that fabled sprint champ, Bengie Molina. But this year, the Giants' always-innovative catcher did something even more impossible: He hit a home run -- but DIDN'T SCORE A RUN.
So how'd he become the first man in major-league history to pull that off? It took a rare, Molina-esque combination of muscle, lead-foot-itude and modern technology. But it happened, all right. Here's how:
On Sept. 26, Molina lofted a fly ball that looked as if it hit the top of the right-field wall at AT&T Park. So Molina stopped at first.
Emmanuel Burriss trotted out to pinch-run for him. And nothing seemed amiss -- until Omar Vizquel told Giants manager Bruce Bochy he thought he'd heard the ball clank off the metal roof just above the wall.
So Bochy asked the umpires to use replay. And whaddayaknow, the call was reversed and Molina had himself a two-run homer. But the umps WOULDN'T let Molina come back to finish his trot because they ruled Burriss was already in the game and couldn't exit. So Burriss finished circling the bases. And Molina wound up with a
box-score line that went 3-0-1-2 -- on a night he hit a home run.
Want to know how impossible that is? Our buddy, Andy Baggarly, of the San Jose Mercury News, checked in to tell us that when official scorer Michael Duca tried to enter this sequence into his computer, the computer program wouldn't let him do it -- because even computers know a guy can't hit a home run without scoring a run. Right?
So check the box score over at It still doesn't believe this happened. But it did. In actual life. And all us Strange But True Feats of the Year fans will be eternally grateful that it did.

MY COMMENT -- So I did check out the box score at Baseball Reference. Here's how they're dealing with it -- Bengie scored the run and Burriss has an appearance in their box score as a DH who did not record an official at bat.

Crede in the Orange and Black?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Bonds under the knife

The SF Chonicle web site has no mention of the Manny rumor but it does have John Shea breaking the news that Barry Bonds has had some kind of hip surgery recently and probably won't be ready to play at the start of spring training but should be ready by opening day, if anyone should sign him.

Shea mentions that Bonds hasn't played since Sept. 27, 2007, and that his last homer was on Sept. 6. It actually was on Sept. 5 at Coors Field off Ubaldo Jimenez. I think the Dodgers will sign Manny -- but at a higher price than they would like, even if it turns out that the Giants' interest is fictional. So Bonds would probably be available to come back in the Orange and Black.

UPDATE -- Henry Schulman of the SF Chron blogs that a Manny deal's a longshot.

A wacky start to the year

The Denver Post reports the Giants are going after Manny -- not something anyone was expecting. Warren Gershes of the Merc-News said he spotted it on an ESPN crawl.