Monday, November 30, 2009

More love for Buster

John Sickels of Minor League agrees that Buster Posey is the Giants top prospect. Here are his rankings of the top 10 --

1) Buster Posey, C, Grade A: No-brainer. All he needs is playing time.
2) Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Grade A-: Almost went with B+, but strikeout rates aren't everything. More concerned about dropping velocity. May still go with B+ eventually.
3) Thomas Neal, OF, Grade B: Solid all-around hitter, saw him in Arizona Fall League and he convinced me bat is for real.
4) Zack Wheeler, RHP, Grade B: I'm hesitant to give a grade this high to any high school pitcher without a pro track record, but I really like Wheeler.
5) Roger Kieschnick, OF, Grade B-: Love the power and he's not just a one-dimensional slugger, but the high strikeout rate and low walk rate is concerning. How will he transition to Double-A?
6) Tommy Joseph, C, Grade B-: Have to see where he fits defensively but scouting reports about the bat are very positive.
7) Dan Runzler, LHP, Grade B-: Very impressive relief arm, if he throws enough strikes.
8) Waldis Joaquin, RHP, Grade B-: Another impressive relief arm, if he throws enough strikes.
9) Jason Stoffel, RHP, Grade B-: Another impressive relief arm, could be a bargain as a fourth rounder.
10) Francisco Peguero, OF, Grade B-: Difficult to grade, speed and high batting average are positives, but walk rate is way too low. Borderline C+.

Buster leads the list

Baseball America lists Buster Posey as the Giants' top prospect followed by Madison Bumgarner. Here are the top 10 --

1. Buster Posey, c
2. Madison Bumgarner, lhp
3. Zack Wheeler, rhp
4. Thomas Neal, of
5. Dan Runzler, lhp
6. Tommy Joseph, c
7. Roger Kieschnick, of
8. Ehire Adrianza, ss
9. Brandon Crawford, ss
10. Francisco Peguero, of

Here's part of Andrew Baggarly's analysis -- Bochy and Sabean have reputations for favoring veterans and giving short leashes to unestablished players, so their extensions were unpopular with some Giants fans. Their critics will monitor the Posey situation carefully.Managing partner Bill Neukom lauded the farm system's 411-286 (.590) record, by far the best among major league organizations. Four of San Francisco's six U.S.-based affiliates reached the playoffs, with high Class A San Jose and short-season Salem-Keizer winning league titles.Neukom said the Giants would continue to invest heavily in player development and emphasize homegrown talent. They committed $3.3 million to high school righthander Zack Wheeler, whom they tabbed with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Scouting director John Barr also drafted a couple of power hitters in high school catcher Tommy Joseph and Louisville third baseman Chris Dominguez. Two prolific sluggers at San Jose, outfielders Thomas Neal and Roger Kieschnick, offered further hope at striking a balance in a traditionally pitching-heavy system.

Bye bye Bud

Bud Selig reiterates his plans to retire after the 2012 season, according to and the Chicago Tribune. Key "accomplishments" of the Selig era --

1. Incompetence at the bargaining table leads to cancelation of the 1994 World Series.
2. Decides that All-Star game should be a tie
3. Disgraceful conduct toward Barry Bonds -- in essence, declaring him guilty prior to trial -- during the breaking of the buddy Hank Aaron's home run record.
4. Allowing extensive conflicts of interest --his daughter owning the Brewers, the 2-year ownership by MLB of the Expos....

I could go on but why bother?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Panda projections

Jimmy Hascup at Bleacher Report has an interesting post about whether Pablo Sandoval is a long-term star. He's pretty optimistic in the short term, even if the team continues to surround him with lousy offensive players. Here are the numbers again --

572 At Bats
.330 Batting Average (189 Hits)
25 Home Runs
90 RBI
79 Runs
Five Stolen Bases
.387 On Base Percentage
.556 Slugging Percentage
.353 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Here are the key points --
-- After taking a look at those numbers, remember one important element: Sandoval played for the fifth worst offense in baseball. Without him, Giants’ lineup would’ve probably had trouble holding its own in Triple-A. That’s how bad it is. And it makes those season numbers that more astonishing.

--If you’re looking for a player with some strike-zone discipline, then you’ve come to the wrong place.Sandoval’s most incredible stat is his tendency to swing at pitches outside of the strike-zone, which he does over 41 percent of the time, second highest in baseball. Then you see that he connects on over 75 percent of them and you can’t refrain from saying, “Wow.” There are other hitters with higher outside-the-zone contact rates, but none of them swing at balls nearly the amount Kung Fu Pando does.

--Sandoval’s average is obviously his biggest asset, though he is beginning to show some serious run-producing abilities. While the average came courtesy of a high .353 BABIP, Sandoval had a .367 rate his rookie season, and one near .340 in the minors.

--There’s definitely no reason to think his success this season was based purely on luck. The one thing owners should feel confident about is his ability to sustain the batting average.
A groundball rate in the minors over 47 percent and a line-drive rate of 15 percent (though it is over 20 percent in the majors), provides a great basis for keeping the average over .300. Especially as it seems Sandoval is growing (no pun intended) as a hitter, he’s turning some of those groundballs into line drives and those line drives into flyballs.

--Despite the absurd swing rates on balls out of the zone, Sandoval doesn’t strikeout that much, just 238 in the minors and a 13.5 percent rate in the majors. He also walked 52 times this year, which is eye-raising considering how impatient he can be.

--The possibilities are endless for Sandoval, if the Giants had some formidable pieces in their lineup. But of course they don’t, and unless they do something drastic this offseason, Sandoval will have to again be the team’s offense.Sandoval’s value will be dulled, as long as the lineup remains as feeble as it is now. Regardless, I expect him to have another excellent, top-5 third basemen-worthy season.
My projections: .333 AVG, 26 HR, 97 RBI, four SB, 87 R.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Big bucks for Tim the Wizard

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the details on how the Tim Lincecum arbitration case will play out. Shea points out that Tim won't be a free agent until after the 2013 season. My guess is that Tim will settle for something in the range of $14 million a year. But that's just a guess.

With hindsight being 20-20, it's easy to see the smart thing would have been to sign him to a multi-year deal after last season -- say 4 years for $35 million. Instead, Brian Sabean continued to focus on fading talents last offseason and signed Edgar Renteria for $20 million rather than make things solid with a future Hall of Famer. Yet another reason why Sabean should be fired.

Dodgers hit with cash crunch?

The best news about 2010 for Giants fans continues to come from Los Angeles, where Jamie McCourt's bitter divorce battle appears to be preventing the Dodgers from getting any better. Her estranged husband, Dodger owner Frank McCourt claims in his latest divorce filing that he's got little real cash and recently had "only" $167,000 in his checking account. Bill Shaikin of the LA Times says the liquidity problems "raises questions" about the team's ability to make offseason deals.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Orange and Black thanks

Ishikawa makes Topps rookie team

Travis Ishikawa gets a postseason honor, apparently for being the only rookie first-baseman who got a significant amount of playing time while not being horrible this season. Just the same, he wasn't exactly tearing up the league since the Giants felt they needed to trade Scott Barnes for Ryan Garko in late July.

He had 363 plate appearances and took 30 walks, got 9 HRs and 39 RBIs -- really unimpressive for a first-baseman. Still, he's not as bad as starting Jose Vizcaino and he's only 26. And his fielding looks decent --he only made three errors all season. And I haven't heard any word that the Giants are going to try bringing Garko back -- who was significantly worse than Ishikawa while in the Orange and Black for 127 plate appearances with 2 homers and 12 RBIs.

Once again, the Giants have inadequate production from first base -- a constant refrain of the Sabean era. Frankly, we would have done better getting Will Clark to un-retire. The Thrill's only 45.

Damon in the Orange and Black?

SI's Jon Heyman reports in his listing of the top 50 free agents that the Giants are interested in Johnny Damon, who he rates as the 5th best of the current crop. Here's his analysis of the guy my wife called "Damon of Nazareth" when he was with the Bosox -- Agent Scott Boras suggested a four-year deal would be appropriate in light of Jorge Posada's deal of that length a couple winters ago. The Yankees are believed willing to give him two years, but it will be interesting to see whether they compromise at three. He is believed to badly want to stay but will have outside interest at least from the Giants.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Seventh place for the Panda

Monday, November 23, 2009

Torrealba in the Orange and Black?

Chris Haft of reports that the Giants have contacted Pablo Torrealba about signing as a free agent who would presumably back up Buster Posey. He went 14 for 34 against the Giants this year.

MY SNARKY REACTION -- it's time to go after a difference-making bat rather than some guy whose stats are inflated by playing in Denver.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Buster Vs. Bengie

I'm always slightly amazed at how little coverage the Arizona Fall League gets but I suppose sportswriters have other tasks with basketball and football in full swing. In any case, I looked up how Buster Posey had done during the AFL. The answer is that he didn't exactly set the league on fire with 16 for 71 and a .225 batting average, 12 RBIs, 2 doubles and 2 homers, and a .338 SLG. Still, he did show pretty good strike zone judgment and get 13 walks to give him a decent .345 onbase percentage.

Why do I say decent? It turns out there were only two guys on the 2009 Giants MLB roster who got a better OBP -- the Panda at .387 and Fred Lewis at .348, followed by Andres Torres at .343. Benjie had an abysmal .285 after getting only 13 walks all year -- the same number Buster got in 84 PAs in Arizona. A lot of what's been written so far this offseason is that the Giants shouldn't give Buster the job automatically, but given the lack of available $$$ (thanks to Zito, Rowand and Renteria), I say let him play. The quicker he learns how to play in the MLB, the better. It's been suggested that the 37-year-old Pudge would make sense, but I feel obliged to point out that he had an even lower OBP than Bengie last year at .280. That MVP he won was back in the 20th Century.

Bengie has gotten a total of 184 walks in 4,743 ABs in his unending search for the perfect fastball. His failure to get on base has meant a lot of extra outs and killed rallies. The 2009 OBP is down there with Chris Davis of the Rangers, Rick Ankiel of the Cards and Casey Kotchman of the Bosox at 522nd of the 970 guys who got up to bat last year in the MLB -- all guys who didn't get anywhere near Bengie's total of 504 plate appearances.

It's a little odd but the last name on the list is Brian Wilson, who went 0-for-2. Sandoval is often mentioned as having a "free-swinging" approach but he managed to get four times as many walks as Benjie with 52 this year.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What a Cy Young winner looks like

Nick Johnson in the Orange and Black?

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chron says Johnson is the guy to watch during the offseason, now that the Giants have indicated they won't go after a top guy like Matt Holliday. He also says it's looking like Bengie Molina will go elsewhere in 2010. Here's some of the verbiage:
-- As I mentioned yesterday, Sabean said he might look more toward "second-tier" free agents who want to come to San Francisco. One to keep an eye on closely is first baseman Nick Johnson, who has a long injury history but played in 133 games for Florida and Washington in 2009. Manager Bruce Bochy loves him, and Johnson fits another desired criteria with an on-base percentage of .426. The guy walked 99 times last year. He also hails from Sacramento.
-- Although nothing is official, I'm hearing that the Giants might hire 1997 stretch-drive hero Brian Johnson to be a scout.

Let's revisit Johnson's career, shall we? He spent eight seasons in the bigs, including two in SF, where he hit 24 of his 49 career HRS. The biggest came on Sept. 18, 1997 in the 12th inning of a 6-5 win over the Bums. That tied the Giants with the Dodgers at 84-69 -- a classic Dodger gag, as the Giants went on to make the postseason for the first time since 1989. Two days before choking, the Dodgers had been up 2 with 11 to go.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Is that all you got?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"I promise to do better"

That's Tim Lincecum's statement in the wake of winning his second Cy Young in a row. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that Tim was forced to address the issue of his marijuana arrest during the conference call. He's only the fourth NL pitcher to go back to back following Koufax, Maddux and The Big Unit. Here's the statement about the arrest -- "I made a mistake and I regret my actions earlier this month in Washington. I want to apologize to the Giants organization and the fans. I know as a pro athlete I have a responsibility to conduct myself appropriately on and off the field. I certainly learned a valuable lesson from all of this. I promise to do better in the future."

Here's the 2009 line -- 15-7 with a 2.48 ERA, a .206 batting average allowed and 261 strikeouts. Shulman's story for the print edition notes that the vote for the reflects a shift in attitudes about how to measure a pitcher's value in other ways than wins.

It's amazing that the Big Unit and Maddux both won the award four straight times.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jason Schmidt says he's done

In an interview with Ken Gurnick at, the former Giant says he's not planning on coming back despite his recent filing for free agency. Even though this turned out to be a bad deal for the Dodgers, it's still a bit sad -- A power thrower before signing with the Dodgers, Schmidt had to become a finesse pitcher after the surgery, and he had two victories to prove he could. But he soon fell into a cycle where he needed routine cortisone injections just to throw in the high-80s without pain, which led to his quiet return home in early August.
"Sure, it's all a little disappointing," he said of his time with the Dodgers. "

In praise of the Mohawked One

The always entertaining Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye admits that he was wrong about Brian Wilson not being The Real Deal. He had predicted he'd lose his closer role to Sergio Romo by June -- Let's face it, I just didn't like him. He had that ridiculous mohawk, the obligatory flame tattoo, and he'd stalk in from the bullpen to loud heavy metal, which only works when you're Trevor Hoffman or somebody good. I figured he wasn't long for the major league world. Silly me.Wilson, of course, had a terrific year, lowering his ERA by almost two full runs, upping his strikeout rate, and pitching ten more innings than he did the year before, many of them in higher-leverage situations. Wilson had eight saves that required him to get more than three outs, and he was utilized more often in non-save, extra inning situations, in which he performed very well (1.85 ERA in 24 innings...stay away sample-size nazis!). In 2008, he had only pitched 14 non-save innings and was atrocious.

The Big Unit -- not ready to hang it up

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cy Young redux for Tim?

Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye thinks that would be the right way to go, even though it's likely that Adam Wainright or Chris Carpenter will get the Cy when it's announced Thursday. Here's some key verbiage -- Lincecum's case this year rests in his 2.48 ERA and 176 ERA+, both good for second in the NL. He also led the league in strikeouts for the second straight year, fanning 261. For what it's worth, Lincecum's 2009 season was even better than his immaculate 2008 that brought him his first Cy. In '09, Lincecum slashed his walk rate (while maintaining exactly the same strikeout rate) and increased his ground ball rate, meaning few balls even had the chance to leave the yard.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Uggla in the Orange and Black?

Yahoo Sports reports that the Giants are showing the most interest in Dan Uggla -- whose agent said he'd resist a move to third or the outfield. I'm a bit baffled by why Sabean wants another second baseman when he already has Freddy Sanchez for the next two years.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jason Schmidt no longer a Dodger

He filed for free agency three days ago, according to He actually won two games for the Bums this year, but the three-year $48 million deal that he signed has to go down as Sabean-like in its awfulness. He went 1-4 in 2007 in 32 innings in 2007, didn't pitch in 2008 and 2-2 this year in 16 innings. Had he been anything close to what the Dodgers were expecting, they might have won a World Series or two.

Schmidt's best years clearly came in the Orange and Black, so it would not surprise me if he got an invite to spring training in Scottsdale this year. He finished second in the Cy Young vote to the Fat Frenchie in 2003, when he went 17-5 with a 2.34 ERA.

Improving on 657-611

The Giants scored 657 runs this season (5th worst in MLB) and allowed 611 (tied for best with the Dodgers) in reaching their 88-74 record. Lefty Malo explores what it might take to score more runs in 2010. His calculation is that the Giants can probably score about 68 more runs if they make a good trade for a bat, have a full season of a healthy Freddy Sanchez and see Buster Posey come through. Here's one fascinating bit that Lefty dug up as a way of explaining that it's unlikely that the pitching can again be as good as it was in 2009 --

Just this decade, which has flaws as a sample size that we'll ignore for now, four teams have allowed fewer than 611 runs: Toronto in 2008 (610), Houston in 2005 (609), the Dodgers in 2003 (556), and Atlanta in 2002 (565). We might as well throw the 2002 Giants in the group, too, with 616 runs allowed. Add this year's Giants and Dodgers, and seven teams in ten years have managed the feat. That's 2.3% percent of all major-league teams. Repeatable? I could be pollyannish (Best! Pitching! Staff! Ever!) but I prefer to be slightly pessimistic and say they give up 650 runs next year, 39 more than this year. That's about one extra run every fourth game. (Six-hundred fifty, by the way, would have put them fifth in the majors this year.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The hazy Orange and Black outlook

Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors has an early rundown of the 2010 outlook for the Giants, noting the team doesn't have much flexibility for signing bigtime free agents like Jason Bay or Matt Holliday if the payroll stays in the $80 million to $85 million range. Right there in black and white, you can see the incompetence of Brian Sabean at work with half of the payroll going to three egregiously bad contracts -- Zito at $18.5 million, Rowand at $12 million and Renteria at $9 million. Here's some pretty good analysis beyond that sharp stick in the eye, particularly on the point of not wasting more money on Bengie "Rally Killer" Molina. I wish he were wrong about the Giants not being able to get a real potent bat like Holliday. Dierkes is much more of a gentleman than I am when it comes to Brian "Needs To Be Fired" Sabean --

The Giants have about $62MM committed before arbitration raises to Lincecum, Sanchez, Wilson, and Medders. I'm assuming Garko is non-tendered. The pitchers' raises won't be cheap - they'll push the Giants up to the $80MM range. The Giants entered the 2009 season with an $82.6MM payroll, and it's not expected to change drastically. Nonetheless Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News suggested last month that the Giants have enough money to afford "one free agent starting pitcher and one modestly-priced free agent hitter."
Baggarly makes a good point, that the Giants really don't have the payroll space to dabble in the $15MM+ range of Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. GM Brian Sabean at least has positional flexibility with possible acquisitions - the infield and outfield corners are all fair game. Dan Uggla, Johnny Damon, and Mark DeRosa have already been named in various rumors. The Giants are pretty weak at the corners aside from Sandoval, so importing two bats would be ideal.
With payroll looking tight, it doesn't make sense to bring catcher Bengie Molina back. Instead, that money should be applied toward a starting pitcher to round out the rotation. Rumor has it, the Giants hope to re-sign Brad Penny. If he gets too pricey, there are plenty of similar free agents in the $5-8MM price range.
It appears that the Giants would like to give Bumgarner some Triple A seasoning.
Sabean has had his troubles at the top end of the free agent market, but last offseason he made shrewd minor league signings with Juan Uribe and Medders. I didn't mind the Affeldt, Randy Johnson and Bob Howry signings either, so maybe the payroll limitations will work in the Giants' favor and give us the best of Sabean.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bam Bam gets to work right away

Newly hired Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens is already at work, giving tutorials to Nate Schierholtz, John Bowker, Travis Ishikawa and prospect Brett Pill at Mays Field (AT&T Park) earlier this month. Schierholtz and Bowker are going to be playing in Venezuela. Meulens is certainly saying all the right things, according to the story by Chris Haft of -- "We have a lot of work to do to better the offense," Meulens said. "It's better to get started now instead of waiting until Spring Training to work on some things."

Dock Ellis and the LSD no hitter

The case for Holliday in the Orange and Black

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters says signing Matt Holliday is the Giants' best shot at being contenders next year. I agree, even at a price of $100 million for six years. Here's his key point -- The Giants have championship-caliber pitching, right now. RIGHT NOW. Another year of hoping we can squeak out 88 wins with a bottom 10% offense, while our young stud pitchers waste another stellar performance cannot be considered acceptable. You cannot just keep letting years go by, telling yourself that it’ll be better next year. Sometimes you gotta jump. We shoulda gambled THIS year, and we didn’t. Who knows if Cain and Lincecum can keep going, year after year? Who knows if Affeldt and Sanchez keep improving? I’ll tell you one guy who doesn’t know. Brian Sabean.
Brian Sabean does not know if he’s gonna get another year of pitching like the one he just wasted like he’s got fifty of ‘em in his back pocket.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Winn = Good Guy (for the press)

Randy Winn won the local sportswriters' "Good Guy" award. He does three things well -- 1. catching fly balls 2. stealing bases and 3. giving good interviews -- but he can't hit well enough to be a starter any longer.

Operation Panda going great

Pablo Sandoval has dropped 10 pounds, thanks to a serious conditioning effort, Joan Ryan reports at Inside the Giants Clubhouse. Giants trainer Dave Groeschner is supervising -- "There are no guys who show up in November to get ready for the season,'' Groeschner says. "But this is something Pablo wanted to do. He knows how important it is for him and for the team that he has the endurance to play every game. And what he's doing is not easy. It's an entire life-style change.''

MY SNARKY COMMENT -- Too bad Bengie Molina didn't feel the same way.

Aurilia files for free agency

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Johnson in the Orange and Black?

That's Nick Johnson, not the Big Unit. Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors lists the top 50 free agents and predicts that Nick will go to San Francisco -- but adds the qualifer that he expects to be right on only 25% of his projections. Dierkes rated Nick as the 16th best free agent, while Bengie Molina's at No. 28 (and headed for the Nats in a one-year deal, Dierkes forecasts) and Juan Uribe's at No. 38 (and going to Seattle, Dierkes guesses). Here's what he said about Nick -- A jolt of OBP at first base would do the Giants good. They were involved in talks for Johnson around the trade deadline.

Winning without Winn

Even the veteran-loving Giants have had enough of Randy Winn, who represents the utter triumph of style over substance -- a very pleasant guy, decent basestealer and defender and particularly likeable by the news media -- who managed to put up truly dismal offensive numbers this year, particularly given that he was a corner outfielder. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News has a long post, based on an interview with Winn's agent. It speaks volumes about Bruce Bochy's awful judgment that Baggarly has this to say -- He also hit just two home runs — the first time he failed to record double-digit homers since 2001 — yet still batted in the No.3 spot until late in the season.

MY SNARKY COMMENT -- the bottom line is that Winn was a major reason why the Giants did not make the postseason. What other team's desperate enought to have had a rightfielder and No. 3 hitter with a .353 slugging average, yet still give him 538 ABs? Schierholtz had significantly better numbers and got less than 300 ABs. Fred Lewis had better numbers and got less than 300 ABs. Eugenio Velez had better numbers in less than 300 ABs.

And Andres Torres had a lot more offensive sock than all of them -- Winn, Schierholtz, Velez and Lewis -- and only got 152 ABs and 41 hits -- half for extrabases with 6 doubles, 8 triples, 6 HRs, 23 RBIs and a .533 slugging average. Only Sandoval had a better slugging average on the Orange and Black. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cuban as Dodger owner?

The LA Times reports that he's interested in buying the team if it becomes available. This could be bad news for Giants fans -- He's been pretty competent as owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

The Dodger dingbats as seen from Boston

Makr Shanahan of The Boston Globe has a long piece about how the McCourts made their fortune in Boston and how the partnership has unravelled in Los Angeles. The story notes that Jamie wants to buy Frank out but predicts that's not going to happen --
What makes their split so juicy, even by L.A. standards, is that Frank, 56, and Jamie McCourt, 55, have been business partners for much of their 30-year marriage. In court documents, Jamie claims she gave her husband $1,000 to start his first company. A talented and tenacious lawyer, she was also her husband’s general counsel for a decade and served as CEO of the Dodgers until Frank sent her a bloodless letter Oct. 23 firing her. “Dear Jamie: This is to inform you that your employment with and positions as Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairperson of the Los Angeles Dodgers are hereby terminated effective immediately,’’ wrote Frank McCourt.
"This is hardly a woman who plays mahjong or drives golf balls all day long,’’ says Bert Fields, the Hollywood entertainment lawyer whose clients include Tom Cruise, Warren Beatty, and The Beatles. “Jamie has worked her butt off to get where she is.’’
In fact, she contends that she - not he - is the face of the Dodgers. Fields, who describes himself as Jamie McCourt’s “general consiglieri,’’ said his client hopes to buy out her husband. But many observers believe the McCourts will have no choice but to sell the club when the costly divorce is done.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Mateo in the Orange and Black?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Giants win Series

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Panda wins the Yogi Berra award

Max Marchi at Hardball Times has a LONG post about it but the bottom line is this -- Pablo Sandoval got 68 bad ball hits this year, the most of anyone in the bigs. Here's the top 10 (not sure why he's got the last name first) --

Sandoval Pablo 68
Phillips Brandon 64
Polanco Placido 61
Molina Bengie 60
Ramirez Alexei 60
Gonzalez Alex 55
Suzuki Ichiro 54
Cano Robinson 52
Loney James 51
Aybar Erick 51

Hasta la vista, Bengie, Bob and Randy

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dodgers divorced from divorce

In other legal news, the judge in the McCourt divorce case found that Frank McCourt can't have the team be a party to the divorce. What a greedy dingbat he's turned out to be.

More good news for Giants fans: Jon Weisman, who blogs Dodger Thoughts for the Los Angeles Times, makes the point that the McCourts have been remiss in keeping the team's prospect pipeline operating. Here's the key verbiage -- The Dodgers have paid $8.5 million in signing bonuses for draft picks over the last two years -- the lowest figure among all major league teams, according to Baseball America.
The Dodgers, so proud of their heritage in Asia and Latin America, today are a non-factor in bidding for top amateur players abroad. In 2008, according to Baseball America, major league clubs combined to sign 115 such players for bonuses of more than $100,000. The Dodgers did not sign one.
"They're definitely not the pioneering team they were," Baseball America editor John Manuel said. "They've squandered that advantage." ...
The numbers speak for themselves. The McCourts have not been shy about asking fans to pay top dollar and, at least according to the divorce proceedings, they have not been shy about paying themselves top dollar.

The impact of Tim's pot bust

It will be pretty minimal, according to Andrew Baggarley of the San Jose Mercury-News in lengthy post. He says that Tim missed a flight in 2007 in Cincinnati and that he doesn't think he was out partying when he got sick and missed the All-Star Game in 2008. Here's the key verbiage -- Here’s another way to put this in context: A marijuana charge looks so sweetly innocent after more than a decade of vicious controversy over artificial muscle and injected juice. Hash or horse steroids? Most folks will find one far less objectionable than the other.
But today’s news is still a hit to Lincecum’s reputation, no pun intended this time.
Over the past two years, various people have whispered things to me about Lincecum having a little too much fun on the town. I’ve talked to him about it, myself. If it ever presented itself as an issue, if it ever appeared to affect his performance, I’d have pursued it and reported it. But the numbers are pretty clear. It hasn’t. I’ve never seen him hung over before a game, or impaired or restricted in any way while in uniform.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Pitchers and catchers report in 103 days

A great shot by artolog of Jonathan Sanchez pitching his no-hitter -- the first by a Giant in 34 years. If only he could have delivered more of the same more often .....

With the Yanks winning the World Series tonight, the offseason has officially started. And Feb. 15 is the usual reporting day for major league teams and the Dodgers. It is an amazing accomplishment that Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Rivera all played on the winners in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009.

Here's hoping that Giants fans will be talking in the same way about Buster Posey some day. He's hit two homers in his last 3 games in the fall league.

The last out of the season

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Keeping up with the Dodger divorce

For those among us Giant fans who are reveling in suffering by Dodger fans, there's a useful web site named Dodger Divorce. Joshua Fisher -- a Dodger fan, by the way -- is providing cogent analysis of the beautiful breakup. It may turn out that Frank and Jamie McCourt can succeed where Brian Sabean has failed and enable the Giants to get past the Dodgers for a change. Here's some of the key points Fisher's making --

-- Based on a close look at the McCourts' financial position and the financing mechanisms which allowed them to purchase the Dodgers, I have concluded that the McCourts are not worth close to the $1.2 billion suggested by Jamie in her application for divorce. The Dodgers, as an asset, might be worth $800 million, but given the most recent information available, 58% of the asset's worth is tied up in debt.

-- Therefore, it is my conclusion that should the Dodgers be regarded as a community asset, each of the McCourts stands to emerge from the divorce with a net worth of something like $225-$300 million, not quite the $800 million Jamie's filing might lead you to believe. If this is indeed the case, it would be extremely difficult for one person to buy out the other's interest in the Dodgers without leveraging the purchase to a considerable degree. If the two decide (or are told) to sell the team to a third party, expect the purchase to be at a discount, damaging their takes even further. If the asset-transfer agreement (or post-nup) is upheld, Frank wins big time. He would walk out with something like $450-$500 million in net worth, compared to Jamie's $100-$150 million.

-- The bottom line, and the most important thing for Dodger fans to understand, is that the Dodgers--as an organization--are in a really rough spot here. If Frank wins the post-nup battle, the Dodgers are stuck with an owner the fans no longer trust. If Jamie wins on the post-nup and one party buys out the other, the organization is back in the hands of a leveraged owner with potentially limited resources. And, of course, the fans no longer respect either McCourt. Finally, if the Dodgers are sold to a third party, the fans will have to endure their third ownership change in a little more than a decade.From 1954 to 1996, the Dodgers were owned by one family and employed two managers. By the opening of spring training in 2011, the Dodgers might have been owned by four groups and helmed by seven skippers in the last 15 years. As a business-minded kind of guy, I am terrified at what that frequent turnover and instability means from an organizational standpoint. As a fan, I must admit to feeling a loss of connection to the club I grew up cheering because of the blurry, disjointed facsimile I see today.

Rowand for Milton Bradley?

MLB Trade rumors posted a list of the worst contracts in MLB recently, which sparked a bunch of speculation about swapping players with those bad deals. Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye says it would make sense to trade Aaron Rowand for Milton Bradley:

I don't know if these rumors are legitimate or if they're just the extremely optimistic ramblings of Internet chat board dwellers, but hell, I'd be for it. Despite his status as an anger management counselor's worst nightmare, I've always liked Bradley. He can still hit, last year's horror show notwithstanding. It's just a matter of staying healthy and out if the insane asylum.Most importantly of all, even if he stinks it up and proceeds to bludgeon an entire group of rafters in McCovery Cove with an oar, he's cheaper than Aaron Rowand, his contract runs out before Aaron Rowand's, and he's not as crappy as Aaron Rowand. With Andres Torres probably just as worthy of starting as Rowand is, it doesn't make much sense to keep carrying Rowand around if there's a deal that can be made, even if said deal involves bringing in a maniac. Again, this could be a total non-story, but keep an ear open nonetheless.

Monday, November 02, 2009

More baseball!

Hensley Meulens in the Orange and Black

The Giants have replaced Carney Lansford with Fresno hitting coach Hensley Meulens. Chris Haft of notes both John Bowker and Jesus Guzman finished in the top 10 of batting average this year under Hensley's tutelage. But wait, there's more. The final sentence in the story has this nugget -- He speaks five languages: English, Spanish, Dutch, Papiamento and Japanese.

Let's hope he speaks the language of not hacking at balls out of the strike zone.

The last day?

It's always slightly sad for me to realize that today could be the last day of the season. That's why I'm rooting for the Phils tonight.

The New York Times has a piece that defends Charlie Manuel for making the wrong decision in starting Joe Blanton in Game 4 over Cliff Lee.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Giants-Phillies connection

Card from Cardboard Gods

It's still a little odd to see Pedro Feliz in a World Series. He's pretty much the same guy as he was in the Orange and Black but with less power. He had a career-high .308 OBP with 12 HRs and 82 RBIs. He's yet to take over 40 walks a year. He doubled off the RF wall tonight for his first World Series hit this year.

There aren't that many guys who played for both the Giants and the Phils -- Jack Sanford, Manny Trillo, Charlie Hayes, Steve Bedrosian are the ones I can think of right off the bat. Here's a trivia question for you.

Q. Who's the only guy to have managed just two teams: the Giants and the Phillies?
A. Danny Ozark, who had the Phils during their run of success from 1973 to 1979, managing to get fired before they won the World Series in 1980. He managed the Giants for the rest of the season in 1984 after Frank Robinson got fired. That was a lousy team no matter who was in charge -- it went 42-64 for FRobby and 24-32 for Danny. The best player, Jack Clark, was hurt much of the year.

I thought of this because Josh Wilker at Cardboard Gods has a typically great post about Danny Ozark. He makes the point that guys who were sluggers in the playing days may be getting overlooked as good managers -- The slugger, on the other hand, knows how to slug. And isn’t that the rarest thing in baseball to know about? Someone who has bashed home runs on a professional level must have some advantage that isn’t much talked about when discussing the factors that make up a good manager. Maybe they know that staying loose helps. Maybe it’s that they simply value the importance of slugging: They let their sluggers slug.