Sunday, May 31, 2009

The rough Orange and Black road ahead

The AP's Janie McCauley notes in her game story that the Giants are now 8-1 in their home series this year -- which means "pretty darn crappy on the road." The G Men face the Nats, the Fish and the Dbacks on a 10-game trip starting Tuesday.

They are currently 18-9 at home and 7-15 on the road.

The unbeatable Valdez

Merkin Valdez just picked up his second victory this season for an inning and two thirds of scoreless relief as the winning pitcher in today's glorious 5-3 vic over the Cards. He's yet to lose a game in the bigs.

Rich Aurilia broke a 3-3 tie with a homer in the 7th -- his first HR of the year and the 185th of his career. He was definitely a force in his prime, with 37 HRs in 2001. Hard to believe, since Rich has been staying in the bigs because he still hits lefties, but today's was off a right-hander, Adam Wainwright.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Back to .500 again (and again)

Dodgers on two-game losing streak

The Dodgers just got butt-kicked by the Cubs, 7-0, to go 34-17 for the season. It's the first time they've had back-to-back losses since the Giants took them down on Mother's Day, followed by a loss to the Phillies two days later.

The other Manny steps up

Friday, May 29, 2009

A great day -- Giants win, Dodgers lose

It's been awhile since that's happened. Matt Cain was masterful once more in getting his 6th win in a glorious 4-2 victory over the Cards with Pablol Sandoval back in the lineup.

It's been over two weeks -- May 12, to be exact -- that the Dodgers lost and the Giants won on the same day, when the Orange and Black reached its high point of the season with Sandoval's miracle homer in a 9-7 win over the Nats to go 18-14.

Dodgers gag for a change

In a great start to the weekend, the Dodgers gagged away a winnable game at Wrigley, 2-1. The Blew Crew had been on a 4-game winning streak and still has the best MLB record -- a sickening 34-16. Hopefully, this is the start of a major losing streak.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Here come the rumors

Jayson Stark of ESPN has a long post about trade rumors and here's what he said about the Orange and Black -- The Giants continue to step up their efforts to dangle Jonathan Sanchez and/or pitching prospects for a middle-of-the-order bat. They were shot down by Florida on Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu. And we also heard a rumor they were scouting Carlos Lee, a guy they hotly pursued as a free agent three winters ago. But Lee has a full no-trade through 2010. And one club that inquired about him over the winter says it was told Lee has already informed the Astros he's "not going anywhere" as long as his no-trade is in place.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Walk like a man

Charlie Hatton at Bugs and Cranks is tracking the "race" between Bengie Molina and the Nats' Christian Guzman for the least number of walks this season. Right now, they're tied at two apiece in over 300 ABs. He notes that Guzman won the inaugural Last Man Standing (at the Plate) award with 121 consecutive walkless appearances to start the season.

Giants fans should be concerned that Molina's getting over-used. He's 3 for 37 in his last nine games -- all singles -- and hasn't driven in a run since May 17. He went 1-for-5 tonight without a walk.

The Big Unit gets No. 299

Giants sweep the Braves with a convincing 6-3 win and get back to .500. Johnson's 24th on the all-time win list and could wind up in the top 20 this season.
1. Cy Young+ 511 R
2. Walter Johnson+ 417 R
3. Pete Alexander+ 373 R
Christy Mathewson+ 373 R
5. Pud Galvin+ 364 R
6. Warren Spahn+ 363 L
7. Kid Nichols+ 361 R
8. Greg Maddux 355 R
9. Roger Clemens 354 R
10. Tim Keefe+ 342 R
11. Steve Carlton+ 329 L
12. John Clarkson+ 328 R
13. Eddie Plank+ 326 L
14. Nolan Ryan+ 324 R
Don Sutton+ 324 R
16. Phil Niekro+ 318 R
17. Gaylord Perry+ 314 R
18. Tom Seaver+ 311 R
19. Charley Radbourn+ 309 R
20. Mickey Welch+ 307 R
21. Tom Glavine (43) 305 L
22. Lefty Grove+ 300 L
Early Wynn+ 300 R

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My favorite stat -- 24-1

That's Tim Lincecum's record when the Giants score at least three runs, according to Lawrence Miedema of the San Jose Mercury-News. The Franchise pitched eight scoreless innnings tonight in a glorious 4-0 shutout of the ATL. He even got a two-out walk in the 2nd inning, keeping the only rally of the night alive. Bobby Cox had this to say to Chris Halft at MLB.com -- Cox even compared Lincecum favorably to Atlanta's fabled Big Three -- Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.
"He's in their class, that's for sure," Cox said.


What's slightly disturbing is that the Giants got four hits in the rally -- Ishikawa singled, Burris doubled, Tim walked, Rowand doubled and Renteria singled -- and that was pretty much it for the offense. Juan Uribe got the only other hit all night. The Rowand leadoff experiment is going pretty decently with his two-run double tonight. He's 12-for-32 with 3 doubles, 2 HRs and 5 RBIs.

Another lame apology for Sabean

Why is that the SF Chronicle reporters and columnists believe they have to make excuses for Brian Sabean when writing about the horrific job he's done? The latest is Gwenn Knapp, who concludes her column by asserting vaguely that it's not really Sabean's fault because management didn't give him a multi-year contract so he couldn't really do anything in the off-season.

So who was it who did NOT get a bat, passing on Adam Dunn and over-spending on Renteria? Here's the pretzel logic Knapp uses in her conclusion -- Sabean might be entirely responsible for this predicament; he made no bold moves to acquire a hitter in the offseason. But upper-level management defined this as a season in limbo by refusing to do anything with Sabean, granting a commitment or a pink slip. So when the panic set, he didn't appear to be the original source.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Stay away from Beltre

If you were the Seattle Mariners, would you trade Adrian Beltre for Matt Cain? I would. Beltre is having a pretty lousy year (.246 OBP, .311 SLG), yet his name has come up as a possibility in a trade, according to the beat writers covering the Orange and Black.

The always-astute Aneel at Trapped in LA is justifiably concerned -- In the past, I’ve suggested that the Giants like to sign players who do well against them (because our ownership is too lazy to watch other games)… and now I’m quite concerned about Adrian Beltre’s home run on Sunday. The Giants’ two most recent free-agent pick-ups (hitters) were Edgar Renteria and Aaron Rowand.
* Since 2002, Edgar Renteria hit .325 in 30 games against the Giants.

* In his career, Aaron Rowand hit .316 with 4 home runs and 12 RBI in 17 games versus the Giants.

The Jesus (Guzman) coincidence

Relief on the Matt Cain front

Henry Schulman of the SF Chron knocks down the rumor that the Giants would listen to offers for Matt Cain. He also says they won't try to get Matt Holliday in a trade with Oakland.

I'm relieved to hear all of this. Cain looks as if he's pitching even better this year. As to a deal with the A's, I'm skeptical that Sabean would come out ahead in a deal with Billy Beane.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

He's back -- the crappy Zito, that is

Barry Zito didn't fool the Mariners much today, giving up a two-run HR to Junior in the first and a 3-run shot to Adrian Beltre -- right after the Giants had come back with a massive (for this offense) 3-run rally. Zito is now 1-5 and still a good bet to lead the majors in losses this year. Doug Davis of the Dbacks is the current leader at 6.

Aaron Rowand did get two more hits in the lead-off slot, though he did end game striking out to former Giant David Aardsma with the tie run on second after Emmanuel Burris had singled and stolen. So the hellish road trip ends 1-5 with the Giants having now gone 2-9 over the last 11 games. What's worse is that the Giants have indicated that they're willing to trade the one guy who got the two wins in what John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters says would be a "franchise-devastating" transaction.

The only good news is that the Dodgers gagged away a game against the Angels as their pitching fell apart, quite uncharacteristically.

More good news from Connecticut

The top prospect for the Orange and Black, Madison Bumgarner, is still mowing them down in Double A ball.

The looming arrival of the top Giant prospects this year or next plus the lousy performance of the offense looks like it may create a lot of roster movement. Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News reports that club sources are saying that the Giants will listen to offers for Matt Cain. Given Brian Sabean's inability to judge talent, I'm already a bit concerned that such a trade could be another Sabean disaster.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another masterpiece by Matt

Matt Cain has become the Giants stopper, ending a nightmarish 4-game losing streak tonight in Seattle with a complete game in Seattle.

Brian Sabean has finally admitted that he's done a worthless job. Actually, he's telling Chris Haft of MLB.com that he's looking for an offensive upgrade. Did he say anything like "It's my fault?" Of course not -- even though it is. Genius that he is, Sabean says he won't trade Buster Posey, first baseman Angel Villalona or pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson. My early guess is that Jonathan Sanchez is up for grabs.

Raising (Matt) Cain points out that he leads the club in wins, ERA and IPs. He has 41 Ks (Lincecum has 76), including a 9th innning whiff of Griffey Junior.

The offensive Orange and Black offense

Well, it took a four-game losing streak -- with the Giants scoring four runs in five games -- but the Orange and Black have now wrested the crown for fewest runs scored this year in the MLB from the Padres at 155. San Diego has managed to score 156.

And what of the pitching? The staff has allowed exactly 9 runs in the last four games, so they have the second lowest total in the MLB right now at 174, trailing only the Dodgers with 161.

The Giants are now 19-22, which projects out to a 75-87 record and a fifth straight losing season. How Brian Sabean has kept his job remains a mystery. The always-optimistic Chris Haft posts at Haft-Baked Ideas that Eugenio Velez, he of the .194 batting average, was sent down as Juan Uribe returned to the team and notes that Edgar Renteria (currently second on the team with 17 RBIs) is back in the lineup after missing six games.

Haft did a nice job on his mlb.com writeup of last night's disaster, noting The Big Unit's acknowledgment of the cheers from the Seattle fans and Pablo Sandoval's amazing play in the 6th. Strangely enough, the experiment to bat Aaron Rowand lead off seems to be working -- he started the game with a homer. He and Sandoval got the only other hits all night.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Franchise is back

That's my best take from last night's disaster in San Diego. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News reports at the top of his postgame notes that Tim Lincecum's pitches were in the mid-90s, dispelling some of the worries that the team's best player might be feeling the impact of Bruce Bochy's insane overuse during the 2008 season -- when Tim threw more pitches than anyone in baseball while the team racked up a 71-91 record.

You can't accuse Baggarly of sugar-coating the situation. Here are his first two paragraphs -- Yikes. This is not the time for sunny optimism or aw-shucks-it’s-just-one-series-ism. The Giants are bad, trending toward hellishly bad. But there was one comforting sight for Giants fans in the 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres on Thursday.

Chris Haft reports at Haft-Baked Ideas that Tim won't be relieving during the Friday-Sunday Seattle series, no matter how much Seattle fans would like that.

As ugly as it gets for the Orange and Black

Man, if you're still a Giants fan after tonight's game, then You Really Are a Giants Fan.

Where do I begin? Back to back sweeps at Petco; Jesus Guzman bombing in his MLB debut, Brian Wilson spiraling down toward epic awfulness, the offense continues to be on life support, Tim Lincecum looks like the new Matt Cain in terms of lack of support and the Giants (now 19-21) look like a team that will post their 5th consecutive losing season.

Hard to believe that a little over a week ago, the Giants were 18-14 and had just beaten the Nats 9-7 with a thrilling 3-run walkoff homer by Sandoval. I was there and at that moment, all things seemed possible. Not so much anymore. The Giants have gone 1-7, including three consecutive one-run losses to San Diego.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The premium for pitching

The Chisox have agreed to trade prospects to the Padres for Jake Peavy, who carries with him $60 million in guaranteed salary through 2012 -- but only if Peavy approves.

The timing's interesting with the Padres pitchers -- neither of them named Peavy -- having shut down the Giants offense for 2 straight games. That shows the kind of attractiveness that frontline pitchers carry. I'm sure that teams are going to be begging the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez as the trade deadline approaches.

UPDATE -- Peavy's told the Chisox "No thanks"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Giving hope to the hopeless

That would be the Giants giving hope to the Padres, who have just administered a second consecutive 2-1 beating to put the Orange and Black -- who got a grand total of six hits -- back under .500. Jonathan Sanchez delivered a quality start while Aaron Rowand delivered quality offense (for a change) along with Randy Winn.

Meanwhile, Jesus Guzman continues to clobber PCL pitching in Fresno; he's 57 for 157 with 27 runs scored, 6 HRs, 32 RBIs, a .391 OBP and a .592 SLG.

Q. Why in the world are the Giants still using the unproductive tandem of Travis Ishikawa and Rich Aurilia at first base? A. Because Brian Sabean is the most incompetent GM in MLB. Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News blogs that a bunch of roster changes are coming and hints that Nick Johnson of the Nats may be in the Orange and Black, then says Guzman may arrive soon.

Shaking and baking the lead-off slot

Chris Haft, the MLB.com beat writer on the Giants, blogs at Haft-Baked Ideas that Bruce Bochy's gotten so frustrated over the crappy performance of Orange and Black lead-off hitters that he's put Aaron Rowand there tonight and Rowand's gotten three hits. I personally thought that Bochy was doing the right thing by batting Rowand seventh but perhaps this is actually a genius move. Here's Haft's key verbiage (and yet another reason why Sabean should be fired) -- Their No. 1 hitters began this game ranked last in the NL in several offensive categories, including batting average (.208), runs (14) and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage, .555). The respective league averages in those categories were .265, 25 and .720.

Bochy must be on edge -- he just got ejected in the bottom of the 8th after David Eckstein got on via a throwing error.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Zito goes all the way


Zito is pitching better than the Big Unit, who has 3 wins to Zito's one. Photo by artolog, a wonderful photographer. I like this shot a lot. It was taken on May 1 as Johnson recorded his 297th vic.

So, here's about the best thing I can say about tonight's 2-1 loss to the Padres -- Barry Zito pitched a complete game -- the first one for the Orange and Black this year. It looks like we've now moved out of it appearing flukey when he pitches well. He's obviously figured out how to pitch again. Unfortunately, the team is back to not hitting.

It's always kind of disgusting to lose in San Diego. Even though Petco's a nice place, many of the fans are low-class losers who cheered their no-talent pitcher throwing at and hitting Barry Bonds a few years ago. And what the hell is it with Scott Hairston -- a marginal talent at best with 45 career HRS, with ELEVEN against the Giants, according to the SF Chron's Henry Shulman. The Orange and Black seems to have a knack for salvaging the careers of borderline players.

Hasta la vista, Noah

Well, that's it for Noah Lowry and the pie-in-the-sky spring training plan to trade him at deadline. He's having surgery and ESPN is reporting that the Giants may have a messy legal situation on its hands since Noah's agent is alleging mis-diagnosis by the team. What a depressing story.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Will the Thrill comes through

Lincoln Mitchell has written a wonderful recap of Game 5 of the NLCS playoffs in 1989 at Baseball Chronicles. Here's some fine writing -- Clark stood on first, Thompson on third and the game stopped. The crowd cheered for several minutes. Crazy Charlie, Johnnie Mash and I fell on top of each other. The hundreds of hours of our youth we had spent shivering, eating bad hot dogs, warm soda and soft popcorn watching the hapless Giants lose as groundballs went through the legs of the likes of Johnnie Lemaster or Rennie Stennett or as forgettable players like Jerry Martin and Milt May failed to drive in runs and pitchers like Atlee Hammaker and Jeff Robinson gave up walks and home runs, seemed worth it at that moment.

Aaron Rowand = Marvin Benard?

The parallels are disturbing -- Giants give promising outfielder a big deal and his career goes south. Grant's "What Wrong with Rowand" posting at McCovey Chronicles elicited this response from a poster named Daveinexile -- This franchise is paying $60MM for Marvin Benard II. The sadder part of things is they are going to give #2 more rope than #1 had when we started to decline. Poll question does Rowand in Cf of 2010 look worse the Roberts Cf experiment in ’07?

Here's Marvin's career stats. He had a decent year in 2000, then went 1-for-14 in the NLDS and the Giants gave him an $11 million extension for the next three years, during which he fell apart.

And here's part of Grant's verbiage -- Over 27% of the balls he hits in the air don’t leave the infield. That number is insane, and far above where it usually is for Rowand. While it’s tempting to write that off as a fluke, it might be more indicative of a problem with his swing.
Moises Alou’s swing, which relied on crazy-quick wrists, is the kind of swing that would allow Alou to hit until he’s 50 if he weren’t so dinged up. His legs might have ached, and his body might have been aging, but the wrists were helping him crank out productive seasons. I wonder if Rowand is the exact opposite – his bizarre stance can’t help him get to the ball quicker, and maybe it’s the kind of thing that would actually hasten his decline. Playing the outfield like the Kool-Aid pitcher on meth probably hasn’t helped his body, either.
There are three years and $36M left on Aaron Rowand’s contract. Good grief. He’s still one of the only hitters on the 40-man-roster who’s less than five years removed from being a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter, but it’s silly to expect that kind of return to form. We’ll have to treat him with Zito gloves, praying he returns to being a useful player instead of an All-Star. I’ll hold out some hope for “useful,” which would mean that he hits a little bit more than he has so far this year while playing a fantastic center field. That fantastic defense didn’t show up last year, and the n
numbers are even worse this year so far. And when we ask "what's wrong," it's worth noting that he isn't that far off of his career pace, which is kind of a terrifying thought.

Is he turning it around? He's 11 for 33 since May 10, including 4 for 7 in the last two games. I'd like to be hopeful but I remain skpetical.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Tennessee Stud

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Merc-News proposes that nickname for Matt Cain. I can't help but post the lyrics, written by Jimmy Driftwood, and covered by Johnny Cash and Doc Watson with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Along about eighteen and twenty-five
I left Tennessee very much alive
I never would have got through the Arkansas mud
If I hadn't been a-ridin on the Tennessee stud

I had some trouble with my sweetheart's pa
One of her brothers was a bad outlaw
I sent her a letter by my Uncle Fud
And I rode away on the Tennessee stud

CHORUS:The Tennessee stud was long and lean
The color of the sun and his eyes were green
He had the nerve and he had the blood
And there never was a hoss like the Tennessee stud

We drifted on down into no man's land
We crossed the river called the Rio Grande
I raced my hoss with the Spaniards bold
Till I got me a skin full of silver and gold

Me and a gambler we couldn't agree
We got in a fight over Tennessee
We jerked our guns, he fell with a thud
And I got away on the Tennessee stud

CHORUS

Well, I got as lonesome as a man can be
Dreamin' of my girl in Tennessee
The Tennessee stud's green eyes turned blue
'Cause he was a-dreamin' of a sweetheart too

We loped on back across Arkansas
I whipped her brother and I whipped her pa
I found that girl with the golden hair
And she was ridin' on a Tennessee mare (Whoa boy!)

CHORUS

Stirrup to stirrup and side by side
We crossed the mountains and the valleys wide
We came to Big Muddy and we forded the flood
On the Tennessee mare and the Tennessee stud

Pretty little baby on the cabin floor
Little hoss colt playin' 'round the door
I love the girl with golden hair
And the Tennessee stud loves the Tennessee mare

CHORUS: The Tennessee stud was long and lean
The color of the sun and his eyes were green
He had the nerve and he had the blood
And there never was a hoss like the Tennessee stud

Matt Cain shows how it's done

A huge win for the Orange and Black as Matt Cain showed the way with six shutout innings and an RBI. "Studly" is how Raising (Matt) Cain, one of my fave blogs, puts it.

I heard Jeremy Affeldt give a nice interview to Joe Castelano on XM about his huge 8th inning strikout of Gary Sheffield on an inside fastball with two on and no one out. "If you miss, you want to miss inside," he said. "Bengie set up in the perfect location." Affeldt revealed that Sheff had taken him yard earlier in his career -- "That's probably why I'm not a starter anymore" -- and hit several line drives back through the box.

Hopefully, this is the kind of game that the pitching staff can deliver with some regularity after its meltdown in recent days.

I must also note that I was about to go crazy listening to Joe Morgan on ESPN go on and on about the import of leadership in the clubhouse....as if Joe's tapped in towhat happens there. What a waste of time. Too bad the Fire Joe Morgan blog got retired. At any rate, David Wright then got thrown out trying to steal second and Joe actually had some insightful stuff to say, such as Wright have started his headfirst dive too soon. Jon Miller then noted that Wright is now 10 for 17 this year in steals, which is a pretty crappy percentge, and pointed out the idiocy of headfirst slides, noting out that Alex Cora had banged himself up at second doing just that earlier in the game -- so much so that Fernando Tatis had to play short for the first time in 11 years.

Better late than never, I guess

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Easing the pain of four straight losses

Nothing like a Dodger loss to ease the burden of a Giants loss. The Blew Crew gagged away a winnable game in Miami tonight with Jeff "Headcase" Weaver giving up the key hit. They are now 4-5 since Manny got busted. Unfortunately, even without Manny for another 40 or so games, the Dodgers will probably easily win the NL West.

Giants pitching falls apart

What was supposed to be the strength of the Orange and Black has collapsed over the past eight games since Barry Zito, of all people, closed down the Dodgers in the 3-1 victory on May 8. The Giants got hammered the next day, 8-0, then managed to put together a 3-game win streak despite giving up 5 runs to the Dodgers in extras, followed by 7 runs each night against the Nats. Since Sandoval's epic 3-run homer saved Tuesday night's game -- and left the season record at 18-14-- the Giants have given up 6 runs to the Nats, 7 to the Mets, 8 to the Mets and 9 to the Mets today. The Giants have lost the first by 3, the second by 3, the third by 2 and the fourth by 3. Anyone see a pattern here? Does that mean we'll see the final score be Mets 10, Giants 7 on Sunday night?

The Big Unit had brief stretches of adequacy today with Mike Krukow saying charitably that he often needs an inning or two to get fully warmed up. But at 45, Johnson may be awfully close to reaching the end of the line.

Jon Miller mentioned on the radiocast that it was the first time ever that Randy Johnson had given up four hits to the first four batters of the game, then couldn't get out of the 5th as the top of the lineup took batting practice. Henry Shulman of the SF Chron reports May 27 against the ATL would be the earliest possible chance at Win No. 300. The Mets are a good team but I'm also thinking that it may be long after May 27 before the Big Unit gets the two more wins for No. 300.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another reason for firing Brian Sabean

"Booed off the field"

Henry Shulman of the SF Chron reports that both the "mega-slumping" Aaron Rowand and Brian Wilson were booed off the field in another nightmare loss to the Mets. It serves me right for predicting the Giants would win.

I could hear the disgust with Rowand mounting in the first inning when Duane Kuiper and Dave Flemming recounted another awful at bat in the first. The Giants had just gotten four straight hits by Lewis, Sandoval, Molina and Winn and had a 2-1 lead with one out with Bengie on third and Winn on second. Rowand, who's getting $12 million a year, could not get the run home; instead he struck out -- the first of another 0-for-4 night. Aurilia salvaged the rally with a two-run single.

As some predicted, Lincecum has come back to earth this year after dazzling the league last year. He flat-out wasn't effective tonight. So why was he still out there at 114 pitches?

As for Rowand, maybe he's run into too many walls too many times. He's also fulfilling predictions that he'd continue to decline. If you think the $60 million contract looks lousy now, wait til 2011 and 2012. How Brian Sabean keeps his job is one of the wonders of the modern world.

Is Jesus (Guzman) coming?

Lefty Malo believes that with Edgar Renteria likely to go on the DL, the time may have come for the Giants to bring up Jesus Guzman from Fresno. Here's some verbiage -- Don’t expect miracles from Jesus, but his major-league projection from this small sample size, .311 / .329 / .492, is far better than what the Giants have gotten from their first basemen so far. Warning to everyone frustrated by one-pitch at-bats: Note the slim difference between Guzman’s batting average and OBP. Jesus doesn’t walk much, so the Giants would only compound their historical hackiness.

Latest Fresno stats -- 6 HRs, 30 RBIs, .355 average, .374 OBP, .587 SLG

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News wonders "Where's Guzman," deep in his Friday recap of last night's frustrating loss, and notes that both first basemen (Aurilia and Ishikawa) had particularly crappy at bats.

"Run like the wind on these Giants pitchers"

Henry Shulman of the SF Chron theorizes that the Mets scouting report said something like that.
The Giants gave away a winnable game tonight with an awful 9th inning by Brian Wilson -- who has tended by follow bad outings with lights out performances. The Mets stole a franchise record SEVEN bases tonight on their way to a 7-4 victory. Both teams started the game at 18-15.

Wilson may get a save chance in today's game with the starters set as Lincecum vs. Livan. I'll go out on a limb and predict that both teams will wind up the day at 19-16.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The quiet fadeaway in center

He's over-shadowed by the mega-deal for Barry Zito, but Aaron Rowand continues to disappoint and his 5-year, $60 million deal -- the second highest salary on the team -- represents a big reason why Brian Sabean should be fired. After opening the season with 9 hits in 24 Abs with 2 HRs and 7 RBIs, Rowand has been mostly ineffective with 17 hits in 79 ABS with no homers and 6 RBIs. He's now 7-for-43 in May with .163 average, a .260 OBP and a .256 SLG.

Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News writes that Rowand had the worst at bat of the day, despite getting a 4th strike, by popping out in the first inning with the bases loaded. Here's the key verbiage -- Rowand took a 2-2 offspeed pitch that looked good to everyone in the ballpark except plate umpire Gerry Davis. On the next pitch, Rowand hit a foul pop to third base.
That was the Giants’ best chance against Martis, who settled into a groove and only allowed two hits in seven innings. Seems we’ve seen this scenario a lot already this season: An opposing pitcher gets on the ropes in the first inning, and the Giants let him wiggle free.
When they seize the moment, they win. It’s that simple. They’re 14-0 when they score first.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Zito back to being Zito

"When I saw it go out, I was like a little kid"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why should the Giants get a bat?

Win No. 298

Well, it wasn't pretty but it certainly was interesting on a cold night -- with mostly the tried and true fans out -- at Mays Field as the Big Unit delivered another decent performance at home. He had a 3-2 lead and 9 Ks after the top of the 5th. Then things got strange with Josh Willingham making an egregious two-out error in the bottom of the 5th, followed by Daniel Cabrera giving up a walk to the Big Unit and three straight bases-loaded walks.

Attendance set a new low as it was slightly under 24,000 -- breaking the former low by over 2,000. I actually felt a small twinge of sympathy for the scalpers. Both the Big Unit and Osiris Matos got hits tonight. Matos got an RBI, so now he's only one behind Fred Lewis.

The Giants are now 3 games over .500 for the first time in two years when they were also 17-14 after beating the Mets with a 9-run 5th inning featuring two Molina homers and a win for Barry Zito.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kicking the Dodgers when they're down

That's the nice turn of phrase Henry Shulman of the SF Chron used to describe the Giants' victory in 13 innings on Sunday. I could tell by the smugness in Dodger radio announcer Charlie Steiner's voice that he felt like the Dodgers were over the Manny problem as the Giants went down 1-2-3 in the 7th. He even said "Manny Who?" Instead, the Dodgers gagged away a game they should have won Thursday to the Nats, lost to BARRY ZITO on Friday and gagged away another game on Sunday. Here's the key verbiage (boldface is mine) --

The Giants took their second consecutive series against Los Angeles since the Dodgers swept them here in April, which, in fact, is the last series the Giants have lost. They also finished 4-3 on a trip to Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles that was devised by a travel agent who hates people. Beyond that, and perhaps most important, they kicked the first-place Dodgers when they were down. Had the Dodgers taken their first series without Manny Ramirez, they might have driven home with a lot less doubt about their next 46 games.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

The Giants web site has this letter on it today from Travis Ishikawa --
Dear Mom,
One of the biggest things I'll remember about you is your unconditional love, and your support. You always found a way to get to my athletic and school events. I appreciate how you always found time while juggling work to take care of my sister and me, and to make sure we got where we needed to be.
Love, Travis

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Humble pie for Giants fans

Just in case any Giants fans got to feeling unjustifiably optimistic in the light of a two-game win streak and Manny's suspension, the Dodgers delivered an embarrassing 8-0 beatdown today at Chavez Latrine. It's hard to think of anything the Giants did right -- Aaron Rowand hit a double off the wall at one point and Juan Uribe made a nice catch in foul territory. But Jonathan Sanchez was pretty awful, trailing 4-0 after two innings. As for me, I am now just recovering from being taken down but good by a Dodger dog, which my friend had generously bought for me late in the game.

The Giants' offense has a knack for making marginal pitchers look great. In today's case, they made the incredibly ordinary Eric Stults look like the second coming of Sandy Koufax.

Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News has a pretty good blog post about just how talented Matt Kemp is compared with -- unfortunately -- Fred Lewis. Kemp was a highlight reel in center; F-Lew misplayed several balls and hasn't homered since August. What in the world would be wrong with getting No. 25 back in left field?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Where's this guy been?

I'm talking about Barry Zito, of course, who had to be delighted that he faced a Manny-free lineup at Chavez Latrine tonight. It's only appropriate that The Real Manny -- Emmanuel Burriss -- scored the winning run in a glorious 3-1 vic.

But back to Zito. Over the past four games, he's delivered the kind of frontline pitching that actually justifies an $18 million a year salary. There were signs in the second half of the year after his 0-8 start that he had started to regain his old ability but then he'd have a crappy start just to remind everyone of how awful his contract was -- such as this 6-2 loss last August to the Dodgers.

Baseball Prospectus said before this season that the Giants should start looking for a Mike Hampton-style trade (absorbing most of the expense of his contract) in order to have a decent 2011 rotation. It also declared that Zito was the Giants' fifth starter and third best lefty behind Sanchez and Big Unit but added, "If you want to grasp at some very thin straws of hope, Zito did shave more than a run off of his ERA in the second half and pitched quite well in September."

So the Giants are now 15-13 -- two games over .500 for the first time in nearly two years when they were at 24-22 following a 9-1 pasting of the Astros. Ironically, Zito was the winning pitcher of that game, too.

Manny's future -- a 100-game suspension

Peter Gammons writes at ESPN.com that Manny's next violation would result in a 100-game suspension and notes that the Maniac's numbers spiked suspiciously once he crybabied his way out of Beantown. He says Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Manny are stuck with each other, now that Manny's leverage is gone. Here's the key verbiage -- But it's going to be very difficult for any owner to look at the numbers, get the report from MLB and give him what the exile from Boston Common was all about -- long years and big dollars. He will win back the Dodgers fans who tormented Barry Bonds if he leads the Dodgers to a world championship, which is entirely possible. But the way it looks today, he belongs to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who is dying to bring the Dodgers back to their pre-eminence as a franchise. And now McCourt is faced with Ramirez's betrayal of his marketing scheme and doubts about the cold hard facts of his $45 million investment.

And San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Tim Sullivan speculates that the money that the Dodgers save on Manny's suspension could go toward acquiring Jake Peavy.

Do the Giants have a chance now?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A great day for Dodger haters

Manny suspended, Giants beat the Rox 8-3 and the Dodger pen chokes away a 4-run lead to the Nats, who win 11-9.

Dodger fans -- many of them among the least knowledgeable and most smug in baseball -- have never come to terms with the obvious contradiction that while they were chanting "Barry sucks" endlessly, the Eric "The Fat Frenchie" Gagne and Paul LoDuca were steroid abusers. So eat it, Dodger fans. Eat it raw.

And whoever keeps trying to post messages whining about how unfair and biased I am, stop wasting your time by hanging around here. I will never post your stupid messages. It's my site, not yours. And after a lifetime of listening to Dodger fans whining about how their team is somehow morally entitled to win every pennant, I'm not interested in meeting your delusional definition of "fair and unbiased." If you don't like it, then get out of here. Besides, the Dodgers are still by far the best team in the NL West even without Manny the Maniac, so what do you care?

Bengie burning up in Denver

Manny suspended for 50 games for drug test violation

Talk about Manny being Manny. What a stupid Dodger dingbat. ESPN and the LA Times say he'll be back July 3.

The world's worst columnist, Bill Plaschke of the LA Times, is opining from his lofty perch that the Dodgers should dump Manny. But Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer has a much more sensible take in a piece headlined "Manny's a dope but who cares?" Here's the key verbiage -- Baseball has overcome the Black Sox, the designated hitter and the occasional canceled World Series. It has weathered the Hit King’s gambling and the Home Run King’s ultra-large lid. The reaction to the Steroid Age? Record attendance.
Fans don’t care, unless it affects their team, and even then, the freak show is a momentary diversion. Every passing parade has its unusuals. They entertain, too, in their way. Baseball has nothing to worry about.
After 50 games, Manny Ramirez will be back. If the Dodgers are still in contention and Manny helps them to the postseason, all will be forgotten. Just because five of the top 12 home run hitters ever have at least been linked to steroid use doesn’t mean fans don’t dig the long ball. Fans see it for what it is: It’s just Baseball being Baseball.

No boos for Bonds

Art Spander wrote an excellent column last week about Barry's return to Mays Field, posted on the new Baseball Chronicles site. Spander, a longtime writer for the SF Chron, asserts Barry will never play again. Here's some of the verbiage --

There was Barry, in the seat adjoining that of the individual in charge of the Giants, Bill Neukom, receiving a standing ovation. There was Manny on the diamond, receiving derision for no reason other than he’s Manny. And a Dodger.
Although during the winter, when Manny was a free agent, there was talk he might even sign with the Giants. Which would have made him the new idol in a region that without Bonds, without Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jose Canseco, Jim Plunkett, is bereft of idols.
And so Bonds is remembered fondly. He is the symbol of better days, of headlines and cover stories, of the recognition the Giants, and the region, no longer receive.
Neukom was the lead attorney for Microsoft for nearly a quarter-century. And there he was, schmoozing with someone who has been indicted on perjury, although mostly because the U.S. government, which ought to be more concerned with other matters, is out to get Bonds.

We hate Dodger streaks

The evil Dodgers are blowing the doors off the NL West, just having set an MLB start-of-the-season record by winning their 13th in a row at home. The Dodgers ought to send Bruce Bochy a gift basket for his part in Game 2 of the streak on April 15, when he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by gift-wrapping a 5-4 victory to the Blew Crew by idiotically insisting on keeping a blatantly ineffective Bobby Howry in the game so that he could give up 3 runs over two innings.

Why should I care? Why should Bochy's brain freeze in a single game matter in the long run? Good questions. Let me explain by going back to 1968, when Don Drysdale was even more blatantly gifted a record-setting scoreless inning streak by umpire Harry Wendelstedt, who insisted that Giants catcher Dick Dietz had not gotten out of the way of a pitch from Drysdale -- one of the worst headhunters in the history of baseball -- with the bases loaded. Had Wendelstedt made the right call, the streak would have been over long before it reached record proportions. I've come to believe that Wendelstedt knew he had made the wrong call because he began insisting over the years that Dietz had stuck his arm out to get hit by the pitch, when everyone else's account of the game was that Dietz simply froze in the face of a hard fastball. "He stood there like a post," Ron Hunt said.

Not only did the Giants lose that game but the scoreless streak was instrumental in convincing Hall of Fame voters to over-value Drysdale's career and elect him in his 10th year of eligibility -- making him one of those marginal guys who would deserve inclusion if there were a "Hall of the Very Good." He's not as bad as some of the Veterans Committee selections like Chick Hafey, Ross Youngs, Vic Willis and Freddie Lindstrom. But he's undistinguished in the same way that Jim Bunning and Red Ruffing are. Would the Hall of Fame count for less without Drysdale, Bunning or Ruffing? Drysdale is one of those guys that makes you ask, "Well, if he's in the Hall, why aren't Jim Kaat, Luis Tiant, Bert Blyleven and Tommy John?" So I submit that if Wendelstedt doesn't gag and instead makes the right call, Drysdale doesn't get into the Hall.

Joe Posnaski has a pretty good rundown on Hall of Fame voting if you don't have the time to read "The Politics of Glory" by Bill James.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Rocky road to No. 300

Happy birthday, Willie Mays

MLB.com's Tom Singer has a nice story about the Greatest Giant of Them All turning 78 today. Here's part of it -- There has never been another baseball package like Mays, a bundle of speed, power and grace who entered his golden years by the Golden Gate Bridge with 660 home runs, 338 stolen bases, a dozen Gold Gloves and 75 All-Star Game at-bats.

What a relief

The Hitless Wonders, 103 years later

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

23-1 for The Franchise

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Orange and Black -- back to .500

Giants fans know that the starting rotation usually can't make a mistake -- not the way Jonathan Sanchez did tonight, giving up 4 runs in the first two innings to the Cubs. The SF Chron game story by Henry Schulman notes that the biggest comeback so far this year for the Orange and Black is two runs. The team is now 12-12 and facing the next 6 games on the road.

Even though every guy in the rotation has logged some excellent work this year, the cold hard fact is that the crappy offense is likely to leave the starters with records in the .500 range. Vin Scully had an interesting bit of pitcher trivia tonight, noting that Dbacks starter Doug Davis -- who had a pretty bad outing at Chavez Latrine -- is the only guy in MLB history with three straight .500 seasons, logged during the 2004-06 seasons. He's 83-87 after 11 years.

The most recent Giant to put up a .500 season? Noah Lowry went 13-13 in 2005. Matt Morris went 7-7 in 2007 but then went 3-4 after being traded to the Pirates.

The Dodgers are now 19-8 so going .500 is probably not going to get the Giants anywhere near a postseason slot.

A murky outlook for the Orange and Black

Ray Ratto of the SF Chron writes a pretty good column about whether the Giants are going to go get a bat this season to liven up the worst offense in the MLB. Problem is -- the declining attendance makes such a move less likely. Here's the key verbiage:

So far, the Giants have met every hope-tinged expectation and every worst-case scenario at the same time. After Saturday's feeble offensive effort, they rank second in runs allowed and rank last in runs scored. The starting pitching is among the game's best despite Cain's meh-level outing, though the bullpen ranks in the lower fifth, but the hitting ...
So the question needs to be asked - are the projected revenues sufficient to allow the Giants to be a player in the expected distressed hitter sales in June and July?
"I can't say yet," Neukom said. "Right now we're below flat (revenues based on last year's net) and further below 2007. We'd like to be in a position so that if the time came to do something, we'd have enough dry powder, but we're not at that stage quite yet."

I feel obliged to note that Ratto doesn't mention that there is a guy named Bonds who's eager to play and might solve the problem -- at a minimum of expense and a maximum of fan interest. It would simply take a gutsy ownership willing to tell Bud Selig to go to hell.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Is this the real Barry Zito?

Jones succeeding on the Dodger dime

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A fast trip back to .500

Best win of the year

The Orange and Black won in the rain tonight, getting the Big Unit's 297th. They have now won 9 of their last 12 after opening at 2-7. Here's what Brian Wilson had to say to the SF Chron --

"When I watch the game in the fourth inning and there are no hits, and the sixth inning and he's still pitching a shutout, and he goes seven innings and it goes to the bullpen, I get a little sense of urgency," Wilson said. "I want to get in there and shut the game off right there. I hope I can keep getting saves for him when he gets to 300."

So why would I say this was the "best win of the year"? I posted that headline and then thought I can't even explain why. After 10 minutes or so, it hit me -- the Giants were NEVER over .500 last year, not for a single day. Here we are in May, 21 games into the season, and they are. I should warn about getting too excited and point out that the 2007 team managed to get to two games over .500 more than a quarter into the season at 24-22 but then they lost a nightmare game in Denver, 6-4, as the pen turned a Matt Cain win into an Armando Blownitez loss. The team just unraveled after that, going 47-69. Of course, Barry Bonds actually got blamed for that even though he was by far the best player on the team.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Home sweet home AKA Mays Field