Friday, July 31, 2009

Sticking with Jonathan Sanchez

With the trading deadline having come and gone, that's it for now for the Giants in the wake of the Freddy Sanchez and Garko deals. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News blogs that the Giants -- for better or worse -- are committed to the unpredictability that is Jonathan Sanchez. Baggarly singled out the key sequence of last night's game in the top of the third -- The Giants need Sanchez to maintain their rotation’s standard of excellence when he takes the mound. The trade deadline will come and go today, and Bengie Molina will be their cleanup hitter. The pitching staff simply cannot afford to slip up.
Slowly, Sanchez is beginning to gain believers. When Jimmy Rollins hit a leadoff double in the third inning and stole third base, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy stationed his infielders in. On a ground ball, they were going home.
That’s quite a risk against the middle of the Phillies’ lineup – especially at such an early juncture in the game. But Bochy had a 2-1 lead and he was showing faith in Sanchez. These are the kinds of subtle decisions from a manager that help a pitcher win games. But first, that pitcher must gain his manager’s trust. Then he must reward that trust. In the process, he reinforces that trust.
Sanchez did all three. He struck out Chase Utley and got Jayson Werth to pop up. With two outs, the infielders played an exaggerated shift against Ryan Howard, and he dutifully hit into it. Rollins was stranded. The Phillies didn’t score in the inning. But perhaps Sanchez tallied a few points.

Giants celebrate Stretch's debut

Hard to believe, but 50 years after McCovey debuted in a 7-2 win at home over the Phils, the Giants scored another 7-2 win over the Phils -- complete with Sandoval blasting a ball into McCovey Cove. Here's what he told Henry Schulman of the Chronicle -- "I'm happy right now because McCovey was here. I just wanted to do that. We talk every time he's in the clubhouse. I get the support of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey all the time. That's important for me."

The 1959 club -- which had three Hall of Famers on it -- was 56-45 and wound up with a third place finish behind the Dodgers and Braves. The current team is 56-46 and leads the Wild Card standings.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is Sabean an idiot?

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters thinks so. I tend to agree -- You do not have the faintest ides what you are doing anymore. Really. Did you watch that game yesterday? 9 innings of one absolutely embarrassing at-bat after another, on and on and on; a perfect display of your personal vision on team building, on how to construct an offense.
You watched that, and decided that you would trade a top-40 prospect in all of baseball for another league average mediocrity? He’s a three-time All Star? Only in the fucked up world of Bud Selig is Sanchez an All Star, a world in which every team has to have an All Star representative do you have Sanchez being a three-time All Star for one of the worst-run organizations in all of baseball, a team that has traded away an All Star team of hitters in just the last three or four years.
This was a coup, for the Pirates. Getting Barnes for Garko was a coup, for the Indians. Sabean got fleeced by two last place teams, two teams that were in the position of having to trade away talent to save money, and in those conditions, it was Sabean who was taken advantage of.


But a comment to my earlier post pointed out that Keith Law of ESPN Insider (subscription only) believes Tim Alderson's value has fallen significantly. His conclusion: Six months or a year ago this would have seemed like an insanely high price to pay for a year and a half of Freddy Sanchez, but the slippage in Alderson's stuff since he signed has pushed him down the Giants' prospect depth chart and it's not an unreasonable trade.

Sabean's right about Frandsen

He's utterly sucked when he's gotten to play in the majors this year but that didn't stop him from throwing a fit last night during the Fresno Grizzlies game after finding out about the Freddy Sanchez deal.

What the hell did Frandsen expect after showing that he's not even close to being an adequate MLB player? I complete agree with what Sabean just told Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle --Sabean did not sound pleased with Frandsen's attitude in light of the infielder's struggles in the at-bats he had here.
"Frandsen is on the roster and has value as a utility man," Sabean said. "He should mind his business in Triple-A and see what happens."

Stretch's first day in the Orange and Black

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A recurring nightmare for Joe Torre

He decided to bring in Jeff Weaver to pitch in extras when there were few alternatives left. It blew up in his face -- just like in the 2003 World Series fourth game when he was running out of pitchers and brought in Weaver in extras to watch him gag away the game on a homer in the 12th to Alex Gonzalez. It was the turning point of that Series. Could the same trend be starting now?

I doubt it, but one can always hope. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Dodgers in the 15th with Weaver gagging away the victory, 3-2. Until yesterday, the Dodgers hadn't lost three games in a row all year. Now, they've lost four straight.

They are still a stomach-churning 23 games above .500 at 63-39, but they are now tied with the surging Yankees for the best record in MLB.

Tim Alderson for Freddy Sanchez

The Giants decide to give up their second-best pitching prospect (after Madison Bumgarner) for Freddy Sanchez, who won the batting title three years ago.

It's already a bit alarming that the SF Chronicle's reporting that Freddy won't play until Monday due to inflammation in his knee. He's gotten 3 hits in his last 34 ABs. More alarming still -- Tyler Hissey posts at Dugout Central that he believes the Giants got fleeced.

John Shea of the Chron's done a pretty good recap for his print edition story -- "It's the price of doing business," general manager Brian Sabean said after parting with a 20-year-old who was a combined 7-2 with a 3.65 ERA in Class A and Double-A this year.
That the Giants would trade such a prospect reaffirms they're going for it now rather than simply relying on their top minor-leaguers to materialize in 2010 or 2011. After auditioning five second basemen and five first basemen, and not being content with any of them, they've settled on Sanchez at second and Garko, acquired from Cleveland on Monday for A-ball pitcher Scott Barnes, at first.

Matt The Magnificent

Matt Cain shut out the Pirates for 9 and the Giants won 1-0 in the 10th on a single by Randy Winn -- almost as if to underline the Orange and Black's need for more offense. MLB.com's reporting that a Freddy Sanchez trade could still happen even though the Pirates just traded shortstop Jack Wilson to Seattle.

Sanchez, Scutaro, Teahen in the Orange and Black?

Hasta la vista, Randy Johnson?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Great to be home again

The Franchise made it look easy with a career high 15 Ks tonight.

And the Giants finally got a first baseman who can hit in exchange for pitching prospect Scott Barnes. The MLB.com story notes that Ryan Garko's OPS is higher than any other Giant except for Sandoval. I guess Brian Sabean is trying to save a job that he no longer deserves to have.

Before anyone gets too carried away with how Sabean deserves credit for the Giants being in contention for the first time since 2004, I'd strongly suggest reading John Perricone's analysis at Only Baseball Matters that deconstructs just how awful a job the front office has done in evaluating talent. Here's what John says about the Giants' biggest off-season free agent signing -- 87 games into 2009, it is painfully clear that the Edgar Renteria signing, like so many over the past three or four seasons, is a colossal bust.
81 games played, 310 at-bats, 13 doubles, 2 home runs, 38 RBI .252/.307/.313 .620 OPS 28.8 runs created 11 GIDP
He is the worst hitter among all NL shortstops, ranking last or next to last in virtually every one of those categories.
Among the starters at short, he is last in assists, with 192 in 81 games played, and has 8 errors, a testament to both his lack of range and his stone hands. His putouts and double play numbers are also very low, but a good portion of that has to be attributed to the Giants leading the league in strikeouts.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Halladay? No way

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Big Sadowski -- not ready for primetime

The Ryan Sadowski experiment continued to blow up in the Giants' faces as he couldn't even make it out of the third. As usual, there was stellar work by the pen and an offensive offense by the Orange and Black in a 4-2 loss in Denver.

The popgun offense consisted of two doubles, seven singles -- and no walks. By contrast the Rox got SIX walks to go along with their 10 hits. Geez, do you think that teams that know how to work walks wind up getting more hits? Rox pitchers needed only 103 pitches today to get the hacktastic Giants. I checked the MLB.com site teams stats and it's no surprise to discover the Giants batters have -- by far -- the fewest number of pitches of any MLB team this year at 13,016. Detroit and KC are tied for second fewest at 13,498.

The Giants also have the fourth fewest runs scored at 389, ahead only of Seattle, KC and San Diego.

Fire Carney Lansford now.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sanchez stays in the Orange and Black

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Sabean's saying Jonathan Sanchez -- who couldn't get out of the 5th inning tonight in Denver -- won't be traded before the deadline because of the Giants' need for starting pitching, what with The Big Unit on the DL. The version that's posted doesn't have Henry Schulman's byline on it, but I'm betting it's him, since he made the point again that the Giants offense is so shabby that it can't come back from more than a 2-run deficit. Here's the key verbiage:

The Rockies' shortstop hit a no-doubt blast that cut through a light rain and cleared the fence in center field. His 18th homer gave Colorado a 3-0 lead.
As any Giants-watcher knows, a deficit that big is game, set and match, and so it was Saturday.
With one out in the sixth, Andres Torres singled and scored on Pablo Sandoval's second double of the game, a great sign for an offense that has staggered through this trip.
The Giants' inability to get Sandoval home and make it a one-run game typified this team's biggest weakness. Bengie Molina flied out fairly deep to right and Edgar Renteria, his tender right elbow sufficiently healed, bounced out.


Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News is reporting that Joe Martinez may be recalled if The Big Sadowski keeps getting pounded by MLB hitters.

No second no hitter

The no-hit game hasn't changed a thing. Jonathan Sanchez remains as maddening as ever -- no-hitting the Rox for 3 innings and getting ripped in the 4th as he left a belt-high fattie over the center of the plate that Troy Tulowitski just hammered for a three-run HR. "It looked like he was trying to sink it," one of the announcers on MLB TV (I think it was George Frazier) just said.
Frazier also just said the Giants are "starved for position players that can produce. " Frazier's most famous for managing to lose 3 games in the 1981 Series to the Dodgers.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Matt the Master goes to 12-2

Another superb ace-like outing for Cain tonight in Denver as the Orange and Black win 3-1. The Rox announcers, Jack Corrigan and Jeff Kingery, admitted that they were seriously impressed with the movement and location of his pitches. "He's just good," Kingery said at one point. "Lefthanded batters think they're seeing it well and then it's on their hands."

Fred Lewis had a back-from-the-dead night with a single, double and triple and Nate Schierholtz hit the first Giants homer in 8 games. Fred hit for the cycle two years ago in Denver in a 15-2 game in which Cain was also the winning pitcher.

Freddy Sanchez in the Orange and Black?

Henry Schulman blogs in the SF Chronicle that the Giants appear to be most interested in Freddy Sanchez and Nick Johnson as trade acquisitions with the deadline approaching. He also says Brian Sabean's not tipping his hand.

Schulman contends that the Giants weren't that interested in Matt Holiday or Adam Laroche, who have been traded to the Cards and Bosox, respectively.

Zito goes Nuschler

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The good Barry Zito returns

Very few people are going to notice what with Mark Buehrle throwing a perfect game today, but Zito decided to pitch like an ace today in a satisfying 5-1 vic in Atlanta.

Why was it satisfying? Partly because the expectations have become so low for the Giants that the announcers on XM, who included Don Sutton, admitted that they were surprised at the show of competence from the Orange and Black, and they went so far as to say the Braves had played lousily. "That's going to happen once ever 10, 12 games, even to teams that are playing well -- like the Braves have been," one of them said.

I admit I have a soft spot for Sutton for having punched out the sanctimonious Steve Garvey while they were both Dodgers.

RIP Sue Burns

And the hits just keep on not coming

The Franchise gives up his first three-run homer of the year, which essentially put this game out of reach. The lousy road trip has dropped the Giants run total back to 4th lowest in the MLB at 379; the HR total is second lowest at 63 with no homers in the last 213 at bats. The walk total is by far the lowest in MLB at 211 with the Mariners second at 256. Chris Haft of MLB.com has picked up on the recent stat reported by the SF Chron's Henry Shulman -- that the Giants haven't come back from more than two runs down this year. With most teams, a 4-run deficit is not impossible to overcome, but with this one, there's very little hope. What in the name of Hal Lanier is Brian Sabean waiting for? Does he believe that Juan Uribe is going to suddenly start hitting like Rogers Hornsby?

To his credit, Uribe got the only extra base hit tonight with a double. Bengie got two singles, and Winn, Ishikawa and Schierholtz also got a singleton each. Andres Torres got the only walk.

It's still amazing to me that giving up four runs represents an average outing for this pitching staff -- the lowest in MLB. Despite having gone 1-6 since July 11, Giant pitchers still lead the majors in fewest runs allow (354), shutouts (13) and strikouts (750).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"I can do nothing to help the team"

According to MBB.com's Chris Haft, that's what Edgar Renteria said tonight after he got a cortisone shot for his elbow because he's 's been injured for the past two weeks and gone 7-for-47. Thanks a lot for letting us know now, Edgar!

This is what happens when you get fading veterans plus a manager and staff that's not savvy enough to size up an injury. Still, he wasn't exactly raking before the injury. He's having his worst season at age 33 -- which may be more like 35 or 36 -- at the premium price of $18 million for two years, supposedly because he was going to provide more offense from shortstop than the team got last year from Omar Vizquel and Brian Bocock. Meanwhile, Omar's turned out to be a decent back-up for the Rangers and is putting up better offensive numbers than Edgar -- to say nothing of being a far better fielder. The Rangers are paying him $1 million this year.

There's a telling stat in Henry Shulman's depressing game story about the futile Orange and Black offense -- The problem is, these Giants cannot slug with other teams. They have not overcome a deficit of more than two runs to win all season.

MY COMMENT -- Sabean, Bochy and Lansford all deserve to be fired.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why not Freddy Sanchez?

I'm posting this with the Giants getting hammered 8-1 in Atlanta. The Giants revolving door at second base has continued as Kevin Frandsen got sent down again and Matt Downs got brought up. I'm not sure why Juan Uribe isn't acceptable as the keystone sacker and I'm starting to lose track of who's been at second this year -- mainly Emmanuel Burriss, I guess. It's hard to imagine that a franchise has gotten less production out the second-base slot this year. To his credit, Downs got the only extra base hit tonight and scored the Giants' only run.

It aggravates me to think that Orlando Hudson -- who played in the All-Star game a week ago -- was available for signing at less than half the price of Edgar Renteria during the off-season.

In the meantime, the Pirates have let it be known that they're not serious about signing Freddy Sanchez. I imagine that Brian Sabean has been hard at work on this -- probably by trying to persuade Ray Durham to unretire, rather than trying to get someone who can actually hit. Ray apparently concluded his MLB career last fall by going 1-for-9 for the Brewers in the NLDS.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gaylord Perry and the man on the moon

With the 40th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon, Joe Capozzi of the Pal Bach Post does a nice jobe of recalling Gaylord Perry's connection with the epic event:

Perhaps the most memorable story connecting baseball with the Apollo 11 moon landing begins back in 1962, when a reporter asked Giants manager Alvin Dark about the rookie pitcher taking swings in the batting cage - Gaylord Perry.
"There'll be a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run,'' Dark remarked.
Seven years later, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 touched down on the lunar surface. And about 20 minutes after that, according to published accounts, Perry launched his first major-league home run at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.


I looked it up -- The Giants won the game 7-3 over the Dodgers. Bobby Bonds was batting lead off, Mays was in the third slot and Stretch was batting cleanup. Stretch hit his 30th of 45 in that game and went on to win the MVP.

Gas-can night in the bullpen

The Giants bullpen, which has been a strength most of the season, self-immolated tonight as a 3-3 tie became a 9-3 game in the 7th, thanks mostly to Sergio Romo's worst outing of the year. Bobby Howry continued to stink by giving up two more runs in the 8th, though Henry Shulman's game story in the SF Chronicle indicates that Frandsen's error was a contributing factor. Let me just say that I'm never surprised when Howry's ineffective.

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News concluded in his post-game notes that the respectable performance by Jonathan Sanchez -- coupled with the Big Unit's uncertain future -- means that the Giants aren't going to trade Sanchez. That seemed like a real possibility even a few weeks ago. But at this point, it seems to me that the only areas of surplus for the Giants with any real trade value for a real bat would be either one of the outfielders (Winn and Lewis) or one of the long relievers (Howry, Romo, Valdez, Medders, Miller). Along with Zito, Howry and Lewis have been the biggest disappointments on this year's team.

Baggarly also believes that John Bowker will be sent down so Sadowski can start. So Rich Aurilia won't get DFAd.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

First Orange and Black win in eight days

Brian Wilson just closed out the Pirates, 4-3, making Matt Cain an 11-game winner. The Giants' offense stayed offensive except for a wondrous 4-run explosion in the 6th that consisted of four straight doubles by Winn, Sandoval, Molina and Schierholtz, followed by sac flies by Renteria and Frandsen.

It's also the 50th win of the year for the Orange and Black. They didn't get to this point last year until Aug. 10, when they stole a 5-4 vic at home from the Dodgers, thanks to two runs in the 9th and an egregious error by Casey Blake on a Jose Castillo grounder.

That was the next to last AB in a Giants uni for Castillo, who has to rank as one of Sabean's lamest signings -- which is saying something. He went 0-for-1 two days later and was finally DFA'd. Two days later, Pablo Sandoval made his MLB debut.

Henry Shulman of the SF Chronicle notes that the Giants held a prayer before the game due to the passing of the much-liked Sue Burns, senior general partner of the Giants.

The first unassisted triple play

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has an entertaining story about Neal Ball turning the first unassisted triple play in MLB history. It happened exactly 100 years ago yesterday. Ball's great niece wrote the story.

It's only happened 13 other times, so it's even rarer than a perfect game. Had Juan Uribe managed to pick up that ground ball in the 8th inning on July 10, Jonathan Sanchez would have thrown the 16th perfect game in MLB history. Henry Shulman of the SF Chronicle reports that Sanchez has a modest goal -- he just wants to throw 6 innings in his next start on Monday in Atlanta.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The NY Times embarrasses itself

Jack Curry of the New York Times boards the Barry Bonds Hate Train to write a particularly embarrassing article about how "improbable" it is that the Giants have Bengie Molina as a cleanup instead of Barry Bonds -- without mentioning that Bonds' agent has accused MLB of collusion among owners for failing to sign Bonds. Because, really, who needs guys who get on base, score runs and hit with power when you're 25th of 30 teams in scoring runs? Instead, you've got a guy hitting cleanup who would be batting seventh or eighth in most lineups. A Giants Win hat tip to Only Baseball Matters for pointing out the "story."

The only really decent thing about the article is Tim Lincecum standing up for his teammate.

"SF stands for Scoring Failure"

The best thing about this lousy 2-0 loss in Pittsburgh -- by far -- is the fine headline on the SF Chronicle's web site. Great headline writing never gets enough credit. As for the game itself, it sounds as if Zito took the brickbats tossed in his direction seriously.

If Henry Shulman's depressing game story for the Chronicle is to be believed, he's wondering why young hitters like Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz are not exhibiting even a modicum of plate discipline -- particularly when the offense amounts to five singles (two by Renteria) and two walks (one by Zito). Why anyone thinks Carney Lansford is an acceptable hitting coach is beyond me. The offense was terrible last year and the only hitter who seems to have improved is Sandoval. Give Lansford enough time, though, and he'll probably go into a decline, too. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Merc-News noted in his postgame post that every team is feeding Giants hitters a steady diet of pitches outside the strike zone.

So what in the name of Eric Stults is Lansford doing in terms of prepping the hitters? Here they were facing a guy -- the immortal Charlie Morton -- who's MLB record into tonight was 5-10 over two seasons. Why are the hitters first-pitch hacking on a guy as if he's the second coming of Juan Marichal?

I've called for the firing of Sabean and Bochy multiple times, but Lansford is the most deserving candidate for dismissal.

What went right and wrong

David Pinto at Baseball Musings has a nice analysis of the Giants at the All Star break. A Giants Win hat tip to MC O'Connor at Raising (Matt) Cain for pointing it out. The key factors that went right were Lincecum, Cain and Sandoval. Here's what went wrong --

The Giants failed to develop or acquire a power hitter to back up Sandoval. Travis Ishikawa hits like a good second baseman, but that’s not what you want at first base. If the Giants could increase their run scoring by .25 runs per game, they would move from a predicted .563 winning percentage to a .592, a difference of five wins over the course of a full season. Ninety one wins might get them into the playoffs, but 96 wins almost certainly does.

A vote for Zito staying

Rob Neyer of ESPN rebuts Tim Kawakami's recent contention that the Giants should release Barry Zito. (He doesn't address Kawakami's absurd assertion that Brian Sabean shouldn't be blamed for signing Zito). Anyhow, here's the key verbiage --

It's a simple equation, really: Are we better with this guy, or without him?

Bottom line, the Giants have one great starter (Tim Lincecum), one good starter (Matt Cain), and a whole bunch of big question marks. Releasing Zito might feel good for a moment, but it might hurt a few weeks down the line if the Giants are forced to use somebody in the rotation who's simply not ready. Bumgarner? Yeah, he's the real deal. Having thrown 57 brilliant innings in the Double-A Eastern League this season, he's ready for the next level and might be good enough to skip that one.
Until the Giants deem Bumgarner ready, though, I don't believe that eating Zito's contract is a luxury the Giants can afford. Not unless he's hurting the club even more than his ERA would suggest. Because right now he's a perfectly serviceable replacement-level major league starter. And of course they have to pay him either way.

Hasta la vista, Richie?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Howry gags again

Anyone contending that Brian Sabean's done a good job needs to remind themselves of what a waste of money Bobby Howry's turned out to be -- particularly when the game's on the line. It's no wonder why Cubs fans detested this guy. He's now 0-5 after giving up a walkoff homer in the 14th to the pathetic Pirates. And Zito's starting tomorrow's game. I realize Zito isn't tradeable, but isn't there someone who's desperate for relief pitching with a surplus of offense who can take Howry The Headache off our hands?

While I'm ranting about Sabean -- how is it that apologists like Tim Kawakami of the Merc-News and Ray Ratto of the Chronicle can say that the GM's done a good job when a team goes 7 for 48 against the Pittsburgh Pirates? The offense consisted of two singles by Sandoval, a single and a double by Schierholtz, and singles by Winn, Uribe and Fransden. And two walks -- TWO -- in 14 innings! One of them was Bengie's fourth of the year, coming in the 8th when Grabow decided to not let him have anything to hit.

The Giants have scored the 6th fewest runs in the MLB. They have the fewest walks by far. They also lead the majors in fewest runs allowed.

Manny helps Dodgers gag

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yet another Sabean apologist

This is one reason why newspapers are losing readers -- by wasting people's time with drivel. This time, it's the extremely lame Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News, who contends that it's not really Brian Sabean's fault that Zito got signed to a $126 million deal. Apparently, we are supposed to blame Peter Magowan. How convenient for Sabean that he doesn't have to be accountable for anything he did prior to this year.

Kawakami also says it's time to get rid of Zito -- which is fairly unrealistic and may be damn near impossible, unless the Giants are willing to eat four and half years of an $18 million salary. Baseball Think Factory picked up the story and most of the comments indicate that 1. he's untradeable; 2. his real value is his durability; 3. The money's already gone; 4. The Giants have plenty of other problems and 5. he's about league average for 4th and 5th starters, so the Giants' alternatives for now aren't really anything acceptable. I guess I'm pretty much alone in being offended by the assertion that somehow Sabean shouldn't be blamed. But I think it's a bit pathetic that Kawakami feels a need to pretend that Sabean's not incompetent.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Giants in the postseason?

That's what Chris Haft thinks, athough he warns that there's little margin for error. His opinion carries some weight, since he follows the Orange and Black for MLB.com. Here's the key verbiage --

Greatest strength: The pitching staff has ranked among the NL's best for most of the season. Though Randy Johnson is not the dominant force he once was, his presence stamps the starting rotation with legitimacy. Closer Brian Wilson has continued to perform at an All-Star level, while Jeremy Affeldt, the star of a competent setup corps, has displayed All-Universe skills.

Biggest problem: The Giants remain offensively challenged. Their 41-8 record in games when they score first reflects their stout pitching -- as well as the lack of hitting they need to overcome deficits. Molina is an admirable player, but he wouldn't bat cleanup for any other team. The lineup is full of free swingers, leaving the Giants susceptible to finesse pitchers who can prey on their eagerness. Johnson's shoulder injury, which has forced him to begin the season's second half on the disabled list, will trouble the Giants if he's out for a prolonged period.

Team needs: An experienced, competent hitter who can complement Sandoval and Molina or get on base ahead of them. Since many Giants regulars are capable of playing more than one position and can move to accommodate a fresh acquisition, general manager Brian Sabean can widen his search to include virtually every available hitter. But a deal might be difficult to swing, since the Giants are reluctant to part with their top pitching prospects and tend to shy from "rent-a-players" eligible for free agency after the season.

Fearless second-half prediction: San Francisco will remain in the Wild Card race until the very end and will even make the Dodgers look over their shoulders. The guess here is that the Giants will claim the Wild Card -- but they can't afford any slips, because this is a club with little margin for error.

No. 24 hangs out with the President

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How can you tell Bud Selig's lying?

His lips are moving.

John Shea of the SF Chronicle has a fairly lame account of Bud's press session today in which he insisted that there hasn't been any collusion because player salaries average $3.2 million. So why has no one signed Barry Bonds, Bud? Are you sure didn't tell them not to? Why was Toronto using DAVID ECKSTEIN as a DH last year, Bud?

I'm guessing that Shea apparently decided that since mentioning Bonds in a sympathetic way would go against the "Bonds Is Evil" Chronicle policy, it wasn't worth including in the story.

AP's story is much better since it has some real reporting in it. It even quotes Bonds' agent Jeff Borris, who said, "There's a general level of suspicion in the air" and quotes Seth Levinson, who represented nearly a dozen free agents following the 2008 season. "There are too many things that need to be explained. "In my experience, there are no coincidences in a monopoly."

The Franchise starts tonight

For anyone who missed yesterday's announcement -- Lincecum is the starting pitcher at the All-Star game tonight. And in case you're wondering, the last time the NL won was a 6-0 whitewash in 1996. The only players still active from that game are Chipper, Jason Kendall, Pudge, Andy Pettitte, John Smoltz (who was the winning pitcher), Junior Griffey, A-Rod and Gary Sheffield.

I suppose I could add Pedro Martinez to the list, as he's about to sign with the Phils.

UPDATE -- Lincecum had a rough first inning, giving up two runs (one unearned, thanks to a Pujols error), then set down the side in order in the 2nd. The NL then scored three runs in the bottom of the second, so Tim's off the hook.

The Crab, Ball Dudes and Rusty

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Zito booed at home

That's how bad it was, according to MLB.com's story. I never boo a Giant but this guy's been such a disappointment for three seasons that fans who lay out their hard-earned dough aren't going to hold back. It seems that only John Bowker had much of a clue how to hit Kevin Correia, who easily outpitched his former teammate.

As I write this, the SF Chronicle web site has no staff-written game story on it. However, it has a spectacularly wrong-headed column by Ray Ratto asserting that both Sabean and Bochy deserve new deals now -- despite the overwhelming evidence that it was Sabean who was most responsible for the team racking four straight losing seasons from 2005 thrugh 2008. It doesn't even mention the egregiously bad Zito deal, for which Giant fans will be suffering for through for another four and half years as Zito cashes $18 million of paychecks annually in exchange for being a fifth starter at best. But if you didn't know better, after reading Ratto's apologia, you'd conclude that it was all Peter Magowan's and Barry Bonds' fault -- that somehow, because his "hands were tied," Sabean shouldn't be held accountable IN ANY FASHION for having taken a team that was a contender and driven it into the ground for four years.

At least the Giants have decent announcers

I was provoked to say that by listening to Angels announcer Rex Hudler just refer to Erik Aybar's homer yesterday as giving the Angels "three points." Thankfully, I've never heard a Giants announcer say something quite that clueless.

Hudler's not awful - he just did a nice job of calling a triple by Chone Figgins -- but it grates my nerves when someone uses "point" or "points" to describe a run or runs. Maybe I wouldn't be so touchy if Zito hadn't been blasted today by the Padres.

Classic bad Zito

Everth Cabrera and the son of Max Venable single to start the game, then Kouzmanoff hits a three-run homer. If I asked you, "Which Giants pitcher started the game like that?," I'd be surprised if you answered anything other than "Zito."

He did get the side out after that and got through the 2md, so it's not an impossible game to win. Here's hoping Bochy goes to the pen quickly if Zito starts to lose it again.

Venable the Elder played five seasons with the Orange and Black.

The Giants got two on with Winn and Sandoval singles in the bottom of the first but Bengie GIDPd for the seventh time this year. Ryan Zimmerman leads the NL with 16, followed by Ethier with 15 and brother Yadier Molina at 14. Renteria leads the Orange and Black with 10, followed by Rowand with 8.

Zito gave up a second three-run homer to Eleizer Alfonzo in the third. But he's still pitching in the top of the 4th. I'm not quite sure what Bochy's trying to prove here. Perhaps Zito's new nickname should be Barry "Buzzkill" Zito.

Bochy finally pulled Zito in the 5th with the score 7-0, then Brandon Medders let Zito's two inherited runners score. What in the hell took you so long, Bruce? What were you saving the pen for?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fourth best in the majors

"If we keep going like this, we'll go to the playoffs"

That's what Jonathon "No-Hit" Sanchez said after tonight's win -- despite the fact that Matt Cain got smashed in the elbow by a line drive, according to Henry Shulman's game story in the SF Chron. Matt says he wants to pitch in the All-Star game while Bochy says it's doubtful. I'm with Bochy on this one.

The MLB network previewed tomorrow's game -- Zito vs. Kevin Correia. They didn't say anything about it, but I noticed that at this point, the two of them have almost exactly the same records. Zito is 5-8 with a 4.43 ERA, 79 Ks and 44 walks with a .247 batting average against him. And Correia is almost the same at 5-7 with a 4.48 ERA, 79 Ks and 33 walks with a .253 batting average against him. In other words, Zito's no longer the crappiest starter in the MLB. He's just as good as Kevin Correia.

The last perfect game

With Sanchez having come so close, I was wondering who it was who had the last one. It turns out that the Big Unit did it five years ago.

May 18, 2004 -- 27 up, 27 down

Friday, July 10, 2009

"F****** amazing"

That's what Tim Lincecum said, according to Henry Shulman's sharply observed game story in the SF Chronicle. "If you can print that, print it, because that's what it was. He showed a lot of character, especially with all the movement he's made."
Granted, the 51-loss Padres are not the gold standard of offense on which to judge a pitcher, but that is beside the point.
Sanchez was in complete control, staying on top of his pitches so they would not rise dangerously into the zone. He threw 28 strikes before his 10th ball and used his breaking pitches effectively, which the staff had been begging him to do.
The Padres also have some good hitters, including Adrian Gonzalez, an All-Star who has 24 home runs. When Sanchez struck out two to start the fifth inning, Gonzalez was his first victim. Sanchez also struck out two in the sixth inning and the side in the seventh.


MY COMMENT -- Check out what a great pitch Sanchez threw to end the game.

Sanchez stunner

A night after The Franchise carried a no-hitter into the 7th, Jonathan Sanchez showed why you truly never know in baseball. What a stunner to know-it-all folks like me, who believed a week or two ago that Sanchez might as well go figure it out in Fresno.

Credit 11 strikeouts, a great catch by Rowand in the 9th, inspired pitch-calling by Eli Whiteside and some apparently great coaching by Dave Righetti that has helped Sanchez regain that elusive pitch command that has often vanished. On the postgame TV interview, as best as I could tell, Sanchez said that Rags had worked with him to slow down his lower body.

The interviewer also asked his father -- who apparently hadn't seen him pitch in the bigs previously -- what he thought. "Dios es grande," was the reply.

Adios, Scott Hairston

Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury-News notes astutely deep in his postgame post on Extra Baggs that Scott Hairston won't torment the Orange and Black again this year --

A’s GM Billy Beane did the Giants a huge service by acquiring outfielder Scott Hairston from the San Diego Padres last week. And the timing couldn’t be better. The Giants are done with the A’s and the Padres are here for a four-game series.
A certifiable Giant slayer, Hairston has a .440 average and two homers in 25 at-bats against them this season. For his career, Hairston has 11 homers, nine doubles and a triple in 166 at-bats against the Giants.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The elusive Orange and Black no-no

The Franchise made it into the seventh tonight with allowing a hit. Henry Shulman of the SF Chron notes that John Montefusco was the last Giant to toss a no-hitter from 1976 -- a 9-0 game that saw Johnnie Lemaster drive in 3 runs.

Meanwhile, the batters cranked out three homers tonight -- the third time this year that's happened -- for a grand total of 60.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Bengie leads the MLB in walk avoidance

So notes Charlie Hatton of Bugs & Cranks. He's tied with Miguel Olivo at 3 for the What Me Walky award but has about 70 more ABs. And I can't think of a better excuse to post the lyrics to Fats Domino's wonderful 1957 song, "I'm Walkin" --

I'm walkin, yes indeed and I'm talkin bout you and me
I'm hopin that you'll come back to me, uh uh
I'm lonely as I can be, I'm waitin for your company
I'm hopin that you'll come back to me.

Whatcha gonna do when the well runs dry
you gonna run away and hide
I'm gonna be right by your side
for you, pretty baby, I'd even die.

I'm walkin, yes indeed and I'm talkin bout you and me
I'm hopin that you'll come back to me.
I'm walkin, yes indeed and I'm talkin bout you and me
I'm hopin that you'll come back to me, uh uh
I'm lonely as I can be, I'm waiting for your company
I'm hopin that you'll come back to me.

Whatcha gonna do when the well runs dry
you gonna sit right down and cry
whatcha gonna do when I say bye bye
all you're gonna do is dry your eye

I'm walkin, yes indeed and I'm talkin bout you and me
I'm hopin that you'll come back to me.

Bowker's back in the Orange and Black

Henry Shulman of the SF Chronicle reports that John Bowker's getting another shot at the MLB after destroying PCL pitching this season. He's got 17 HRs and 63 RBIs in 285 ABs.

Bowker only played first base last year when he was in the Orange and Black but has been in the left field and right field this year. For most of this year, Fred Lewis and Travis Ishikawa have played in left and first. It's amazing to me that Brian Sabean can't find better hitters for those positions, which tend to be where most teams stash their big bats.

The Big Sadowski comes back to earth

Well, it wasn't going to last forever. Ryan Sadowski gave up 4 runs today in his third MLB start and the Giants offense pulled its annoying disappearing act -- five singles -- again against a marginal starting pitcher named Chris Volstad, who's now 12-12 over the past two seasons.

No Dunn deal for the Orange and Black

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Nine over .500 for the first time in five years

It's only appropriate that Barry Zito was masterful tonight in a 3-0 vic -- pitching like a guy who's getting paid $18 million a year.

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters makes a convincing case that the Giants are no better offensively than they were a year ago and are on track to again score less than 700 runs. The reason for the improvement has to do nearly entirely with improved pitching, which has allowed about 100 fewer runs.

The Giants are now 46-37 after 83 games -- nearly a reversal of the same point a year ago when they were 36-47 after losing a 9-2 nightmare at home to the Cubs, with Zito giving up 5 runs in 5 innings to run his record to 3-12. He would go 5-5 the rest of the way last year and is now 5-8 so far this year.

The Giants have scored 345 runs, seventh lowest in the MLB, and have hit 57 homers so they may actually top 100 this year. They have allowed only 303 runs, the lowest in the MLB.

Prospects for another Orange and Black bat

Henry Shulman of the SF Chronicle has an interesting post about whether the Giants will go get another hitter such as Jermaine Dye. Bottom line: it doesn't look very likely. Here's some key verbiage -- With an $11.5 million salary this year plus a $1 million buyout for his option, even two months of Dye would cost more than $4 million. That's a big chunk of change in a recession. This is what I've been led to believe from various conversations: The money might be there to make a deal, but the cost in prospects to acquire an impact bat might be prohibitive.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Sanchez gets another shot

Bruce Bochy told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Merc-News that Jonathan Sanchez will take the Big Unit's rotation slot. Johnson has a strained rotator cuff, which sounds like a recoverable injury -- though who can tell with a 45-year-old who's thrown 4,131 innings? The rotation looks like this -- Zito, Sadowski, Lincecum, Sanchez and Cain.

I had to check and see where Johnson rates on the all-time list of innings pitched. The answer is 38th. Only 13 guys have gone past 5,000 innings --

1. Cy Young+ 7354.70 R
2. Pud Galvin+ 6003.30 R
3. Walter Johnson+ 5914.70 R
4. Phil Niekro+ 5404.30 R
5. Nolan Ryan+ 5386.00 R
6. Gaylord Perry+ 5350.30 R
7. Don Sutton+ 5282.30 R
8. Warren Spahn+ 5243.70 L
9. Steve Carlton+ 5217.30 L
10. Pete Alexander+ 5190.00 R
11. Kid Nichols+ 5056.30 R
12. Tim Keefe+ 5047.70 R
13. Greg Maddux 5008.30 R

Orange and Black All-Stars show how it's done

That would be Matt Cain and Pablo Sandoval, who showed why they deserved to be named All-Stars (yes, I know that Pablo probably won't lead the online voting for the last slot even though he has the early lead). Matt dominated into the 7th after a Renteria error in the 6th let the Fish have a couple of runs. Sandoval launched his first career grand slam in the 4th -- a no-doubter that Jon Miller said "sounded like a cannon shot." It was some nice payback to Sean West, who completely dominated the Orange and Black a month ago for his first MLB victory in Miami. In that first game, West gave up only 2 hits in 8 innings -- singles to Sandoval and Renteria -- to give the Giants a 29-27 record. Since then, the Giants have gone 16-10.

The SF Chronicle has a nice headline for Henry Schulman's game story -- Panda puts one on express. It was a good thing that Sandoval gave the Orange and Black a real cushion, what with Brian Wilson going the high-wire route in the 9th for a save after giving up two runs. Theo at Baseball Reflections makes the case for the Panda not just in numbers (his OPS tops any other third baseman in the NL) but in attitude -- It’s hard to define Sandoval solely by the numbers he puts up. To watch him play is like watching a yellow lab chasing a tennis ball in Golden Gate Park; pure joy, energy, and hustle.

He only got 4 walks last year but he's already up to 27 this year. He's now got 13 HRs and 48 RBIs. Hard to believe that he was at 2 homers and 11 RBIs (and 6 walks) in the first 31 games. Then he hit the miracle 3-run walkoff on May 12 and hasn't stopped hitting. So he's had 11 HRs and 37 RBIs in the next 51 games.

The return of Joe Martinez

Sunday, July 05, 2009

44-37 at the halfway mark

Roy Oswalt and the Astros got a measure of revenge today with a 7-1 buttkick of the Giants with only three hits -- a homer by Aurilia and singles by Ishikawa and Uribe, leaving the Orange and Black seven over .500 at the halfway mark. That projects out to an 88-74 mark.

Major highlights of the first half -- The Big Unit's eight wins and the amazing performance by The Franchise; the elevation of Matt Cain to the elite level of pitchers; solid performances by Jeremy Affeldt, Brian Wilson, Pablo Sandoval and Bengie; and a return from the dead for Aaron Rowand once he was moved into the lead-off slot.

I'm reserving judgment on Barry Zito.

Vote for Pablo

If you want Pablo Sandoval to get the NL All-Star team's 33rd slot, click through on this link. Voting ends at 1 pm PDT on Thursday.

No win 304 for the Big Unit today

The Astros finally scored some runs -- four to be exact -- against the Big Unit. He gave up three solo homers and didn't make it out of the 4th after making a throwing error on a ball hit by Roy Oswalt.

Johnson had been 3-4 after losing to the Mets on May 16. He won on May 27 against the Braves, giving up one run in six innings and starting a run that's seen him go 5-1 including that game.

MLB.com reported in the 7th inning that The Unit left the game with a neck/shoulder injury. He's currently 22nd on the all-time list of games won. Here are the guys he could conceivably go past this season --

17. Gaylord Perry+ 314 R
18. Tom Seaver+ 311 R
19. Charley Radbourn+ 309 R
20. Mickey Welch+ 307 R
21. Tom Glavine 305 L

The Orange and Black All-Stars

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Dodgers fumble it away

The Padres just beat the Dodgers 7-4, as the Blew Crew made three errors and Bud Black decided to use Heath Bell for a five-out save. That leaves the Dodgers 21 games over .500 at the halfway point. They're now an MLB-best 51-30 as the first half of the season ended and six and a half games ahead of the Orange and Black.

The Giants are 44-36 and a game and a half in front in the NL Wild Card.

More Orange and Black fireworks

Tim Lincecum's just gotten his 9th win after going 7 shutout innings, 107 pitches, 9 strikeouts and three hits. The Giants have now outscored the Astros 22-0 in the last two days. Jon Miller noted during the 4th inning that Giants fans gave a nice spontaneous round of applause to Russ Ortiz when he came to the plate for the first time.

My favorite Ortiz game as a Giant came when he held the Braves to one run as the starter in the deciding game of the 2002 NLDS.

Janie McCauley's game story for AP notes that Russ is now 0-4 lifetime against the Giants. She also notes that Lincecum now has 23 consecutive scoreless innings -- the longest such streak since Robb Nen racked up 25 innings in the 2000 season.

Andrew Pentis of MLB.com notes that The Franchise hasn't allowed a runner past second in his last 18 innings.

The Big Sadowski

Friday, July 03, 2009

Orange and Black fireworks a day early

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Blame Zito, not Fred Lewis

Andrew Baggarly's game story for the San Jose Mercury-News is particularly curious for its intended effect to somehow blame tonight's 5-2 loss on Fred Lewis and his inability to catch a tailing flyball in the St. Louis twilight and then killing a potential rally in the 8th.

I didn't see the game, but Zito didn't get out of the 5th and was charged with all 5 runs. In other words, he pitched like the marginal MLBer he's become, a guy who requires perfect defense and plenty of good luck. Perhaps he would have gotten out of the 1st unscathed but again, but I'm skeptical. After all, this is Barry Zito we're talking about here, not Juan Marichal or Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum. What else, really, is there to say except that he's by far the highest paid player on the team -- eating up over 20% of the payroll -- and he's pitching like a marginal big leaguer. With the exception of Jason Schmidt, Zito's the single most overpaid player and poorest performer per dollar of any regular player.

As for Lewis, the larger qustion is why he's even on an MLB roster -- especially one that needs airtight defense and more offense. There may be a corner outfielder somewhere else in the MLB who's underperforming to the same extent, but I can't think of one right off the bat. Baggarly makes the point that John Bowker is raking in Fresno but then points out that Lewis is out of options so he'd have to be DFAd. My point is -- who cares about Fred Lewis' future? He can't cut it at the big league level. Why he's still getting any ABs at all reflects -- once again -- the startling ineptitude of both Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy.

Henry Shulman's game story for the SF Chronicle is better written, in that it makes the point that Zito threw 26 pitches before he managed to get an out in the first. He also points out that Lewis has been a "liability" in left all season.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

DFA Howry, please

As if Brian Sabean pays any attention to Giants Win, but what a lousy signing Bobby Howry's turned out to be. He just lost another game in St. Louis in the bottom of the 10th, nullifying a great outing by Matt Cain. The Giants are wasting $2.75 million this year on Howry.

According to the Henry Shulman game story in the SF Chronicle, Pablo Sandoval tried to take the blame, which shows what a fine teammate he's already become. For his part, Howry acted like a diva, blaming the umpire, and then running off. I've lost patience with Howry and I'm skeptical that he'll bring much in a trade. He should be DFAd ASAP. Failing that, he should certainly not used in situations with the game on the line.

MC O'Conner at Raising (Matt) Cain nicely recaps the 2-1 loss, comparing it to a defensive soccer match where your team loses at the end.

Sign The Franchise now

Knucksie and the Big Unit

With Randy Johnson now 8-5, I began to wonder who has put together the best season for any pitcher who's 45 or older and thought Phil Niekro must be in contention. It turns out that he won 16 games as a 46-year-old in 1985 for the Yankees. Jamie Moyer picked up 16 last year at the age of 45. Here's the list of top single-season winners for pitchers who are 43 or older --

1. Jack Quinn 18 1928
2. Phil Niekro 17 1982
3. Jamie Moyer 16 2008
Phil Niekro 16 1984
Phil Niekro 16 1985
6. Jack Quinn 15 1927
7. Jamie Moyer 14 2007
8. Tommy John 13 1987
Nolan Ryan 13 1990
10. Satchel Paige 12 1952
Nolan Ryan 12 1990

Jack Quinn was 44 when he went 18-7 for the Philadelphia A's in 1928. He won 11 games in 1929 and nine in 1930 for the A's -- a team that won back to back World Series titles. The 1929 team is regarded as one of the best of all time.