Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Your rookie of the year delivers

Graphic from Fire Sabean

"He's something special" said Harold Reynolds tonight as Buster Posey inside-outed a Rox pitch for a bases loaded double off the right field wall in the 8th -- putting the game out of reach. "They've been looking for that hit for two days," Mike Krukow said on the telecast.

The Giants have had 5 Rookies of the Year -- No. 24 in 1951, the Baby Bull in 1958, Stretch in 1959, Sarge Matthews in 1973 and the Count in 1975.

He had been 4 for 28 until getting a hit and run single in the 7th and the double in the 8th. And he threw out Carlos Gonzalez on a steal. Buster didn't do it all, of course. Here's Grant's recap at McCovey Chronicles --

Torres? Posey Torres Torres Bumgarner Torres Posey Bumgarner. Bumgarner Torres Posey, Posey Posey Posey Wilson. Bumgarner? Torres, Posey Posey. Torres Posey Bumgarner Posey Torres. Posey Posey Posey, Torres Torres Torres, and Bumgarner.

Also, Posey. Also also, Torres. Bumgarner too.

Posey Torres Torres Bumgarner Posey Posey. Wilson? Wilson. Bumgarner Torres Posey, Posey Posey Torres.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's Brian Sabean's fault

He's the guy who has refused to get the Giants the big bats they need to avoid heartbreaking losses like tonight's 2-1 nightmare. He's squandered the available bucks on terrible deals for Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria and Mark DeRosa -- $46 million of this year's payroll.

Henry Schulman's posted a decent story for the SF Chronicle that makes the case that it was just lousy luck tonight -- lots of hard-hit shots that didn't find holes. I don't blame bad luck. I blame Brian Sabean. The Giants got three singles, a double and 4 walks. That's just plain awful.

I also am going to give a little blame to Bruce Bochy for letting Jonathan Sanchez bat for himself in the 8th inning. Look Bruce, he's a guy who has a record of being inconsistent and who's well over 100 pitches. You're TWO DAYS away from having the Fresno guys up to pitch. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO PROVE? And why didn't you have your best rightfielder (Schierholtz) in the outfield in the 9th?

Grant at McCovey Chronicles sums it up nicely -- What a crap game.

Time to get happy

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mighty mighty Matt Cain

Despite Barry Zito continuing to pitch like a guy who should retire, his crappiness hasn't rubbed off on the entire pitching staff.

Just when it was looking like the 2010 season was headed down the tubes, Matt Cain delivered the goods again. He's been the only Giants starter to pitch consistently well this month. Here's a recap by MC O'Connor from Raising (Matt) Cain --
Matt Cain made six starts in August, throwing 39 innings and giving up 36 hits and 16 runs, earning 2 wins, 2 losses, and 2 no-decisions. August was Matt's best month since May (44-2/3, 23 hits, 10 runs), and the low walk (7) and high strikeout (38) totals had to help. If the Giants were looking for a starting pitcher to "step up" and deliver the goods, they found one, going 4-2 with Cain on the mound this month (12-14 overall).

Ron Kroichik of the San Francisco Chronicle also notes that Brian Wilson was particularly stellar when he needed to be -- This was Wilson's fourth five-out save this season and his first since June 16. He also has four four-out saves.
"I don't think closers should only have to get three outs," Wilson said. "They pay you to do exactly what they need. If they call you in the seventh to get nine outs, then you do it."

Worst. Contract. Ever.

To those Giants fans who thought Tim Lincecum's performance Friday was bad, it wasn't -- 4 earned runs in 6 innings. The Orange and Black still had a chance to win the game.

Barry Zito showed what "bad" is tonight. As if anyone needed reminding about Barry Zito being the most overpaid player in MLB, he underlined that fact tonight with one of his worst performances ever. He's now managed to rack up three losses in seven days.

Here's what Carl Pavlovic the San Jose Mercury-News has in his notes --
- Zito has an 0-6 record and 5.51 ERA in his last nine games (eight starts)
- He has one win in his last 15 outings, and two wins in his last 20 games (19 starts)
- Zito has allowed at least one homer in seven of eight starts

Frankly, the only thing that Zito's doing well is giving quotes to reporters. Here's what he told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle -- "There's an ebb and flow. This is just not a good time to have a little lull right now. We're in a playoff race. It's still August, but we can't take anything lightly. It's up to us to make a statement in the first and second inning, telling them we're going to hold them down, and we're not doing it."

MY SNARKY COMMENT -- Whatever, dude. I think you should have exiled yourself to Fresno or San Jose to learn how to pitch again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Pure Bengie Molina"

Friday, August 27, 2010

A moral victory for Lincecum

What a crappy game. Here's what little upside there was -- Once he got past giving up a first-inning three-run homer to Adam "I Don't Want to Play in San Francisco" La Roche, Tim Lincecum pitched pretty well. It might appear a little like my saying "If I were younger and taller, I'd look like George Clooney" but the fact that he was decent over innings two through six may give us a little hope.

As so often happens when a nondescript guy pitches, the Giants hitters were baffled. Henry Schulman's game story for the SF Chronicle says Barry Enright did not allow a run for the first time in 10 big-league starts.

JC Parsons at Raising (Matt) Cain couldn't see anything upbeat about all this --Lincecum's descent into mediocrity continues. Tonight's version of my recurring nightmare wasn't his worst line ( 6 innings, 4 runs, 5 hits, FOUR walks, and 6 strikeouts) but it was clearly more of the same crap. Come on...walk the first guy on four pitches...don't get a strike with a fastball until pitch #17 and then give up a homer on pitch #19. Since the offense decided to take an extra day off (they did work hard last series after all), the game was over right then.

August was brutal for Tim; FIVE LOSSES, 22 runs given up in 25.1 innings. That's some crappy pitching and it may quite well have taken us out of contention. Only time will tell. I'm really starting to dread Tim's starts....Thank Willie the next one is in September!!

Strasberg goes down

Steve Strasberg, the MLB's most exciting young pitcher since Tim Lincecum, is going under the knife. THAT's unsettling in the dog days of August when the once-vaunted Giants' rotation has been wobbly at best with no clear alternative available to the current starting five. Lefty Malo has the same sort of reaction to the news, and notes that there doesn't seem to be any obvious candidate in the minors at this point to provide depth:

So with that lack of depth, the Giants will push down the stretch (and go into 2011) with a rotation that includes a hugely talented kid who has finally admitted he needs better conditioning -- not to mention conditioner; a 21-year-old pushing past his previous season highs in innings; an overpaid veteran who hasn't yet put together two good halves in his four years in SF; a dirty-armed lefty who can't put together two great starts in a row; and Matt Cain.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Counting Orange and Black pitches

Maybe it was just the very hot weather or the Reds being fired up after getting whomped but it's hard not to worry about Madison Bumgarner's worst MLB game. In light of yesterday's depressing loss, Bay Area Sports Guy has a long but intriguing post about Madison Bumgarner having pitched a large number of innings for a 21-year-old. Here are a couple of key conclusions --

I have doubts that a kid who just turned 21, who’s never pitched this many innings before and came into this season out of shape, can keep pitching every fifth game until the season’s over. But that’s what’s going to happen, especially since there’s no more Wellemeyer, Tim Lincecum’s trying to find himself and both Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito are liable to get knocked out in the fourth inning every few starts.

I’d like the Giants to handle Bumgarner the way the Rays used David Price at the end of the 2008 season and in the playoffs, but that’s not exactly fair. Price only started one game in the regular season out of 5 appearances. Bumgarner’s further along in his development than Price was, even though Price was 23 when he was called up.

But I think it’s time to skip a Bumgarner start, preferably the next one, although the one after might be easier since the Giants will have an expanded roster … except none of the starters are really pitching all that well in Fresno. Since the Giants have been using the waiver wire to pick up superfluous talent ever since the trade deadline came and went, perhaps they can search the scrap heap for a serviceable fifth starter? Because while I hate obsessing over pitch counts, it’d be even worse to see Bumgarner walking off the field in the fourth inning, shaking and flexing his forearm and elbow like a certain phenom in our nation’s capital.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"I don't regret anything"

It's a great reminder that we all have to move on. It's the best quote from the toughest loss of the year, thanks to Rusty Simmons' game story for the San Francisco Chronicle from Brian Wilson: The Reds tied it 11-11 against closer Brian Wilson in the ninth inning when Drew Stubbs reached on Pablo Sandoval's airmailed throw and scored on Paul Janish's 18-hopper through the right side. Asked if he felt snakebitten, Wilson said, "I don't ever play the game that way. I throw everything that I have. I don't regret anything that was thrown or called. That's just baseball."

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury-News takes a Pollyanna view of the 12-11 loss and says it shows Giants are doing the right things -- even though two of its five starting pitchers performed like garbarge today.

Who else but Zito?

I have to admit that I felt a certain grim satisfaction amid the sadness and frustration when the Giants lost a heartbreaker today, 12-11, when Barry Zito couldn't hold the Reds in the 12th inning after the Giants had stormed back from a 10-1 deficit early in the game.

As soon as Zito came into the game, I knew that the Giants were doomed to lose. I just knew it.

I appreciate the fact that he's durable and a good guy in the clubhouse. But he's nothing but an ordinary pitcher who's paid like an elite player. And he's probably the most overpaid player in MLB. As Giants fans, we're going to have to endure plenty more moments like this for the next three years. Thanks a lot, Brian Sabean.

Here's Cash Kruth's perfunctory writeup for mlb.com.

Here's Andres Torres' stunning two-run double in the 8th to tie it up.

As usual, Grant at McCovey Chronicles came up with a superb headline -- Giants Score Just Enough to Break Our Hearts. I've checked the postings at McCovey Chronicles that blast Sandoval for his 9th inning error but the guy did go 4-for-6. No, this one's on Zito and Bumgarner.

Why Dodger fans are misinformed

If you've never been to Dodger Stadium, you may note how unknowledgeable many of the fans are. More than anything, they are obsessed with batting beach balls around -- too bad if delays the game -- and getting their jollies by appearing on the message board. I believe part of the reason why the fans are so clueless is that the local paper does a lousy job of covering the team.

Still, the team's made it to the postseason for the last two seasons, partly because they have Matt Kemp, an excellent centerfielder with power who's only 25 -- about three times as good a player as Aaron Rowand. And he's got a big upside. But the Los Angeles Times, particularly dingbat columnists Bill Plaschke and TJ Simers, has also decided that he's Evil because....well, the writing is so bad that I can't explain. Maybe it's because Dave Stewart is his agent or he dates Rihanna? From what I can see, he's a gifted player who would start for all 29 MLB teams and the Dodgers. Bob Timmerman at the very good LA Observed blog has concluded that the Times has gone off the rails in bashing Kemp, who currently has 22 HRs and 71 RBIs, but he can't even explain why this has happened --
What I am trying to figure out is: why does Kemp receive what seems to be an inordinate amount of scorn from the Times staff. Granted, Kemp has had a disappointing season, both on offense and defense. On the other hand, so has pretty much everybody else on the Dodgers with the exception of Hong-Chih Kuo....

What's not known is just why it is Kemp that is singled out for so much criticism? Any Kemp mistake is portrayed as the result of mental lapses and lack of dedication. When newly acquired second baseman Ryan Theriot was thrown out going from first to third on a single in a game at Atlanta when the Dodgers behind 8-0, the play received only a brief mention. (Theriot said he always plays aggressively. Cubs fans have warned me to expect to see Theriot getting thrown out on the bases a lot.)

Readers of this blog know that I'm always glad to see the Dodgers and their fans suffer but all this scapegoating of a solid player feels very much like the hatchet job performed on Barry Bonds by the San Francisco Chronicle -- only with significantly less cause. If there were any way to trade Rowand and prospects for Kemp, I'd do it in an instant.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Buster for Rookie of the Year

1-14, 27-7 in four days

Henry Schulman notes in his game story that the Giants were outscored by the Cards by 13 runs over the weekend, then have hammered the Reds for the past two nights.

Reza at 8th Inning Weirdness -- a pretty good new blog I've discovered -- has a nice recap, picking up on the resurgence of Sandoval and the newest Giant, Cody Ross:

More power from Pablo Sandoval. This is a good thing. Slugging percentage is up to .416. We've already asserted that he's back. Is he REALLY back? Maybe...

Cody Ross was the one who started it all off for the Giants with a 2 out base hit in the 1st inning. He's got a kind of Ryan Braun swagger in the batter's box. I'd hate him if he wasn't a Giant. But he is, so I love him.

Home sweet home

Coming off a lousy 2-4 road trip, the Giants knocked out Edinson Volquez in the first with five. John Shea of the SF Chronicle reports that it's the biggest first inning in two years.

MC OConner at Raising (Matt) Cain notes that No. 18 delivered eight innings of solid work and notes that Matt, after a rough top of the first, got to bat in the bottom of the first --

I'm willing to bet that was the first time Cain had experienced that in his big-league career. Cain labored again in the top of the 3rd, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits, but then retired the next 16 hitters to shut down a potent Reds offense. It was vintage Matt, the kind we haven't seen in a few starts, with only 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, and 5 hits in 8 innings of work. He finished strong, striking out the side in the 7th, and getting the last out in the 8th on a nifty 3-2 breaking ball for a foul-tip strike three on his 120th pitch. It was good for a Game Score of 70, Cain's highest since he beat LA on the first of the month.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ross in the Orange and Black

The SF Chron reports that Cody Ross is now a Giant but it's not clear who they'll have to clear out to get him on the team. I vote for putting Rowand on the DL.

Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye is thoroughly unimpressed with the move, which was intended to keep Ross from going to the Padres:

The Giants obviously wanted to prevent the Pads from upgrading more, and Ross is a potent bat against lefties, but now they just created a big roster fiasco, and I'm afraid our poor friend Nate Schierholtz, he of the great glove and cannon arm, might be forced out by this mess.

Who is Jaime Garcia?

In his 25th MLB start, he just shut out the Giants on three hits -- continuing a disturbing trend in which the Giants are helpless against an unproven pitcher. He allowed two singles to Pat the Bat and one in the 9th with two out to Nate Schierholtz. Did the Giants get a walk? No. And just to show his love for underperforming overpriced vets, Bochy decided to have Aaron Rowand lead off. Rowand just ended the game on a meek groundout to complete a nice 0-for-4.

I can't help but get annoyed once again at Brian Sabean over the Zito and Rowand signings. This is the kind of game in which Zito should have the upper hand.

Henry Schulman notes in his game story for the San Francisco Chron that Zito hasn't won a road game since May 5.

"There was nothing on that pitch"

That's what one of the guys on TBS (I think it was Ernie Johnson) just said as Barry Zito gift-wrapped today's game to the Cards with a 4th inning belt-high fattie to the immortal Allen Craig, which he hammered into the left stands for a 5-0 lead. Zito has no command today -- a disturbing development as the Giants try to compete in the stretch run -- and was just pulled with two outs in the 4th. It was Craig's second MLB homer in his 26th game.

Zito continues to disappoint, given that the whole idea of a $126 million deal was that he'd step up in games like today's. He hasn't won a game in a over a month....specifically July 16, when he pitched 8 innings of two hit ball and the Giants beat the Mets, 1-0.

Brian Sabean should have been fired long ago for making this deal. Much as I'd like for Zito to succeed, he just doesn't have the goods to be much more than an end of the rotation starter. It's going to go down as one of the worst deals ever.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Done in by ghosts of the Giants' past"

In addition to Tim Lincecum being just adequate, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that tonight's 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cards came courtesy of two former Giants -- Randy Winn and Pedro Feliz, two guys who managed to under-perform plenty while in the Orange and Black.

That's all well and good, but the story doesn't really go into the obvious point -- the team's continuing to not hit well. They managed to get the tie run to the plate in the 8th with Sandoval up but he bounced out.

It was sort of like going to see "Eat Pray Love" -- with Lincecum having lost his magic, Chris Carpenter pitching and the Cards in a six-game losing streak, I figured that it would be a vaguely depressing experience. I was right about both the game and the movie, despite the efforts of the Giants and Julia Roberts, respectively.

JC Parsons at Raising (Matt) Cain has a solid post titled "Feeble Tim" with some key verbiage here:

We really do have to ask the question if Tim Lincecum (11-8) can lead us into the playoffs this season. In a straight up match up against another NL elite pitcher, Lincecum was over-matched. After teasing us for three innings, the wheels came off. He finished with a pedestrian line: 5.1 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts. A game score of 42, which sucks. Bad defense and poor luck contributed, of course, but when Randy Winn goes yard on you...well, let's just say there won't be a third Cy coming home this year.

Pirates clinch 18th straight losing season

Man, this is a bit of perspective for those of us Giants who suffered through the four straight losing years between 2005 and 2008. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Devon Kovacevic does a thorough job -- noting that the current squad is on pace to go 53-109 -- and details how badly the franchise has done since 1992, except that he leaves out one key fact:

The story never mentions Barry Bonds, who left Pittsburgh after the 1992 season. Is there some kind of ban at the Post-Gazette on acknowledging that Bonds played for the Pirates? I mean, he played there for SEVEN YEARS and the team had winning records in four of the last five years. They were in the postseason the last three years. He won two MVPs and lost a third that he should have won to Terry Pendleton, one of the worst MVP selections ever.

Well, I suppose that it's pretty depressing to bring up if you're in Pittsburgh, for sure.

In case you're interested in the awfulness of the 1991 MVP voting, it's obvious that Pendleton wasn't even the best player on his own team - Tom Glavine was.

Stuck with Sabean

Jeff Fletcher at Bay Bridge Baseball concludes that Brian Sabean is going to keep his job even if the Giants don't make the postseason. I disagree strongly with his conclusion that he deserves to keep his job. Here's part of his post--

Back in March, did you really think, with the modest additions the Giants made to that 88-win team, that they were likely to win more than 91 games?

I didn’t.

Heck, 91 games would still be good enough to get in the playoffs in a lot of seasons.

So, to answer the original question, if the Giants continue to play as they’ve been playing and come up just short of the playoffs, which I think is likely, I think Sabean and Bochy both deservedly keep their jobs. If they somehow tank in September and fall out of it, then you might have to consider holding Bochy responsible, but I think that’s very unlikely.

Friday, August 20, 2010

"He hit it hard ... really hard"

That was Mike Shannon's reaction to Pablo Sandoval's double in the 9th tonight in St. Louis. Earlier, Sandoval hit his 4th homer in 8 games. It sounds like he's back in the groove, fortunately.

Better yet, the Giants got decent starting pitching again. Chris Haft of mlb.com notes that Madison Bumgarner showed "veteran poise" at the age of 21. Hard to believe that the front office kept him in Fresno for the first third of the season.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sanchez turns it around

No player on the Giants exemplifies how maddeningly inconsistent this team is more than Jonathan Sanchez. Just when it looked like no one could pitch decently, the Giants won a relatively easy 5-2 vic at Citizens Bank in Philly, thanks largely to Sanchez stepping up with eight innings of two-hit ball with two walks and seven strikeouts. Sandoval homered for the third time in 9 days and Posey doubled twice.

Sanchez is first Giants starting pitcher to pick up a win in over two weeks. The last one came on August 3 in this 10-0 blowout at Denver that Sanchez also won.

The Giants are now 68-54. Chris Haft's game story for mlb.com makes the point that catching the Padres is unlikely with 40 games left -- even if the Dads go .500 the rest of the way and wind up at 94-68, the Giants would have to go 27-13 to finish at 95-67.

Sanchez says he can't be like this every time, according to Henry Schulman of the SF Chron -- "Every time I go out there, I've got my best stuff. Sometimes it doesn't work."

Remembering the Shot Heard Round the World

Still another Dodger choke

Amidst the generally lousy recent play by the Orange and Black (where are the Cubs when we need them?), Giants fans have at least one steady source of happiness -- the ongoing ability of the Dodgers to blow games that they should win. The once-vaunted dodger pen is in a shambles as it gave away tonight's contest the ever-annoying Rox.

James Peltz of the LA Times reports on Octavio Dotel throwing back to back wild pitches in the 10th to let in the go-ahead run. The Dodgers are now 8 games back in the wild card and 12 games back in the NL West. Eat it raw, dodger fans. This is what you get for being obsessed with bouncing beach balls during games.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The wheels stay off

The Giants have fallen apart over the last 3 games, losing all by 6 runs. Meanwhile, the Phillies are showing why they have made it to the World Series for the past two years (and ended the Dodgers' season both times) with a second consecutive 6-run victory over the Orange and Black.

It's the worst stretch of pitching for the Giants all year except for the four games in late June and early July when they lost 8-2, 7-3, 6-3 and then won 11-8.

Affeldt back in the Orange and Black

The Giants just twittered this -- Chris Ray has gone on the DL with a side strain and the #SFGiants have activated Jeremy Affeldt from the DL.

My snarky comment -- He probably strained his side watching the Phils blast three hits past him last night.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

43-18, 24-35 for the Orange and Black

Andrew Baggarly's game story for the San Jose Mercury-News (registration required) about the 9-3 loss tonight makes the excellent point -- the Giants are 43-18 against teams with losing records and 24-35 against the teams above .500.

I continue to believe the Bochy needs to use a FAST hook with Zito, who tends to fall apart very suddenly. Chris Haft of mlb.com did a nice post on the passing of Bobby Thomson and has some upbeat thoughts about a depressing game: -- With his seventh-inning longball Tuesday, Jose Guillen has homered at least once for all 10 Major League teams he has played for. The complete list: Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Cincinnati, Oakland, Anaheim/Los Angeles, Washington, Seattle, Kansas City and San Francisco.

One quick aside: I covered Guillen briefly in 2003 when he was with Cincinnati. If he hits now like he did then before his productivity prompted his trade to the A's, the Giants will reach the postseason. He's a hitting machine when he's on his game.

-- Barry Zito recorded zero strikeouts in five-plus innings Tuesday, marking the first time since May 12, 2007 that this anomaly occurred. Nevertheless, he definitely looked sharp for four innings. Now all he needs to do is extend that slightly.

-- Tim Lincecum has lost three consecutive decisions for the first time in his career, which is distinguished by a 51-24 record. The only other Giant in franchise history to make at least 74 starts without enduring a losing streak of more than two games was Sal Maglie (shades of the Bobby Thomson era), who didn't lose three in a row until reaching 76 decisions.

"The wheels have fallen off here in the 8th inning"

That's what Duane Kuiper said amidst Philly's 5 run inning. Prime offender was Chris Ray, who came in to preserve a 1-run deficit at 4-3 and wound up giving up two singles, a double and a walk without getting anyone out as all four batters scored.

Bruce Bochy got himself thrown out later in the inning protesting a bogus balk call on Ramon Ramirez.

The 9-3 loss gives the Phils the Wild Card lead by a game over the Orange and Black.

RIP Bobby Thomson

Monday, August 16, 2010

Warming up at Mays Field

A great photo by David Gallagher

This sure cheered me up after the disheartening series ender against the Padres. Additionally, the Dodgers gagged again tonight as their pen failed to hold a 3-1 lead against Atlanta in the bottom of the 9th and gave up 3 runs. Here's how Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times puts it:

The Dodgers were seemingly on their way to victory, only for everything to come crashing down, their old nightmare replaced by their new nightmare.

Brown in the Orange and Black

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The problem with Sabean

Only Baseball Matters links to a brutal post about Sabean's incompetence by a blog called Where Have You Gone Joe, who notes that the Giants continue to insist on playing guys who are under-performing such as Freddy Sanchez and Aaron Rowand. Here's some of it --

The Yankees, Angels, Red Sox, Dodgers, Phillies, Braves and Cardinals always have their fair share of sunk costs meaning bad free agent signings. The difference is, the winners cut their losses. They don't ride an Aaron Rowand and Freddy Sanchez day in and day out just because they're expensive. Just like the Cards cut loose Dave Duncan's kid Chris Duncan. Just like the Braves cut loose Nate McLouth. Like the Angels sat down Gary Matthews, Jr. and went out got Tori Hunter to replace him. Good teams cut their losses. I don't eat 5 month old room temperature fillet mignon, just because it was $11.99 a pound. If I want fine dining, I'm going to throw out the mold-infested mess, break out the bank, go back to the meat market, and chalk it up as a cost of eating well. The problem with the Giants over the last few seasons is that they have not been replacing the old spoiled food with quality choice product. They merely add garnishment with players like Ryan Klesko, Mark Sweeney, Todd Greene, Steve Finley, Omar Vizquel, Randy Winn, and lots of other older guys. This time, they got lucky with Huff, Burrell and Torres, who except for Torres, are eligible for free-agency after this season. There is no long-term solution in play. Posey is the first position player to come out of the system with a bang since Matt Williams.

Tim Not So Terrific

He's just been yanked in the top of the 4th with the Giants already down 6-2, five days after giving up 6 to the Cubbies in 4 innings. I suspect that something's not right physically. Some of the comments on the McCovey Chronicles thread indicate that a lot of the hits are dinkers but it's more than a little disturbing that the dominance of the last two years is apparently gone. Here are two comments:

-- Was thinking about going to this game. So glad I didn’t. The tickets were super-expensive, and Timmy is being not-so-good Timmy.

-- Anyone else sick of bleeder hits?

Cash Kruth of mlb.com says Lincecum was "battered by a flurry" of soft hits and bloops.

Jose Guillen just got his first hit as a Giant, a double in the bottom of the 4th, but then got thrown out with no one out trying for third.

UPDATE -- A thoroughly discouraging 8-2 loss with a few bright spots -- great hitting by Posey (3 of the Giants 4 hits) and 4 strikeouts by Adrian Gonzalez. The Giants are now 67-52.

This always cheers me up a bit -- the Dodgers lost 13-1 and are now 60-58. The LA Times reports that it's their biggest loss of the season.

"I didn't know he was that fast"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

So who's this Guillen guy?

Kevin O'Brien at Remember '51 has some solid analysis. Here's an excellent point -- 2.) He has power (career .171 ISO) but that's about it. Guillen doesn't draw walks (career 0.29 BB/K ratio) and he doesn't get on-base well either (career .322 OBP). In order to be worthwhile, Guillen is going to have hit dingers and fast. Granted, Burrell did that when he came over to Tampa, but can the Giants get lucky on three cast-offs in a row? (With Huff being the first.) That seems like a lot to ask and hope for.

Nothing wrong with Jonathan Sanchez

I like what he did to fire up the team by promising a win and then doing his part by giving up only three runs into the sixth. Here's what he told Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle after the game --"I believe in my team," Sanchez said. "I have confidence in them. Nothing against (the Padres), but we keep fighting against them. If we keep playing like that, better and better, I think we're going to make it."

At the same time, the left-hander had to state the obvious after the Padres beat the Giants for the eighth time in nine games this season.

"They have a pretty good team, too," he said.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Guillen in the Orange and Black

It looks like the front office is serious about making a run for the postseason. He's has 16 HRs and 62 RBIs in 105 games for the Royals this year. KC gets the "player to be named later."

The SF Chronicle has posted the AP story.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mike Fontenot in the Orange and Black

Who cares if the AL is superior?

Chris Haft's story for MLB.com makes the very good point that Pat Burrell's been keeping the Giants in the race for the last two weeks. He doesn't mention that the Tampa Bay Rays pay his salary after they DFA's him earlier this season. Here's how a veteran handles making good postgame copy --
"Getting an opportunity to come here, I'm very thankful for it," said Burrell, who also lashed a two-run single in the first inning. "Then to be able to contribute and get back into a pennant race, I couldn't ask for anything more than that. I'm more than excited to be here. Hopefully we can continue to roll."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Giants bail Bochy out

The very fine 5-4 vic against the Cubbies was closer than it should have been. Bruce Bochy watched Barry Zito give up a 3-1 lead in the 6th and then strike out a rookie looking with two men on to end the inning. That should have been the night for Zito -- given that the Giants have a fairly effective pen and given Zito's propensity for wobbly performances.

Instead, Bruce decided to bat Zito in the bottom of the 6th after Rowand homered so Zito could make the third out and then allowed him to pitch first to Zambrano and then to the Cubbies lead-off hitter, who damn near hit one into the Bay. WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU TRYING PROVE, BRUCE?

The game story from the Associated Press (put up on the San Francisco Chronicle web site) highlights Pat the Bat's impressive clutch homer in the 8th.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Anytime you lose to the Cubs, it's a disgrace"

So said Alvin Dark during his first year as Giants manager in 1961 in Charles Einstein's "A Flag for San Francisco." I was 10 at the time and as big a Giants fan then as I am now.

Dark's words have stayed true. Tim Lincecum's crappy outing tonight was particularly disturbing because it was the Cubs. The failure of Guillermo Mota to close out the eighth was bothersome because it was the Cubs. The Giants managed to score twice in the 9th and bring the winning run to the plate but Juan Uribe and Travis Ishikawa could not get it done -- discouraging because it was the Cubs.

Tim Lincecum can't explain what happened in the San Francisco Chronicle but when Koyie Hill and the pitcher get back to back hits, it's a disgrace -- as Dark used to say.

Pat the Bat makes it happen

Well, it was a pretty simple task -- get the ball out of the infield with the bases loaded and none out in the 11th -- but Pat delivered. That's no small thing on a team that's as challenged offensively as this one.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Burriss is back in the Orange and Black

Apparently, the 13-member pitcher staff is going away. The SF_Giants twitter feed just posted this --
Emmanuel Burriss has been recalled and will join the #SFGiants this week. More news on the corresponding move coming soon

Burris is back in the Orange and Black

Apparently, the 13-member pitcher staff is going away.

Shades of Joe Namath

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Get the hell out of Atlanta

The Giants have just lost 6-3 in Atlanta, ending a forgettable 2-4 road trip against the Rox and Braves. It's the worst they've played since the seven game losing streak from June 26 to July 2. I hope the Braves lose every game from hereon out, unless it's against another NL West team.

Perhaps you're wondering why the Braves are included in the "most hate-worthy" poll on this site. Now's a good time to explain.

I've always resented the Atlanta Braves for a variety of reasons. There's the idiotic Tomahawk Chop, the sense that the fans would really rather be at a football game and two historic indignities: the Braves played like garbage in the 1969 playoffs against the Mets after edging the Giants out for the first NL West title. The Giants were still in first after 154 games, making me feel that the divisional set-up was inherently unfair since how could Atlanta be in a Western division? And in the final year of the six-team NL West, the Padres decided to hand the Braves the division title, brainlessly trading away Fred McGriff for Vince Moore, Donnie Elliot and Melvin Nieves. The Giants won 103 games and didn't make the postseason that year either, thanks partly to the 3-game lay-down by the Rox at the end of the year, starting Greg Harris with a 1-7 record in the Friday night game.

That's one reason why the Padres and Rox are on the hate-worthy list, too.

That 1993 team was a sight to behold -- Barry Bonds, Will Clark and Matt Williams in their primes, Bill Swift and John Burkett both winning over 20 games and Rod Beck saving 48.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

10th shutout of the year for the Orange and Black

Man, what a painful game tonight in Atlanta...the 10th time this year and the second time in 4 days that the Giants have been shut out. This team has just stopped hitting since the 10-0 buttkick at Coors. This is a team that needs to get its best offense out on the field, which means not insisting on playing Aaron Rowand. It's particularly hard to take after the guy they probably could have had (Adam Dunn) hit two three-run homers at Chavez Latrine.

The offense consisted of a double by Burrell, singles by Posey and Sandoval and a walk by Huff. Oh, and Rowand struck out twice.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles has a pretty good take on what happened -- the Giants decided to let Aaron Rowand start while sitting Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa, even though it's obvious that Rowand is pretty worthless against right-handers, particularly a good one like Tim Hudson. In 227 plate appearances, he's got a .252 batting average, a .288 OBP and a .401 slugging percentage against RHP this year; He's struck out 52 times and walked seven times. Here's what Grant says -- Love that K/BB ratio. He has value to a team as an extra outfielder. I really do believe that. But the Giants have to realize that there are ways to maximize his value, and ways to maximize his struggles. Sometimes pitchers gonna pitch. Tim Hudson's having a great year. And it's not as if the replacement for Rowand -- either Nate Schierholtz or Travis Ishikawa -- is some great talent who is unfairly banished to the bench. But every little improvement to the lineup can help against a pitcher like Hudson

The Orange and Black 4-man bench

Hard to believe that the Giants are insisting on carrying 13 pitchers these days. Lefty Malo fulminates as to why this is a bad idea. My reaction is that since Whiteside isn't going to get used in most games at all, the Giants have a 3-man bench. That seems a little short.

Here's the current 25-man roster -- Bumgarner, Cain, Casilla, Lincecum, Lopez, Mota, Ramirez, Ray, Romo, J. Sanchez, Wellemeyer, Wilson, Zito

Position players -- Burrell, Huff, Ishikawa, Posey, Renteria, Rowand, Freddie Sanchez, Sandoval, Schierholz, Torres, Uribe, Whiteside

Christmas in August in Atlanta

Friday, August 06, 2010

No. 600 for Willie Mays

The sleazy Dodger owners

It's almost enough to make Giant fans feel sorry for Dodger fans. But not quite. Every time the brainless dingbats at Chavez Latrine force yet another delay of game by knocking a beachball onto the field, I think, "The fans finally got the owner they deserve."

The Los Angeles Weekly has a stunning story about what a complete pair of losers Frank and Jamie McCourt are.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Giants lose second in a row

Man, it's been awhile since that happened -- over a month, actually, when the team lost seven in a row between June 26 and July 2. This was a typical loss -- if the starting pitcher (Lincecum) isn't close to perfect, the offense can't score enough. In this case, it was another 3-2 loss, the fourth time this season that they've lost by that score.

MC O'Connor at Raising (Matt Cain) points out that it's somewhat of a mystery how Timmy has gone from dominating to pretty good in a lot of his starts. And John Shea's game story for the San Francisco Chronicle notes that it was only the 8th time in 112 starts that Lincecum's allowed more than one homer.

Curiously, Edgar Renteria had a chance to repeat his 9th inning heroics from the home opener back on April 8, when he hit a 2-run homer off Billy Wagner. This time he lined the ball right back at Wagner for out No. 2.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Jonathan Sanchez is driving us crazy

The Crazy Crabbers has a good post about our schizophrenic lefty. He leads the MLB in walks but is second in K/9 innings. Here's the conclusion -- Thinking about Sanchez is enough to make one go insane. When he shows the flashes of brilliance he is an exciting player to watch other times it makes you want to cover your eyes and switch the channel. There also seems to be no rhyme or reason for the fluxuations, one day he is demoted to the bullpen the next day he is one error away from a perfect game.

You never know and that is what drives us crazy.

The Long Season

It was written 50 years ago by Jim Brosnan but is really one of the greatest baseball books ever published. The title's a reminder that the season has the more than occasional awful day -- a reminder to fans like me who want to see the Orange and Black go 162-0, then have to endure a total buttkick like the one today in Denver.

Ubaldo Jimenez tied the Rox record for wins in a season today with 17, Owen Perkins of mlb.com notes in his game story.

He's now tied with the illustrious trio of Pedro Astacio, Jeff Francis and Kevin Ritz (!!!???)

Amazingly, there hasn't been a 20-game winner in the MLB since 2008 when Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb got 22 each. This guy could get 25 wins, which no one has gotten since Bob Welch got 27 for Oakland back in 1990. The Big Unit got 24 in 2002 for the most in the NL during the decade; Zito got the highest in the AL for the decade that year with 23.

But back to "The Long Season," which I read when I was an adolescent and have re-read at least half a dozen times since along with "Pennant Race," which chronicles the Reds winning the pennant in 1961. Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post agrees with me -- it's a great read even half a century later.Here's part of the review -- "The Long Season" gives pleasure on any number of levels. It conveys, as no other book ever has, the dailiness of baseball, with its season that not merely is long but provides an endless, often inexplicable succession of ups and downs. One day in 1958, pitching against the San Francisco Giants, Brosnan gave up a homer that "cleared the back wall of the right-field bleachers, at the 425-foot mark, causing sportswriters to go dashing out of the press box with a tape measure." In 1959, with the game on the line, he faced the same batter again: "Did he hit it out again? He did not. He tapped it right back to me, like a good little boy, and we had a double play to retire the side." As he says: "This game will drive you batty." Or, as he writes a week later:

". . . Man, that's the way it goes in this game. You make your pitch, and if it's the right pitch, it works . . . most of the time. If it's the wrong pitch, you find out soon enough, and they tell you soon enough, also. If you don't believe them, they send you somewhere else so they don't have to listen to you; and so that you can ponder by yourself the misfortune that has struck you. Etc."

Baseball is a tough game and, as that passage indicates, a merciless one as well. A couple of bad appearances -- in which, as is often the case, you make all the right pitches but don't get the right results -- and you're in the doghouse, or the minors, or on a plane to join another team.

"Enjoy it while it lasts"

A month ago on July 4, the Giants lost a 15-inning nightmare in Denver and were 41-40 -- looking every bit like a team that's destined to finish the season under .500. Instead, tonight was a bit of payback for all the lousy games that the Orange and Black have endured at Coors over the years. They're now 17 games over .500 at 62-45.

Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye has a fine post about the strangeness of last night's beatdown of the Rox at Coors Field: The Giants rapped out 19 hits, and by the time Andres Torres blasted his 11th home run to give the Giants a 10-0 lead, it just seemed cruel. It's not often these days you get to take sadistic pleasure in a vicious Giants beatdown of another team, especially not with this recent, low-offense incarnation, so games like tonight's are just fun. Enjoy it while it lasts, because another day brings another game in Coors Field and the potential for whole new parade of nightmares.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Smells like the playoffs for the Orange and Black

I know it's only August 3, but the Giants are now 3 games ahead in the Wild Card standings as Jonathan Sanchez delivers one of his best performances in awhile. So I'm not the only one thinking ahead to October baseball. I felt that way even before I read this John Shea game story for the Chronicle making references to the first Giant to strike out seven in a row since Juan Marichal and saying this (boldface is mine) --

Of course, skeptics will say this was one game. Indeed, Sanchez has issues with consistency (he has back-to-back quality starts just once this year) and efficiency (he assumed the league lead in walks Tuesday, adding four to his total). But if Sanchez can put his A game on display more than not, the Giants' playoff hopes would get a bump.

Remembering Stretch's rookie year

Monday, August 02, 2010

You can't have enough pitching

The Giants are going into Denver with 13 pitchers on the roster -- meaning that Danny Bautista got a reprieve from being sent down to Fresno, according to Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury-News. Ryan Rohlinger got sent down instead.

They are the third best pitching in the MLB with a 3.41 ERA (the Padres and Cards are first and second). But they have the highest number of strikeouts at 864.

Clearly, pitching is what the management of this team understands and getting a couple of decent lefty relievers at the trade deadline -- while giving up guys who aren't likely to set the world on fire -- ensures that there will be lots more 2-1 and 1-0 and 3-2 and 3-1 games. Raising (Matt) Cain wonders about the failure to improve the offense, though, particularly compared with the Yankees -- What do they know that the Giants don't? The Yankees have an enviable track record of winning. They are doing something right. I think that something is the ceaseless quest for upgrading at every roster spot.

How did that taste, Casey?

Andrew Baggarly of the Mrecury-News mentions in his postgame notes that Casey Blake had 3 strikeouts tonight and appeared particularly perturbed that the Giants had his number, a day after he produced the only run for the Dodgers. Here's how Andrew put it -- Casey Blake struck out three times against Cain, and looked back at the mound every time. The Giants haven’t forgotten the way Blake mocked Brian Wilson’s save gesture last year, and I still hear grumbles about it from time to time.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Matt Cain finally beats the evildoers

OK, so that headline's a little over the top. But it's amazing that a frontline pitcher like Matt Cain needed six years and 15 tries to finally get a vic over the dodgers.

Henry Schulman's game story for the San Francisco Chronicle notes that Crybaby Matt Kemp said he would have caught the ball if not for the sun. Yes, Matt, and I would be having dinner with Rachel McAdams if I were young, good-looking and not married to the greatest woman in the world.

MC O'Connor at Raising (Matt) Cain points out that Kemp also got picked off by Matt. Here's some verbiage -- Cain threw a season-high 124 pitches to 27 batters to get those 23 outs. He allowed only 4 hits, all singles, and had 1 walk against 7 strikeouts. He was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes and that kept the Dodgers guessing. Matt got 22 called strikes, 17 swinging strikes, 20 foul strikes, and 19 in-play strikes, and induced 10 ground balls to only 5 fly balls. He also helped himself out by picking off Matt Kemp in the 2nd. Once again he was matched up with the other team's ace and once again he and the team responded.It was a great win for the club, and a personal milestone for Cain as he finally logs a "W" vs. LA. The Giants are tied with the Padres with 61 wins, the most in the NL. The Giants have scored 0, 1, or 2 runs for Cain in 55 of his 159 starts, and he's 7-38 in those games.