Friday, December 31, 2010

My favorite Wow! moment of 2010

A Giants Win hat tip to Scott at Crazy Crabbers for posting this sequence of Aubrey Huff's moon shot homer in Game 4 and Freddy Sanchez' reaction to it. I love it!

Scott also has a great selection of the Top 10 of 2010, including Edgar's 3-run homer. Uribe's homer in Game 6 of the NLCS, Pat the Bat's 2-run shot against the Dodgers....

Happy New Year!

What a year for the Orange and Black!

It's still hard to grasp that the Giants went all the way this year. Or don't you remember that they still hadn't even made it into the postseason until the final day?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cody Ro$$ and Jonathan $anchez

Grant at McCovey Chronicles previews the six arbitration eligible players. He's also included this wonderful shot of Javier Lopez striking out Joey Votto -- which I could not resist adding here. Amyhow, Grant believes that Ross may get up to $7 million and Sanchez may get as much as $6 million in 2011. Here's his take on Cody -- What he got last year: $4.45M

He’s not going to be a bargain this year, though if the Giants signed him to a Zito-like contract, I’d still giggle and put Ross’s picture in my locker. During the Jose Guillen Era, he was a luxury -- a really expensive fourth outfielder. Post-Guillen, he’s a lineup cog and a World Series hero. Really, though, he’s just pre-crater Aaron Rowand. For the $6M or $7M he’ll get, that’s not a bad thing. It’s not a super bargain, though. Like we care. Co-dy! Co-dy! Co-dy!

MY COMMENT -- Hard not to like the 2008 and 2009 seasons, to say nothing of the epic 2010 postseason.

A Giants Win hat tip to Frisco Fastball for noticing this post on the Barry Bonds web site.

This is what it says --

Congratulations to the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants!

There is no city that deserves this championship more and I congratulate Bill Neukom, the entire ownership group, Bochy and most of all the guys on the team that fought hard to bring that trophy home to the city of San Francisco. I also want to congratulate Mike Murphy who has spent over 50 years working tirelessly for the organization. Murph has witnessed so much Giants history and I am thrilled that he finally gets his San Francisco Giants World Series Championship.

I grew up watching my dad and godfather as Giants, lived out my dream playing in the same uniform in front of the best fans in the world and I just witnessed the Giants winning the World Series. I am ecstatic for the team, the city and all the fans - you truly deserve it.

Barry Bonds

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Orange and Black arbitration process

"Hey, Buster. It's Buster."

That quote is part of Buster Olney's fine cover piece on Buster Posey for ESPN is online. Here's one part that caught my eye --

Posey is serious about his baseball. So serious that, by the end of the season, Bochy found himself at ease seeking the rookie's insight into how the pitcher on the mound was faring. Never was this more evident than in Game 3 of the World Series. Enigmatic lefty Jonathan Sánchez was on the hill, clearly gassed at the end of a long season. After Sánchez gave up a three-run homer in the second inning to Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland, Guillermo Mota began warming up in the bullpen. But Posey believed he could coax a few more innings out of the southpaw. Chatting in the dugout between innings, Posey and Sánchez talked about how to proceed without the pitcher's best fastball. "In that situation, you're telling him, 'This is not out of hand, just keep it right here,' " Posey says. "He made adjustments. From the third inning on, we went away from the fastball."

Instead of relying on the heater, a pitch Sánchez threw 65 percent of the time during the regular season, Posey called for off-speed stuff more than 60 percent of the game. He basically turned Sánchez into a junkballer for the rest of the night. Amazingly, the pitcher managed to make it into the fifth, allowing just one more run. It was the Giants' lone loss of the Fall Classic, but the bullpen was saved from six innings of mop-up duty, keeping the relievers fresh for the rest of the series.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ron Bryant's great year

Has there ever been a turnaround like Ron Bryant? He went 24-12 in 1973 and then posted a 3-15 record in 1974 after being injured in a swimming pool accident during spring training and was out of baseball in 1976.

I got to thinking about Bryant and what might have been because my sister also gave me a Christmas gift of the program from the Sept. 20, 1973 game at the Stick, where Bryant picked up his 23rd vic in a 7-5 win over the Reds. He then won No. 24 on the last day of the season and was the only NL pitcher with 20 wins.

Bryant appears to have been the real deal for that brief period in 1972 and 1973. The franchise fell apart pretty badly over the next dozen years, with only three finishes above .500 (1978, 1981 and 1982) before the team finally revived in 1986 when The Thrill and Robbie Thompson showed up.

Bryant's first start in 1974 didn't come until April 26, when he got knocked out in the third inning and relieved by Jim Barr. His second start didn't come until May 12, when the Braves knocked him out in the 5th.

Five days later, he didn't get anyone out in the first against the Padres. He managed to win two games, but then started against the Pirates and got knocked out in the second. I have a vague recollection of being at the June 9, 1974 game, where Richie Zisk went for the cycle in a 14-1 victory.

It must have a demoralizing loss for the Giants. Here you had your ace who was obviously damaged goods and probably never coming back. At that point the Giants were 30-30. It was the last time that season that they were at .500 as they went 42-60 the rest of the way. Within the next year, Stoneham was selling the team and it was already to move to Toronto for 1976 until Bob Lurie and Bud Herseth stepped in.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Solid Orange and Black power

Julian Levine at Splashing Pumpkins has taken the trouble to assemble the projections for the 2011 lineup, which I guess looks like this:

Torres CF
Sanchez 2B
Posey C
Huff 1B
Ross RF
Burrell LF
Sandoval 3B
Tejada SS

Here's his conclusion -- Looking at the projections, it seems the Giants have five guys with decent potential to hit 20 HRs...they don't have any sluggers, but they have nice power throughout the lineup. It's certainly enough offense to support that stellar rotation (which we'll project some time in the near future).

Recapping 2010's Orange and Black highlights

Chris Haft of does a pretty good job of summarizing the 2010 season. Here are my most notable moments. I've boldfaced what I think was the biggest one of all --

-- Burrell and Uribe came through in the clutch throughout the season, combining to hit 18 home runs that either tied the score or put the Giants ahead.

-- Bumgarner fashioned a 1.13 ERA in five September starts before going 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in four postseason appearances.

-- San Francisco played 115 regular-season games decided by three or fewer runs -- most in the Major Leagues. The Giants finished 63-52 in those games. That trend continued in the postseason, when they played 11 such games and won eight. San Francisco came from behind to win 37 games, fifth most in the NL.

-- Manager Bruce Bochy used 126 different lineups, which kept virtually all of his players involved, sharpened their skills and enabled them to contribute when summoned.

-- They held opponents to three runs or fewer in 18 consecutive games from Sept. 5-24.

-- Brian Wilson saved a Major League-high 48 games. As good as the Giants were in the regular season, they shaved nearly a run off their Major League-best ERA to 2.45 in the postseason. The starters excelled -- Tim Lincecum went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA and Matt Cain yielded one unearned run in 21 1/3 innings -- while Wilson remained resolute by converting six saves in seven chances.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Phil Nastu in the Orange and Black?

In addition to the fine Christmas presents I received from my family -- an official Giants World Series coffee mug and pennant -- I also received a 1979 souvenir program that has Jack Clark and Vida Blue on the cover with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

One of my sisters, who's expert at garage sales, apparently figured correctly that I'd be interested in having such a document. Did you know that Spec Richardson and Bing Devine were running the front office that year? It turned out that 1979 was kind of a disaster, given how high expectations had been raised in 1978. The coaches were Dave Bristol, Jim Davenport, Tom Haller and Larry Shepard.

In short, it was a lousy year for the Giants, who went 71-91. Clark hit 25 HRs and had 86 RBIs and Bill North and Darrell Evans led the team in onbase percentage with over 90 walks each. The starting pitching was lousy with Montefusco going 3-8 and having the only ERA under 4.00. Greg Minton and Gary Lavelle were pretty good in relief.

The program says Ed Halicki was on the DL (he started two days later), which may be why there was some guy named Phil Natsu starting and getting knocked out in the second inning of the nightcap game of a doubleheader on July 1. He was yanked after giving up a walk to Heity Cruz and a single to Rick Auerbach. I don't if he got injured or if Joe Altobelli decided "I've seen enough" in the middle of an at bat to the immortal Vic Correll, but he got replaced by Tom Griffin, who proceeded to walk Correll and then let in all three runs.

The Giants came back and won the game 7-3 to sweep the doubleheader, which must have been one of the highlights of the year. In fact, Minton and Lavelle combined for SEVEN INNINGS of shutout relief in that game -
- shades of Game 6 of this year's NCLS!

That sweep may have well been the high point of the year. It put the Giants one game over .500 at 40-39 and it was the last time they were over .500 all year. They proceeded to go 31-52 the rest of the way.

And what of Phil Nastu? His high point probably came nine days earlier when he beat the Reds by holding them to two runs at Riverfront and pitched into the 9th, when Griffin came in got the last two outs. Altobelli probably figured he had the Reds' number when he started him July 1.

The June 22 game was the last decision he ever got in a three-season career -- most of it in 1979, when he appeared in 25 games and started 14. I suppose that my point is that you can count yourself as a true Giants fan if you remember Phil Nastu, because I certainly don't. I remember virtually everyone else on that 1979 team -- even lesser lights like Rob Andrews, Max Venable, Roger Metzger, Joe Strain, John Tamargo and Dave Roberts -- but Nastu somehow had escaped the reach of my memory until today.

The Giants traded Nastu and Strain in December 1980 to the Cubs for Jerry Martin and Jesus Figueroa. Nastu never made it back to the bigs. He spent 1981 and 1982 in the minors and called it a career at age 27.

Pat the Bat's biggest walk

Julian Levine at Splashing Pumpkins has a terrific post about the two-out walk that Pat Burrell worked in Game 1 of the World Series against Cliff Lee -- the crucial component of the fifth inning when the Giants knocked out Cliff Lee and ended the inning with an 8-2 lead.

Julian makes the point that Pat's intrinsic value to the Orange and Black stems partly from his ability to work walks. He had the third highest total on the team after Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres even though he played in only 96 games.

And what's notable is that Burrell had an awful World Series (he struck out in his other three plate appearances in Game One and struck out 11 times in 15 plate appearances overall). Here's some of the verbiage about the at bat --

If you're Lee, you had a chance to get out of the inning, and failed. Not only did you fail, but you wasted eight (or was it seven?) pitches in doing so. And now, as you're losing the first game of the World Series by a score of 3-2, you must face Cody Ross, the NLCS MVP, with two runners on. Oh yeah, and in the midst of your tense battle with Pat Burrell, your manager sent Darren O'Day to go warm up, implying that he doesn't completely trust that you can get out of the inning. Well, maybe, just maybe, that walk gave the Giants huge momentum.

Because after that walk, Ross and Aubrey Huff hit RBI singles, knocking Lee out of the game. Then O'Day came in to relieve him, and gave up a three-run homer to Juan Uribe.

Had Burrell struck out to end the inning, the Giants would be winning 3-2. Instead, they finished the inning with an 8-2 lead, and more importantly, Cliff Lee sulking on the bench. Thinking about this, I'm able to ignore the fact that he was atrocious overall in the World Series, and had a WPA of -9.5% for Game One. That walk just meant more to me than the numbers, even though it's seemingly illogical.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Brian Wilson Christmas story

As if there weren't enough reasons to like Brian Wilson, Chris Haft of posts a story about Wilson helping out those less fortunate with a Christmas party.

"It is our duty as Americans to help the quality of life in our brothers and sisters," Wilson said. "The gift is the ability to put someone else before you, no matter the situation."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Checking in on Dan Rosenheck

(you're still welcome at the park, Dan. photo by wallyg)
You may ask Dan Rosenwho?

He was the New York Times "Bats" blogger who proclaimed before the World Series that the Giants starting pitchers weren't as good as they seemed. The problem was that he cherry-picked stats and gave as much weight to the first-half performance (41-40) as the second half (50-31) and completely ignored the epic performance of the starters down the stretch, when every game was a must-win. He got very defensive and even posted a silly argument on this blog. After I called him "condescending and misinformed" and said he'd done a "slapdash" job, I didn't hear from him again.

So I checked back on the Bats blog today, just to see if Dan had recanted. The answer is "No way in hell." The final entry in the Bats blog that Dan authored is on Nov. 1 before Game 5 -- "How the Rangers can beat Lincecum." There are 15 comments in response, and I think the last one from "Bill in Beijing" pretty much nails it --

I was rooting for the Rangers tonight, but Dan put the kiss of death on them by making it seem as though it shouldn't be too hard to beat a two-time Cy Young winner and one of the best pitchers around by any definition. Naturally Lincecum turned around and delivered his best game since game 1 against the Braves, and nothing the Rangers did, take pitches, get aggressive, start Moreland and Murphy, watch for the hanging curves that never came, made the least bit of difference.

Congrats, Giants and Dan, you really need to take a break and think about how wrong you have been, time after time, in your analysis this post-season.

Merry Christmas!

Yet another terrific shot from wallyg, taken at the Giants Dugout Store.

I hope that everyone, especially Giants fans, gets what they want during this holiday season. As for me, the Giants have fulfilled my wishes far beyond what I expected from the 2010 team.

Props to an Orange and Black number cruncher

The Baseball Primer blog has posted a terrific article by Andy Altman-Ohr posted Nov. 4 in about Yeshayah Goldfarb -- truly one of the unsung heroes of the 2010 season.

He’s the Giants’ director of minor league operations/quantitative analysis. It makes one think the perhaps Brian Sabean's long public aversion to supporting sabermetrics isn't what it seems. The only criticism I'd have of the article is that there's no mention of the Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand signings.

Still, it's a nice job of reporting on Goldfarb's work and it does explain a little bit as to why the Giants took a flier on Aubrey Huff -- Take Huff as an example. From 2006 to 2009, he played for four different teams, then found himself without a contract only two months before 2010 spring training. If no teams wanted to sign him, why would the Giants?

“There were a few things in his statistical background, the scouting reports and intangibles we knew about him that made us think he could bounce back from a relatively, for him, poor 2009 season,” Goldfarb said.
In January, the Giants signed Huff for what proved to be a bargain, $3 million for one season (he had made $8 million in 2009). All the 33-year-old first baseman did was go on to lead the team with 26 home runs and 86 RBIs, while also adding leadership and clubhouse chemistry.
Goldfarb and his cohorts in analytics also were instrumental in re-signing Uribe before the season, trading for two relief pitchers in midseason (including lefty specialist Javier Lopez) and going after mid-season discards Burrell and Ross. He also helped convince officials to draft college stars Lincecum (2006) and Posey (2008).

Number 24 to be honored in Memphis

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kruk and Kuip coming back

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle says they're both close to signing 6-year extensions. That's what I call job security. I think they're both pretty good -- far better than most of the other MLB announcers I hear (Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday of the Dodgers, the awful Ted Leitner of the Padres, Terry Smith of the Angels, Mike Shannon of the Cards, Milo Hamilton of the Astros come to mind)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"I can't imagine them not winning it again"

The Upside of Jonathan Sanchez

Happy New Year from Tim and Sports Illustrated

The year-end Sports Illustrated hits newstands today.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mota back in the Orange and Black

MLBPA's legal victory ignored

Murray Chass blasts the news media for largely ignoring the recent news that the US Justice Department has decided to stop pursuing prosecution of players whose confidential records were obtained illegally. He even blasts his former employer, the New York Times. Here's part of his post, noting that the news came out late on a Friday --

First word of the decision came on the Associated Press wire at 9:54 p.m. Eastern time. The complete story moved at 10:38 p.m. The time was late for Saturday newspapers to do much with it, but there was time to get the story into papers. Nevertheless it made not even a handful of papers.

An exhaustive search of Nexis, the comprehensive repository of newspapers, found only four newspapers that used even a single paragraph of the story. Nothing appeared in the two New York newspapers that have pursued steroids stories most aggressively, the Times and the Daily News.

“What a disgrace,” Gene Orza, the No. 2 union official, said in an e-mail, commenting on the lack of coverage. “They beat the crap out of us because it seems so easy to do so (‘they should’ve burned the records’) and then when we’re proven absolutely right UNDER THE CONSTITUTION, they are nowhere to be found. Just disgraceful.”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Orange and Black untradeables

Lefty Malo has an astute analysis of the recent news that the Giants and Cubs were considering a trade of Aaron Rowand and Kosuke Fukudome, along with speculation that Nate Schierholtz could be moved. He concludes that Schierholtz is the guy the Giants should try to keep, then ends by noting that all this probably won't be sorted out until March --

Here's my best guess at what happens. Unless the Giants trade bad contracts roughly dollar for dollar, or find someone who think Rowand's due for a revival, they'll have to sit tight until spring training and see if Brandon Belt forces their hand.

In the comments section, a poster named Pato has an interesting take (boldface is mine) --

In the dictionary under the word "untradeable" you will see a picture of Rowand...standing next to Zito. I think every GM in baseball knows that the situation Sabean is in with Rowand and his contract is one of zero leverege. Even teams with bad contracts would rather have their own bad contracts over him. He is probably tops on the list of players who are horrible and overpaid.

I would be interested to see if anyone could come up with a scenario in which another team would actually want to trade anything for Rowand unless he came with a couple of prospects and the Giants paid most of his salary. I was thinking the Mets might want to swap for Beltran if we included prospects but it just wouldn't make sense as they wouldn't be getting salary relief and they would be stuck with a shitty player instead of an oft injured one.

Nate doesn't do much for me but I would much rather have him on the roster then Rowand if it comes down to it, I don't see why Sabean doesn't just offer to pay most or all of Rowands salary and trade him to KC or Cleveland or somewhere he could fade away and disappear from baseball without anyone noticing. At this point, is it really worth it to have him on the roster taking up a spot that could be occupied by someone else? After Zito sucks next year it might be time to do the same with him, I believe he will have about $40 mil and 2 years left after 2011...

MY COMMENT -- Rowand is continuing to dine off some decent performances in the past. His career OPS (onbase plus slugging) is ranked at 87th in the list of active players at .777.

Rowand's 2010 OPS was a shockingly low .659.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Trophy Tour

This is a great idea -- the Giants have scheduled a World Series Trophy Tour starting next month that won't come anywhere near my home in Southern California. I hope you get to see it.

This Bill Neukom fellow seems to have a pretty good grasp of PR -- "For more than 52 years, our dedicated fans have supported us through thick and thin," said Giants Managing General Partner and CEO Bill Neukom. "The trophy belongs to them as much as it belongs to us and we want to extend the World Champions celebration throughout Giants country and to thank our fans."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fukudome in the Orange and Black?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Edgar says no to $1 million

RIP Bob Feller

The New York Times has posted an interesting recap by Feller four years ago about his decision to enlist in the Navy two days after Pearl Harbor. Here are some highlights --

-- I was driving to my meeting with my Cleveland Indians bosses to hash out my 1942 contract, and out it came on the radio: the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. The last thing on my mind right then was playing baseball. I immediately decided to enlist in the United States Navy. I didn’t have to — I was 23 and strong-bodied, you bet, but with my father terminally ill back in Van Meter, Iowa, I was exempt from military service.

-- It was one of the greatest experiences in my life. You can talk about teamwork on a baseball team, but I’ll tell you, it takes teamwork when you have 2,900 men stationed on the U.S.S. Alabama in the South Pacific.

--I went on inactive duty in August 1945, and since I had stayed in such good shape, and had played ball on military teams, I was ready to start for the Indians just two days later, against the Tigers. More than 47,000 people came to see me return — there was such a patriotic feeling, with V-J Day so fresh in everyone’s minds. Even though I hadn’t pitched in the major leagues in almost four years, I struck out the first batter. I wound up throwing a four-hitter and winning, 4-2. What a great night.

-- A lot of folks say that had I not missed those almost four seasons to World War II — during what was probably my physical prime — I might have had 370 or even 400 wins. But I have no regrets. None at all. I did what any American could and should do: serve his country in its time of need. The world’s time of need. I knew then, and I know today, that winning World War II was the most important thing to happen to this country in the last 100 years. I’m just glad I was a part of it. I was only a gun captain on the battleship Alabama for 34 months. People have called me a hero for that, but I’ll tell you this — heroes don’t come home. Survivors come home.

Woody in the Hall of Fame?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The savvy veteran Orange and Black

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Philly prepping for 2011 playoffs against Giants

That's my reaction to them signing Cliff Lee for five years for $100 million. The franchise obviously thought that they should have won the NLCS. The folks at even used "Fearsome Foursome" in Tom Singer's story about a rotation of Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels.

Frankly, Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner and Sanchez should match up decently next year. After all, they did go 4-2 in the NLCS against the Phils.

Scott at Crazy Crabbers has a fine post about the two teams, using fangraphs, and comes up with the projection that both teams are on track for 98 wins in 2011.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eugenio in Dodger Blue

Ned Colletti just can't seem to get over having worked for the Giants, even after the Jason Schmidt deal blew up in his face. He spent $21 million for three years of Juan Uribe and has now signed Eugenio Velez.

Now AP's reporting that Cliff Lee just signed a 5-year deal for $100 mil with the Phils. I guess the Phils were intimidated by the Dodgers signing Velez -- the skinniest man I've ever seen in the MLB since Kent Tekulve.

Eugenio had a few great moments in the Orange and Black -- a game-winning two-run triple on Sept. 10, 2008, the clutch double in the 9th at this year's home opener and a bunt that the Dbacks botched back in July this year.

Feel-good Orange and Black story o' the day

Feds finally face reality in drug test case

It turns out that professional athletes do have rights, after all. The New York Daily News reports on a decision Friday by the feds to give up their botched effort to convict baseball players based on tainted evidence from six years ago. It's a severe slap in the face to Insane IRS Dingbat Jeff Novitzky, who's been given the license to squander millions of taxpayer dollars pursuing high-profile athletes while much of law enforcement lacks the resources to go after real criminals.

In short, the Justice Department admitted that they won't go the US Supreme Court to challenge the court rulings that have found that Novitzky has been making a mockery of the US Constitution. Here's some of the story --

Paula Canny, the San Francisco attorney who has represented Bonds' former trainer Greg Anderson, said that the decision means that even if there is smoking-gun evidence in the records, it will never be admissible in courts unless it relates to players originally named in search warrants drafted in 2004.

"It means," Canny said, "that if they got Roger Clemens' urine sample, they can't use it. If they got Miguel Tejada's urine sample, they can't use it. None of it (beyond 10 players named on search warrants) is admissible."

The case, now closed, became a forum for debates on privacy protection in the digital age, the scope of baseball's drug problem and the methods of the government's point man on the steroid war, Food and Drug Administration criminal investigator Jeff Novitzky.

Canny, whose client has been jailed several times for refusing to testify about Bonds, said that the case "affects every single American" by reinforcing limits on what federal agents can do as they move into realms that citizens may consider private. She said the solicitor general's decision not to appeal to the Supreme Court was "an appropriate concession by the government of the wrongdoing of their agent.

"What this means is the government, when they go to search an entity, and there's probable cause to search Person X, it doesn't mean that they can take Person Y or Person Z's stuff too," said Canny. "They shouldn't appeal, because No. 1, they'll lose. And No. 2, what they did was wrong. It's nice that they conceded their wrongdoing."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bullish on Brandon Belt

Bloomberg Sports is raving about Giants' prospect Brandon Belt and convinced that he'll be in a Giants uni next season --

The team sent him to the AFL to get more at-bats, and perhaps see if he was ready to play in the major leagues in 2011. Mission accomplished - Belt's .372/.427/.616 line looked excellent even in the context of the offense-first AFL. This is true of all of Belt's numbers. Even if you adjust for his slightly offense-friendly leagues, he has been excellent. Considering that his Double-A league, the Eastern League, was considered slightly pitcher-friendly in a recent study, there seems to be little left for Belt to prove in the minor leagues.

The best part about Belt's work so far is the fact that he's made these adjustments in his first professional year. That bodes well for future adjustments - both in terms of dealing with major-league pitching, as well as possible short-term positional adjustments. He's also a very athletic guy with a smooth and easy way about him, as this video taken by Paul Sporer shows.

Of course there are hurdles left for Belt to jump - he has to prove that he's either capable of playing in the outfield or capable of being so impressive at the plate that Huff should move there in his stead - but Belt has overcome higher obstacles already. He's a good bet for fantasy relevance at some point in 2011.

Perpetrating a Mays Field myth

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle has a silly take on why free agent hitters don't want to come to San Francisco.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles says Ostler's wrong --

This is from Scott Ostler in today's Chronicle, and it's one of my pet peeves. Mays Field is not a huge pitcher's park. It's not even a pitcher's park -- it plays like an average ballpark in terms of runs scored, and it has for a while. This isn't a breaking story.

Now, Jayson Werth might not know this, so he might think, "Man, I would not want to play there!" But Werth's agent, who makes more money if Werth does, knows that right-handed hitters do just fine in San Francisco. That's an agent's job.

Free agent player: Hey, I don't want to play in San Francisco. My stats will suffer.

Agent: Nah. That's a myth. I can show you the studies if you want; AT&T Park is a pretty neutral park. It might cost you a couple of homers a year, but you'll also get more triples. If they have the best offer, take it.

Free agent player: Okay.

I don't expect the free agent to know if reporters, columnists, and radio personalities don't know this, but the agent knows. He conveys the point to the player in five seconds.

The park does affect left-handed home runs, though. So where the Giants are semi-hosed is with left-handed power hitters coming off a down year, who are looking to sign a short-term deal, hit the snot out of the ball for a year, and parlay that into a big-money deal.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Garko gone to Korea

Tejada ranked as 32nd best SS ever

Fascinating ranking story at Platoon Advantage of the 40 best shortstops of all time with Wagner and ARod at the top of the list.The author is "The Common Man." Here's what he says about Tejada --

Tejada’s allegedly going to play shortstop again this year, which is a little like saying the Italian army is going to be defending Southern Europe. Technically, they’re both going to be in position, but if there is any kind of urgent need, neither has a hope of performing as advertised. Tejada was a great player for exactly one season, but not the year he won the AL MVP. However, he was consistently good for eight straight seasons and has been incredibly durable, having played fewer than 156 games just once in the last 12 seasons. Despite what may be a rough season in San Francisco this year, he’s capable of pushing up five more spots on this list by the end of 2011. As far as TCM knows, he's the only man on this list who's been guilty of perjury.

Edgar back in the Orange and Black?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Sleazy Steve Garvey wants to buy the Dodgers

Despite racking up an impressive record of stiffing creditors, Steve Garvey says he wants to buy the Dodgers. The Los Angeles Times did a great job of detailing what a sleazebag The Garv is back in 2006. Here's what he says now --

In 2006, The Times reported that Garvey had fallen behind on bill payments for at least a decade, citing interviews and court records. Garvey said Wednesday he disputed elements of that report and in any case said it should not be relevant to whether he could organize a bid for the Dodgers in which he would not provide significant financing.

"It's not as if I'm going to be the primary investor or I'm going to be the CFO," he said.

The Detroit News had a story this January about how Sanctimonious Sleazy Steve is a serial stiffer -- he just can't pay his bills on time

I'm sure that there will be Dodger dingbats who think that this is a great idea.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Rowand remaining in the Orange and Black

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Surgery for Freddy Sanchez

Man, that's painful to write. After a dismal 2009 and the first third of the season on the DL, Freddy was the kind of savvy veteran presence that the front office reveres. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that he hopes to be ready for Opening Day.

He'll be 33 next season and one wonders if the surgeries are going to start taking a toll. No wonder the Giants signed Mike Fontenot.

Still, he put decent numbers once he started playing last year. And there was the legendary two-out two-strike hit he got in the 9th inning in Game 3 of the NLDS. For me, that was the turning point of the postseason.

The inning went like this -- down 2-1 after Hinske's two-run homer in the 8th -- Ross popped up, Ishikawa walked, Torres struck out, Freddy singled up the middle on a 1-2 pitch, Huff singled to right to score Travis and Posey blasted a ball at Brooks Conrad that he booted, scoring Freddy. I remember thinking, "These guys could go all the way" at that point.

The Dodgers remain in limbo

I am guessing that today's decision, which threw out agreement that Frank McCourt says gave him sole ownership of the Dodgers, is good news for the Giants. If any team ever deserved a pair of dingbat owners (to say nothing of Hall of Fame flakes like Manny), it's the Dodgers and their beachball-obsessed fans. Here's what the LA Times asserts --

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig declined to comment. The Times reported in September that the possibility of years of legal battles between the McCourts had prompted him to consider intervening on behalf of the Dodgers, but it is uncertain what options he might contemplate.

The ruling is not expected to have an immediate impact on the day-to-day operations of the team. However, the team could be in legal limbo for several more years.

The LA Weekly had a pretty good cover piece in August about what a thoroughly lousy person Frank is. "Impossible to work with" is how some former associates describe him. He's quite used to getting his own way, so I expect this to stay mired in the court room for years.

MY COMMENT -- I would caution Giants fans not to write off the Dodgers, who have enough solid players (Kershaw, Ethier, Kemp, Billingsley) to contend.

Monday, December 06, 2010

What the Werth deal really means for the Giants

Grant at McCovey Chronicles believes that the Giants won't make another long-term deal for a long time. I hope he's right:

Now, there are a couple of reasons that the Giants can't really outbid anyone these days.

Barry Zito

#75 / Pitcher / San Francisco Giants





May 13, 1978

Aaron Rowand

#33 / Center Field / San Francisco Giants





Aug 29, 1977

Yes, but if you can think of an easier way to get a fifth starter and a fifth outfielder, I'd like to hear it.

But even after the Zito and Rowand deals end (2034), I don't think the Giants are going to give out a long-term contract to a player outside of the organization for a long, long time. Because while those are the obvious misses, the front office also remembers that at one time or another, the Giants offered about $200M in contracts to Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, Gary Matthews, Jr., and Juan Pierre. And as the Giants were busy getting out of their own way, they won a World Series with a combination of short-term deals and pre-arbitration youngsters.

For the next, oh, decade, you can just ignore the top five or ten names on the list of pending free agents. It's not that the Giants can't afford them, per se, it's just not a practical way of building a team. It never really was, but the Giants are now as allergic to long-term free-agent deals as any team in the game. Good.

Dear Santa: Here's what I want

The San Francisco Chronicle has a rave review (the little man is jumping out of his seat and applauding) of A TRULY AWESOME GIFT FOR ANYONE, but especially Giants fans. It's the official MLB World Series DVD. Here's part of David Weigand's review:

If you're shopping for just about any Bay Area mortal this Christmas and don't know what to buy, you can pretty much toss your list of possibilities away with today's release of MLB's "Official 2010 World Series Film," narrated by native son Rob Schneider, with commentary from a classic collection of talking heads, from Giants' executives Larry Baer and Brian Sabean, and manager Bruce Bochy, to sports scribes like The Chronicle's Henry Schulman, to "torture" coiner Duane Kuiper, to such players as Brian Wilson, Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey, Andres Torres and Madison Bumgarner, among others. And say, hey: Even Willie Mays shows up to admit to having tears in his eyes, watching this team take it all.

Bench on Buster

Rather than focus on the Hall of Fame blowing it once again by not admitting Marvin Miller, I'm going to link to a nice story by's Chris Haft in which Johnny Bench -- probably the best catcher ever -- heaps praise on Buster Posey. It's also a bit startling to read that Bench turns 63 tomorrow. 63??? What in the name of Tito Fuentes is going on here? It just feels like last week that I was at the Stick hoping that Bench wouldn't hit it out of the park.

Anyhow, here's part of the verbiage on Buster --

"He had tremendous pitchers to work with, but the fact is that he really worked with them. You didn't see many shakeoffs," Bench said. "... I always say there's three types of pitchers you have to deal with. Some, you have to tell them what town they're in and remind them where they are. Others, you have to work on their mechanics; others, you have to tell them to bust their tails. But ... you have to make them your friend and then they have to learn to trust you because you call a good game."

Bench also praised Posey's ability to handle the dual responsibilities of catching and batting in the middle of the Giants' order.

"It was constant focus," said Bench, who set the standard among catchers for multitasking by winning 10 Gold Gloves while amassing 389 home runs and 1,376 RBIs.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Zito money for Werth is reporting that Jason Werth has just signed with the Nats for exactly the same deal that the Giants made with Zito four years ago -- seven years for $126 million. And we all know how well that deal's worked out for the Orange and Black.

ESPN's Rob Neyer has an interesting post noting how fortunate the Giants are to have signed Burrell for $1 million --

This speaks well of the Giants, who apparently have created a friendly environment. This speaks well of Burrell, who's apparently going to take a significant pay cut -- he made $8 million this year -- and must know that he'll continue to be yanked from the game almost every time the Giants have a lead after the sixth or seventh inning.

Neyer then notes that the terrible deals for Zito, Rowand and DeRosa will make it rough for the Giants to improve --

They do get a little better with a full season of Buster Posey behind the plate. They do get a little better, probably, when super-prospect Brandon Belt joins the lineup at some point next spring. But the re-signing of Huff does make it a little bit tougher to get Belt into the lineup, and the re-signing of Burrell might mean Carl Crawford isn't even on the Giants' radar screen.

They can say that Barry Zito's and Aaron Rowand's and Mark DeRosa's contracts are irrelevant all they like. But it's hard to look at all those dollars and not imagine what the Giants could do if they had them.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The realistic Pat the Bat

Burrell signed for $1 million on Friday with the Giants and admitted that he did it because he wants to stay in the Orange and Black, according to a story by's Ken Gurnick.

He also had a truly awful World Series, going 0-for-13 with 11 strikeouts. It probably cost him millions. Hopefully, it was an aberation and not a pre-cursor.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Fontenot back with the Orange and Black

Mike Fontenot's going to be the super-sub as the Giants signed him to a one-year deal and non-tendered Eugenio Velez. He's got no power at all.

Managers like guys like this who can play any position. It's a notion that goes all the way back to Billy Goodman with the Bosox. Tony Phillips and Chone Figgins are the most successful modern versions.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Great forgotten Giants game of the year

I was responding to a comment about the Burrell post and began listing some of the 8 games I had attended this year -- the home opener, Buster's debut, the Aug. 14 win in extras over the Padres and Game 4 of the NLCS....and I realized that I had also attended the game before Buster's debut.

It was Matt Cain's complete game one-hitter against the Dbacks with only an 8th inning double by Mark Reynolds standing between him and a no-hitter. Of all the great games the Giants played in 2010, I'd have to say this is one that didn't get the attention it deserved.

"I love baseball"

That's what Miguel Tejada said at today's news conference as a new Giant. Chris Haft's story for has some nice quotes --

"With a team like San Francisco, you don't say no," said Tejada, who expressed excitement to play before AT&T Park's consistently large crowds and to play for a contender. "My last seven years, I've been out of the race before the All-Star break," said Tejada, a career .297 hitter (33-for-111) at AT&T Park.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Pat the Bat back in the Orange and Black

He had fewer moments of postseason glory than most of his teammates (the 3-run homer in the loss to Atlanta and a great at bat in Game 1 of the Series) but he turned out to be a fine addition during the regular season with 18 HRs in less than 300 ABs. He killed mistakes.

Andrew Baggarly's story in the Merc-News notes that seven of those dingers either tied the game or put the Orange and Black ahead. He also notes that decisions are due by Thursday evening on which players to offer arbitration --
Giants officials are busy making decisions on their eight arbitration-eligible players, who must be tendered offers before 9 p.m. today, or they will become free agents. Outfielders Andres Torres and Cody Ross, and pitchers Jonathan Sanchez, Javier Lopez and Santiago Casilla are locks to be tendered, with pitcher Ramon Ramirez a strong possibility.

Back to Pat the Bat -- I'd have to say one of my favorite moments of the year came on Saturday, July 31 with the Giants trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 8th. Kuo got the first two batters out then hit Buster with a pitch. Torre brought in Jonathan Broxton, who continued his season-long fade by serving up a two-run bomb to The Bat.

And on the following day, Pat started a sixth inning rally off Kershaw with a double; Kershaw walked Rowand intentionally and Renteria tripled them both in for the only runs in a 2-0 Matt Cain masterpiece and the 5th straight loss for the Dodgers.