Sunday, February 28, 2010

"I want to be out there Opening Day"

It's a good kind of delusional, I guess -- Barry Zito tells mlb.com's Barry Bloom that he wants to be the top of the rotation guy.

I also guess that guys named Barry stick up for each other, with Bloom offering a strange conclusion to the usual spring training puff piece -- "It's about being loose and having fun," Zito said. "When I got here, I wanted to make good on my contract. Now, it's just about going out there and having integrity in my work ethic every day. I'm just trying to stay in the moment."
That approach could very well lead him back to the No. 1 slot.


MY SNARKY COMMENT -- On what planet? What evidence is there -- other than Zito saying that he wants it to happen -- that Zito will ever be anywhere near the level of Tim Lincecum? Let me just say that I'd also like to have dinner with "Up in the Air" Oscar nominees Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick but I wouldn't expect a professional writer to turn around and report "Big D's approach could very well lead him to breaking bread with the actresses."

Tomko in the Green and Gold

Brett Tomko, who drove Giants fans crazy with his inconsistency, has just signed a minor league deal with Oakland. Here's one game I saw on July 5, 2004, where he gave up five in the first, one in the second and then pitched shutout ball for the next four innings in a 7-4 home loss to the Rox.

One thing to like about Tomko -- he was pretty bad when he pitched for the Dodgers in 2007. They paid him $4.1 million to go 2-11 with a .5.80 ERA. They DFAd him at the trading deadline and the Padres signed for a month, when he went 2-1 with a 4.61 ERA. That little stretch included this 6-0 blanking of the Giants on Sept. 15, giving up four hits in 6 innings. Barry Bonds, who was 11 days away from his last MLB game, got a single in the second and was replaced by Nate Schierholtz in the third.

His Wikipedia page is one of the more interesting among current players. In addition to a long recap of his career -- nine teams in 13 years -- he also has these details about his personal life:
Tomko married Playboy Playmate Julia Schultz (February 1998) in November 2003.
Tomko is an artist, currently training with famous sports artist
Opie Otterstad.[8]
Tomko's father won a contest of over 11,000 entries in the Cleveland Plain Dealer for naming the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team. His entry stated, "The name Cleveland Cavaliers represents a group of daring, fearless men whose life's pact was never surrender, no matter what the odds." [9]

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hoping for Giants Jottings to return


Giants Jottings is a terrific blog that appeared during the past several years about spring training in Arizona. Giantsfan9 would post for most of February and March and then stop once spring training was over. The last post is from March 19, 2009 with this shot of Matt Cain pitching against the White Sox. Giantsfan9 offered up lots of solid commentary and photos, but hasn't yet appeared in 2010.

New Panda Vision

Martin Lee at Obsessive Giants Compulsive has a nice post about Pablo Sandoval wearing glasses this year. Some of the highlights --

-- If he can see the pitches better, he should be able to hit better. That also might help explain why he was swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, he just couldn't see them well enough. But he hit .330/.387/.556/.943 with poor eyesight, can you imagine what he could do now that he can see the pitches more clearly?!?

-- This should also help him with his fielding as well. Now that he can see the ball better coming off the hitter's bat, he should be better able to react sooner to the batted ball, and get to them better. This would allow him to get to more balls and be a better fielder overall. Plus, he should see 1B better too and maybe his throws will be that much better (though this is probably only marginal improvement compared to being able to see the batted balls better).

-- More importantly, why is it so hard for a team's training staff to figure out when hitters cannot see well? When it is one of the most important things that affect their overall performance, as it affects how they see the pitched ball as well as the batted ball (can you imagine if an outfielder had this vision problem?)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Gushing over the Panda

Get used to it, Giants fans -- talking about Pablo Sandoval is by far the easiest thing for a sportswriter to do this spring if they're tasked with cranking out a story quickly. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN does the honors. There are a few good insights that show how badly constructed and undisciplined this team is --

-- The Giants also replaced hitting coach Carney Lansford with Meulens, who spent last season with the team's Triple-A Fresno affiliate. A person familiar with the situation said Lansford expected to be the fall guy for the Giants' poor offensive production last season. When Lansford grew frustrated with the team's hack-tastic approach and became more blunt in his criticisms, the San Francisco hitters began tuning him out, and it became clear that a change was in order.

-- From top to bottom, the San Francisco lineup has a general aversion to the base on balls. The Giants ranked last in the majors in on-base percentage (.309) and walks (392) last season. Scan the lineup, which consists primarily of veterans, and you won't find a single 70-walk season on anybody's résumé. DeRosa's 69 walks with the 2008 Cubs set the bar for the group.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More orange for the Orange and Black

From time to time during the upcoming season, the Giants will be bringing back the Orange uniform tops and caps from the early 1980s. Chris Haft of mlb.com says new owner Bill Neukom's also instituted optional orange stripes on the socks -- Neukom said that if the striped socks prove popular, longtime equipment manager Mike Murphy should receive the credit for introducing them.
"If nobody likes it, it's my fault," Neukom said cheerfully. "So he and I have an understanding
."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Can Meulens make more magic?

Hensley Meulens managed to deliver some decent results as hitting coach of the Fresno Grizzlies last year, particularly with John Bowker. Chris Haft of MLB.com notes that the AAA numbers for Bowker were quite stunning: Bowker thrived last year at Triple-A Fresno, where he led the Pacific Coast League in batting average (.342), on-base percentage (.451) and slugging percentage (.596) while amassing 21 homers and 83 RBIs in just 366 at-bats.

Here's what's really annoying about all this -- Brian Sabean and the Giants front office has done a thoroughly dismal job for more than a decade at getting lefthanded power. Here's what Haft notes later in the story -- Besides Barry Bonds, no left-handed batter has hit 20 or more homers for them since J.T. Snow collected 24 in 1999.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The slimy owners of the Dodgers

Here's something to make your blood boil -- even if you're a Dodger fan. According to Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, divorcing Dodger owners Frank and Jamie McCourt paid no federal taxes from 2004 through 2009 on a joint income of $108 million. Here's the lead -- To everyone who claims that our wealthiest citizens pay more than their fair share of income taxes and we should cut them a break because they're the ones who, you know, create jobs in our economy, I have four words for you:
Frank and Jamie McCourt.

UPDATE -- The judge in the case has vacated the May 24 trial date, meaning the Dodgers' ownership situation could remain in limbo for most of this season.

Dodgers cheaping out

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle makes the point that 2010 will be only the second year since the 1994 strike in which the Orange and Black will have a higher payroll than the Dodgers. Here's part of his conclusion -- In the teams' California era, the Dodgers have bullied the Giants with more pitching, more spending and more world championships (five to zero), but the Giants suddenly have a window of opportunity with superior pitching and a hope, finally, for some decent homegrown hitting.

MY COMMENT -- There's nothing as beautiful as a Dodger defeat.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why Willie Mays matters



Photo by Slick Vic

“When I went back outside, I saw that there were now twenty people waiting to have their photos taken next to the Mays statue. I realized then that it was my job to tell those people what was inside that bronze sculpture. It was worth the wait.” -- James S. Hirsch, author of "Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend"

Younger readers of this blog may wonder why I go on (and on) about The Greatest Giant of them all. Nick Cannata-Bowman at Croix De Candlestick has a nice post that explains why there's been such a positive response to "Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend." It's clearly a terrific read, partly for explaining why No. 24 had such an impact, more than three decades after he hung them up -- My most prominent memory of him is at the 2007 All-Star Game. Having been lucky enough to be in attendance, I was able to watch firsthand as the Giants held a moving tribute to Willie accompanied by a scoreboard-sized picture of his famous catch in the 1954 World Series against Vic Wertz of the Cleveland Indians. Even having not watched Mays in his playing days, it was hard not to feel an enduring sense of reverence. What’s amazing about Mays is that even to those who didn’t see him play, he still possesses a cultural resonance that seems to transcend the generation gap.

Dodger owners stick it to their fans

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reaching back six months for a thrill

Here's a great video clip from last August 30 -- unfortunately, one of the few highlights from Edgar Renteria last year. More sobering is the story by Chris Haft of mlb.com, in which Renteria admits he was lousy last year but blames his injuries. Bruce Bochy seems to agree with Edgar that he will be better -- "It's easy to judge somebody on a short-term basis," Bochy said. "But when you have somebody who has had a distinguished career as Edgar, he's a guy who deserves to get his steady job." (My snarky note -- he was pretty lousy all year)

The Giants won that game over the Rox 9-5; Edgar's slam gave them a 6-5 lead. It gave him 47 RBIs for the year; he only had one more RBI all season, so I thought "Well, he must have been shut down fairly soon after." But no.

It turns out that Edgar logged another 43 ABs in September and got only five hits before it was announced that he was done on Sept. 25. Again, this is what happens when you rely on declining veterans -- they get banged up. His last RBI of the year came on a solo homer in a 9-4 vic over the Padres on Sept. 7.

Perhaps the Giants are thinking that if Tony Pena Jr.-- who's in camp as a non-roster invitee-- makes the club as a reliever, he can also be an emergency backup at short.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Black and Orange out-maker

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has a story about the guy who made more outs than anyone else in the MLB last year being disappointed about the lack of interest in him in the free-agent market. It sounds like Bengie needs to get a new agent, if he actually believes that he deserved a three-year deal. Tim Lincecum says all the right things, though --
"I really love having Bengie behind there," Lincecum said. "He's half the reason I got those awards. Sometimes you lose your focus as a pitcher and the catcher has to come out there and wake you up, and Bengie's like, 'Wake the (heck) up.'
"He's always there for me. He reads me really well. He knows what I'm going through. He's seen enough of me. It makes it easier for us to be on the same page."

Friday, February 19, 2010

I sound like a broken record

Edgar Renteria tells the San Francisco Chronicle that he was embarrassed over his crappy performance in 2009 and blamed bone chips in his elbow.

How many times do I have to say it? This is what you get when you sign fading veterans.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Let's go, Giants!

Despite the silly spinning by the front office about the Freddy Sanchez/Juan Uribe situation It's not all bad news out of Scottsdale, of course. Here are two infinitely more cheerful stories --

1. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News reports that Aaron Rowand worked out a lot on cycling over the winter -- a total of 2,200 miles.

2. Kevin O'Brien at Remember '51 projects that Jonathan Sanchez is due to improve a lot this year.

The spin on Uribe and Sanchez

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters says that Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News is being lied to by the Giants front office about why the surgery for Freddy Sanchez was kept quiet.

Baggarly posted that they Giants wanted to hold down the price on Juan Uribe's contract. John says that it's nonsense to believe that Uribe's agent didn't know about the injur to Sanchez. In case you're wondering, I agree with John's subsequent analysis --

This isn’t a story about how Sabean and his crack team handled something well, some masterful tale of intrigue and espionage that worked out exactly the way they planned. This is a story of mistakes and errors. This is a story about Brian Sabean’s failure. Having decided four years ago that Freddie Sanchez was the kind of player he had to have, Brian Sabean finally got the Pirates to say yes; and even though Sanchez was older, injured and already declining as a player, Sabean pulled the trigger, trading one of the top pitching prospects in the organization for an old, broken down player.
Now, several months later, after Sanchez contributed exactly what any reasonable person could have expected to the Giants chase for the playoffs –nothing– and having gone into the winter even more injured and broken down than we were told, Sabean is trying to spin this story so it looks like he, Captain Queeg, knew all along what he was doing, that it was all part of the grand plan that only he is privy to, that only he can know.
It’s pretty sad, really. Sabean is trying to spin his way out of the results of last season’s trade deadline deals –only some of the worst deals any GM has ever made without losing his job, by the way– and in doing so, is making himself look even smaller.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bam Bam and the hackers

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle has a nice column about how he believes the Giants will stop being Hacktastics. How does he know? Well, he's interviewed Hensley Muelens, Sandoval, Schierholtz, Velez and DeRosa. And it's probably just wishful thinking, but you've got to like what DeRosa said. Here's the verbiage (boldface is mine) --

What DeRosa brings is a bit of threatening presence, a guy who's not going to quietly sigh when a Giant kills a rally with boneheaded hitting.
He said "it boils my blood" when a teammate gets careless at the plate or ignores the game situation.
"If it's the late innings and we need a baserunner and (the Giants' hitter) swings at the first pitch and grounds out, that's the time I'll voice my opinion," DeRosa said. "You need to be told, and it's not always the manager (who needs to do the telling). It's been done to me. It's got to be about playing the game the right way and respecting situations."
This was the most interesting thing I heard that day. I don't know what the inner-team dynamic was last season, but it seems as though there were no terrible consequences for hitters who committed stupid at-bats. Lansford might have blown gaskets, but as far as the outside world knows, neither Bruce Bochy nor any of the veteran players got in the faces of hitters who hacked brainlessly, hurting the team.
A little accountability can be a good thing.

The No. 5 Orange and Black starter

With training camp opening today, Lefty Malo has weighed in with the view that the Giants are risking a lot to expect Madison Bumgarner to be a fifth starter at the age of 20 -- noting that he's only a two-pitch guy who's only pitched 140 innings in each of his two years of pro ball.

I'm going to differ slightly. Yes, it's important not to overuse young pitchers (see Mark Prior) but the sooner they learn how to play at the MLB level, the better. Limit his innings but get him used to facing Albert Pujols and David Wright.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Magical Orange and Black thinking

Ah, spring training time, when anything seems possible. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News offers up his analysis of the 2010 Giants -- no surprises beyond Bruce Bochy and unnamed club officials engaging in magical thinking, despite little indication that the statements are tethered to reality. Here are the prime examples:

-- Will an older, slower lineup score more runs?
"I think they can," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's hard to quantify how many runs, and I know there are ways of doing that, but we'll have more depth in the lineup and more experience. Having guys with the ability to get the big hits, the two-out hits, that's going to help us put runs on the board more consistently."


-- Last year, the Giants had first baseman Travis Ishikawa, second baseman Emmanuel Burriss and left fielder Fred Lewis in the Opening Day lineup. None panned out. But club officials believe the day is coming when legions of talented hitters will follow the path Pablo Sandoval blazed to big league success.

MY SNARKY COMMENT -- OK, this is where mainstream journalism drives me bats, sometimes. Baggarly's a good reporter but there's no follow-up to that questionable assertion so here's my take -- the "legions of talented hitters" currently consist of one guy (Buster Posey) who the front office inisists isn't ready for the MLB, as if Ishikawa and Burriss were/are. Instead, Bochy and Brian Sabean can't seem to get it through their thick skulls that older starters (Renetria, Freddy Sanchez, DeRosa) are going to break down a lot.

No big new bat for the Orange and Black

Well, with spring training starting tomorrow, Giants Win wants to go on the record and say that this was one lousy off-season. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle does the usual five questions to be answered this year, leading off with can this team score more runs.

When you've signed Freddy Sanchez, De Rosa, Huff and Molina as your big offseason moves, Henry's skepticism is warranted. The Giants needed to get a big bat; failing that, they needed to commit to bringing up their best offensive prospect, Buster Posey, and they've done everything they can to say he won't be in the bigs this season.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The distraction of the Dodger divorce

The evil Dodgers have had a lousy offseason, thanks to the divorce between owners Frank and Jamie McCourt. Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports analyzes the split and concludes that Frank McCourt has become quite the tightwad and will have a payroll around $80 million. The attorney for his soon-to-be ex-wife contends that she's lined up partners who can buy out Frank's share -- if the court finds that she's a co-owner.

Deep in the piece is some of the more interesting verbiage -- Set against the backdrop of divorce hearings, Jamie’s request for nearly $500,000 a month in support, and Frank’s claim his personal checking account balance had fallen to $167,000, the club made its first significant personnel decision of the offseason. It would not offer salary arbitration to left-hander Randy Wolf, an 11-game winner and the team’s de facto ace for much of the season. The Dodgers had refused to risk a one-year contract for Wolf, who might have drawn as much as $15 million. And they would not receive the two high draft picks if Wolf signed elsewhere, which he did. And they would not be on the hook for the two signing bonuses those picks would be due. Somewhat lost in the analysis was that the Dodgers really needed the pitching.
As the offseason wore on, agents peddling free agents and general managers hoping to talk trade would contact the Dodgers and get the same message: We’re near our payroll limit. We don’t have the money. Thanks, but no thanks.
“They have great core players, but no depth,” one agent observed. “They can’t fill in their team because they don’t have the money.”

Estes signs minor league deal

It happened nine days ago but I just noticed that Shawn Estes signed with the Nats. The mlb.com story notes that he retired last summer while pitching for the Triple A Dodgers club, saying he didn't want to pitch in the minors.

Any story about Estes always mentions the 1997 season, when he was an All-Star and went 19-5 with a 3.18 ERA at the age of 24 and looked like the answer to Giants' fans dreams. Glancing at that 1997 roster, it looks as if only two guys were still active MLB players last season -- Rich Aurilia and Julian Tavarez, who was also on the Nats in 2009.

Estes did go 15-6 in 2000 but it was also with a 4.26 ERA -- which should give you an idea how potent that team was on offense. That team scored 925 runs. That was the third highest in the NL and the sixth highest in the MLB.

He went 64-50 in seven seasons in the Orange and Black. Estes managed to go 15-8 for the Rox six years ago while also leading the NL in earned runs at 131. He had a 5.84 ERA that year.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Brewers embarrass themselves

The people who run sports franchises have an unlimited capacity for strange moves but this one is a topper -- the Brewers have decided to erect a statue of Bud Selig. What a fiasco. John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters points out what a bad idea this is-- First off, is there anyone who doubts that this idea could only have come from the team’s “owner,” who just happens to be his daughter. I mean, who else is gonna come up with a horrible idea like this? It certainly isn’t the fans, who have watched as the Selig family has gotten rich beyond their wildest dreams –mostly due to the tens of millions of dollars the team receives through revenue sharing, money that Selig has refused to spend on the team for as long as revenue sharing has been going on– and the increase in revenue due to a taxpayer-funded new ballpark.
Now there’s an accomplishment worthy of a statue, mooch millions upon millions of dollars off of the other teams in baseball, and off your fans and your local community, and then refuse invest in the team for decades.


UPDATE -- in the comments section, a poster named Robert delivered this gem -- Will the statue depict Selig flipping off the patrons of baseball with one hand while clutching a huge wad of money in the other? Anything else would fail to fully convey his contribution to the sport.

How to keep Tim in the Orange and Black

This isn't overly analytical but Peter Cady at Bleacher Report says the Lincecum situation is pretty simple -- start getting the team into the playoffs and there's a good chance that Lincecum will stick around for the next decade. If not, he may be gone after 2013, as Cady sees it -- But if the Giants offense doesn’t continue to get better and Lincecum has seen no playoff games in a black-and-orange cap by 2013, then Giants fans should be very worried, as Lincecum (assuming that he hasn’t signed a contract by then and is healthy) may feel that other teams may provide him with a better shot at winning a World Series.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Two years, $23 million

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Down to the wire on The Franchise's deal

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Giants offered Tim Lincecum three years for $37 million and Tim's side countered with three for $40 mil. My guess would be that there will be a deal before Friday's hearing.

All this would be much simpler if Brian Sabean weren't the most incompetent GM in baseball. There would be plenty of $ to make a righteous deal with Tim if it weren't for the awful deals for Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria and Freddy Sanchez eating up all the available funds.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A .500 pitcher in the Orange and Black

The Giants have signed Todd Wellemeyer to a minor league deal as a possible fifth starter. Chris Haft's story for mlb.com notes that he had a pretty good 2008 with a 13-9 record and a 3.71 ERA but stank up the joint last year.

My first reaction was "Wow, this guys sounds like a .500 pitcher." Turns out I was right -- he's exactly 29-29 in his career. He's been in 195 games and played for the Royals, Cubs, Fish and Cards.

The current enduring version of the .500 pitcher, for me, is Brett Tomko -- who's pitched just well enough to hang on at nine teams in 13 seasons and compile a non-dazzling 100-102 career record. Tomko is also married to Playboy Playmate Julia Schultz.

In "The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book," the authors (Brendon C. Boyd & Fred C. Harris) listed Paul Foytack as their idea of a .500 pitcher. Foytack was 86-87 lifetime.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

"We'd better be winning by then or I'm going to get pummeled"

That's a laugh-out-loud quote from Bruce Bochy about the Bochy bobbllehead giveaway on August 14. Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke to him at the Fan Fest and did a pretty good job of analyzing where the Giants are right now. What I like about is that Ratto captures the sort of free-floating anxity that's part and parcel of being a Giants fan these days. Here's some pretty good verbiage --

The Giants are in a weird place right now - good, but not quite good enough. Different, but not quite different enough. They can be considered neither cheapskates nor profligate spenders, not with a $100 million payroll and yet being pilloried for not giving Lincecum enough money.
They are, in short, in an interesting neverland - on the verge of something or other that could be really good or kind of crummy. And the not knowing is agony.
Their lineup isn't settled itself because it has so many working parts. Their bullpen isn't settled because the seventh- and eighth-inning roles haven't been adjudicated. Their rotation is pretty well square, but you know how pitchers are. And 88 wins after 72 wins is always a worrisome proposition because history suggests that it is more likely to become 80 wins than 96.

Monday, February 08, 2010

"The pleasure and pace of baseball"

Andrew Hoyem's review of the new Willie Mays bio contains this line -- It was his loping in from center field after the third out. He ran gracefully, his relaxed action epitomizing the pleasure and pace of baseball. I waited for that motion picture at the end of every inning.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sic transit gloria

That's "Glory is fleeting" in Latin.

Let me start by giving a Giants Win hat tip to Josh Wilker at Cardboard Gods for starting me down this road by highlighting Dave Heaverlo, who was a very solid reliever for the 1975-77 teams.

Back in the middle 1970s, after the Giants traded away Willie Mays, the Giants racked up five losing seasons in six years, including four in a row from 1974 through 1977...a feat that they didn't repeat again until 2005 through 2008. In fact, in the 14 seasons between 1972 and 1985, the Giants finished with four winning recors (1973, 1978, 1981 and 1982).

I like being back on the winning side, of course, and being in the chase into the final weeks for a change. Last year represented such a reversal -- largely thanks to outstanding pitching and great hitting by the Panda -- that most fans aren't of a mind to be urging that GM Brian Sabean be fired. Whether or not the final results justify any optimism, the 2009 performance gives us more hope going into spring training than we've had in some time.

That was the same feeling back in 1979. The 1978 team was so much better than the previous additions. The front office made two great trades during the offseason. They gave up seven players, including Gary Thomasson and Dave Heaverlo, for Vida Blue; and they traded Derrell Thomas for Mike Ivie, who would come to embody the way that MLB careers can unravel. He played like a potential All-Star in his first two years in the Orange and Black but then it all went away. It's a reminder of how elusive baseball startdom can be.

Ivie was a pretty good backup to Stretch in 1978. Though the 1979 season was a disappointment, it wasn't due to Ivie, who blasted 27 HRs that year. But the 1980 season was a nightmare -- first, he sliced off part of his pinkie in the offseason, then retired for three weeks, came back and was ineffective, so much so that he lost his job to Enos Cabell and finally was traded to the Astros. All that promise was gone for good. Whatever gift he had for playing the game seemed to elude him. He was out of the game by 1984.

All things had seemed possible on May 28, 1978, when Ivie got this pinch hit grand slam off Don Sutton at the Stick. It was not to be. Here's a recap from the 1980 Topps project.

Starting in right field: Nate Schierholtz

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Thrill's back

Joan Ryan reports about inteviewing Will Clark and Barry Zito at the Fan Fest today at Inside the Giants Clubhouse. The Thrill admits that his hit in Game 5 of the NLCS in 1989 was his biggest thrill in that season: "Candlestick was roaring that day.''

Asked if it were true he could read lips, Clark laughed. "Back in '89 I did. I happened to read Greg Maddux's lips when he was talking to Don Zimmer. He said, 'Fastball in.' I thought, 'Oh, Jesus.' I went out there, dug my hole, looked for a fastball in on the first pitch and hit a grand slam. Fool that I was, I told my teammates, who told the media and now everyone's got their glove over their mouths.''

Zito -- whose biggest talent is knowing what to say to reporters -- said exactly the right thing about the Molina situation (given that Bengie's going to get to start most of the games):"I was playing catch when I heard he had signed and I sent him a text message telling him congratulations. It was s surprise because when I was talking to him at the end of the season, he was bummed out because it looked like he wasn't coming back. He's all heart and soul. He's great with the pitching staff, and it gives Buster another year to get his feet under him.''

Friday, February 05, 2010

"Not etched in stone"

That's how Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle describes the Giants' plans to send Buster Posey to start the season in Fresno. The quote's from Bruce Bochy. Posey's going to try to learn how to play infield, too.

Perhaps someone in the front office has realized that if the team doesn't put up a winning record, fewer fans are going to show up.

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury New has the same quote from Bochy, then adds this -- Bochy also said Bengie Molina was “overplayed” last year and his starts will be curtailed. So basically, the thought here is that Posey could learn on the job from Molina and start two games a week while bringing more offense than Eli Whiteside. Long term, Bochy said the organization still sees Posey as a catcher. But he’d be available for double-switches, etc., if he can play a few other positions. (I’d caution, though, that the smart money remains on Posey beginning the year at Fresno.)

So we'd rather have Eli Whiteside -- who's adequate at best on offense -- catch twice a week?

Yu Darish in the Orange and Black?

An impressive Giants blog I've just discovered -- Remember '51 -- has a pretty good post about a couple of Japanese players. They are free agent 34-year-old Hisanori Takahashi, who's considered by several MLB teams including the Giants -- and 23-year-old Yu Darvish, who doesn't want to play in the U.S.

Remember '51 doesn't think Takahashi is worth signing but is very intrigued by Darvish -- If you watched any of the WBC last year, you'll know that his stuff is flat out nasty. In many ways, if people thought "Dice-K" was great in those last two World Baseball Classics, they really haven't seen anything yet.Darvish is an incredible strikeout artist, as evidenced by his 210 and 208 strikeouts in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Granted, his strikeout numbers went down to 167 strikeouts in 182 innings pitched in 2009, but that probably was to be expected after shouldering a pretty hefty work load in Japan's second-straight WBC championship run prior to the 2009 Japanese season.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Marty Lurie goes to KNBR to KTRB

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Lurie -- who developed a decent rep for his work on the Oakland A's previous radio station -- will do the KNBR pre- and post-game shows on the weekends for the Giants flagship station. Sounds like a good move by the Giants, who have a pretty good handle on how to market the team despite Brian Sabean's incompetence in the front office.

The pregame time slot on KTRB, which has become the A's new flagship station, will be occupied by dingbat Michael Savage -- an odd lead-in for an MLB team broadcast.

What does San Jose have to do with Lincecum?

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News believes that the reason why the Giants are taking a hard line against Tim Lincecum is to keep the other MLB owners from taking away the Giants territorial rights to San Jose. ESPN's Rob Neyer thinks that argument is a little convoluted. I agree.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A better offseason than the Orange and Black's

That would be the Seattle Mariners, who now appear to have a team that can knock the Angels out of first in the AL West, thanks to a roster that now contains Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley in addition to such reliables as Ichiro, Felix Hernandez, Jose Lopez, former Giant David Aardsma and Franklin Gutierrez. They also picked up Eric Byrnes and Ryan Garko for next to nothing. One can only hope that M's GM Bill Zduriencik is on Bill Neukom’s radar.

Nick Cannata-Bowman at Croix De Candlestick has a pretty good post about it, noting at one point -- The Mariners are ready to compete now, but still managed to keep their farm system’s prized gems intact. The Giants are blocking younger, better players with veterans who will break down midway through the season but still receive playing time.

Nick had another good post a few days before, pointing out that Bengie Molina made MORE OUTS THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THE MLB LAST YEAR. Here's part of his post -- But with Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand, Bengie Molina, and Edgar Renteria all penciled into the starting 9, it’s looking more and more likely that this team is bound for more another year of frustration centered around not working counts, hacking at balls in the dirt, and making fans like me hit their heads against hard surfaces. In the midst of all this, I think the straw the broke the camel’s back is Bengie Molina (probably because he tried to climb onto the camel and was too heavy). It’s frustrating from a fan’s standpoint to see a club commit to a younger, better, cheaper option at a premium position, only to go back and bring back the guy who made the most outs of any regular in baseball. I’ll say it a third time for emphasis: he made the most outs of anyone in the game. On a team pinching pennies late in the offseason, it’s suddenly OK to spend $4.5 million on a player who simply isn’t a good hitter.

Tim at $11 million for 2010?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mota in the Orange and Black

Mlb.com reports that the Giants have signed Guillermo Mota to a minor league deal. The story doesn't mention that Mota was suspended for steroids; and it doesn't mention that he'll be the second Mota on the Giants. Yes, as I said with Eddie Bressoud, you can call yourself a real Giants fan if you know that Manny Mota began his career as a Giant in 1962.

Manny's had two sons make it to the bigs, but I can't evidence that he's related to Guillermo.

Chris Haft's story may not mention Mota's steroid suspension but it does include one of the more glorious games of last year, when Mota gave up a walkoff 2-run homer to Juan Uribe, only his 5th of the year on Aug. 12. Including that game, he hit 12 homers and had 32 RBIs over the last 49 games of the year.

Steady Eddie Bressoud

Monday, February 01, 2010

Garko signs with Seattle

UPDATING POST TO FIX ERROR --

Two months after the Giants non-tendered Ryan Garko -- amid indications that he didn't get along with Bruce Bochy -- the Mariners have signed him.

The Giants gave up Scott Barnes -- who looks pretty decent -- for the privilege of having Garko stink up the joint for two months so badly that he's part of the reason they missed out on the postseason. I'm not dismissing the idea that he may have hit a cold stretch but he looked pretty clueless when he was in the Orange and Black. Bottom line -- this is yet another terrible deal by Brian Sabean.

Note -- I had earlier confused the trade with the Freddy Sanchez deal; a poster named Anonymous was nice enough to set me straight.

Kim, Ramirez in the Orange and Black

The Giants have signed Byung-Hyun Kim and Horacio Ramirez to minor league deals. Kim gave up HR No. 715 to Barry Bonds, as Chris Haft notes in his mlb.com story.

Kim had a memorable role in making the 2001 World Series one of the most exciting ever. The story doesn't note that he also blew back to back games in that series -- first giving up a 10th inning walkoff to Jeter in Game 4 and then giving up a game-tying 2-run homer to Brosius in the 9th inning of Game 5. Dbacks manager Bob Brenly had the good sense to stop using Kim at that point; I'm sure that was a big reason why The Big Unit came in to pitch in the 8th and 9th innings in Game 7 -- even though he'd started and won the game the night before.

Jon Miller makes the Hall of Fame