Monday, January 31, 2011

Mark Kroon web site

Less of Sandoval

Zito, year 5 in the Orange and Black

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The trophy tour visits Sonoma County

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wilson on Lopez

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"It just wasn't the right thing to do"

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times has an interesting story about Gil Meche's decision to retire and forego the $12 million that was due to him this year for the simple reason that he really can't pitch any more --

“This isn’t about being a hero — that’s not even close to what it’s about,” Meche said this week. “It’s just me getting back to a point in my life where I’m comfortable. Making that amount of money from a team that’s already given me over $40 million for my life and for my kids, it just wasn’t the right thing to do.”

Band of Misfits

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News had the wherewithall to write "Band of Misfits," a book about the 2010 Giants that's going to be for sale next week.He hadn't blogged in six weeks, so he recaps the offseason. Among the most interesting items are the non-roster players invited to spring training, besides Jeff Suppan --

Other notable non-roster pitchers are Guillermo Mota, Casey Daigle, otherwise known as Mr. Jenny Finch; Ryan Vogelsong, whom the Giants dealt to the Pirates in the Jason Schmidt deal so many moons ago; and Marc Kroon, the former closer for the Yomiuri Giants. Kroon was clocked at 101 mph, a record in the Japanese League, and he hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2004. I have a feeling his story will make a great spring feature, even though he’s a roster longshot.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Juan Uribe's new battling bosses

It's truly been a strange offseason in that the Giants lost BOTH of their shortstops after winning the World Series, thanks in no small part to both of them. They wanted more money elsewhere.

Edgar Renteria's decision to sign with the Reds makes sense, given that the Reds are paying him three times what the Giants were offering. I'm mystified, though, at Uribe signing with the dodgers just because they offered him $1 million more over 3 seasons -- particularly given the unsettled state of the Dodgers ownership. The LA Times is reporting that Frank McCourt will either appeal the judge's ruling tossing out the agreement that purportedly gave him sole ownership of the team, or seek a new trial, which won't start for another year.

Meanwhile, Jamie McCourt insists that she also owns the team.
These are two stubborn people, not given to settling their differences. Except for Uribe, the Dodgers look very much like the same team that went 80-82 last year -- with little chance that whoever it is who owns the team will spend the money on a difference-making player. Here's the good news -- unless half the team has career years, the Dodgers probably won't be playoff team this year. No World Series for you, Juan.

"His strike zone awareness is extremely good"

Monday, January 24, 2011

A 3rd Cy Young for the Franchise?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Buster Posey's value

Chris Quick at Bay City Ball has an interesting post/chart with the cumulative WAR (wins above replacement) values of first-round draft picks of position players going back to Gary Matthews. Johnny LeMaster is at the bottom of the list with a negative 7.4 WAR.

Here are the top six. I'm impressed that Buster's already on the list after two-thirds of an MLB season --

Year Name   Pos WAR
1985 Will Clark 1B 57.6
1986 Matt Williams 3B 43.9
1968 Gary Matthews OF 30.5
1988 Royce Clayton SS 16.3
1967 Dave Rader C 3.8
2008 Buster Posey C 2.8

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Giants avoid arbitration on Torres

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Damn, it's good to be a Giants fan"

That declaration comes from a poster named Frednyc in reaction to Henry Schulman's story in today's San Francisco Chronicle that makes the assertion that the Giants certainly have the pitching to win another World Series -- though they won't have the element of surprise this time.
Schulman also makes the point that professional oddsmakers at the Las Vegas Hilton have the Giants listed at 18-1, meaning that they regard the World Series victory as a fluke.

Anyhow, here's what Frednyc has to say --The best thing about this coming season: every day, regardless of the score or our position in the standings, we will be the World Champion San Francisco Giants, and I will be grateful to this team for giving me a memory that i've been waiting for for almost 50 yrs. I will never forget this team, as i never forget the 74-75 Warriors and all those great Niner teams. Damn its good to be a Giants fan.

Giantsfan_75 also has good comment --Umm... and how many times was Vegas right during the 2010 post-season??? I'll take that 18-1 thank you very much. WTH? When did the Giants become the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball??

No. 24 returns to Gotham

Willie Mays was back in New York City on Friday as part of the World Series trophy tour. He gave an 11-year-old kid a hundred dollar bill, according to the story. Here's what it was like when Mays was still in his 20s and playing stickball in the streets --

"I used to have maybe 10 kids come to my window every morning," Mays said. "They'd come at 9 o'clock, knock on my window and wake me up, and I had to be out at 9:30 a.m. They'd give me a chance to take a shower and give me a chance to eat breakfast. But I had to be out there at 9:30, because that's when they wanted to play. I played with them for maybe an hour. ... There was a drugstore on the corner, and I used to go buy ice cream every day for them before day games."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Suppan in the Orange and Black

One of the ultimate .500 pitchers, Jeff Suppan, has been invited to spring training, according to Chris Haft of -- The 36-year-old owns a 138-143 lifetime record with a 4.69 ERA for six teams

My comment -- If Barry Zito continues to implode, Suppan could be a decent low-cost alternative

Revisiting the Polo Grounds

With the Giants World Series trophy coming to New York City on Friday and Saturday, the New York Times takes a nice look back at the Polo Grounds -- site of The Shot Heard Round the World in 1951 and Willie Mays' catch in Game One of the 1954 Series. One interesting note, given how unique the dimensions are at AT&T Park AKA Mays Field --

What stands out to fans and historians nearly 47 years since its demolition are its outfield dimensions, some of which changed with regularity. It was short down the lines (no more than 280 feet to left and 259 to right, and still shorter to the second decks); distant in the alleys (as much as 449 to one bullpen and 455 to the other); and as long as 505 to center field.

“That made it a strange ballpark,” said Jerry Liebowitz, a fan who began attending games there in 1943. “Someone like Johnny Mize hits it 450 to center field and it’s nothing but an out, but guys who couldn’t hit a damn were hitting pop-fly home runs to left and right.”

Philip J. Lowry, author of “Green Cathedrals,” a 1992 book about ballparks, said a groundskeeper told him that the distance written on the center-field clubhouse wall changed often, whether because home plate was moved, the shorter distance to the bleacher wall was used, or simply because management ordained it.

A thing of beauty

... is a joy forever

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gwynn = Schierholtz?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Orange and Black arbitration?

Chris Haft of reports that the Giants have made deals with four of their six arbitration-eligible players -- Ross, Jonathan Sanchez, Ramon Ramirez, Santiago Casilla -- and appear likely to reach deals with Andres Torres and Javier Lopez.

Amid all the hubbub over Ross's postseason heroics and Sanchez' meltdown in Game 6 of the NLCS, it's worth remembering how well all of these guys played last year for the Orange and Black. Here's part of Haft's story --

Sanchez, who earned $2.1 million last year, is coming off a 13-9 finish with a 3.07 ERA. He also held opponents to a .204 batting average and 6.61 hits per nine innings, both Major League lows.

Ramirez (1-3, 2.99 ERA), who made $1.155 million a season ago, yielded only two earned runs in 27 innings after joining the Giants from Boston in a July 31 trade.

For $400,000, Casilla (7-2, 1.95 ERA) amassed 56 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings and stranded 41 of 47 inherited baserunners, the Majors' second-best ratio.

Ross makes a deal

Monday, January 17, 2011

No. 24 visits Memphis

Terrific shot by artolog of Mays at the Giants victory parade in November
Willie Mays, Lenny Wilkens and Willis Reed were honored today in Memphis as part of the celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday. Mays talked about his father helping him deal with prejudice. The story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal has some of No. 24's wisdom --

"When I got to be in my late 20s and early 30s, I was hearing a lot of kids saying they looked up to me," said Mays, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979. "I understand that, and I always appreciated it. But I always tell kids to be like their mothers and fathers.

"They're the ones who are gonna cart you back and forth to the ballpark. They're the ones who will be there for you when things go wrong, and they should be the most important people in your life."

Revisiting Oct. 3, 1962

For those of you who don't remember, that was the day of an epic Dodger choke, as they gave up four runs in the 9th to give the Giants a 6-4 lead in the final game of a 3-game playoff. The Giants went to the World Series.

Hardball Times decided to rank the 15 worst endings of regular season games and this one wound up third.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"I've got to make sure I'm ready"

A sensible approach to Hall of Fame voting

I've pretty much ignored the Hall of Fame since it embarrassed itself so thoroughly by agreeing to accept the defaced baseball that Barry Bonds hit for Homer No. 756. The recent voting has been a cesspool of sanctimonious blathering that further demeans the Hall.

Gil LeBreton of the Fort Worth Star Telegram explains why he voted for Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Bagwell and Mark McGwire, noting that prosecutors dropped the appeal last month of a ruling that found the results of the 2003 tests had been obtained illegally:

The names of approximately 100 players who tested positive in that 2003 "survey test" will never be known.

Yet, the Hall of Fame voters smugly continue to vote as if they've identified all the "cheaters."

Cheated whom, exactly? Cheated Roger Clemens? Cheated Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez?

How many of McGwire's home runs were hit off pitchers who had used human growth hormone? Thirty percent? Fifty percent?

We'll never know. Confessions have been few and far between. And even then, who's been cheating whom and by how much?

Throughout his career Palmeiro had one of baseball's all-time sweetest swings. Effortless. Yet, he was no Popeye, no muscled-up Canseco clone.

If 35 years of watching Olympic athletes has taught me anything, it's that you can't tell who is using performance-enhancing substances simply by looking at them.

The notion of Palmeiro taking a B12 injection that a teammate had given him and not knowing its complete contents is not only believable, but it happens all the time. When was the last time you read all the ingredients on a product you obtained from a health food store?

A naïve viewpoint? Maybe. But a lot less pretentious than thinking I'm the morals Pope of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I voted for Rafael Palmeiro. And Jeff Bagwell. And Mark McGwire.

Their baseball accomplishments are Hall of Fame-worthy.

Factor in anything else, and you're just chasing your tail.

(A Giants Win hat tip to the invaluable Baseball Think Factory blog for posting the column.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The reality of the Giants' reality show

Who knows what might happen now that the Giants have signed a deal with Showtime? The team is going to get plenty of coverage anyhow, given that they're the World Series champs.

I'm not sure what to make of it. But Lowell Cohn of the Santa-Press Democrat writes a perplexing column that it's a bad idea, asserting that it will lead to exposure of negative aspects of the team -- as if somehow that wouldn't already happen in today's world. His basic premise seems to be that he knows what he's talking about because he teaches a creative writing class to college students and he once wrote a book 20 years ago about Bill Walsh, and that Walsh stopped speaking to him. It's not exactly what I'd call persuasive -- more like self-aggrandizing.

I seem to recall that Cohn's insisted on telling readers how he detests Barry Bonds, for what that's worth.

Dodger Blue turning to red (ink)

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Fox had advanced funds to Dodger co-owner Frank McCourt. Unless you've been living in a cave without Internet access, you know that this means that McCourt's strapped for cash and won't be making any more big-ticket acquisitions. Here's what Times said in supplying some context --

It is unclear whether the cash advance indicates the Dodgers are in immediate financial peril, but a sports industry consultant said the timing was curious, given that team expenses are lower out of season than during the season.

According to Cot's Contracts, Juan Uribe's deal of 3 years for $21 million is the third richest on the club after the 3-year deals for Ted Lilly at $33 mil and Rafael Furcal at $30 mil. Payroll for 2011 is $94 million.

This is probably good news for Dodger haters. I think it's unlikely that McCourt's going to spend a lot more on this year's team, given his legal and financial problems. If all their players have career years, the Dodgers will be formidable. But they just went 80-82; their big addition is Uribe; and they aren't going to be able to bring in another Manny Ramirez, who was the guy who got them into the playoffs in 2008 and 2009.

Warmup to Bonds trail

The 22 invitees to spring training

Friday, January 14, 2011

Giants series on Showtime

It's official -- the Giants will be the subject of an ongoing documentary on Showtime. Here's part of the Reuters story, which said the untitled series will premiere around the opening of the 2011 Major League Baseball season in March, and regular episodes will be broadcast during the second half of the season. Showtime president David Nevins said he started talks with a small group of baseball clubs toward the end of last season with the aim of doing an in-depth behind the scenes series.

"It became clear the Giants had the right selection of players and personalities and later when they won the World Series, it was a compelling choice," Nevins told journalists.

Variety's story says Nevins envisions the series becoming a franchise featuring different teams each year.

"He has a better swing than I did"

That's the word from Will the Thrill about Brandon Belt. Chris Haft of reports that Belt's getting a shot at starting.

How times have changed. Remember how a year ago the Giants' front office was saying that Buster Posey wasn't ready for the big leagues?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A month from today

My friend Dan asked me to post this --

Spring training begins a month from today for big league teams and the Dodgers

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bumgarner's risk

Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated notes that no young MLB pitcher had a greater increase in innings pitched last season -- which can put a pitcher at risk. But it's not all red flags --

A pennant race and three rounds of postseason play added to Bumgarner's workload, calling to mind how the Phillies' Cole Hamels regressed in 2009 after his taxing 2008 championship season. Bumgarner, though, is armed with a far sturdier build, similar to Andy Pettitte. The Giants are known to push young pitchers, and it's worked well with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum.

Giants on Showtime?

Dodgers = $1 billion?

Mike Ozanian of Forbes is reporting that bankers are saying that the Dodgers will draw bids of $1 billion if the McCourts agree to put the team up for sale.

Ozanian believes that the McCourts will not be able to afford to keep the Dodgers. Given the pit-bull mentality displayed by Frank and Jamie so far, it's hard to predict how -- and how soon -- the divorce case will wind up.

Monday, January 10, 2011

More of the same for the Dodgers?

Let's hope so. They went 80-82 last season. Grant at McCovey Chronicles theorizes that the team has a decent rotation but doesn't look like it's done much to improve the offense:

It’s not a bad team. Heck, it wouldn’t take a lot of surprising developments to see this group win 90+ games next year. It’s just a team that’s not much different than last year, which is a team that finished 80-82, twelve games back from the San Francisco Giants, who ended up winning the World Series. Say, that reminds me of something I just read, actually:

(The Dodgers) finished 80-82, twelve games back from the San Francisco Giants, who ended up winning the World Series.

Slimmer Sandoval?

That's what Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle's reporting.

This could be among the best news of the offseason for Giants fans. Hard to believe that the Panda had such a struggle last year after stepping up so impressively in 2008 and 2009.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Adios, Edgar

This is bittersweet. ESPN is reporting (two days ago) that the Reds signed Edgar Renteria for $3 million -- a lot for a shortstop on the fade.

Edgar should send Cliff Lee a thank you note for the 3-run homer and a couple million dollars more than he would have gotten otherwise.

"Is the Hall of Fame too small?"

Nate Silver takes a break from his astute political forecasting at 538 and instead analyzes the Hall of Fame voting for the New York Times, titled "Is the Hall of Fame Too Small?" His conclusion is that standards have gotten much tighter, as the number of players in the MLB has nearly doubled over the last 50 years (as of 1960, there were only 16 teams). Here's the concluding paragraph --

If you’re not willing to reserve a place for players who meet or exceed the statistical standards of the average Hall of Famers at their positions, however — players like a Larkin or a Bagwell — the discussion really ought to turn to which players we need to kick out. No Barry Larkin? No Travis Jackson. No Tim Raines? No Max Carey. No Jeff Bagwell? No High Pockets Kelly. No Trammell and Whitaker? That’s fine: let’s boot Tinker and Evers.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Fontenot = Renteria

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Willie Mays Hall of Fame

Joe Posnaski has a long post on Sports Illustrated about the Hall of Fame and its dilution by including guys on the margins. Readers of this blog know that I believe Don Drysdale is one of those players and that Dodger fans show their ignorance when they overlook the travesty of the 1962 MVP voting and proclaim that Maury Wills should be in the Hall.

In any case, Joe comes up with these criteria for the WMHOF, which turns out to be a darn small group:

1. Has to achieve a consensus of greatness.

2. Have to be so good that there’s no one precisely comparable.

3. Should pass what Tom Verducci calls “the eyeball” test. We’re talking gut feeling here.

4. Had to be in the same league with Willie Mays as an all-around ballplayer.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Belt plans to make the team

Michael Urban of CSNBayArea asserts that Belt believes he'll be a contributor from the start of spring training.--

Well-spoken and confident yet also humble with a Lone Star-sized side order of aw-shucks to him, Belt is going to join us live from a television station in Texas to talk about his rapid rise through the minors, his offseason training, and his plans on making the team as a regular contributor right out of camp.

March 31 opener

Giants' impact on Rangers

It's no accident that the Rangers made a mega-deal with Adrian Beltre after the Giants pitching staff throttled their offense in the World Series. Beltre should send Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain a thank you note.

The deal is for six years and $96 million, according to

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

50 years ago

Isn't this great shot by wallyg enough to make you want to head out to the ballpark today?
Or sometimes hype wins out -- as in 1962, when Mays was clearly the most valuable player in both leagues and Aaron and FRobby put up far better seasons than the incredibly over-rated Maury Wills. Dodger fans show their true ignorance of player value when they contend that Willis should be in the Hall of Fame. His WAR in 1962 isn't even as high as that of Bob Purkey or Tommy Davis. He's one of the worst MVP selections ever.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Renteria back in the Orange and Black?

Michael Urban of CSN Bay Area reports that both sides are talking again, a few weeks after Edgar asserted that the $1 million a year offer was disrespectful.

I've got mixed feelings at this point but I'd say that it's a pretty low-risk move to sign him as a backup to Tejada. If he flames out, there's always Ryan Rohlinger or the waiver wire. And those two homers in the World Series -- it just doesn't get much finer! I know, I know -- he went 1 for16 in the NLCS, he was injured a LOT during the regular season. I can't believe he'd going to do a lot better than $1 million a year at this point.

Monday, January 03, 2011

52 years ago

It's hard to believe that 52 years has passed since Willie McCovey broke in with Giants to begin a career that would land him in the Hall of Fame. And with the HOF announcement due tomorrow, it seemed like a good time to post this fine photo by jcooper243.

Rohlinger's muddled prospects

Chris Haft of has a distinctly unenthusiastic mailbag post that speculates that we probably haven't seen the last of Ryan Rohlinger in a backup role for the Orange and Black:

Why can't Ryan Rohlinger be the backup at second base, shortstop and third base? Edgar Renteria is weak defensively (putting it politely). Can Rohlinger be worse? How about a new face instead of one of the worst has-been-overpaid veterans we signed? World Series or not, I don't want to see "old guys" out there anymore.
-- Steve B., San Jose, Calif.

You're a little harsh on Edgar, aren't you, Steve? Just keep mentally replaying that three-run homer in Game 5 of the World Series. As for Rohlinger, while his skills aren't breathtaking, he certainly deserves consideration, given his ability to play all three aforementioned positions. Rohlinger probably will never be an imposing hitter, but his Triple-A performance (.292 batting average, .838 OPS in 203 games) suggests that he can handle the bat adequately for a bench guy.

MY COMMENT -- Rohlinger's had a pretty small sample size of just over 70 plate appearances against MLB pitching in three seasons but it's a pretty dismal performance so far.

As for the minor league numbers, they are adequate at best. I'm not hopeful that this guy is going to be of much use in the bigs.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

August 22 -- a dark day for the Orange and Black

I just got around to reading Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated posting on Dec. 22 his list of the top 10 baseball stories of the year, led by the Giants winning the Series and notes the Orange and Black were still 6 games of first in the NL West on August 22.

Guess what happened on that date? Barry Zito started, that's what. He didn't make it out of the 5th, having given in up five runs on seven hits. Final -- Cards 9, Giants 0. The offense consisted of two singles by Pat the Bat and one by Schierholtz. The Giants were 69-56 at that point and went 23-14 the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, the Padres beat the Brewers 7-3 that day and would win two more games after that to go 76-49. But then the Pads went on a 10-game losing streak that ended on Sept. 6 with the Giants only one game out.

And what of Zito? He continued having crappy games. He got blown out again on August 28 and then lost to the Dodgers, 4-2 on Sept. 3. That's not so bad, you might say, until you look at the box score and see that Zito managed to give up all 4 runs in 4 innings. Five days later, he was better with 2 runs in 6 innings as the Giants lost to the Dbacks, 3-1. Six days later, the Dodgers won 1-0 after Zito walked the bases full and an Uribe error led to the only run. He finally won a game five days later in a 9-2 blowout but then got hammered by the Rox in a 10-9 loss on Sept. 25 and then lost the 161st game to the Padres, 4-2, when he gave up all 4 runs and couldn't even get out of the 4th -- requiring the use of relievers (Ray, Casilla, Romo, Mota) for SIX FULL INNINGS.

As Giants fans, we need to face the fact that the Giants went all the way this year despite Barry Zito. His contribution was pretty minimal -- particularly given that the team's offense is not even league average. So for 2011, the best scenario is that he won't get any worse.

The most positive thing about Zito and Rowand is that their contracts have worked out so poorly that they've apparently convinced the front office to stop overpaying in long-term deals for over-the-hill veterans.

Renteria to the Reds?

That's what Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe believes may happen, deep within a long Hot Stove posting today. Cafardo apparently doesn't believe Edgar's going to take the Giants' $1 million offer. He also doesn't list either the Giants or the Dodgers as being one of the 10 most active teams in upcoming acquisitions or what he calls the "second season" of deals as teams look for bargains.

Here's what he posted on the World Series MVP -- Edgar Renteria, SS, free agent: The World Series MVP, out of work, has a shot at joining the Reds, who are looking for veteran help at shortstop after letting Orlando Cabrera go. Renteria could have walked off into the sunset with two memorable World Series moments, but at 34, and in good health, he feels he can be the player he was in the Series for at least a couple of more years.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year, Giants fans

Chris Haft of has 10 big questions as to whether the Orange and Black can go back to back. Here are the biggies from my view --

1. Can Pablo Sandoval work himself into decent physical shape?

2. Will the shortened offseason affect the pitchers?

4. What kind of impact will Brandon Belt make?

5. What can be expected from Miguel Tejada?

7. Who will win the left-field job?

That's anybody's guess. What's certain is that there will be no shortage of candidates. Mark DeRosa, last season's Opening Day left fielder, is expected to be recovered from left wrist surgery. Aaron Rowand, who has played exclusively center field, will be asked to try playing the corners. Pat Burrell will join the fray, but he'll most likely occupy a reserve role. Cody Ross, the projected right fielder, might swing around to this side if Nate Schierholtz bids for an everyday spot in right. Schierholtz and perhaps even first baseman Travis Ishikawa might join this competition. If Belt fits best as a first baseman, Aubrey Huff will move to left and most of the aforementioned will scramble for bench spots.